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WAR 12-30-2017-to-01-05-2018___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
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  1. #1
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    3 12-30-2017-to-01-05-2018___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****

    Where does the time go?.....


    (301) 12-09-2017-to-12-15-2017___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...*of****WAR****

    (302) 12-16-2017-to-12-22-2017___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...*of****WAR****

    (303) 12-23-2017-to-12-29-2017___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...*of****WAR****

    ==========

    Getting freaky in Iran and Jordan right now.....
    Started by mzkittyý, Yesterday 09:25 AM
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...now...../page2

    The Four Horsemen - 12/26 to 12/31
    Started by Ragnaroký, 12-26-2017 02:23 PM
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...12-26-to-12-31

    President Donald J. Trump Proclaims January 2018 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Mon
    Started by Be Wellý, Yesterday 07:05 PM
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...Prevention-Mon

    The Winds of War Blow in Korea and The Far East
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...d-The-Far-East

    Protests in Sweden after police told women to ‘stay inside or walk in pairs’ after series of Rapes
    Started by Cardinalý, 12-28-2017 02:00 PM
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...of-Rapes/page2

    Europe: Politics, Trade, NATO-December 2017
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...-December-2017

    North Korean nuclear scientist who defected to China kills himself after forced to return
    Started by Dennis Olsoný, Yesterday 11:10 AM
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...rced-to-return

    ==========


    For links see article source.....
    Posted for fair use.....
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...cid=spartanntp

    Australian air force put on alert after Russian long-range bombers headed south

    The Guardian
    Christopher Knaus
    10 hrs ago

    An Australian air force base was put on alert while Russian strategic bombers conducted exercises in neutral waters off Indonesia, a move experts said showed Moscow was looking to extend its influence in the Pacific.

    The base in Darwin was briefly put on a state of “increased readiness” in early December during the Russian exercises, which, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence, involved two nuclear-capable Tu-95MS bombers and more than 100 personnel.

    RT, the Kremlin-backed English-language news channel, reported the exercise was the first Russian air patrol in the Pacific launched from Indonesia.

    One of Australia’s foremost national security experts, Peter Jennings of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the exercises showed Russia was again extending its influence to the peripheries of the world. “It is a reminder Russia is here and wants to be a player in Pacific security and will use military force to demonstrate that,” he told the ABC.

    The aircraft took off from Indonesia’s Biak airfield, on an island north of Papua, and stayed in the air for more than eight hours. The aircraft flew only above neutral waters, according to the Russian military.

    “Flights over neutral waters in Arctic, northern Arctic, Black and Caspian seas, and Pacific Fleet are conducted regularly by long-range aircraft,” its defence ministry said in a statement. “All the missions of the Russian Aerospace Forces are carried out in strict accordance with the international air law.”

    The two bombers had earlier arrived at the Biak airfield from the Amur region in Russia’s south-east. The Russian military said the bombers were refuelled by Il-78 aircraft over the Pacific ocean on their way to Indonesia.

    The bombers, commonly referred to as “bears”, have a range of almost 15,000km without refuelling.

    The Australian Department of Defence confirmed to Guardian Australia “there was a brief period of increased readiness” in early December but said the base was not in lockdown.

    “The [Australian Defence Force] maintains appropriate levels of readiness and posture to respond to evolving circumstances,” the spokesman said. “In early December there was a brief period of increased readiness. There were no instances of unalerted or unscheduled foreign aircraft operating in Australian airspace during this period.”

    It’s not the first time Russia has sought to demonstrate influence in the Pacific. Last year, it was revealed Russia had sent a secret shipment of 20 containers of weapons and military hardware to its newfound regional partner, Fiji. The shipment was followed by Russian military personnel, who were to train the Fijians in the use of the weapons.

    In 2014, Russian naval vessels moved to the north of Australia, days before the G20 summit in Brisbane and at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Canberra.

    In a 2015 paper, Alexey Muraviev, a strategic analyst and Russian military expert at Perth’s Curtin University, said Russia had tangibly intensified its engagement in the Asia-Pacific since about 2000.

    Muraviev argued the 2014 Ukraine tensions and a need to diversify trade had “deepened Moscow’s long-standing impulse to re-engage with both Asia and the Pacific”.

    “Economically, Moscow is responding to the rise of the Asia-Pacific as an engine of the global economy,” he wrote. “Politically, Moscow sees in the region a number of potential partners also striving to establish a multipolar world, notably China. In the military-strategic sphere, Russia is sensitive to the risk of armed conflict on its eastern flank.”

    Australia’s acting opposition leader, Tanya Plibersek, said it appeared Russia had abided by international laws and norms during the exercises. She made no other comment on the response of the Australian defence force.

    “I think it is very important that any country doing military exercises abides by laws and norms, international laws and norms, and the reporting suggests that this has been the case in this instance,” Plibersek said on Saturday.

    Jennings said defence forces might have feared the bombers were being used to gather intelligence.

    “There would be concerns about Russian intelligence gathering because they wouldn’t come this far south without wanting to look at the one significant Allied presence in this part of the world, which is what operates out of Darwin and RAAF base Tindal further south,” he told the ABC. “So there would be have been intelligence gathering we would have been geared to resist.”

  2. #2
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    For links see article source.....
    Posted for fair use.....
    https://apnews.com/ce07ad7aea0a4d1a8...nge-government

    Iran hard-liners rally as new protests challenge government

    By AMIR VAHDAT and JON GAMBRELL
    1 hour ago

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian hard-liners rallied Saturday to support the country’s supreme leader and clerically overseen government as spontaneous protests sparked by anger over the country’s ailing economy roiled major cities in the Islamic Republic.

    The demonstrations, commemorating a mass 2009 pro-government rally challenging those who rejected the re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amid fraud allegations, had been scheduled weeks earlier.

    However, they took on new importance after the economic protests began Thursday, sparked by social media posts and a surge in prices of basic food supplies, like eggs and poultry.

    Thousands have taken to the streets of several cities in Iran, beginning first in Mashhad, the country’s second-largest city and a holy site for Shiite pilgrims. Demonstrators also have criticized Iran’s government during the protests, with social media videos showing clashes between protesters and police.

    The semi-official Fars news agency said protests on Friday also struck Qom, a city that is the world’s foremost center for Shiite Islamic scholarship and home to a major Shiite shrine.

    The demonstrations appear to be the largest to strike the Islamic Republic since its 2009 Green Movement arose after Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

    However, information about them remains scarce as both state-run and semi-official media in Iran have not widely reported on the protests. An online report Saturday by Iranian state television said national media in the country hadn’t reported on the protests on orders from security officials.

    State TV also aired its first reports on the protests Saturday, acknowledging some protesters chanted the name of Iran’s one-time shah, who fled into exile just before its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

    “Counterrevolution groups and foreign media are continuing their organized efforts to misuse the people’s economic and livelihood problems and their legitimate demands to provide an opportunity for unlawful gatherings and possibly chaos,” state TV said.

    State TV aired live Saturday’s pro-government “9 Dey Epic” demonstrations, named for the date on the Iranian calendar the 2009 protests took place. The footage showed people waving flags and carrying banners bearing the image of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    In Tehran, some 4,000 people gathered at the Musalla prayer ground in central Tehran. They called for criminal trials for Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, leaders in the Green Movement who have been under house arrest since 2011. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration struck the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, campaigned on freeing the men, though they remain held.

    Mohsen Araki, a Shiite cleric who serves in Iran’s Assembly of Experts, praised Rouhani’s efforts at improving the economy. However, he said Rouhani needed to do more to challenge “enemy pressures.”

    “We must go back to the pre-nuclear deal situation,” Araki said. “The enemy has not kept with its commitments.”

    Ali Ahmadi, a pro-government demonstrator, blamed the U.S for all of Iran’s economic problems.

    “They always say that we are supporting Iranian people, but who should pay the costs?” Ahmadi asked.

    But by Saturday afternoon, hundreds of students and others joined a new economic protest at Tehran University. Witnesses said they saw a mass of riot police at the gates of the university while some roads had been blocked off.

    Iran’s economy has improved since the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some of the international sanctions that crippled its economy. Tehran now sells its oil on the global market and has signed deals for tens of billions of dollars of Western aircraft.

    That improvement has not reached the average Iranian, however. Unemployment remains high. Official inflation has crept up to 10 percent again. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the protests.

    While police have arrested some protesters, the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard and its affiliates have not intervened as they have in other unauthorized demonstrations since the 2009 election. The economic protests initially just put pressure on Rouhani’s administration, but purported footage from recent demonstrations included anti-government chants.

    Early on Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted out his support for the protests.

    “Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad,” he wrote. “Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! (hashtag) IranProtests.”

    It’s unclear what effect Trump’s support would have. Iranians already are largely skeptical of him over his refusal to re-certify the nuclear deal. Trump’s insistence in an October speech on using the term “Arabian Gulf” in place of the Persian Gulf also has also riled the Iranian public.

    Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments in June to Congress saying American is working toward “support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government” has been used by Iran’s government of a sign of foreign interference in its internal politics.

    The State Department issued a statement Friday supporting the protests, referencing Tillerson’s earlier comments.

    “Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos,” the statement said.

    Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the comments.

    “The noble Iranian nation never pays heed to the opportunist and hypocritical mottos chanted by the U.S. officials and their interfering allegations on domestic developments in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the state-run IRNA news agency quoted ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying.

    ___

    Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

  3. #3
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    Hummm.....

    For links see article source.....
    Posted for fair use.....
    https://jamestown.org/program/tactic...s-middle-east/

    Russia in the Middle East

    The Tactical Side of Russia’s Arms Sales to the Middle East

    By: Anna Borshchevskaya
    December 20, 2017 03:48 PM Age: 2 weeks

    Summary
    Russia is the world’s top arms exporter, second only to the United States. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has emerged in recent years as Moscow’s second most important arms market after Asia. Moscow has made great strides in this region since Vladimir Putin came to power, and especially in recent years, after it embarked on major military reform following August 2008. Arms sales matter to the Kremlin because they are a major source of financial gain, but these arms sales are also a tactical foreign policy instrument for wielding influence.

    Russia’s arms—generally speaking—are well made, sometimes on par with the US, and well suited for the region’s needs. These platforms and armaments are also more affordable than Western weaponry. The US simply will not sell weapons to certain countries, which, therefore, turn to Moscow. Politically, Russian arms come with few strings attached and thus are a great choice when a country wants to diversify away from the West, or at least signal such an intent. Moscow has made inroads with traditional clients such as Iran, Syria and Egypt, but also diversified toward countries closer to the West, such as the Arab Gulf states, Morocco and Turkey. Russia’s overall influence in the region is growing in the context of Western retreat. The Russian defense sector has problems, but also demonstrated improvements, learning and flexibility. Undoubtedly, Russia’s arms sales to the MENA region will continue to present a challenge for American interests in this region in the coming years.

    Introduction
    Russia is one of the world’s top arms exporters, second only to the United States since at least 1999.[i] In recent years, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region emerged as Russia’s second most important arms market after Asia. From 2000 to 2016, almost a fifth of Russia’s arms exports went to the MENA region.[ii] To put this in perspective, in 2009, Moscow sold approximately $9 billion worth of arms to this region. In 2016, it sold $21.4 billion.[iii] Many of these sales are upgrades to existing packages.[iv] Since 2000, Moscow also diversified from traditional Soviet-era regional clients.

    Since officially coming to power in May 2000, if not before, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to restore Russia’s image as a Great Power in the context of zero-sum anti-Westernism— for Russia to win, the West had to lose. His approach to the Middle East is the extension of former Russian prime minister Evgeniy Primakov’s vision of a “multipolar world,” driven by desire to prevent the West from dominating any region, and curb Western support for democratization efforts in other countries. For the last 17 years, Putin worked to regain political influence and raise Russia to the status of a competitor to the United States by increasing emphasis on Russia’s business interests—primarily arms, energy and high-tech goods such as nuclear reactors.[v]

    Russia’s economy remains over-reliant on raw materials and natural resources, but the defense industry is one technology-intensive sector where Russia holds an international leadership position. Domestically, Russia’s defense industry is a major source of employment. Russian President Vladimir Putin renewed his emphasis on modernizing the armed forces, especially the navy, on May 7, 2012, on the same day as he took office as president for a third time.[vi] Internationally, the Russian defense industry is a source of important revenue. Thus, Putin lamented in February 2012 about Iraq and countries undergoing the Arab Spring, “Russian companies are losing their decades-long positions in local commercial markets and are being deprived of large commercial contracts.”[vii] As Sergei Chemezov, chief of the powerful state industrial holding Rostec, said in February 2015, “As for the conflict situation in the Middle East, I do not conceal it, and everyone understands this, the more conflicts there are, the more they [clients] buy weapons from us. Volumes are continuing to grow despite sanctions. Mainly, it is in Latin America and the Middle East.”[viii]

    Yet, arms sales entail far more to the Kremlin than mere financial gains. They are also Moscow’s tactical foreign policy tool for wielding political influence and changing power balance dynamics. Indeed, in July 2012, Putin said that arms exports are “an effective instrument for advancing [Moscow’s] national interests, both political and economic.”[ix] In December 2013, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that Russia’s arms sales are the most important element of Moscow’s relations with other countries.[x] And Moscow’s chief goal—regime survival, which it hopes to achieve through reduction of Western influence—runs counter to Western interests and values. Thus, in the MENA region, Moscow courts virtually everyone, and competes with the West whenever an opportunity arises. Arms exports are a major component of these efforts.

    Measurement Issue
    Several obstacles hamper a complete understanding of Russia’s arms trade. Rosoboronexport, Russia’s arms export agency, does not publicize total annual sales figures. In addition, some companies can sell arms directly to clients, bypassing Rosoboronexport, and may not disclose information. When Moscow does disclose Russia’s arms sales figures, the details are generally sparse. Unlike Western countries, Moscow does not provide disaggregated data. The recipient countries in the Middle East are also not consistently forthcoming with details about receiving Russian weaponry.[xi]

    Theoretically, as Chatham House points out, two measures are available to understand arms trade: military capabilities transfer, which involves estimating the material volume of arms transfer, and the financial value of arms transfers. [xii] Both present challenges. For example, some countries pay more than others do for the same weaponry. Also, countries and sources use different definitions of what constitutes an arms transfer, often with substantial variation. These issues hamper a complete understanding of Russia’s arms sales, and some, such as the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), have come up with their own measures to overcome these difficulties.[xiii] Yet, the available data, though incomplete, is sufficient to gain at least an outline, and occasionally a more complete picture of Russian arms exports.

    Why Choose a Russian Weapon?
    When countries prefer Russian weaponry over American systems, it is usually for evident reasons. The US will not sell weapons to many of Russia’s clients for a variety of reasons. Russian weaponry is relatively inexpensive and, generally speaking, often more robust than comparable American systems. In some areas, Moscow’s systems lag severely behind the US in terms of quality and capabilities, but in others, it is a near-peer competitor. For instance, Moscow is quite good at building anti-aircraft missiles, such as the S-300 and S-400 systems, based on lessons-learned from the Kosovo Air War. The American F-35 joint strike fighter can likely currently beat an S-400 (although there is no way to know for sure unless they engage in direct combat). However, Moscow is developing the next generation, the S-500, whose full capabilities are unknown. Russian current-generation aircraft and ballistic missile defenses are on par with those of the US in terms of defense technology. Some Russian missiles have as long a range as American missiles, a few of them even longer. [xiv] In addition, the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system is very slow, bureaucratic and cumbersome, while Moscow takes less time to deliver after a contract is signed.

    Moscow is weak when it comes to follow-up support of sales, and Russian weaponry is not always as technically advanced as America’s, but it is good enough for the needs of many markets, and is often far better than what the purchasing countries can build themselves. Russian weaponry is also a good choice for states on a budget. Moscow advertises this fact. For example, in early October 2015, days after Russia’s Syria intervention, Moscow fired 26 cruise missiles from primarily small corvettes in the Caspian Sea to hit targets in Syria.[xv] Moscow made a public display of the event, not only to demonstrate Russia’s own might but also to show other countries they need not purchase a large expensive warship to achieve strong naval capabilities, and that Moscow would be happy to help them achieve this goal.
    Another practical consideration is that many local military personnel in the MENA region have trained on Russian weaponry and feel comfortable operating it. As one American source familiar with the situation explained it, “If you have an AK-47, why change to an M-16?”[xvi] For example, helicopters are especially crucial to Egypt’s anti-Islamist campaign; and according to first-hand pilot accounts, Russia’ less expensive helicopters fit Egypt’s needs well. Overall, Russian attack helicopters are not necessarily superior technologically, but they bring heavy firepower to a fight. They may fare worse in a contested air space, but the Sinai airspace is not contested. The Russian MiG-29 is a highly advanced aircraft, easier to maintain than an American one, and cheaper than an F-22[xvii] (which the US is currently not even exporting).

    Beyond these advantages, Russian weaponry comes with few strings attached, in contrast to arms sales from Washington. Moscow, unlike the US, does not prohibit secondary arms sales. This means, for example, that when the US sells weapons to Egypt, the weapon must stay in Egypt.[xviii] But in Egypt’s context, buying a Russian weapon it can easily resell to someone else for profit may be a preferable option.

    Moscow also does not burden arms sales with preconditions, such as mandated improvements of human rights. In addition, many in the MENA find Russia easier to deal with—no one needs to worry about falling afoul of a theoretical Russian equivalent of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for example. Thus, countries turn to Moscow when they wish to signal to Washington that they have other options if they do not like the United States’ pre-conditions. At the same time, some Arab states are genuinely interested in diversifying supplies away from the US. Indeed, after the 1991 Gulf War, several GCC states bought Russian systems. The West should not discount Arab countries making such decisions. Russia, unlike the America, invests effort across the MENA region to sell weapons systems. Western analysts tend to point out Russia could never replace the United States. Nevertheless, such views discount another option: Moscow does not have to replace the US. Other authoritarian leaders can choose to move closer to Russia because the Kremlim offers Arab states different advantages including quicker delivery and better negotiating terms. When it comes to arms sales in the MENA region, Moscow has made major inroads during the Putin era with Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Algeria, and to a lesser extent with Turkey, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Arab Persian Gulf. It is also making small inroads with Tunisia and Morocco.

    Iran
    Russia and Iran share a complicated and primarily adversarial centuries-long history, but things slowly began to change following the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, the death of Iran’s revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989. Between 1989 and 1991, the Kremlin signed several arms-supply deals with Tehran worth $5.1 billion, and Iran emerged as one of the Soviet defense industry’s biggest clients. When Putin became president, many hardline Russian politicians and generals endorsed improving relations with Iran in anticipation of major arms sales. Soon Moscow began assisting Tehran’s nuclear program. In October 2000, another important event took place. Putin publicly repealed the 1995 Gore-Chernomyrdin pact—an agreement that limited Russia’s sale of conventional arms to Iran. According to press reports, in practice the agreement actually gave Russia “a free pass to sell conventional weapons to Iran” until 1999.[xix] Moreover, the public cancelation of the deal signaled Putin’s interest in closer cooperation with Iran.

    By 2001, Iran became the third largest foreign buyer of Russian weaponry.[xx] The increased arms trade raised Russia-Iran cooperation to a new level, based on mutual interests. Upon Putin’s invitation, Iranian president Mohammad Khatami came to Moscow in March 2001—the first high level visit since June 1989, when Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani traveled to Russian, and the first visit by an Iranian president since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

    In December 2005, Tehran signed a billion-dollar arms deal that included 29 Tor-M1 missile-defense systems to protect the Bushehr nuclear power plant. According to press reports, in early 2006, Russia also invested $750 million in energy projects in Iran.[xxi] The same year, Moscow strongly endorsed the P5+1 format[xxii] for negotiating with Tehran on the nuclear issue. This new context gave Russia increased diplomatic leverage, and the Kremlin used it to repeatedly dilute sanctions against Iran and extract concessions from the West in exchange for Russia’s cooperation. Indeed, in 2010, the Kremlin extracted an unprecedented concession: Moscow would support some sanctions on Iran in exchange for the US lifting sanctions against the Russian military complex, which would allow Moscow to sell anti-aircraft batteries to Tehran. The same year, under American and Israeli pressure, Moscow froze the sale of S-300 air-defense missiles to Iran.

    Several factors explain Moscow’s more permissive stance toward Iran’s nuclear program. First, Moscow never envisioned the threat of Iran’s nuclear program as the West did. For Moscow, a pro-Western Iran would be more threatening than a nuclear Iran. [xxiii] Moscow for decades has been surrounded by nuclear powers and while one more may not be desirable, it is something Moscow feels it could also live with. Soviet and then Russian diplomat on arms-control and non-proliferation issues Victor Mizin wrote in October 2000 that while “certain people in Russia pay lip service to the politically correct notion that proliferation is dangerous,” Moscow rejects the Western term “rogue states.” Deployed ballistic missiles would not threaten Russian troops stationed abroad as they do American troops, and Russia has no domestic lobbies to pressure the government on such issues as is prevalent in the West. “That is why one always hears very politically correct words from Russian political scientists about concerns that Iran is developing missile capabilities. No one in the Russian political elite is seriously considering the threat of this development.”[xxiv]

    Second, Moscow wanted to increase trade with Iran, and sanctions hampered these aspirations. In 2013, Russia’s and Iran’s political interests converged more than ever before. Russia’s state-run Atomstroyexport helped Tehran complete the Bushehr nuclear power plant and officially gave Iran control of the facility in September 2013. In November 2014, Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom announced an agreement to build two new reactor units in Iran, possibly to be followed by six more. As nuclear deal negotiations advanced, the Kremlin highlighted Russia’s indispensable role in them. He also lifted the freeze on the S-300 sale, and deliveries began in April 2015, despite Israeli concerns. Putin may have lifted the freeze to strengthen Iran’s hand as the nuclear negotiations were ending. When the negotiating parties concluded the agreement in July 2015, Putin praised the nuclear deal and emphasized Russian diplomacy in the process. Some might argue Tehran did not obtain the best deal from a commercial perspective—by this time Russia had S-400s and was developing the S-500—but an S-300 is a formidable weapon in its own right, and should not be discounted.

    Third, Russia has been trying to expand its military cooperation with the Islamic Republic. In August 2016, Moscow used Iran’s Hamadan airbase to bomb targets in Syria. This action surprised not only the world, but many within Iran itself. Not since World War II did a foreign power base itself in Iran. The Iranian public was outraged and Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan accused Moscow of “ungentlemanly”[xxv] behavior for publicizing Russia’s use of the base—but not for the use of the base itself. Furthermore, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said only days afterwards, “The flights [of Russian warplanes] haven’t been suspended. Iran and Russia are allies in the fight against terrorism,” though the Hamedan air base, he claimed, was only “used for refueling.”[xxvi] The next month, Putin said that it would be “just” if Iran reached the pre-sanction’s level of oil production.[xxvii] In November 2016, Putin began discussing a $10 billion arms deal with Tehran.[xxviii] And in August 2017, Germany’s Die Welt reported that Tehran was transferring weapons to Russia via Syria for maintenance, which violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.[xxix] Meanwhile, the Tartus naval base, at least theoretically, provides Moscow with another opportunity to arm Iranian proxy Hezbollah indirectly through Syria if it chooses to do so.

    Syria
    Damascus is historically not only Moscow’s closest ally in the Arab world, but also one of its biggest arms customers. Putin improved bilateral ties further after meeting with President Bashar al-Assad in January 2005. Upon the meeting’s conclusion, Moscow announced it would write off most of Syria’s $13.4 billion debt and sell arms to Damascus in return for Syria’s permission to establish permanent Russian naval facilities in Tartus and Latakia.[xxx] Soon Russia emerged as Syria’s primary weapons supplier. From 2007 through 2010, Russian arms sales to Syria reached $4.7 billion, more than twice the figure for the previous four years.[xxxi] According to SIPRI, Russia accounted for 78 percent of Syria’s weapons purchases between 2007 and 2012. And press reports indicate that Russian ships have been involved in several Syria-related incidents in international waters.[xxxii]

    When anti-al-Assad protests broke out in Damascus in March 2011, Putin supported the Syrian president unequivocally and in multiple ways—politically, diplomatically and economically. But Moscow’s Syria intervention in September 2015 was a game changer that officially returned Russia to the Middle East. The Kremlin had many interests in Syria. While, from an arms sales perspective, it was the perfect advertising arena.

    In early October 2015, just days after launching its intervention, Moscow fired 26 cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea Flotilla. The cruise missiles travelled across Iran and Iraq into Syria to strike what Moscow claimed were Islamic State targets. From a military standpoint, it was questionable at best whether strikes from this location were truly necessary.[xxxiii] For one thing, Moscow could have easily hit the same targets from Russia’s existing assets in Syria. But the advertising benefits for Moscow were clear. The attack displayed formidable capabilities of the relatively new Kalibr cruise missile, which Moscow exports as the shorter-range “Club.” Moscow also showed that even Russia’s small missile corvettes are quite powerful, and that a country on a budget looking for strong naval capabilities does not need to pay for a large and expensive ship.[xxxiv]

    During the next two years, Moscow amplified Russia’s military presence by expanding the Tartus port and the Khmeimim airbase. These ensured Russia’s military presence for the next 49 years, providing Russia with ideal strategic military access to the region while limiting the West’s ability to maneuver. Indeed, after Putin announced yet another faux “withdrawal” from Syria in December 2017,[xxxv] he almost immediately called for further expanding Russia’s naval presence in Tartus.[xxxvi] At the same time, Moscow used Syria to test weaponry and equipment in real battles, advertise these efforts, project power and train the Russian military, especially the pilots. That Moscow went to great lengths to publicize Russia’s arms exports shows how important the arms sales element has been for Moscow’s Syria campaign.[xxxvii]

    Meanwhile, Moscow’s advertising efforts paid off. “This [Russia’s Syria operations] is colossal advertising and Russia expects new purchases worth tens of billions of dollars,” said Alexander Markov, a political analyst and member of Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Politics, in April 2016.[xl] More recently, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said in August 2017, “Customers have started queuing up for the weapons that have proven themselves in Syria.”[xli] To give one example of such success, Russian Su-34 and Su-35 jets, which Moscow tested and used extensively in Syria, began to sell well.[xlii] China bought 24 Su-35 jets in November 2015, and Algeria ordered 12 Su-34s in January 2016.[xliii] The United Arab Emirates began discussion with Russia in February 2017 about purchasing Su-35s.[xliv]Many other countries have expressed interest, such as India and Indonesia, but also many African countries, including Nigeria, Uganda and Ethiopia.[xlv] Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said, in October 2016, “[W]e know that the African continent has a great potential and it [cooperation] can be market-oriented and based on mutual interest.”[xlvi] Africa is a region increasingly important to watch for Russia’s arms sales as a tactic to enter the Sahel.[xlvii]

    North Africa
    Speaking at Russia’s annual Valdai conference in October 2016, President Putin said Africa “cannot be on the periphery of international relations.”[xlviii] Indeed, Moscow is looking at the entire African continent, whose demand for military hardware is growing as GDP rises. In the context of Western sanctions and the Kremlin’s desire to boost Russia’s global power status, reduce Western influence, and make money to keep the Russian government afloat, Putin has already made strides in much of Africa that are impossible to ignore.[xlix] North Africa is a major part of his calculus. According to Russian sources, in 2016 Moscow delivered over $1.5 billion in arms to Algeria and $37 million to Egypt.[l]

    Moscow’s relationship with Cairo, steadily on the rise in recent years, is most robust in the military sector. In September 2014, Russia and Egypt initialed arms contracts worth $3.5 billion, their largest deal in many years, to be funded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The contract reportedly stipulates that Russia will supply the Egyptian military with MiG-29 fighter jets, Mi-35 attack helicopters, air-defense missile complexes, ammunition, and other equipment. There is no direct evidence that the transaction has happened yet, although according to some credible reports in July 2016, Russia began building 46 MiG-29M fighter jets as part of a contract worth at least $2 billion. No public information about the recipient is available, but Egypt is probably the leading candidate.[li]

    Regardless of whether or not Egypt is indeed the buyer in question, Russian-Egyptian military cooperation is visibly growing. The two countries held their first joint naval drills in June 2015, and other military exercises in October 2016.[lii] In September 2017, Cairo finalized negotiations with Moscow to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, approximately two years after inking a preliminary agreement in February 2015.[liii] According to later reports in spring 2016, Moscow will lend Egypt $25 billion for construction.[liv] In this context, it is worth recalling that Cairo used to be Washington’s partner on energy cooperation as part of the George W. Bush administration’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).[lv] President Barack Obama, however, effectively scrapped parts of GNEP in June 2009 [lvi] and showed little interest in expanding an energy partnership with Egypt. This episode provided a gap for Putin to move in.

    In November 2017, Moscow and Cairo began to discuss an agreement to allow Russia and Egypt to access the other’s airspace and air bases, perhaps the clearest sign of growing bilateral military cooperation.[lvii] In March 2017, Moscow deployed special forces to Egypt on the Libyan border, signaling Russia’s growing role in that country.[lviii]

    Libya historically is another major Russian arms customer. Following NATO’s 2011 intervention, Russia lost billions of dollars’ worth of arms contracts in Libya. While the Russian government and analysts typically quantified this loss at $4 to $4.5 billion, “the real lost revenue,” according to Mikhail Dmitriyev, who heads Russia’s Federal Service on Military and Technical Cooperation, “could top tens of billions of dollars.”[lix] Lost contracts covered a wide range of military equipment, including Su-35 fighters, Yak130 combat and training planes, Project 636 submarines, advanced S-300 systems, Mi-17 transport helicopters, and many others. Importantly, Moscow also lost access to the port of Benghazi. Libya is a good candidate for another potential Moscow intervention under the guise of fighting Islamic terrorism, albeit on a smaller scale than in Syria. As a result of Western disinterest in Libya, Putin has been able to insert himself, both in leaning heavily on General Khalifa Haftar in Libya’s oil-rich east, and by establishing contacts with all other major actors on the ground. Putin is now reportedly eyeing Tobruk and other ports for potential berthing agreements.[lx] Such a development would entail significant Russian investment, but a permanent naval presence in Libya by Russia as a regional power broker is a serious possibility.

    Moscow is also making some headway in Tunisia. In June 2015, Moscow signed a Memorandum of Understanding on nuclear cooperation with Tunisia “[f]or the first time in the history of Russian-Tunisian relations,” according to Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear regulatory corporation.[lxi] In September 2016 the memorandum was expanded into a nuclear cooperation agreement.[lxii] Morocco is a traditionally Western ally, but reportedly, the country is talking with Moscow about purchasing S-400s.[lxiii] In October 2016, the two countries signed 11 agreements, and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced Russia’s decision to “deliver military equipment” to Morocco, though he did not disclose details.[lxiv]

    Algeria has long been in Moscow’s camp and remained a top buyer of Russian arms throughout the 2000s. Since 2001, when Russia and Algeria signed a declaration of strategic partnership, bilateral relations have been strongest in the military sector. In 2006, Russia concluded a $7.5 billion arms deal with Algeria, its largest post-Soviet weapons sale, which included a military modernization and training program and cancelation of a $4.7 billion Soviet-era debt. In 2014, the two countries signed a $1 billion arms deal, which a Russian military expert in business-oriented Vedomosti described as “possibly the largest export contract for main battle tanks in the world.”[lxv] Weapons sales from Russia in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015 provided Algeria with additional military equipment, including helicopters, tanks and submarines. In 2016, Algeria and Russia also began sharing intelligence on terrorist group movement across North Africa, and they announced additional plans for deeper military cooperation.

    The Arab Persian Gulf and Turkey
    The West traditionally dominates the Gulf arms market, but the Kremlin has always courted this region. For Moscow, it is important to compete with the West. And as an added benefit, Gulf customers are wealthy and can pay full price for Russian weaponry, unlike clients such as Egypt. Indeed, the UAE has been among major buyers of Russian arms in the 1990s and early 2000s.

    Russia’s relations with this region deteriorated significantly during the Syrian conflict, with Russians and Arabs generally lining up on opposite sides. Despite this, interest in Russian arms among Arab states remains. In February 2017, the UAE signed a letter of intent to purchase the Sukhoi Su-35, as mentioned above.[lxvi] Only China currently buys these jets from Russia. The Emirates has also purchased ground weapons from Russia, such as BMP-3 infantry combat vehicles and Pantsir S1 air-defense systems. In February 2017, the UAE also signed $1.9 billion worth of military contracts, which reportedly includes 5,000 anti-armor missiles, in addition to training and logistic support. The country also started talks with Rostec about the development of a fifth-generation MiG-29 aircraft variant; though experts are skeptical, the UAE can co-produce. Very few countries can produce a fifth-generation fighter aircraft. Theoretically, Russia can, but it only recently began production of fourth-generation Su-34s developed in the 1980s.[lxvii]

    Reportedly, Qatar is also talking to Russia about purchasing S-400s, and here the discussion appears more realistic. In October 2017, Moscow and Doha signed a military and technical cooperation Memorandum of Understanding, according to TASS,[lxviii] and the Qatari government apparently expressed interest in purchasing the S-400s.[lxix]

    In October 2017, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud became the first ever Saudi monarch to visit Russia. The fact that the visit occurred shows how much influence Putin has achieved in the Middle East. Upon the meeting’s conclusion, Salman and Putin signed a packet of documents on energy, trade and defense, and they agreed to several billion dollars’ worth of joint investment.[lxx] Reportedly, Saudi Arabia also decided to purchase Russia’s S-400 air defense system, making it, after Turkey, the second American ally to do so.[lxxi]

    Continued...

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    Russia’s presence in Iraq is relatively small but important. In 2012, the Kremlin signed a $4 billion arms deal with the Iraqi government—one of the larger arms deals of Putin’s tenure. This agreement places Russia as the second largest arms supplier to Iraq after the United States.[lxxii] Reportedly, Moscow began deliveries in October 2013, after a delay due to internal corruption claims in the Iraqi parliament.[lxxiii] The same month Putin identified Iraq as an important Middle East partner and announced Russia’s readiness, in this context, to help Iraq, including through “military-technical” cooperation.[lxxiv]

    In the early 2000s the Kremlin began expanding areas of cooperation with Turkey, a NATO member, and these included modest arms contracts.[lxxv] But in September 2017, in the context of deteriorating relations with the West, Turkey signed what many called a landmark $2.5 billion deal, Ankara’s first major arms agreement with Russia, to purchase the S-400 missile system.[lxxvi] The deal raises several questions. First, the Russian system is not compatible with NATO systems. Second, it is unclear how Turkey intends to use the S-400. Some question whether the deal will go through at all, but the fact of the matter is, the signing alone is significant. It shows how much influence Putin has gained with the NATO ally, who for years now has increasingly turned away from Western democratic values. Nor should analysts dismiss the possibility that the deal will go through either, as Turkey is falling deeper into Moscow’s sphere of influence.

    Conclusion
    Russia’s defense industry is not without problems. As mentioned previously, Russian weaponry often lags far behind the United States in terms of effectiveness or technological innovation. China, meanwhile, wields a level of commercial influence Russia cannot compete with; and indeed, some countries, such as Algeria, are increasingly looking toward China, even as Algiers signed its blockbuster deal with Moscow. China is also starting to dominate in high-growth areas such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), where Russia is no match.[lxxvii] Another element is Western sanctions on Russian dual-use high-technology imports, especially effective toward Russia’s defense industry. Commercially available technologies such as microelectronics and quantum computing have increasingly important modern military applications, but Russia cannot produce them independently. It has tried to resort to import substitution, but so far with poor results. In addition, Russian weapons met no real opposition in Syria. Therefore, despite Moscow’s tests and displays, questions about the full extent of these weapons’ capabilities remain.

    Nonetheless, there is no denying that Putin is making great strides overall in the MENA region since May 2000, and more recently in the defense sector as part of Russia’s tactic to use weapons sales to garner closer relations with Arab states at the expense of the US and Europe. Moscow’s military reform efforts since 2008 have clearly paid off, and arms sales have been an effective tactical tool in Moscow’s foreign policy arsenal. In dollar terms at least, Russian arms sales to the Middle East continue to increase every year. In addition, the advantages Russian arms offer to this region continue to outweigh the disadvantages, both practically and politically. Russia’s overall economic trajectory is on a slow and long-term path of deterioration, but still nowhere near a collapse. As a July 2016 NATO Defense College report points out, the West should not confuse Russia’s weakness with fragility.[lxxviii] Even if Moscow boasts more than it achieves in reality, the Kremlin has been playing a diminishing hand very well. While most US defense experts believe Russia will be unable to produce much next-generation weaponry, Moscow is making significant strides with its existing technology. Russian arms are sufficient for most of Moscow’s clients—particularly those who cannot afford top-of-the-line American technology. In the context of US retreat from the region, Moscow has stepped into a vacuum where the Kremlin’s efforts generate a multiplier effect of real power. As long as US leadership is absent from the region, Russia’s arms sales to the Middle East and North Africa will remain a serious problem for American interests.

    ENDNOTES
    [i] Christopher Woody, “Top of Form
    The US and Russia are dominating the global weapons trade,” Business Insider, December 28, 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/us-ru...-sales-2016-12.
    [ii] Richard Connolly and Cecilie Sendstad, Russia’s Role as an Arms Exporter: The Strategic and Economic Importance of Arms Exports for Russia, Chatham House, p 5, https://www.chathamhouse.org/publica...exports-russia.

    [iii] Based on data author obtained from IHS Jane’s on November 23, 2017.
    [iv] Author interview with anonymous US aviation source, November 14, 2017, Washington, DC.

    [v] Robert O. Freedman, “Russian Policy toward the Middle East under Yeltsin and Putin, Jerusalem Letter/Viewpoints 461 (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, September 2, 2001), http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp461.htm.

    [vi] Vladimir Putin, Decree, “Realization of the Plans for the Development of the Armed Forces and the Modernization of the Defense Industry,” May 7, 2012, http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/15242.

    [vii] “Russia and the Changing World,” RT, February 27, 2012, available at https://www.rt.com/politics/official...ing-world-263/.

    [viii] “Ãëàâà “Ðîñòåõà” ñîîáùèë î ðîñòå ïðîäàæ: ‘×åì áîëüøå êîíôëèêòîâ, òåì áîëüøå ó íàñ ïîêóïàþò âîîðóæåíèÿ’” Newsru.com, February 23, 2015 http://www.newsru.com/russia/23feb2015/chemezov.html.

    [ix] President of Russia, Meeting of the Commission for military technology cooperation with foreign states,” Kremlin.ru, July 2, 2012, http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/15865.

    [x] “Rogozin: Russia Ranks Second in the World on Export Supply of Military Goods,” Daily News Light, December 11, 2013, http://dailynewslight.ru/?u=11122013868.

    [xi] Author email exchanges with SPIRI, November 2017.

    [xii]Richard Connolly and Cecilie Sendstad, Russia’s Role as an Arms Exporter: The Strategic and Economic Importance of Arms Exports for Russia,Chatham House, p 5, https://www.chathamhouse.org/publica...exports-russia.

    [xiii] SIPRI has developed a system called “trend indicator values” (TIV), rather than actual dollar values. For a more detailed explanation see: SIPRI has developed a unique system to measure the volume of international transfers of major conventional weapons using a common unit, the trend-indicator value (TIV).

    [xiv]Author interview with anonymous US aviation source, November 14, 2017, Washington, DC.

    [xv] Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Pentagon: Some Russian cruise missiles crashed in Iran,” The Washington Post, October 8, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...nt-into-syria/.

    [xvi] Author interview with anonymous US aviation source, November 14, 2017, Washington, DC.

    [xvii] Ibid.

    [xviii] Unless the US grants special permission.

    [xix] “Gore’s Secret Pact,” October 18, 2000 The Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB971819748452949326.

    [xx] Ariel Cohen and James A. Phillips, “Countering Russian-Iranian Military Cooperation,” Backgrounder 1425 on Russia (Heritage Foundation, April 5, 2001), http://www.heritage.org/research/rep...ry-cooperation.

    [xxi] For example, a recent survey of Syrian refugees in Germany—the first survey of Syrian refugees in Europe—found that approximately 70 percent of Syrian refugees are fleeing Assad. Complete survey results are available at http://washin.st/1RMy3sj. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at the end of 2013 the total number of displaced people worldwide, for the first time since World War II, surpassed 51 million, a 6-million-person increase over the previous year. This rise, UNHCR found, is due largely to the Syria crisis. See UNHCR, “World Refugee Day: Global Forced Displacement Tops 50 Million for First Time in Post–World War II Era,” June 20, 2014, http://www.unhcr.org/53a155bc6.html.

    [xxii] The five permanent United Nations Security Council members United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, plus Germany.

    [xxiii] Indeed, Russian Middle East expert Georgiy Mirsky wrote in his blog on the liberal website Echo Moskvy in April 2015, “Several years ago, I heard from the lips of one MIA [Ministry of Internal Affairs] employee such reasoning: ‘For us, a pro-American Iran is worse than a nuclear Iran.’ ”

    [xxiv] Quoted in Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Proliferation Brief, Vol. 3, no. 22, July 25, 2000, Richard Speier, “Iran-Russia Missile Cooperation Richard Speier, Rober Gallucci, Robbie Sabel, Viktor Mizin,” section “The Russian View,” http://carnegieendowment.org/files/Repairing_12.pdf.

    [xxv] Anne Barnard, Andre E. Kramer, “Iran Revokes Russia’s Use of Air Base, Saying Moscow ‘Betrayed Trust’” The New York Times, August 22, 2016 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/30/w...pgtype=article.

    [xxvi] Allen Cone, “Russia gets permission to use Iran’s Hamadan air base for Syria airstrikes,” UPI, November 30, 2016, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-N...8251480520159/.

    [xxvii] “Ïóòèí: ñïðàâåäëèâî, åñëè Èðàí äîñòèãíåò äîñàíêöèîííîãî óðîâíÿ äîáû÷è íåôòè,” RIA Novosti,September 5, 2016, https://ria.ru/economy/20160905/1476118270.html.

    [xxviii] Adam Kredo, “US officials ‘concerned’ as Iran, Russia plan $10 billion arms deal,” November 15, 2016,
    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/11...arms-deal.html.

    [xxix] Von Christina Brause, Julia Smirnova, and Walter Wolowelsk, “Neue Schmuggelroute zwischen Russland und dem Iran,” Welt N24 TV (Berlin), August 13, 2017, https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/...-dem-Iran.html.

    [xxx] Van Hipp, “Russia’s Putin Is Making His Moves in Syria and Beyond,” Fox News, June 27, 2012, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/...d-beyond.html; Ariel Cohen, “Russia’s Troubling Arms Sales,” Washington Times, March 19, 2007, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...463099r/print/.

    [xxxi] Richard F. Grimmett, “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2003–2010,” Congressional Research Service, September 22, 2011, https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/R42017.pdf. See also reference in David M. Herszenhorn, “For Syria, Reliant on Russia for Weapons and Food, Old Bonds Run Deep,” New York Times, February 18, 2012, http:// http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/wo...-and-deep.html.

    [xxxii] See for example the following articles:
    “A Ship Comes Loaded with Timber…or Weapons?” Utrikesperspektiv, December 12, 2013, http://utrikesperspektiv.se/?p=348.208; “Russia Denies Hijacked Ship Was Carrying Missiles,” CNN, September 8, 2009, http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe...l?iref=nextin; Luke Harding,
    Michael Schwirtz, “More Questions about a Hijacked Ship,” New York Times, October 10, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/wo...html?_r=0.209; Interfax, “EU Rapporteur Presumes Arctic Sea Transported Russian Missiles,” August 19, 2009, https://archive.is/RWW5z.210.

    [xxxiii] Dave Majumdar, “Cruise Missile Strikes in Syria: Russia’s Big Ad Campaign?” The National Interest, October 8, 2015 http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the...campaign-14032.

    [xxxiv] Dave Majumdar, “Cruise Missile Strikes in Syria: Russia’s Big Ad Campaign?” The National Interest, October 8, 2015, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the...ampaign-14032; Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Pentagon: Some Russian cruise missiles crashed in Iran,” The Washington Post, October 8, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...nt-into-syria/.
    [xxxv] In March 2016, for example, Putin announced a withdrawal of the “main part” of Russia’s armed forces in Syria, but in reality Russia’s presence continued to grow.

    [xxxvi] “Putin Asks Lawmakers to Expand Russia’s Navy Presence in Syria,” The Moscow Times, December 13, 2017, https://themoscowtimes.com/news/pati...ampaign=131217.

    [xxxvii] Alex Luhn, Russia’s campaign in Syria leads to arms sale windfall,” The Guardian, March 29, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...sale-windfall; Andrew O’Reilly, “Russian sale of fighter jets to UAE highlights shift toward Kremlin amid US hesitancy,” Fox News, March 2, 2017, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017...esitancy.html; “Going Global: Russian Su-34 on the Way to Become Export Bestseller,” Sputnik, June 1, 2016, https://sputniknews.com/military/201...omber-algeria/.

    [xxxviii] Author email exchange with anonymous US aviation source, December 7–9, 2017.

    [xxxix] Author conversation with anonymous US aviation sources, Washington, DC, December 7, 2017.

    [xl] Mansur Mirovalev, “Syria’s war: A showroom for Russian arms sales,” Al Jazeera, April 6, 2016, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/0...135130398.html.

    [xli] Vladimir Isachenkov, “Russia hoping to boost arms sales after Syrian usage,” DefenseNews.com, August 30, 2017, https://www.defensenews.com/global/a...-syrian-usage/.
    [xlii] Daniel Brown, “Russia is using Syria as a testing ground for some of its most advanced weapons,” Business Insider, May 24, 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/russi...weapons-2017-5.

    [xliii] Oscar Nkala Algeria Orders 12 Su-34 ‘Fullback’ Fighter-Bombers from Russia,” DefenseNews.com, January 5, 2016, https://www.defensenews.com/home/201...s-from-russia/.

    [xliv] Giovanni de Briganti “UAE Swings to Russia for Future Combat Aviation,” Defense-Aerospace.com, February 21, 2017, http://www.defense-aerospace.com/art...greements.html.

    [xlv] “Russia Faces High Demand for Su-34, Su-35 Jets After Success in Syria,” Sputnik, April 5, 2016, https://sputniknews.com/military/201...ntial-buyers/; “Going Global: Russian Su-34 on the Way to Become Export Bestseller,” Sputnik, January 6, 2016, https://sputniknews.com/military/201...omber-algeria/.

    [xlvi] “Putin says Russia wants to restore cooperation with African countries,” Russia Beyond the Headlines October 12, 2016, https://www.rbth.com/news/2016/10/12...untries_638253.

    [xlvii] Theodore Karasik and Giorgio Cafiero, “Why does Vladimir Putin see in Sudan?” The Atlantic Council, November 27, 2017, http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs...re-about-sudan.

    [xlviii] “Ïóòèí çàÿâèë, ÷òî Àôðèêà íå ìîæåò áûòü íà ïåðèôåðèè ìåæäóíàðîäíûõ îòíîøåíèé,” RIA Novosti,
    October 27, 2016, https://ria.ru/world/20161027/1480166410.html.

    [xlix] For example, The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute announced in December 2011 that Russia supplied 11 percent of major arms to sub-Saharan Africa, as reported in: “Russia eyes Africa to boost arms sales,” The Guardian, April 4, 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...-trade-africa; see also; Eugene Steinberg, “Revealed: Russia’s Mighty Pivot to Africa,” The National Interest, October 14, 2015,
    http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the...t-africa-13585. Sudan is also looking to Russia for assistance in upgrading its armed forces: “Russia to help Sudan upgrade its armed forces,” TASS, November 23, 2017, http://tass.com/defense/977087http:/...defense/977087. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited Moscow that month and asked Moscow for “protection” from the US and Sudan could become “a key to Africa for Russia.” The International Criminal Court wants Bashir for a number of crimes, including genocide: see “Sudan’s President Visits Russia, Asks for Protection From US,” Voice of America, November 23, 2017, https://www.voanews.com/a/sudan-pres...s/4131704.html.

    [l] Andrei Akulov, “Russia’s Arms Sales to Middle East Countries Spike to Record-High Levels,”StrategicCulture.org, November 18, 2017, https://www.strategic-culture.org/pv...gh-levels.html.

    [li] Matthew Bodner, “Who Is Russia Secretly Supplying With MiGs?” The Moscow Times, July 20, 2016, https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/...in-egypt-54642.

    [lii] Damien Sharkov, “Russia and Egypt hold first ever joint naval drill,” June 12, 2015, http://www.newsweek.com/russia-milit...remlin-603690; “Russia, Egypt start first joint military exercise in the desert,” October 16, 2016, https://dailynewsegypt.com/2016/10/1...ercise-desert/.

    [liii] Associated Press, “Egypt Finalizes Deal With Russia for First Nuclear Plant,” Voice of America, September 4, 2017, https://www.voanews.com/a/egypt-fina...t/4014549.html.

    [liv] Reuters Staff, “Russia to lend Egypt $25 billion to build nuclear power plant,” Reuters, May 19, 2016, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-e...-idUSKCN0YA1G5.

    [lv] It aimed to create an international partnership, which would advance safe and extensive global expansion of nuclear power through so-called “cradle-to-grave fuel services” within a regulated market for enriched uranium, where several large countries would provide enriched uranium to smaller countries. This plan aimed to address crucial concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation and waste management, and to eliminate the need for smaller countries to build facilities for uranium processing and disposal in the first place, saving them billions.

    [lvi] Federal Register, Vol. 74, No 123, June 29, 2009, https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/...ation-2009.pdf.

    [lvii] “Russia, Egypt in Talks to Sign Airbase Deal,” The Moscow Times, November 30, 2017,
    https://themoscowtimes.com/news/russ...ase-deal-59766.

    [lviii] Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali and Lin Noueihed, “Exclusive: Russia appears to deploy forces in Egypt, eyes on Libya role – sources,” Reuters, March 13, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-u...-idUSKBN16K2RY.

    [lix] Alexei Anishchuk, “Gaddafi Fall Cost Russia Tens of Blns in Arms Deals,” Reuters, November 2, 2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/...7M221H20111102.

    [lx] Theodore Karasik and Jeremy Vaughn, “Middle East Maritime Security: The Growing Role of Regional and Extraregional Navies.” Washington Institute Near East Policy, Policy Notes 41, September 2017, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/p...itime-security.

    [lxi] “Russia and Tunisia sign nuclear MOU,” World Nuclear News, June 2, 2015, http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP...-02061503.html.

    [lxii] Rosatom, “Tunisia and Russia signed an Intergovernmental Agreement on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy,” September 26, 2016, http://www.rosatom.ru/en/press-centr...atomic-energy/.

    [lxiii] Christopher Woody, “Top of Form
    The US and Russia are dominating the global weapons trade,” Business Insider, December 28, 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/us-ru...-sales-2016-12.

    [lxiv] Associated Press, “Russian Prime Minister Strikes Energy Deals in Morocco,” Voice of America, October 11, 2017, https://www.voanews.com/a/russian-pr...-/4066941.html.

    [lxv] Alexei Nikolskiy, “Çàêëþ÷åí êîíòðàêò ïî ëèöåíçèîííîìó ïðîèçâîäñòâó òàíêîâ Ò-90 â Àëæèðå,
    https://www.vedomosti.ru/newspaper/a...hirskoi-sborki.

    [lxvi] “UAE wants to buy over a squadron of Su-35 advanced fighter jets from Russia,” TASS, October 3, 2017, http://tass.com/defense/968593.

    [lxvii] Author email exchanges with military experts, Washington, DC, November 2017.

    [lxviii] “Russia, Qatar sign agreement on military and technical cooperation,” TASS, October 25, 2017
    http://tass.com/defense/972547.

    [lxix] “Qatar turns its back on the US as it looks to Moscow for missiles,” The New Arab, August 25, 2017, https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/ne...al-with-russia.

    [lxx] Agreements signed upon conclusion of Saudi-Russian negotiations, October 5, 2017, http://kremlin.ru/supplement/5236.

    [lxxi] Reuters, “Saudi Arabia to buy S-400 air defense system from Russia,” Haaretz, October 5, 2017, https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.815867.

    [lxxii] Russia to Become Iraq’s Second-Biggest Arms Supplier,” BBC, October 9, 2012, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-19881858.

    [lxxiii] United Press International, “Iraq Gets Russian Arms Shipments under Landmark $4.4B Deal,” October 21, 2013, http://washin.st/23s7HzF.

    [lxxiv] “Presentation of foreign ambassadors’ letters of credence,” Kremlin.ru, October 23, 2013, http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/19478.

    [lxxv] Robert O. Freedman, “Russia and the Middle East under Putin,” Ortadogu Etutleri 2, no. 3 (July 2010): p. 26, http://www.orsam.org.tr/en/enUploads...m.etutler.pdf; “Russia Offers Gas to Turks,” Kommersant, November 24, 2000, http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/161412; Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Turkey’s Political Relations with Russian Federation,” http://www.mfa.gov.tr/turkey_s-polit...eration.en.mfa.

    [lxxvi] Fulya Ozerkan, “Turkey Signs Landmark Russian Weapons Deal,” September 12, 2017, https://www.military.com/daily-news/...pons-deal.html.

    [lxxvii] Author telephone interview with Ben Moores, analyst, IHS Jane’s, November 23, 2017.

    [lxxviii] Richard Connolly, Towards Self Sufficiency? Economics as a Dimension of Russian Security and the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation to 2020, NATO Defense College, July 18, 2016, http://www.ndc.nato.int/news/news.php?icode=96432.

    Download the PDF version of this paper here:
    Anna Borshchevskaya WS2 – Arms Sales

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    http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017...ism-escalates/

    German Jewish Leader Warns That Jews May Require Police Protection As Anti-Semitism Escalates

    by Chris Tomlinson 30 Dec 2017
    Comments 1918

    Former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Charlotte Knobloch claims that Jews are increasingly under threat in public and may require police protection to lead a normal life without harassment and violence.

    Ms Knobloch, who is now the President of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, said that Jews are increasingly under threat, Die Welt reports.

    “Aggressive anti-Semitism, from verbal hostility on the Internet and in the analogue world to desecration and destruction to physical attacks are commonplace in Germany,” she said.

    “Jewish life can only take place in public under police protection and the strictest security precautions, or it must be completely cancelled for security reasons,” Knobloch added.

    The Jewish leader spoke about several recent anti-semitic cases including the vandalism of a Menorah in the city of Heilbronn, and the cancellation of a public Menorah lighting in Mülheim/Ruhr due to security issues.

    “Anti-Semitism is strengthening on the right and the left, in the Muslim community and also in the middle of society. That’s why we need an anti-Semitism commissioner,” Knobloch said, requesting that the German Federal government appoint an official with “strong powers”.

    Many have blamed the influx of Muslim migrants under Chancellor Angela Merkel for the growth in anti-Semitic incidents. Fashion mogul Karl Lagerfeld blamed Ms Merkel directly earlier this year, saying: “One cannot – even if there are decades between them – kill millions of Jews and then bring millions of their worst enemies in their place.”

    Breitbart London
    @BreitbartLondon

    Surging Anti-Semitism in Germany Sparks Cry for Help from Jewish Community
    http://www.
    breitbart.com/jerusalem/2017
    /07/23/surging-anti-semitism-in-germany-sparks-cry-for-help-from-jewish-community/

    3:05 AM - Jul 23, 2017

    Surging Anti-Semitism in Germany Sparks Cry for Help from Jews
    The German government has been accused of abandoning its Jewish community as a surging tide of anti-Semitism means all Jews feel threatened.
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    In a survey of Jews in Germany, many said that most of the violent attacks they experienced came from Muslims, while far-right and far-left attacks were mostly limited to verbal harassment or harassment online.

    After U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would be moving the U.S. Israeli embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the city as the capital of Israel, Germany saw anti-Semitic protests which were denounced by the Chancellor and her government.

    Despite the opposition to the protests, some, like German police union head Rainer Wendt, slammed Merkel.

    “The same politicians who continue this immigration and deportation drama by illegally allowing in more and more foreigners from the most anti-Semitic region of the world and not even deporting the offenders among them, then proclaim that they are doing everything against anti-Semitism,” Wendt observed.

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    http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/eas...h-in-hong-kong

    Anti-Beijing protesters march in Hong Kong

    Published 5 hours ago

    HONG KONG (AFP) - Angry protesters marched through Hong Kong on Monday (Jan 1) against what they described as suppression by Beijing, days after Chinese authorities ruled that part of a city rail station would come under mainland law.

    Semi-autonomous Hong Kong has been ruled under a "one country, two systems" deal since Britain returned it to China in 1997 and enjoys rights unseen on the mainland, including freedom of speech and an independent judiciary.

    But a string of recent incidents have fuelled concern over the erosion of its autonomy and rule of law, including the jailing of prominent pro-democracy activists.

    Campaigner Joshua Wong, who joined thousands of protesters at the march Monday, said suppression by China's Communist Party government had worsened in 2017.

    Wong, 21, was jailed in August over his role in the Umbrella Movement mass pro-democracy protests of 2014 and is on bail pending an appeal against his six-month sentence.

    "In 2018, I hope that every Hong Konger can become an avenger, and win back the core values eroded by Beijing," Wong told AFP.

    Many of the protesters were angry at the so-called "co-location" agreement, which would bring part of a new rail terminus in the heart of Hong Kong under mainland law.

    The high-speed link to the sprawling southern mainland cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou is due to open this year, with plans for a joint immigration checkpoint that would see mainland police and other officials based in the Hong Kong terminus.

    The station is on Hong Kong's famous harbourfront in Kowloon, not on the border with the mainland further to the north.

    China's top legislative body approved the project last week.

    The final stage before implementation is a vote by Hong Kong's legislative council, which is weighted towards Beijing.

    Pro-democracy lawmakers, campaigners and some in the city's legal community say the plan is a violation of Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, which says national laws do not apply to Hong Kong except for a few exceptions.

    Hong Kong's pro-Beijing government argues that the rail set-up is for the convenience of passengers and both local and Chinese authorities insist it does not impinge on the city's autonomy.

    Teacher Simon Woo, 47, who joined the march with his wife and daughter said the "survival of Hong Kong is under severe threat", citing the rail terminus agreement as one of the main reasons he was protesting.

    "What the Communist Party does and says is irrational. Their attitude towards us is that of an emperor and an autocracy," added Jessica Chan, an education worker in her 30s.

    "Hong Kongers cannot accept this." The march was due to culminate outside the city's government offices later Monday.

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    http://thehill.com/policy/defense/36...on-afghanistan

    Trump shifts gears on Afghanistan

    BY ELLEN MITCHELL - 01/01/18 08:30 AM EST
    Comments 298

    President Trump is changing gears on Afghanistan as he enters his second year in office.

    After decrying nation building during his presidential campaign and lambasting Afghanistan as a “complete waste,” the president is in the midst of sending thousands more troops to the country in an effort to stabilize it.

    The move, military commanders say, will help break a stalemate in the longest U.S. war in history and help beat back a resurgent Taliban and straggling Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters.

    But defense experts say there is little indication the shift will be a quick fix.
    The U.S. must contend with an increased ISIS presence while keeping Afghanistan politically stable and pressuring Pakistan to limit the space for the Taliban and other terrorist groups, according to James Carafano of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

    “We’re seeing foreign fighters flow there. We’ve also seen some regional tensions and challenges for the government,” Carafano, a member of the Trump transition team, told The Hill.

    The administration is pressuring Pakistan to shore up its borders, but Carafano said it may take years to win gains from the relationship.

    Afghanistan’s pressing difficulties becomes all the more apparent after a terror attack this week in Kabul. The suicide bombing at a Shiite cultural center killed 41 people and injured dozens of others, with ISIS claiming credit.

    “The United States strongly condemns today’s barbaric attack at a cultural and social center in Kabul, Afghanistan, and offers its deepest condolences to the victims and their families,” the White House said in a statement.

    “The United States stands firmly with the government and people of Afghanistan and will work closely with the National Unity Government to bring the perpetrators of this heinous attack to justice.”

    Prior to the presidential campaign, Trump more than a dozen times wrote on Twitter that the U.S. military should leave the country given the lives and dollars lost in Afghanistan.

    “Let’s get out of Afghanistan,” he wrote in January 2013. “Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.”

    Once a Republican candidate, however, Trump said the United States would likely have to stay in Afghanistan, but promised to end “nation-building” missions.

    “We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place,” Trump told CNN in October 2015.

    “We had real brilliant thinkers that didn't know what the hell they were doing. And it's a mess. . . . And at this point, you probably have to (stay) because that thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave.”

    Shortly after taking office, Trump spoke little about Afghanistan beyond boasting he had taken the shackles off his commanders in making decisions, a move which allowed them to drop its largest non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets in Afghanistan in April.

    “We have the greatest military in the world, and they’ve done a job as usual so we have given them total authorization,” he told reporters at the time. “And that’s what they’re doing. And, frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately.”

    In August, he revealed his newest stance in announcing a strategy that includes an indefinite time commitment and thousands more troops in the country.

    Trump has acknowledged that being in office changed his views.

    “My original instinct was to pull out and, historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office,” Trump said as he revealed the strategy.

    Carafno defended the sharp change in Trump’s campaign and presidential rhetoric.

    “He said on the campaign trail what he thought with the information that he had and what he knew. And then as president when he talked to people and they said ‘this is the right thing to do,’ he was able to make the right decisions,” he said.

    Carafano also argued the changed stance points to an emerging pattern in Trump’s decisions.

    “He’s willing to take on things which could take years and which in the end won’t necessarily end the issue but it will protect America’s interests,” Carafano said. “It shows that he is willing to commit to long-term policies.”

    The Pentagon started sending about 3,000 additional troops to the country this summer – upping the number of U.S. forces to 14,000. The U.S. military will soon send thousands more advisers to aid their Afghan counterparts closer to the front lines, according to Gen. John Nicholson, the head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

    There are “well over 1,000 advisers out at any given time,” Nicholson told reporters. “Next year, however, this will increase dramatically.”

    Trump also eased restrictions on U.S. military commanders. Leaders operating in Afghanistan are now allowed greater use of offensive American air power against the Taliban and have tripled the number of munitions dropped on insurgents.

    For now, the war in the country is “still in a stalemate,” and some experts believe the fight will only grow more messy in 2018.

    “He’s putting a Donald Trump spin on the previous administration’s Afghanistan strategy, slightly fewer troops but more bombing,” said Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War, which advocates for a diplomacy-heavy foreign policy.

    Miles called it “completely impossible” to think 15,000 troops will tip a war in favor of the United States when previous presidents were unable to do so with a force of 100,000.

    To turn the page on Afghanistan's issues, which include rampant government corruption and an oppressive political system, would require a kind of diplomatic effort that seems non-existent in the Trump administration, he told The Hill.

    “The question of Afghanistan in 2018 is are we going to learn of the failures of the past? We’re seeing a complete failure for having any sort of regional framework. We keep making the same mistakes and nothing really changes, unfortunately,” Miles said.

    But Trump seems willing to continue to push on in Afghanistan, as evidenced by his August speech.

    “No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia, but we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions.”

  8. #8
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    https://www.realcleardefense.com/art...ct_112843.html

    Foreign Fighters and Mercenaries Fueling Libyan Conflict

    By Joseph Hammond
    January 02, 2018

    Libya is becoming a mercenary’s dream with multiple factions competing for hired guns from across the Middle East and Africa. Regional experts and a report released by the United Nations make this abundantly clear.

    Paid fighters ranging from Sub-Saharan Africa to the Arabian Peninsula are flocking to Libya and fueling its civil war, according to the report released this year by the Panel of Experts on Libya which began its work in 2011.

    The large scale of use of mercenary units in Libya separates the conflict from other civil wars in the region. Experts say the country’s relatively large size and small population – it has a land mass larger than Alaska and a population smaller than of than Massachusetts – is one reason it has expanded so quickly. The United Nations report provides the most recent systematic analysis of the practice.

    “Foreign interference in Libya has taken a more direct form with the increasing involvement of Chadian and Sudanese mercenaries” the report reads. The report notes that all sides are using foreign fighters to perpetuate the conflict.

    The foreign fighters are also raising fears that they may return to their own unstable countries and foment violence.

    The presence of large groups of foreign fighters in Libya is in striking contrast to other regional conflicts. The Syrian Civil War and the larger struggle against the Assad regime, for example, has attracted lone jihadists from around the world. The Libyan Civil war, by contrast, has attracted entire military units and terrorist groups are joining the conflict. Notable examples include Da'esh, possibly Hamas, as well as rebel movements from nations in the Sahel region of Africa.

    Libya’s international attempt to ban Palestinians, Syrians and Sudanese from entering the country is due in part to prior concerns that nationals of those countries could become mercenaries in Libya's civil war in 2015.

    In September of this year, the Libyan Attorney General's Office released new information on foreign fighters fighting with Da'esh in Libya with fighters coming from as far as Eritrea and Ghana. The over one hundred foreign fighters from Sudan, Egypt and Tunisia are now members of Da’esh in Libya. The official also revealed that a Mauritanian national had been organizing a terror cell for the Palestinian group Hamas in Libya.

    Other claims have emerged regarding Hamas’ presence in Libya including Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman Ahmed Al- Mismari, who told the media this summer that Hamas was fighting with Islamists in Libya and was receiving direct military support from Qatar.

    The LNA also produced a Qatari diplomatic document from 2012 which, it claims, proves a Qatari military presence in Libya. In the past Egyptian officials have also blasted the role of Qatar in the conflict while supporting the rival LNA.

    The United Nation’s report appears to support that claim. It mentions, in passing, a Palestinian military presence in Libya albeit one consisting of a mere eight members. Though the report does not mention if the Palestinian faction is Hamas, which has close ties to Qatar or another group but does mention ongoing investigations into the assertion. Multiple inquiries to the United Nations on Hamas’ role in Libya have yet to garner a response.

    The United Nations report also appears to validate claims of the Sudanese government that large numbers of Sudanese rebels are now fighting in Libya with the LNA.

    Darfur rebels, according to the report, continue to work as mercenaries with the LNA, though the number of fighters is unclear. The Darfur rebel faction rejected a general Sudanese peace process launched in 2014 and had instead vowed to continue fighting Khartoum.

    “There are 600 rebels from the Minnawi faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement who are fighting in Libya with General Haftar’s forces, Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, said in an interview with the author earlier this year. “Those rebels could return anytime with support from Libya and re-ignite the war in Darfur.”

    The U.N. report on Libya also notes Chadian rebels are increasingly operating out of Southern Libya and increasingly involving themselves in the Libyan Civil War. Last December the little known Chadian opposition group Front pour l’alternance et la concorde au Tchad (FACT) revealed Haftar’s LNA had attacked its positions in Southern Libya.

    Palestinian, Chadian and Sudanese groups could return battle-hardened and flush with cash ready to re-ignite conflict in their respective countries.

    The report also details the role of ISIS in the Libyan conflict. On the orders of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself, a cadre of leaders and fighters moved to Libya in 2014 establishing a base in Sirte as a fallback position if the group was defeated in Syria.

    ISIS was driven from the port city of Sirte earlier this year with the support of U.S. airstrikes in late April and by a coalition of Libyan militias working with the internationally recognized GNA. The report suggests that ISIS fighters are still believed to be in environs of Sirte and a serious threat to the resolution of the Libyan conflict.

    The use of mercenaries in Libya began during the rule of Libyan Leader Muammar Ghaddaffi. Before his overthrow in 2011, the dictator had developed an “Islamic Legion” which included a large number of Africans soldiers. The force served in Chad and as a far away as Uganda before being integrated into regular Libyan forces in the late 1980s. However, even after its formal dissolution, the Libyan armed forces continued to maintain regiments organized by ethnicity. The organization of forces along ethnic lines is unusual though the practice continues even in Western armies. For example, the United Kingdom still maintains a Gurkha brigade largely consisting of Nepali recruits.

    In 2011, as he battled the uprising that would eventually depose and murder him, Ghaddafi recruited as far away as Zimbabwe and Guinea for fighters, and as many as 6,000 soldiers’ mercenaries mostly from the Sahel countries answered his call.

    The destabilization created by the Libyan War could be spreading with Nigerien authorities suggesting that using Tuareg smugglers an overland link has been established between ISIS and Boko Haram. The terrorist group based in Northern Nigeria pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015.

    “Most of the cohesive military units that are fighting in Libya hail from the Sahel region,” says Oded Berkowitz, a Libya expert with the consultancy Max Security, “Groups from Chad, Niger, and Sudan are involved in the Libyan Civil War for a variety of reasons including money, tribal affiliation, or geopolitical gain. In some instances, groups are fighting in this war in return, they hope, for future support in their own wars one day.”

    The recent bombing of a music concert in Manchester has led the United States to reconsider its role in Libya experts says. While the Trump administration has focused its efforts on fighting ISIS, the nature of the Libyan conflict means that even non-Islamist groups could quickly be radicalized.

    The case of another Sahel region terrorist group not mentioned in the report is instructive. Polisario, which began as a communist rebel group committed to fighting the Moroccan government. Has seen many of its members radicalized into jihadists. Former Polisario leader, Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi led a group Western Saharans to join ISIS.

    Experts suggest that without stronger international involvement the use of mercenaries is likely to continue.

    “After six years of war there are only so many Libyans who are motivated to fight for the root political causes at the heart of this conflict,” says Randall Stickley, a research consultant on Libya. “As a result, the main factions in Libya are likely to increasingly turn to mercenaries to perpetuate the conflict."

    Joseph Hammond is a senior contributor with the American Media Institute. As a former Cairo correspondent for Radio Free Europe during the 2011 Arab uprisings, he has also reported from four continents on issues ranging from stability in Somalia to the M23 rebellion in the Eastern Congo.

  9. #9
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    Let's see here. We do a regime change in Libya. We end up with a failed state. We end up with the restoration of slave markets. We end up with hordes of refugees pouring into Europe. We end up with multiple warlords controlling a fractured country. And now we have ISIS taking over. Damn, Housecarl when Hellary the psycho trashes a country, she doesn't mess around.
    Doomer Doug, a.k.a. Doug McIntosh now has a blog at www.doomerdoug.wordpress.com
    My end of the world e book "Day of the Dogs" is available for sale at the following url
    http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007BRLFYU

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doomer Doug View Post
    Let's see here. We do a regime change in Libya. We end up with a failed state. We end up with the restoration of slave markets. We end up with hordes of refugees pouring into Europe. We end up with multiple warlords controlling a fractured country. And now we have ISIS taking over. Damn, Housecarl when Hellary the psycho trashes a country, she doesn't mess around.
    Yeah you can say that again....

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    If there is any truth to the stories now coming out about a "smoking gun," being found that LEGALLY CONFIRMS corners were cut to make sure Hellary the Shrew got special treatment, perhaps the Clinton Crime Cabal may crash and burn.

    Whatever else Trump has done, he has kicked over the rock and exposed all the squirmy, vile things underneath. I'm not sure if the system can be restored at this point. OF course, all things must be put in perspective. If the electric grid crashes in DC and New York City this weekend, people are going to die from being turned into frozen popsicles. The thing that has always saved the Clinton Crime Cabal, up to now at least, is they have media cover, bully or murder anybody who can expose them, but that may finally be changing.

    I guess in scale of impact this bombogensis storm this weekend is more important than even this story about the smoking gun being found that will expose Hellary and Bubba.

    Nah, the Clinton Crime Cabal wouldn't engineer a winter storm that would collapse the grid and kill 100,000 New Yorkers, now would they, Housecarl? On the other hand, I would put NOTHING AT ALL Hellary wouldn't do to save her butt.

    You all realize if the grid goes down this weekend, and we get another 2 weeks, until January 16th, of extreme weather, after we dealt with the inbound bomb/storm, the Clintons will just vanish back into the ether. Actually, since Clinton and Obama, and Bush junior spent all our money fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of fixing our electric grid, we may add anybody who freezes to death the next three weeks to the Arkancide toll.
    Doomer Doug, a.k.a. Doug McIntosh now has a blog at www.doomerdoug.wordpress.com
    My end of the world e book "Day of the Dogs" is available for sale at the following url
    http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007BRLFYU

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    http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018...ref=d-topstory

    Where We’re Headed in 2018

    By Kevin Baron
    Executive Editor, Defense One
    Read bio
    Caroline Houck
    Staff Correspondent
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    Patrick Tucker
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    Marcus Weisgerber
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    January 1, 2018

    You can bet there will be new crises, weapons, leaders, and technologies to come. And, oh yes, there will be tweets.

    In lieu of reviewing the top stories of the year gone by, Defense One presents a look ahead. Here’s what to expect in 2018.

    Commander in Chief Trump
    At 7:21 a.m. on New Year’s Day, you were probably still knocked out from the champagne after kissing 2017 goodbye. President Donald Trump (who doesn’t drink) got up and threatened Pakistan, which is arguably America’s most important regional ally against terrorism, other than Afghanistan. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years,” Trump said in a tweet, “and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

    And so begins 2018. The commander in chief publicly dresses down Pakistan — a country which has tallied far more civilian victims and military casualties from terrorism than the United States. A country that, yes, keeps frustrating American leaders by refusing to just kill terrorists the American way. A country Washington needs on its side. What will Trump tweet about NATO? North Korea? Iran? Russia? Syria? Global terrorism? Cyber attacks? Will he ever tweet a bad word about Russia? Because he will tweet. And tweet. And tweet.

    Never mind that $33 billion figure, wherever that came from. Trump is frustrated with the world. So are his supporters. They made that clear in the 2016 campaign. His approach to foreign policy entering his second year continues to reflect that frustration. Trump shows no patience for the wink-and-nod state of affairs in places like in Pakistan, or with China’s help on North Korea, or NATO members not paying their share of the bills. It also reflects his lack of knowledge of some of the important history, nuances, and diplomatic threads amid many of the globe’s ongoing conflicts. Or maybe he just doesn’t downright care. Trump wants change. And he is right, Pakistani military and intelligence leaders deceive the United States, they play coy, and they simply refuse to be mansplained by Americans in Washington about their own citizens, ethnic conflicts, and threat priorities.

    None of it mattered on New Year’s morning to the commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military. It does matter to the thousands of Americans who work in national security. It matters to the generals and admirals, troops, intelligence professionals, diplomats, Senators and staffers, White House aides, and the defense industry that supplies them all. In 2018, many will work under new leaders, such as at Pacific Command, and under Trump’s newly installed Navy and Army secretaries. They all have to interpret the president’s words and intentions into policy decisions and actions, from the door-kickers on night raids across the Middle East to the nuclear commanders in silos underground in the Midwest. The workforce now has a National Security Strategy, which by many reviews is a pretty middle-of-the-road approach to global security. For all of Trump’s promises to blow up the international system and get America “winning” again, there’s not much there there. So far. Until his next tweet. And the next. And the next.

    McCain’s Health
    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the venerable chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the GOP’s guiding voice on military policy and legislation, goes into 2018 fighting for his life. The Vietnam War hero is battling aggressive brain cancer. His health will shape the national security agenda in Washington, D.C., and any absences, whether in spirit or missed hearings and votes, could alter the national security agenda in Congress, and weaken the entire body’s power-stance, unless one or more moderate Republican leaders stand up to Trump with the same fearlessness McCain, the Maverick, has shown in recent years.

    McCain has been an unhesitant critic of various presidents’ foreign-policy moves — including Trump’s — and has helped shepherd the annual defense policy bill through even the most vote-averse Congresses. He has championed Pentagon reforms and demanded strategies for the overseas wars. In recent years, he has held up the confirmation of Pentagon nominees to force the building to communicate more with the Hill.

    Though he’s continued actively serving as chairman while undergoing treatment, McCain has been noticeably late to a few committee hearings. He has also missed a couple floor votes for medical care, including the major tax reform bill at year’s end. His absence could also have serious effects on the 2019 defense authorization bill’s prospects, said Todd Harrison, budget expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    If McCain takes a step back — or ultimately steps down — it would leave a hole in the GOP’s leadership on national security. The party has foreign policy voices, but none as seasoned or vocal as McCain. Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma is in line to re-assume the Armed Services gavel next. Many Beltway watchers point to the young Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who the White House reportedly considered naming as CIA director and was on some parlor-whisperer short lists for defense secretary last year. Cotton is no McCain. Nobody is.

    Anti-ISIS Coalition’s Next Steps
    With the Islamic State routed from over 98 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, the question for 2018 is whether the international coalition can secure and stabilize the areas it’s regained. “I would say that we’ve had a very successful 2017 in the military campaign,” said U.K. Army Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, the coalition’s deputy commander of strategy and support. “We haven’t created a win; we’ve created an opportunity.”

    For the security forces involved, 2018 will mean focusing on clearing IEDs, hunting down ISIS sleeper cells, and keeping the peace, plus a much larger, non-military effort to return civilians to their homes and re-establish local governance and industry.

    Several warning signs of the coalition’s tough road ahead: The United Nations already identified five areas in Iraq that are at high risk of backsliding into extremists’ control. And ISIS militants are “moving with impunity through regime-held territory” in western Syria where the coalition won’t strike, Gedney said Wednesday — a troubling indication about where the extremist group might find safe haven and continue plotting foreign and domestic attacks. Then there’s the still-simmering regional issue of the Kurds’ future.

    West Africa
    By mid-2018, 5,000 multinational troops could be operating in hotspots around Central and West Africa, combating terrorism and other illicit activity as part of the new G-5 Sahel Force. The initiative brings together the five regional countries — Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Mauritania — with key support from the international community. It’s been in the works over the last year, but has encountered funding and operational difficulties in standing up.

    France is taking the lead in the international community: President Emmanuel Macron hosted a donor conference earlier this month, securing a $130-million commitment from Saudi Arabia and the UAE that brings the total pledged contributions to about half what the force said it needs to operate in its first few years. The U.S. isn’t as involved — Trump’s advisers and other administration officials attended the donor conference in America’s place, not the heads of state who attended for several European nations — but America did pledge $60 million to the force earlier this year. It’s also worth noting that the U.S. has about 800 troops operating out of one of the nations: Niger.

    Strategies and Budgets
    Now that the National Security Strategy is done, a host of more strategies are expected this month: the National Defense Strategy, a Ballistic Missile Defense Review, and a Nuclear Posture Review. That all leads us to February and the Trump administration’s fiscal 2019 budget proposal. Remember, Pentagon officials over the past year have said this is the budget plan that will include the Trump-promised military buildup. But before we get to that, the Pentagon still does not have an approved 2018 spending plan, which remains in limbo, along with the rest of the federal budget. Oh, and the defense budget for 2018 is capped at $549 billion, well below the nearly $700 billion authorized in the NDAA. Is 2018 the year Congress repeals the federal budget caps?

    Changes in Industry and the Pentagon
    Nearly one year in office, Trump administration appointees finally are starting to fill out top positions at the Pentagon. Pay attention to this one: the Defense Department will split up the powerful position of undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics into two separate undersecretary offices. Ellen Lord, the current undersecretary, will become undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment. Mike Griffin, a former NASA administrator, has been nominated for the other post, as undersecretary for research and engineering. To oversee the reorganization, Lord has hired Ben FitzGerald, a Senate Armed Services Committee staffer and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. In the defense industry, Chris Kubasik takes over as CEO of L3 Technologies. And Eric Fanning, the former U.S. Army secretary and Air Force acting secretary, becomes the CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, the defense industry advocacy group.

    Big New Defense Contracts
    The Pentagon is poised to award a number contracts and launch some new weapons projects in 2018, for new planes, tanks, and ships. Here’s the breakdown: the Air Force plans to chose the winner to build a new pilot training jet, called the T-X, and a new helicopter to replace the old UH-1 Hueys that carry the security teams that protect intercontinental ballistic missile fields in the northern U.S. The Navy plans to award three conceptual design contracts for a new frigate and the new MQ-25 Stingray refueling drone. The Marine Corps plans to select a winner for a new Amphibious Combat Vehicle. Finally, Army leaders are about to solicit bids for a new light tank.

    New Missiles Deploy to the Pacific
    As North Korean tensions continue, by the end of 2018, U.S. missile defense in the Pacific will get a boost as the Missile Defense Agency begins deploying the SM-3 Block IIA. It is designed to help Aegis-equipped destroyers intercept mid- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles of the sort North Korea might fire at Japan or Guam.

    The U.S. is developing the missile with Japan and Raytheon. Last February, the Pentagon announced it had successfully tested the missile against in a ballistic target off of Hawaii’s Western Coast. But in June, the missile failed its second test when the person serving as a tactical datalink controller misidentified the target as a friendly aircraft. More cameras and sensors will help the military increase its confidence about what to shoot at. That’s one area where pairs of F-35s could help by feeding targeting data to Aegis ships, as a recently-revealed 2014 test showed. In November, 12 Air Force F-35s deployed to the Pacific, where they joined Marine Corps F-35Bs that had been in the region since January, escorting B-1B bombers. In 2018, South Korea will receive its first deployment of F-35s. So if Kim Jong-Un continues his pattern of controversial missile tests, expect more U.S. flybys, possibly with F-35s.

    There’s more. By the end of July 2018, Boeing, General Atomics. and Lockheed Martin will each have built prototype drones that can fire a laser to shoot down ICBMs, part of a program called the Low Power Laser Demonstrator. The Missile Defense Agency will select one of the three companies to go on building and testing, with flight tests tentatively scheduled for 2020 and beam tests scheduled for 2021.

    A Critical Year for Cyber Command
    The new year will also mark the debut of U.S. Cyber Command as a full combatant command, split off from the National Security Agency. Before Cybercom can formally do so, the head of both agencies, currently Adm. Michael Rogers, (though that is hardly an indication he will be the nominee to lead either Cyber Command or NSA going forward) will have to convince Defense Secretary James Mattis the new organization is strong enough to stand on its own.

    Also by September, all 133 of the Cyber Mission Force Teams will reach full operational capacity. Their job is to carry out the Defense Department’s 2015 Cyber Strategy: Defend the department, support commanders leading troops into battle, and defend U.S. critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, working under the Department of Homeland Security.

    Army’s Modernization
    Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has ordered the Army to streamline the way it builds and buys weapons through a new Army “Futures Command” scheduled for standup by the summer of 2018. The new command will focus on long-range precision fires, a new battlefield communication network, and a new fighting vehicle, among other priorities. The hope is to speed up the way the Army buys and equips in order to better match China and Russia.

    “Our recent focus on fighting wars of insurgency and terrorism allowed our adversaries to make improvements on their modernization efforts and erode our advantages enjoyed since World War II,” said Milley in an October memo obtained exclusively by Defense One.

    Kevin Baron is the founding executive editor of Defense One. Baron has lived in Washington for 20 years, covering international affairs, the military, the Pentagon, Congress, and politics for Foreign Policy, National Journal, Stars and Stripes, and the Boston Globe, where he ran investigative ... Full bio

    Caroline Houck is a staff correspondent at Defense One. She previously was an Atlantic Media fellow. Full bio

    Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written about emerging technology in Slate, ... Full bio

    Marcus Weisgerber is the global business editor for Defense One, where he writes about the intersection of business and national security. He has been covering defense and national security issues for more than a decade, previously as Pentagon correspondent for Defense News and chief editor of ... Full bio

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  13. #13
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    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...cid=spartanntp

    Five Mexican politicians killed in past week ahead of elections in the summer

    The Washington Post
    Josh Partlow
    4 hrs ago

    "We only need maturity, seriousness, and responsibility to face the challenges that confront society," Adolfo Serna Nogueda wrote.

    Later that day, Serna was fatally shot outside his home in Atoyac de Alvarez, along the Pacific Coast in the western state of Guerrero.

    Serna, a member of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, was one of at least five politicians killed in the past week in Mexico on the eve of an important election year.

    Two days earlier, the mayor of another Guerrero town, Petatlan, about two hours north along the coast, was killed while eating with friends at a restaurant. And the day before that, a state congressman from Jalisco was gunned down while driving with his son. A former state congressional candidate and a town council member also were killed in the past week.

    The violence was another reminder of the serious dangers inherent in Mexican politics, particularly at the local level, where drug gangs regularly exert influence. It also has prompted politicians from different parties to call for tighter security and to demand justice ahead of elections for more than 3,400 positions at all levels, including the presidency, this summer.

    Four of the five politicians killed were affiliated with the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Top party officials have condemned the violence and asked to meet with federal officials to discuss the cases.

    "We are six months from the presidential election, and of course these attacks against our members are taken as a warning against participating," Ángel Ávila Romero, secretary general of the PRD, said last week, according to El Universal newspaper.

    The killing of politicians has been a recurring problem in Mexico in recent years. Since President Enrique Peña Nieto's administration began in 2012, 61 current or former mayors have been slain, up from 49 killed during the previous administration, according to a count by the National Association of Mayors.

    "We have called on the president asking for an immediate meeting to implement a security protocol for mayors," Enrique Vargas del Villar, the president of the association, said in a phone interview. "The insecurity cannot continue this way in our country."

    Vargas del Villar said mayors needed direct phone lines to the Interior Ministry to report threats against them so federal officials could intervene.

    In states where drug gangs and cartels maintain a strong presence, some officials face extortion demands or other threats. Others have developed ties to these criminal groups, according to security experts.

    "This shows the breakdown of institutions due to the penetration of organized-crime groups that apparently try to influence the electoral process," said Miguel Arroyo Ramírez, a lawyer and founding member of an anti-crime civil society group. "When someone appears who doesn't share their interests or has different interests, these groups don't have the slightest hesitation in eliminating those who are inconvenient."

    The motives behind this past week's political killings remain unclear.

    The mayor of Petatlan, Arturo Gómez Pérez, was shot at point-blank range Friday inside a restaurant in his town in front of several witnesses, according to local news reports. The governor of Guerrero, Héctor Astudillo, called the shooting a "cowardly and cunning crime" against a man "who behaved correctly and with great commitment to his people."

    "We reject and repudiate this act," he wrote on Twitter.

    On Thursday, Saúl Galindo, a PRD state congressman from Jalisco and president of the justice committee, was shot while driving near his ranch in Tomatlan, authorities said. He had served as mayor of Tomatlan and reportedly was planning to run for the position again.

    On Saturday, Gabriel Hernández Arias, a town council member in Jalapa in the state of Tabasco, was found stabbed to death in his home, according to authorities.
    The same day, lawyer Juan José Castro Crespo was killed in Mexicali, a city in the border state of Baja California. Castro Crespo had been a PRD candidate for state congress and president of the local bar association.

    "In addition to being dismayed, the political class needs to step up its security measures," Heriberto Huicochea Vázquez, the head of the Institutional Revolutionary Party in Guerrero, told the news site Bajo Palabra. He called on authorities to conduct rigorous investigations "so we can at least know the motive for why these homicides have occurred."

  14. #14
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    https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-...bat-engagement

    U.S. Service Member Killed, 4 Others Injured In Afghanistan 'Combat Engagement'

    January 2, 20183:54 PM ET

    Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET
    A U.S. service member was killed in a "combat engagement" in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province on New Year's Day, and four other U.S. service members were injured, according to a U.S. military statement.

    The U.S. military did not immediately explain what kind of combat the service members were engaged in at the time or whether they were fighting ISIS or the Taliban.

    Two of the injured service members are receiving medical treatment nearby. They are in stable condition, the military says, and the two others "have returned to duty."

    "We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own," said Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "At this very difficult time our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of our fallen and wounded brothers."

    Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said in a statement that the serviceman killed is Army Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin of Fort Lee, N.J. He says Golin "served our nation with courage and distinction, and his death is a loss that will be felt across New Jersey."

    This area, along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, has been particularly deadly for U.S. troops in the past year, NPR's Tom Bowman reports. "Of the 15 Americans killed in the country last year, eight were killed in Nangarhar, seven of them by hostile fire." U.S. troops and Afghan allies have been fighting Islamic State militants in the area for two years, he adds.

    "Most of the 11,000 Americans work inside bases training Afghans, but some American special operations forces go on combat missions, accompanying Afghan commandos on raids against ISIS and Taliban fighters," Tom reports. "This year, more American soldiers are expected to head out on operations with Afghan units against the Taliban."

    President Trump recently committed more U.S. troops to Afghanistan without a specific timetable. As we have reported, "the recent commitment of about 3,000 additional troops will bring the total number of U.S. service members in Afghanistan to between 14,000 and 15,000," according to the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

  15. #15
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    Just saw these. Didn't know where else to post them. This can't be good:

    -----------------


    Nidalgazaui
    ‏ @Nidalgazaui
    3m3 minutes ago

    #BREAKING: Russian Media reports that Islamist Militians shelled the #Russia|n airbase #Hmeyin at the night of 01.01.2018 which leads to the destruction of:

    - 4× SU-24 jets
    - 2× SU-35s
    - Military cargo plane 72
    - Killing and wounding 10 Russian soldiers

    Total= 7 Planes



    EHA News
    ‏ @eha_news
    5m5 minutes ago

    #BREAKING:

    #Khmeimim Military Base using by Russia in #Syria got attacked in December 31

    7 #Russia|n Aircraft [ 4 Su-24, 2 Su-35, 1 An-72 ] and ammunition warehouse destroyed according to Kommersant.ru
    So when's the Revolution? God or Money? Choose.

  16. #16

    At least 7 Russian planes destroyed by shelling at Syrian air base


  17. #17
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    Hummm....

    For links see article source.....
    Posted for fair use.....
    https://www.realcleardefense.com/art...ch_112848.html

    The Strategy Behind Russia’s Alleged INF Treaty Breach
    By Adam Cabot
    January 03, 2018


    On Christmas Day I played a game of chess with my 12 year-old nephew. At one stage I sacrificed my bishop so that he would move his queen into a position where it would be taken. Upon doing this, I explained to him that it is important to understand why an opponent is doing something in order to deal with it effectively. If he had known why I had moved my bishop into a vulnerable position, he surely wouldn’t have moved his queen in response. It is likely that my nephew, who is quite a good chess player, didn’t give my actions much thought and merely assumed I was making a mistake.


    Like moves on a chess board, allegations regarding Russia’s breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty parallels Russia’s strategic maneuvering.

    Signed by the Soviet Union and the U.S. in 1987, the INF Treaty came into effect in 1988. Put simply, it bans any land-based missile, nuclear and conventional, with a range between 500 and 5,500km. In recent years the U.S. has accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty with the deployment of a land-based cruise missile. In November 2017 a U.S. National Security Council official declared that the missile violating the treaty is the Novator 9M729 cruise missile. The U.S. has limited the information released regarding the alleged breach, so not much is known about the 9M729 cruise missile, possibly due to the protection of intelligence sources and methods. If the 9M729 cruise missile has a range between 500 and 5,500km, it is crucial to understand why Russia would openly deploy such a system, much like my decision to move my bishop.

    First, it is important to note that Russia shares land borders with 14 nations. The scale of its land mass is vast, stretching across two continents and 11 time zones. To Russia’s immediate Western flank is NATO stretching along its border. Surrounding Russia but not necessarily bordering it are nations with missiles within the INF range who are not subject to the INF Treaty. Israel, Iran, Pakistan, India, China and North Korea all have missiles capable of striking within Russia’s borders, and all but Iran have nuclear capability. Without missiles within the INF range, Russia is severely limiting its tactical defensive capability.

    China borders Russia, has the world’s second-largest economy and the world’s largest army. It has an increasingly modernized military capability and can freely deploy land-based missiles within the INF range. Russia’s only viable defense against this behemoth would be its strategic arsenal which, if used, would significantly increase escalation to possible countervalue target level, i.e., Moscow and Beijing. To assist in offsetting China’s tactical advantage, one can understand how the deployment of an INF range cruise missile would benefit Russia. There are countless scenarios, but one, in particular, would be the ability to hold Chinese ground forces at bay as they pour across the border or at least deter them from attacking in the first place.

    Second, is the deployment of Ballistic Missile Defences (BMD) to Russia’s Western and Eastern flanks. In 2016 the Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defence system was deployed to Romania, with Poland to follow in 2018, and in 2017 the THAAD Ballistic Missile Defence system was deployed to South Korea. These systems include the use of powerful radars designed to provide missile defense against targets within the Short to Intermediate range. The Russians claim that these U.S. BMD systems are in fact a breach of the INF Treaty as they can be converted to launch missiles within the INF range. The deployment by Russia of missiles within the INF range could be used in a tactical scenario to counter these systems and their radars. While one may claim that Russian aircraft and air-launched cruise missiles can accomplish this task, the aircraft would potentially face great difficulty in breaching air defenses. While the From the Russian perspective, they are being sandwiched between BMD defenses to their West and East and increased INF range missile proliferation to their South.

    Third, is the potential use of INF range missiles as a component of a Hybrid Warfare strategy. There have been many definitions of “Hybrid Warfare” and different names for it including “New Generation War.” One such definition is that it encompasses the use of a broad range of subversive instruments, many being non-military, to further national interests. These instruments may include economic pressure, propaganda, cyber-attacks, political influence and nuclear coercion to name a few. Russia has utilized a Hybrid Warfare strategy inclusive of varied instruments in the invasion of Georgia in 2008, the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

    The deployment of INF range missiles with the capability of being fitted with nuclear warheads, whether confirmed by Russia or not, could be utilized to “divide and weaken NATO” which the RAND Corporation argues is an objective of Russia’s Hybrid Warfare strategy. These Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons with the ability to target Europe but lacking the range to hit the United States could in theory divide and weaken NATO by making the U.S. think twice before intervening in a potential conflict for fear of nuclear escalation. This strategy is reminiscent of the French decision in the 1950s to obtain a nuclear arsenal due to uncertainty about U.S. nuclear guarantees. Russia may calculate that it can invade the Baltic States under the umbrella of a nuclear INF range force without the U.S. intervening. This would be the end of NATO and could potentially further embolden Russia and other powers to use force or coercion as the concept of U.S. extended nuclear deterrence would, therefore, no longer exist.

    This is not a farfetched Russian strategy. The U.S. under President Obama stepped back from armed intervention to the point of failing to enforce a clear red line against Syria using chemical weapons. It also decided not to take military action when Russia blatantly invaded and seized Crimea from Ukraine in contravention of the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, signed by the U.S. and Russia as a security assurance in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons left over from the Soviet Union. President Trump with his “America First” isolationist rhetoric, criticism of NATO and suggestion that South Korea and Japan should obtain nuclear weapons also suggests a future withdrawal from global leadership. This may act to not only cast doubt in allied countries that the U.S. will come to their aid if attacked but also embolden Russia to push the envelope further.

    The potential benefit of Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons over strategic arsenals, such as the nuclear triad deployed by the U.S. and Russia, is the perception that their use would not escalate into a strategic level conflict. Although ICBMs could strike a regional target within the INF range, this use of the strategic arsenal could be seen as an escalation and potentially result in a global exchange. Although this level of thinking is dangerous, as any use of nuclear weapons would potentially be difficult to limit within the region, it must be taken into account that a perception may be present in the mind of an adversary that limited use is possible with the deployment of a modernized non-strategic nuclear arsenal.

    I eventually beat my 12 year-old nephew in our Christmas Day chess game but the time will come when he will analyze my piece movements and successfully counter me. If we limit our focus on the alleged breach of the INF treaty without understanding or taking into account why Russia may breach it, we will fail to implement an effective strategy to counter any further actions. A potential consequence of this is that when and if Russia decides to withdraw from the treaty, it will already have an advanced INF range force ready to employ immediately. In our changing geopolitical environment where alliances may appear more fragile than they were previously, this could lead to miscalculation and subsequent disaster.

    Adam Cabot has a Masters in International Relations and is currently researching Russian nuclear strategy.

  18. #18
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    Hmmm, Russia will make your whole family cry...............




    The Jerusalem Post
    ‏Verified account @Jerusalem_Post
    4m4 minutes ago

    #BREAKING: Suspected Russian jets kill at least 20 civilians near Syrian capital - residents http://dlvr.it/Q8psbL

    AMMAN, January 4 -

    Suspected Russian jets killed at least 20 civilians and wounded dozens early on Thursday when they dropped bombs on two residential buildings in a besieged rebel enclave east of the Syrian capital, residents and a war monitor said.

    They said at least four bombs flattened the two buildings in the town of Misraba, wounding more than 40 people, while at least ten people were killed in aerial strikes in nearby towns in the last rebel stronghold near the capital.

    The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said 11 women and a child were among the dead in the strike in Misraba.

    Video footage downloaded by activists on social media showed children and women being pulled from the rubble by rescue workers. The footage could not be independently confirmed.

    http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/S...medium=twitter
    So when's the Revolution? God or Money? Choose.

  19. #19
    Trump welcomes possible talks between North Korea and South Korea
    Reuters, 14:29 , 01.04.18
    Russia urges US not to interfere in Iran's 'domestic affairs'
    Reuters, 13:02 , 01.04.18
    Iranian army commander offers to help police with protests
    Reuters, 12:43 , 01.04.18
    2 Russian soldiers killed in attack on air base in Syria
    AP, 12:41 , 01.04.18
    About 100 said to be injured after South Africa passenger train crashes, bursts into flames
    AP, 12:41 , 01.04.18
    3 cars on Amtrak train with 311 passengers derail, none hurt
    AP, 12:40 , 01.04.18
    After Trump tweet, Pakistan talks of 'response' to US action
    AP, 12:39 , 01.04.18 https://www.ynetnews.com/home/0,7340,L-3089,00.html

  20. #20
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    https://www.military.com/daily-news/...al-empire.html

    Op-Ed: Hezbollah's Global Criminal Empire

    Military.com 29 Dec 2017 By Joseph V. Micallef

    Joseph V. Micallef is a best-selling military history and world affairs author, and keynote speaker.

    Over the last several decades, the militant Lebanese organization Hezbollah has morphed from an Iranian-inspired and Iranian-funded Shiite militia into a political and social movement as well. In the process, notwithstanding the $200 to $350 million in financing it allegedly receives from Tehran, it has turned increasingly to criminal activities to fund its operations.

    Today, Hezbollah sits astride a worldwide criminal syndicate that generates upwards of a billion dollars a year in income for the group.

    Hezbollah's criminal income is generated from four main areas of activity: narcotics, money laundering and currency counterfeiting, widespread low-level crime centered primarily on financial fraud, and extortion.

    Subversive organizations have often turned to criminal activities as a way of funding their operations. At the turn of the 20th century the Bolsheviks robbed banks to finance themselves. During the 1970s and 1980s, European groups like Baader Meinhof, Brigate Rosse, and Direct Action supplemented the funds they received from the Soviet Union by staging kidnappings for ransom or robbing banks.

    More recently, the FARC in Columbia, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Islamic State have all turned to dealing in narcotics as a source of funds.

    Many current criminal organizations, the Yakuza in Japan, the various criminal organizations in South China, and the Sicilian Mafia and its related brethren, the Camorra in Naples and the Ndràngheta in Calabria, all began or were in part inspired by a political agenda.

    All of them turned to crime to obtain funds for that agenda. Over time, their political inspiration was watered down and eventually disappeared. The criminal element remained, however, now transformed into a for profit crime syndicate.

    The FARC in Colombia has shown a similar evolution. What began as a Maoist-inspired insurgency against the Colombian government, which used cocaine trafficking as a source of funds, has evolved into an organization that is not quite a for profit crime syndicate, but neither is it just an insurgency any longer.

    The UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that the worldwide narcotics market generates between $400 and $500 billion in turnover every year. Over the last several decades terrorist organizations have increasingly looked to narcotics as a source of funds.

    The skill set necessary to survive as a militant organization, to smuggle arms and munitions, to move operatives around the globe surreptitiously and to stage attacks, is the same skill set needed to manufacture, transport and distribute narcotics on a world-wide basis.

    HEZBOLLAH'S NARCOTICS TRADE
    Hezbollah's foray into drugs began in the 1980s, in its Beqaa Valley stronghold in eastern Lebanon. The turmoil of the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990, and the virtual collapse of the Lebanese economy, prompted many Lebanese farmers to turn to producing hashish and marijuana to support themselves.

    The cultivation of marijuana in the region dated back to Ottoman times. Traditionally, roughly 10% of the local farmland was devoted to hashish production. Typically, it was grown on land that was to arid to support any other crops.

    During the civil war, marijuana cultivation soared. At its peak, it covered more than 100,000 acres. Hezbollah quickly emerged as an intermediary, arranging the smuggling of marijuana, both its own production and that of local farmers into Egypt as well as, via the Balkans, into Europe.

    After the end of the civil war the Lebanese Army tried to suppress the cultivation of marijuana, burning fields and interdicting shipments, but for the last several decades the Lebanese government has tacitly accepted that activity.

    Today, the Beqaa Valley is a major source of marijuana exports to Europe and the Middle East with an annual turnover of around $4 billion.

    Since the 1990s, South America has emerged as a major nexus of Hezbollah's narcotics activity. The tri-border area (TBA), where Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil meet, is the next largest center of Hezbollah activity outside of Lebanon. There is a large expatriate Lebanese community in this region.

    Combined with lax enforcement and even less supervision by the local government authorities, the TBA has become a wild west where narcotics, gun running and a host of financial scams flourish. The TBA has also become a hub for the re-export of Chinese made counterfeit branded goods to Europe and North America by Hezbollah linked firms.

    Hezbollah has developed working relationships with the FARC in Colombia, with whom it trades guns for cocaine and partially processed cocaine paste, as well as with various Mexican drug cartels. It has a particularly close working relationship with the Los Zetas crime syndicate. It has relied on Los Zetas to smuggle narcotics and Hezbollah militants into the United States.

    In the meantime, it has supplied automatic and heavy caliber weapons to Los Zetas. It has also provided tunnel building expertise, the same that it provided to Hamas in Gaza, to enable Los Zetas to build sophisticated tunnels beneath the Mexican-U.S. border.

    Perhaps the most worrisome aspect of the Hezbollah-Los Zetas partnership is the fact that Zetas members have undergone training in Hezbollah run camps in the Beqaa Valley. There they have been taught specialized skills like bomb making and have attended a Hezbollah run "sniper school."

    Over the last several years both the DEA and Homeland Security have noted a sharp increase in the number of Mexican drug gang members sporting Farsi and Arabic language tattoos as well as, in a few instances, Hezbollah related symbols.

    It is Venezuela, however, that has been the focal point of Hezbollah's narcotics traffic, its growing Latin American network and Iran's anti-American foreign policy. According to the DEA, large numbers of Venezuela's government elite, including former President Hugo Chavez and current President Nicolas Maduro, have been implicated in Hezbollah's drug trafficking through Venezuela.

    The Trump administration recently designated Venezuelan Vice President Tareck el Aissam as a "super narcotic kingpin" and charged that he had been involved in trafficking drugs and weapons for more than a decade and that he had also been instrumental in a conspiracy to provide Venezuelan passports and false identities to Iranian and Hezbollah agents.

    Over the last decade, Hezbollah's shipments of cocaine via Venezuela have increased from 50 tons to 250 tons a year. This is roughly one-third of the international traffic in cocaine.

    Hezbollah operates cocaine producing facilities in eastern Venezuela. It also ships semi-processed cocaine paste from Venezuela to Lebanon where it is refined in facilities in the Beqaa Valley. It also uses Venezuela to stage drug shipments to Europe, the United States and West Africa.

    In particular, Guinea Bissau has become the principal logistics point for Hezbollah's transshipment of Latin American drugs into Europe.

    According to the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Iran Air operated Flight 744, a bi-weekly flight from Caracas to Tehran via Beirut and Damascus. Dubbed "Aeroterror," the flight was used to carry drugs and cash from Venezuela to Beirut. Once in Beirut, the drugs would make their way to Europe.

    It was also one of the principal means for transporting so called prohibited dual use items sourced in North America to Iran. Such items ranged from sophisticated night vision equipment to components and machinery needed for Tehran's nuclear and missile programs.

    The return flights would bring arms, Hezbollah and Iranian operatives and, on occasion, counterfeit U.S. currency for transshipment to the U.S.

    In addition, according to the U.S. State Department, Caracas has issued thousands of Venezuelan passports to individuals from Syria, Pakistan, Egypt and Lebanon.

    It is far easier to obtain an American visa with a Venezuelan passport than it is with one from a Middle Eastern country. The result is that under Hugo Chavez and now under his successor Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has become what the State Department calls a "Terrorism Hub of South America."

    Hezbollah has made similar moves into Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle. It has built an extensive network within the region's Muslim community and it has been a source of cash, weapons and training for radicalized Sunni militants in the area. It has also become involved in the drug trade there.

    HEZBOLLAH'S MONEY LAUNDERING
    Money laundering goes hand-in-hand with narcotics. Drug dealing is a cash business, one that generates considerable amounts of money, which needs to be either recycled or moved into the financial system in a way that doesn't arouse suspicion.

    Hezbollah's worldwide networks and its links with supportive governments puts it into an ideal position to launder cash from its own narcotics operations as well those from other criminal syndicates.

    Historically, Hezbollah has used a variety of means to launder cash. These range from the informal money transfer systems of the hawala dealers, which now have spread globally, to money service companies like Western Union, to smuggling money into Lebanon.

    One way of laundering cash is to simply convert it into goods that can be sold elsewhere. For many years Hezbollah has operated an extensive used car export business that saw used cars purchased for cash in the United States being exported to Benin, from where they were distributed across West Africa.

    The Justice Department estimates that the used car export business generates around $500 million in revenue for Hezbollah every year. Proceeds from the sales of used cars in Africa can be deposited into local financial institutions where they merge seamlessly into the global financial system.

    The other alternative is simply to move cash into financial institutions that will take such deposits or to first run them through legitimate businesses that typically operate on a cash basis. In recent years, there have been a number of banks that have actively been involved in laundering funds, knowingly or unknowingly for Hezbollah.

    In 2012, for example, the U.S. government seized $150 million from Lebanese Canadian Bank. The bank was accused of knowingly laundering money for Hezbollah as well as providing financing for the groups used car export business.

    While the seizure was significant, it was a drop in the bucket of the $200 million a month that Hezbollah was laundering through the bank. According to the DEA, the bank laundered several billion dollars for Hezbollah before it was shut down

    In 2016, the DEA arrested three men linked to Hezbollah and charged them with laundering money for the Medellin based drug syndicate, La oficina del Envigado, through banks in Dubai and Miami. There have been similar incidents involving banks throughout Latin America.

    Large-scale money laundering can continue for a while before there is sufficient evidence for legal authorities to act. Even when a bank is shut down and is subject to the seizure of deposits and penalties, the sums are often dwarfed by the scale of illegal activity that preceded it.

    Hezbollah has also created a broad universe of front companies around the world, especially in South America, and in particular in the travel/tourism and import/export sectors. These activities can provide a way of laundering funds by making them look as legitimate deposits of actual businesses.

    The counterfeiting of currency, principally U.S. dollars, but also Euros and the currencies of various Middle Eastern countries, has also been a focus of Hezbollah. It is likely that Hezbollah's expertise in currency counterfeiting came from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), which has long been active in this area and has close operational ties with Hezbollah.

    The Iranians, in turn, probably learned it from the North Koreans, who also have a long history of counterfeiting foreign currencies.

    The challenge of monetizing counterfeit currency is to find a means of moving it into the financial system. Hezbollah friendly banks may be willing to launder narcotics cash, but they have little interest in tainting their own cash holdings with counterfeit bills.

    The usual avenue is to sell that currency at a discount to an organization that can either spend it or mix it with authentic currency and gradually move it into the financial system.

    Hezbollah has been implicated in trying to sell counterfeit U.S. currency to organized crime groups in the U.S. It has also been charged with trying to distribute counterfeit U.S. bills in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, two areas popular with counterfeiters.

    HEZBOLLAH'S WORLDWIDE CRIME WAVE
    Hezbollah has also been implicated in widespread low level criminal activity around the world, especially in North and South America and Europe. The scope of this activity is vast, although it is often difficult to tie it specifically to Hezbollah.

    In some cases, this criminal activity directly involves members of Hezbollah. In other cases, the perpetrators are not members of Hezbollah but are related to high ranking officials in the organizations.

    In other cases, participants are sympathizers, often times of Lebanese ancestry, who are either counterparties to Hezbollah in criminal activities, use services provided by Hezbollah in the conduct of their criminal actions, i.e., security or smuggling, or simply donate a portion of their criminal profits to the organization. The FBI refers to such participants as "useful idiots."

    In 2003, for example, U.S. officials arrested Elias Mohamad Akhdar and various associates, all linked to Hezbollah members, and charged them with operating a cigarette smuggling ring from Charlotte North Carolina.

    The group purchased cigarettes in North Carolina or from the Cattaraugus Indian reservation in upstate New York and used counterfeit cigarette tax stamps to resell the cigarettes at a hefty profit. A portion of the proceeds were then donated to Hezbollah.

    In 2006, Imad Hammoud, a self-described avid supporter of Hezbollah, was indicted for the importation and distribution of counterfeit Viagra pills from China.

    Viagra is the most widely counterfeited drug in the world and its manufacture and distribution is as profitable as narcotics. Hammoud had links to Akhdar and had also run a parallel cigarette smuggling ring that moved $500,000 of cigarettes across state lines each week.

    In 2009, the FBI arrested another group of Hezbollah supporters for attempting to procure and ship to Syria 1,200 M-4 Carabine machine guns in exchange for providing counterfeit currency, forged passports and stolen money.

    Elsewhere, Hezbollah and its supporters have been implicated a wide range of criminal activity from credit card fraud in the U.S. and Europe to dealing in African blood diamonds.

    Hezbollah was reportedly involved with the export of between $3 billion and $4 billion of illicit diamonds from Angola as well as so called blood diamonds from Sierra Leone to the Congo. Many of these activities have been documented for several decades and continue to this day.

    HEZBOLLAH AND THE LEBANESE EXPATRIATE COMMUNITY
    Finally, Hezbollah raises considerable funds from the expatriate Lebanese community around the world. There are approximately four million Lebanese citizens living in Lebanon. There are an estimated 10 to 14 million people of Lebanese ancestry living abroad. Roughly 1.2 million of those expatriates also hold a Lebanese passport.

    The expatriate Lebanese community reflects the same divisions and rivalries present in contemporary Lebanese society. Some are passionate, committed followers of Hezbollah. Others simply wish to support what they see as a noble cause, even though they may not feel any allegiance to Hezbollah.

    Others are simply exhorted to make payments to Hezbollah, often in the form of contributions to Hezbollah sponsored charities, to protect their families and businesses or relatives back in Lebanon.

    It's unclear how significant a sum is generated from the Lebanese expatriate community, but U.S. intelligence sources believe it could be several hundred million dollars a year.

    HEZBOLLAH AS A CRIMINAL SYNDICATE
    The picture that emerges from Hezbollah's worldwide criminal activity is that of a highly sophisticated, broadly diversified criminal syndicate with a global reach. It is an organization where the chain of command is often opaque, and which involves individuals who are not part of the group but still act to support its criminality or give it the benefit, in the form of taxes and contributions, of criminal activity in which it is not directly a party.

    From a legal standpoint, that makes it particularly difficult for the U.S. government to prosecute Hezbollah's activity. It can shut down specific operations and arrest its perpetrators, but the ability to tie back such activity to the organization's leadership can be problematic.

    The implications of Hezbollah's criminal activity, however, go beyond that of simply another very sophisticated global criminal syndicate. Hezbollah represents a unique fusion of political and criminal agendas that is more than simply co-opting corrupt political elites around the world. Such corruption is hardly new. High level corruption among law enforcement and government elites has often paralleled the rise of powerful drug syndicates.

    In Hezbollah's case, however, not only is its criminal activity a source of funds for its own agenda but the activity itself also functions to advance the broad aims of Iran's anti-American foreign policy. This is particularly true in South and Central America.

    Hezbollah's willingness to supply sophisticated weaponry and training to Mexican drug cartels, for example, not only serves its criminal interests but creates political and social instability in a key American ally, escalates the level of domestic violence in Mexico and encourages that instability to spill over into the American homeland.

    For Hezbollah, shipping narcotics into the United States satisfies not only a financial goal but a political one as well. Hezbollah's leaders have often quoted a fatwa issued by an Iranian cleric that declares, "we are making drugs for Satan -- America and the Jews. If we cannot kill them with guns, so we will kill them with drugs."

    Likewise, Iran has strongly supported, left wing, anti-American governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Among the first things those governments did when they came to power was end cooperation with the DEA and expel its agents from their countries.

    Moreover, Hezbollah has emerged as a super facilitator in the crime world. Its links to foreign governments and its strong support from Iran gives it capabilities that it can leverage in its relations with other criminal syndicates. In doing so it can also enhance the capabilities of those criminal organizations.

    Hezbollah's willingness to supply automatic and heavy caliber weapons and training to Los Zetas, for example, has enhanced their ability to engage in combat with government troops or other drug cartels. Likewise, Hezbollah's ability to launder cash from drug sales is a key point of leverage in its dealings with other criminal organizations.

    The linkage of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah with Mexican and Colombian drug syndicates has created the threat of narcoterrorism and transformed what, up until recently was primarily a criminal matter, into a national security issue.

    Narcoterrorism is both an instrument of terror and an enabler. The same rat lines and tunnels that are used to bring illegal immigrants and drugs into the United States can just as easily be used to bring Hezbollah militants and explosives across the border.

    Considering Hezbollah's worldwide criminal operations and its capabilities, the Obama Administration's attitude toward Hezbollah, between 2012 and 2016, is perplexing. Two aspects stand out.

    First, in allowing Iran's banks to relink to the international financial system as part of the suspension of sanctions that accompanied the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. significantly enhanced Hezbollah's ability to leverage its Iranian connections to help it launder money both for itself and for other criminal organizations. In doing so not only did it strengthen Hezbollah's criminal network but also enhanced Hezbollah's role as a super facilitator.

    Secondly, also inexplicable, is the alleged suspension of a broad DEA lead criminal investigation, dubbed Project Cassandra, of Hezbollah affiliated narcotics and money laundering activity.

    As detailed by Politico in a recent feature on The Secret Backstory of How Obama Let Hezbollah Off the Hook, the Obama administration effectively shot down an eight year DEA-led investigation of Hezbollah's criminal activity in order to curry favor with Iran and promote its acceptance of the proposed nuclear deal.

    Various members of the Obama administration have denied the charge. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered the Justice Department to investigate the matter.

    The emergence of global terrorist organizations with billion dollar-plus budgets supported by a worldwide criminal activity is an unprecedented development in international politics and is rapidly becoming the template for other subversive organizations to follow.

    Hezbollah has already succeeded in this objective; the Taliban is well on its way and Islamic State has started to move in this direction also.

    Ultimately other terrorist organizations, like al Qaeda for example, will need to follow this same path if they are to secure their finances and preserve their credibility and freedom of action in the jihadist space.

    The emergence of non-state organizations, armed with multi-billion-dollar budgets and extensive and sophisticated arsenals, poised to threaten both the American homeland and U.S. interests abroad will pose an unprecedented challenge to Washington. A challenge that is only now just beginning.

    -- The opinions expressed in this op-ed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Military.com. If you would like to submit your own commentary, please send your article to opinions@military.com for consideration.

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  21. #21
    Join Date
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    Hummm.....

    For links see article source.....
    Posted for fair use.....
    https://www.cato.org/blog/counterins...math-revisited

    JANUARY 2, 2018 11:05AM

    Counterinsurgency Math Revisited

    By A. TREVOR THRALL and ERIK GOEPNER

    When does 32,200 – 60,000 = 109,000? That seemingly inaccurate equation represents the estimated number of Islamist-inspired terrorists when the war on terror began, how many the U.S. has killed since 2015, and the number that fight today. And it begs the question of just how can the terror ranks grow so fast when they’re being depleted so rapidly.

    As early as 2003, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hinted at the potential mathematical problem when he asked, “Are we capturing, killing, or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?” In his memo, Mr. Rumsfeld correctly identified that both sides have a vote: the U.S. can deplete the terror ranks, while the terror groups and their supporters can replenish them.

    What Rumsfeld had not yet imagined, however, was the possibility that military force might inadvertently benefit terror recruitment efforts. Specifically, he ignored the blowback a marauding U.S. military might engender among the Muslim world.

    In 2009, General Stanley McChrystal pushed the conversation in that direction. He pointed to the counterintuitive aspects of terror recruiting. Calling it “COIN Mathematics,” he laid out his argument. “Let us say that there are 10 [insurgents] in a certain area. Following a military operation, two are killed. How many insurgents are left? Traditional mathematics would say that eight would be left, but there may only be two, because six of the living eight may have said, ‘This business of insurgency is becoming dangerous so I am going to do something else.’ There are more likely to be as many as 20, because each one you killed has a brother, father, son and friends, who do not necessarily think that they were killed because they were doing something wrong. It does not matter – you killed them. Suddenly, then, there may be 20, making the calculus of military operations very different.”

    Though McChrystal did not explicitly connect U.S. military operations to the perceptions of the broader Muslim community, Osama bin Laden and his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, certainly did. Five years before 9/11, bin Laden railed against the presence of the U.S. military in Saudi Arabia, home to the two holiest sites of Islam. On other occasions he spoke of the “American crusader forces” and “American occupiers.” His recurring theme of grievance centered on the U.S. waging war with Islam. Later, in 2005, al-Zawahiri put an exclamation point on it. In a letter to the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, he reminded him, “The Muslim masses…do not rally except against an outside occupying enemy, especially if the enemy is firstly Jewish, and secondly American.”

    Polling indicates that bin Laden and al-Zawahiri’s strategy has significant traction throughout Muslim-majority countries. When asked if “the United States’ interference in the region justifies armed operations against the United States everywhere,” more citizens agreed than disagreed among the 11 nations surveyed. That staggering trend even held true among the populations of supposed allies like Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq. Only in Egypt did more disagree than agree, though 39% still expressed support for attacks on Americans everywhere.

    The implication is clear: it is time to stop focusing on killing terrorists. The seventeen-year American military campaign against terrorism, which began in Afghanistan but spread to Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and most recently to Niger, has failed to stem the jihadist tide and has created more problems than it has solved. It has also cost the United States nearly 7,000 lives, more than 52,000 wounded, and an estimated 5 trillion dollars.

    The idea that the United States should kill fewer terrorists may strike some as heresy and others as simply foolish. But as General McChrystal said, “I have found that the best answers and approaches may be counterintuitive; i.e. the opposite of what it seems like you ought to do is what ought to be done.”

    So if killing terrorists isn’t working, what will? We do not pretend to have all the answers. But the time-honored military practice of “murder boarding” may help provide inspiration. Despite its ghoulish name, “murder boards” have been successfully used throughout America’s military history. The process, as the name implies, is meant to be merciless. The privilege of military rank gets set aside, as does the pride of those assembled. The goal is to assess – as objectively as possible – through all that has happened to avoid repeating mistakes and to ensure mission success.

    Sixteen years in, the President and Congress should finally “murder board” the war on terror and consider new strategies. Until then, counterinsurgency math will continue to frustrate the country’s lacking strategy.

  22. #22
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    For links see article source.....
    Posted for fair use.....
    http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/957052/...cale-offensive

    AFP urges NPA rebels to surrender or face full-scale offensive

    By: Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Madonna T. Virola - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:06 AM January 03, 2018

    The military on Tuesday urged communist rebels to surrender or face a full-scale offensive after the two sides terminated their separate unilateral ceasefires for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

    Malacañang also said it was not inclined to resume peace talks, which were canceled early in December last year by President Rodrigo Duterte, who later declared the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), terrorist organizations.

    “They (rebels) still have the time to think about the welfare of their respective families. And we assure the rebels who will surrender that the government will provide all the necessary assistance to them,” said Col. Teody Toribio, acting spokesperson for the military’s Southern Luzon Command.

    All-out operations

    Toribio said government forces in the Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions would launch all-out counterinsurgency operations to crush the NPA after the end of the truce at midnight on Tuesday.

    Army troops on Mindoro Island said they were extending their “open arms to [those] rebels who decide to walk the path of genuine peace, meaningful progress and principled lives,” according to Capt. Christopher Cuenca, spokesperson for the Army’s 203rd Infantry Brigade.

    The government declared a two-part ceasefire—from 6 p.m. on Dec. 23 to 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 26 and from 6 p.m. on Dec. 30 to 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 2. The rebels observed their own truce on the same dates.

    Peace negotiations

    On Sunday, CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison said his New Year’s wish was for the two sides to return to the negotiating table.

    Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday said there was little chance of that.

    If the rebels wanted to resume talks, “they need to show and prove good faith,” he said.

    Roque noted that the rebels violated their own ceasefire.

    On Christmas Day, NPA fighters tried to abduct a member of the Cafgu Active Auxiliary in Compostela Valley and harassed a military outpost in the same province. —With a report from Leila B. Salaverria

  23. #23
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    God Bless Duterte. Clean the bastards out.
    et conciderunt ligna, ergo sum

  24. #24

    4 Russia: US approach to Iran protests interferes with its sovereignty

    MOSCOW – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday that US calls for an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the turmoil in Iran interfere with the country's sovereignty, news agency Interfax said.



    The deputy minister added that Tehran's statements that external influences fomented the protests were not groundless and that the United States uses any possible method to destabilize governments it dislikes.
    https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,...066903,00.html

  25. #25

    4 Yemen's rebels say they fired missile at Saudi military cam

    Yemen's Shiite rebels say they have fired a ballistic missile targeting a military camp in the Saudi city of Najran.


    Saudi state TV says its air defense system intercepted the missile above Najran in the kingdom's southwestern region.


    The announcement on Yemen's rebel-run Al-Masirah TV says Friday's missile hit its target with "high accuracy." The rebels later said they fired another missile, targeting Saudi-backed forces along Yemen's western coast.


    The Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, have previously fired missiles targeting the Saudi mainland, including the capital, Riyadh, and the city's international airport.


    Saudi Arabia backs Yemen's internationally recognized government and leads an international coalition at war with Iran-backed Houthis since March 2015.


    The coalition has repeatedly accused Saudi rival Iran of arming the rebels. The Houthis deny the allegations. https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,...066881,00.html

  26. #26

    4 Saudis intercept ballistic missile fired from Yemen

    Saudi Arabia intercepted a ballistic missile near the border with Yemen, according to a governmental report.


    Two months ago, Saudi Arabia intercepted a missile that was fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen at Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport.
    https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,...066854,00.html

  27. #27

    3

    IS supports Iranian anti-government protests
    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The Islamic State group has declared support for the anti-government protests in Iran.

    In its latest weekly publication, Al Nabaa, the extremists describe the protests as a "revolution against the regime" and an uprising against Wilayat al-Faqih, or Iran's system of governance by clerics.

    Friday's statement also says the messages sent through the protesters to their rulers are "highly important" and that they should continue. https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,...066907,00.html

  28. #28
    Conflict News


    @Conflicts
    8h8 hours ago
    More
    BREAKING: Hamas says ready to transfer weapons to PLO if allowed to join the organization: Al-Hayat - @i24NEWS_EN

  29. #29
    AFP news agency

    Verified account

    @AFP
    2h2 hours ago
    More
    North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un could be laying a trap for the US and the South with his apparent olive branches towards Seoul: analysts http://u.afp.com/4vhL

  30. #30

    3 Iran Protests: UN Security Council to Meet At US Request

    (UNITED NATIONS) — The U.N. Security Council is planning an emergency meeting about Iran on Friday, after the U.S. asked the world body to show support for Iran’s anti-government protesters.

    With council members divided in their views of the demonstrations that have roiled the Islamic Republic, it’s not yet clear how the discussion will take shape or what might come out of it.

    Alma Konurbayeva, a spokeswoman for current council president Kazakhstan, confirmed that Friday afternoon’s meeting is about Iran. The U.S. called on Tuesday for such a session, but council members could insist on a vote before taking up the topic, and it would take nine of the 15 votes to go forward.

    “This is a matter of fundamental human rights for the Iranian people, but it is also a matter of international peace and security,” the U.S. envoy, Nikki Haley, said in a statement Thursday night. She added that it would be “telling if any country tries to deny the Security Council from even having this discussion.”

    Iran’s interior minister said up to 42,000 people took part in the week of protests and unrest sparked by economic woes. At least 21 people have been killed and hundreds arrested. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people took part in counter-demonstrations Wednesday backing the clerically overseen government, which has accused the U.S. of instigating the protests.

    Iran’s prosecutor general, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, said Thursday that an American CIA official was the “main designer” of the demonstrations. And Iran’s U.N. envoy, Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo, complained in a letter to the Security Council president Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s “absurd tweets” had “incited Iranians to engage in disruptive acts.”

    Trump’s administration has denied having any hand in the demonstrations, saying they arose completely spontaneously. The CIA declined to comment.

    The president’s tweets haven’t called for violence or disruptive acts, but he has commended the protests, expressing “such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government” and pledging “great support from the United States.” Haley praised the anti-government protesters as brave and said “the U.N. must speak out” to support them.

    “The people of Iran are crying out for freedom. All freedom-loving people must stand with their cause,” she said at a news conference Tuesday.

    Not all council members see a need to weigh in.

    Russia’s U.S. embassy warned Monday against “external interference” in what it views as a domestic issue in the Islamic Republic; the two nations have close ties. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova went on to mock the U.S. call for a U.N. discussion.

    “The U.S. delegation undoubtedly has something to share with the world. For example, Nikki Haley could share the American experience of dispersing protest rallies,” Zakharova said on Facebook Wednesday, mentioning mass arrests during the Occupy Wall Street protests, among other things.

    Russia’s and Iran’s U.N. missions didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday’s Security Council meeting. Iran isn’t a member.

    The Iranian protests have given Trump a fresh avenue to try to muster world opinion against a nation he has decried since he ran for president.

    After taking office last year, Trump refused this past fall to certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal that lifted some sanctions in return for Iran curbing its nuclear program. Trump said Tehran was getting disproportionate benefits, considering its concessions.

    The U.S. imposed new sanctions Thursday on five Iranian entities over their involvement in developing ballistic missiles. While those sanctions were unrelated to the ongoing protests, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said more sanctions “targeting human rights abuses are coming.” http://time.com/5089135/un-security-...iran-protests/

  31. #31
    Join Date
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    Minkykat posted on this this morning on the North Korea/Asia thread....Talk about a "DOT"!.....

    For links see article source.....
    Posted for fair use.....
    http://time.com/5089633/cdc-nuclear-.../?xid=homepage

    The CDC Is Hosting a Workshop on Preparing for Nuclear War

    By Jamie Ducharme 12:30 PM EST

    Just two days after President Donald Trump caused a frenzy by tweeting that he has a “bigger and more powerful” nuclear button than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it’s hosting a presentation on preparing for nuclear war.

    “While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps,” a web page publicizing the session says. “Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness. For instance, most people don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation.”

    The session, scheduled for Jan. 16, will include such cheerful discussions as “Preparing for the Unthinkable,” “Roadmap to Radiation Preparedness” and “Public Health Resources to Meet Critical Components of Preparedness,” according to the website.

    Despite the uncanny timing, the CDC told TIME that the workshop had been in the works since April, and is simply part of the agency’s regular Grand Rounds educational series.

    “As part of its mission, CDC provides for the common defense of the country against all health threats,” spokesperson Kathy Harben wrote in an email. “To fulfill that mission, Public Health Grand Rounds is part of CDC’s longstanding and routine work, similar to work it does to prepare for other possible health emergencies with the goal of ensuring the public health community is prepared for all types of health threats.”

    The session is targeted toward health professionals, but members of the public may watch via livestream; a URL and instructions will be available online closer to the event. The Grand Rounds is scheduled to take place at the CDC’s Atlanta headquarters on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at 1 p.m. ET.

  32. #32
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    This is a non PC mindset of the SecDef.
    Does Mr. Mattis pay the press stooges to be straight men for his one liners.?
    SS

    Carla Babb‏Verified account @CarlaBabbVOA

    I asked #SecDef Mattis today, "What is your biggest military concern for 2018?"

    #SecDef Mattis replied: “I don’t have concerns. I create them.”
    11:20 AM - 5 Jan 2018
    “Then the creatures of the high air answered to the battle, .., and the woods trembled and the wind sobbed telling them, the earth shook,; the witches of the valley, and the wolves of the forests, howled from every quarter and on every side of the armies, urging them against one another.”
    ― Lady Gregory, Gods and Fighting Men: The Story of the Tuatha De Danaan and the Fianna of Ireland

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