passin' thru
Hot Aegean Sea
July 21, 2020
in Greek AF, Turkish AF


Hot Aegean Sea

According to Greek media, this morning around 13:23 CEST a couple of Turkish Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16s flew over Greek islands of Kastellorizo archipelago at an altitude of 12,500 feet. They were intercepted by Hellenic Air Force F-16s.

Turkish resource surveys to the south and east of the Greek island of Kastellorizo will commence today and will occur until August 2, Attaleia hydrographic service in Turkey announced.
It has been declared by Ankara that the research ship ‘Oruc Reis’ will sail in the area and for this reason the Greek armed forces have been put on high alert throughout the territory.
Greek F-16s in exercise on Cyprus (vid)

Increased activity has been observed at the Aksaz naval base, with 15 naval 15 reportedly having left there placing Athens and the Hellenic Navy on alert.
The chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA), Konstantinos Floros, has expedited his return from Cyprus.
#HellenicAirForce Embraer ERJ-135LR reg 145-209 departed #Larnaca International Airport in #Cyprus heading back to #Elefsis AFB in #Greece now flying southwestbound in an unusual course most likely due to tensions with #Turkey pic.twitter.com/KKdyzP0l9i
— AegeanHawk (@AegeanHawk) July 21, 2020


Disaster Cat
If he outright attacks Greece, NATO has a crisis on its hands within moments, just what the world needs with China being "sporty"...

Plain Jane

Veteran Member
Will we soon need a thread for Central Asia?

The Nexus Of Global Trade Routes
Profile picture for user Tyler Durden
by Tyler Durden
Thu, 07/23/2020 - 03:30

The five post-Soviet Central Asian republics – Kazakhstan (19 mln inhabitants), Kyrgyzstan (6), Tajikistan (8,5), Uzbekistan (30) and Turkmenistan (5) – making up a joint area of almost 4 million square kilometers (by roughly one million larger than the area of India or Argentina), with the total population equalling 68 million (comparable to that of France or Great Britain) is a very important spot on the globe, landlocked between Russia, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

In the 19th century it was the Russian and the British that penetrated the area and vied for dominance there: the former from the north-west, the latter from the south-east. Their rivalry received the name of the Great Game. The five countries were a sort of colonies of the Russian Empire, though – due to the territorial proximity – incorporated into it. The indigenous populations – confessionally, linguistically and racially entirely alien to European, orthodox Russians – would pose problems occasionally, which twice morphed into an open uprising against Russian rule: in 1916 and in between 1923-24. Both attempts were quelled, which resulted in the loss of many lives and massive emigration. Bishkek, Kyrgyztan’s capital, was then renamed to Frunze, to honour the Soviet general who had vanquished the insurgents.

While the people of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan had no political representation in the Russian Duma under the tsars, they enjoyed it during the time of the Soviet Union; at that time they also exercises a sort of statehood, albeit within the framework of the communist superstate. In the 1980s they constituted the bridgehead for Soviet troops invading Afghanistan. The scars left by the Russians did not really heal: they were only allayed for a time. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the five republics declared independence, and began gravitating towards the United States.

Central Asia. Source: Wikipedia.
At present the five Central Asian states are in the cross hairs of such potent players as Russia, China and the United States. Also Turkey, due to the commonality of the religion and the ethnic relationship (notice the overlap of the demonyms Turkey and Turkmenistan), plays a certain role in the region. The residents of this area seek employment in Russia or let themselves be recruited to fight in Syria against Bashar al-Assad backed by Russia. The collective historical consciousness is fraught with bitter memories of Russians fighting against the forefathers of today’s residents of the area and of Russians combating their brothers in faith in Afghanistan four decades ago. That is something that Washington has been trying to skilfully exploit. To this purpose the United States created the C5+1 political initiative that combines the effort of the five countries and those of the United States to stymie terrorism, boost economic growth and foster the human rights in the region, as the official documents and statements say.

There is no doubt that Washington has been pursuing the tried and tested strategy of subduing the five states through financial and economic requirements, imposition of human rights and shaping the countries’ educational systems. As elsewhere in the world the five governments have been encouraged and softly forced to

[1] carry out reforms that would attract foreign (read: American) businesses,
[2] make governments accountable to their citizens (read: American-backed international or non-governmental organisations that are constantly on the look-out for violations of human rights) and
[3] alter primary, secondary and tertiary education in such a way as to promote critical thinking (read: acceptance of American point of view).
The ties with Uncle Sam are strengthened by means of occasional joint military exercises.
The five countries of the region have received loans while many of their younger residents have been invited to the United States to study there and learn the American way of life. In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, operates the American University of Central Asia, where young impressionable minds are formatted the way the managers of the world please.

The Chinese New Silk Road Initiative is being countered by the promotion of the Lapis Lazuli Corridor. In its official documents Washington underscores its commitment to help the five states maintain their independence of external actors. One can easily guess that Russia and China are meant. Sovereignty from Moscow and Beijing is going to be replaced with their reliance on the United States. The knowledge of Russian, which is still common in the region – especially in Kazakhstan – is step by step being supplanted by the knowledge of English. Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan shortly after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and most recently Kazakhstan have all switched from the Cyrillic into Latin script.

Lapis Lauzli Route. Source: Wikipedia.

The region is not free from Russian influence. The famous Baikonur, a large area where Russian spacecraft are launched into orbit, is still rented by the Russian Federation. Kazakhstan was also host to the Semipalatinsk atomic testing site from 1949 till 1989. Apart from Turkmenistan, the remaining four nations belong to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a kind of loose economic and political prolongation of the former Soviet Union. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are members of the Eurasian Economic Union, created in 2014, where Russia is the largest partner; Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan belong to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO, known also as the Shanghai Pact), founded in 2002, where Russia and China are the most important member states.

All the -stan countries of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan) plus Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey also form the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO), founded in 1985.


Veteran Member

Stern warning issued to Turkish vessel

Amid heightened tensions, Greek military sources have told Kathimerini that if cables of the Turkish Oruc Reis seismic research vessel touch the Greek continental shelf, Turkey will have the “complete and exclusive” responsibility for what will follow.

The warning was issued in the wake of a Turkish Navtex this week that reserved areas within the Greek continental shelf for seismic surveys by the Oruc Reis.

The same sources said that Greece’s armed forces have entered a state of increased readiness in response to Ankara’s decision to dispatch two-thirds of the Turkish Fleet to the Aegean.

They also noted that the Navtex was issued shortly after the 46th anniversary of the first phase of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus and at a time when the Greece-Turkey Confidence Building Measures are supposed to be still in force. What’s more, it was only a few weeks ago when Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to keep channels of communication open.

According to the representative of the Turkish presidency, Ibrahim Kalin, “Greece’s reaction was excessive” when the Navtex was issued for the Oruc Reis.

Meanwhile, Berlin is assuming an active role to de-escalate the situation, with Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer stressing on Thursday that Germany enjoys the trust of both Greece and Turkey to have an influence.

“It is no coincidence that the Chancellor (Angela Merkel) in particular intervened or was called upon to intervene,” she said referring to the telephone calls Merkel reportedly made earlier this week to Mitsotakis and Erdogan when reports proliferated that a military conflict was edging nearer.

For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus after meeting with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades.

“I want to reiterate France’s full solidarity with Cyprus, but also with Greece, in the face of Turkey’s violation of their sovereignty,” said Macron, who insisted it would be a serious mistake for the European Union to leave the security of the Eastern Mediterranean in the hands of other actors and mainly Turkey. Macron posted the statement on his Facebook page in Greek.

Mitsotakis on Thursday held meetings with party leaders to brief them on this week’s European Council meeting and developments with Turkey. On Wednesday, Aexis Tsipras, the leader of leftist opposition SYRIZA, called for a meeting of the country’s top decision-making body on foreign affairs and defense matters, KYSEA.


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US military claims Russia sending military equipment to Libya

Russia sending weapons to support fighters loyal to Haftar in breach of an arms embargo, says US military.

5 hours ago

The United States military has said Russia appears to be sending more military equipment to its mercenaries in Libya, including in the flashpoint city of Sirte, in breach of an arms embargo.

The US military's Africa Command (AFRICOM) said on Friday there was mounting evidence from satellite photos of Moscow's military cargo planes, including IL-6s, bringing supplies to fighters from Russian private military contractor Wagner Group.

"Imagery reflects the broad scope of Russian involvement," US Army Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, AFRICOM deputy director of intelligence, said in a statement posted on the military command's website.

"They continue to look to attempt to gain a foothold in Libya.

"Russian air defense equipment, including SA-22s, are present in Libya and operated by Russia, the Wagner Group or their proxies. Photos also show Wagner utility trucks and Russian mine-resistant, ambush protected armored vehicles are also present in Libya ... the type and volume of equipment demonstrate an intent toward sustained offensive combat action capabilities."

Libya was plunged into chaos by the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed its longtime leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

The oil-rich country has since been divided, with an internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) controlling the capital, Tripoli, and the northwest, while renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) in Benghazi control the east.

Haftar is supported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Russia, while the GNA is backed by Turkey.

In May, a leaked US report said Russian private military contractor Wagner Group deployed about 1,200 mercenaries to Libya to strengthen Haftar's forces.

The 57-page report by independent sanctions monitors, submitted to the UN Security Council (UNSC) Libya sanctions committee, said Wagner deployed the mercenaries in specialised military tasks, including sniper teams.

The UN sanctions monitors identified more than two dozen flights between Russia and eastern Libya from August 2018 to August 2019 by civilian aircraft "strongly linked to, or owned by" Wagner Group or related companies.

The monitors also listed the details of 122 Wagner operatives of "whom many are highly probably operational, or have been operational, within Libya".

Russia and the LNA have both denied previous US military statements that Moscow sent fighter jets to back Wagner forces in the North African country.

When asked in January if the Wagner Group was fighting in Libya, Russian President Vladimir Putin said if there were Russians in Libya, they were not representing the Russian state, nor were they paid by the state.

The AFRICOM claims come after a Wednesday meeting between Turkish and Russian delegations in Ankara to discuss Libya's war.

The two sides agreed to press ahead with efforts for a lasting ceasefire in the country, according to Turkey's foreign ministry.

A joint statement released after the meeting said the sides had agreed to work together and encourage Libya's opposing factions to create "conditions for a lasting and sustainable ceasefire" and joint efforts to advance a political dialogue.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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Russia, Wagner Group Continue Military Involvement in Libya
July 24, 2020

U.S. Africa Command has mounting evidence that Russia, through the Wagner Group, continues to position military equipment in Libya capable of conducting kinetic operations there.

Overhead imagery shows Wagner forces and equipment on the front lines of the Libyan conflict in Sirte. Wagner, also known as the Wagner Group, is a Russian private military company.

"Russia continues to play an unhelpful role in Libya by delivering supplies and equipment to the Wagner group," said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering, Africom director of operations. "Imagery continues to unmask their consistent denials."

An aerial photo shows military equipment on the ground.

It is assessed that the Russian Federation continues to violate U.N. Security Council Resolution UNSCR 1970 by actively providing military equipment and fighters to the front lines of the conflict in Libya.

As Africom has documented in a series of media releases, the U.S. assesses that Russia supplied Wagner forces operating in Libya with fighter aircraft, military armored vehicles, air defense systems and supplies, further complicating the situation and increasing the risk for miscalculation, leading to continued and needless violence in Libya.

"Imagery reflects the broad scope of Russian involvement," said Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Hadfield, Africom deputy director of intelligence. "They continue to look to attempt to gain a foothold in Libya."

The latest imagery details the extent of equipment being supplied to Wagner. Russian military cargo aircraft, including IL-76s, continue to supply Wagner fighters. Russian air defense equipment, including SA-22s, are present in Libya and operated by Russia, the Wagner Group or their proxies. Photos also show Wagner utility trucks and Russian mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicles are also present in Libya.

"The type and volume of equipment demonstrates an intent toward sustained offensive combat action capabilities, not humanitarian relief, and indicates the Russian Ministry of Defense is supporting these operations," Gering said.

In May, U.S. Africa Command reported at least 14 Mig-29s and Su-24s had been flown from Russia to Syria, where their Russian markings were painted over to camouflage their origin. The aircraft were then flown into Libya, a violation of the U.N. arms embargo. U.S. Africa Command assesses that the warplanes are being actively flown in Libyan airspace.

An aerial photo shows military equipment on the ground.

U.S. Africa Command previously provided photographic evidence that Wagner had laid land mines and improvised explosive devices in civilian areas in and around Tripoli without regard to the safety of civilians.

U.S. Africa Command has continued to document how Russia uses the Wagner Group as a proxy in Libya to establish a long-term presence on the Mediterranean Sea.

"Russian involvement is evident — which the Kremlin lies about every time they deny it," said Col. Chris Karns, Africom director of public affairs.

The U.S. supports a political solution in Libya and encourages all parties to adhere to the U.N. arms embargo.

(From a U.S. Africa Command news release)


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IAF retaliates, strikes Syrian army posts
Two Syrian soldiers were reportedly wounded in the strikes.

JULY 25, 2020 07:12

IAF military helicopters struck Syrian Arab Army targets in southern Syria in retaliation for Syrian fire toward the Golan Heights earlier on Friday, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said Friday night.

According to the IDF, the helicopters attacked several observation posts and intelligence facilities located in Syrian military bases in the area.

"The IDF sees the Syrian regime as the one responsible for the fire earlier today and will continue to act with determination, retaliating for every violation of the sovereignty of the State of Israel," the unit said in a statement.

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), three posts were attacked by the IAF in the area of Quneitra on the Israeli-Syrian border, wounding two military personnel.

The two reportedly sustained minor injuries and fires broke out in the wooded areas around the bases.

Earlier on Friday, blasts were heard on the Syrian side of the border area, with shrapnel from the explosions damaging a vehicle and a building in Israel, according to the IDF.

Following an assessment of the situation in the northern parts of Israel following the reported assassination of a Hezbollah official in Damascus, the IDF upped its alert level in the North, reinforcing troops and artillery in the area.

Hezbollah announced Tuesday that member Kamel Moshen Jawad was killed in alleged IAF strikes Monday night in Damascus. Five pro-Iranian Shia militants were reportedly killed in the strikes.

This is a developing story.


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The War in Syria Is Moving to Libya, With New Players and Shuffled Alliances
Egypt and Turkey are the main rivals fighting for control in the North African country, but the conflict is also where the strategic interests of Arab countries, the EU, and Russia clash – as the U.S. watches from the sidelines

Zvi Bar'el
Published at 06:17

Egypt and Turkey are the senior rivals in the struggle for control in Libya, but they are definitely not the only ones in the battlefield, which over the past year has replaced Syria as an arena for international strife. The Arab circle of players also includes the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria and Tunisia. Other participants include Russia, Italy and France, while on the sidelines is the United States, taking notes.

These countries are divided into those supporting Libya’s recognized government, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, including Turkey, Qatar and Italy, and those that are backing and funding General Khalifa Hifter, who established the Libyan National Army in trying to oust the recognized government.

Hifter was a senior officer in the army of Muammar Gadhafi, and made his name by defeating ISIS forces and extremist groups in the country’s eastern provinces. He captured the city of Benghazi from them, later taking the city of Sirte and the Jufra province to its south as well. He has also tried to capture the capital city Tripoli.

On the outskirts of Tripoli, forces loyal to the government, most of them banded in armed tribal militias, some of them constituting the national army, managed to block Hifter and even capture the important Watiya airbase. Recently, government forces have been joined by Turkish troops who were sent to Libya in order to defend the government and prevent further conquests by Hifter.

The term Turkish forces may be misleading. They do include drones, missiles, intelligence-gathering systems operated by Turkey and the information they provide, but the cannon fodder are Syrian civilians, numbering around 3500 fighters according to the Pentagon. They belong to rebel Syrian militias which enjoy Turkish patronage, as well as ex-ISIS fighters. For wages ranging from $500 to $2,000 a month, they have moved to Libya in order to fight Hifter under Turkish command.

A Turkish Bridgehead in Africa

Turkey’s military intervention in Libya is the result of a pact signed by the two countries last November, which included the demarcation of an exclusive economic zone as well as military assistance for the recognized government.

This agreement raised the hackles of Egypt, Greece and Israel, because it may impact their ability to export natural gas and oil directly to Europe, since any pipeline will have to pass through Turkey’s zone.

Egypt has a different problem with this agreement, that Turkish presence and support for the Sarraj government could consolidate the power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, turning the country into a militant base against Egypt.

After amending the constitution and granting himself another term in office lasting at least until 2034, Abdel Faytah al-Sissi can now also use the army at his will. It appears, however, that the extended powers are meant to reflect Egypt’s willingness to engage in a military confrontation with Turkey in Libya, rather than granting the president power to deploy the army.

The hostility between Egypt and Turkey is not new. It began in 2013, after Sissi ousted Mohammed Morsi, the president elected with the support of the Muslim Brotherhood. He thereby blocked Turkey’s ambition to establish a diplomatic and military foothold in Egypt and a bridgehead in Africa. Furthermore, after Sissi declared himself president of Egypt, Turkey refused to recognize him, viewing Morsi’s removal as a military coup that established an illlegitimate regime in Egypt.

Egypt therefore views Turkey’s entrenchment in Libya as a threat similar to the one Israel sees in the Iranian entrenchment in Syria. Egypt’s perception is shared by the United Arab Emirates, which is helping Hifter with arms and money. The tactical question is whether Egypt will wish to embark on a war that will take place hundreds of kilometers from its border, and which will require it to dispatch ground forces if it wishes to prevent the removal of Hifter from Sirte and Jufra, areas Egypt has defined as red lines.

No less important is the animosity between the Emirates and the Saudi Arabia on the one hand, and Turkey on the other, due to its alliance with another supporter of the brotherhood, Qatar. Qatar has close ties to Iran, despite its close relations with the U.S. administration. For Egypt, blocking Turkey’s intervention in Libya is a strategic goal that far exceeds its military threat. It amounts to a reckoning with a political rival that is meddling in Arab and African spheres while relying on its ally Qatar, which for Egypt, the Emirates and Saudi, is a hostile state.

Russia's many interests

Russia has also entered the Arab-Turkish melee, providing military assistance to Hifter, in whom it sees a potential ally which would serve Russian interests. These interests are focused directly on Libya’s oilfields and oil terminals, most of which lie close to Sirte or in southern Jufra. Beyond these interests, Russia wishes to establish a naval and military foothold in Libya in order to expand its operational potential in the Mediterranean basin, after ensuring its position in Syria.

Russia mainly wants to squeeze the United States out of the area. Washington is meanwhile watching these developments from afar, and it seems that the White House and its occupant are bored by this front. Trump did speak to Sissi and Erdogan last week, urging them to reach an agreement which would lead to a ceasefire, but he 0dd not propose any policy or plan to ease tensions.

The assumption is that if a war between Egypt and Turkey erupts on Libyan soil, Washington will observe it from a distance. In contrast, European Union countries, particularly Germany and France, clarified pointedly that the establishment of Turkish bases across the sea is not in their interest.

But beyond words, would the European Union impose sanctions as well? This would require an agreement by Italy and France, which are currently backing opposing sides. Italy supports the Sarraj government, which committed to prevent the passage of African asylum seekers to Italy through Libya, in exchange for generous concessions for Italian companies. France is allied with Haftar due to his control of many oil terminals and of the regions in which oil is produced.

If a European agreement is reached, it will not be implemented without Turkey and Russia also settling their dispute. These two countries are in the midst of distrustful and convoluted dialogue that begins with northern Syria and ends in Libya’s oilfields.

Russia and Turkey are cooperating in maintaining security zones in Syria’s Idlib province, with Russia demanding that Turkey withdraw tens of thousands of militia troops. Russia is a strategic ally of Turkey, through which the main Russian oil pipeline to Europe passes, and to which it sold S-400 anti-aircraft missiles. The irony is that the United States, which punished Turkey for that deal and removed it from the its F-35 stealth jet fighters program, approved the sale of these planes to Turkey last week.

In Libya, by contrast, the interests of these two countries clash. Russia supports Hifter while Turkey supports Sarraj. The two countries are holding intense negotiations in order to reach a ceasefire in Libya, but Russia is also committed to Egypt, Haftar’s crutch. Russia has made some serious investments in Egypt, such as the construction of a nuclear reactor for power generation, as well as selling Egypt Russian warplanes.

As a power intent on expanding its spheres of influence in the Middle East, Russia is caught in a web of Arab interests which oblige it to tread carefully in order not to lose allies it has already gained, as well as not upset its alliance with Turkey.

This is why the Libyan arena is so important internationally. In contrast to Syria, in which Russia managed to situate itself as an ally with no competitors, in Libya there is a competition between blocs of players, the results of which will have great impact on the new political map of the Middle East.


Has No Life - Lives on TB
Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian


Al Mayadeen reports that that Israel sent a message to Hezbollah through the UN that it did not intend to kill their operative, Ali Mohsen. Israel has also warned Hezbollah of a retaliation and Hezbollah has responded that it refuses to accept Israeli warnings or threats.
8:29 AM · Jul 25, 2020
Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian



IDF Spokesperson: "The Chief of Staff made it clear to the soldiers on the ground: 'the task is to thwart the possibility of an attack.' We are alert."