ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

Afghanistan At the Brink of A Transnational War

[Nearly a year old, but still relevant.]

At the brink of a transnational war

At the brink of a transnational war
The rapid unfold of events in Afghanistan has taken the entire conflict to the brink of a deadly Civil War. The target killing of Mullah Manan, shadow governor of Taliban for the southern Helmand, after the execution of Mullah Akhtar Mansour has convoluted the total political picture of Afghanistan. Back to back strikes against the Taliban Leader who were generally considered to be the proponents of peace settlement in Afghanistan, is a colossal setback for both the Taliban and United States.

Mullah Mansour’s assassination has ended any possible political settlement on Afghan soil, while Mullah Manan’s murder paves the passage for an escalation from both the ends i.e. Afghan forces and Taliban. Yet the question remains unanswered for President Barrack Obama. The Kabul regime has practically no authority beyond Kabul and its outskirts. What would be the end-game for Obama administration in this scenario?

What global political landscape did he get from his predecessor? The crisis was limited to Iraq and Afghanistan when he took the office. He propagated the policy of reconciliation, during his election campaigns, through political means instead of military actions. However, his politics resulted in an endless war across the entire Middle East leading up to the Horn of Africa.

The conflict would further intensify with the recent developments which will definitely create a crisis situation for Obama administration. The demand for more US forces would arise and his plans for keeping a small number of forces confined to their embassy in Kabul, before leaving the office in 2017, does not seem to be achievable.

Last year, following the Taliban’s gains on multiple fronts, Obama announced that 9800 troops would remain stationed in Afghanistan for most part of 2016, to provide training and assistance to Afghan forces. He declared that at the end of 2016, the leftover forces in Afghanistan will stay at Kabul at the US embassy and around 5500 troops will be stationed at four different locations in Afghanistan.

Per contra, to his announcements in 2015, the current crisis might call for a different policy. This we have witnessed recently when President Obama in April this year announced the deployment of 250 additional US military personnel to assist the local forces on ground against ISIL. Moreover, Defense Secretary Ash Carter made an announcement for the deployment of 200 US military personnel to Iraq, in order to support the Iraqi forces combating the ISIL.

Ironically, incase if US goes for more military reinforcements in Afghanistan then it would be disastrous for the regional peace. As with reference to the growing Russian influence across the Trans-Caspian region that includes military exercises on Tajikistan-Afghanistan border and reports of Russia’s relations with the Taliban, US would possibly have to bear a new era of war in Afghanistan, this time with multiple insurgent groups such as ISIL.

On top of everything, one thing United States must learn from its experience of Iraq, installation and backing of an incompetent and unpopular puppet regime could never be a sustainable solution to establish stable democracy. The consequence of such a regime was enormous chaos and anarchy, which instead of dislodging Al-Qaeda, gave rise to ISIL, an extreme radical version of Al-Qaeda.

There is always a vacuum which provides, a pitch to penetrate and space to breathe, to the insurgent groups. It was the anarchic political nature, during the 1990s civil war in Afghanistan, which gave the way to Taliban to step into the Afghan political realm. Already ISIL is getting tremendous support from the radical segments of Taliban groups.

Nevertheless, the recent strikes targeting the Taliban Leader would undoubtedly weaken the position of moderate Taliban who supports the political settlement of the conflict not to mention the strengthening of those who wants to fight the infidel invaders and their supported government in Kabul. Now from whom US is going to negotiate for peace is beyond imagination?

The key prominent moderate figures are dead whereas the Mullah Haibatullah, Taliban’s top judicial executive along, as new Emir of the Organisation, with Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani Network and Mullah Mohammad Yaqoub, the eldest son of Mullah Mohammad Omer, as his two deputy officers, would now, without a doubt, go for a mortal head on against the American and Afghan security forces. The legitimate Afghan government is paralyzed in front of Taliban let alone ISIL.

Apart from US’s restrains for the re-introduction of its forces in Afghanistan, one thing is for sure, Afghanistan is on the verge of a lethal civil war. Though, at the moment the war is going at a considerable pace, but from now onwards its scope would get broad probably taking the entire region into its sphere.

Additionally, the main challenge arises for International community, is regarding the potential emergence of Middle Eastern conflict phenomenon into Afghanistan. It is quite possible that like Iraq, Syria and Libya, Afghanistan which historically has porous borders on all sides might lose its International boundaries.

Nonetheless in terms of the contemporary geo-political situation of the region if the Middle Eastern phenomenon started to happen in Afghanistan, then it would instantly incorporate into the Central Asian region where ISIL and Al-Qaeda, unquestionably, has strong support bases. Besides the movement of more foreign fighters from Central Asia into Afghanistan, the incursion of ISIL militants in Afghanistan could be a much bigger threat to U.S. as that would attract transnational actors from all over the Globe towards Afghanistan, as happening in Syria and Iraq.

In addition to the threat, Afghanistan poses to the Central Asia and Pakistan, the story would not remain simple for Iran, China and India. Iran a Shia government an all-out opposition for ISIL and China’s Sing Kian province which has deep-rooted Islamist militancy will have to face the direct consequences of the war or they might have a high intensity conflict into their own land. Last but not the least India, from where reportedly, many people are joining ISIL in Middle East, very much lies into the ISIL’s Khorasan map.

However, for Pakistan, the hatred among the Taliban will increase. But the biggest threat lies in US statements in which they repeatedly says Aft-Pak region which sounds like Iraq and Syria.

Pentagon Plans To Turn Anti-ISIL Efforts Into N. Africa Offensive Against Someone

[Why Spend $54 Billion More on the Pentagon? To Start a War, Obviously.]

[Is the Pentagon moving to block ISIS or Russia in N. Africa (SEE: Russia Has Bought-In To the Libyan War, Siding w/Gen. Khalifa Haftar)?]

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military will keep an unspecified number of ground troops in Libya to help friendly forces further degrade the Islamic State faction there, and officials are seeking new leeway to target al Qaida loyalists in Somalia, the top commander overseeing operations in Africa said Friday.

“We’re going to maintain a force that has the ability to develop intelligence, work with various groups as required, or be able to assist if required … to take out ISIS targets,” said Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command. Speaking to media at the Pentagon, he indicated also the ISIS presence in coastal Libya has fallen below 200 from an estimated 5,000 or 6,000 only a year ago.

The region no longer appears to be a “backup plan” for foreign fighters unable to join the the Islamic State’s primary fight in Syria and Iraq, he added. That’s due in large part to an intense four-month air campaign led by U.S. Marines operating from Navy ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Between August and December, their attack aircraft flew nearly 700 missions in support of Libyan militias battling ISIS militants in Sirte.

The last major U.S. operation in Libya occurred during mid-January, when American warplanes unleashed a massive attack on two Islamic State training camps, killing an estimated 80 militants who had fled the group’s crumbling stronghold. The strike was enabled, Waldhauser said, by U.S. personnel who’d spent several weeks coordinating face-to-face with allies to ensure there would be no collateral damage.

“When you conduct precision airstrike, close-air support operations in an urban environment with the requirements to not have civilian casualties, with the requirements to be careful about infrastructure, destruction and the like, you can’t do an operation like that without somebody on the ground to interface,” the general added.

The dynamic in Libya is complicated for many reasons. In the years since former dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011, rival groups have battled for power and influence. More recently, Russia has entered the picture, establishing a military presence in neighboring Egypt.

Asked about Moscow’s potential involvement in Libya, Waldhauser confirmed Russian operatives are “on the ground in the area” but sought to walk back his earlier suggestion they have in fact crossed into Libya from their outpost in Egypt. Regardless, Russia is attempting to influence the security environment there, the general said, and reestablish financial ties — Libya is flush with oil and a target market for Russian-made weapons — that were lost after Gaddafi’s demise.

“We watch what they do with great concern,” Waldhauser said.

In Somalia, where the al-Qaida affiliate al Shabaab remains a threat, Waldhauser is hopeful the Trump White House will loosen rules of engagement established by the Obama administration, which was intently focused — to a fault, some have argued — on avoiding collateral damage. That’s still an important concern, Waldhauser said, but current restrictions slow the approval process for conducting airstrikes in populated areas.

The general would like more of that authority to rest with his headquarters in Germany, versus the White House or the Pentagon, so targeted attacks can occur quickly. “I think the combatant commanders, myself included, are more than capable of making judgments and determinations on some of these targets.”

Under existing rules, armed drones flying over Somalia are approved to strike if U.S. military advisers and their partners come under attack and are unable to repel the threat. In those instances, airstrikes can be used for self defense. “But that’s not an offensive capability,” Waldhauser noted.

About 50 U.S. troops, all elite special operations personnel, are on the ground in Somalia. The plan that’s pending White House approval would boost that number slightly, The Associated Press reported last month.

Ultimately, Waldhauser wants more flexibility to pick apart al Shabaab, both by stepping up efforts to train and assist U.S. allies doing much of the fighting in Somalia, and by making it easier to take out suspected terrorists when they step out of the shadows. But the broader American mission there, he said, would remain focused and deliberate.

“We are not,” the general added, “going to turn Somalia into a free-fire zone.”

Andrew deGrandpre is Military Times’ senior editor and Pentagon bureau chief. On Twitter: @adegrandpre

Israeli-American Man Arrested For Anti-Semitic Bomb Threats Made In Ohio and Midwest

An Israeli American Teen Has Been Arrested in the JCC Bomb Threats Case

 

Officials have taken a suspect into custody in connection with threatening calls made to Jewish institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

A police officer stands outside of a Jewish Community Center in Louisville, Kentucky, after it received a bomb threat. Bryan Woolston / Reuters
Officials have arrested a Israeli American teenager in connection with a string of bomb threats made to U.S. Jewish Community Centers and schools over the past several months. He has also been accused of making threatening calls in New Zealand and Australia, along with a call to a commercial airline that forced it to make an emergency landing, according to The New York Times.

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed the arrest to the Times on Thursday. In a statement, Israeli officials said that law-enforcement officials from multiple countries, including the United States, worked together on the investigation. The Times reports that “investigators confiscated computers, an antenna and other equipment” from the suspect’s home. The Jerusalem Post reported that the suspect’s father has also been detained and is being questioned about whether he knew about the calls.

Israel’s minister of public security, Gilad Erdan, congratulated to Israeli police on “leading a complex international investigation,” according to the Forward. “We hope that this investigation will help shed light on some of the recent threats against Jewish institutions, which have caused great concern both among Jewish communities and the Israeli government,” he said. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions affirmed in a statement that “the Department of Justice is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs,” according to Haaretz.

Juan Thompson, a 31-year-old former journalist, had previously been arrested in connection with a fraction of the calls. Officials believe he made the threats to harass an ex-girlfriend.

Since January, dozens of calls have been made to Jewish institutions across the United States, many nearly identical in message and form. JCCs, which provide child-care services, recreation, and community meeting spaces, have been repeatedly forced to evacuate upon receiving these calls. In some cases, such as the JCC in Nashville, they have been threatened multiple times.

“The impact of this individual’s actions is crystal clear,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, in a statement on Thursday. “These were acts of anti-Semitism. These threats targeted Jewish institutions, were calculated to sow fear and anxiety, and put the entire Jewish community on high alert.” He added that no one has been arrested in associated with the recent desecration of Jewish cemeteries or multiple instances of anti-Semitic vandalism.

The head of the JCC Association of North America, Doron Krakow, also applauded law enforcement in a statement on Thursday. The organization is “troubled,” he noted, “to learn that the individual suspected of making these threats against Jewish Community Centers … is reportedly Jewish.”

Some in the U.S. have connected the threats to a perceived rise in hostility toward Jews during the 2016 election. The motivation behind crimes like this can be extremely difficult to prove, however, and Haaretz reports that the suspect arrested on Thursday is being accused of involvement in “hundreds of incidents involving threats to institutions around the world, including Israel, over a period of two or three years.” So far, it’s unclear how or why the Israeli American suspect who was arrested on Thursday made the calls.

Ukrainian Ammo Dump Blown-Up Near Donbass Region

In Balaklje, the ammunition depot is burning, missiles are flown, strong explosions. Kharkov region. HD. Evacua.  Alex Popov

“Diversion of Poroshenko” near Kharkov: details

 

nakanune.ru 

[Russian state media supervision service]

 

A catastrophe at military depots near Kharkov is considered a diversion. The total area of ​​storage facilities of 122- and 152-mm howitzer shells, rockets to salvo fire systems and even, according to some information, ballistic missiles “Tochka U” is amazing – 368 hectares. According to official data, the total mass of ammunition in the warehouse was 138 thousand tons .

Here is how the main military prosecutor of the Kiev regime Anatoly Matios describes what happened:

“According to preliminary information (now as a result of investigative actions) of the investigative-prosecutorial group of the military prosecutor’s office of the Kharkov garrison and the investigation department of the SBU in the Kharkiv region (which are on the scene), due to the sabotage last night, at 2:45, at several storage sites (Tank and artillery shells 125 and 152 mm) near the city of Balakleya in the Kharkov region there was an explosion (a fire broke out), which caused detonation of ammunition. ”

The total area of ​​the arsenal is 368 hectares and 138 thousand tons of ammunition.

From the place of detonation through the establishment of the blockade, a conditional seven kilometer cordon of the zone of danger of the spread of ammunition is organized.

There are no data on human casualties.

On the site of events, a staff is working as part of the regional leadership and law enforcement agencies.

|Фото:

On the instructions of the Ministry of Defense, a board with a commission headed by the deputy defense minister for armament of Pavlovsky flew from Kiev.

Taking into account the possibility of increasing the area of ​​detonation of ammunition and their dispersal, an evacuation of local population from the settlements of Verbovka and Yakovenkovo ​​is organized . All necessary measures are taken to prevent the loss of human life, to establish eyewitnesses of sabotage and to examine the place of events.

According to Matios, the heavy fire fighting equipment of the Defense Ministry arrived at the scene of the events. Prepares to take off the UAV to establish the actual volumes of the affected areas of the arsenal. The State Border Service has strengthened the border control regime in the north-eastern direction.

It should be noted that there is a fire train in the warehouse itself, and fire tanks, at least, were in 2011, when the exercises were held there just for a similar case , therefore, probably, the prosecutor exaggerates the merits of the “emergency response” of the Defense Ministry. He does not have information on other items:

No UAVs will allow to determine in the morning the area covered by fires and explosions – due to smoke and turbulent flows on the borders of the burning area, caused by the rising streams of hot air (more than 100 km / h).

Because of the spread of not only the fragments of shells, but also missiles, no investigative actions “at the scene” can not be carried out. Maximum, investigators who arrived only a couple of hours ago from Kharkov, could find and interview those who are in a state of shock, but managed to escape, sentries from which nothing coherent and reliable can be achieved simply because witnesses can not determine at night where and how It all began. And for objective reasons – 368 hectares are simply not visible from one point and it is impossible to speak about “simultaneous” ignition (and diversion).

 

The Ukrainian military said unknown saboteurs blew up a warehouse storing tank ammunition at a military base in the east of the country early on Thursday, but nobody was hurt.

The base, which contained about 138,000 tonnes of ammunition, is located in the city of Balakleya about 100 km (60 miles) from the frontline of Ukraine’s war against Russian-backed separatists.

Rescue teams were evacuating nearby villages in the eastern Kharkiv region, the military said.

“According to preliminary data … as a result of sabotage, last night at 2.46 AM (0046 GMT), fire and explosions caused the detonation of ammunition at several sites storing rockets and artillery weapons,” Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor Anatoly Matios wrote on Facebook.

Military spokesman Oleksander Motuzyanyk said security around other bases was being beefed up. Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman was due to fly to the area later on Thursday.

Saboteurs previously tried to destroy the same base using drones in 2015, another military spokesman, Yuzef Venskovich, told the 112 TV channel.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict between Ukraine and the separatist rebels since 2014.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; editing by Matthias Williams and Gareth Jones)

Russia Refutes Kurdish (US) Lies About Russian/Kurd Military Base In Syria

[SEE:  Russia strikes deal with Syrian Kurds to set up base: Syrian Kurdish militia–Reuters]

The statement added that a section of its “reconciliation centre”, which Russia says helps negotiate local truces between the warring sides in Syria, was deployed near Afrin for the prevention of ceasefire violations.

Russia rejects creating a new military base in Syria.

Image of Russian military aircraft [Russian Ministry of Defence/Wikipedia]

Image of Russian military aircraft [Russian Ministry of Defence/Wikipedia]

The Russian defence ministry rejected reports claiming the country is creating a new military base in Syria.

The ministry moved to quell speculations after the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia said it had reached a deal with Moscow for a new military base in the north-west of the country.

Media reports also surfaced claiming that Russian forces were setting up a military base in Afrin in agreement with the YPG.

There are no plans to create new Russian military bases on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic

the defence ministry statement read yesterday.

The statement added that a section of its “reconciliation centre”, which Russia says helps negotiate local truces between the warring sides in Syria, was deployed near Afrin for the prevention of ceasefire violations.

The ministry said the move was taken according to an agreement between Russia and Turkey on monitoring the ceasefire.

“To prevent violations of the cessation of hostilities, one of the branches of the Russian centre for reconciliation of warring sides [in Syria] was deployed in the province of Aleppo near the Afrin populated area in the contact line between Kurdish militia units and Turkey-controlled units of the Free Syrian Army.”

Russia has a naval base in the Syrian coastal city of Tartus. The facility was established during the Cold War to support the Soviet navy fleet in the Mediterranean. Political analysts cite Moscow’s need for unhindered access to the sea as one of the main reasons for its support for Bashar Al-Assad regime.

Another Prominent Russian (this one a lawyer) Falls From Hi-Rise Window…(still alive somehow)

[Lawyer of dead Russian whistleblower injured after fall from window ; Nine prominent Russians who have all mysteriously died since the Trump-Russia scandal exploded ; Opposition figure Navalny attacked with antiseptic dye ]

Key witness in Preet Bharara’s Russian crime probe was just thrown from fourth floor of building

Palmer Report

Just days after Donald Trump took care of business on his end by firing U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who had been investigating a Russian financial crime ring in New York, it appears the Kremlin is trying to take care of business on its end. According to the BBC, one of the key Russian witnesses in Bharara’s case was just thrown from the fourth floor of a building in Moscow.

Remarkably, Nikolai Gorokhov is still alive and in intensive care. Daniel Sandford of the BBC tweeted this afternoon that “Gorokhov has been “thrown from the 4th floor of his apartment building” in Moscow.” Sandford then added that “Nikolai Gorokhov is in the intensive care unit of Botkin hospital in Moscow with severe head injuries according to Bill Browder.” Browder is a longtime vocal critic of Vladimir Putin.

Gorokhov is notable for two reasons. One is that he was the attorney for Russian political activist Sergei Magnitsky, who was murdered in Russia in 2009, allegedly by Vladimir Putin. But as the Daily Beast has pointed out, Gorokhov was also a key witness in Preet Bharara’s Russian crime probe in the United States. And perhaps most alarmingly, Sandford is also reporting that “Gorokhov was due at the Moscow City Appeals Court tomorrow to argue on behalf of Sergei Magnitsky’s mother.”

It appears the Kremlin is already attempting to float a coverup story involving Gorokhov falling out a fourth story window while he was helping some workers move a bathtub. But it’s entirely unclear why an attorney would be helping workers move a bathtub, particularly one day before he was due to appear in court. Here’s hoping Gorokhov survives his injuries so that we don’t have to add him to the list of nine prominent Russians who have all mysteriously died since the Trump-Russia scandal exploded.

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