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WAR 11-02-2019-to-11-08-2019___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
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  1. #1
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    Jul 2004

    3 11-02-2019-to-11-08-2019___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****

    (390) 10-12-2019-to-10-18-2019___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR*****of****WAR****

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    Posted for fair use.....

    Islamic State confirms Baghdadi’s death, names new ‘Emir of the Faithful’

    By Thomas Joscelyn | November 1, 2019 | | @thomasjoscelyn

    The Islamic State’s latest spokesman, a jihadist known as Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi, released a statement yesterday confirming Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death in an American raid and naming a new emir for the group. Baghdadi’s successor is a figure known as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, whom the spokesman describes as the “worshipping working scholar,” an indication that he is an ideologue. The audio message, titled “And He who Fulfills that which He has Promised Allah – He will Give Him a Great Reward,” was quickly transcribed in Arabic and English.

    The spokesman says that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was named the “Amir al-Muminin” (“Emir of the Faithful”) after a meeting of the group’s top shura (or advisory) council, with the “brothers” agreeing. The appointment is also supposedly in accordance with the “advice” of Baghdadi, meaning the new emir was named as a successor by Baghdadi himself.

    That both the group’s emir and spokesman have adopted al-Qurayshi in their jihadist names is significant, because it means they are claiming descent from the tribe of the Prophet Muhammad. This is intended to confer legitimacy on their claim to rule over all Muslims. Little is currently known about either figure, beyond the sparse details included in Abu Hamza’s message.

    In his first public message in his new position, Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi also confirms that the Islamic State’s previous spokesman, Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir, was killed in a separate U.S.-led operation in October. Abu Hamza says Muhajir was from the Arabian Peninsula and “among the veterans of mujahidin who made hijrah to Iraq.” Muhajir served as a “great minister and helper” to Baghdadi, Abu Hamza says.

    Muhajir had been the chief mouthpiece for the organization’s central leadership since 2016, after Abu Muhammad al-Adnani was killed in an airstrike in August of that year. Adnani was both a firebrand who justified the jihadists’ authoritarian claims to power, as well as a chief planner of terrorist attacks overseas. Muhajir released several messages since taking over for his fallen comrade, reiterating Adnani’s calls for attacks in the West and anti-Shiite agenda.

    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi led the Islamic State and its predecessor organizations since 2010, when two of the group’s top leaders were killed in Iraq. One of them was Abu Umar al-Baghdadi, who was named “Amir al-Muminin” (“Emir of the Faithful”) as the head of the Islamic State of Iraq, which was founded in 2006. Abu Umar was an obscure, largely unknown man at the time. As can be seen in both their public statements and private correspondence, al-Qaeda’s top leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, repeatedly defended Abu Umar’s legitimacy as the emir of a proto -state. Although Abu Umar was named “Emir of the Faithful,” however, the Islamic State of Iraq didn’t market him as a worldwide caliph or demand that all Muslims swear allegiance to him. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his loyalists did just that, while al-Qaeda continued to treat the Taliban’s top leader as the true “Emir of the Faithful.”

    Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi repeats this demand for fealty in declaring Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi the new supposed caliph.

    “Hence, O Muslims everywhere, come forward to pledge bay’ah (allegiance) to Amir al-Muminin and gather around him,” Abu Hamza says. The Islamic State spokesman describes Baghdadi’s successor as “one of the prominent figures of jihad, one of its ulama [scholars] and one of the emirs of the righteous.”

    In addition to boasting of Abu Ibrahim’s ideological credentials, Abu Hamza also trumpets his alleged war-time exploits. “The battlefields and homelands of brave men bear witness for him,” Abu Hamza says of Abu Ibrahim. “He fought against the protector of the Cross America and had it tested hardships. So, he is knowledgeable in how to combat it and he is aware of its plots.”

    Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi tells America that it shouldn’t “rejoice” in Baghdadi’s death, as the group “remains and expands” from “east to west” while being only a “footstep away from the gates of Europe and the entrance of Central Africa.” The Islamic State does retain an international network, with terror tentacles in a number of countries, but Abu Hamza’s claim that it is remaining and expanding (a repeat of the self-declared caliphate’s original motto) is an empty boast. The Islamic State controls very little territory today, after once dominating a geographic region roughly the size of Great Britain.

    Abu Hamza also takes a rhetorical shot at President Trump, telling Americans that their “faith has been controlled by a useless old man,” who “starts his day with one opinion and ends it with a different one.” The spokesman then threatens America claiming that the worst terror is yet to come.

    Abu Hamza ends his message by addressing the Islamic State’s wilayat or “provinces” around the globe.

    He says: “We call upon our brothers in all the wilayat to have patience, be hopeful of your rewards, steadfast on your religion and jihad, adhere to the group of Muslims and its imam, be keen to avenge your imams and brothers against the kuffar [infidels] and murtaddin [apostates], and make the effort to fulfill the will of Amir al-Muminin (may Allah accept him) in his last voice message, when he advised to set free the captive Muslims from their prisons, remove unjust from the oppressed, insist on calling people for this religion, get closer to our Lord by shedding the blood of mushrikin [polytheists], and have patience until you meet Allah while conducting jihad.”

    Therefore, Abu Hamza calls on the Islamic State’s followers and members to free their imprisoned comrades, while carrying on with their campaign against all who have not adopted their radical beliefs.

    Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Of course we could just deploy another Ohio "boomer" to Banger, WA and call it a day.....

    For links see article source.....
    Posted for fair use.....

    China says it won’t sit back if US deploys intermediate range missiles in Asia

    Defence ministry urges Washington to act cautiously as US insists it is not trying to dominate Asia-Pacific
    Beijing accuses US of trying to gain military advantage by pulling out of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

    Liu Zhen

    Published: 11:15pm, 31 Oct, 2019
    Updated: 2:46am, 1 Nov, 2019

    China will not take a “laissez-faire” approach if the US deploys intermediate range missiles in Asia-Pacific, the Chinese defence ministry said on Thursday.

    The ministry spokesman Wu Qian expressed China’s “resolute opposition” to such plan and urged Washington to take a responsible attitude and act with caution, to “avoid wrongdoing”.

    “If the US forces its way through, it would severely sabotage regional countries’ security interests and harm peace and stability,” Wu told a regular press conference.

    Wu accused the US of attempting to gain unilateral military advantages by quitting the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

    “The US withdrawal from the INF Treaty is yet more evidence it is pursuing unilateralism and shirking international responsibilities, which has direct negative impact on global strategic balance and stability, regional peace and security as well as international arms control systems,” he said.

    The US is continuing to develop security ties in Southeast Asia but a senior American diplomat insisted on Thursday that it was not seeking to dominate the region.

    David Stilwell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific said the US view was that “without security, you can’t have trade”.

    “There has to be a security element. Nobody is better suited to it than the US, mostly because we include others in that security apparatus in terms of allies and partners,” he said.

    He also encouraged the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to group together and resist China’s moves to militarise the South China Sea, where four Asean members – Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei – have disputes with China.

    The 1987 INF Treaty is a disarmament deal between the US and Soviet Union in the cold war, which removed the two superpowers’ land-based missiles with a range of 500km to 5,500km (310-3,420 miles).

    The US formally pulled out from the Treaty on August 2 accusing Russia of violating the deal, and test-fired the first previously banned missile on August 19.

    US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said at the time that he wanted to deploy ground-based missiles in Asia “sooner rather than later” to counter China, 80 per cent of whose missile inventory falls within the INF range, and began a tour in the region looking for possible bases.

    China in the past 32 years has built a powerful ground-based medium and intermediate range missile arsenal, capable of hitting US military bases and allies in the region.

    Last week, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoygu condemned the US’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty at a regional security forum in Beijing, saying that such move was targeting Russia and China, and warned of the likelihood of the US deploying INF missiles in Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

    Additional reporting by Associated Press

    Read more
    Vladimir Putin says Russia is helping China build a missile early warning system

    Read more
    China and Russia take aim at US in rare Security Council meeting over missile ambitions

    Read more
    China ‘expels trespassing’ US Navy destroyer from waters off Paracel Islands

    Read more
    China’s hypersonic DF-17 missile threatens regional stability, analyst warns

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    Afghanistan on the Edge? Elections, Elites, and Ethnic Tensions

    Andrew Watkins
    October 31, 2019

    Two days before Afghanistan’s recent troubled presidential election, the country’s president, Ashraf Ghani, sat for an interview. Asked whether he would consider a power-sharing government if voting results were close and contested, as happened in 2014, Ghani replied no unequivocally. His interviewer pressed further: not even if the country was facing civil war? Ghani replied, “the dangers and threats that existed then don’t exist now.”

    If that were true, why would the interviewer raise such an intense hypothetical? Why, in the days following the election, did international and Afghan media raise concerns of “a similar impasse” to the one witnessed in 2014, suggesting the possibility of “political chaos,” “turmoil” and even “open conflict?”

    Just over a month after their vote on September 28th, Afghans are still waiting to hear the election’s preliminary results. Could the outcome really trigger unrest, violence, or even broader civil conflict?

    In 2019, Afghanistan’s political rhetoric has included accusations of abuse of power, betrayal, and threats of violence. Opposition politicians openly defied President Ghani by meeting with members of the Taliban, who called for an interim government to be established. Some of those same opposition figures had points of agreement with the insurgent group; more than one coalition called for Ghani to step aside for an interim government, citing more than one reason. And since the election, rifts within ministries have echoed past political schisms.

    But President Ghani was essentially correct: the odds of ethnic tensions boiling over into widespread violence are relatively low — at least for now. The balance of armed strength has shifted away from informal powerbrokers and is more centralized under the Afghan government’s control than at any time since 2001. And for most communities not under Taliban control, the government has become the most prominent avenue of economic development. Yet this centralization has alienated elites and segments of the Afghan public, limiting options and raising frustrations.

    Critically, a key enabler of Ghani’s consolidation of state control is the same factor that keeps political factions and ethnic blocs from openly breaking with his government: steady U.S. military support and international financial aid (or the risk of losing it).

    Therefore, as the United States begins a gradual process of reviving dialogue with the Taliban, it should consider the social and political fabric of the Afghan political landscape just as carefully as it undertook the past year’s engagement with the insurgent group. The equilibrium that exists between Afghan political, social, and ethnic interests includes the current weight of international support. As the U.S. government deliberates over future troop withdrawals, it needs to ensure its gambit doesn’t tip the scales of civil stability.

    Afghan Centralization and its Discontents

    What supposedly nonexistent dangers was Ghani referring to in his interview? He was almost certainly alluding to ethnic tensions that have long been latent in Afghan politics — and, more pointedly, to the erosion of elites’ capability to challenge the government’s monopoly on force.

    For years now, Ghani and his advisors have prioritized centralizing the functions of government within the presidential palace, or Arg, often at the expense of marginalizing traditional powerbrokers — figures whose reputations were largely established as mujahedin during the Soviet occupation (or the sons of such men), who amassed wealth and power in government posts after the fall of the Taliban, and who are usually regarded as patrons of their own ethnic communities. This centralization, leading to several notable arrests of politically connected militia commanders, has provoked resistance and moments of crisis. Ghani’s supporters say he is fighting corruption; some ascribe more personal motives, while others contentiously suggest ethno-nationalist aims.

    This agenda has had dramatic impact on state and informal security forces. Five years ago, the command structure of Afghanistan’s military and police had a distinct demographic bent: many of its leaders (and a plurality of the rank and file) were drawn from the network of Northern Alliance fighters who partnered with the United States in its initial drive to oust the Taliban. For over a decade, these figures not only ran the security apparatus, but also used official status to fund and reinforce their network of informal militias. The political elites of northern Afghanistan feared a perpetual Pashtun-dominated government and actively maintained options for armed conflict even during the fateful election standoff in 2014.

    But these reforms, encouraged by the United States and its allies, have steadily professionalized the Afghan security forces. After sweeping forced retirements and a purge of parallel power structures in high-profile security offices, young technocrats and officers from American-trained special operations units have been speedily promoted. Just this past year, 27 out of 34 provincial police chiefs (which after 2001 have become positions of considerable power) have been replaced, almost entirely by special operations veterans. In tandem, Kabul has been dismantling old structures and practices, especially within the police or under the purview of the Ministry of Interior, that many powerbrokers used to prop up their own illegal armed groups.

    This is not to say that local militias have been disbanded or no longer exist; on the contrary, informal armed groups remain prolific across the country. But the ability of powerbrokers to marshal these groups effectively has always been an open question — and in any event, appears to be dwindling.

    When the new Ghani presidency appointed a political outsider and young technocrat as governor of the nationally vital province of Nangarhar (replacing a traditional powerbroker), one of the most powerful men in the province, Haji Zahir Qadir, was reportedly irked. David Mansfield, scholar of Afghanistan’s drug trade, noted in 2016 that Ghani’s perceived slight served as “further impetus [for Qadir] to bypass government institutions,” which was “exemplified by his establishment of a private militia.” Yet in recent years, Qadir’s ability to wield power has not matched his reputed wealth: his armed group initiated its fight against Islamic State forces with gruesome beheadings that repulsed locals. He wildly overstated his group’s strength, boasting of 9,000 fighters, while seeking support from U.S. special forces who later estimated Qadir’s militia to number around 80 men. And when the Afghan government established its latest iteration of local defense forces, which it placed under the control of the Afghan National Army, it changed the way such forces were vetted and funded to prevent corruption or the enrichment of militias, and Qadir’s group didn’t wind up making the cut.

    Like Qadir, even the ousted powerbrokers whose wealth can maintain larger militias are no longer able to summon state resources (airpower, heavy weapons, logistics) that have supported costly defense operations. This often leads these powerbrokers to lose territory to the Taliban, as seen recently in the home provinces of two of Afghanistan’s most powerful northern warlords, former Balkh governor Mohammad Atta Noor and the country’s first vice president, Rashid Dostum. Territorial loss corresponds with a loss of local legitimacy, a factor addressed in greater detail below. In some cases, these losses have spurred mass defections to the “winning side” of the insurgency, or co-optation of militias by the CIA and Afghan intelligence — which do provide cutting edge equipment, funding, or support.

    Deep Pockets and People Power

    Government offices are not only integral to the security sector. The Afghan government has also become a main source of economic patronage countrywide. And in spite of its struggles and limited reach, the government is responsible for, or affiliated with, nearly all major service provision — including services in Taliban-controlled areas!

    Many offices that used to be dispensed to tribal elders, famous former mujahedin, and wealthy elites are now awarded after open, ostensibly merit-based competition — ushering in a wave of young technocrats, even at the highest levels of government. The current governor of Nangarhar was previously affiliated with an international non-governmental organization; the governor of Zabul province was 25 when first appointed. Even the district-level governors of Kandahar province, a place that many residents regard as the real center of power in Afghanistan, are technocrats these days (the latest is a Ghani protégé, parroting his line on key issues). The nature of these high-level appointments has a trickle-down effect on local posts: I have worked on research from remote Daikundi province that indicates greater public satisfaction with service delivery under district-level officials who have been appointed based on open exams.

    None of this is to suggest that the Afghan government has firm control over the entire country — nor even areas relatively free of Taliban. And critically, some of Afghanistan’s most valuable resources remain part of the illicit economy: drugs, precious minerals, and timber. And most of the country’s major border customs points remain under the strong influence of traditional stakeholders: Mohammed Atta Noor in the north, Ismail Khan in the west, and the late General Abdul Raziq’s younger brother and successor in the south.

    But as already noted, what a warlord’s wealth buys him in Kabul seems to be slowly changing. Over the last two decades, one of the most potent means for an Afghan powerbroker to resist the central government has been the threat of mass protests, especially in the nation’s capital. Yet this is no longer so easily leveraged into favorable results.

    Since 2016, the Arg sought to marginalize Vice President (and accused war criminal) Dostum, the preeminent Uzbek figure in Afghanistan. Even when evidence of new crimes surfaced, many believed arresting Dostum was practically impossible. But President Ghani did send the case to court, pressuring Dostum to flee the country. Kabul then worked to incrementally tear down the Uzbek leader’s patronage network: One of his chief allies was arrested in 2018. In response, Dostum encouraged protests across northern Afghanistan, hoping to come home after nearly two years in exile. It was widely understood that if allowed to return home unimpeded, Dostum’s quid pro quo would be to pacify the north.

    At the time, the protests and the need to permit Dostum’s return were seen as serious setbacks for the Arg. Yet since then, Dostum has been effectively banned from Kabul, essentially stripped of his office, if not his title, while Kabul siphons off disgruntled former supporters with promises of alternate patronage, especially in Faryab, where Dostum’s ally had previously been so powerful. Meanwhile, his home province is more under siege than ever from insurgency, crippling his local standing. Protests did not re-secure Dostum’s position.

    Former Balkh governor and “benevolent strongman” Noor has resisted Kabul’s encroachment on his traditional turf perhaps more forcefully than any other figure: In the last two years he engaged in secretive talks with opposition politicians, refused to vacate the governorship after being formally dismissed, and even rallied armed supporters to block central government appointments. But at each turn, Noor has been parried by the presidential palace: He was prohibited from flying to Kandahar for meetings, eventually maneuvered into stepping down, and watched the government literally sneak into the halls of power against his wishes. The most recent incident resulted in brief clashes between Noor’s partisans and Kabul police in the streets of Mazar-e Sharif — an unprecedented escalation in civil conflict — but the next day, shops were open and life carried on as normal, with Kabul’s new regime in place. Months later, just before the election, close associates of Noor began to side with Ghani’s campaign.

    Part of the shift in how protests are politically employed has derived from Kabul’s willingness to respond to stands against the government with force. This has proven true even in the aftermath of shocking violence: In May 2017, after a devastating attack in Kabul, protestors supported by northern politicians were brutally suppressed by police. At a critical moment this spring, the political opposition declared that Ghani’s term in office had legally expired and threatened mass protests unless he stepped down. Yet protests failed to materialize, in part due to immediate preventative measures taken by security forces.

    But another key factor is the generational change and societal development that has drawn educated and activist young Afghans away from political factions anchored by former mujahedin, instead focusing on women’s issues, human rights, and sweeping critiques of the political establishment. The most impressive recent protests have coalesced locally and organically around issues of popular concern, such as marches for peace and demands for greater protection of ethnic minorities. Even protests mounted in favor of warlord figures have been rooted in local concerns about security and the central government’s perceived obligation to provide it. In spite of many Afghans’ disappointment and disillusionment in their government, mass protests have evolved beyond serving as leverage for powerbrokers and into an engine for youth and activists to push for better governance.

    A Cornered Animal More Likely to Bite?

    If traditional powerbrokers are being gradually marginalized from the political center, and others react as Haji Zahir Qadir reportedly has — by rejecting political participation and instead focusing on accumulation of wealth — doesn’t this suggest a greater risk of civil conflict? Are these warlords more dangerous without options, rather than if they remain accommodated somehow?

    International military and financial support are central to this question. Many figures who are powerful enough to raise sizeable militias were members of the Northern Alliance; for some, their working relationships with the U.S. military date back nearly two decades. These powerbrokers clearly understand that direct clashes with the government would imperil any future American or international assistance.

    Moreover, it cannot be assumed that the public would rally behind warlords in internecine conflict, even those who serve as patrons of their ethnic communities. Popular Afghan fears do fall along ethnic lines, but such concerns are constantly in flux, and difficult to address with finality: some of the most concerned communities today were perceived as disproportionately holding power a decade ago. Meanwhile, popular critiques across ethnic lines urge greater responsiveness and transparency on the part of Afghan leaders, rather than increased power.

    In any event, traditional stakeholders do retain political options — particularly when it comes to spinning the issues of elections and peace. In the event President Ghani is declared the electoral winner — or the second runoff round of voting is delayed until next year — it is likely that powerbrokers in the political opposition will attempt to taint his legitimacy, much the same way they have the past year. Opposition figures called for Ghani to voluntarily reduce his powers during campaign season, then began demanding he step down for a caretaker government, threatening mass protests that never came.

    Concurrently, similar calls arose in the context of peace: as Taliban representatives insisted they would call for an entirely new constitution, some Afghan politicians said this meant an interim government would be necessary, and that elections might not be — surprisingly, a position that echoed the Taliban’s. Most dramatically, when presented with the opportunity in February, opposition politicians met Taliban representatives in Moscow, a move the Arg labeled “betrayal.” Did this indicate a newfound enthusiasm for compromise with the Taliban — a position that has historically been anathema to former Northern Alliance powerbrokers?

    It is far more likely that these figures sensed political winds shifting. It should come as no surprise that the Moscow meeting coalesced soon after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted about drawing down troops in Afghanistan. But regardless of U.S. commitments, this pivot also reveals how few options traditional powerbrokers have left to regain lost position and stature.

    But what if Chief Executive Abdullah, rather than Ghani, were to win reelection? What lies in store for the political dynamics Ghani’s administration has labored to change? Most of the political opposition’s commitment to pursue peace would very likely vanish. Abdullah’s allies and rivals alike, along with every other powerbroker currently left out in the cold, would scrum for government positions. It is worth recalling how intensely today’s opposition figures recoiled at former President Karzai’s peace efforts, and how suspicious many were of the 2017 reconciliation of long-exiled Pashtun warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The north’s historical aversion to Pashtun authority and antipathy toward the Taliban would almost certainly be revived.

    But if Ghani either wins or a runoff is required, the opposition’s continued interest in peace efforts will be perceived by the palace as an attempt to delegitimize the government’s official position. Almost by default, the opposition’s stance on peace could prompt the Arg to harden its own, as initial opposition forays did in late 2018, when Ghani ushered in a new cabinet of hardline security hands. Unfortunately, domestic political dynamics do not appear well-aligned to incentivize real progress on peace.

    Moving Past the Status Quo: Stability, State-Building, and the United States

    What can the United States government do to mitigate the disincentives and distrust rife in Afghanistan’s two biggest looming political issues?

    The United States has slowly, incrementally restarted the mechanisms of talking with the Taliban; this is a necessary process of restoring buy-in for a political settlement after early September’s boondoggle, just before an agreement was to be signed. The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, carried out whirlwind shuttle diplomacy in the region this week, and at one point the Taliban was set to meet many of the same prominent opposition politicians who traveled to Moscow — this time in China.

    To pre-empt political friction on elections as well as peace, the United States could engage in equally quiet arbitration among key political figures — or request that another international body, such as the United Nations, do so in its place. Officials would need to take care so that this engagement would not be seen as making promises or picking sides, especially with regard to the country’s more notorious powerbrokers — those already starkly at odds with the current Afghan government or facing international opprobrium. But U.S. diplomats could use such sessions to temper stakeholders’ expectations for the next five years, while encouraging the country’s next president to prioritize a workable, equitable balance of power.

    Such arbitration could come under the pretext of aiding preparation for intra-Afghan dialogue; the government has yet to name an inclusive national negotiating team, something the United States and European governments have repeatedly lobbied for this year. And given that any further meetings between the Taliban and opposition are likely to irk Ghani’s team as much as the last iteration did, the international community could offer carrots and wield sticks with all parties.

    Given the resistance President Ghani’s administration has shown to various elements of the peace process, the United States and partners are in need of strong incentives to persuade the Afghan government to buy in to its sequencing (deal with Taliban first, engage in an intra-Afghan dialogue next, then produce a ceasefire that allows talks to continue). A firmly uncooperative government would leave international partner nations no choice but to encourage intra-Afghan dialogue with a more prominent role for traditional stakeholders. But a multilateral mediated dialogue might also be able to bring this parallel track more in line with the government’s preferred efforts, in exchange for some real inclusion on the government’s negotiation team — the best kind of quid pro quo, one that Afghan actors struggled to independently agree on earlier this year.

    More broadly, the U.S. government needs to emphasize its steady, continued dedication to economically supporting the Afghan state, even — especially — if troop withdrawals come to pass. Concrete and well-publicized commitments of long-term economic and development aid are a necessary signal that the United States and the international community will stand firm in enduring partnership with Afghanistan and its incoming presidential administration, whenever it assumes office.

    Highly visible commitments could help stem the growing tide of mistrust among the Afghan people — many of whom have come to believe that the United States is simply buying itself a “decent interval” before abandoning them. That the stability of the Afghan state and economy relies on international aid and the U.S. troops that keep it anchored is no secret. As talks progressed over the last year between the United States and the Taliban, which were oriented around U.S. troop withdrawal and which were deemed by critics little more than a retreat, concerns spread across Afghan society.

    Recent diplomatic gaffes stand in stark contrast to what is needed, today: A high profile announcement that aid and anti-corruption support would be withheld, and the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan’s chiding of the president, both just days before the election, were beyond tone-deaf. If the U.S. military winds up withdrawing further in the near term, such posturing could prove destabilizing.

    The U.S. government has reasons to be frustrated with the Arg: for most of the last year, Khalilzad was open about the desire to secure a peace deal before elections, calling elections “complicating.” And this week, Afghanistan’s controversial national security advisor announced a hardened government stance on peace — a move widely interpreted as stalling, just as Khalilzad has geared back into action.

    Yet, rather than attempting to browbeat the Afghan government, the United States should strengthen its sales pitch on peace to the Afghan people. It should substantively address the government’s concerns that peace is being used by other actors to delegitimize its authority, in part by actively refereeing between top political figures with an eye towards peace and election deadlock. The Afghan government has, for better and worse, become the country’s predominant source for services, development, patronage, and outsized expectations. The United States should take great care in any course of action that might marginalize it.

    Whatever disapproval the United States may wish to convey, it pales in comparison to the role it is obliged to play: a committed partner and stabilizing force for Afghanistan during a time of intense, multifaceted political transition.

    Andrew Watkins is an independent researcher with over four years’ experience in Afghanistan. He deployed there as a member of the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, later returned as a liaison with local security forces and as a conflict analyst for the humanitarian community, and most recently with the United Nations this year. You can find him on Twitter @and_huh_what.

    Image: U.S. Army (Photo by Maj. Thomas Cieslak)

    CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the Arg considered it “treason” that opposition politicians met with Taliban representatives in Moscow. This is incorrect. The correct term is “betrayal.”

  4. #4
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    Might India Start the Next South Asia Crisis?

    Toby Dalton and Gaurav Kalwani
    November 1, 2019

    In February 2019, India and Pakistan came dangerously close to the brink of catastrophe. After a terrorist bombing in Kashmir, India carried out air strikes against facilities associated with a militant group in Pakistan, which resulted in a Pakistani counterstrike, an aerial battle that downed an Indian fighter, and threats to escalate with missile attacks. That the crisis stopped short of war was due in good measure to luck. Next time, New Delhi and Islamabad may be less fortunate, especially if the crisis deviates from past patterns.

    What will trigger the next crisis in South Asia? Conventional wisdom holds that it will follow a script common to successive crises since the early 1990s. The pattern starts with a high-casualty terror attack in India, attributed to Pakistan-based militant groups with a long history of carrying out cross-border operations, which then puts the onus on India to calibrate escalation in its response. Just because nearly every crisis between India and Pakistan in the last three decades began with an act of cross-border terrorism, however, does not mean that other potential catalysts should be neglected.

    One intriguing alternative deserves scrutiny: Instead of an attack in India that initiates crisis, what if one arose following a proactive Indian operation to seize territory over the Line of Control (LOC) in the portion of the disputed territory of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan? Indian leaders have contemplated such operations in the past, and the current government in India has demonstrated its willingness to take considerable risks, including in the February 2019 crisis. Moreover, New Delhi’s August 2019 decision to revoke the special constitutional status of Kashmir underscores its willingness to reconsider long-standing norms and practices. If the next crisis starts with an Indian operation, the odds are much greater that it will escalate quickly to war for reasons that the conventional South Asia crisis wisdom tends to discount.

    Evolving Crisis Behavior and Indian Politics

    In the spring of 1990, in the midst of a popular uprising in the Kashmir Valley and a violent Indian security crackdown, cross-border attacks by terrorist groups operating from Pakistan catalyzed an Indo-Pakistan military crisis. Every South Asian crisis since then has fit this pattern, with the exception of the 1999 Kargil War, which the Pakistan Army initiated with an operation to capture Indian guard posts along the LOC. In each instance, Indian decision makers wrestled with whether and how to respond militarily against Pakistan, which New Delhi blamed for aiding and abetting the groups responsible for the attacks. Typically, Indian leaders opted against a direct military response for fear that an escalating conflict could cause far more damage than the initial attack.

    Most literature on crisis and conflict in South Asia starts from the premise that past is prologue in terms of catalysts. Analytic debates therefore focus less on how crises start than on how this scenario could escalate. The most consequential issues following from this framing center on India’s punitive options for compelling Pakistan to change its behavior, and the logical challenge of threatening or applying enough force to do so without prompting conflict escalation. Analysts therefore concentrate on India’s choices as the key determinant of escalation. Regular war games and crisis simulations have explored this scenario in great detail.

    However, bypassing the question of how South Asian crises begin risks confirmation bias that results in poor planning. Simply put, if analysts continue to uncritically assume that the next crisis will replay the last one, they ignore alternative scenarios that might evolve very differently. Data from recent crisis behavior and changing Indian domestic politics supports the need to revisit assumptions.

    Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the past two crises India has taken more calculated risks with military responses. In September 2016, following an attack on an Indian Army base at the Kashmir town of Uri, India claims it carried out “surgical strikes” against militant “launch pads” in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Pakistan denied that any strikes occurred, and the crisis petered out. But the public reaction in India appears to have vindicated the purported muscular response. Social media, newspaper headlines, and TV chyrons widely affirmed and hyped Modi’s decision to “punish” Pakistan.

    It was therefore little surprise that when the next military crisis arrived in February 2019 after a Kashmiri suicide bomber killed 40 Indian police officers near Pulwama, India opted for greater force. Modi authorized an Indian Air Force precision strike on an alleged training facility of Jaish-e-Muhammad, the militant group claiming sponsorship of the suicide attack, near Balakot in the Pakistani province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Though calibrated to minimize the potential for any casualties apart from residents at the facility, India’s cross-border air strike in Pakistani sovereign territory (as opposed to disputed territory in Kashmir) was the first between India and Pakistan since their 1971 war, and the first ever between two nuclear-armed states.

    What if India Takes the Initiative?

    Instead of waiting for the next terror attack to start yet another crisis, might Modi decide to take the initiative and launch an operation to capture territory in Pakistani Kashmir? This scenario is not implausible, even if its probability remains low. India’s much-debated “Cold Start” doctrine, in theory, is intended for exactly this kind of objective, albeit in the context of retaliation for a terror attack launched from Pakistan. India might see value in a “proactive” cross-border operation along these lines to punish the Pakistan Army and damage its reputation; to establish a new tactical territorial advantage by attempting to redraw the LOC; or to gain leverage over Pakistan for ensuing political negotiations. Past Indian governments would not have authorized a military operation to achieve these objectives, but Modi’s approach to governance is clearly different.

    As a leader, Modi is more risk-acceptant than his predecessors, as demonstrated in the 2016 and 2019 crises. He and other senior leaders appear to believe that more violent responses are called for as India seeks to exploit space for military operations against Pakistan that do not encroach nuclear redlines. India’s military actions against Pakistan enjoyed breathless media attention and are widely viewed in India as tactical and strategic successes, despite widely reported doubts about the results.

    Modi also revels in the reputation of being a tough leader. He has proclaimed a “new India” that will no longer tolerate attacks from Pakistan. Modi cleverly utilized the Balakot air strikes to bolster his image as India’s watchman (“chowkidar”) in claiming a surprise victory in recent general elections. His August 2019 decision to revoke the independent status of Kashmir has also proved popular domestically, which has led some Indian officials to call for reclaiming the other half of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan. Union Minister Amit Shah, for instance, asserted during a Lok Sabha debate, no doubt with some hyperbole, that “Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir also falls under the boundaries of Kashmir. We will sacrifice our lives for it.”

    The international environment for India may also be more conducive to risk-taking. Indian officials believe they had the weight of international opinion on their side as they retaliated during the 2016 and 2019 crises, including support from the United States. Of course, an unprovoked operation is not the same as a response to terrorism, and India would risk undermining the moral high ground it has claimed as a result. New Delhi’s September 2019 U.S. charm offensive — including a head-spinning tour of seven think tanks in Washington by Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar — does suggest sensitivity to global opinion that might restrain its adventurism. Yet it is notable that there have been few real international repercussions for either India’s revocation of Kashmir’s status or the heavy-handed security crackdown that followed. If the international community ultimately believes, as India asserts, that Kashmir is an internal matter, then Modi may be more willing to push the boundary — literally.

    Seeing the Future in the Past?

    What might a proactive Indian operation to grab territory look like? Two historical cases offer some ideas.

    The first case involves the Siachen Glacier, a thin slice of frozen land high in the Himalayas. The dispute over Siachen is rooted in differing conceptions of the postcolonial border, which was not fully demarcated in the United Nations-brokered ceasefire to end the first India-Pakistan war in 1947, or when the ceasefire line was converted to the Line of Control following the 1971 war. Both sides claimed ownership of the glacier, but neither maintained any presence there and the area itself was of little strategic value, rendering the point somewhat moot. Starting in the late 1970s, however, India and Pakistan began to suspect each other of making plans to occupy the glacier. In April 1984, India launched Operation Meghdoot (“cloud messenger,” from a Sanskrit poem) to seize the glacier and pre-empt any Pakistani attempt to do the same. Utilizing the cover of challenging spring weather conditions, India airlifted two platoons of soldiers onto the Sia La and Bilafond La passes to take control of the glacier. There, they successfully held off the Pakistani forces that arrived to confront them a few days later. At the end of the initial phase of conflict, India had captured around 1,000 square kilometers of territory, which it continues to hold today.

    It is difficult to overstate the audacity of this undertaking. The weather conditions were severe. The only helicopter that could transport soldiers to the necessary heights did so under conditions of extreme risk, and even then ferrying only two men at a time. The military overcame immense logistical hurdles to put together the bare minimum of supplies necessary to sustain the mission in an unfamiliar area with no existing infrastructure. Though not a cross-LOC operation in the sense that the Siachen Glacier was never controlled by Pakistan, India’s broader willingness to engage in risky offensive maneuvers in the name of what were essentially political rather than military objectives is instructive.

    The second case involves a similarly bold operation purportedly planned by the Indian Army, but never carried out. As Happymon Jacob describes in his account of this plan, in the summer of 2001 the Indian Army prepared to launch an aggressive cross-border assault on 25–30 Pakistani guard posts along the Line of Control. Codenamed Operation Kabbadi after a popular South Asian contact sport, the plan was to capture the posts, punish the Pakistan Army, and stanch the flow of militants from Pakistan into Jammu and Kashmir. Failing that, Indian planners wanted to at least raise the costs to the Pakistan Army for facilitating cross-border terrorism. Once captured, the Indian Army planned to hold the posts until the government ordered a retreat, which military officials believed would augment the army’s defensive posture and deter further infiltration. A number of successful small-scale operations of a similar kind over the prior year gave military officials confidence that a larger-scale plan could succeed. However, these officials were also aware that a land grab of this magnitude would invite a Pakistani response, a risk which they apparently anticipated in their planning.

    It is worth underscoring that the Indian Army conceived of the operation after the nuclearization of the subcontinent in 1998, and also after the Kargil War of 1999. The latter ended without escalation to the nuclear level, which perhaps reassured Indian leaders that Pakistani nuclear redlines could be avoided. The operation never came to pass, however. The Indian government had not yet approved the operation when Al Qaeda attacked the United States on 9/11. The ensuing U.S. focus on the region no doubt complicated New Delhi’s decision-making. Had Operation Kabbadi proceeded (an open question given the previous paradigm of restraint in India’s civilian leadership), it is difficult to say what the outcome would have been. However, it is indisputable that such an assault would have represented a significant escalation from regular hostilities along the Line of Control.

    Implications for the Next Crisis

    As with all historical cases, there are limitations in drawing inferences for contemporary conditions. As compared to 2001, India and Pakistan now have two decades of experience with crises under the nuclear overhang, even as both continue to build out their nuclear arsenals and adapt postures accordingly. India is slowly realizing its global aspirations, giving it more leverage in international politics. China is a more important actor in the region today than 20 years ago, whereas U.S. interests in the region are in flux as Washington seeks to wind down its presence in Afghanistan. Yet, fundamentally, the cases underscore that India can be revisionist in its aims with respect to the Line of Control, whether for political or military reasons. Under the right circumstances, it is conceivable India may opt to challenge the status quo again.

    How might a crisis initiated by an Indian cross-border operation differ from the pattern of the past couple of decades? Most critically, it would shift the onus of decision-making to Pakistan. As the aggrieved party, and as the smaller power, Pakistani leaders would face immense pressure to restore deterrence through escalation. Whereas Indian leaders have sought to manage escalation by targeting militant groups and their infrastructure, Pakistan would have no choice but to attack Indian forces directly in order to evict them from what Pakistan perceives as its territory. A calibrated response might be an insufficient demonstration of Pakistan’s resolve to impose high costs on India and prevent further encroachment. Pakistan might therefore attack not just Indian forces over the Line of Control, but could also carry out longer-range strikes on more valuable military targets in India.

    Pakistan could also escalate in ways that invite greater risk of engaging nuclear weapons in the conflict, which has been an important element of its strategy in previous episodes. For instance, it might decide to cross an important symbolic threshold by using ballistic or cruise missiles against military targets in India. It could also try to test Indian resolve by dispersing short-range nuclear weapons in the field in an attempt to manipulate Schelling’s “threat that leaves something to chance.” In this regard, it is notable that Pakistani strategists seem to have drawn quite different lessons from the 2019 crisis than their Indian counterparts. Pakistani officials believe they won the last conflict by successfully escalating in response to India’s airstrike, leading to the downing of an Indian MiG-21 aircraft and capture of its pilot. They might also conclude that nuclear signaling — calling a meeting of the National Command Authority in response to Indian threats to carry out missile strikes — succeeded in deterring Indian escalation. If Pakistani leaders believe that escalate-to-deescalate worked in 2019, it is likely they would implement the same strategy in the next crisis.

    A crisis initiated by India is also likely to escalate far more quickly. Notably, in the 2016 and 2019 crises, India waited a week or more following the instigating terror attack to prepare and calibrate its responses. But if India commenced a cross-border operation, Pakistan likely would not wait even hours to launch a counter-offensive to disrupt Indian efforts to consolidate its hold on captured territory. In this context, de-escalation and conflict termination also become far more complex. The peak of the crisis following the 2019 Pulwama attack played out in the span of a few days, and arguably de-escalated mostly due to the lucky stroke of Pakistan capturing alive the Indian MiG pilot whom it was able to return. Captured soldiers are considerably easier to give back than territory, and the more aggressive an opening land grab, the more difficult it will be to de-escalate in a condensed time frame.

    The stakes of a crisis like this would also be much greater. India would be loath to return any captured territory in the name of de-escalation, especially if the offensive is framed or justified in terms of expanding India’s control over disputed territory. Given rising Indian nationalism, coupled with historical disdain for third-party meddling in Kashmir, outside efforts to arrest the crisis are less likely to result in Indian restraint. For Pakistan, hyped fears of an existential threat from India are likely to reinforce risk-taking to reclaim territory it sees as sovereign. It is unclear that there are any non-military options Pakistan could exercise to incentivize India to return the territory. This could lead to a situation in which both countries find themselves unable to back down and without peaceful paths to resolve the dispute.

    Luck is Not a Crisis-Management Strategy

    Of course, India may not attempt an operation as audacious as its 1984 occupation of the Siachen Glacier, or as risk-acceptant as its planned 2001 cross-border capture of Pakistani guard posts. Even so, there are ample reasons for analysts to question the standing assumptions about how the next South Asia crisis might begin. Doing so is a necessary first step toward thinking through the full range of possible crises and how states might prepare for them.

    With that in mind, scholars and policymakers should analyze and debate several questions: What are the different types of crisis catalysts and how might escalation pathways vary by type? What are the beliefs on each side about crisis management and control, and are there shared ideas about escalation thresholds? And, how are changes in military, surveillance, and other relevant technologies affecting crisis calculations? These are all questions without easy answers, but they demand attention. Preparing for the next crisis on the basis of the last one runs the same risks as planning to fight the next war in the same way as the previous one. Both India and Pakistan, as well as third parties interested in trying to facilitate crisis de-escalation and termination, would be wise to plan for a range of contingencies.

    Crisis management in South Asia is hugely consequential. A limited nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan would be disastrous for people in the region, but the effects could spread well beyond South Asia. Preventing the next crisis from escalating to a point at which nuclear weapons might be used is therefore a global imperative. It is far better that the next South Asia crisis be managed, to the extent possible, with careful planning and preparation, rather than counting on luck to see it through.

    Toby Dalton is co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    Gaurav Kalwani is a James C. Gaither junior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment.

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    World News
    October 31, 2019 / 6:07 AM / 2 days ago

    U.S. envoy for Iran says Tehran spent $16 billion on 'militias' in Iraq, Syria: Al Arabiya

    DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has spent $16 billion on its “militias” in Iraq and Syria, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV on Thursday.

    He did not give more details on the militias or say when Iran had spent the money.

    Reporting by Tuqa Khalid

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    Turkey Has Long Had Nuclear Dreams
    Ankara has been contemplating developing nuclear weapons since the 1960s.
    By Colum Lynch | November 1, 2019, 2:32 PM

    In September, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told members of his party that it is time for his country to acquire its own nuclear bomb.

    Such a move would mark a sharp break from previous obligations by Turkey, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which bars non-nuclear states from acquiring nuclear weapons. But this is not the first time that Turkey—which has played host to U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1950s—has craved its own nuclear weapons program.

    As part of our Document of the Week series, Foreign Policy is posting a copy of a Sept. 26, 1966, memo describing to then-Ambassador Parker T. Hart a troubling conversation Clarence Wendel, the U.S. minerals attache at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, had with a “reliable” Turkish scientist on Turkey’s nuclear ambitions.

    PDF window/link

    The memo, one of 20 previously declassified documents on nuclear weapons in Turkey compiled this week by the National Security Archive, claims the source disclosed that officials from Turkey’s General Directorate of Mineral Research and Exploration “had been asked to cooperate with General [Refik] Tulga and Professor Omer Inonu (Professor of Physics at METU) [Middle East Technical University] in a Turkish program to develop an ‘Atomic Bomb.’”

    Wendel, according to the memo, had flagged a number of developments suggesting the claim may be credible, including: “Repeated Turkish assertions that a 200 mega-watt nuclear reactor is planned for Istanbul”; the stockpiling of reserves of 300 to 600 tons of uranium in low-grade ore deposits; and the “delaying and haggling tactics of the Turkish negotiators during discussions of the extension of the bilateral agreement on peaceful uses of atomic energy which primarily concerned the transfer of safeguards responsibility from the U.S.A. to the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

    Hart was skeptical that Turkey was bent on going nuclear, but he considered that it may have been preparing a contingency plan in the event that a nuclear arms race gained momentum in the region. They may be “simply putting themselves in a position to jump on the bandwagon in case there should be further serious breaks in the line against proliferation,” he wrote to John Howison, the Turkey country director in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.

    Much of the history of the U.S. deployment of nuclear weapons in Turkey as part of a wider European deterrent force remains classified. But several documents compiled by the archive detail discussions related to the deployment of Honest John and Jupiter missiles in Turkey in 1959 and the early 1960s, and persistent concerns about the risk that they might be seized in the event that U.S. relations with a future Turkish leader deteriorated.

    Relations with Turkey have been particularly strained in recent weeks, as Erdogan ordered an invasion of northern Syria in an attempt to crush Kurdish forces that have served as critical allies in the U.S.-led war against the Islamic State terrorist movement. In response, officials from the U.S. State and Energy departments began a review of contingency plans for the possible evacuation of some 50 tactical nuclear weapons stored at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, according to a report in the New York Times.

    Read More
    Document of the Week: How JFK Tried to Stop Nuclear Proliferation

    When a U.S. president threatened to cut support for Israel over nukes.
    Document | Colum Lynch
    Document of the Week: When Sweden Wanted Nukes

    A 1963 U.S. intelligence assessment underscores how many countries—even Sweden—were exploring nuclear weapons programs at the height of the Cold War.
    Document | Robbie Gramer
    Document of the Week: Risk of Iranian Retaliation Has Long Spooked Gulf Allies

    What happens when Washington pushes Tehran too hard.
    Document | Colum Lynch

    Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

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    N Korea, emboldened by Trump peril and Chinese allies, tries harder line

    Today 06:42 am JST 6 Comments
    By Josh Smith and Hyonhee Shin

    Successful sanctions evasion, economic lifelines from China and U.S. President Donald Trump's impeachment woes may be among the factors that have emboldened North Korea in nuclear negotiations, analysts and officials say.

    Both Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continue to play up the personal rapport they say they developed during three face-to-face meetings. But North Korea has said in recent days that it is losing patience, giving the United States until the end of the year to change its negotiating stance.

    North Korea has tested the limits of engagement with a string of missile launches, including two fired on Thursday, and experts warn that the lack of a concrete arms control agreement has allowed the country to continue producing nuclear weapons.

    The missile tests have practical value for the North Korean military's efforts to modernise its arsenal. But they also underscore Pyongyang's increasingly belligerent position in the face of what it sees as an inflexible and hostile United States.

    In a best-case scenario, Thursday's launch was an attempt to make the December deadline feel more urgent to the U.S., said Andray Abrahamian, a visiting scholar with George Mason University Korea.

    "Still, I think that Pyongyang has concluded they can do without a deal if they must," he said. "The sad thing is I think that will lock in the current state of affairs, with its downsides for all stakeholders, for years to come."


    Trump's reelection battle and the impeachment inquiry against him may have led Kim to overestimate North Korea's leverage, said one diplomat in Seoul, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

    "It looks like Kim has a serious delusion that he is capable of helping or ruining Trump's reelection, but no one in Pyongyang can stand up to the unerring leader and say he's mistaken – you don't want to be dead," the diplomat told Reuters. "And Trump is all Kim has. In order to denuclearise, Kim needs confidence that Trump will be reelected."

    The Americans, meanwhile, came into working-level talks on Oct 5 in Stockholm with the position that North Korea must completely and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear program, and pushed for a moratorium on weapons tests as part of a first step, the diplomat said.

    Although some media reports said the United States planned to propose temporarily lifting sanctions on coal and textile exports, the diplomat said the talks in Stockholm did not get into details.

    "The U.S. can't take the risk of easing sanctions first, having already given a lot of gifts to Kim without substantial progress on denuclearisation, including summits," the diplomat said. "Sanctions are basically all they have to press North Korea."

    When American negotiators tried to set a time for another round of talks, North Korean officials were uncooperative, the diplomat said.

    "The prospects are not so promising," the diplomat added.


    Although United Nations sanctions remain in place, some trade with China appears to have increased, and political relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have improved dramatically.

    Kim and China's president, Xi Jinping, have met several times, and the two countries exchange delegations of government officials.

    A huge influx of Chinese tourists over the past year appears to be a major source of cash for the North Korean government, according to research by Korea Risk Group, which monitors North Korea.

    Korea Risk Group chief executive Chad O'Carroll estimates as many as 350,000 Chinese tourists have visited this year, potentially netting the North Korean authorities up to $175 million.

    That's more than North Korea was making from the Kaesong Industrial Complex - jointly operated with South Korea before it was shuttered in 2016 - and is almost certainly part of why Kim is showing less interest in U.S. proposals, O'Carroll said.

    The United States and South Korea suggested tourism, rather than resuming the Kaesong operation, as a potential concession to the North after the failed second summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi in February, the Seoul-based diplomat said.

    "That's based on the consensus that any sanctions relief should be immediately reversible, but once the 120-plus factories are put back in, it's difficult to shut it down and pull them out again," the diplomat said.

    The United Nations, meanwhile, has reported that North Korea is successfully evading many of the sanctions, and that the government may have stolen as much as $2 billion through cyber attacks.

    "Stockholm suggests Pyongyang is also fine with their'Chinese backstop', i.e. whatever agreement they have on lax sanctions enforcement," Abrahamian said. "I worry that instead of trying to get a deal, they think Trump will be more desperate for a win than he actually is and will miss the window."


    Trump and Kim's second meeting abruptly fell apart when both sides refused to budge, with North Korea demanding wide-ranging sanctions relief and the Americans insisting on concrete disarmament steps.

    "It's very clear that the failure of Hanoi triggered a debate inside North Korea about whether Kim's path - moving down the road to denuclearisation - was the right way to go," said Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington.

    For now, North Korea seems inclined to avoid engaging further with the United States or South Korea until they make more concessions, Wit said.

    Other analysts are skeptical that Kim will ever give up his hard-won nuclear weapons, but say the opportunity for even a limited arms control deal may be slipping away.

    "North Korea appears to be interested only in a deal under its terms to the exact letter," said Duyeon Kim, with the Washington-based Center for a New American Security.

    "Pyongyang is able to demand more, be tougher, and raise the bar because its confidence comes from qualitative and quantitative advancements in its nuclear weapons," Kim said.

    © Thomson Reuters 2019.

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    The Botched Capture of Ovidio Guzmán Shows Strain in U.S.–Mexico Relationship

    By Daniel Tenreiro
    October 31, 2019 2:42 PM

    President Andrés Manuel López Obrador policy of ‘hugs not bullets’ has made Mexico’s cartel problem worse and hurt relations with Washington.

    On October 17, Mexican security forces captured Ovidio Guzmán, the son of the notorious drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, in the northwestern city of Culiacán. Three hours later, after a firefight with hundreds of members of the Sinaloa cartel that El Chapo formerly led, they released the younger Guzmán. It was a stunning capitulation on the part of Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has pursued a policy of “hugs not bullets” in dealing with the country’s violent cartels.

    Experts blamed poor planning for the botched capture. According to the Washington Post, Mexican security officials failed to obtain a warrant for Guzmán’s arrest prior to the operation, forcing a delay and allowing cartel members to consolidate their forces. “If this had been planned differently, perhaps we would have devoted more air support,” conceded Secretary of Defense Luis Cresencio Sandoval. Mexican authorities also chose not to coordinate with the United States — a break from the practice of recent administrations. Since 2006, American officials have been intimately involved in the war on Mexico’s criminal organizations. López Obrador’s decision to keep the United States out of the biggest such operation since 2016 signaled a dramatic shift in American involvement in Mexico’s drug war.

    In 2006, then–Mexican president Felipe Calderón declared a war on the transnational criminal organizations operating in the country. The cartels had grown so violent that some American officials expressed fears Mexico could become a failed state. The following year, Calderon asked for assistance from the Bush administration — a request the Mexican government had previously hesitated to make due to concerns about foreign involvement in the country’s domestic affairs. Ultimately, the two sides agreed to a bilateral partnership called the Mérida Initiative. It was the first time Mexico had accepted foreign aid for national-security purposes, and was seen as symbolizing a new era of coordination between the U.S. and Mexico.

    According to Alan Bersin, the former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the aim of the Mérida Initiative was to “systematically dismantle Mexico’s massive criminal syndicates.” The partnership involved direct military assistance — including sales of military aircraft and helicopters — as well as intelligence sharing, training programs for Mexican police and prosecutors, and border-security coordination. The U.S. pledged to tackle American firearm trafficking into Mexico and demand for drugs, while Mexico pledged to stem crime and corruption within its borders.

    Since then, the U.S. has spent roughly $2 billion on the program, which the Obama administration broadened in 2013 around four pillars: (1) disrupting organized criminal groups, (2) institutionalizing the rule of law, (3) creating a 21st-century border, and (4) building strong and resilient communities. As part of this recalibration, American officials began providing training and technical assistance as Mexico transitioned to an accusatorial justice system, and providing equipment to forces on Mexico’s southern border. In an effort to meet the fourth pillar of the program’s expansion, the U.S. Agency for International Development oversees human-rights and crime-prevention initiatives in Mexico.

    Though the bilateral cooperation facilitated the capture and incarceration of high-level targets, such as “El Chapo,” as well as increasing extraditions from Mexico to the U.S., cartel violence grew steadily. Experts such as the Congressional Research Service’s Clare Seelke say the “kingpin strategy,” which targets criminal leadership, has fueled cycles of violence, as diffuse criminal networks vie for territory and power. Despite these flaws, says Bersin, the strategy succeeded in turning an existential threat to Mexican national security into a local, albeit serious, law-enforcement concern. In short, he argues, a long-term, concerted decimation of criminal organizations was worth a short-term increase in violence.

    But the strategy has fundamentally shifted since López Obrador took office. In August, the Mexican president said the Mérida Initiative “has not worked.” Rather than focusing on military or law-enforcement cooperation, López Obrador said Mexico and the U.S. should partner in developing the economies of southern Mexico and Central America. As part of his strategy of “hugs, not bullets,” he has committed to rooting out corruption, reforming drug policy, softening the penal system, and investing in at-risk youth. He has also called for decriminalizing drugs and focusing on treatment programs as part of his National Development Plan, which is short on details and eschews the immediate concern of transnational crime.

    In Bersin’s view, “President López Obrador has let his ideology and sentiment overcome what a sound security policy ought to be predicated on.” The Mexican president has sidelined the navy — Mexico’s most effective force in combating drug cartels — in favor of a newfangled National Guard that is not yet prepared to confront transnational cartels. As a result, homicides in Mexico hit a record high last year of 29 per 100,000 people and show no signs of abating.

    These decisions culminated in the release of Guzmán — a calamity reminiscent of the event that spurred Calderón to start the drug war in 2006, when members of La Familia Michoacan rolled five decapitated heads onto the dance floor of a nightclub in Uruapan. But whereas that event fostered increased cooperation with the U.S., the release of Guzmán will likely have the opposite effect: American officials will be less likely to share confidential intelligence with a Mexican administration that has shown no commitment to fighting organized crime.

    To be sure, merely redoubling military efforts will not defeat the cartels, either. Eric Olson of the Wilson Center tells National Review that “Mexico has had large military deployments in the country’s most violent states for several years with negligible results.” Because local governments and police forces remain corrupt, decapitated cartels can continue to vie for power.

    Instead, Olson says the U.S.–Mexico partnership should focus on institutionalizing the rule of law and building stronger, more resilient communities. Such a policy would entail routing corruption in local governments and professionalizing the country’s policy force. In tandem with a deeper understanding of criminal organizations’ business models and a focus on their financing, it would be more likely to stabilize Mexico than a military-focused strategy, Olson believes. “You can’t arrest your way out of this problem without dealing with corruption and the rule of law,” he says.

    But without a receptive Mexican government, such initiatives will be difficult to effectuate. State Department officials have spent years training Mexican prosecutors and police officers, but that technical training has not been applied consistently due to a lack of political will on the Mexican side.


    The one bright spot in the bilateral relationship of late has been coordination on immigration. In June, López Obrador agreed to deploy the National Guard to Mexico’s southern border to stem the flow of migrants from Central America, and his government has kept asylum seekers in Mexico while their legal cases proceed in the U.S. Between 2015 and 2018, Mexico apprehended more than 520,000 Central American migrants. Drug seizures in the country have also increased in recent years. But it’s the action on migration that has given López Obrador cover in discussions with the Trump administration, which is much more concerned about migration to the U.S. than about Mexico’s cartel problem.

    To be sure, Mexico is not in a state of emergency. With violence geographically concentrated, the kinds of widespread calamities witnessed at the height of Colombia’s drug crisis have not materialized in our neighbor to the south. Businesses still operate rather smoothly despite high levels of violence, and the Mexican economy continues to grow. But if transnational criminal organizations continue to undermine Mexican authorities, the ensuing instability will hurt American businesses and workers, while fueling increased migration from Mexico.

    Daniel Tenreiro is a College Fix Fellow at National Review.

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    US State Department warns ISIS grew and evolved worldwide as it lost territory in Syria

    By Jennifer Hansler, CNN
    Updated 6:34 PM ET, Fri November 1, 2019

    Washington (CNN)Despite the collapse of its territorial caliphate, ISIS remained a growing and evolving threat even as it lost territory in Syria, a top State Department official said Friday.

    Counterterrorism Coordinator Ambassador Nathan Sales, speaking just days after the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said the terrorist organization spread its influence through affiliates and individual actors.

    "Terrorist fighters are always looking for the next battleground," Sales told reporters during a briefing to unveil the department's 2018 Country Reports on Terrorism. "And I think we're concerned about the possibility that jihadis who've been defeated in Syria might relocate elsewhere, whether you're talking about ISIS Khorasan in Afghanistan or moving into the Sahel."

    ISIS names new leader as it confirms Baghdadi's death
    ISIS names new leader as it confirms Baghdadi's death

    President Donald Trump claimed the defeat of ISIS in Syria in December 2018 as justification for his hasty decision to remove US troops from that country -- a decision that he walked back and reinstituted in various iterations, including in the past several weeks. Gen. Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, announced in late March that the physical caliphate had been defeated. Trump has repeatedly touted his role in the group's territorial defeat. However, the State Department report noted that in 2018, ISIS "proved its ability to adapt, especially through its efforts to inspire or direct followers online."

    "As the false caliphate collapsed, we saw ISIS' toxic ideology continue to spread around the globe in 2018," Sales told reporters Friday. "ISIS recognized new regional affiliates in Somalia and in East Asia. Foreign terrorist fighters headed home or traveled to third countries to join ISIS branches there. And homegrown terrorists, people who have never set foot in Syria or Iraq, also carried out attacks."

    The 2018 report notes that these "homegrown terrorists, inspired by ISIS ideology, planned and executed attacks against soft targets, including hotels, restaurants, stadiums, and other public spaces."

    The terrorist group warned about its expanding reach in an audio message confirming the death of its leader and spokesperson Thursday. Baghdadi died during a US military raid on his compound in northern Syria last weekend. ISIS spokesperson Abu Hasan al-Muhajir was killed by US forces in a separate operation near Jarablus, Syria.

    "America, do not be happy with the killing of Sheikh al-Baghdadi," the new spokesman, Abu Hamza al-Qarshi, said in the message. "Do you not realize that the State today is not only on the doorstep of Europe and in the center of Africa, it is staying and expanding from the East to the West."

    Senior US counterterrorism official says ISIS has a 'deep bench'
    Senior US counterterrorism official says ISIS has a 'deep bench'

    Sales told reporters Friday that the State Department was "aware of the reports that ISIS seeks vengeance for the death of Baghdadi" but declined to go into details, citing intelligence matters.

    "We have to be prepared for any eventuality. We're constantly on the lookout for ISIS plots to hit us or to hit our interest abroad. Certainly that will remain a top priority for us," he said.

    In the ISIS audio message, published on the terrorist group's media wing al-Furqan, the spokesperson also announced its new leader -- Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.
    Sales said they were "looking into" the new leader. On Friday morning, Trump tweeted, "ISIS has a new leader. We know exactly who he is!" However, very little is publicly known about Baghdadi's successor.

    "We are looking into the leader, his role in the organization, where he came from. I don't have anything to announce on that, obviously, publicly," Sales said. "But anytime there is a leadership transition in a terrorist organization, we want to make sure that we have the latest information we have, that we need to have to confront the threat effectively."

    "We will continue to subject that organization to unrelenting counterterrorism pressure using all the tools of national power to include military, intelligence, law enforcement, border security and financial. We will dismantle the group regardless of who its leadership cadre is," he said.

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    Air Force Times


    Armed drones to fly out of Niger air base now operational after delayed completion

    By: Diana Stancy Correll  
    13 hours ago

    Nigerien Air Base 201 is now operational — roughly a year after it was supposed to be completed.

    U.S. Africa Command announced Friday that intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations are now being conducted out of the base in Agadez, Niger, which is designed to house armed drones and other aircraft that have historically operated out of Niger’s capital, Niamey.

    AFRICOM spokesperson Air Force Col. Chris Karns confirmed to Air Force Times that ISR operations started this week, but did not disclose specific types of deployed aircraft due to security concerns.

    “The U.S. military is at Nigerien Air Base 201 at the request of the Government of Niger,” AFRICOM commander U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, who visited Niger in September to meet with Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou, said in a news release Friday. “We are working with our African and international partners to counter security threats in West Africa. The construction of this base demonstrates our investment in our African partners and mutual security interests in the region.”

    The move comes a little more than two years after four Army soldiers were killed on Oct. 4, 2017, in an attack on a joint U.S.-Nigerien military patrol by an ISIS offshoot known as Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

    The ISIS affiliate in West Africa claimed responsibility for the deadly attack that overwhelmed an American special operations team and roughly 30 Nigerien troops who accompanied the patrol near the village of Tongo Tongo, Niger.

    The patrol was pursuing an ISIS commander named Doundoun Cheffou when it was ambushed resulting in the deaths of four American soldiers, Sgt. First Class Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright and Sgt. La David Johnson, who were all assigned to Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 3212.

    The central Niger location was specifically chosen for Nigerien Air Base 201 because of geographic advantages in combating threats from violent extremist organizations in the area, according to U.S. Air Force Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces in Africa.

    “Flexible and diverse postures across the African continent enable us to facilitate operational needs and better support our partners in the region,” Harrigian said in an AFRICOM news release. “The location in Agadez was selected in conjunction with Niger due to the geographic and strategic flexibility it offers to regional security efforts.”

    The $110-million airfield, which Karns described as a “historic civil engineering feat” due to several big projects, includes a joint-use runway that accommodates both U.S. and Nigerien aircraft.

    The Nigerien Air Force and the U.S. Air Force started flying limited, Visual Flight Rule operations into the base on Aug. 1. Aircraft including U.S. Air Force C-130s conducted resupply missions into the base as part of the limited flying operations, AFRICOM told Air Force Times in August.

    AFRICOM officials told Air Force Times earlier this year that it was aiming to complete the base in 2019, along with Camp Baledogle in Somalia.

    Although Niger Air Base 201 was supposed to be up and running by the end of 2018, weather-related issues and other harsh conditions postponed the base’s completion, officials told Air Force Times in January.

    Violent extremist groups in the region include Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. Karns said that while the challenges in Africa require African solution, it’s in the best interests of the U.S. to establish “positive connections” in areas where violence is contained.

    “Violent extremist groups remain a threat to America, U.S. interests, and if an opportunity or the capability existed, they would seek to do harm,” Karns said. “If left undisrupted or unchecked, it gives these groups time to plot and plan. African partners and international partners are actively working toward and are on a journey toward countering these threats.”

    “Niger is a very willing counter-terrorism partner,” Karns said. “Nigerien Air Base 201 is tangible evidence of this fact.”

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    Terrorists attack Mali military base, kill 53 soldiers

    Saturday, November 2, 2019 9:14 am

    Terrorists have killed 53 soldiers in one of the deadliest attacks on a Mali military outpost.

    The attack occurred Friday in Indelimane, Menaka region, northeast of the country, the government said.

    A civilian was also killed at the outpost close to the border with Niger, the country’s communication minister Yaya Sangare said on Twitter.

    “The situation is under control. A search and the process of identifying the bodies is continuing,” he added, after giving the latest update on the death toll.

    He said 10 survivors were found at the outpost, which suffered “significant” damage.

    No further details of the attack were given.

    The Malian government earlier condemned the “terrorist attack,” saying it had left numerous dead or wounded but without giving a precise toll.

    “Reinforcements have been dispatched to secure the area and hunt down the attackers,” the statement added.

    No group immediately claimed responsibility for Friday’s assault.

    It comes a month after two jihadist assaults killed 40 soldiers near the border with Burkina Faso, however several sources said the death toll had been down played.

    The deadly assault sparked protests outside a military camp in the country’s capital Bamako.

    Mali’s army has been struggling in the face of a jihadist revolt that has spread from the arid north to its centre, an ethnically mixed and volatile region.

    The recent assaults are also a humiliation for the so-called G5 Sahel force — a much-trumpeted initiative under which five countries created a joint 5,000-man anti-terror force — and for France, which is committed to shoring up the fragile region.

    Northern Mali came under the control of Al-Qaeda linked jihadists after Mali’s army failed to quash a rebellion there in 2012.

    A French-led military campaign was launched against the jihadists, pushing them back a year later.

    But the jihadists have regrouped and widened their hit-and-run raids and landmine attacks to central and southern Mali.

    The violence has also spilt over into Burkina Faso and Niger where militants have exploited existing inter-communal strife, leaving hundreds dead.


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    Police Are Killing More and More People in Brazil's Favelas—and Community Leaders Say Bolsonaro and His Allies Are to Blame

    By David Brennan On 10/30/19 at 1:24 PM EDT

    The minibus carrying 8-year-old Agatha Felix was winding its way through the narrow streets of Rio's Complexo do Alemão favela when the shot was fired. The bullet entered the vehicle, and hit Agatha in the back as she sat alongside her mother. She died later that night in hospital.

    The rifle was fired by a police officer. Authorities claimed the officer was responding to shots fired by a local gang, but residents said there was no confrontation. Instead, they claimed, the officer was trying to pick off two men on a motorcycle driving past the minivan.

    Her death sparked major protests, but Agatha is just one of more than 1,250 people shot dead by police in Rio this year. Conflict between the security forces and favela gangs is a structural issue in Brazil.

    The favelas—shanty towns located on the outskirts or hillsides of major cities—have long grappled with poverty, ramshackle infrastructure, discrimination, drugs and gang violence.

    Such is the violence that radical solutions are at times proposed. Whether this means forced relocations, more aggressive policing tactics, or simply walling off the favelas so visiting tourists cannot see them, success for the authorities has been elusive.

    But with the election of far-right allies President Jair Bolsonaro and Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel—who both assumed office in January—the extreme has has become the norm.

    Both promised to be unyielding in their crusade for law and order, which won them many supporters among Brazil's violence-weary voters.

    The divisive governor promised voters he would "slaughter" Rio's drug gangs. He has dismissed the increase in deaths as a "normal" part of policing, while telling police to shoot to kill. Branding criminals "terrorists," he declared, "Those who pick up guns and call for war will get a war."

    In July, Witzel said police should lose their "fear of killing," and in August, Bolsonaro declared that criminals "are going to die in the street like cockroaches." Both are backing a new law that would forgive all actions taken by police officers if they can prove they were motivated by fear, surprise or "violent emotion."

    Security forces—often military police—now routinely use armored vehicles, grenades and even helicopter-bourne marksmen in their favela incursions. Witzel proudly shared a video of himself aboard one of the aircraft during an operation.

    Police violence in Rio—and across the country—has spiked accordingly to reach a 20-year high. Rio police killed 1,249 people between January and August of this year, translating to five people every day. This represents a 16 percent increase on the same period last year. Fourteen police officers were killed in the same period, down from 24 the year before.

    A spokesperson for the Rio de Janeiro state government told Newsweek that its policing operations have produced "positive results," and are always conducted "with the concern of preserving lives."

    They added that the rates of multiple types of crime were down over the past year. This includes homicides, the rate of which the spokesperson said was down 21 percent in the first nine months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. This, they added, was the lowest rate since 1991.

    Between January and September, the spokesperson said police have seized 438 rifles from gangs. And up to the end of October, officers recovered some 32 tons of illegal drugs—more than the whole of 2018 combined.

    The spokesperson also said any deaths resulting from police actions are investigated and that any officers found to be at fault are penalized. But for the residents of Rio's favelas, such a pledge is scant comfort.

    Caught in the middle are more than 1.5 million residents of Rio's favelas. One such neighborhood is Maré, whose 140,000 residents live north of Rio's city center and close to the international airport. Here, as elsewhere, community leaders are fighting to improve the standing of the neglected favela, which until recently didn't even appear on the city's tourist maps.

    But community activists have targets on their backs. Last year, for example, Marielle Franco—a Maré native who went on to become a city councillor, feminist activist and advocate against police brutality—was shot dead by unidentified gunmen. Franco's driver Anderson Pedro Gomes was also killed and her press officer wounded.

    Marielle was a black lesbian and a representative of the left-wing Socialism and Liberty Party. In Bolsonaro's Brazil, just one of these labels can be enough to earn a death sentence.

    The bullets that killed Marielle came from a batch purchased by federal police in the capital Brasilia in 2006. Public Security Minister Raul Jungmann said they were stolen from a post office in the northeastern state of Paraíba, but his ministry walked back the claim when the post office denied the account.

    This chart, provided by Statista, shows that Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro's approval rating has been declining since taking office.

    It is still unclear who pulled the trigger or who ultimately decided Marielle should be killed. One man was arrested in January and a warrant issued for another. Both have links to one of Bolsonaro's sons. In March, another two men—both former military police officers—were also arrested.

    On Tuesday, new links between the suspected killers and the president emerged, prompting a stunning online outburst from Bolsonaro.

    Jornal Nacional reported that hours before Marielle was killed, the two suspected killers met at a seaside complex in the west of Rio, where Bolsonaro owned a property. The building's log book recorded the man as being there to visit Bolsonaro, though the president was hundreds of miles away in Brasilia.

    The news broke while Bolsonaro was away in Saudi Arabia. He vented his fury in a Facebook live broadcast in the early hours of the morning, condemning the "foul, lowlife, immoral media," and dismissing any allegation of wrongdoing.

    "I had no reason to kill anyone in Rio de Janeiro," he said. "This will not stick."

    Anielle Franco, Marielle's sister, told Newsweek that while the most recent reports concerned her and her family, there is still no concrete evidence of Bolsonaro's involvement.
    Death threats and kill lists

    Anielle has taken on the responsibility of continuing her late sibling's work and directing an institute set up in her name.

    Anielle said community leaders are in a tough position, fighting poverty, discrimination and state and federal governments that appear unperturbed—even enthusiastic—about the rising body count.

    A teacher, Anielle said children are often caught up in the chaos and violence of the "crazy" police operations into Maré. Her students have even been forced to shelter while gunshots smashed through windows into classrooms. The children are not safe from the indiscriminate violence—four of Anielle's own students have already been killed this year.

    "The government say that it's OK, like they have the right to do it because they want to finish the endless violence and the criminals," Anielle said. But in the meantime, "innocent people are dying."

    Eliana Sousa Silva is a human rights activist who has been fighting against police brutality and for women's rights. She runs the Redes da Maré—meaning Maré Networks—organization to help residents organize and resist police overreach. It currently has 121 staff, some 60 percent of whom are from Maré.

    Eliana was once Marielle's creative writing teacher, and both women's names appeared on a "kill list" leaked after the latter's murder. Eliana receives regular death threats, but has taken the fight to the government regardless.

    In 2017, she helped secure legal limitations on police operations in Maré in the form of a Civil Injunction. The order, which did not apply to other favelas, prohibited police operations during school hours, obliged police vehicles to use cameras and GPS devices at all times, dictated that officers must be identified and required the presence of ambulances on all raids.

    Eliana explained that this was designed to help separate Maré's law-abiding citizens from the criminal gangs and help them avoid the crossfire. "Just the basics," Eliana said.

    The injunction worked, and the number of killings fell significantly. In 2017 before the injunction came in, Maré recorded 41 deaths during 43 police operations. In 2018 after it was introduced, this fell to 24 deaths in 16 operations, Eliana said.

    But Witzel has allegedly ignored the injunction since he came into office in January 2019. And in June, he moved to formally suspend the measure.

    Eliana led Redes da Maré's efforts to reinstate the law, fighting alongside the State Public Defender's Office. As part of the battle, Eliana and her colleagues collected thousands of drawings and letters penned by the children of Maré, depicting the trauma of police raids.

    Unmoved, Witzel declared during the process that he would "take the mask off of Redes da Maré," which he claimed was shielding criminal gangs and thus partially responsible for their activities.

    Regardless, Eliana's challenge was successful and the Civil Injunction was reinstated in August. But Witzel has not dropped his opposition and is still seeking to do away with the legislation.
    A culture of brutality

    Violence in the favelas is a long-term, structural problem. Police incursions leave behind bullet holes and bodies, but every new operation also widens the gulf in trust between the local population and the authorities.

    Eliana said security forces "have always had a difficult time separating the people that live in the favela from the people that do illegal activities in the favela," producing a "constant" state of tension. "They are entering to kill," she added.

    Residents are left feeling like "second-class citizens" who are not served by the state security forces. Eliana characterized the connection as a "breaching rights relationship."

    That said, the situation has deteriorated badly since Witzel and Bolsonaro came into office. The president's rhetoric—which Anielle described as "preaching about violence and killing"—is exacerbating an already tense situation, she suggested, breeding a culture of brutality and impunity.

    During his presidential campaign, Bolsonaro became known for posing with finger guns—a symbol of his macho, intolerant and violent agenda. Anielle said this made her feel "so ashamed" for the nation.

    Bolsonaro also campaigned on a platform of relaxing gun ownership laws, seeking to arm "good citizens" against criminals, even though Brazil already records the highest number of gun deaths each year.

    "We still don't know who killed my sister," Anielle noted. Politicians like Bolsonaro and Witzel "just don't care," she added, especially if those affected are from left-wing parties like Marielle. "They are more violent than any other president or governor we already had in Brazil."

    Like her sister, Anielle also grapples with death threats. "I'm not going to lie, sometimes I just wake up...not feeling like going [to work],'' she explained. "But those children have nothing to do with fear, and they need education," she added. "That's the only way we can save the world and change their lives."

    For Eliana, death threats have become an accepted part of the work that she does. But she and her organization now also have to contend with direct threats from the governor and "people connected to the system."

    Redes da Maré's international partners are helping Eliana bolster her personal security, and she said she remains "very focused" of securing "victory for public security." Nonetheless, she acknowledged that government enmity is demoralizing and undermining the work of activists, whose work already carries "a great risk."

    Politicians like Bolsonaro and Witzel are moulding a regressive "state of mind" among the Brazilian population, Eliana added. "It's an extremely sad situation that we are facing right now in Brazil, and in Rio especially."

    Community leaders also have to struggle against Brazilian societal norms, which remain entrenched in patriarchy and racism. Marielle fell foul of this system, which is only being strengthened by the far-right administration.

    Last year saw an alarming rise in abuse and violence against women and LGBT people, for example. Data released in September showed a total of 66,041 reported incidents of sexual violence in 2018, 82 percent of which were against women and girls.

    The represents a 4 percent rise on the previous year and is the highest number ever registered. More than half of the female victims were girls under the age of 13. There was also 263,067 reported domestic violence injuries, meaning a woman was attacked in Brazil every two minutes.

    "So many women in Maré [are victims of violence]," Anielle said. The institute is trying to provide vital resources for such women, including legal and psychological assistance, she explained, though noted the organization only got up and running this year so has a lot more to do.

    Racism makes their work more difficult and more dangerous. Bolsonaro ran on a proudly intolerant platform. Racist, chauvinistic, misogynistic and homophobic rhetoric all infused his campaign. For many, his election legitimized long-held prejudices.

    Brazil "is so racist right now," Anielle said. She added that after Marielle was killed, she received many messages branding her "that black girl" or "that black trash," plus suggestions she should have been killed long before. "People have no sympathy at all, especially for black women," Anielle explained.

    "I hope people one day will understand that human rights and political ideology are two separate things," she said. "People celebrate Marielle's death here because she was from the opposite side from them."

    "Marielle was a human being. No one deserves to be killed like that."

    This article has been updated to include additional comments from Anielle Franco and from the Rio de Janeiro state government.

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    National Security and the Arctic: Deterrence of Russian Influences in the Arctic Ocean

    by Lex Oren | Sat, 11/02/2019 - 12:19am | 0 comments


    The Arctic is defined as the region of land and sea area north of the Arctic Circle, latitude at or about 66.34o north.[i] Recent decades have demonstrated the reduction of polar ice, disappearing glaciers, rising seas, and surface temperatures. These events have led to the formation of new sea lanes, opening up access that has until now been blocked by an unforgiving, frozen environment. These sea lanes present new risks associated with national security, economic development, and transportation opportunities that have the potential to impact multiple countries across all hemispheres.

    The Department of Defense, as one component of a whole-of-government approach, in conjunction with allied nations can deter Russian dominance in the Arctic Ocean by integrating efforts across Geographic Combatant Command boundaries and leveraging multi-national support to demonstrate a united front. Limited resources dedicated to addressing Arctic challenges in addition to the overwhelming geographic responsibilities provides gaps in American national security. A lack of clear international policies and an understanding of the importance of the Arctic has prohibited the U.S. to respond appropriately to Russia’s activities in the Arctic. The invasion of the Ukraine, interfering with global cybersecurity by suspected tampering with the Democratic election process in the United States and conducting military operations in the Syrian civil war through proxies, indicate Russia is undeniably testing its military capabilities in operations other than war. “Fighting in the gray zone allows weaker states to achieve its foreign policy objectives without resorting to full scale military campaigns”.[ii] The gray zone encompasses those areas of state competition where antagonist actions take place; however, those actions fall short of the red lines that would typically result in armed conflict between nations.[iii]

    The Arctic Sea is a significant expanse for American security and has repeatedly been under-resourced by the Department of Defense (DoD). Without access to the sea and airspace that the freedom of the seas provides, the United States’ ability to maintain a forward presence and accomplish a range of military and humanitarian assistance missions will be compromised.[iv] On May 8, 2019, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford Jr. reported to Congress during the 2020 Defense Budget Request and stated: “Combatant Commanders only have intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets covering approximately 30% of the Arctic.”[v] This conditional statement from the United States’ most senior military officer should be a prompt for the Geographic Combatant Commanders to articulate resource constraints.

    International Interest in the Arctic

    There are eight Arctic States across the seven seas. These include the Russian Federation, which has the longest Arctic coast of any state, whose coastline reaches its border with Norway east to the Bering Strait. Additionally, Denmark, by way of its territorial sovereignty over Greenland, followed by Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Canada and the United States by Alaska (figure I) make up the Arctic States. These eight member states represent the Arctic Council which is the leading intergovernmental forum. This council promotes cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic States, indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular in matters of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.[vi]

    Arctic Region Map [vii]

    Russia’s interest in the Arctic can be grouped into four categories: economics, security, transportation, and development.[viii] Additionally, the creation of new sea lanes will create more efficient connections between Asia and the Atlantic Ocean. These newly created sea lines of communication (SLOC) have the potential for global gains in transportation, commercial shipping, and military posturing. As an Arctic nation, Vladimir Putin has renewed Russian attention to the Northern Sea Routes (NSR), as part of a “national economic strategy that marked the end of the decline and a new vision of the NSR as a core component of Russia’s economic development strategy in a statement on board the nuclear icebreaker Arktika, August 2000.[ix] Seven years later in August 2007, “the world reacted with consternation as Russia planted a flag beneath the ice of the North Pole, symbolizing the Kremlin’s claim to the Arctic with its vast mineral resources, and firing the starting gun on the world’s last colonial scramble.”[x] The Kremlins’ actions demonstrated that Russia is going to assert its sovereignty and influence within the Arctic region, and that there are voids associated in the knowledge and application of Arctic security. These vacancies in security are relevant because the U.S. does have an identity as an Arctic Nation, albeit not a common viewpoint in everyday discussions within the civilian or military population. [xi]

    For the United States to contend in the gray zone with Russia, a high degree of statesmanship will be required. Governing bodies in Congress, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense must adhere to a firm stance thus indicating the red line of tolerance the U.S. will accept. However, before America launches its countermeasures to deter or compete in the gray zone, a grand strategic policy should be adopted with clearly identified ends that are nested with American values and have the support of the civilian population. Russia’s ambiguous actions are threats to the Western Hemisphere. Thus, it is vital to understand the gray zone and how to combat the aggression, while preventing an escalation of military power projection that can be viewed as acts of war.[xii]

    The U.S. Geological Survey has projected that over 60 percent of the total natural resources, equivalent to about 412 billion barrels of oil are located in Russian territory, with only a small percentage onshore or inside the exclusive economic zone EEZ).[xiii] Due to the melting polar ice, opportunities are becoming more abundant for acquiring these natural resources, reminiscent of the land grab in the western territories of the United States in the 19th century. It is evident, by the sheer size of Russia’s Arctic naval capabilities that they are becoming an immense rimland coastal power.[xiv]

    New sea lines of communication, access to natural resources and power projection into the Western Hemisphere provide strategic value to northern expansion. The benefit of Russia’s limited access to the high seas practically forced Moscow to look to the north for sea routes. To ensure Russian dominance in the Arctic, the Russian Navy and Coastal Border Guard are robust in comparison to other Arctic nations. The Coastal Border Guard, comparable to those of similar services in the Western Hemisphere, is responsible for observing maritime activities along the coast and in the Exclusive Economic Zone and for imposing national laws and regulations.[xv] The EEZ recognizes the right of coastal states to exploit, develop, manage, and conserve all resources found in the water, seabed, and seabed subsoil in an area extending two hundred nautical miles from its shore.[xvi]

    To compliment the Coastal Border Guard, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) depends on powerful icebreakers to open routes through the ice and to escort shipping all year long. Russia has six nuclear icebreakers, four of the heavy Arktika class and two of the shallow-draft Taymyr class that maintain the NSR, and significant Russian commercial enterprises have begun acquiring their icebreaking cargo ships.[xvii] In contrast, the United States currently has only two heavy ice breakers that are resources of the U.S. Coast Guard, an element of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). They are the Polar Star and the Polar Sea, both of which have exceeded their 30-year life expectancy. Significantly, one of the two vessels has not been in a working status since 2010, thus limiting the U.S. to only one critical asset, the Polar Star.[xviii] Fortuitously the Coast Guard, in collaboration with the U.S. Navy anticipates a $9.827 Billion acquisition over the next 30 years.[xix]

    Governance and Disputes

    The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was agreed upon and concluded in 1982, establishing the lawful governance of the Arctic. The Ilulissat Declaration of 2008 pledges the five Arctic coastal states (the Russian Federation, Canada, Norway, Denmark, and the United States) to resolve matters and disputes through diplomatic channels.[xx] Interestingly, there is a lack of an enforcement mechanism to prevent the Russian Arctic expansion;[xxi] albeit communication and collaboration have taken place amongst the Arctic states on environmental issues and search and rescue operations.

    Another matter related explicitly to the Western Hemisphere is the relationship between the U.S. and Canada. Canada and the United States have a consolidated command structure at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) that demonstrates our ability to work together for a common goal. However, Canada asserts its national rights regarding the Northwest Passage, parts of which fall under Canadian jurisdiction according to Canada but not according to the United States.[xxii] This display of argumentative political rhetoric is an example of one aspect that Russia can exploit. It is in the interest of the North American countries and Greenland to have a united front in the Arctic to dispel any notations of weakness in their resolve.

    Climate Change

    “Climate change” refers to a set of physical phenomena and constitutes a public policy issue, sometimes also referred to as “global warming” even though climate change involves much more than warming.[xxiii] The U.S. Global Change Research Program and the National Research Council have made scientific based statements concerning climate change, two of which are particularly relevant to this article. The first is that Arctic sea ice, warmer and more frequent hot days and nights, rising sea levels and widespread ocean acidification have been occurring over the past several decades and second, “human-induced climate change and its impacts will continue for many decades, and in some cases for many centuries.”[xxiv] These points are relevant for the reason that academic institutions confirm the Arctic seas are affected by warming temperatures and that the end of this phenomenon is nowhere in sight.

    The inaction of the U.S. and its allies to increase their presence in the Arctic will open the door for Russia to enhance military operations in the Arctic seas. Threats to national security from international migration, overfishing of the waters, loss of habitat, environmental pollution, new commercial sea routes and foreign military basing can be linked to climate change and is a concern for military planners operating in the strategic domain.

    Moreover, the variance between confirmation and denial of climate change likely stifles the demand for military presence by the U.S. governing bodies and their constituents. In this instance, the common phrase “ignorance is bliss” may lead to the need for more significant national defense in the future. Social indicators have led groups to study how the media impacts awareness of climate change. The average layperson bases his knowledge of climate change on social media and news outlets. The source of information is not from climate scientists directly, but rather to intermediary sources, predominately in the mass media, that present data and opinions in language and graphics that are easy to comprehend.[xxv] Accurate or not, media reports influence people’s thoughts and feelings.[xxvi] The U.S. government has a need to leverage scientific evidence with the will of the people to generate the need for increased resources and funding to combat climate change and enhance national security.

    Department of Defense and Global Integration

    The National Security Strategy (NSS) published from the White House sets the groundwork for the overarching grand strategy or policy of the United States Government. Subsequent is the Unified Command Plan (UCP), guidance from the President assigning areas of responsibility (AOR).[xxvii] The President has appointed command of the Arctic maritime AOR to the dual-hatted United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and NORAD commanding General. NORAD has the mission to provide maritime warnings in the North American hemisphere.[xxviii] The USNORTHCOM combatant commander issues the Combatant Commander Campaign Plans (CCP) in a coordinated effort with Canada’s command authority.

    The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is designated by Title 10 authority as the Global Integrator.[xxix] In this capacity, he is authorized to identify the primary and supporting Geographic Combatant Commands (GCC) across geographic limits to enable unified actions and the joint force. The Arctic currently shares borders with the geographic boundaries of USNORTHCOM and United States European Command (USEURCOM). These GCC also border the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) which due to its joining boundaries and sheer size is a potential supporting GCC to the Arctic operations (The map in Figure II).

    Geographic Combatant Command Areas of Responsibility [xxx]


    A lack of clear international policies and an understanding of the importance of the Arctic has prohibited the U.S. to respond appropriately to Russia’s Arctic activities. As Russia increases its influence, it is in the interest of the United States and its Allies to ensure Western competition counters or denies unabated access to Arctic waters within its strategic area of interest. The amount of land and water that is consistently unobserved constitutes a threat to the security of the Western Hemisphere and will require a globally integrated approach with supporting combatant commands. It is also in the interest of the U.S. to solidify disputed territorial boundaries with Canada to have internationally recognized territorial waters undisputed with neighboring countries. Failure to present a unified effort to deter Russia will be viewed as a weakness of the global communities and may lead to more significant acts of aggression. “If the United States takes no action, its political system, credibility, and influence, among other things, will remain under constant subversive attack”.[xxxi]

    End Notes

    [i] O’Rourke. “Definitions of the Arctic.” 2016. Congressional Research Service: Report, March, 1–4.

    [ii] (2019). Deterring Russia in the Gray Zone. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jun. 2019].

    [iii] (2019). Deterring Russia in the Gray Zone. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jun. 2019].

    [iv] Mandsager, Dennis. The U.S. Freedom of Navigation Program: Policy, Procedure, and Future, in THE LAW OF MILITARY OPERATIONS: LIBER AMICORUM PROFESSOR JACK GRUNAWALT 113, 116 (Michael N. Schmitt ed., 1998); see also ROACH & SMITH, supra note 14, at 3–4, 8–9.

    [v] GEN Dunford to Congress, the 2020 Defense Budget Request, 8 May 2019, C-SPAN telecast.

    [vi] O’Rourke, Ronald, Laura B. Comay, M. Lynne Corn, Peter Folger, John Frittelli, Marc Humphries, Jane A. Leggett, and Jonathan L. Ramseur. 2015. “Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress.” Congressional Research Service: Report, December, 1–108.

    [vii] CIA Maps, Arctic Region Map, 1:39,000,000. in/album-72157672693466384/

    [viii] Antrim, Caitlyn L. "The Russian Arctic in the Twenty-First Century." Arctic Security in an Age of Climate Change: 107-28. doi:10.1017/cbo9780511994784.008.

    [ix] Antrim, Caitlyn L. "The Russian Arctic in the Twenty-First Century." Arctic Security in an Age of Climate Change: 107-28. doi:10.1017/cbo9780511994784.008.

    [x] Sale, Richard, and E. Potapov. The Scramble for the Arctic: Ownership, Exploitation and Conflict in the Far North. London: Frances Lincoln, 2010.

    [xi] O’Rourke, Ronald, Laura B. Comay, M. Lynne Corn, Peter Folger, John Frittelli, Marc Humphries, Jane A. Leggett, and Jonathan L. Ramseur. 2015. “Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress.” Congressional Research Service: Report, December, 1–108.

    [xii] David Lee, ed., Law of Armed Conflict Deskbook, 5th Ed., Charlottesville, VA: The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, U.S. Army, 2015, available from

    [xiii] Kenneth J. Bird et al., Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal: Estimates of Undiscovered Oil and Gas North of the Arctic Circle, USGS Fact Sheet 2008-3049 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Geological Survey, 2008).

    [xiv] Rynning, Sten. 2013. “Arctic Security Order: Collective Security, Collective Defense, or Something New?” Journal of Military & Strategic Studies 15 (2): 1–15.

    [xv] Antrim, Caitlyn L. "The Russian Arctic in the Twenty-First Century." Arctic Security in an Age of Climate Change: 107-28. doi:10.1017/cbo9780511994784.008.

    [xvi] KORGER, NICK1,2. “Going Boldly Where No Country Has Gone Before: Unclos and the Russian Federation’s Claim to the Arctic Circle.” Wisconsin International Law Journal 34, no. 3 (Spring 2017): 731–54.

    [xvii] Antrim, Caitlyn L. "The Russian Arctic in the Twenty-First Century." Arctic Security in an Age of Climate Change: 107-28. doi:10.1017/cbo9780511994784.008.

    [xviii] O’Rourke, Ronald, Laura B. Comay, M. Lynne Corn, Peter Folger, John Frittelli, Marc Humphries, Jane A. Leggett, and Jonathan L. Ramseur. 2015. “Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress.” Congressional Research Service: Report, December, 1–108.

    [xix] Mak, Marie A. 2018. "COAST GUARD ACQUISITIONS: Addressing Key Risks is Important to Success of Polar Icebreaker Program." GAO Reports: 1-14.

    [xx] The Ilulissat Declaration, Arctic Ocean Conference, Ilulissat, Greenland, 28 May 2008, available at

    [xxi] See Eric Poser, The New Race for the Arctic, WALL ST. J. (Aug. 3, 2007, 12:01 AM ET), http://www.wsj.ccm/articles/SB118610915886687045.

    [xxii] Rynning, Sten. 2013. “Arctic Security Order: Collective Security, Collective Defense, or Something New?” Journal of Military & Strategic Studies 15 (2): 1–15.

    [xxiii] Weber, Elke U., and Paul C. Stern. “Public Understanding of Climate Change in the United States.” American Psychologist, Psychology and Global Climate Change, 66, no. 4 (May 2011): 315–28. doi:10.1037/a0023253.

    [xxiv] National Research Council. (2010a). Advancing the science of climate change. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

    [xxv] Soroka, S. (2002). Issue attributes and agenda-setting by media, the public, and policy makers in Canada. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 14, 264–285. doi:10.1093/ijpor/14.3.264

    [xxvi] Krosnick, J. A., & Kinder, D. R. (1990). Altering the foundations of support for the President through priming. American Political Science Review, 84, 497–512. doi:10.2307/1963531

    [xxvii] The Joint Staff Officer’s Guide. Joint Forces Staff College. Accessed June 19, 2019.

    [xxviii] Peterson Zachary M. 2006. "Norad Beginning to Develop Plan for New Maritime Warning Mission." Inside the Pentagon's Inside Missile Defense 12 (14): 9.

    [xxix] The Joint Staff Officer’s Guide. Joint Forces Staff College. Accessed June 19, 2019.

    [xxx] U.S. Department of Defense, Unified Campaign Plan. 1:60,000,000.

    [xxxi] (2019). Deterring Russia in the Gray Zone. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jun. 2019].
    Categories: Russia

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    About the Author(s)
    Lex Oren

    Major Lex Oren is currently serving as the Operations Officer for the 391st Engineer Battalion in Greenville, SC. He is the recipient of a direct commission. He has earned a BS in Exercise Science from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2007 and a MS in Education in 2008. Prior to his current assignment, MAJ Oren served as the Division Engineer for the 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support). He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff Officers Course, the Reserve Component National Security Course, the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies. This paper is the individual work of MAJ Lex Oren, USAR, (JCWS-H 19-2B). No one else assisted with the creation of this work. Connect on LinkedIn at or follow on Twitter @oren_lex

  14. #14
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    World News
    November 2, 2019 / 7:17 PM / Updated 2 hours ago

    Clean-up operation underway at Xinhua office after violent Hong Kong protest

    3 Min Read

    HONG KONG (Reuters) - Cleaners swept up broken glass at the Hong Kong office of China’s official news agency Xinhua on Sunday, one of the buildings vandalised in a violent day of protests which also saw activists hurl petrol bombs and set fire to metro stations.

    A policeman stands in front of graffiti during a march billed as a global "emergency call" for autonomy, in Hong Kong, China November 2, 2019. Picture taken November 2, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

    More than 200 people were arrested in one of the worst outbreaks of violence in recent weeks as around five months of protests show no signs of abating. Demonstrators are angry at perceived Chinese meddling with Hong Kong’s freedoms since the city returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, a charge which China denies.

    While protesters have previously vandalised buildings of mainland Chinese firms or those perceived as pro-Beijing, the targeting of Xinhua is one of the most direct challenges to Beijing yet. Protesters daubed China’s Liaison Office, the key symbol of Chinese sovereignty, with graffiti in July.

    Xinhua condemned the attack by what it said were “barbaric thugs” who broke doors and security systems and threw fire and paint bombs into the lobby.

    “The practice of the black rioters once again shows that ‘stopping the violence and restoring order’ is Hong Kong’s most important and urgent task at present,” a spokesperson for Xinhua said in a Facebook post.

    When Reuters visited on Sunday, a handful of cleaners could be seen through shattered glass doors and windows sweeping the floor, watched over by staff members speaking on their phones. Outside, some tourists and other media curiously eyed the destruction.

    There are no major demonstrations planned for Sunday, although some groups had called for a protest walk in several districts of the city starting in the afternoon.

    Cat-and-mouse clashes between riot police and demonstrators continued into the early hours of Sunday morning after police broke up an assembly of thousands on Saturday afternoon by firing tear gas into a park.

    Hong Kong police said they had arrested more than 200 people overnight for offences including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, criminal damage, and wearing masks which is now illegal under a revived colonial-era emergency law.

    Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and deployed a water cannon at protesters during Saturday and early Sunday, they said, as the violence spilled from Hong Kong island across the water to the northern Kowloon side.

    While the protests have broad support, the destruction and impact on transport networks has irritated some local workers.

    “It’s good that they are doing the protest but (there are) also the bad things,” said 30-year old Bikash, a Hong Kong resident originally from Nepal who works in a bar district targeted by masked Halloween protesters earlier this week.

    “The worst was I need to go to work (and)...everything was closed. That was very bad because our bosses they don’t understand.”

    Reporting by Joyce Zhou, Farah Master, David Lague, Twinnie Siu and Jessie Pang; Writing by John Geddie; editing by Jane Wardell & Simon Cameron-Moore

  15. #15
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    Syria conflict: The 'war crimes' caught in brutal phone footage

    By Jiyar Gol BBC Persian

    5 hours ago

    Turkish-backed forces fighting Kurdish militias in north-east Syria have been accused of committing war crimes, with acts of brutality surfacing on mobile phone footage.

    The UN has warned that Turkey could be held responsible for the actions of its allies, while Turkey has promised to investigate.

    Bearded men shout "Allahu Akbar [God is the Greatest]". One captures the scene on his smartphone and says: "We are mujahedeen [holy warriors] from Faylaq Al-Majd [Glory Corps] battalion." In the background are the corpses of Kurdish fighters.

    Further away, a group of men plant their feet on a woman's bloodied body. One says she is a "whore".

    The gruesome footage is much like that produced by the ultra-violent Islamic State (IS) group.

    Yet the men in this video are not IS militants, but rather fighters for a rebel alliance known as the Syrian National Army, trained, equipped and paid for by a Nato member, Turkey. They are under the command of the Turkish army.

    The video was filmed on 21 October in northern Syria. The woman beneath the fighters' feet is Amara Renas, a member of an all-woman unit of Kurdish fighters, the YPJ, a force that played a significant role in defeating IS in Syria.

    Amara was killed in the recent Turkish assaults against Kurdish forces in Syria.

    Syrian Kurds: 'The world has closed its eyes on us'
    Turkey v Syria's Kurds: The short, medium and long story
    Which countries export arms to Turkey?

    On 9 October the Turkish army and pro-Turkish Syrian rebels attacked the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), shortly after Donald Trump announced the US would pull troops out of Syria.

    SDF fighters had been a highly effective and trusted ally of the US-led coalition and led the defeat of IS on the ground. The group says it also provided intelligence that led to the killing last week of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
    Video threats

    Days after Turkey's attacks, numerous videos alleged to have been filmed by pro-Turkey rebels emerged on social media. In one, an unidentified fighter shouts in Arabic: "We have come to behead you infidels and apostates!"

    In another video, a masked rebel clad in black carries a terrified woman surrounded by other rebels - one films her, one shouts "pig", another says: "Take her to be beheaded."

    The captured woman is Cicek Kobane, another YPJ fighter.

    The widely-circulated video provoked outrage on social media. A few days after it was published, Turkish state TV showed Cicek Kobane being treated in a hospital in Turkey.

    US officials have said that some of the actions in these videos probably constitute war crimes.

    "Many people fled because they're very concerned about these Turkish-supported Syrian opposition forces," James Jeffrey, US special envoy for Syria, told Congress.

    "We'd say that Turkey-supported Syrian opposition forces who were under general Turkish command, at least in one instance did carry out war crimes."
    Crossing point

    Turkey has long been accused of taking little action against jihadists in Syria.

    "I ran the ISIS [Islamic State group] campaign - 40,000 foreign fighters, jihadists from 110 countries around the world, all came into Syria to fight in that war and they all came through Turkey," Brett McGurk, former US President Special Envoy in the coalition against IS, told CNN last month.

    He said he tried to persuade Turkey to seal its border against IS. "They said they couldn't do it," he said, "but the minute the Kurds took parts of the border, it's totally sealed with a wall."

    US officials say they have demanded an explanation from Turkey for alleged war crimes by the rebels.

    Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish president's spokesman, said Turkey will investigate any suspected war crimes.

    But many Kurdish activists have no faith in the Turkish government or army.

    "There is strong evidence that over the past four decades, Turkish military and security forces have systematically committed war crimes and violated human rights in their conflict with the PKK (The Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for decades)," says Kamran Matin, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Sussex University.
    Turning a blind eye

    In the past decade, numerous disturbing images and videos allegedly filmed by the Turkish army and security forces document the killing of captured Kurdish dissidents in Turkey.

    In one video published a few years ago, suspected Turkish soldiers behead dead PKK militants. In another video, two female PKK fighters with their hands tied behind their backs are seated on a mountain cliff, when what are apparently Turkish soldiers with automatic machine guns shoot them at close range and kick them over the edge.

    In October 2015, a widely-shared video showed Turkish security forces dragging the body of 24-year-old actor Haci Lokman Birlik through the streets in Sirnak, a Kurdish town in south-east Turkey, with a rope around his neck. Part of the video appeared to have been filmed from inside the police vehicle. Turkish officials claimed his corpse might have been booby-trapped.

    Kurdish human rights activists have accused the US and the EU of failing to condemn Turkey or take any effective punitive action.

    "The EU turned a blind eye to Turkey's human rights violations, because of Turkey's Nato membership, economic ties and the fear of a backlash among millions of Turks living in European countries, Germany in particular," says Kamran Matin.

    After the Syrian civil war began, a new factor "constrained European countries' reaction to Turkey's gross violation of human rights," he says - "Syrian refugees. [Turkish] President Erdogan repeatedly threatened flooding Europe with them."

    This, it seems, is something European countries want to avoid, whatever the cost.

    Related Topics

    More on this story

    Syrian Kurds: 'The world has closed its eyes on us'
    27 October 2019
    Video Turkey Syria offensive: Kurdish girl loses her leg to Turkish bomb
    24 October 2019
    Turkey v Syria's Kurds - what's going on?
    23 October 2019
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    23 October 2019
    Turkey: Which countries export arms to Turkey?
    23 October 2019
    Video Why is Turkey bombing the Kurds in Syria?
    10 October 2019

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    What Russia wants in a multipolar world
    Elizabeth Buchanan

    Canberra should rethink its approach to Moscow, recognising
    areas of difference yet be willing to see common ground.

    Published 31 Oct 2019 14:30   0 Comments  

    Asia Australia Russia

    Follow @BuchananLiz

    Last week, Russia’s Ambassador to Australia, Alexei Pavlovsky, delivered a keynote address at the Australian National University on Russia’s strategic architect and former foreign minister, the late Yevgeny Primakov. Reflecting on the speech, it is evident that policy makers, pundits, and the general public alike have much to gain by better understanding Primakov’s work on matters of international security and statecraft.

    Ambassador Pavlovsky lamented “efforts to establish a unipolar model”. Yet I doubt there was really an effort to build the post-Cold War unipolar structure with the US at the helm. Experts didn’t see the collapse of the Soviet Union coming, and still to this day we argue over how it happened and engage in unhelpful discourse around who won and who lost, when we should be examining why it happened. History has taught us that power shifts are unsurprising, essential elements of global development.

    Rather, it was simply the case that overnight the adversary, the other pole of power for quite some time, simply ceased to exist. China’s economic rise, Russian resurgence under Vladimir Putin and, relative to these power shifts, the “decline” of the US, did not bring about the failure of the unipolar model which defined the post-Cold War period. This unipolar structure was merely a precursor to the multipolar structure that is now emerging.

    This is where Primakov is important. As he foresaw, this multipolar structure is shaped by principles of self-sufficiency, independence, openness, and predictability. It should come as no surprise that these are all hallmarks of Russian foreign policy under Putin. These principles ought to be of interest to Canberra as well.
    Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov (left) and US President Bill Clinton at the White House, March 1997. (Photo: Barbara Kinney/White House via Getty)

    Pavlovsky outlined the growing economic base of countries such as Russia, China, and India, and with this influence argued they “are fully entitled to claim a greater role” in global decision-making processes in a multipolar structure. Yet, to get there, there’s still plenty of work to do.

    First, the institutions for said decision-making processes still rely on post-Second World War organisations which weren’t crafted for multipolar engagement. Poles of power in the emerging system include Asian and African states not seated at tables such as the United Nations Security Council. As such, the multipolar system needs to rejuvenate its institutions in order to ensure the vehicles for decision-making are indeed, as Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne put it in a speech this week, fit for purpose.

    Second, a new multipolar system undoubtably requires new rules. For Pavlovsky, the West is “losing the prerogative of being the only one to shape the global agenda” through which rules are “being invented and selectively combined depending on the fleeting needs of the people behind it”. No one denies the current “rules-based order” is a product of Western conceptions of liberal democratic norms and driven by Western interests. As such, the West has largely benefited from writing the rules, invoking them when it is in our best interest to do so.

    Putin has continued
    Primakov’s legacy,
    and today Russian
    strategy is still
    predictable, and
    rather unsurprising.

    By the same token, the West also circumvents its own rules-based system, implements double standards, and conveniently fails to hold itself accountable. Human rights atrocities in China? Manus Island. The curtailment of Russian civil society? Australia’s data encryption law and the pressure on journalists.

    Pavlovsky presents a timely argument in noting that “talking about the formation of the multipolar world means talking first and foremost of Asia”. I could not agree more. The Asia-Pacific houses several poles of power in the emerging multipolar system. Indeed, Russia’s pivot to the Asia-Pacific is driven more by economic priorities than geostrategic ones. Despite Western sanctions and borderline domestic economic stagnation, Moscow has increased the share of APEC economies in Russian foreign trade from 23% to 31%. Pavlovsky further indicates Russia “has no intention of stopping there”. Russia is a permanent feature of Australia’s neighbourhood, and its footprint is only going to increase. This reality merits a rethink, a recalculation, of Canberra’s Russian policy toolbox.

    Putin has continued Primakov’s legacy, and today Russian strategy is still pragmatic, predictable, and rather unsurprising. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison appears to have been brushing up on Primakov’s writing too. Of course, it may be mere coincidence that Morrison’s call for “practical globalism” echoes Primakov’s pragmatic policy formulation. However, we can’t avoid the fact that there are interesting parallels between Pavlovsky’s address and Morrison’s Lowy Institute Lecture earlier this month.

    Morrison echoed the very Russian expectation for the “distinctiveness of independent nations” to be “preserved within a framework of mutual respect”. His “negative globalism” remarks further drove home the message the international system should “align and engage, rather than direct and centralise”. Again, lifted straight from the Primakov, now Putin, grand strategy playbook.
    Prime Minister Scott Morrison gives the 2019 Lowy Lecture

    For now, Canberra remains distracted by the false choice between China and the US. If Australia had a foreign policy purely guided by the Primakov national interest principles, it would develop a strategy which heralds its economic interests in both relationships while concurrently cultivating defence relations with other powers in our region – Japan, India, Vietnam, or South Korea.

    Pavlovsky’s address actually marks the opening of a particularly crucial window for Australian policymakers. The international system is transforming into the multipolar world order envisioned by Primakov decades ago. With an independent foreign policy, Australia could play a defining role in its region. A Russia-Australia dialogue ought to be a component of any independent foreign policy crafted by Canberra. The immediate challenge appears to be how to learn to work with Moscow on mutual interests while also developing our capability to undercut Russia when national interests demand Australia do so.

    Here, Canberra has plenty to learn from the courtship underway between Beijing and Moscow. This is a pragmatic relationship guided by convergent interests in some places, and yet at the same time, it is a relationship constrained by clashes of national interests elsewhere.

    Ultimately, as Scott Morrison notes, “The rules and institutions that support global cooperation must reflect the modern world. It can’t be ‘set and forget’.” On that, Primakov, Putin, and Pavlovsky would have to agree. Perhaps Morrison should get Pavlovsky on the blower? Once Canberra receives Washington’s permission, of course.

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    Israeli air defense systems ‘on alert’ over fears of Iranian attack

    November 03, 2019
    Kyle Perisic

    Israeli air defense systems are “on alert” over fears of an attack from Iran, Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin said on Wednesday.

    The Israel Defense Forces believe Iran will retaliate against Israel’s for its regular airstrikes against Iranian forces and proxies in the region, the Times of Israel reported.

    “Even as we speak, Arrow, Patriot, David’s Sling and Iron Dome batteries are on alert,” Norkin said Wednesday night at a graduation ceremony for air defense officers.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that Iran will attack Israel from Yemen, where the interception of such a strike would be much more difficult, as the IDF’s air defenses aren’t as well-positioned.

    Air defense has become more complicated as technology advances, Norkin said.

    “The challenge of air defense has become more complicated. Joining the threat of missiles and rockets are now attack drones and cruise missiles,” he said.

    Israeli leaders have also claimed that Iran secretly built a nuclear weapons site, saying “they destroyed the site when they realized we discovered it.”

    Israeli embassy spokesman Elad Strohmayer wrote in a series of tweets that “Israel has exposed another Iranian violation of their international commitments: the Abadeh Nuclear Weapons Development Site.”

    He added: “We have proof that #Iran conducted experiments to develop nuclear weapons there.”

    Iran is frequently accused of attempting to obtain or develop a nuclear weapon, having recently increased its stockpile of heavy water, which is used at its nuclear reactor in Arak, above 130 tonnes, which is above the limit established in a previous nuclear agreement. Iran also increased its reserve of enriched uranium above 300 kilograms, which is also above previously agreed limits.

    Officials in Israel, which currently has anywhere from 80 to 400 nuclear weapons, fear the hostile nation is close to obtaining or creating a nuclear weapon.

    Additionally, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the construction of state-of-the-art weaponry for the country’s paramilitary fighting force, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

    “Today, the IRGC is dignified both inside and outside the country, thanks be to god. The enemies have contributed to creating this dignity,” Khamenei said. “With violent, aggressive, and hostile behavior, the Americans increased the dignity of the IRGC. The enemies of god show hostility to God’s servants, and this hostility makes God’s servants more reputable and estimable.”

    “You must have all necessary defense, operational and intelligence equipment. However, these instruments must be manufactured and developed at home and meet all the needs of the country on the ground, in the sky and space as well as at sea and borders. Even the cyberspace is among the necessary instruments,” he also said.

  18. #18
    . Instant News Alerts
    #BREAKING: Iranian official says #Tehran is now operating 60 IR-6 centrifuges, twice as many as before, in violation of nuclear deal. (AP)

    Links at source....
    Posted for fair use....

    Iran announces more violations of nuclear deal with new centrifuges
    The Times of Israel

    Iran announces more violations of nuclear deal with new centrifuges
    Tehran’s nuclear chief says domestically made centrifuge in development is 50 times faster than those allowed under 2015 accord
    By AP and TOI STAFF
    Today, 1:18 pm 0

    The head of Iran’s nuclear program announced Monday that Tehran was working on a prototype centrifuge that is 50 times faster than those allowed under the nuclear deal his country struck with world powers.

    The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi came as Iranians marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 US Embassy takeover and start of a 444-day hostage crisis.

    Salehi said the prototype is called an IR-9.

    The 2015 nuclear deal limited Iran to using only 5,060 first-generation IR-1 centrifuges to enrich uranium by rapidly spinning uranium hexafluoride gas.

    Salehi, earlier in the same state TV interview, said that Tehran was now operating 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges in violation of its atomic deal with world powers. That’s double the amount previously known.

    Iran’s uranium conversion facility near Isfahan, which reprocesses uranium ore concentrate into uranium hexafluoride gas, which is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment, March 30, 2005. (AP/Vahid Salemi)
    By starting up these advanced centrifuges, Iran further cuts into the one-year time limit that experts estimate Tehran would need to have enough material to build a nuclear weapon, if it chose to pursue one.

    Under the terms of the deal — which the US unilaterally withdrew from over a year ago — Iran had committed to not using the array until late 2023.

    Iran has steadily increased its breaches of the nuclear accord as it pushes its European partners to find a way around US sanctions that have kept it from selling oil abroad and crippled the Iranian economy.

    On July 1, Iran said it had increased its stockpile of enriched uranium to beyond a 300-kilogram maximum set by the deal, and a week later it announced it had exceeded a 3.67-percent cap on the purity of its uranium stocks.

    In its latest move it fired up advanced centrifuges to boost its enriched uranium stockpiles on September 7.

    Regional tensions spiked in recent weeks after a drone and missile attack on Saudi Arabia’s largest oil facility that shook global energy markets. The US said Iran was behind the attack. Tehran denied the charge and said any retaliatory strikes by the US or Saudi Arabia could lead to “all-out war."
    Last edited by jward; 11-04-2019 at 06:39 AM.
    Thoughts are things. Thus I'm careful of the thoughts I think, & the company I keep.

  19. #19
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    The Rise of the Present Unconventional Character of Warfare

    Mike Fowler
    November 4, 2019

    The character of war has changed. Technological advancements and operational approaches have changed the face of warfare. Conventionally-focused Western militaries have created a sufficient deterrent built on their overwhelming advantages in firepower, technology, tactics, and effective training. However, unconventional warfare has become the method of choice to mitigate the technological military advantages of the United States and its allies.[1]
    Asymmetric Warfare

    Militaries axiomatically search for methods and equipment to find an asymmetric advantage over their adversaries. Leading up to World War I, countries across Europe sought an advantage in mobilization. Assuming modern warfare could deliver a quick, decisive blow, the first country to mobilize their massive army gained a significant advantage.[2] During the interwar period, countries sought to prevent repeating the stalemate of trench warfare by leveraging new technologies: airpower, submarines, and armor.[3] These innovations were effective at providing short-term, tactical advantages. But, both sides were able to match the innovations, negating any lasting strategic advantage—World War II still resulted in a conflict of exhaustion.[4]

    After World War II, a nuclear standoff constrained the use of conventional warfare by major powers.[5] Both sides turned to unconventional warfare as a method to achieve national security goals while limiting the potential for escalation and circumventing international conventions designed to prevent conflict. Among others, the United States, the Soviet Union, China, France, and the United Kingdom propped up weak regimes and empowered rebel groups to act as proxies conducting irregular warfare on behalf of the patron state.[6] This empowerment often involved training, equipping, and funding non-state actors to overthrow or undermine governments that supported (whether real or perceived) the opposing power. In rare cases, the major powers inserted specially trained soldiers to assist in the organization, planning, and execution of insurgent operations.[7] This specialty mission of state-sponsored insurgency came to be known as unconventional warfare. In response to insurgencies and irregular war, the opposing polar power countered with training, equipping, and funding of counterinsurgency operations.[8] In rare cases (e.g., the United States in Vietnam or the Soviets in Afghanistan), the major powers committed large numbers of their own troops to conduct counterinsurgency.[9]

    The Cold War was only cold in the sense that the two major powers managed to avoid open conventional and nuclear warfare. For proxies on both sides, this period was full of internal violence and government repression. Despite the breadth, quantity, and depth of proxy wars, the major powers continued to focus the bulk of their resources deterring a future conventional and nuclear conflict. Many of these proxy wars began as organic, anti-colonial insurgencies. Yet, few insurgencies during this period were able to avoid super-power sponsorship by one side or the other.
    Post-Cold-War Strategic Pivot

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. struggled through a period of uncertainty amid declarations of a “peace dividend” and suggestions of the “end of history.”[10] The 1990s presented four key lessons to aspiring major powers.[11] First, the collapse of the Soviet Union highlighted the futility of attempting to match U.S. and NATO tactical innovations without the economy to sustain them. Second, the proliferation of non-governmental organizations promoting democracy and human rights represented a shift in western methods of strategic competition. The Color Revolutions were largely non-violent, but they had the same subversive result as an insurgency: the overthrow or undermining of pro-Russian governments.[12] Similarly, the wave of democracy across Asia in the 1990s was a significant emotional event for the Chinese. Of course, most democratizing states in Asia were already pro-America.[13] Democratization of communist countries was limited to marginal states such as Laos and Cambodia. While China and Vietnam retained political communism, they adopted capitalist tendencies. These non-governmental organizations pierced the impermeable veil of sovereignty regarding intervention in another country’s politics.
    Fighter aircraft fly over burning oil fields in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

    Fighter aircraft fly over burning oil fields in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

    Third, Operation Desert Storm demonstrated reliance on a massive but minimally trained army was insufficient against highly-trained forces with advanced weaponry.[14] Fourth, U.S. operations against Somali warlords demonstrated technological military advantage could be mitigated by irregular warfare. The Russians could compare their own experiences in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Georgia, and Estonia with U.S. and NATO experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq.[15]

    In the near future, traditional conventional warfare methods will be limited to those cases in which the aggressor has an extreme combat advantage and the probability of a major power intervention is low. The West has obtained a credible conventional deterrent that adversaries would be lunatic to challenge.[16] If the United States and NATO maintain superior military capabilities, adversaries will avoid traditional conventional conflict.
    Unconventional: The Near Future of Warfare

    Leveraging the lessons of Ukraine, Syria, and the Islamic State, countries have changed the face of inter-state competition. While each country has its own approach to unconventional warfare, they share several common characteristics. They leverage loopholes in traditional notions of warfare to gain advantages against competitors and limit the potential for escalation to conventional conflict and/or major power intervention. The methods give primacy to psychological effects over physical destruction. They combine military and non-military instruments in a coordinated effort.[17] Strategic communication takes a more dominant role, while military force takes a supporting role. They employ a combination of exhaustion, denial, and subversion.[18] Exhaustion wears down the opponent. Denial finds ways to negate the use of long-range precision strike weapons. Subversion seeks to sway local opinion against the adversary. Using these three factors, there appear to be two predominant models of unconventional warfare: the Russian model and the Chinese model.

    The Russian model is the most common implementation of unconventional war. Like Cold War operations, this model uses proxy forces and irregular warfare to exhaust an adversary.[19] It keeps the adversary occupied, focusing resources on internal security. It can be a useful foil to distract a country from a growing regional power or to short-circuit discussions on joining an economic union or military alliance.
    Russian Unconventional Warfare (

    Russian Unconventional Warfare (

    At first glance, the Russian model appears to be a Cold War regression with emphasis on proxies to conduct irregular warfare in a geo-political scramble for client states and overseas bases. However, the Russian model leverages technological advances to gain effectiveness and efficiency via subversion. Russia’s fomenting of rebellion in eastern Ukraine gave Russia the opportunity to seize Crimea while simultaneously derailing Ukraine’s inclusion into the European Union and NATO. During the Cold War, old-school radio, television, and print propaganda was often dismissed by adversaries when attribution was obvious. Today’s opaque attribution of computer network attacks gives Russia plausible deniability while sowing confusion. Russia’s leverage of cyber social engineering subverts its foes via social media.[20] Evolving artificial intelligence will improve their ability to target susceptible individuals based on complementary ideologies, money challenges, ego, search for adventure, and disaffection with the extant political or economic system.[21] Even when Russian denials are implausible, the very act of denial backed by considerable military and nuclear force mitigates a conventional response forcing NATO to explore response options to counter each unconventional brush fire.

    The China model is different. China re-crafted the Russian model based on Chinese strategic thinking to create a “penetrating and persistent campaign.”[22] The Chinese model falls into what some refer to as Gray Zone activities—it preys upon ambiguities in international law and eschews the level of violence associated with irregular warfare tactics. Unlike Russia, China’s unconventional warfare does not use special operations forces, but involves the physical, de facto, acquisition of territory. China relies on less overtly hostile forces such as para-police and coast guard forces. China uses its fishing fleet as a type of unarmed maritime militia, sending large numbers of vessels to intimidate adversary ships and “cabbage” islands to obstruct resupply operations.[23] Like Russia, the China model is intertwined with information warfare and strategic communications to convince its own population of the righteousness of its cause and to stiff-arm international complaints of China’s failure to follow conventions, norms, and rulings on disputed territory. Unlike Russia, China’s efforts at subversion do not rely on insurgency but instead sews division between potential allied opponents. For example, China’s wooing of President Duterte was partially responsible for the cooling of U.S.-Philippine relations. Meanwhile, China uses its substantial cyber capability to steal corporate secrets in an effort to boost its own economy.

    China is integrating diplomatic maneuvers, economic, and military activities to achieve its strategic objectives. For example, Chinese diplomatic and economic efforts in the South China Sea have softened efforts to enforce the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. China uses infrastructure development activities to acquire territory, overseas access, and presence. China’s Belt and Road Initiative to build a “string of pearls” of airports, ports, and special economic zones across South Asia and East Africa provides China “strategic strong points” for basing and resupply while simultaneously limiting competitors’ options.[24] The debt structure of these development projects typically result in Chinese oversight of the operations and, in rare cases, repossession. For example, China essentially owns the Sri Lanka port of Hambantota. China’s infrastructure development projects, such as those in Ethiopia and Djibouti, include provisions for special territorial rights such as special economic zones or military bases.[25] China’s development of a marine observation center in the Maldives and attempts to build a road into disputed territory on Bhutan’s border has Indian security specialists concerned about territorial encirclement.[26] These efforts provide necessary infrastructure for any air or maritime power projection while limiting access to potential competitors. Plus, it provides a chain of intelligence collection posts. This territorial breadth creates de facto buffer zones that create time and space to deal with any potential adversary.
    Disputed South China Sea islands (BBC)

    Disputed South China Sea islands (BBC)

    Both models of unconventional warfare seek to exhaust the adversary while denying the traditional advantages of high-tech conventional military capabilities. Unconventional war wears down the opponent over time by requiring them to use a disproportionate amount of resources creating the perception of “the improbability of victory or the unacceptable cost” of continuing operations.[27] It exploits the inefficiency of maintaining large or multiple fronts. Whether it is to prevent insurgent operations or to prevent the acquisition of a partner’s territory, countering unconventional warfare requires significant amounts of physical presence. This widespread physical presence is expensive and inefficient as the majority of forces sit in a state of preparedness instead of performing other missions or routine training. It drains the opponent’s time, treasure, and talent, causing the so-called death by a thousand cuts. While these forces can act as a tripwire for escalation, they are less ready for conventional warfare as their resources, training, and employment are diverted to other tasks.

    Western states are responding with cooperative approaches but are hampered by several constraints. For example, security cooperation activities include arms sales, weapons transfers, military and police training, advising, personnel exchanges, and infrastructure development. While this out-sourcing attempts at efficiency, it fails to address underlying causes of conflict. Taking from the Chinese playbook, a whole of government approach is necessary to counter an unconventional warfare campaign. However, democratic governments are designed with oversight, controls, and procedures which stovepipe each instrument of national power making whole-of-government approaches difficult to organize and operate. A democracy’s ability to counter an authoritarian government’s information warfare campaign is handicapped by domestic politics and international norms.

    Unconventional warfare is perceived as a temporary, undesired, annoying aberration. The preoccupation of Western militaries with creating advantages in conventional weapons succeeded in deterring the conventional use of force but leaves them under-prepared to deal with unconventional warfare strategies. Major acquisition programs and the Third Offset Strategy still view Russian and Chinese competition through a conventional lens.[28] Yet, major power competition has evolved in style. An inability to counter U.S. military superiority has led China, Russia, and major regional powers to employ unconventional warfare to achieve their national security objectives. Technological developments re-invented this type of warfare and improved its reach and potential effectiveness. Russia and China have adopted similar but unique models of unconventional warfare, setting a standard that others such as Iran and Saudi Arabia are trying to emulate to intentionally destabilize countries and regions.[29] Within the parameters of a democratic system, countering unconventional warfare is problematic. Attempts at global security cooperation operations may improve the efficiency of global physical presence but is no replacement for a whole-of-government effort to address root problems enabling the success of these unconventional warfare models.

    Mike Fowler is an Associate Professor of Military and Strategic Studies at the United States Air Force Academy. The views expressed do not represent the views of the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.


    [1] Unconventional war is indirect state on state conflict using irregular war, subversion, or sponsoring insurgency. Conceptually, this can be non-violent as subversion can include support to (or creation of) a non-violent resistance movement which may conform with local laws.

    [2] Stephen Van Evera, “The Cult of the Offensive and the Origins of the First World War,” International Security Vol. 9, No. 1 (Summer 1984), 58-107; Geoffrey L. Herrera, “Inventing the Railroad and Rifle Revolution: Information, Military Innovation and the Rise of Germany,” Journal of Strategic Studies 27:2 (2004), 243-271.

    [3] Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millet, eds., Military Innovation in the Interwar Period (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Andrew F. Krepinevich, “Cavalry to Computer: The Pattern of Military Revolutions,” The National Interest No. 37 (Fall 1994), 30-42.

    [4] Cathal J. Nolan, The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

    [5] Herman Kahn, On Escalation: Metaphors and Scenarios (New York: Routledge, 2017).

    [6] Idean Salehyan, "The delegation of war to rebel organizations," Journal of Conflict Resolution 54, no. 3 (2010): 493-515.

    [7] An insurgency is a collective of non-state actors with the goal of regime change for their own government. Insurgencies frequently rely upon, but are not limited to, irregular warfare tactics such as guerrilla warfare and terrorist attacks. Irregular war tactics can be employed by both state and non-state actors.

    [8] Assisting another country with their counterinsurgency is technically called Foreign Internal Defense (FID).

    [9] Michael R. Fenzel, No Miracles: The Failure of Soviet Decision Making in the Afghan War (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2017); George C. Herring, “The Cold War and Vietnam,” OAH Magazine of History Vol. 18, Iss. 5 (Oct 2004), 18-21.

    [10] Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?” The National Interest No. 16 (Summer 1989), 3-18; Michael D. Ward and David R. Davis, “Sizing up the Peace Dividend: Economic Growth and Military Spending in the United States, 1948-1996,” The American Political Science Review, Vol. 86, No. 3 (Sep 1992), 748-755.

    [11] Charles K. Bartles, “Getting Gerasimov Right,” Military Review (Jan-Feb 2016), 30-38; Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, Unrestricted Warfare, translated (Brattleboro, VT: Echo Point Books, 2017, original 1999).

    [12] Georgy Filimonov, “The Color Revolutions in the Context of Hybrid Wars,” in Fridman, Kabernik, and Pearce, eds., Hybrid Conflicts and Information Warfare: New Labels, Old Politics (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2019).

    [13] Democracy promotion also promotes U.S. national security interests. See Michael Fowler, “A Brief Survey of US Democracy Promotion in US Foreign Policy,” Democracy and Security, Volume 11, Issue 3 (4 Sep 2015), 227-247.

    [14] David Lai, “Chinese Views on the U.S. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” in John A. Gentry and William M. Nolte, eds., After the Wars: International Lessons From the U.S. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Bethesda, MD: National Intelligence University, 2018), 145.

    [15] Stephen Blank, “What Did Russia Learn From the U.S. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?” in John A. Gentry and William M. Nolte, eds., After the Wars: International Lessons From the U.S. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Bethesda, MD: National Intelligence University, 2018).

    [16] Stephen Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004); John J. Mearsheimer, Conventional Deterrence (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983).

    [17] Some refer to the coordination of military and non-military instruments as a type of hybrid warfare; others argue that hybrid war involves the integration of three tactics: conventional, irregular, and/or criminal. For example, see: Frank Hoffman, Conflict in the Twenty-First Century: The Rise of Hybrid Warfare (Arlington, VA: Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, 2007); Robert Tomes, Paul Brister, and Thomas Schiller, eds., “Hybrid Warfare: Transnational Threats and Policy Choices for an Era of Persistent Conflict” (Center for Emerging National Security Affairs: 2011); Fridman, Kabernik, and Pearce, eds., Hybrid Conflicts and Information Warfare: New Labels, Old Politics (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2019).

    [18] Michael Fowler, “Ways of War: Constructing a Compellence Strategy,” Burke, Fowler, and McCaskey, Military Strategy, Joint Operations, and Airpower (DC: Georgetown University Press, 2018).

    [19] Vitaly Kabernik, “The Russian Military Perspective,” in Fridman, Kabernik, and Pearce, eds., Hybrid Conflicts and Information Warfare: New Labels, Old Politics (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2019), 44-45.

    [20] Lora Saalman, “Little Grey Men: China and the Ukraine Crisis,” Survival, 58:6 (2016), 135-156.

    [21] Taylor Stan and Daniel Snow, Cold War Spies: Why They Spied and How They got Caught (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015); Randy Burkett, “An Alternative Framework for Agent Recruitment: From MICE to RASCLS,” Studies in Intelligence Vol. 57, No. 1 (March 2013), 7-17.

    [22] Lora Saalman, “Little Grey Men: China and the Ukraine Crisis,” Survival, 58:6 (2016), 147.

    [23] Abhijit Singh, “Between War and Peace: Grey-Zone Operations in Asia,” Australian Outlook (Feb 2018).

    [24] Andrew S. Erickson, “Doctrinal Sea Change, Making Real Waves: Examining the Maritime Dimension of Strategy,” in Joe McReynolds, ed., China’s Evolving Military Strategy (DC: The Jamestown Foundation, 2016), 105.

    [25] Joshua Fowler, “China’s Multi-Faceted Economic Development Strategy in East Africa,” Orbis (Spring 2019), 172-186.

    [26] Abhijit Singh, “Deciphering Grey-Zone Operations in Maritime-Asia,” ORF Special Report, 71, (Aug. 2018), 8.

    [27] J. Boone Bartholomees, “The Issue of Attrition,” Parameters (Spring 2010), 9.

    [28] David Betz, “The Idea of Hybridity,” in Fridman, Kabernik, and Pearce, eds., Hybrid Conflicts and Information Warfare: New Labels, Old Politics (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2019), 23.

    [29] Filimonov, 32.

  20. #20
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    Posted for fair use.....

    Anti-police violence surges in the tough suburbs of Paris


    PARIS (AP) — A resurgence of anti-police violence has emerged in the long-troubled towns around Paris, signs that lawlessness still simmers in French urban hotspots that exploded in three weeks of rioting in 2005.

    Violence on Saturday night in Chanteloup-les-Vignes and recent flare-ups in other tough neighborhoods west of Paris have not matched the intensity or destructiveness of the unrest that spread to hundreds of towns in 2005. But French authorities are alarmed because the violence appears pre-planned, with ambushes deliberately set to target police.

    Police union officials suspect that rival gangs from different tough neighborhoods are competing for bragging rights in their attacks and are reveling in the media coverage they’re generating, even egging each other on in social media.

    In Chanteloup-les-Vignes, hooded attackers hid in bushes, waiting to spring their trap. When police arrived, responding to calls about a fire, they pounced. Under cover of darkness, roaming youths showered officers with projectiles and powerful fireworks that filled the night skies with sparks and thundering explosions.

    Unlike the riots of 2005, which were sparked by the deaths of two teenage boys electrocuted in a power substation as officers were chasing them, the latest attacks have no obvious trigger. And while rioters in 2005 seethed with anger over deep-seated perceived social and economic injustices, those attacking police now seem simply to be reveling in their violence.

    The sustained violence in 2005 prompted much soul-searching about France’s failure to integrate its millions of immigrants and their French-born children living in desolate housing projects blighted by high unemployment and limited prospects. Those concerns remain unresolved, nearly 15 years later.

    Maj. William Blanchet, who represents the Unite SGP police union in the Yvelines region that includes Chanteloup and other towns where police patrols have been assaulted, said the youths involved seem to be targeting officers for their own amusement.

    “They draw in the police with a fire, hide themselves around that spot, and then they attack,” he said.

    Police were lured to Chanteloup by calls that a trash bin had been set ablaze. Callers also reported seeing hooded youths filing bags with stones. Police union officials said about 30 youths, some armed with batons, joined the rampage. Police made two arrests.

    A community center that hosted a circus school for kids was torched, leaving it a smoking, charred hulk. A video on Snapchat showed thunderous firework explosions echoing around Chanteloup, the images overlaid with the words, “The city is ours” and “anti-police here.”

    “Neighborhoods are one-upping each other with ambushes,” said Charlene Joly, the Yvelines representative for the UNSA police union. “They’re becoming the fashion again.”

    Earlier this fall, youths in Chanteloup smashed all the street lights around the neighborhood of austere apartment blocks hit by the violence Saturday, plunging it into darkness, according to Mayor Catherine Arenou. Police say the sabotaging of lights makes their work even harder.

    “The 5,000 residents are living under the terror of a few,” said Arenou.

    France’s prime minister, on an unscheduled visit Monday to see the damage for himself, suggested that the violence may have been triggered in part by “very intense” police efforts to combat the drug trafficking that underpins the underground economies of many crime-ridden neighborhoods. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the crackdown had created “tensions” in Chanteloup.

    Three other French ministers visited on Tuesday morning, underscoring the attention being given to the violence that has made front-page news.

    Police union officials say the youths may have been emboldened by the yellow vest economic protest movement that shook the French government in the past year, viewing repeated violent clashes between anti-government demonstrators and riot police as a cue for them to similarly wreak havoc and challenge authority.

    “That opened the door,” said Blanchet. “Youths today are telling themselves, ‘OK, we can go for it ... We can have some fun.’”

  21. #21
    EndGameWW3 Retweeted
    ELINT News
    #UPDATE: Large-scale militant attack reported on security checkpoint between countries of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, casualties reported- local sources
    12:45 AM · Nov 6, 2019·
    Replying to
    Ethnic Map of the region could maybe give some insight where it could have taken place more specifically

  22. #22
    EndGameWW3 Retweeted
    AFP news agency
    #BREAKING 15 armed fighters, soldier and policeman killed in Tajikistan clashes: official
    12:45 AM · Nov 6, 2019
    AFP news agency
    Replying to
    #BREAKING Tajikistan says IS fighters from Afghanistan behind border clash

  23. #23
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    Posted for fair use....

    Tajikistan: 17 killed in attack on border checkpoint
    Authorities pinned the assault on the Islamic State group.
    Nov 6, 2019

    Security officials in Tajikistan have said that a group of 20 militants that launched a nighttime attack on a border checkpoint near Uzbekistan was largely thwarted in a clash that claimed 17 lives.

    Fifteen attackers and two government security personnel – a border guard and an Interior Ministry officer – were killed in the fighting, which occurred at around 3 a.m. on November 6, the border guard service said in a statement. At least four men have been detained, officials said.

    The border guard service have said the assault, which is said to have occurred at a spot around 80 kilometers west of the capital, was carried out by a group of militants loyal to the Islamic State group. The attackers crossed into Tajikistan’s southern Qabodiyon district from Afghanistan under cover of night on November 3 and scouted possible targets for an attack, the officials said. This intelligence is said to have been obtained from interrogations of detainees.

    No details were provided as of midday on November 6 about the exact identity of the group members.

    Photos accompanying the statement on the incident show an open stretch of road with burned-out vehicles and the charred and bloodied bodies of several of the alleged assailants.

    The border guard service said in a statement on the incident that the assailants seized five firearms at some time before or during the clash.

    The alleged fighting took place on the eve of Constitution Day, a major holiday in Tajikistan. Security had already been tight in the capital in light of the festivities.

    The Tajik government has repeatedly warned that national security is under intense threat from militant groups inside and outside the country. Afghanistan, which shares a long and porous border with Tajikistan, is cited as the most imminent source of danger.

    The most recent high-profile, militant-linked killing occurred in July 2018, when a group of young men loyal to the Islamic State group used a car to ram a group of foreign touring cyclists, killing four.

    The government pinned a subsequent series of deadly prison riots, which claimed dozens of lives in the aggregate, on the Islamic State.

    Trouble on the Uzbek-Tajik border is also likely to add a chilling note to a week that had brought encouraging news on bilateral relations.

    Media have reported that the governments of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have arrived at a preliminary agreement to resolve their outstanding disagreements about the delimitation of their shared 1,312-kilometer border.

    Asia-Plus newspaper on November 5 cited an unnamed official in Dushanbe as saying that a document finalizing the arrangement will be signed by the nations’ heads of government early next year.

    This deal would have marked the pinnacle of three years of improving ties, which has seen the reopening of a dozen or so border crossing between the two nations.

    This article was updated to reflect developments.
    Thoughts are things. Thus I'm careful of the thoughts I think, & the company I keep.

  24. #24
    EndGameWW3 Retweeted

    Gerjon | חריון

    33m33 minutes ago
    ⚠️������️*♂️���� It appears that JORDANIAN (RJAF) F-16AM and F-16BM (ex-RNLAF) fighter jets have been flying over both Israel and Jordan over the past four days (3-6 Nov) using "#NASHMI" (Arabic for "fragrance") callsigns.

    Here's how I know.


    #potn #avgeek #NASHMI1 #NASHMI2

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by danielboon View Post
    EndGameWW3 Retweeted

    Gerjon | חריון

    33m33 minutes ago
    ⚠️������️*♂️���� It appears that JORDANIAN (RJAF) F-16AM and F-16BM (ex-RNLAF) fighter jets have been flying over both Israel and Jordan over the past four days (3-6 Nov) using "#NASHMI" (Arabic for "fragrance") callsigns.

    Here's how I know.


    #potn #avgeek #NASHMI1 #NASHMI2

  26. #26
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    Posted for fair use.....

    November 5, 2019

    China’s amphibious force emerges

    Beyond grabbing Taiwan or Diaoyu/Senkaku isles, real usefulness is in peacetime Asia-Pacific influence battle

    By Grant Newsham

    For years, US military and civilian leaders insisted the Chinese military was nothing to worry about. These days one hears less of that – as news about the PRC’s military buildup just keeps coming.

    In late September China launched its largest amphibious ship – the Type 075. It is roughly equivalent in size and capabilities to the USS Wasp – the US Navy’s 40,000-ton amphibious ship. The Type 075 carries 900 Chinese Marines and their equipment and weapons, along with landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles to take them ashore. There are thirty or so helicopters – and room for adding, someday, the Chinese version of the F35B fighter.

    The Chinese ship took only six months to build, from keel-laying to launch. The US takes about three years. Indeed, over the last decade the PRC has been churning out four ships for every new US Navy ship – and two more Type 075’s are reportedly in the works.

    China does have a shipbuilding advantage. The penalty for missed deadlines and budget overruns is a trip to the gulag – not angry comments from a few politicians, followed by resigned sighs and more money, which is how US defense contractors are chastized.

    The Type 075 is, of course, useful in the event the PLA attacks Taiwan. And Beijing has made it clear it “won’t wait forever” for Taiwan to submit. But the ship is more an incremental addition to Chinese capabilities against Taiwan. The PLA Navy already has enough ships to move forces across the strait, and the Type 075 is a juicy anti-ship missile target in the narrow Taiwan Strait.
    ‘Influence’ battle

    Beyond China grabbing Taiwan or even Japan’s Senkaku Islands, the Type 075 and other amphibious forces’ real usefulness is in the peacetime, “phase zero” influence battle in the Asia-Pacific.

    Indeed, getting phase zero right can determine the outcome of a future battle – or even whether there is one.

    Towards this end, US amphibious forces have played a key role in America’s regional influencing for decades.

    Big-deck amphibs” of the USS Wasp class are the backbone of the combined US Marine/US Navy amphibious task forces making the rounds in Asia – and the Middle East and the Mediterranean and Africa.

    Such a unit, known as a Marine Expeditionary Unit / Amphibious Ready Group (MEU/ARG), is typically organized as three amphibious ships (a “big deck” and two smaller amphibious ships) and includes a couple thousand Marines with their weapons and equipment, along with helicopters and fighter planes.

    Combining air, sea and ground capabilities, it resembles a Swiss army knife in terms of usefulness – able to go ashore to save lives or to take them, as needed.

    The Japan-based MEU/ARG (known as the “31st MEU”) – sometimes augmented by other MEU/ARGs moving through the region enroute to or from the Middle East – has been the mobile front end of the US presence in the Asia/Pacific for many years. It patrols the region: conducting exercises and joint training with partners, responding to natural disasters and being ready to fight.

    Indeed, amphibious forces are a marker of American presence and prowess – and attendant influence.

    Not surprisingly, the PRC has long understood the value of amphibious forces beyond seizing Taiwan – and PLA amphibious forces have expanded rapidly over the last decade.
    No longer the only show in town

    Until now, the American amphibious force has had Asia to itself. No other country had a similar force. But not for much longer.

    In fact, the Chinese Navy and Marine Corps could assemble a MEU/ARG today, using available Type 071 amphibious ships and older models. With a Type 075 and a couple smaller Type 071 amphibs the PLA force will look a lot like the American 31st MEU operating out of Japan. And the PRC is unlikely to stop with one MEU/ARG.

    So lets look into the future:

    In 2023 a Chinese MEU/ARG starts making the rounds in the Asia/Pacific offering joint training with local militaries. That might be an attractive offer for a military looking to get some amphibious practice. And it might be too hard to decline. Do so and your country’s bananas sit on the dock in China owing to “health issues,” or your coal ships are forced to wait offshore indefinitely (racking up fees) before unloading.

    Joint training with the Chinese leaves less time to train with the Americans (and the Australians and the Japanese). Eventually, one imagines, US invitations to “engage” with a visiting MEU/ARG will be returned unopened – even by old friends – at China’s behest.

    And someday there will be a PLA-sponsored “Asian RIMPAC” – held in Asia for Asians. So even if the PLA Navy isn’t invited to the “American” RIMPAC, that will be no big deal for Beijing. China will insist Asian nations choose “one or the other.”

    And there is influence to be gained from amphibious force humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) operations.

    The PRC’s inept response to regional disasters compared with American efforts – just sending a little money, and maybe a ship long after the hard work was done – until recently elicited snickers. But one knew the Chinese would figure it out.

    The PLA Navy is even now sending hospital ships around the region.

    Before long, after a major disaster, the Chinese amphibious force will sprint to the scene, do its work and harvest goodwill and political capital.

    The end result of all this? Regional militaries and governments that were once pro-American become less so – or not at all.
    No more Mr. Nice Guy

    And it’s not just about making friends and helping people. In the case of overseas Chinese in the Asia/Pacific, wait and see what happens the next time a local Chinese population is attacked – say, by Indonesians or South Pacific islanders, who do that periodically.

    Beijing has until now been helpless to respond. But once the Chinese MEU/ARG is available, China can pitch up, go ashore and put a stop to the anti-Chinese violence.

    The implicit threat behind a Chinese amphibious squadron will be well understood in regional capitals.

    One expects eventual “requests” that Chinese police be assigned to assist local cops. And influence extends beyond military and security issues. Cooperation with China on the economic front will be hard to resist, say, when a new Belt and Road Initiative project is under discussion – or when there’s pressure on a government to cough up an overdue payment on an existing Chinese-built highway or port.

    Looking on the bright side, the American MEU/ARGs aren’t going anywhere. And with some imagination and effort these can be expanded – to include Australian, Japanese, Singaporean, and South Korean amphibious ships and marines – to form additional and even multinational “MEU/ARGs.”

    For starters, why not create a joint Australian-US MEU/ARG, based in Darwin, Australia, for operations throughout Southeast Asia?

    And at the end of the day, there’s a big difference between an amphibious force that shows up wanting to be your friend, and one that demands your friendship – or else.

    But the US and its key Asian partners had better get to work if they want to keep their friends “rightly influenced.”

    It will also be good practice for the day the Chinese MEU/ARGs show up in the Caribbean and Latin America – as they will.

    Grant Newsham is a retired US Marine Officer and played a role in developing Japan’s new amphibious force.

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    SecDef: China Is Exporting Killer Robots to the Mideast

    For the first time, a senior Defense official has called out Beijing for selling lethal autonomy.

    By Patrick Tucker Technology Editor Read bio
    November 5, 2019

    China is exporting drones that it advertises as having lethal autonomy to the Middle East, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday. It’s the first time that a senior Defense official has acknowledged that China is selling drones capable of taking life with little or no human oversight.

    “As we speak, the Chinese government is already exporting some of its most advanced military aerial drones to the Middle East, as it prepares to export its next-generation stealth UAVs when those come oneline,” Esper said today at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence conference. “In addition, Chinese weapons manufacturers are selling drones advertised as capable of full autonomy, including the ability to conduct lethal targeted strikes.”

    The Chinese company Ziyan, for instance, markets the Blowfish A3, essentially a helicopter drone outfitted with a machine gun. Ziyan says it “autonomously performs more complex combat missions, including fixed-point timing detection, fixed-range reconnaissance, and targeted precision strikes.”

    As Greg Allen, chief of strategy and communications at the Defense Department’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, points out in this February paper for CNAS, Ziyan is negotiating to sell its Blowfish A2 to the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. “Despite expressing concern on AI arms races, most of China’s leadership sees increased military usage of AI as inevitable and is aggressively pursuing it. China already exports armed autonomous platforms and surveillance AI, ” Allen wrote.

    Last year, Zeng Yi, a senior executive at NORINCO, China’s third-largest defense company, forecast that, “In future battlegrounds, there will be no people fighting” —as early as 2025.

    Esper also said Chinese surveillance software and hardware networks could help China develop AI. “All signs point to the construction of a 21st-century surveillance state designed to censor speech and deny basic human rights on an unprecedented scale. Look no further than its use of surveillance to systematically repress more than a million Muslim Uighurs,” he said. “Beijing has all the power and tools it needs to coerce Chinese industry and academia into supporting its government-led efforts.”

    Last week, the Defense Innovation Board put forward a list of AI principles for the U.S. military, which listed human governability as key, in line with previous policy going back to 2012. Esper called the list comprehensive and applauded it.

    He said it was “equally troubling are the outside firms or multinational corporations that are inadvertently or tacitly providing the technology or research behind China’s unethical use of AI.”

    One company that has received criticism recently for partnering with Chinese researchers is Google. n Tuesday, Kent Walker, the company’s Senior Vice President for Global Affairs told the crowd at the forum, “We have chosen to scope our operations there very carefully.” Walker added that the partnerships are limited to advertising and work that to support open-source coding initiatives.

    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

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    Russian Snipers, Missiles and Warplanes Try to Tilt Libyan War

    Moscow is plunging deeper into a war of armed drones in a strategic hot spot rich with oil, teeming with migrants and riddled with militants.

    By David D. Kirkpatrick
    Published Nov. 5, 2019
    Updated Nov. 7, 2019, 3:40 a.m. ET

    TRIPOLI, Libya — The casualties at the Aziziya field hospital south of Tripoli used to arrive with gaping wounds and shattered limbs, victims of the haphazard artillery fire that has defined battles among Libyan militias. But now medics say they are seeing something new: narrow holes in a head or a torso left by bullets that kill instantly and never exit the body.....(rest behind subscription wall...HC)

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    Senior JNIM leader reportedly killed by France

    By Caleb Weiss | November 6, 2019 | | @Weissenberg7

    Florence Parly, France’s Minister for the Armed Forces, announced yesterday that French forces killed senior jihadist leader Ali Maychou in an operation inside Mali early last month.

    Ali Maychou, a Moroccan-national who was also known as Abu Abdul Rahman al Sanhaji (or al Maghrebi), was described by Parly as the “number two” leader for al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM).

    This means that Sanhaji took over the number two spot after Yahya Abu al Hammam, the previous deputy leader of JNIM, was killed by the French in the Timbuktu region earlier this year.

    Parly did not confirm where the operation took place, but said that the raid also utilized “Malian forces and American support.” It is not immediately clear in what capacity the US assisted in the mission, though it is likely ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) support was given.

    JNIM has not yet commented on Sanhaji’s reported death and French statements have not always been accurate. Last November, Parly and other officials also reported that Amadou Kouffa, another senior leader within JNIM, was killed in a French raid. However, Kouffa reappeared in a video a few months later refuting the French claims.

    The US State Department designated Sanhaji in July alongside with former Malian colonel-turned-jihadist Ba Ag Moussa. Sanhaji occupied the role of a the senior Sharia official within JNIM’s ranks and was previously a former judge for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s Sahara branch.

    State’s designation in July noted that “Maychou has served in a leadership role in JNIM since its inception in 2017; has previously claimed responsibility for an attack on a military camp that housed Malian Armed Forces in Gao, Mali, that killed dozens; and has had a role in operational activities of JNIM.”

    Sanhaji was present in JNIM’s founding video sitting next to Iyad Ag Ghaly and Hasan al Ansari, who was killed last year. In subsequent releases, he has been identified as the overall Sharia judge for the group. Sanhaji also directly took part in battles.

    Prior to the formation of JNIM, Sanhaji was featured in several videos decrying French forces and inciting local Muslims to violence. He has also appeared in one video where alleged spies were executed by al Qaeda’s men.

    Following the Jan. 2017 deadly suicide bombing in Gao, Sanhaji further claimed responsibility in a video released by AQIM.

    JNIM has lost several important leaders over the last two years. Despite these losses, however, the jihadist group continues to be a serious threat to security not only in Mali but in the wider Sahel region.

    Just last month, it killed dozens of Malian soldiers in central Mali. And in recent months, JNIM has claimed a myriad of operations across Mali and in Burkina Faso.

    Caleb Weiss is a contributor to FDD's Long War Journal.


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    US designates senior JNIM leader as global terrorist

    By Caleb Weiss | November 7, 2019 | | @Weissenberg7

    Earlier today, both the US State Department and the US Treasury designated Amadou Kouffa, a senior leader within al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM). This comes two days after France announced the death of another senior JNIM leader.

    In its press statement, State comments that:

    “Amadou Kouffa is a senior member in Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), an al-Qa’ida affiliate active in the Sahel region of Africa, which the Department of State designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and SDGT in September 2018.”

    Kouffa leads JNIM’s Katibat Macina (also sometimes referred to as the Macina Liberation Front), which is primarily active in central and southern Mali. Since 2015, Kouffa and his men have been at the forefront of the proliferation of jihadist violence in the country.

    The jihadist battalion has also been responsible for attacks inside northern Burkina Faso, where it has worked alongside the al Qaeda-linked Ansaroul Islam. Kouffa and his outfit were instrumental in the formation of the Burkinabe group in 2016.

    Kouffa has been able to attract many Fulani recruits into al Qaeda’s ranks in the Sahel by putting out messages in Fulfulde, or the Fula language. He also tried to posit his group as a local defense force by involving itself in communal violence in central Mali.

    Prior to the formation of Katibat Macina, Kouffa fought with al Qaeda in 2012 and led several offensives to capture the northern portion of Mali and the central city of Konna.

    Last November, French and Malian officials reported that Kouffa was killed in a French raid. However, Kouffa reappeared in a video a few months later refuting the French claims.

    Kouffa is still believed to still lead his men on the battlefield. State noted today that “earlier this year, Kouffa led an attack against the Malian army in which more than 20 soldiers were killed.” This is in reference to the March attack in Dioura.

    Earlier this year, former Malian colonel-turned-jihadist Ba Ag Moussa was designated by the US Treasury Department. In Treasury’s statement, it alleged that Moussa led that attack.

    However, in JNIM’s official statement, it claimed that Kouffa was indeed in charge of that assault. State’s designation today seemingly contradicts Treasury’s information in its designation of Ba Ag Moussa, though it is possible that both were present during the battle as local media reported Moussa in the attack.

    Caleb Weiss is a contributor to FDD's Long War Journal.

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    Appropriating Religious Traditions among ‘el Cártel de la Unión Tepito’: Dozens of Human Skulls Found at Narco Shrine in Mexico City

    by Tony M. Kail | Thu, 11/07/2019 - 5:14pm | 0 comments

    On 22 October 2019 a mass counterdrug operation was conducted involving the Secretariat of Citizen Security of Mexico City (Secretaría de Seguridad Ciudadana de la Ciudad de México – SSC CDMX) of Mexico City, the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de Justicia de la Ciudad de México – PGJ-CDMX), and the Secretariat of the Navy of Mexico (Secretaría de Marina – SEMAR) in the Bravo district of Tepito, Mexico City. The operation focused on members of the ‘La Unión Tepito’ organization. Over 30 alleged members were arrested while the group’s leader Oscar Flores aka ‘el Lunares’ (“The Moles”) escaped on a motorcycle with the assistance of two accomplices.[1] Authorities discovered two laboratories used to produce synthetic drugs along with 50 kilos of chemicals used in drug production.[2]

    La Unión Tepito logo on chest of cartel member from June 2019 booking photo.

    Source: Mexico City Secretariat of Citizen Security (SSC CDMX) found at

    The raid also revealed an extensive tunneling system under several residences in the neighborhood using false walls, hidden latches, and custom created tunnels.[3] Large amounts of narcotics including 2.5 tons of marijuana, 20 kilos of cocaine and 4 kilos of methamphetamine were seized.[4] 31 suspects were initially arrested, however, 27 of them were released 3 days later by a judge that alleged the security forces fabricated evidence. Two days following the raid authorities announced that there was evidence to suggest that 120 police officers were connected to La Unión Tepito. Police discovered a tunnel that connected one of the properties being searched to a warehouse on a nearby street. Police believe the tunnels were used by the group’s leader Flores to escape apprehension. Half a million pesos, 5 grenades and over 13 weapons were also discovered including the warhead from a rocket launcher.[5] In one of the residences agents discovered numerous religious shrines and altars. Many of these contained human remains and traces of blood. More than 55 skulls, dozens of bones, and an unidentified fetus of human or animal origin were discovered. The newspaper El Heraldo de Mexico reported that according to a statement by a witness the members of La Unión performed quote ‘satanic’ rituals every third day to have good fortune in their illegal activities in addition to being immune to bullets.[6]

    The use of magico-religious systems to promote the activities of drug trafficking organizations is nothing new. In my book Narco Cults: Understand the Use of Afro-Caribbean and Mexican Religious Cultures in the Drug Wars, I define a narco cult as “An individualistic, shamanistic, communal or ecclesiastical cult that functions as a source of spiritual or psychological empowerment for individuals or organizations connected to drug production or trafficking.” Based on these early reports of the investigation and witness testimonies it appears that several of the religious shrines discovered in the raid were possibly used for spiritual protection.[7]

    While the media descriptions of these shrines include words such as ‘satanic’, ‘Santeria’ and ‘Palo Mayombe’ the aesthetics and artifacts found in the shrines reflect an array of different religious cultures. Images from Regla de Ocha (Santeria), Las Reglas de Kongo (Palo Mayombe and traditions), Espiritismo, Folk saint worship and European esoteric traditions can be seen. Traditional followers of these various religious cultures have frequently spoken against the ‘mixing’ and appropriation of these traditions. However among many of the Mexican narco-cults there is a trend of combining cultural artifacts and rituals from a diverse number of spiritual traditions.[8]

    Many of the artifacts discovered in the Tepito operation are familiar to materials used in the religious traditions of Las Reglas de Kongo, a group of magico-religious practices from the BaKongo of central Africa that were established in Cuba in the 16th to 19th century. The practices of Las Reglas de Kongo include spiritual traditions such as Palo Monte (also known as Palo Mayombe), Briyumba and Kimbisa. Each tradition has its own specific mythologies, rituals and artifacts. ‘Palo’ is the colloquial term used among various magico-religious communities to describe all three traditions. The Spanish word ‘palo’ comes from the religion’s use of a stick or tree branch known as a ‘palo’ used in the formation of the religion’s central artifact known as the ‘nganga’. The nganga is a cauldron or urn packed with earth, sticks, animal and human remains.[9]

    The addition of human bones specifically the skull (kiyumba) ‘infuse’ the spirits of the dead with the physical materials in the cauldron. This concept originated from the Bantu indigenous ritual of placing a spirit inside a vessel usually in the form of an anthropomorphic statue or a sack in which became known as ‘minkisi’. The religion of Palo focuses on the control of the spirits of the dead (nfumbe) and the spirits of nature (mpungu) that are placed inside the nganga.[10]

    Altar with Dozens of skulls found at 22 October 2019 raid of La Unión Tepito.

    Source: Mexico City Secretariat of Citizen Security (SSC CDMX) found at

    Part of the Arsenal of Weapons Seized (Including LAW Rocket Launcher).

    Source: Mexico City Secretariat of Citizen Security (SSC CDMX) found at

    Ceremonial magic rituals are performed in which the spirits are commanded to carry out the bidding of the practitioner. Healing and sorcery are performed through the use of roots, herbs, and the creation of charms derived from African indigenous practices.

    While the majority of practitioners of Palo around the world are not involved in these type of activities, the religion has a reputation among some communities as being ‘dark’ and ‘aggressive’ which makes it certainly attractive to traffickers. It is frequently misidentified as the ‘darkside of Santeria’. The 1989 incident in Matamoros Mexico involving the appropriation of Palo by drug dealer and killer Aldofo Constanzo utilized the practice of offering human remains from homicide victims to the spirits.[11] This is not the norm for practitioners of the religion. What is fascinating about the Tepito scene is that some reports have mentioned that the skulls found in some of the ngangas were victims of murder by the gang. If this turns out to be the case this would be a rare instance in which practitioners performed a very foolish act in the eyes of normative practitioners. The thought of using the spirit of someone that you have killed flies against cultural norms in the religion.

    There are some elements in the scene that appear to have some loose affiliation with Regla de Ocha (Santeria) including artifacts like the ‘Achibiriki’ staff representing Ogun, the deity of iron and Ochosi, the deity of the hunt. One media source reported that Ochosi was being appropriated to protect members of the gang from police. American law enforcement has documented cases where the deity has been appropriated as a form of protection from police and rivals at clandestine drug labs and stash houses. One video of the Tepito scene shows a courtyard area with a table covered in a white cloth containing glasses of water. This is the ‘boveda’ or shrine to the ancestors found in the practices of Espiritismo.[12]

    Another shrine at the scene features numerous images of folk saints frequently found among traffickers including Santa Muerte and Jesus Malverde. However, there is also a lesser known figure known as ‘Ekeko’ that can be seen in the shrine. Ekeko is a Peruvian spirit of abundance. This is the second scene involving drug traffickers where I have witnessed the spirit being appropriated. Some media sources claim this altar was dedicated to the group’s leader and fallen narcos.[13]

    Narcocultura Altar with an Array of Narco Saints Found in la Unión Tepito Safehouse.

    Source: Mexico City Secretariat of Citizen Security (SSC CDMX) found at

    One of the primary images at the scene that appears to be culturally inconsistent with the Afro-Latin religions is a large mural featuring a goat’s head superimposed upon a pyramid. Upon the forehead of the goat is an image of the unicursal hexagram. The symbol is frequently used by esoteric practitioners of European ceremonial magic.[14] Above the goat’s head is the alchemical symbol for sulfur and the symbol of Ouroboros, the alchemical symbol of the serpent devouring its tail. The symbol for sulfur has been popularized by the American Church of Satan in the organization’s literature and sacred texts and is frequently appropriated by non-members of the Church in artwork, literature, and tattoos.[15]

    Leaders in La Unión Tepito have a history of using magico-religious practices. Some media sources have reported that ‘El Lunares’ has a personal Santeria priest (Santero) that provides spiritual guidance for the organization and is involved in transporting bribes and to the trafficking of firearms. Known as ‘Niño Problema’ or ‘Problem Child’, the Santero was caught on surveillance by the Ministry of Public Safety (SSC) interacting with the commander of the General Director of the PDI and several police officers before the raid.[16]

    Former leader of La Unión Tepito Pedro Ramírez Pérez, aka ‘El Jamón’ (“the Ham”) was an avid practitioner of Santeria and Venezuelan spiritualism.[17] When Pérez was arrested by authorities in May 2019 in in Atizapán, State of Mexico he was wearing the traditional white garments of a Santeria priest. Authorities claim that the leader frequently held meetings with Santeros and was in the process of becoming a high priest known as the ‘Babalawo’. Police discovered a number of traditional cultural artifacts including dolls representing spirit guides, ceramic vessels containing sacred stones known as ‘soperas’, decorative beaded sashes known as ‘mazos’ as well as several artifacts representing the spirits (Orishas) known as the ‘warriors’. Pérez also maintained a shrine dedicated to the Venezuelan spirit Maria Lionza.

    One month before the operation at Tepito, Mexican police in Industrial Colony raided a residence where they arrested three individuals with guns, a possible fetus, and artifacts related to Palo Mayombe. An iron crossbow can be seen on the front of one of the residence’s representing Ochosi as a means of protection.[18]

    Unconventional practices and possible ties to deviant forms of Palo were also discovered in 2018 some 30km away from Tepito in nearby Ecatepec. Serial killers Juan Carlos Hernandez and wife Patricia Martinez Bernal admitted to killing and dismembering over 20 women and afterwards consuming some of their flesh. Hernandez posted photos of a Palo nganga as his Facebook profile and testified that he sold some victim’s bones to a local Santero” as well as offering internal organs to Santa Muerte.[19]

    Juan Carlos Hernandez, Facebook (Social Media). Source:

    The findings at Tepito are confirmation of what we have been observing among the narco landscape for several years. Drug traffickers with ties to transnational criminal organizations have embraced forms of esoteric spiritual cultures as a means of protection and guidance in both a casual and sophisticated level of dedication.[20] While some traffickers may simply wear amulets and jewelry for protection, some organizations employ full-time ritual specialists to provide psychological empowerment and magical protection. The site at Tepito may have also revealed a sinister plot reminiscent of the 1989 Matamoros tragedy mentioned earlier in this article.[21] Ritual homicides have been documented in the U.S. and Mexico involving the torture and sacrifice of victims to Santa Muerte.[22] Law enforcement and military personnel should continue to be vigilant and be aware of the dangers involving narcocults and the potential for ritualized violence.

    End Notes

    [1] For background on this incident see Diego Santiago, “El ‘Niño Problema’: el santero de ‘El Lunares’ que sobornaba a policías para La Unión.” Radio Formula. 29 October 2019, and Chris Dalby, “La Unión Tepito Inner Workings Revealed in Mexico City Raid.” Insight Crime. 31 October 2019,

    [2] Isabella Nikolic, “Mexican cops find 40 skulls and a FETUS in a jar at ‘Satanic’ altar set up by drug traffickers ‘who thought it would protect them from police.’” The Daily Mail. 28 October 2019,

    [3] “Estos son los narco túneles de La Unión Tepito,” El Debate. 23 October 2019,

    [4] “The Tepito Union already produces drugs in Mexico City.” EN24. 23 October 2019,

    [5] “Video: La Union de Tepito, Altars of Sacrifice, Drugs,Tunnels and Weapons.” Borderland Beat. 23 October 2019, Translated from “Un túnel, dinero, 2 toneladas de mariguana, 31 detenidos: golpe a Unión Tepito. ‘Tenían protección.’” Sin Embargo. 22 October 2019,

    [5] “¿Qué significa el altar narcosanterista localizado en cuartel de La Unión Tepito?” El Heraldo de México. 23 October 2019,

    [7] Tony M. Kail, Narco Cults: Understanding the Use of Afro-Caribbean and Mexican Religious Cultures in the Drug Wars. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2016.

    [8] See the relevant sections on Mexican cartel and narco spirituality in Robert J. Bunker, Ed., Blood Sacrifices: Violent Non-State Actors and Dark Magico-Religious Activities—A Terrorism Research Center Book. Bloomington: iUniverse, 2016.

    [9] Lydia Cabrera, Reglas De Congo/Palo Monte Mayombe. Miami: Ediciones Universal, 2005.

    [10] Robert Farris Thompson, Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy. New York: Random House, 1984.

    [11] “Matamoros Rancho Diablo: Narcosatanico, Black Magic and Organized Crime.” Borderland Beat. 30 September 2017, Translated from “NARCOSATANICOS. PENSAMIENTO MAGICO, NARCOTRÁFICO, TERRORISMO Y CRIMEN ORGANIZADO.” El Ojo Crítico. 9 July 2016, For background on the Matamoros incident see Gary Provost, Across the Border: True Story of Satanic Cult Killings in Matamoros, Mexico. New York: Pocket Books, 1989 and Jim Kilroy and Bob Stewart, Sacrifice: The Tragic Cult Murder of Mark Kilroy in Matamoros: A Fathers Determination to Turn Evil into Good. Dallas: World Publishing, 1990.

    [12] Reuters, Dave Graham, and Diego Ore, “Dozens of skulls and bones found in drug cartel’s altar in Mexico City.” El Universal. 29 October 2019,

    [13] “Hallan 55 cráneos humanos en bunker de ‘El Lunares.’” DDM Benito Juárez. 26 October 2019,

    [14] Israel Regardie, Ceremonial Magic: A Guide to the Mechanisms of Ritual. Great Britain: Aeon Books, 2007.

    [15] “F.A.Q. Symbols and Symbolism.” Church of Satan. 2019,

    [16] Carlos Jiménez, “Este es el santero que es ‘padrino’ de ‘El Lunares.’” Excélsior. 29 October 2019,

    [17] Gonzalo Reyes, “‘El Jamón’, líder de la Unión Tepito y fiel devoto a la santería.” ElBigData. 31 May 2019,

    [18] Juan Carlos Alarcón, “Agentes de PDI reincorporan propiedad a mujer víctima de despojo.” MVS Noticias. 27 September 2019,

    [19] Elena Reina, “En la guarida del Monstruo de Ecatepec.” El País. 13 October 2018, and “Ellas son algunas de las víctimas del ‘Monstruo de Ecatepec.’” Letraroja. 21 October 2019,

    [20] Tony M. Kail, “Stealing the Dead: Cultural Appropriation of Las Reglas de Kongo among Narco Traffickers,“ in Robert J. Bunker, Ed., Blood Sacrifices: Violent Non-State Actors and Dark Magico-Religious Activities—A Terrorism Research Center Book. Bloomington: iUniverse, 2016.

    [21] Edward Humes, Buried Secrets: A True Story of Drug Running, Black Magic and Human Sacrifice. New York: Diversion Books, 1991.

    [22] Robert J. Bunker, “Santa Muerte: Inspired and Ritualistic Killings.” FBI Law Enforcement Journal. 5 February 2013,

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    Nuclear Arsenal

    House Armed Services chairman takes aim at Air Force’s handling of ICBM replacement program

    By: Joe Gould  
    October 24

    In this Sept. 16, 2104 file photo, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

    WASHINGTON ― House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith on Thursday said he plans to take on what he called the Air Force’s “troubling” procurement process for its Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, and that he favors a lower number of modernized ICBMs instead of the new program.

    Smith, D-Wash., a powerful skeptic of America’s giant nuclear weapons budget, questioned the need for the $63 billion program, which is the Air Force’s replacement for the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile fleet. He decried the likely award to Northrop Grumman, suggested the Air Force was biased in its favor and said he would look to review the matter through the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

    Smith said that Boeing ― which has a large presence in his home state ― had declined his offer to intervene with the Air Force after it announced it would not bid on the Air Force’s ICBM replacement program.

    Boeing itself said last month that it was seeking government intervention that would require Northrop to add Boeing as at least a major sub-contractor, if not a co-equal partner. Smith also said Boeing was not interested when he extended an offer to ensure greater competition through language in the 2020 defense policy bill.

    “Right now we are in the middle of doing the GBSD, the new ICBM, and by the way, it’s going to be a sole-source contract. As we’re looking at that, there is plenty of argument that we can extend the life of the existing ICBMS, if we rely on fewer,” Smith said, an event sponsored by the Ploughshares Fund, an anti-nuclear weapons group.

    Though Smith said the GBSD award would be sole source, he did acknowledge that there were at one point three companies bidding. Both Boeing and Northrop were awarded risk reduction contracts worth up to $359 million in 2017, beating out Lockheed Martin for the chance to bring their designs into the production stage.

    Smith also said, in passing, that the Air Force had at some point shared Boeing’s proprietary information with Northop. He did not disclose specifics.

    “The thing to do would be to address the concerns Boeing raised about the procurement process, because if Boeing is to believed, they didn’t say we just can’t do this any more, they said the process wasn’t fair,” he said. “We offered, and Boeing didn’t want us too.
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    “We’re going to revisit this in next year’s NDAA and see if we can get Boeing to work with us to figure out, how can we create the right procurement process for them to participate, but I don’t consider that likely based on the conversations we’ve had to date,” Smith said.

    Smith also alluded to his legislative efforts to put SpaceX and Blue Origin ― which is also headquartered in Smith’s home state ― on a stronger footing to compete in the National Security Space Launch program. As reported by Space News, he previously said the Air Force’s decision to select two providers in 2020 to split all national security launches from 2022 to 2026, favors incumbents like United Launch Alliance.

    Smith rapped the Air Force procurement process, overall, as "way too close to the contractors they are working with, and they seem to show bias to one or the other. It could be incompetence, but I think it is more likely that they like their historical partners.

    “The way they handed the ULA relationship at the expense of emerging competitors is costing the taxpayers an enormous amount of money and denying us the ability to benefit from competition,” Smith said. “I suspect some of the same things are happening in the GBSD program ― so yes, that is very troubling.”

    Smith’s criticism comes after top Pentagon officials have publicly backed the Air Force process on GBSD. During a confirmation hearing Wednesday, Vice Admiral Charles Richard, the nominee to head U.S. Strategic Command, said he had "great confidence" in how the service is handling the contract.

    Ellen Lord, the department's acquisition head, said Oct. 18 that the request for proposal was "well written" by the service and pushed back on the idea that the contract will benefit only Northrop.

    “What we did on that competition is we put in language so that we have visibility, transparency in cost and pricing. So we will be able to determine the value, if you will, of what's being delivered,” Lord said.

    “There are also multiple significant subsystems within GBSD, where there are multiple potential suppliers on the one team from Northrop Grumman who has gone public with that.”

    Aaron Mehta contributed to this report.

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    Macron says NATO has suffered ‘brain death.’ Merkel rejects that assessment as ‘drastic.’

    By Adam Taylor
    November 7, 2019 at 8:49 a.m. PST

    NATO has suffered “brain death,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview published Thursday, warning that the 29-member alliance can no longer coordinate strategically and that its promise of collective defense is now uncertain.

    “What will Article 5 mean tomorrow?” the French leader said in an interview with the Economist, referring to the article of the North Atlantic Treaty on collective defense. “If the Bashar al-Assad regime [in Syria] decides to retaliate against Turkey, will we commit ourselves under it? It’s a crucial question.”

    Macron’s comments are among the most pessimistic made by a leader of a European NATO power in recent years. They follow years of criticism of NATO by President Trump, who has pursued an “America First” policy and publicly condemned the organization as outdated.

    The remarks drew a rebuke Thursday afternoon in Berlin, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the French president had used “drastic words” that did not reflect her view. “NATO remains a cornerstone of our security,” Merkel said at a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who emphasized the need for unity in the alliance.

    Some analysts warned that although Macron may be trying to rally European allies with his remarks, his comments could backfire. “This will really damage NATO and could be seized on by its opponents including Trump,” Tom Wright, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote on Twitter.

    François Heisbourg, a senior adviser at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, wrote on Twitter that “Macron is speaking like a policy-detached think-tanker.” Heisbourg, who advised Macron’s presidential campaign on defense policy issues, warned that such a stance was “bizarre” and “dangerous” for a head of state.

    NATO leaders including Macron and Trump are scheduled to meet in London early next month for a summit that will also mark the 70th anniversary of the alliance’s founding. The summit will be held in the wake of tension between Turkey, a NATO member, and others in the alliance over Ankara’s intervention in northeastern Syria in October.

    The French leader cited Trump’s negative view of NATO, as well as his belief that it was a “commercial project,” as a particular challenge for European leaders.

    “The NATO we’ve known since the beginning is changing its underlying philosophy,” Macron said. “When you have a United States president who says that, we cannot, even if we don’t want to hear it, we cannot in all responsibility fail to draw the conclusions, or at least begin to think about them.”

    Macron also said that Trump’s unilateral diplomacy with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has undermined the NATO alliance. The Turkish intervention in northeastern Syria began in October after Trump pledged to remove U.S. troops from the area.

    A lack of central regulation in NATO allowed these sorts of unilateral moves that run contrary to the interests of other members, the French president said. “So as soon as you have a member who feels they have a right to head off on their own, granted by the United States of America, they do it,” Macron said. “And that’s what happened.”

    NATO was founded in 1949 at the start of the Cold War, and for much of its history it was primarily a counterbalance to the Warsaw Pact, a collective defense treaty between the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries.

    However, the alliance outlasted the Cold War and found new reasons to exist: On Sept. 12, 2001, NATO invoked Article 5 for the first and so far only time in its history after the United States came under attack from al-Qaeda terrorists.

    But Macron said the organization’s future is no longer clear. “The instability of our American partner and rising tensions have meant that the idea of European defense is gradually taking hold,” he told the Economist.

    The French president has previously suggested greater military coordination on a European level — a proposal that Trump has criticized. This week, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced that Germany would reach a NATO spending goal of 2 percent of economic output by 2031, possibly blunting long-standing U.S. criticisms that it does not contribute enough to the alliance.

    “NATO is and will remain the anchor of European security. But it is also clear that Europe must increase its own complementary ability to act,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said Wednesday night at a private event to honor Stoltenberg, according to Reuters.

    Kramp-Karrenbauer is considered a potential successor to Merkel, who is expected to step down as chancellor in 2021.

  33. #33

    'So many dead': Survivors describe terrifying Burkina Faso ambush
    5 MIN READ

    OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - A mine worker shot during an ambush on a mining convoy in Burkina Faso said on Friday he was one of only three survivors from a bus with up to 80 people aboard, suggesting the death toll may be much higher than officially reported.

    Abel Kabore, 35, described the attackers, some speaking a foreign language and shouting “Allahu Akbar” - Arabic for “God is great” - raking three buses with bullets after a security vehicle escorting the convoy hit a landmine.

    The first two buses were able to escape, he said.

    “The three buses which were shot ... there were so many dead. It was over 100. We were on the ground. We saw everything,” he said quietly at a hospital in the capital Ouagadougou. Of the people on his bus, “only 3 of us survived.”

    Another survivor, who worked for Australian mining services provider Perenti, said he was in the fifth bus, about a km (half a mile) from the vehicle hit by the explosion.

    The gunmen fired at the bus for an hour, he said, then came aboard to execute survivors.

    “These were the last prayers we were praying,” he said, asking not to be identified for security reasons. “I pretended I was dead - that was all I could do.”

    When he was finally able to leave the bus, he had to climb over the dead bodies of his co-workers. “I saw one body facing up. I knew him. He looked untouched and I called out to him but he didn’t answer. Then I touched him and I knew he was dead.”

    A security source who works in the sector and a worker at the mine previously said the convoy was likely carrying around 250 people in all, leaving dozens unaccounted for based on the authorities’ casualty list of 38 dead and 60 wounded.

    Neither Canadian gold miner Semafo (SMF.TO) nor the Burkinabe authorities have confirmed how many people were in the convoy when it was ambushed on Wednesday on a road leading to the company’s Boungou mine in eastern Burkina Faso.

    Relatives of victims of an attack on a road leading to the Boungou mine, operated by Canadian gold miner Semafo, wait outside a morgue in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso November 8, 2019. REUTERS/Anne Mimault
    Neither responded to queries on Friday.

    Perenti has said 19 of its workers were killed in the attack and 20 sent to hospital. The employees worked for its African Mining Services unit, which had been contracted by Semafo for work at its Boungou mine.

    Panicked workers tried to flee the buses during the attack, then desperately scrambled back onboard away from gunmen in the bush, said another wounded survivor, Bakary Sanou.

    “People were trying to go back into the buses. I tried to run away into the bush, and saw that they (the attackers) went back onto the buses, opened the doors and tried to kill everyone,” said Sanou, an oversize bandage on his right foot. A mobile phone lay charging next to him on rumpled pink sheets.

    The bodies of 29 victims were formally identified on Friday, public prosecutor Harouna Yoda said in a statement, adding that their families would be allowed inside the morgue of the Bogodogo District Hospital in Ouagadougou.

    Distraught and angry relatives had complained earlier that authorities were not letting them view the bodies.

    “The government should allow at least one family member to go and identify a body,” one man, Ismail Roamba, told Reuters.

    It was still unclear who carried out Wednesday’s ambush. Yoda said the government had opened an investigation.

    A homegrown, three-year-old insurgency has spread over parts of Burkina Faso, amplified by a spillover of Islamist militant violence and criminality from its chaotic northern neighbor Mali.

    In 2016, an Islamist attack on a hotel and restaurant in the capital killed 30 people. A similar assault the next year killed 19. In 2018, militants hit the French Embassy and the army headquarters in Ouagadougou, killing 16.

    The Boungou mine is located in Burkina Faso’s eastern region about 355 km (220 miles) from Ouagadougou. Semafo has said the mine site is secured, but it has suspended operations there.

    Slideshow (8 Images)
    Canada condemned the attack and offered condolences to victims. “Canada remains concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Burkina Faso and deplores the violent attacks carried out on civilians,” its foreign ministry said.

    “We will continue to work with Burkina Faso and partners in the region to prevent conflict and fight terrorism.”

    Additional reporting by David Lewis and Edward McAllister; Writing by Anna Pujol-Mazzini, Alessandra Prentice and Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Andrew Cawthorne and Sonya Hepinstall

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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