Behind South China Sea tensions, U.S. tries to maintain domination over world issues

China Voice: Behind South China Sea tensions, U.S. tries to maintain domination over world issues

Xinhua net

Editor: Tian Shaohui

Photo taken on April 5, 2016 shows the lighthouse on Zhubi Reef of Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, south China. (Xinhua/Xing Guangli)

 

BEIJING, May 25 (Xinhua) — Interfering in the South China Sea dispute has demonstrated the United States‘ real intention of maintaining domination over global issues.

A number of military acts and diplomatic moves of the United States in recent months have laid bare its attempt to seek to preserve a footstep in the South China Sea dispute.

It increased close reconnaissance in this region, and its warships and military aircraft keep violating China’s territorial sea and airspace in the name of “freedom of navigation or overflight.”

China’s construction in the region is aimed at strengthening its defense and civilian capabilities. It has not undermined and will not undermine freedom of navigation in one of the busiest international sea routes.

But why does the United States want to poke its nose into the region? It’s not only about U.S. strategic supremacy there, but also maintaining its status of dominating global hot issues, in a bid to face the fancied threat from China’s rise.

In his article published in The Washington Post on May 2, U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States, not China, should write rules. Even though the article was on the topic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is clear evidence that making sure China abides by U.S.-made rules has always been a major target in the country’s China policy.

However, China’s increasing say in the international rule-making process and growing influence on regional order establishment have made the United States uncomfortable, pricking its fragile ego as a hegemonic power.

Therefore, the key of Washington increasing military presence in the South China Sea and sowing discord among regional countries has been a show of force to demonstrate its predominance in regional and global affairs.

China is capable and confident of working with the countries directly involved to solve territorial disputes through peaceful negotiations. Meanwhile, China will take all necessary measures as needed in response to threats to regional stability.

And more importantly, China does not need the United States, an outside party, to solve the issue, nor does it need others to set the rules. It looks like the United States, the global sheriff, is going to lose face.

Washington needs to keep in mind the United States and China, as two major powers, have more to benefit from good interactions within the Asia-Pacific region.

As an effort to fulfill the two sides’ commitment of building a new type of major-country relations that features win-win cooperation, the United States should stop meddling in the South China Sea issue, and meet China halfway to promote peaceful settlement.

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ISIS ‘Disappeared’ From Fallujah Outskirts Ahead of Offensive–Resident

Battle for Fallujah Intensifies as Government Troops Advance0:40

ISIS fighters who’d occupied the outskirts of Fallujah have melted away ahead of an Iraqi government offensive to retake the city, according to a villager who recently fled the area.

Farmer Alaa Abdulrahman told NBC News that the 40-odd ISIS militants “all disappeared suddenly” from Albu Jassem village in northern Fallujah province.

“They cannot go back to Fallujah proper because the city is surrounded by Iraqi forces from all directions,” the father-of-five added in a telephone interview.

Abdulrahman, 45, described the perilous nighttime journey his family was forced to take after Iraqi officials ordered residents to evacuate on Sunday.

Image: IRAQ-CONFLICT
Iraqi pro-government fighters take part in an operation in al-Shahabi, east of the city of Fallujah, on Tuesday. Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP – Getty Images

“While we were walking out of our village, we were not sure that we would do it, because we know ISIS militants planted many IEDs in the roads,” he said. He and his family are now in a refugee camp some 20 miles south of Fallujah.

The operation to retake Fallujah, some 45 miles west of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, has been supported by U.S. airstrikes.

Related: Iraqi Forces ‘Liberate’ Villages From ISIS in Fallujah Offensive

The majority Sunni capital was Iraq’s first city to fall to ISIS in January 2014. Retaking it promises to be a major challenge for the country’s beleaguered security forces.

“It is not going to be an easy fighting at all,” according to Isa al-Isawi, the chairman of Fallujah’s local council who has been living in a refugee camp with other residents since ISIS took the city. “We heard from people who escaped from the city how ISIS militants are prepared for this battle. Peaceful locals are the only victims of this fighting.”

“I’m afraid ISIS is going to use [Fallujah residents] as human shields to prevent the Iraqi forces from retaking the city,” he added.

Some 100 families, or around 600 people, have managed to leave the city, according to Al-Isawi. Many Iraqis are suspicious of civilians who have only recently fled the area assuming they are ISIS sympathizers.

Iraqi Forces Launch Offensive on ISIS Stronghold0:49

Fallujah was a center of the insurgency led by the ISIS’s predecessor, al Qaeda in Iraq, before the U.S. withdrawal in 2011. More than 100 U.S. troops died and another 1,000 were wounded fighting insurgents in house-to-house battles in 2004.

Government officials recently estimated 10,000 families were in the city, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday. The UNHCR warned aid has not reached city since nearby Ramadi was captured in December, cutting off supply routes and preventing civilians from leaving.

The Fallujah assault is the first major urban offensive since Iraqi forces ran ISIS out of Ramadi. In spite of being declared a victory, Ramadi is largely uninhabitable thanks to ISIS explosives and a campaign of airstrikes that destroyed thousands of homes and building.

The Double-Death of Mullah Mansour and the Recrowning of New Taliban King Haibatullah

[Nothing does more to clarify the real Taliban situation than a good leader decapitation strike, like the latest drone strike near Quetta, which allegedly killed Mullah Mansour.  The story of the Afghan Taliban is really a media phenomenon, which is based completely upon leaks to the press, or allegedly given to the press, intended to control the international narrative on Afghanistan. 

Sometimes, press reports contradict each other, like the two articles posted below, which are essentially the same report, though given on the two separate occasions, of the killing of Mullah Mansour, one by gunfight, the other by drone.  Both reports reveal the same successor to Mansour, Mullah Haibatullah.  The first report on the passing of Mansour and the crowning of Haibatullah comes from Pajhwok press in Kabul.  It is also the only report featuring photos of the actual Taliban celebration.  That report reveals that Mansour was killed in early December, last year.  The world press, or else the controllers of the world press, needed to keep Mansour’s image alive after his death, just as they needed to keep the dead Mullah Omar alive, in order to control the Taliban fighters until succession is accepted by them and absorbed by the media-shapers. 

So often we have read of the double-deaths of important Taliban or other militant Islamist leaders, throughout the war on terror, in all of its secret battle grounds.  This is a bi-product of America’s “proactive counterterrorism” program, shaping the terror war through the control of Islamist leadership, double-kills of terrorist leaders who are no longer useful.  Double-deaths of Islamist militant leaders is much like the incident of “deja vu” in the first Matrix movie, where Neo sees the black cat twice and we learn that this indicates the controllers manipulating the plot line.

This seems to confirm the point I keep making over and over in my own critiques of the terror war, that most of it is illusion, either outright play-acting by proxy militants, or simply false reporting, using the names of familiar militants.  Sometimes the false reports contradict each other, necessitating the burying of old Internet reports, so that the new improved narratives can be put into play. 

I have noted these contradictory reports often, on multiple militant lives, including the most notorious example, that of the double-deaths of the Jordanian militant leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, who reportedly first died in the second Chechen war, fighting alongside another terrorist icon, known as Ibn al-Khattab.  This leads me to the conclusion that very little, to none, of the terror war reporting is true.  All reports which we see or hear are lies reinforcing other lies, so that know one knows what to believe.  Believe this…the CIA has been hiding, or covering-up killings of important people since the killing of President Kennedy. 

Such is our world.]

Afghan Taliban Appoint New Leader After Mansour’s Death

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By lynne o’donnell and mirwais khan, associated press
KABUL, Afghanistan  May 25, 2016

The Afghan Taliban confirmed on Wednesday that their leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a U.S. drone strike last week and that they have appointed a successor — a scholar known for extremist views who is unlikely to back a peace process with Kabul.

The announcement came as a suicide bomber struck a minibus carrying court employees in the Afghan capital, killing at least 11 people, an official said. The Taliban promptly claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement sent to the media, the Taliban said their new leader is Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, one of Mansour’s two deputies. The insurgent group said he was chosen at a meeting of Taliban leaders, which is believed to have taken place in Pakistan, but offered no other details.

Mansour was killed in Pakistan on Saturday when his vehicle was struck by a U.S. drone plane, an attack believed to be the first time a Taliban leader was killed in such a way inside Pakistani territory.

Pakistani authorities have been accused both by Kabul and the West of giving shelter and support to some Taliban leaders — an accusation that Islamabad denies. The insurgents have been fighting to overthrow the Kabul government since 2001, when their own Islamist regime was overthrown by the U.S. invasion.

The United States and the Afghan government have said that Mansour had been an obstacle to a peace process, which ground to a halt when he refused to participate in talks with the Afghan government earlier this year. Instead, he intensified the war in Afghanistan, now in its 15th year.

Mansour had officially led the Taliban since last summer, when the death of the movement’s founder, the one-eyed Mullah Mohammad Omar became public. But he is believed to have run the movement in Mullah Omar’s name for more than two years. The revelation of Mullah Omar’s death and Mansour’s deception led to widespread mistrust, with some senior Taliban leaders leaving the group to set up their own factions.

Some of these rivals fought Mansour’s men for land, mostly in the opium poppy-growing southern Taliban heartland.

Senior Taliban figures have said Mansour’s death could strengthen and unify the movement, as he was in some ways a divisive figure. The identity of his successor was expected to be an indication of the direction the insurgency would take, either toward peace or continued war.

Akhundzada is a religious scholar who served as the Taliban’s chief justice before his appointment as a deputy to Mansour. He is known for issuing public statements justifying the existence of the extremist Taliban, their war against the Afghan government and the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan. His views are regarded as hawkish, and he could be expected to continue in the aggressive footsteps of Mansour, at least in the early days of his leadership.

He was close to Mullah Omar, who consulted with him on religious matters. A convincing orator, Akhunzada was born in Kandahar — the capital during the Taliban’s 1996-2001 regime.

A member of the Noorzai tribe, he is said to be aged around 50 years, and comes from a line of religious scholars. He leads a string of madrassas, or religious schools — figures in the Taliban say up to 10 — across Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province.

A former foreign minister under the Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Ghous, told The Associated Press that the choice of Akhundzada was “a very wise decision.” Akhundzada was well respected among Taliban of all ranks, and could be a unifying force for the fractured movement, Ghous said.

Wednesday’s statement said two new deputies had also been appointed — both of whom had earlier been thought to be the main contenders for the top job.

One of them is Sirajuddin Haqqani, who was also one of Mansour’s deputies and who leads the notorious Haqqani network — the faction behind some of the most ferocious attacks in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001. The other is the son of Mullah Omar, Mullah Yaqoub, who controls the Taliban military commissions for 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

Akhundzada’s appointment came as a surprise to some, including Ghous, who said that despite not being a top contender but a “third candidate,” the new leader would rise above any personal animosity or conflict that might have arisen should either Haqqani or Yaqoub have been chosen.

The Taliban statement called on all Muslims to mourn Mansour for three days, starting from Wednesday. It also attempted to calm any qualms among the rank and file by calling for unity and obedience to the new leader.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who took office in 2014, assiduously courted Pakistan in an effort to bring the Taliban into a dialogue that would lead to peace talks. Mansour, however, refused, choosing instead to intensify the war once the international combat mission drew down to a training and support role in 2015.

In an unusual move, exiled Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who heads the militant Hezb-i-Islami group, offered condolences to Mansour’s family, according to Mullah Hameedullah, a member of the Taliban’s religious council.

“Hekmatyar said he will offer prayers for Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s soul,” Hameedullah said.

Hekmatyar — who is on U.S. and United Nations blacklists, as was Mansour — has agreed to a tentative peace deal with the Afghan government that could see him return to Kabul in the coming months. Officials and Hekmatyar’s representatives have said that the truce, which is yet to be signed by the two parties, could serve as a template for a future deal with the Taliban to end the war.

Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this story.

Mullah Haibatullah appointed as Taliban’s acting supreme leader

Pajhwok

Dec 05, 2015

KABUL (Pajhwok): Mullah Haibatullah has been nominated as new Taliban supreme leader after the killing of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, says a source close to the militant movement.

Mansoor was reportedly killed during a shootout between Taliban leaders during a meeting in Quetta last week. But the outlawed movement has rejected the claim as fabricated.

The firefight that took place in Kachlak has been confirmed by the first-vice president’s spokesman, Sultan Faizi. Taliban official Mullah Abdullah Sarhadi, a former governor, and five others were also killed in the gunfire exchange.

Requesting not to be named, the source told Pajhwok Afghan News Haibatullah had been appointed Mullah Mansoor’s successor at an emergency meeting attended by senior militant leaders.

He said the Taliban had informed all shadow governors, district chiefs and military commanders that Mansoor would take up to eight months to recovery from his injuries, and that Haibatullah would serve as acting Taliban leader.

Mansoor’s death is being kept under wraps, as its confirmation could undermine the movement’s morale, according to the source, who believed the Taliban were unlikely to make a public announcement in this regard.

On the other hand, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid vehemently denied Haibatullah’s appointment as the movement’s acting head.

Afghanistan Sponsoring Guantanamo Taliban Mullah Rasoul?

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The Afghan government is providing military and financial support to a breakaway Taliban faction, said some Afghan and U.S coalition officials.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, government is doing this to sow rifts within the group and nudge it towards peace talks.

The report stated several senior Afghan and U.S diplomatic, military and intelligence officials, described the program details and said resources provided by the U.S were being used to support it.

The Wall Street Journal stated that the Afghan intelligence agency was leading the move to recruit new Taliban assets. This agency is reportedly funded by the U.S and is mentored by the CIA.

When asked to comment, the CIA declined.

According to the report, Afghan and U.S officials said the program’s goal was to exploit divisions that came in the wake of the announcement of the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Omar’s, death last year.

The officials told the newspaper that the program targets Zabul, Helmand, Paktika, Farah and Herat provinces, where insurgents, unhappy with the Taliban leadership under Mullah Mansour, defected to Mullah Mohammad Rassoul’s faction.

According to officials, Rassoul’s faction and other splinter groups have been getting cash, ammunition and weapons from the Afghan government.

However, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s deputy spokesman Sayed Zafar Hashemi rejected these claims.

“The Afghan government does not support any Taliban groups and we categorically reject such claims as baseless,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal meanwhile quoted the Taliban as saying that a rival Taliban faction as well as Pakistan was spreading propaganda linking them to the government.

“We do not receive any assistance from the government and we have no relationship with them,” said Mawlawi Ghulam Mohammad Hotak, a commander under Rassoul.

The report stated that the U.S-led force in Afghanistan also denied meeting or supporting any members of the group.

A coalition spokesman said in response to queries about coalition resources and facilities being used to assist Rassoul’s group it was “possible that the breakaway Taliban factions have been able to acquire some” weapons or other equipment, but they weren’t given to the insurgents “directly or indirectly.”

But Afghan officials familiar with the program reportedly said they are willing to run such risks if the potential outcome is a weakened Taliban.

“It’s a game. The tactics of war: Sometimes a friend, and sometime a foe,” said a senior Afghan Special Forces battalion commander who has been involved in supporting Rassoul’s faction. “We are military people. We execute orders.”

The Taliban was thrown into complete disarray in July last year when news emerged that Mullah Omar, the group’s leader, had in fact been dead for two years. Refusing to accept his successor, Mullah Mansour, a number of high-ranking members split from the group.

Rassoul was one who broke away and formed his own group – which is believed to be the largest of the splintered groups.

Jihadi Leaders Predict A Further Rift Among Taliban

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A number of prominent Jihadi leaders on Tuesday said they foresee further rifts developing among the Taliban, following the death of their leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.

The analysts said they believe that a number of Mansour’s followers will likely mount terrorist attacks in a bid to give the impression that their leader’s death has not affected their activities.

Acting Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor said that according to his assessment, Taliban, after the death of their leader, would increase their activities in parts of the country, but further ruptures will appear among the group in the near future.

“Attacks will be likely launched in parts of the country to bring the issue of Mansour’s death under shadow… A number of Taliban fighters may join Mullah [Mohammad] Rassoul, some may join Daesh, others may go with Uzbekistan Islamic Movement or the East Turkistan Islamic Movement,” Noor said as he commented on Taliban’s future after the death of their leader.

He added: “A number of Taliban fighters may remain with the new leadership which would be appointed by them. Some of them [Taliban fighters] may decide to surrender to the Afghan government.”

Political figures meanwhile said they doubt Mansour died Saturday in a U.S drone strike and said they believe the leader was killed six months ago, but that his death was announced on this day in order to cancel a possible meeting between President Ashraf Ghani and the political commission of the Taliban in Qatar.

Ghani left Kabul for Qatar on Saturday, the same day as the U.S drone strike targeting Mansour took place.

“When President Ghani left for Qatar, he most probably was going to talk to the political commission of the Taliban, but news of Mansour’s death was spread to disrupt the meeting and it is a crime against the people of Afghanistan,” said Sayed Eshaq Gailani, head of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.

“Now government should not care about the foreigners and should directly contact the Taliban,” he added.

He said he believes that former Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar’s son, Mullah Yaqub might step into Mansour’s shoes to lead the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament) Fazl Hadi Muslimyar called Taliban slaves of Pakistan and said they should renounce violence and join the peace process.

“As an Afghan, I want to say that Taliban are the slaves of Pakistan. Pakistan has tied them up, set them on fire, kills them and takes money from foreigners on them. I seriously call on them [Taliban] to come and join peace,” he said.

Political analysts said they believe that the United States should not stop at only killing Mansour; instead, it should continue its combat against Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan.