Tag Archives: terrorism

March 24, 2017

Jihadi terror manuals on how to use a car as a ‘tool of war’ for mass murder can be found in just two minutes on Google and Twitter

  • Fanatics are urged to use cars before going on stabbing rampage in the guides
  • Video revealed after Khalid Masood killed three in car then stabbed a policeman
  • Manuals told jihadists in West to learn from Palestinian terrorists who use cars 
  • News comes as Boris Johnson accused social media sites of inciting terrorism 

Guides to mounting a car terror attack were available on Google and Twitter last night.

The vile manuals were online despite widespread warnings that UK jihadists use them for training.

Fanatics are urged to deploy large vehicles as ‘tools of war’ before going on a stabbing rampage – the template for Wednesday’s atrocity in Westminster. Boris Johnson accused social media websites of inciting terrorism.

The vile manuals were online despite widespread warnings that UK jihadists use them for training

And Google’s YouTube video platform was found to be raking in money from conspiracy theories saying the London outrage was a hoax.

As the maniac behind the attack was unmasked as 52-year-old Khalid Masood:

  •  The security services faced questions because he was known to police and MI5;
  •  Home Secretary Amber Rudd denied failures but admitted: ‘One got through’;
  •  It emerged MPs had raised concerns about the Commons gates Masood waltzed through;
  •  Officials revealed that he was shot dead by a ministerial bodyguard, rather than by armed police;
  •  Islamic State claimed Masood was its ‘soldier’;
  •  Officers made eight arrests around the country;
  •  The death toll rose to five when a 75-year-old man died in hospital last night.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4344338/Jihadi-terror-manuals-use-car-tool-war.html#ixzz4cF84mUUX

EXC: MPs railed against use of armed police at Parliamentary gates because they created a bad ‘atmosphere’ and said anti-terror barriers were ‘UGLY’

  • Interviews with MPs and staff from 2014 reveal resistance to boosting security
  • They complained that security barriers surrounding parliament were ‘ugly’ 
  • Also griped about armed police at main entrances creating bad ‘atmosphere’ 
MPs complained in 2014 that armed police being deployed at the Parliamentary gates because they created a bad 'atmosphere'

MPs complained in 2014 that armed police being deployed at the Parliamentary gates because they created a bad ‘atmosphere’

MPs railed against the armed police being deployed at the Parliamentary gates because they created a bad ‘atmosphere’.

There were also a slew of complaints that security barriers to prevent terrorists ramming cars into the building were ‘ugly’.

The complaints, in response to a survey by the House authorities in 2014, lay bare the extent of resistance among politicians to modernising security on the estate before the bloody terror attack this week.

Armed officers are not currently stationed round the clock at the Carriage Gates, the main entrance that looks out on to Parliament Square.

Khalid Masood marauded through the access point on Wednesday, stabbing Pc Keith Palmer to death. He was shot by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon’s personal guards after making it around 20 yards on to the estate.

Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, a member of the ruling Commons Commission, suggested today that officers manning the gates should always be armed or accompanied more closely by armed colleagues.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4346698/EXC-MPs-complained-armed-police-Parliament-gates.html#ixzz4cIGBINEv

Iran’s Spymaster Claims Pro-Regime Agents Operating in D.C., London, Canada

Claims pro-Iran ‘lobby’ pushing Tehran’s agenda in D.C.
March 23, 2017 3:28 pm

Iran maintains a network of spies and lobbyists who clandestinely push the Islamic regime’s agenda in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, according to the head of Iran’s ministry of intelligence, who touted the pro-Iran network’s ability to spread its ideology to the West.

Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s intelligence minister, in recent remarks independently translated by the Washington Free Beacon, bragged about the Islamic Republic’s ability to operate an unnamed “lobby group” in D.C. that helps to push the regime’s hardline agenda.

Alavi disclosed that Iranians with dual citizenship in the United States, Canada, and England, remain devoted to the “Islamic revolution” and are working to promote this agenda in their adopted homelands.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/irans-spymaster-claims-pro-regime-agents-operating-d-c-london-canada/

2 more ‘significant’ arrests made in investigation into London attack

Authorities said two officers are listed in critical condition. Reuters reported on Friday that the attacker’s birth name was Arian Russell.

According to police, Masood was born in Kent, U.K., and they believe he was most recently living in the West Midlands, which includes the city of Birmingham.

Masood was known to authorities and had a range of previous convictions for assaults, including grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons and public order offenses.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the rampage, saying Masood was “an Islamic State soldier” who “carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition.”

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/24/2-more-significant-arrests-made-in-investigation-into-london-attack.html

#DarkSeaSkies: CIA’s tool to hack MacBook Air in under 29 seconds exposed

Amidst WikiLeaks’ revelations about the CIA’s capabilities to hack into Apple products is DarkSeaSkies – a tool used to monitor and control MacBook Air that’s physically installed by a CIA agent or asset in “less than 29 seconds.”

DarkSeaSkies is a tool that runs in the background of a MacBook Air to allow the CIA command and control laptops. It is delivered via “supply chain intercept or a gift to the target.”

It’s loaded onto a MacBook via booting through a thumb drive. The CIA’s user document explains: “It is assumed that an operator or asset has one-time physical access to the target system and can boot the target system to an external flash drive.”

A 2009 “user requirements” document on DarkSeaSkies explains it was created to allow the CIA to access a MacBook Air.

The CIA’s COG [Computer Operations Group] had a “time-sensitive operational need” to install the Nightskies tool onto a MacBook Air, as the CIA had an “opportunity to gift a MacBook Air to a target that will be implanted with this tool.” It’s unknown who this target was.

https://www.rt.com/viral/382095-darkseaskies-cia-mackbook-darkmatter/

Swiss open probe into spying in Switzerland’s Turkish community

Switzerland has opened a criminal probe into possible spying involving Switzerland’s Turkish community, federal prosecutors said on Friday.

“The Office of the Attorney General has been made aware of concrete suspicion that political espionage has likely been conducted involving the Turkish community in Switzerland,” the agency said in a statement, giving no details about the probe launched on March 16.

The Swiss foreign minister told his Turkish counterpart on Thursday that Switzerland would “rigorously investigate” any illegal spying by Ankara on expatriate Turks before an April 16 referendum that could expand Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-turkey-espionage-idUSKBN16V1GD?il=0

In Venezuela’s Toxic Brew, Failed Narco-State Meets Iran-Backed Terrorism

In Venezuela’s Toxic Brew, Failed Narco-State Meets Iran-Backed Terrorism

As if the political and economic chaos wracking Venezuela wasn’t worrying enough, a couple of recent stories underscore the potential national security threat brewing there. First, last month’s designation of Venezuela’s vice president, Tareck El Aissami, as a drug kingpin by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Second, a CNN investigative report revealing that Venezuela’s embassy in Iraq was allegedly selling Venezuelan passports and identity documents to Middle Eastern nationals — raising the disturbing prospect that Caracas is facilitating the entry of Islamist militants to Latin America. Indeed, the CNN report echoed revelations from 2013 that the Venezuelan embassy in Syria was issuing passports to terrorists under the direction of Ghazi Atef Nassereddine, a Treasury-sanctioned, FBI-wanted Venezuelan diplomat who happens to be a key Hezbollah operative. Put all this together and what do you get? A rabidly anti-American failed state that appears to be incubating the convergence of narco-trafficking and jihadism in America’s own backyard.

Venezuela’s links to the drug trade are deep and well documented. Collusion with the cartels reaches the highest levels of the state. Two nephews of President Nicolás Maduro were arrested in Haiti and convicted on drug trafficking charges by a federal jury in Manhattan last November. General Néstor Luis Reverol Torres — Venezuela’s current minister of interior and justice, and former head of its national anti-narcotics agency — was indicted in the United States last August on cocaine trafficking charges, along with a former captain in Venezuela’s National Guard. The list of officials implicated in narco-trafficking also includes a former minister of interior and justice, two senior intelligence officers who later became governors, and now Vice President El Aissami

In Venezuela’s Toxic Brew, Failed Narco-State Meets Iran-Backed Terrorism

Venezuela expresses ‘desire’ to reestablish relations with Israel

8 years after Caracas expelled Israeli envoy, chief rabbi says he pitched a ‘period of courtship,’ consular relations before full ties

[Editor’s Note: Venezuela since Hugo Chavez and including Maduro has been anti semitic and anti-Israel in the extreme.  There are only 20,000 or fewer Jews in Venezuela, and many are leaving because of pressure from the regime. This initiative appears to indicate the extreme desperation of the current government.]

Venezuela’s foreign minister expressed to his country’s chief rabbi “the desire to establish full relations with the State of Israel” eight years after the South American nation expelled its Israeli ambassador.

“We suggested to start with a period of courtship, which means a beginning through consular relations, so that later it will become a marriage, which would be Israel’s own embassy again in Venezuela, as we have always had here,” Venezuela’s Sephardic chief rabbi, Isaac Cohen, told AJN News.

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez spoke of the country’s commitment to re-establish ties during a meeting last Friday with several Jewish leaders, including Cohen and Elias Farache, president of the Confederation of Israelite Associations of Venezuela, the umbrella Jewish organization.

Cohen said that he has been in touch with the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

“I am an Orthodox and Zionist rabbi, and for me it is Jewish pride to have the flag of the State of Israel hoisted here in Venezuela, as in any country where there is a Jewish community. That gives us peace and tranquility, it’s fundamental,” the rabbi said.

Last month, President Nicolas Maduro welcomed a Jewish delegation including Cohen and Farache at the governmental palace to strengthen cooperation that over the years has faced roadblocks.

“A good day of dialogue for peace. Boosting the co-existence and the dialog of civilizations, of religions to consolidate our nation,” the far-leftist leader tweeted after the meeting.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/venezuela-expresses-desire-to-reestablish-relations-with-israel/

 

Imam calling for Jews to be killed in sermon at Montreal mosque draws police complaint

Larger Muslim community wants apology from mosque and wonders why controversial imam was invited to preach

By Brennan Neill, Stephen Smith, CBC News

The controversial imam is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr who was the invited guest of a Saint-Michel mosque.

The controversial imam is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr who was the invited guest of a Saint-Michel mosque. (YouTube)

A Montreal mosque is facing a police complaint and rebukes from the larger Muslim community after a video of an imam delivering a sermon in which he asks for Jews to be killed surfaced online.

The sermon took place at the Dar Al-Arqam Mosque in the city’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood on Dec. 23, 2016.

The video was posted to the mosque’s YouTube channel three days later. The imam in the video is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr — he was reportedly an invited guest of the mosque.

In the video, the imam recites in Arabic the verse: “O Muslim, O servant of Allah, O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

CBC independently verified the speech and its translation.

The controversial verse comes from a religious text known as a hadith, which interprets the words and actions by the Prophet Muhammad.

The hadith in question deals with end times and tells how stones and trees will ask Muslims to come and kill Jews hiding behind them.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/imam-sermon-montreal-mosque-1.4037397

 

China’s ZTE Pleads Guilty to Illegally Shipping U.S. Technology to Iran.

Mar 22, 2017

Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE on Wednesday pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court in Texas for illegally shipping U.S. goods and technology to Iran.

The guilty plea was part of an agreement the company reached earlier this month with U.S. authorities that also called for nearly $900 million in fines and other penalties.

The company admitted to three charges: conspiring to export American-made items to Iran without a license from the U.S. government, obstructing justice, and making a material false statement.

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A five-year investigation had found ZTE (ZTCOY, +1.86%) conspired to evade U.S. embargoes by buying U.S. components, incorporating them into ZTE equipment and illegally shipping them to Iran.

ZTE, which devised elaborate schemes to hide the illegal activity, agreed to the guilty plea after the U.S. Commerce Department took actions that threatened to cut off the gear maker’s global supply chain.

http://fortune.com/2017/03/22/zte-guilty-shipping-us-technology-iran/

Russia, India in Talks on Creating New Models of BrahMos Missiles – Putin’s Aide

Russia and India are in talks on creating new models of missiles at the BrahMos Aerospace joint enterprise, Russian Presidential Aide for Military-Technical Cooperation Vladimir Kozhin said Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — India has set a target of $2 billion defense exports, a six-fold increase from current exports, by 2019. In order to give impetus to exports, the Narendra Modi government has allowed government-owned defense companies to earmark 10 per cent of their production for exports. “The biggest challenge in boosting defense exports from India is the limited range of exportable products, limited overseas markets and predominance of defense manufacturers who have been in the business far longer than India,” Cowshish added.

“Today, Indian partners propose to develop, deepen this cooperation, make new models of the missile, these talks are underway,” Kozhin said in an interview with Rossiya 24 television channel.

A hypersonic version of the BrahMos cruise missile, capable of flying at up to 5,000 kilometers per hour, is expected to be created by 2020.

https://sputniknews.com/military/201703231051898499-russia-india-brahmos/

France’s Marine Le Pen urges end to Russia sanctions

France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has called for the lifting of EU sanctions on Russia, during a visit to Moscow.

The National Front (FN) leader called for closer French-Russian ties at a meeting in Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma.

She told its speaker sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea were counterproductive, Interfax reported.

Ms Le Pen has also met President Vladimir Putin.

He reportedly told her that Russia had no intention of interfering in the election, but had the right to meet any French politicians it wanted.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39375969

Terror suspect ‘drives car full of liquid gas, knives and rifles at high speed’ into Antwerp shopping crowds

Terrified pedestrians had to jump out of the way as the car entered the pedestrianised street just a day after the London terror attack

A suspected terrorist has been arrested in Belgium after he allegedly tried to drive a car into shoppers on a pedestrianised street – less than 24 hours after the attack in London.

The vehicle was reportedly full of liquid gas, knives and rifles.

Terrified pedestrians had to jump out of the way as the car entered the De Meir shopping street in Antwerp at high speed on Thursday morning.

The suspected driver, who was wearing camouflage, was later arrested by police, local media reported.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/antwerp-belgium-car-attack-london-10083953

U.S. Senate to vote on Montenegro’s NATO membership

The U.S. Senate will vote next week on the ratification of Montenegro as the newest member of the NATO alliance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday, after the Trump administration urged lawmakers to take up the long-delayed matter.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had written to the leaders of the Senate to say Montenegro’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was “strongly in the interests of the United States.”

All 28 of NATO’s members must ratify Montenegro’s accession before it can formally join the alliance. The vote in the U.S. Senate was held up for months when at least two Republican senators, Rand Paul and Mike Lee, blocked a quick vote.

The Senate’s Republican leadership had not scheduled a more time-consuming roll call vote until Thursday. McConnell announced in the Senate that there would be a procedural vote on Monday evening, which should clear the way for a final ratification vote later in the week.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nato-montenegro-idUSKBN16U33K

Moldovan PM Pavel Filip : NATO liaison office will open in Chisinau this July

1703241027561490270672original_8.jpg

Moldovan PM Pavel Filip said on Thursday at the end of the joint Romania – Moldova government meeting in Piatra Neamt that a NATO liaison office will open in Chisinau this July. Premier Pavel Filip also reaffirmed support for the participation of the Moldovan army in NATO joint exercises carried out outside country borders. 

“I said that the Republic of Moldova is a parliamentary country and the important decisions are taken by the government and Parliament. At the same time, we have the institution of the President who is also the commander-in-chief. We were faced with a less pleasant situation when the national army was unable to participate in the military exercises organized in Romania, under the NATO aegis. You are perfectly aware of President Igor Dodon’s stance and his love towards NATO. We managed to sign an agreement with NATO and a NATO liaison office will open in Chisinau in July. Back then we had discussions with the President of the country and explained to him that most of the national forces’ plan of activities related to training and exercises – that is about 80 percent – will take place outside the territory of the Republic of Moldova with the support of our NATO partners. The further refuse to participate in these exercises would mean the weakening of the national army, and it makes no logic when a commander-in-chief is complacent with the weakening of the National Forces. I believe this was the first and last time when this confusion occurred and that in the future the National Army of Moldova will participate in all applications. Even more than that, we should thank for this support with the training and exercises the Moldovan army participates in,” said Prime Minister Pavel Filip. 

http://actmedia.eu/daily/moldovan-pm-pavel-filip-nato-liaison-office-will-open-in-chisinau-this-july/68714

Pentagon worried about Chinese investment in US startups: report

The Pentagon is worried about new American technology firms turning to Chinese companies for investment on potential military applications, The New York Times reported.

Chinese firms are sending money to U.S. startups, include rocket engine manufacturers, companies that design sensors for autonomous naval ships and printers that make flexible screens that could be used in fighter jets. Many of the Chinese firms making the investments are owned by state-owned companies or have connections to Chinese officials, according to the Times.

Department of Defense (DOD) officials worry about the investments because they have found that China is encouraging companies with close government ties to invest in U.S. startups specializing in technology that could advance China’s military and its economy, according to a new DOD special report.

The Pentagon sent the report — commissioned before President Trump took office — to senior administration officials this week.

Details on the size of the deals are not available, as startups and their investors are not required to disclose them.

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/325519-pentagon-worried-about-chinese-investment-in-us-startups-report

Cyber war: Defense firms face battle to guard secrets

Thousands of defense contractors face a Pentagon directive to boost cyber security defenses by the end of the year, but many will likely won’t have all the safeguards in place, a cyber expert says.

“We don’t anticipate many companies being close to being compliant by the end of the year,” said Timothy Birt, Riverside Research information technology security administrator in Beavercreek.

Hackers target secret data on weapon systems, classified research on leap-ahead technology and personal information on top scientists and others with critical jobs.

“The interest in that personal data is to actually use it against employees of clear defense contractors to blackmail them or just coerce them into giving up information that they may not otherwise want to do,” Birt said.

 

Some of the prizes adversaries have pilfered via cyber espionage have loomed large: Congressional leaders have pointed out the close resemblance between the Chinese J-31 and the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the target of a cyber hack.

The Defense Science Board detailed other weapon systems cyber spies have stolen designs and data on span the F/A-18 fighter jet; the V-22 vertical take-off and landing aircraft; the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship and the Black Hawk helicopter, The Washington Post has reported.

“Cyber attacks have become the preferred method of conducting espionage, because virtually every U.S. secret is on a network somewhere.,” said Loren B. Thompson, senior defense analyst and a defense industry consultant with the Virginia-headquartered Lexington Institute. “If enemies can gain access to those networks, they can avoid the difficulty of planting agents in organizations — a drawn out and dangerous process.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/cyber-war-defense-firms-face-battle-guard-secrets/q5nqjUomGdjXeI5JQV1ceL/

 

 

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March 18, 2017

‘Radicalised Muslim’ is shot dead at Paris Orly airport after snatching a soldier’s gun and shooting at three police officers from a car as Kate and William meet Bataclan and Nice terror victims

  • Convicted criminal, 39, was shot dead at the airport’s south terminal 
  • Less than two hours earlier he had shot at three police officers during a routine stop-and-search
  • Authorities believe he had been radicalised in prison, and his father and brother had been arrested 
  • Witnesses recounted hearing ‘four or five’ shots, and the airport was evacuated
  • It comes at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit the French capital 

A convicted criminal with links to radical Islam has been shot dead at Paris Orly airport after trying to wrestle a soldier’s gun from her and fleeing into a McDonald’s.

Less than two hours earlier he had shot a female police officer in the head in a northern Paris suburb during a routine stop-and-search.

The man’s father and brother have been taken into custody, judicial sources have confirmed, and the attacks are being investigated by France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor.

After the police shooting in the suburb of Stains, at around 6.55am, the 39-year-old fled in a Renault Clio, which was found abandoned 11 miles away.

He then hijacked a woman’s Citroen Picasso at gunpoint, and this second car was later found parked at the airport.

Today’s incidents come as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Paris, where they have met with victims of terrorism.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4326276/Paris-Orly-airport-evacuated-shooting.html#ixzz4bgDTftf4

US admits Syria airstrike that killed 46 but denies targeting mosque

  • Rescue workers search for survivors amid rubble into the night
  • US military: ‘We are going to look into any allegations of civilian casualties’

 

The US has said it carried out an airstrike in Syria against an al-Qaida meeting but denied deliberately targeting a mosque where 46 people were reportedly killed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of the dead were civilians in the Thursday evening raid on the village of Al-Jineh, in the northern province of Aleppo.

The US has been bombing jihadists in war-torn Syria as part of an international coalition since 2014, with hundreds of civilians unintentionally killed in the country and in neighbouring Iraq.

“We did not target a mosque, but the building that we did target – which was where the meeting took place – is about 50ft (15 metres) from a mosque that is still standing,” said Col John J Thomas, spokesman for US Central Command.

According to a Centcom statement: “US forces conducted an air strike on an Al-Qaeda in Syria meeting location March 16 in Idlib, Syria, killing several terrorists.”

The Centcom spokesman later clarified that the precise location of the strike was unclear – but that it was the same one widely reported to have hit the village mosque in Al-Jineh, in Aleppo province.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/syria-mosque-airstrike-kills-dozens-of-civilians-near-aleppo

Suspected Hack Attack Snagging Cell Phone Data Across D.C.

Malicious entity could be tracking phones of domestic, foreign officials

Adam Kredo

An unusual amount of highly suspicious cellphone activity in the Washington, D.C., region is fueling concerns that a rogue entity is surveying the communications of numerous individuals, likely including U.S. government officials and foreign diplomats, according to documents viewed by the Washington Free Beacon and conversations with security insiders.

A large spike in suspicious activity on a major U.S. cellular carrier has raised red flags in the Department of Homeland Security and prompted concerns that cellphones in the region are being tracked. Such activity could allow pernicious actors to clone devices and other mobile equipment used by civilians and government insiders, according to information obtained by the Free Beacon.

It remains unclear who is behind the attacks, but the sophistication and amount of time indicates it could be a foreign nation, sources said.

Mass amounts of location data appear to have been siphoned off by a third party who may have control of entire cell phone towers in the area, according to information obtained by the Free Beacon. This information was compiled by a program that monitors cell towers for anomalies supported by DHS and ESD America and known as ESD Overwatch.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/hack-attack-cell-phone-data-dc/

Netanyahu: Syria raids targeted ‘advanced’ Hezbollah arms

After unprecedented missile clash, PM says Israel will continue to operate against weapons transfers from Assad regime to Shiite terror group

AFP — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday the Israeli strikes on several targets in Syria earlier that day targeted weapons bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and that the Jewish State would do the same again if necessary.

The Israeli airstrike prompted retaliatory missile launches, in the most serious incident between Syria and the Jewish state since the Syrian civil war began six years ago.

Syria’s military said it had downed an Israeli plane and hit another as they were carrying out pre-dawn strikes near the famed desert city of Palmyra that it recaptured from jihadists this month.

The Israeli military denied that any planes had been hit. The Syrian government has made similar unfounded claims in the past.

“The safety of Israeli civilians or the Israeli air force aircraft was at no point compromised,” Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner told AFP.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-syria-raids-targeted-advanced-hezbollah-arms/

Russia summons Israeli envoy following IDF strikes in Syria

(JTA) — Russia summoned its ambassador to Israel for clarifications following Israeli airstrikes in Syria.

Russia, which backs Syria’s embattled president, Bashar Assad, summoned its envoy, Gary Koren, on Friday less than 24 hours after the Israeli military action on Thursday night, according to The Times of Israel.

In a rare statement, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed to having carried out aerial strikes in Syria and intercepted missiles launched at its aircraft from the ground.

No Israelis were hurt during the strikes Thursday night or from the anti-aircraft fire, according to a statement by the IDF spokesman.

Israel is believed to have carried out several attacks on Syrian soil in recent years, but usually refrains from confirming or denying reports on its alleged actions there.

According to the nrg news site, the strikes were against targets affiliated with Hezbollah, possibly on a weapons shipment to the Shiite terrorist group, which is based in Lebanon but is fighting in Syria alongside Assad’s forces against rebels and Sunni militants.

Israeli “aircrafts targeted several targets in Syria. Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and IDF Aerial Defense Systems intercepted one of the missiles. At no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or the IAF aircraft compromised,” the IDF spokesman wrote.

The missiles were launched at the airplanes minutes after they had left Syrian airspace, according to nrg. Debris from the missiles, which were intercepted by the Arrow defense system over Jordan, landed on residential homes in the west of that country near Inba and Irbid.

http://www.jta.org/2017/03/17/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/russia-summons-israeli-envoy-following-idf-strikes-in-syria

Russia announces deepest defence budget cuts since 1990s

Figures released by the Russian Federal Treasury have confirmed that Russia’s defence budget has been cut by 25.5% for 2017, falling from RUB3.8 trillion (USD65.4 billion) to RUB2.8 trillion.

The reduction represents the largest cut to military expenditure in the country since the early 1990s.

The reduction follows an extended period of large increases to Russian defence spending with growth having achieved an average rate of 19.8% a year since 2011 in nominal terms. Despite the cut, the 2017 budget will remain about 14.4% higher than the level of defence spending seen in 2014 in nominal terms.

The Russian government initially outlined plans to reduce defence expenditure in the draft of the three year budget for 2017 to 2019 released in October 2016.

http://www.janes.com/article/68766/russia-announces-deepest-defence-budget-cuts-since-1990s

 

Analysis What Role Did Russia Play in the Israel-Syria Missile Clash?
Syria’s missile fire at Israeli warplanes may indicate that Assad and his Russian protectors are not fully coordinated.

Anshel Pfeffer Mar 18, 2017 1:00 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow, Russia on March 9, 2017. Pavel Golovkin, AP

After Israeli attack in Syria: Russia summons Israel’s envoy for clarifications
Israeli Air Force strikes targets in Syria; Assad forces threaten ‘direct’ retaliation
Analysis Putin is the Middle East’s new boss

Analysis Israel-Syria clash: With missile fire, Assad is trying to change the rules of the game

Over the six years of the Syrian war, dozens of airstrikes carried out against Hezbollah targets there have been ascribed to Israel. Until now the government has refused to acknowledge or deny them. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman have stated publicly that Israel does attack in Syria to defend its strategic interests – in other words, preventing Hezbollah obtaining “balance-breaking” weapons for its arsenal in Lebanon. The attacks that took place early Friday were the first to be confirmed officially by the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson. While it remains unclear what the target or targets were – was it a Hezbollah convoy, a weapons factory or storage, and whether a senior Hezbollah commander was killed in the airstrike as some reports in the Arab media have claimed – a series of important questions arise from the little information that has been published.

With missile fire, Assad is trying to change the rules of the game | Analysis

First, why has Israel changed its policy and suddenly acknowledged an attack? Syria’s air-defense forces launched a long-range missile in an attempt to shoot down Israel’s fighter-jets. The missile was fired much too late to endanger the planes, but could have fallen on civilian areas within Israel and was therefore intercepted by an Arrow 2 missile. The loud explosion which was heard as far as Jerusalem and the missile parts that fell in Jordan meant that some explanation had to be given. But a statement on the missile intercept would have been sufficient. The decision to take responsibility for the attacks as well would have been made by the prime minister and may have been made for other reasons.

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.777965

How Russia Is Turning Syria into a Major Naval Base for Nuclear Warships (and Israel Is Worried)

During the 1970s, the Syrian naval base of Tartus became a major port servicing warships of the Soviet Union’s Fifth Mediterranean squadron.

The Soviet Union is gone, and so is Syria as a unified nation. But Russia is back, and it’s building up Tartus again as a naval base that can handle Russia’s largest nuclear-powered ships.

Already, Israel says the Tartus base is affecting its naval operations. U.S. and NATO operations could be next.

Under the forty-nine-year agreement inked late last year by Russia and Syria, “the maximum number of the Russian warships allowed at the Russian naval facility at one time is 11, including nuclear-powered warships, providing that nuclear and ecological security rules are observed,” according to Russia’s RT news site. Russia will also be allowed to expand port facilities to accommodate the vessels.

The specification allowing nuclear-powered warships means that Russia wants to be able to base in Syria large surface ships, namely Kirov-class nuclear-powered battle cruisers, as well as nuclear submarines.

In addition, the treaty allows “Russia is allowed to bring in and out any kind of ‘weaponry, ammunition, devices and materials’ to provide security for the facility staff, crew, and their families throughout the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic ‘without any duties or levies,’” according to RT.

Expansion of the port will take about five years, according to an anonymous source cited in Russia’s Sputnik News. “The source added that the works would focus on dredging operations to allow cruisers and even possibly aircraft carriers to use the facility’s infrastructure,” Sputnik News reported. “According to the source, Russia also needs to develop the facility’s ground infrastructure, through construction of canalization, electricity generation facilities and barracks for the servicemen.”Sputnik News also listed other provisions of the agreement. These include:

• Russia will be responsible for sea and air security of the base, while Syria handles the land defenses.

• Russia can deploy “temporary mobile outposts” beyond the base, as long as they coordinate them with the Syrians.

• Russia can renovate the base at will, including underwater construction, and build offshore platforms.

• Upon Syrian request, Russia will send specialists to service Syrian warships, conduct search and rescue in Syrian waters, and organize the defense of Tartus.

• Syria agrees not to “make any objections related to the military activities of the base, which will also be beyond Damascus’ jurisdiction.”

• “Syria also pledges to solve any conflicts that may arise if a third party objects to the activities of the base.”

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/how-russia-turning-syria-major-naval-base-nuclear-warships-19813

Iran Challenges Need to Ship Out Excess Material Under Nuclear Deal

By Francois Murphy and Shadia Nasralla

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran has challenged the need for it to ship sensitive material abroad if its stock exceeds a limit set by its nuclear deal with major powers.

The challenge raises the prospect of a confrontation with the new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump because diplomats say Iran is only months away from reaching that cap.

The 2015 deal restricts Iran’s atomic activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against Tehran. One restriction is on its stock of heavy water, a moderator used in a type of reactor that can produce plutonium, like an unfinished one at Arak that had its core removed under the accord.

Iran has already exceeded the 130-tonne limit on its heavy water stock twice. The latest standoff with Washington over the issue was only defused in December when Iran shipped the excess amount to Oman, where the heavy water is being stored until a buyer can be found.

In a letter to the U.N. nuclear watchdog circulated to member states on Thursday and posted on the agency’s website, however, Iran argued that the deal does not require it to ship excess heavy water out of the country.

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-03-17/iran-challenges-need-to-ship-out-excess-material-under-nuclear-deal

French Oil Giant Seeks 50% Stake In Iran’s $4B South Pars

Total signed a preliminary deal for the project last year, and today stated its intentions in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The move makes Total the first Western supermajor to sign a deal with Iran on energy following the easing of sanctions.

According to Total’s SEC filing, the company would finance 50.1 percent of the South Pars 11 project, which requires a total investment of US$4 billion.

If this deal goes through, Total would be the operator of the project, while China’s CNPC would hold a 30-percent interest through a subsidiary, while Iran’s Petropars would hold 19.9 percent.

A final investment decision is expected from Total this summer, while Iran is expected to finalize contracts in April, according to Reuters.

It gets tricky, though, with the possibility that the new regime at the White House may not renew sanctions waivers.

The Persian Gulf South Pars field will begin production by the end of the fiscal year, according to Iranian officials. The first stage of production will see output of 35,000 barrels per day, while the second stage will increase to 100,000 bpd.

http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/French-Oil-Giant-Seeks-50-Stake-In-Irans-4B-South-Pars.html

US places Bahrainis backed by Iran on terrorist list, imposes sanctions

The US government has imposed sanctions on two men from Bahrain and has placed them on a terrorist list on Friday.

The US government has imposed sanctions on two men from Bahrain and has placed them on a terrorist list on Friday.

The two, Ahmad Hassan Yousuf and Mortada Majid Ramadan Alawi, have been placed by the US Treasury Department on the list of economic sanctions and banned financial dealings with them.

The US state department said in a statement that the two have been placed on the terrorist list in accordance with a previous executive order for those who pose threats to US interests.

The US foreign ministry explained that the decision to place the two on the list came “after the escalation of rebel attacks in Bahrain, where Iran has provided arms, funding and training the rebels.”

It added that this was “a further step in the ongoing effort to forcefully confront Iran’s activities that seek to destabilize the region and promote activities relating to terrorism.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/03/18/US-places-Bahrainis-backed-by-Iran-on-terrorist-list-imposes-sanctions.html

Turkish opposition TV starts broadcasts from Germany

A Turkish opposition television channel has started broadcasting from Germany. The channel hopes to highlight anti-democratic practices in Turkey.

Türkei Istanbul Demonstranten protestieren gegen Verhaftung von Reportern ohne Grenzen (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Suna)Protesters in Turkey have called for the release of jailed journalists

 

A group of Turkish opposition journalists has started television broadcasts from the German city of Cologne in an effort to provide independent and objective news in Turkey.

Arti TV, Turkish for Plus TV, went live on Friday evening with the slogan “for a free and independent media and a democratic Turkey.”

The channel brings together several prominent opposition journalists, academics and politicians.

Among those at the station are journalists who lost their jobs and fled to Germany amid a crackdown on media under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

More than 100 journalists in Turkey are in prison, around 150 media outlets have been shut and nearly 3,000 journalists have lost their jobs in a sweeping crackdown on freedom of speech in the wake of last July’s failed coup attempt. Germany’s attention has recently focused on German journalist Denis Yucel, who is among the reporters imprisoned in Turkey.

The immediate goal of the opposition broadcaster is to prevent a referendum from passing next month. Voters will decide on a set of constitutional changes designed to dramatically expand Erdogan’s powers.

Arti TV is available online and via satellite.

http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-opposition-tv-starts-broadcasts-from-germany/a-38004868

Montenegro accession to NATO: It is McConnell’s move

Former minister of foreign affairs and the first Montenegrin ambassador to the USA Miodrag Vlahovic told Pobjeda it was now up to the leader of the Senate majority, Senator Mitch McConnell, to include the discussion on Montenegrin protocol on the Senate’s agenda, as soon as next week.

Pobjeda’s Washington-based source agrees with him and says that McConnell is the only one who has the right to put the accession protocol on the agenda of the Senate without prior consent from other senators.

Thus, the majority leader in the Senate can do it directly and the adoption would then take the votes of a two-third Senate majority.

On Wednesday, the Republican senator John McCain called on colleagues in the Senate to consider and unanimously vote on the protocol, but the senator Rand Paul objected that and left the meeting without explanation.

The surprise move has caused sharp criticism of Senator McCain and his colleagues Democrats Ben Cardin and Jeanne Shaheen. McCain has even said that the senator Paul “is now working for Vladimir Putin”.

Absolute US support

Vlahovic believes that “the statements of senators McCain, Cardin and Shaheen confirmed that there was almost absolute support for Montenegrin accession, and that there is a deep and detailed understanding of the Montenegro’s position and the importance of the enlargement, development and strengthening of NATO had for the United States in the context of relations in Europe and, in particular, to Russia”.

Montenegro accession to NATO: It is McConnell’s move

Trump says Germany owes ‘vast sums’ to NATO

President Donald Trump says Germany owes “vast sums of money” to NATO and the U.S. “must be paid more” for providing defense.

In a tweet from his Florida resort, where he is spending the weekend, Trump wrote that he had a “GREAT” meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, despite reports to the contrary.

But he reiterated his stance that Germany needs to meet its end of the bargain if it is to continue benefiting from the military alliance.

Trump wrote, “Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”

He added, “Nevertheless, Germany owes … vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/18/trump-says-germany-owes-vast-sums-to-nato.html

 

Russian company that paid Flynn deemed ‘unsuitable’ by Pentagon

 

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March 12, 2017

Al-Qaeda ally claims twin bombings in Damascus

An al-Qaeda-linked group has claimed responsibility for twin blasts near holy shrines frequented by Shiites in the Syrian capital Damascus that killed at least 40 people.

The Levant Liberation Committee said in a statement Sunday that the attack was carried out by two of its suicide attackers, claiming that they targeted pro-Iranian and pro-government militiamen.

Saturday’s attack also wounded over 100, most of them Iraqis, according to Syrian and Iraqi officials. The al-Qaida-linked group said the blasts were a message to Iran — a main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The attacks came two weeks after members of the same group stormed two different security offices in the central city of Homs, killing and wounding scores of people, including a top Syrian security official.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-march-12-2017/

Police blast protesters with water cannons in Rotterdam after Turkish ministers are refused entry to Holland, prompting Erdogan to label the Dutch ‘Nazi fascists’

  • Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was flying to a rally in Rotterdam for expats
  • But Dutch authorities stopped the plane from landing as the rally was banned 
  • Erdogan called the Dutch ‘Nazi remnants’ for refusing to let the plane land
  • Turkey’s family affairs minister also expelled and escorted to German border  

Turkish ministers have been forced out of Holland sparking mass riots on the streets of Rotterdam as protesters and police became embroiled in violent clashes.

Water cannons were fired at demonstrators in an attempt to control the crowds who were seen to be kicking police officers on the ground as well as throwing stones and metal railings.

The ugly scenes were in reaction to two Turkish ministers being blocked from entering the country by officials, which prompted Tayyip Erdogan to label the Dutch ‘Nazi remnants and fascists’.

Syria warns it will ‘down Turkish planes next time,’ calls bombing of Kurds ‘flagrant aggression’

Damascus has reacted harshly to the bombing of Kurdish militias in northern Syria on Thursday morning by Turkey’s air force, vowing to intervene next time Ankara sends its planes over its border.

In a statement, the Syrian Defense Ministry accused Turkey of “flagrant aggression, which targeted innocent citizens,” saying that it considers it “a dangerous development that could escalate the situation.”

“Any attempt to once again breach Syrian airspace by Turkish war planes will be dealt with and they will be brought down by all means available,” warned Damascus, whose planes, which have flown in concert with a Russian expeditionary force, have been avoiding direct confrontation with unauthorized NATO jets.

Turkish artillery guns have been firing at Kurdish militias, who are now fighting against Ankara-backed rebels over territory won back from Islamic State in northern Turkey on Wednesday. Turkey said that the airstrikes took out up to 200 Kurds, though the YPG, the Kurdish militia, initially put its losses at 15.

https://www.rt.com/news/363579-syria-warns-turkey-bombing-kurds/

Russia begins modernization of naval facility in Syria

Russia has launched a modernization project of it’s naval facility in the Syrian port city of Tartus.

According to the head of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Viktor Ozerov, the plans were presented during a visit of Russian senators to the base in October 2016.

The work is expected to include extra piers and structures to facilitate naval logistics vessels and warships.

In January this year, Russia and Syria signed an agreement to expand the territory of the Russian naval facility in Tartous. The signed document refers to an agreement of 49 years.

The agreement also makes provisions for free use of the territory – officially Russian – with conditions of immunity from the jurisdiction of the Syrian state.

The agreement, according to Viktor Ozerov, is subject to ratification by the Russian parliament in Spring, as it will be “a higher level of consolidation of existing agreements.” 

As the destination of much of Russia’s manpower in Syria — the Russian naval supply route from the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol — Tartus has long served as a kind of beachhead for Russian arms and equipment deliveries to Syria.

Tartus has been an entry point for Russian arms deliveries to Syria since 1971, when it was leased to Moscow, but the base was doubly significant for serving as a home away from home for the Soviet Mediterranean flotilla.

http://www.geopolmonitor.com/russia-begins-modernization-naval-facility-syria/

Iran using civilian flights to transfer soldiers, ammunition

Iran smuggling soldiers and military equipment to battle zones on civilian flights to Syria and Yemen.

Arutz Sheva Staff

The Iranian security agencies are secretly transferring soldiers, wounded and dead soldiers and ammunition from the battle sectors in Syria and Yemen via civilian flights. This according to a report by an Iranian military official belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

These smuggling activities were reported by the official on the anti-government “Amed News” site and were translated and published by the MEMRI institute which tracks media outlets in the Middle East.

According to the reports, the flights by the Iranian airline Mahan Air to Damascus in Syria and Sana’a in Yemen are utilized for transporting large quantities of ammunition in the cargo department which are then sent to battle zones.

The same official reported that one of these airliners, whose cargo hold was packed with weapons, attempted to land at Sana’a but was threatened by two Saudi bombers, and that due to the bombing of the Sana’a airport, it was unable to unload the military cargo in question. Apparently this is a reference to an event that took place on May 3, 2015, when two Saudi bombers escorted an Iranian airliner and prevented it from landing in Yemen by bombing the Sana’a airport. Iran claimed the airliner was loaded with aid including food and drugs, but this senior military source said it was actually transporting weapons for the Houthis.

The official also reported that ‘Last year, one of these airliners transported regular passengers [as well as] military forces and ammo from Iran to Syria, and on its way back to Iran, it brought dead and injured Iranians, Syrians, Afghanis, and Pakistanis for treatment or burial in Iran.’ He added: ‘On the return trip from Syria, these airliners carry people in Zone C, which is in the rear of the plane and the regular passengers cannot see it. They disembark via the rear door and occupy a separate part [of the plane] from the regular passengers. These are the same people Iran trains in armed combat and guerilla warfare at IRGC bases. In fact, the IRGC commanders use the regular passengers on Mahan Air flights as a cover to transfer weapons, ammo, and [fighters] trained [to wage] guerrilla warfare in the region.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/226531

Iran and Iraq to ramp up oil production despite OPEC cuts

Though OPEC has managed to achieve a high standard of compliance, it has mostly been due to the oversized cut by the largest member of the group—Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the actions and statements of the second and third largest producers in OPEC are throwing worrying signs at the oil bulls.

As the defacto leader of OPEC, Saudi Arabia is left to implement most of the production cuts to ensure a high level of overall group compliance. Saudis know that OPEC might not get another chance if it doesn’t adhere to its production cuts.

Another reason is the forthcoming IPO of Saudi Aramco. Without higher oil prices, Saudi Arabia might not get the valuation it is expecting for its crown jewel. Aramco’s successful listing is vital for reaching Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ objective.

However, two OPEC members, Iran and Iraq, are exploiting Saudi Arabia’s precarious position by taking steps to boost production. The Kingdom will have to contend with increased production from Iran and Iraq, along with tackling the U.S. shale oil producers. According to the IEA, Iraq will increase its output to 5.4 million barrels per day by 2022, which is significantly higher than the earlier estimates of an increase to 4.6 million bpd by 2021. Similarly, Iran is expected to boost production by 400,000 bpd to reach 4.15 million bpd production in 2022. The Iraqi Oil Ministry and the Iranian Oil Ministry have signed a memorandum of understanding to bury their differences on joint oil fields and build a pipeline to export crude oil from the Kirkuk fields, in the north of Iraq, through Iran, reported the Al Monitor. Iraq, which produced 4.47 million bpd in January, well above its quota of 4.35 million bpd, is capable of raising its output to 5 million bpd in the second half of this year, said Iraq’s Minister of Oil, Jabbar Ali Al-Luiebi. “We achieved this great achievement of 4 million barrels per day … middle of 2016, and now we have climbed up and we are reaching about 5 million barrels per day beginning of second half of this year,” Al-Luaibi said during an interview at CERA Week by IHS Markit, reports CNBC.

http://vestnikkavkaza.net/analysis/Iran-and-Iraq-to-ramp-up-oil-production-despite-OPEC-cuts.html

As Foreign Agent For Turkey, Flynn Agreed To Form Elite Investigation Team, Make ‘Criminal Referrals’

CHUCK ROSS

While serving as a top adviser on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Michael Flynn signed a contract in which he agreed to utilize an “investigative laboratory” made up of elite former intelligence officials, including a former CIA director, to conduct research and make “criminal referrals” on behalf of a Dutch shell company linked to the Turkish government, federal records show.

But Flynn appears to have over-promised on the contract, which was signed on Aug. 9 between his firm, Flynn Intel Group, and Inovo BV, the shell company.

R. James Woolsey, the former CIA director identified by his title in the contract as a member of Flynn Intel’s “investigative laboratory,” says he was not aware of and never agreed to perform any of the work laid out in the contract.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/11/as-foreign-agent-for-turkey-flynn-agreed-to-form-elite-investigation-team-make-criminal-referrals/

 

Germany rebuffs Trump’s call for a big jump in military spending

After months of uneasy, long distance skirmish, Donald Trump and Angela Merkel will meet for the first time on Tuesday. USA TODAY

BERLIN — Europe’s most populous and economically powerful country can easily afford to spend more on its military defense, as NATO requires and President Trump demands. Yet Germany, still haunted by the horrors of World War II, simply doesn’t want to do that.

Even in today’s dangerous world, Germany is a largely pacifist nation, security analysts say.

“It’s clear that the Bundeswehr (German armed forces) just can’t realistically achieve these goals,” said Sönke Neitzel, a professor of military history at the University of Potsdam. “The institution has really fallen behind. We’re very far away from being fit for combat on a small scale, let alone on a large one.”

The world’s fourth-largest economy spent $37 billion — 1.2% of its economic output — on defense last year, according to government figures. That is far short of the 2% set by NATO and a third of the 3.6% of gross domestic product that the United States spent in 2016, according to NATO figures.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/03/12/germany-rebuffs-trumps-call-big-jump-military-spending/98871940/

 

Deadly attack on security forces in southern Tunisia

Four attackers on motorcycle attacked on Sunday a security checkpoint in the southern Tunisian city of Kebili, killing one guard, according to the country’s interior ministry. Two attackers were killed in the ensuing shootout.

Tunisian authorities said the attack took place early Sunday at around 00.40 local time.

“There was a terrorist attack on a checkpoint just outside Kebili. Four alleged terrorists on two motorcycles that were armed with explosives arrived on the scene. They killed one of the security agents. There were only three of them present manning the checkpoint,” Sarah Souli, a freelance journalist in Tunis, told FRANCE 24.

Two attackers out of four were then killed by security forces. A third attacker was wounded and is now in hospital. The fourth one managed to escape, according to Tunisian authorities.

http://www.france24.com/en/20170312-deadly-attack-security-forces-southern-tunisia-terrorism-kebili

 

US-Led Coalition, NATO Training Kurdish Peshmerga Forces in Northern Iraq

Peshmerga military units related to the Kurdish National Council (ENKS) are trained by NATO and United States-led international coalition instructors to fight against Daesh terrorists, council representative Kawa Azizi said.
According to Azizi, all operational costs for Peshmerga forces are paid by the government of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The ENKS is a Syrian Kurdish political organization established in 2011, under the sponsorship of the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The so-called Rojava Peshmerga group is a paramilitary wing of the ENKS. The group, reportedly of 6,000 fighters, is affiliated with Turkey which allegedly trained and funded the Rojava Pashmergas to fight against the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the biggest Kurdish party in Syria.

Azizi said that NATO training programs for Peshmerga forces are carried out in northern Iraq.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201703121051493712-us-nato-training-peshmerga/

US accuses Moscow of aiding warlord in battle for Libya oil ports

Pentagon says Russia has intervened to support opponents of the western-backed government

in Tunis

Saturday 11 March 2017 Last modified on Sunday 12 March 2017

A fierce battle for control of Libya’s oil ports is raging this weekend as worried American officials claim that Russia is trying to “do a Syria” in the country, supporting the eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar in an attempt to control its main source of wealth.

The fighting between Haftar’s forces and militias from western Libya is focused on Sidra, Libya’s biggest oil port, and nearby Ras Lanuf, its key refinery. Together they form the gateway to the vast Oil Crescent, a series of oilfields stretching hundreds of miles through the Sahara containing Africa’s largest reserves. Haftar’s forces have launched airstrikes against militias around the oil ports themselves, with social media showing pictures of corpses and burning vehicles. No casualty figures have yet been released.

Capturing the glittering prize of the Oil Crescent has become the focus of a bitter civil war now in its third year and US officials fear that Russia has now entered the conflict, with Haftar the likely beneficiary.

Asked by Senator Lindsey Graham whether Russia was “trying to do in Libya what they are doing in Syria”, Waldhauser said: “Yes, that’s a good way to characterise it.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/11/us-says-russia-backs-libya-warlord-in-oil-ports-battle

Anxiety grows over North Korea’s arsenal: ‘Danger now is miscalculation’

On the day of North Korea’s first atomic test in 2006, aides to President George W. Bush began phoning foreign capitals to reassure allies startled by Pyongyang’s surprising feat. The test, aides said, had been mostly a failure: a botched, 1-kiloton cry for attention from a regime that had no warheads or reliable delivery systems and would never be allowed to obtain them.

“The current course that they are on is unacceptable,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said publicly at the time, “and the international community is going to act.”

A decade later, that confidence has all but evaporated. After a week in which Pyongyang successfully lobbed four intermediate-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, U.S. officials are no longer seeing North Korea’s weapons tests as amateurish, attention-grabbing provocations. Instead, they are viewed as evidence of a rapidly growing threat – and one that increasingly defies solution.

Over the past year, technological advances in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have dramatically raised the stakes in the years-long standoff between the United States and the reclusive communist regime, according to current and former U.S. officials and Korea experts. Pyongyang’s growing arsenal has rattled key U.S. allies and spurred efforts by all sides to develop new first-strike capabilities, increasing the risk that a simple mistake could trigger a devastating regional war, the analysts said.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-north-korea-weapons-arsenal-20170311-story.html

Taiwan court detains Chinese spy

According to the court, Zhou is suspected of violating the national security law for building networks and gathering confidential information from several government units and schools.

Katharine Chang, minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s top China policy body, said that the policy of admitting visiting Chinese students will not change.

“However, we strongly urge Chinese students studying here not to violate laws,’’ Chang warned.

https://www.businessdayonline.com/taiwan-court-detains-chinese-spy/

Taiwan Air Force hero charged with spying for China

Officer recruited by Chinese spy ring: prosecutors

Chinese spy Zhen Xiaojiang (right). (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A former Air Force officer who was once involved in a direct confrontation with China was charged Tuesday with passing on military secrets to a Chinese agent.

Retired Colonel Ko Chi-hsien (葛季賢) and Lieutenant Colonel Lou Wen-ching (樓文卿) were recruited into the spy ring set up by former People’s Liberation Army Captain Zhen Xiaojiang (鎮小江), who was sentenced to four years in prison last year, prosecutors said.

Zhen traveled to Taiwan as a tourist and contacted serving and retired military officers whom he offered trips to Southeast Asia and other enticements in return for secrets, investigators said.

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office said Tuesday it was indicting Ko and Lou for leaking secrets under military law, though it did not specify which kind of confidential information had been passed on.

In 1990, Ko was one of four F-104G pilots involved in a tense confrontation with Chinese fighters over the Taiwan Straits, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported Tuesday.

http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3110600

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March 11, 2017

Erdoğan brands Dutch ‘Nazi remnants’ for barring Turkish MP

Rotterdam officials withdraw permission for foreign minister to land in city amid row over cancelled rally

The Turkish president has branded the Netherlands “Nazi remnants” and “fascists” after one of his ministers was barred from entering the country in an escalating row over a cancelled rally in Rotterdam.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made his comments on Saturday after the Dutch government withdrew permission for his foreign minister to land there for a planned visit.

Rotterdam city authorities withdrew permission on Friday for Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to attend a meeting of the Turkish community to rally support for Erdoğan’s plans to extend his powers. The plans are to be voted on in a referendum in Turkey next month.

Several other European cities have banned Turkish officials from attending such meetings aimed at expats who are allowed to vote in the referendum.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/11/erdogan-brands-dutch-nazi-remnants-for-barring-turkish-mp

Plot to hit German shopping centre with multiple suicide bombers is foiled after police are tipped off about ‘imminent attack’

  • Police in Essen, Germany, have olosed a shopping centre after reports of an imminent suicide attack 
  • The Limbecker Platz shopping center is one of the largest in Germany with around 200 shops 
  • About a hundred officers positioned themselves around the compound to make sure no-one could enter
  • Several officers scoured the inside of the building to bring out early morning cleaning staff 
  • This incident comes just a day after seven people were injured in an attack in Dusseldorf 

Police in the German city of Essen have ordered a shopping centre to remain closed on Saturday after a tip by security services of ‘concrete indications about a possible attack’.

It was reported by German newspaper Bild that multiple suicide bombers were plotting to attack the Limbecker Platz centre with explosives.

‘The current state of our investigations points to the threat being exclusively at the shopping centre,’ said the police in a statement.

7http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4303652/Police-close-German-shopping-centre-possible-attack.html#ixzz4b1YClFtG

Twin bombings kill at least 46 in Damascus Old City

Most of the victims were Shiite Iraqis visiting holy sites in the area; over 100 reported wounded

DAMASCUS, Syria (AFP) — Twin bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims on Saturday killed 46 people in Damascus, most of them Iraqis, a monitoring group said, in one of the bloodiest attacks in the Syrian capital.

There have been periodic bomb attacks in Damascus, but the stronghold of the regime of President Bashar Assad has been largely spared the destruction faced by other major cities in six years of civil war.

A roadside bomb detonated as a bus passed and a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Bab al-Saghir area, which houses several Shiite mausoleums that draw pilgrims from around the world, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“There are also dozens of people wounded, some of them in a serious condition,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

State television said there were 40 dead and 120 wounded after “terrorists detonated two bombs.”

It broadcast footage of several white buses with their windows shattered, some of them heavily charred.

Shoes, glasses and wheelchairs laid scattered on the ground covered in blood.

Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad Shaar said the attack targeted “pilgrims of various Arab nationalities.”

“The sole aim was to kill,” he said.

The Iraqi foreign ministry said around 40 of its nationals were among the dead and 120 among the wounded.

There was no immediate claim for the attack.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/twin-bombings-kill-at-least-44-in-damascus-old-city/

Iran UN envoy says Israel behind assassinations of nuclear scientists

Reza Najafi accuses world of turning blind eye to Jewish state’s violations of international treaties

Iran’s ambassador to the United Nation’s atomic agency claimed that “Israel-hired terrorists” were behind the assassinations of several nuclear scientists in recent years.

Speaking with the IAEA Board of Governors, Reza Najafi on Thursday also criticized Israel for not adhering to international nuclear treaties, and the international community for ignoring it.

“While nuclear scientists across the entire Middle East have been assassinated by Israeli-hired terrorists, the regime’s nuclear experts are allowed access to some countries’ nuclear facilities,” he said, according to reports in Iranian media.

“Unfortunately, the Zionist Regime has ignored the rightful requests of the international community in the last years, and having the blind support of some western countries and with infringing all international laws and regulations, has pushed its dangerous military nuclear program forward.”

At least 4 Iranian scientists were assassinated between 2010-2012, and Iran has long claimed Israel’s spy agency was behind the killings as part of a campaign to sabotage its rogue nuclear program.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-un-envoy-says-israel-behind-assassinations-of-nuclear-scientists/

 

 

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February 23, 2017

Kim Jong Un’s half brother was killed by a NERVE AGENT: Malaysian police say ‘North Korean assassins’ used deadly banned chemical weapon – but how they avoided being killed themselves is a mystery

  • Two women assassinated Kim Jong Nam in Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13
  • Malaysian police say Kim Jong Un’s half brother had nerve agent on his face
  • Not known how the women applied the agent without becoming ill themselves
  • VX nerve agent is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by United Nations
  • Suspected attackers, Indonesian woman and Vietnamese woman, are in custody

A statement Friday from the inspector general of police said a preliminary analysis from the Chemistry Department of Malaysia identified the agent as ‘VX nerve agent’.

Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of leader Kim Jong Un, died February 13 shortly after two women put a substance on his face while he was checking in for a flight.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4252244/North-Korea-calls-Malaysian-investigation-holes.html

IDF jet downs Hamas drone off the Gaza coast

Army says the UAV never entered Israeli airspace, vows not to allow violations of sovereignty

A Hamas drone paraded at a celebration marking the 27th anniversary of the founding of the terror group in 2014. (YouTube/RuptlyTV)

A Hamas drone paraded at a celebration marking the 27th anniversary of the founding of the terror group in 2014. (YouTube/RuptlyTV)

An Israeli Air Force fighter jet shot down a Hamas drone flying from the Gaza Strip toward the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday afternoon, the army said.

The unmanned aerial vehicle never flew into or over Israeli territory, the army noted.

The drone crashed into the water off the coast of Gaza.

“The IDF will not allow any violation of [Israel’s] airspace and will operate with determination against any attempt to do so,” the IDF said in a statement.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-jet-downs-hamas-drone-off-the-gaza-coast/

 

Putin congratulates Estonia on national day

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated his Estonian counterpart Kersti Kaljulaid on Estonia’s Independence Day, the Russian Embassy in Tallinn wrote on Facebook Thursday.

“[Putin] expressed confidence that development of Russian-Estonian relations in the spirit of good neighborliness and mutual respect is consistent with the core interests” of the people of the two countries,” the embassy said.

The Russian president wished his counterpart and all residents of Estonia happiness, well-being and all the best, the embassy said quoting from Putin’s congratulatory message.

http://www.baltictimes.com/putin_congratulates_estonia_on_national_day/

 

Lithuanian nationalists celebrate Holocaust-era quisling, Pepe the Frog near execution site

(JTA) — Lithuanian ultranationalists marched near execution sites of Jews with banners celebrating a pro-Nazi collaborationist who called for ethnic cleansing and a symbol popular with members of the U.S. “alt-right” movement.

Approximately 170 people attended Thursday’s annual march in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city that is also known as Kovno, the website Defending History reported.

The main banner featured a picture of the collaborationist Kazys Skirpa modified to resemble Pepe the Frog, a cartoon figure that was used by hate groups in the United States during the 2016 presidential elections, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The banner also included a quote attributed to the Pepe-like portrait of Skirpa, an envoy of the pro-Nazi movement in Lithuania to Berlin, that read “Lithuania will contribute to new and better European order.”

Skirpa, who has a street named for him in Kaunas, “elevated anti-Semitism to a political level” that “could have encouraged a portion of Lithuania’s residents to get involved in the Holocaust,” the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania asserted in 2015. But Skirpa “proposed to solve ‘the Jewish problem’ not by genocide but by the method of expulsion from Lithuania,” the center said.

The procession passed near the Lietovus Garage, where in 1941 locals butchered dozens of Jews. Thousands more were killed in an around Kaunas by local collaborators of the Nazis and by German soldiers in the following months.

http://www.jta.org/2017/02/17/news-opinion/world/lithuanian-nationalists-celebrate-holocaust-era-collaborator-pepe-the-frog-near-execution-site

 

Illegal fundraiser for the Clintons made secret tape because he feared being ASSASSINATED over what he knew – and used it to reveal Democrats’ bid to silence him

  • DailyMail.com has obtained a video in which convicted illegal Clinton fundraisers Johnny Chung gave secret testimony while in fear of his life
  • The Chinese-American was convicted of funneling money to Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election bid in a breach of campaign finance law known as ‘Chinagate’
  • Now new book revealed how he spilled details of his activities in a video he made because he thought a squad of assassins would come after him  
  • He made the video with a friend after his FBI protection detail was suddenly removed – which Chung said on the tape shocked even his judge 
  • Chung feared meeting same fate as Ron Brown, Clinton commerce secretary, who died in plane crash, friend who made the tape reveals
  • Video is revealed in new book about the Chinagate scandal 

A Chinese-American businessman at the center of a Clinton campaign finance scandal secretly filmed a tell-all video as an ‘insurance policy’ – because he feared being murdered.

In footage provided exclusively to DailyMail.com, Johnny Chung spills details on how he illegally funneled money from Chinese officials to Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election bid.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4251046/Illegal-Clinton-fundraiser-tape-fearing-life.html#ixzz4ZZglVQpF

Did Hitler have a NUCLEAR BOMB? Declassified US documents suggest the Nazis successfully tested a nuke before the end of World War Two

  • Files unearthed in the US show how far Nazis got in bid to make an atomic bomb
  • A documented test may have taken place of a rudimentary warhead in 1944
  • Missile expert says he observed a mushroom cloud in the sky during a test flight
  • German test pilot Hans Zinsser said he saw the cloud south of city of Lübeck

Documents unearthed in an American archive suggest that Nazi Germany may have tested an operational nuclear bomb before the end of the Second World War.

Recently declassified file APO 696 from the National Archives in Washington is a detailed survey of how far Third Reich scientists got in the development of an atomic bomb – something Hitler craved.

In the file, obtained by the popular daily newspaper Bild, the task of the academics who prepared the paper between 1944 and 1947 was the ‘investigations, research, developments and practical use of the German atomic bomb

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4252164/Files-suggest-Nazis-tested-NUCLEAR-BOMB-WW2-ended.html#ixzz4ZVbvIbT8

Hackers can steal your information simply by analyzing the LED lights on your computer

  • Attacker must plant malware on computer via a USB drive or SD card
  • Drone flies outside window with computer and analyzes the blinking LED lights
  • Lights create a Morse code-like pattern that can be translated into data
  • Experts suggests a method that disconnects sensitive computers from the web 

A new hack has been discovered that gathers sensitive information from a desktop computer’s tiny blinking LED lights.

Researchers have successfully extracted a computer’s secrets using a data-stealing drone that is capable of recording the Morse code-like patterns of LED indicators.

However, the team has also devised a strategy to combat the hack – a security measure that takes sensitive computer systems off the internet.

A new hack has been discovered that gathers sensitive information from a desktop computer’s tiny blinking LED lights. A hacker would first have to plant malware on the system via USB or SD card in order for the drone to pick up the information

COMPUTER HACK

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University have uncovered a new way to hack computers.

First, malware needs to be planted on the system via USB or SD card.

Then a drone flies outside and records the Morse code-like patterns of LED indicators.

Hackers can translate the code into the sensitive data.

Experts found they could move data as fast as 4,000 bits per second, or close to a megabyte every half hour.

The hack and solution were discovered by a team at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Beersheba, Israel, which explained that the hack is more complex than just flying a drone to catch the blinking light.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4250910/Hackers-steal-data-LED-lights-computer.html#ixzz4ZVdlgoIu

European Counter-Terror Official:
IRGC, Muslim Brotherhood Are Not Terror Groups

Leading counter-terror voice faces criticism after advocating against designating groups

BY:

A leading European counter-terrorism official is facing criticism after claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, are not terrorist groups.

Peter Neumann, an Austrian counter-terrorism official charged with working to combat violent extremism under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) attracted criticism this week after stating that both the Brotherhood and IRGC are not terrorist groups and should not be formally designated as such.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/european-counter-terror-official-irgc-muslim-brotherhood-not-terror-groups/

NATO Promises Increase in Tempo of Air, Naval Patrols on Black Sea

http://www.eurasianet.org/node/82521

Poland ousts 90 percent of top brass in defence overhaul

Warsaw (AFP) – About 90 percent of Poland’s top military brass have been replaced in an overhaul launched by the rightwing government, the defence ministry said Wednesday.

Several leading generals had already resigned over the past year as Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz pushes to consolidate the government’s control of the armed forces.

Macierewicz has also said he wants to stamp out all traces of the communist era, by blocking promotions of servicemen who joined before the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, especially those who attended military schools in the Soviet Union.

The defence ministry did not say how many generals had left the army, which now stands at 106,000 soldiers, up from 96,000 in 2015.

Opposition parties have criticised the departures of key four-star commanders in the army’s general staff, at a time of heightened tension with Russia.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/poland-ousts-90-percent-top-brass-defence-overhaul-213213219.html

SpaceX Dragon Delivers NASA Cargo to Space Station After 24-Hour Delay

A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship filled with more than 2 tons of NASA supplies has arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) after a one-day delay due to a navigation software glitch.

The Dragon space capsule was captured today (Feb. 23) by the station’s robotic arm at 5:44 a.m. EST (0944 GMT) by astronauts Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency.

http://www.space.com/35807-spacex-dragon-delivers-nasa-cargo-late.html

Iraqi forces retake runway at Mosul International Airport

Iraqi federal police forces – backed by U.S. air support – entered Mosul International Airport and took control of the runway from the Islamic State, an official said Thursday.

Thursday’s advance is part of a major assault that started five days ago to drive ISIS militants from the western half of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

Two police officers said the airport buildings were under fire from Iraqi forces. They would not provide more information but said the U.S.-led coalition is with the advancing forces.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/02/23/iraqi-forces-retake-runway-at-mosul-international-airport.html

McCain makes secret trip to Syria as US debates new plans to fight Islamic State

Sen. John McCain made a secret trip to northern Syria to visit U.S. military officials and Kurdish fighters and to discuss the campaign for defeating the Islamic State, his office said Wednesday.

McCain, R-Ariz., made the visit to the war-torn country as U.S.-coalition forces prepare for a major battled to oust militants from ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa. A statement from the senator’s office did not give the dates of his travel, saying only that he made the visit last week.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/23/mccain-makes-secret-trip-to-syria-as-us-debates-new-plans-to-fight-islamic-state.html

Mercedes-Benz to Open Russia Factory

Daimler Benz will open its first factory in Russia in the first new investment by a major western automaker since sanctions were imposed on the former Soviet country three years ago.

The company will invest more than 250 million euros ($260 million) in the 20,000-unit capacity factory to build SUVs and the E-class sedan, Automotive News Europe Reports.

The factory will be Daimler’s first to produce passenger vehicles in Russia and will be located about 40 km northwest of Moscow, with the first cars due to leave the assembly line in 2019.

“Russia is of strategic importance for Mercedes-Benz and an attractive growth market,” Markus Schaefer, Mercedes’ production chief, said in a statement. “By establishing a local production we not only achieve greater proximity to our Russian customers but also strengthen the international competitiveness of Mercedes-Benz cars,” he said.

The new plant will be a full assembly plant. More than 1,000 jobs will be created at the site and further jobs at local service providers and suppliers, Daimler said.

https://financialtribune.com/articles/economy-auto/60178/mercedes-benz-to-open-russia-factory

New anti-Islamic State plan could change U.S. strategy in Syria

February 22 at 6:13 PM
[Editor’s Note: If this is a trial balloon, walking away from the Kurds could prove suicidal in more ways than one.   It is not clear if this is a real story or one that is speculative since the U.S. officials are not identified and could well be trouble makers.]
President Trump’s developing plan to defeat the Islamic State may lead to significant alterations in the Syria strategy that Trump inherited from Barack Obama, including a reduction or elimination of both long-standing U.S. support for moderate opposition forces fighting against the Syrian government and the use of Syrian Kurdish fighters as the main U.S. proxy force against the militants, according to U.S. officials.

A memorandum signed late last month by Trump ordered the Pentagon and other national security agencies to draft a new proposal by late February. Trump has made clear in public statements both before and since his inauguration that he is eager to increase U.S. firepower against the militants, and willing to add more troops beyond about 500 U.S. Special Operations troops currently on the ground in Syria.

In addition to calling for “new coalition partners,” possibly to include operational coordination with Russia, Trump also ordered recommendations to change any existing military rules of engagement that are more stringent than what is required by international law

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/new-anti-islamic-state-plan-could-change-us-strategy-in-syria/2017/02/22/268e153c-f84b-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html?utm_term=.a1b3fc3588fd

Austria tries asylum seeker over Syria murders

An asylum seeker charged by Austrian authorities with 20 murders in Syria has had his case adjourned until the end of March.

The 27-year-old man, who was arrested in western Austria in June, faces the charge of “murder in the context of terrorism”.

He is accused of shooting unarmed or wounded soldiers following a battle in Homs, Syria.

His lawyers have said that he was severely traumatised at the time.

The man – who has not been named – denies the charges. According to Der Standard, he is a stateless Palestinian who grew up in a refugee camp in Homs.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39050806

More US Troops in Syria, Iraq Possible Under Mattis Plan

U.S. troop increases in Syria and Iraq could be part of the plan for speeding up the campaign against ISIS that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will present to the White House next week, military officials said Wednesday.

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters traveling with him in the Mideast, “It could be that we take on a larger burden ourselves” in supporting a combined Syrian Arab and Syrian Kurdish force closing on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria. “That’s an option.”

It was less clear whether Mattis would consider a U.S. troop increase in Iraq.

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/02/22/more-us-troops-syria-iraq-possible-mattis-plan.html

Iran allowed to export surplus gas to Europe

By Nigar Abbasova

The Iranian Parliament has allowed the country’s oil ministry to export surplus gas to Europe and neighboring countries in the next fiscal year, which will start March 2017.

The approval is a part of the next fiscal year’s budget bill which is being discussed at the parliament, IRNA reported.

Under the bill, the Iranian oil ministry should take steps to export gas to the EU and neighboring countries-which are not buying oil from Iran- using the private sector potential, if the gas output surpasses 1,000 million cubic meters per day.

Iran’s gross gas output currently stands at 820 million cubic meters per day, while the country’s commercial gas output reaches 700 million cubic meters per day.

http://www.azernews.az/region/109326.html

 

 

Israel Wraps Up Tests to Improve Iron Dome Anti-missile System
For the first time, the system now has been making use of American-made components.

Gili Cohen

Israel successfully tests Magic Wand anti-missile system

Analysis ISIS seeks new balance of deterrence with Israel

Israel’s Defense Ministry announced Wednesday that it recently completed a series of tests to improve the capabilities of Israel’s Iron Dome missile interception system.

For the first time, the system has now made use of American-made components in the course of the missile interception tests, the ministry’s statement said. This is made possible by a production agreement signed with the United States, allowing Israel to manufacture Iron Dome components in the United States with the involvement of the Massachusetts–based defense contractor Raytheon.

As of 2015, about 55 percent of Iron Dome’s components have been produced in the United States.

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.773275

PM Modi clears air defence missile deal with Israel for Rs 17,000 crore

The Army will induct over five regiments of the MR-SAM missile which will have around 40 firing units and over 200 missiles of the system.

Ajit Kumar Dubey | Posted by Ashna Kumar
New Delhi, February 23, 2017 | UPDATED 05:13 IST
MR-SAM air defence system

Giving a strong push to India-Israel defence ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday cleared a mega deal for the Army worth Rs 17,000 crore to acquire the Medium Range Surface to Air Defence Missile (MR-SAM) system from Israel to protect India’s airspace from enemy aircraft and drones.

“In a meeting of the cabinet committee on security headed by the Prime Minister, the proposal for procuring the MR-SAM air defence system for the Army was approved and these would be deployed by the Army,” senior government sources told Mail Today.

The air-defence system developed jointly by the DRDO and Israeli Aircraft Industry can shoot down enemy aircraft, drones, surveillance aircraft and AWACS planes at the strike range between 50 km to 70 km in the sky and will help the country in filling gaps in air defence, the sources informed.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pm-modi-air-defence-missile-deal-with-israel-indian-army-drdo/1/889451.html

France, UK fund Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missile update

23 February 2017
MBDA has been awarded a GBP146 million contract to update France and the UK’s Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missiles. Source: MBDA

France and the United Kingdom have signed a GBP146 million (USD182 million) contract with MBDA to update their Storm Shadow/SCALP EG long-range air-launched cruise missiles, it was announced on 22 February.

Under the deal MBDA will refurbish the country’s remaining stocks of the missile, which has been in service since 2003, in order to “sustain the missile until its planned out of service date in 2032”, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

According to the MoD, “The regeneration will consist of a midlife refurbishment of current missile parts such as the turbo-jet engine, an upgrade of the navigational system, and a like-for-like replacement of items such as the cabling, seals, and gaskets.”

The first refurbished Storm Shadows are due to be delivered to the Royal Air Force (RAF) at the end of 2018, and the first SCALP EGs to the French Air Force in 2020, according to the French MoD.

http://www.janes.com/article/68123/france-uk-fund-storm-shadow-scalp-cruise-missile-update

China denies increasing troops on North Korean border

FEB 23, 2017 – 10:53

BEIJING (Reuters) – China denied on Thursday that it had increased its troop presence on the border with North Korea after the murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Malaysia.

Reports routinely circulate at times of heightened tension on the Korean peninsula of China sending troops to the border, which China always denies.

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/china-denies-increasing-troops-on-north-korean-border/42982308

‘3rd Fleet Forward’ One of Several Tools to Deter North Korean Aggression

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Navy forces are preparing for a conflict on the Korean Peninsula – the most likely “fight tonight” scenario they face – by shifting U.S. 3rd Fleet forces as well as the most advanced platforms into the Western Pacific.

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, said North Korea is the only country in his area of operations which is not seeing an improved relationship with the United States, and “if there’s a fight tonight, it’s probably going to happen on the Korean Peninsula.”

Aucoin, speaking at the WEST 2017 conference, said that “we hope that North Korea abides by the United Nations Security Council resolution to stop development of nuclear weapons, but I’m not holding my breath on that regard.” He then described a three-pronged approach for naval forces dealing with that North Korean threat: “technology, our partnerships, and training.”

https://news.usni.org/2017/02/22/3rd-fleet-forward-one-of-several-tools-to-deter-north-korean-aggression

Pentagon starts preparing for split of acquisition job

23 February 2017

Key Points

  • Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis began the process of splitting the Pentagon’s top acquisition job in two in a memo distributed across the agency on 21 February.
  • The memo is the first step towards complying with congressional instructions to divide the responsibilities of what had been the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics into two positions.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis began the process of splitting the Pentagon’s top acquisition job in two in a memo distributed across the agency on 21 February. The memo is the first step towards complying with congressional instructions to divide the responsibilities of what had been the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics into two positions.

http://www.janes.com/article/68122/pentagon-starts-preparing-for-split-of-acquisition-job

Pentagon mulling split of NSA, Cyber Command

The Pentagon is beginning to assess whether it’s time to split up the leadership of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.

Right now, the two organizations share a leader — Adm. Mike Rogers, who is director of the NSA and also the commander of the cyber unit.

But lawmakers have debated ending that “dual hat” arrangement as the United States moves into a new era of expanded cyber warfare.

Given the NSA’s focus on intelligence collection, many on Capitol Hill and in the national security community think it no longer makes sense to have the agency joined with the leadership of military operations in cyberspace.

http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/320736-pentagon-mulling-split-of-nsa-cyber-command

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 20, 2017

Trump names McMaster new national security adviser

President Trump has picked Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to be his new national security adviser, filling a key vacancy left by the ouster of former top security aide Michael Flynn.

The president called McMaster, a career Army officer, “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.”

Trump made the announcement Monday at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., where he had been interviewing a number of candidates for the job.

His decision comes one week after he dismissed Flynn for misleading Vice President Mike Pence and others about whether he discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia’s ambassador during the transition.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/320367-trump-names-new-national-security-adviser

 

Pence says NATO defense costs must be ‘shared fairly’ by Europe – and warns that America’s patience ‘will not endure forever’

  • Said European nations need to speed up plans to contribute two percent of their gross national income to NATO
  • With NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, Pence reiterated the Trump administration’s position that NATO costs are not shared fairly
  • The U.S. leader declined to make new threats to nations that don’t pay up, but he warned, ‘The patience of the American people will not endure’
  • Capping the European trip aimed at allaying fears, Pence said Washington’s backing for the EU remained ‘steadfast and enduring
  • Pence said the United States would remain ‘full partners’ with the EU in fighting terrorism – a Trump priority 

Vice President Mike Pence says European nations need to speed up plans to contribute two percent of their gross national income to NATO and encourage other member nations to do the same.

At a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday in Brussels, Pence reiterated the Trump administration’s position ‘that for too long, for too many’ the burden of paying for NATO has ‘not been shared fairly among our NATO allies.

‘That must come to an end,’ the vice president said.

The U.S. leader declined to make new threats to nations that don’t pay up, but he warned, ‘The patience of the American people will not endure.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4240972/Pence-takes-charm-offensive-EU-NATO.html#ixzz4ZHqhTPKE

Gallup poll: Greece would choose Russia as ally over NATO

A divide between Orthodox and Catholic west appears, according to poll

According to a multi-nation Gallup poll published, Greece and three other NATO member-states would prefer Russia fighting on their side! By far the largest number of countries polled by WIN/Gallup International chose the U.S. for their go-to defense partner, suggesting that it remains the world’s only military power with truly global reach and alliances, but Greece, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Turkey, all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chose Russia as their fighting partner. Another interesting finding showed that Russia and China would pick each other as allies in the event of military conflict.

The findings revealed how the geopolitical security concerns had shifted, with Greece and Bulgaria seeing Turkey, a partner of both in NATO, as the number one threat for their security. Although Turkey is also a NATO member and so theoretically an ally, its invasion and occupation of Northern Cyprus in 1974 showed that these countries cannot rely on NATO to protect them, so they look to Russia. The Gallup poll also broadly reflects a divide between the Orthodox Christian world and Western Christianity, with Orthodox Greece and Bulgaria opting for Russia, while Ukraine and Bosnia Herzegovina — which are also religiously divided — split down the middle.

http://www.tornosnews.gr/en/greek-news/politics/23217-gallup-poll-greece-would-choose-russia-as-ally-over-nato.html

 

TSA allows JFK passengers to walk through security checkpoint without being screened

Eleven passengers. some of whom set off metal detectors, were never checked by TSA agents at JFK airport, according to sources.

Eleven unidentified passengers walked through a security lane without being screened at Kennedy Airport early Monday because the TSA left the area open and unattended, law enforcement sources said.A security camera captured a metal detector going off three times as the travelers walked through the screening lane, the sources said.There was no one present to operate the magnetometer, the x-ray machine and do the pat downs and secondary screening, the sources said.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/tsa-jfk-passengers-bypass-security-checkpoint-article-1.2977418

 

U.S. Air Force deploys WC-135 nuclear sniffer aircraft to UK as spike of radioactive Iodine levels is detected in Europe

Feb 19 20173 Comments

The USAF WC-135C Constant Phoenix might be investigating a spike in radioactive levels in Norway. Someone speculates the release of this radionuclide could be the effect of a Russian nuclear test.

On Feb. 17, 2017, U.S. Air Force WC-135C Constant Phoenix Nuclear explosion “sniffer,” serial number 62-3582, using radio callsign “Cobra 55” deployed to RAF Mildenhall, UK.

As we have already reported the WC-135 is a derivative of the Boeing C-135 transport and support plane. Two of these aircraft are in service today out of the ten examples operated since 1963. The aircraft are flown by flight crews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron from Offutt Air Force Base while mission crews are staffed by Detachment 1 from the Air Force Technical Applications Center.

The WC-135, known as the “sniffer” or “weather bird” by its crews, can carry up to 33 personnel. However, crew compliments are kept to a minimum during mission flights in order to lessen levels of radioactive exposure.

Effluent gasses are gathered by two scoops on the sides of the fuselage, which in turn trap fallout particles on filters. The mission crews have the ability to analyze the fallout residue in real-time, helping to confirm the presence of nuclear fallout and possibly determine the characteristics of the warhead involved: that’s why the aircraft is important to confirm the type of explosion of today’s test.

https://theaviationist.com/2017/02/19/u-s-air-force-deploys-wc-135-nuclear-sniffer-aircraft-to-uk-after-spike-of-radioactive-iodine-levels-detected-in-europe/

 

Russian MIG corporation plans to sell MIG-35 fighter jets to Middle East

Russian MiG-35 fighter
Russia’s MiG corporation, incorporated into United Aircraft Corporation, or UAC, plans to sell its new-generation MiG-35 fighter jets on the Middle Eastern markets, MiG’s Director General Ilya Tarasenko said on Feb. 19.”MiG plans to promote its MiG-35 fighter jets in the Middle East. These aircraft may satisfy the region’s demand in terms of both the flying range and other characteristics. We plan to market the Mig-35 in the Middle East,” he told TASS on the sidelines of the IDEX 2017 international defense exhibition.http://rbth.com/news/2017/02/19/mig_705443

 

Armata T-15 and Kurganets-25 IFVs Will Get ‘Smart Ammunition’ Starting Next Year

On Monday, Tekhmash, the company developing shells for the Armata T-15 and Kurganets-25 infantry fighting vehicles, announced that all-new smart munitions will be delivered by next year.

Speaking to RIA Novosti on the sidelines of the IDEX-2017 defense exhibition in the UAE on Monday, Tekhmash director Sergei Rusakov said that smart ammunition for the T-15 heavy IFV, and the Armata platform-based Kurganets-25 IFV, will be delivered in 2018, the same year that mass production of the T-14 main battle tank is expected to begin.

Tekhmash is now engaged in preparatory work on the integration of the smart munitions technology into heavy armored vehicles, Rusakov explained, and is doing so with the help of JSC Pribor, a Moscow-headquartered defense concern engaged in the production of automatic guns, ammunition and other military products. “Given the significant amount of work involved in the preparation and carrying out of state tests, adopting these munitions may not occur before 2018,” the official said.

https://sputniknews.com/military/201702201050881203-armata-ifv-kurganets-ifv-smart-bombs/

 

Global arms trade reaches highest point since cold war era

Middle East almost doubles weapons imports, as US and Europe remain the main suppliers and China joins top-tier exporters

Iran correspondent

The global transfer of major weapons systems rose over the past five years to the highest volume since the end of the cold war as the Middle East nearly doubled its imports, according to an annual report on arms sales.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said on Monday that more weapons were delivered between 2012 and 2016 than any other five-year period since 1990. Saudi Arabia, which leads a military intervention in Yementhat has cost hundreds of civilian lives, was the world’s second largest importer after India, increasing its intake by 212%, mainly from the US and the UK.

Asia was the main recipient region in the world as India dwarfed regional rivals, China and Pakistan, by accounting for 13% of the global imports. While India received most of its arms from Russia, the Saudis relied heavily on US arms. US and Russia together supplied more than half of all exports. China, France and Germany were also among the top five exporters.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/20/global-arms-weapons-trade-highest-point-since-cold-war-era

Rockets fired into southern Israel from Egypt’s Sinai

No casualties as two handmade rockets land in Eshkol region day after Isis claims four members were killed by Israeli drone

in Jerusalem

Two rockets, apparently fired by Islamic militants in Egypt’s northern Sinai, have landed in southern Israel. The attack came a day after an Isis affiliate claimed that several of its members had been killed by an Israeli drone.

The incident is the second within the space of a month after four missiles were fired towards the Israeli Red Sea city of Eilat, suggesting an increase in tensions on Israel’s southern border.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/20/rockets-fired-into-southern-israel-from-egypts-sinai

Israel boosts missile defenses against Hezbollah

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Israel’s midlevel anti-missile system known as David’s Sling is close to becoming operation­al just as tensions are building once more between the United States and Iran.

The system passed its final tests in January amid expectations that it could soon be deployed to de­fend sensitive sites in Israel against Hezbollah’s arsenal of missiles and rockets, estimated by Israel at about 140,000 of all types.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Voices/2017/02/20/Israel-boosts-missile-defenses-against-Hezbollah/6251487596746/

Arab Israeli charged with planning TA bus bombing, teaching IS how to make nerve gas

Anas Haj Yihya allegedly intended to blow up bus full of soldiers on Dizengoff Street on behalf of Islamic State

Anas Haj Yihya, a 35-year-old Arab Israeli man accused of planning to carry out terror attacks in Israel on behalf of the Islamic State. (Shin Bet)

Anas Haj Yihya, a 35-year-old Arab Israeli man accused of planning to carry out terror attacks in Israel on behalf of the Islamic State. (Shin Bet)

An Arab Israeli man was charged with planning terror attacks on behalf of the Islamic State group, including bus bombings directed against IDF soldiers, according to an indictment filed against him on Monday. He also allegedly distribute information to IS members on how to create a deadly nerve gas.

The suspect, Anas Haj Yihya, was charged in a Tel Aviv court with belonging to a terrorist organization and with multiple counts of contact with a foreign agent.

In May, one of Yihya’s Islamic State contacts, Muhammad Abdel Rawi, told him to carry out attacks against soldiers, including blowing up a bus filled with soldiers on central Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street, which he agreed to, according to the charge sheet.

Three months later, Yihya apparently attempted to create an explosive device, asking a gardener to get him fertilizer, but his request was denied, according to the indictment.

Yihya also allegedly used the Telegram messaging application to distribute information to IS members on how to create sarin gas, a deadly nerve agent, how to manufacture explosive belts and bombs with cellphone triggers, and which poisons can be added to explosives in order to make them more lethal.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/arab-israeli-charged-with-joining-is-planning-tel-aviv-bus-bombing/

UAE Buys New Ship Saving Missiles

 UAE Navy buys Raytheon-made RAM Block 2s

The UAE Navy has signed a multi-million dollar direct commercial sale for an undisclosed amount of American defence giant Raytheon’s highly sophisticated Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAMs), which are amongst the most advanced ship-defence weapons in existence.

The supersonic, lightweight, quick reaction missiles will be used to protect the UAE’s Baynunah-class corvettes – which are used for surveillance, interception and coastal patrol missions – from anti-ship missiles, helicopters, aircraft and enemy surface vessels.

 

In an interview with Khaleej Times, Alan Davis, Raytheon’s Program Director for Short Range Defence Systems, Naval and Area Mission Defense, noted that versions of the RAMs systems are currently already being used by eight navies, including America’s.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/abu-dhabi/uae-buys-new-ship-saving-missiles

 

French music festival is cancelled at the last minute after a ‘credible’ tip-off that a ‘bloodbath’ was about to take place

  • The Lignerock Festival, in west-central France, was cancelled on Saturday night
  • The show was called off just minutes before doors were opening for the show
  • It came after a caller told the local police station in an anonymous call: ‘There will be a bloodbath in Saint-Christophe-du-Ligneron tonight’ 
  • Festival organisers received two similar phone calls before the start of the show
  • Four bands were expected to perform at the show: Apes O’Clock, Les Bidons De L’An Fer, Les Cameleons and Eugene De Rastignac

A music festival in France was cancelled at the last minute this weekend over fears of a terror attack after organisers received a series of phone calls threatening a ‘bloodbath’.

The Lignerock Festival, which was scheduled to take place in the Vendée department of Pays-de-la-Loire region in west-central France, was cancelled just minutes before showtime on Saturday night.

It came after a caller told the local police station in an anonymous call: ‘There will be a bloodbath in Saint-Christophe-du-Ligneron tonight.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4241982/French-music-festival-cancelled-bloodbath-threats.html#ixzz4ZEHD0uIf

Four million people could flee to Europe if Britain pulls out of Afghanistan, warns defence minister

  • Sir Michael Fallon admitted Britain and Nato cannot pull troops from Afghanistan
  • Migrants could travel to the UK if the war-ravaged country is left abandoned
  • If Afghanistan collapses Europe would feel the consequences directly, he said 
  • Troops must remain there because terror groups from 2001 still pose a threat 

Sir Michael Fallon admitted the UK and Nato cannot pull troops out of Afghanistan because the terrorist groups that existed there when soldiers deployed in 2001 remain and ‘still pose a threat’.

As the Ministry of Defence considers sending more troops to the country, Sir Michael warned that if Afghanistan collapses, Europe ‘will feel the consequences, very directly’.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4240580/4m-flee-Afghanistan-Britain-pulls-country.html#ixzz4ZEIDWUyR

White House Fires Senior NSC Aide for Harsh Trump Criticism

February 18, 2017 9:05 pm

The White House on Friday fired a senior National Security Council aide after learning that he severely criticized President Donald Trump and his top aides, including daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, at an event in Washington, D.C.

The aide, Craig Deare, was dismissed by the Trump administration after he castigated the administration’s senior officials at an off-the-record roundtable hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center, a think tank based in the nation’s capital, Politico reported Saturday.

Deare served as the NSC’s senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs and was previously the dean of administration at National Defense University.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/white-house-fires-senior-nsc-aide-trump-criticism/

‘We see a president who’s pragmatic and practical, a businessman, problem-solver’

Praising Trump, Saudi FM urges progress toward peace with Israel

Days after Trump and Netanyahu talk of regional deal, Adel al-Jubeir says his country ready to stand with others in Arab world ‘to promote’ a deal

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said he is optimistic that Arabs and Israelis can reach a peace deal in 2017.

Speaking four days after US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a White House press conference about the possibilities of a regional peace agreement, Adel al-Jubeir told delegates at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday that the contours of an Israeli-Palestinian accord were clear, and that Saudi Arabia and other Arab states would work to bring it to fruition.

“I believe progress can be made in the Arab-Israel conflict, if there is a will to do so,” he said. “We know what the settlement looks like, if there is just the political will to do so. And my country stands ready with other Arab countries to work to see how we can promote that.”

He said the new US administration made him optimistic that this and other regional challenges could be resolved.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/praising-trump-saudi-fm-urges-progress-toward-israeli-arab-peace/

Hezbollah said to have obtained ‘game-changing’ anti-ship missiles

Russian-made Yakhont would give Lebanese terror group the ability to strike Israeli gas platforms and ships in the Mediterranean

A Yakhont missile at a Russian air show in 1997 (photo credit: CC BY-SA, JNO, Wikimedia Commons)

A Yakhont missile at a Russian air show in 1997 (photo credit: CC BY-SA, JNO, Wikimedia Commons)

The Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has obtained advanced Russian-made anti-ship missiles, potentially threatening Israeli gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea and the Israeli Navy’s ability to operate in the area, according to a report published Sunday.Hezbollah’s possession of the Yakhont missiles was revealed by unnamed Western intelligence officials over the weekend at the Munich Security Conference, where world leaders and defense ministers are meeting to discuss major security issues, according to a report in the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth. The report did not reveal in what forum the revelations were made.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/hezbollah-said-to-have-obtained-game-changing-anti-ship-missiles/

Russia rejects claim of Montenegro plot

Russia has denounced as absurd and unsubstantiated allegations that “Russian state bodies” were involved in an attempted coup in the Balkan state of Montenegro.

The alleged plot dates back to a series of arrests hours before Montenegro’s elections in October 2016.

At the time, Serb paramilitaries and Russian nationalists were blamed.

But prosecutor Milivoje Katnic has now named a Russian military figure as behind the alleged mission.

He said a Serb nationalist figure had been invited to Moscow by Eduard Sismakov, a former deputy military attache to Poland, with the aim of preventing Montenegro from joining Nato.

The alleged plotters are said to have planned to assassinate Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39027315

Iran launches ‘advanced’ rockets during military exercises

An Iranian semi-official news agency is reporting that the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard has launched sophisticated rockets during military exercises.

The Monday report by Tasnim, an agency considered to be close to the Revolutionary Guard, said the launch of “smart and advanced” rockets came during an annual three-day maneuver which began on Monday in Iran’s central desert.

The report did not elaborate on the model of the rockets…

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/20/iran-launches-advanced-rockets-during-military-exercises.html

4 Russian servicemen killed in car blast in Syria – MoD

Four Russian servicemen were killed in Syria on February 16, when a radio controlled bomb targeting a Syrian military convoy exploded, the Russian Defense Ministry has said in a statement.

Two other Russian servicemen were injured in the blast, the Ministry added.

The vehicle had been part of a Syrian Army convoy traveling to the city of Homs from the Tiyas airfield in central Syria’s Homs Province.

Russian military advisers were in the car when it blew up, according to the ministry’s statement.

https://www.rt.com/news/377947-russian-servicemen-killed-syria/

BRITISH TROOPS FRESH OFFENSIVE

SAS troops to fight alongside Iraqi and Kurdish fighters to free Iraq’s second largest city from ISIS

British Special Forces lead fresh offensive to liberate 650,000 Iraqi civilians in Mosul

BRITISH Special Forces led a fresh offensive yesterday in a bid to liberate western Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq.

SAS troops along with the U.S. Green Beret and Delta Force commandos are aiming to retake the area from Islamic State.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2905894/sas-troops-to-fight-alongside-iraqi-and-kurdish-fighters-to-free-iraqs-second-largest-city-from-isis/

Battle for Mosul: Iraqi forces storm key village near airport

  • Iraqi forces storm village overlooking Mosul airport
  • Long-awaited operation to retake western part of city began Sunday

(CNN)US-backed Iraqi forces have stormed a key village overlooking Mosul’s airport “and are continuing to clear it” of ISIS fighters, the Iraqi army said Monday, less than 48 hours after an offensive was launched to retake control of the western part of the city.

Iraqi Commander of the Operation General Abdal Amir Yar Allah said in a statement that the federal police and the Interior Ministry’s Rapid Deployment Force were battling ISIS in Albu Saif village, less than 2 kilometers from the airport.

‘President Erdogan assassination plot’ trial opens in TurkeyText

by FRANCE 24

A trial of almost 50 suspects accused of plotting to assassinate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the botched July 15 coup opened Monday in southern Turkey.

Forty-four suspects — mainly soldiers — face possible life sentences on charges that include attempted assassination, overthrow of the constitutional order and other crimes against the state during the 2016 coup attempt.

“Most of them are soldiers up to the rank of brigadier general, three of them are still at large, including the number one accused, Fethullah Gulen, the Islamic cleric who lives in Pennsylvania and who is alleged to be the mastermind of the July 15 coup attempt,” explained FRANCE 24’s Jasper Mortimer, reporting from the southwestern Turkish city of Mugla.

http://www.france24.com/en/20170220-turkey-erdogan-assassination-plot-trial-coup-gulen

Turkey dismisses 227 more judges, prosecutors in post-coup probe: AA

Turkey dismissed 227 more judges and prosecutors on Monday as part of investigations into last July’s failed coup, the state-run Anadolu agency said, meaning close to 4,000 members of the judiciary have now been purged.

Turkish authorities have detained, sacked or dismissed more than 100,000 people from the police, military, public service, judiciary, and elsewhere since the abortive coup over suspected ties to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the putsch.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-judges-idUSKBN15Z1PG?il=0

 

Terror fears in France after knifeman goes berserk in town where al-Qaeda killed two Muslim soldiers

The 32-year-old struck in the town of Montauban, north of Toulouse where a terror attack two years ago left France stunned

 

A knife-wielding attacker was shot by police in south west France today (sun) after wounding a woman in the shoulder.

The unnamed assailant, who is said to be 32 and from the French overseas territory of Reunion Island, struck in the town of Montauban, north of Toulouse.

It is where an al-Qaeda operative killed two Muslim French soldiers five years ago, prompting fears that today’s incident might be terrorist related.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/terror-fears-france-after-knifeman-9850941

Star of postwar German cinema was Soviet spy, declassified files show

Marika Rökk revealed as Soviet agent working from 1940s onwards for network passing Third Reich secrets to Moscow

Marika Rökk
Marika Rökk, whose career began during the Nazi era, went on to star in almost 40 films until her death at the age of 90 in 2004. Photograph: Ronald Grant
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February 3, 2017

Norway: Russian hackers hit spy agency, defense, Labour party

Norway’s security service says nine email accounts — including those belonging to the Labour party, the foreign ministry and defense ministry — have been targeted by hackers believed to be the same Russia-linked group blamed for breaking into Democratic National Committee computers.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg told TV 2 that the hacking is “a serious attack on our democratic institutions,” although security officials say no classified material was taken.

Targets also included the Police Security Service (PST), Norway’s Radiation Protection Authority and an unidentified college, Arne Christian Haugstøyl, section chief for the Police Security Service told Norway’s TV2.

PST also told TV2 it believes the attack came from a hacking group known as “Cozy Bear” that is linked to the Russian Security Service, or FSB…

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/02/03/norway-russian-hackers-hit-spy-agency-defense-labour-party/97441782/

 

Louvre museum is locked down in Paris after soldier shoots knifeman who tried to enter the building with a suitcase

  • A man armed with a machete was shot five times in the stomach after attempting to storm the museum
  • Police source said the attacker was shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ before being gunned down
  • Streets around the Louvre have been evacuated
  • France’s interior ministry have branded the incident ‘serious’ 

A huge security operation is underway in Paris after a man was shot while trying to storm the Louvre art gallery armed with a machete.

The suspect was shot five times in the stomach and is in a critical condition.

He was shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ – Arabic for ‘God is the greatest’ – according to the Paris prefect.

After being refused entry, he pulled out the weapon and was shot by a soldier, according to sources at the scene. A solider is believed to have suffered a head injury.

Streets around the Louvre in the French capital have been evacuated, and it has been branded a ‘serious security incident’ by the Ministère Intérieur on Twitter.

The man was trying to get into the museum’s underground shop, according to a police source.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4187460/Lovre-evacuated-Paris.html#ixzz4XcGIQfFi

Louvre ‘attacker’ was Egyptian: Machete-wielding man shot five times after attacking French soldiers outside Paris museum ‘had been in the country for just over a week’

  • A man armed with a machete was shot five times in the stomach after attempting to storm the museum
  • Police source said the attacker was shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ before being gunned down
  • Streets around the Louvre have been evacuated and France’s interior ministry branded the incident ‘serious’
  • French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has described the attack as ‘terrorist in nature’ 
  • A second person has been arrested, but it is not known if they were linked to the attack
  • The identity and nationality of the attacker are not yet known, the interior ministry has said 

A terror probe has been launched in Paris after a machete-wielding man was shot while attacking four soldiers outside the Louvre.

The suspect was shot five times in the stomach and is in a critical condition.

He was shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ – Arabic for ‘God is the greatest’ – according to the Paris chief of police, and reportedly had paint bombs in his backpack.

A source close to the investigation claims the suspect is an Egyptian man who arrived in France at the end of last month.

An unconfirmed report by TV network LCI names the suspect as 29-year-old Abdallah EH, who arrived in France on a flight from Dubai on January 26. He was not known to security services, the network states.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4187460/Lovre-evacuated-Paris.html

Two Tweets Say How the Paris Louvre Attack Could have been Prevented

Olivier Guitta, who is the Managing Director of London-based Global Strat has proposed that the Egyptian man who carried out the attack in Paris could have been spotted.  Origone, a French-British company specializing in Israeli-security technology, last year offered the French Gendarmes and DST (French intelligence) access to superb analytical tools that would have prevented this attack.  The French, however, rejected the offer and instead tried to put Origone out of business, a foolish attack on a genuine security expert who was offering valuable help.  Perhaps the next French government will look into the matter.

Below are the tweets from Mr. Guitta.  They are self-explanatory.

  1. Someone missed the clues:-ian terro had expressed support of on social media,said he was traveling to

  2. Just before the attack, the terrorist in a way claimed responsibility 4 by writing on for our brothers in

Trump: Louvre attack was committed by ‘radical Islamic terrorist’

LIVING WITH TERROR

How France has become the number one target for extremists in Europe and has been repeatedly brutalised in terrifying new war against terror

Horrific attacks have seen scores of citizens murdered

FRANCE has become the number one target for extremists in Europe, with yet another attack increasing tension in the country today.

A series of horrific attacks have seen scores of citizens murdered as they go about their day-to-day lives and as a machete-wielding man pulled a knife on guards at the Luovre this morning many will have feared that total would rise again.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/uncategorized/2777113/how-france-has-become-the-number-one-target-for-extremists-in-europe-and-has-been-repeatedly-brutalised-in-terrifying-new-war-against-terror/

Merkel humiliates Theresa May as she cancels planned Brexit talks on sidelines of Malta EU summit

  • British officials were left red-faced when news of the schedule change came 
  • Mrs May had to settle for a brief walk and talk with Angela Merkel in Malta
  • Following the chat the prime minister flew home after lunch whilst EU leaders continued discussions on Brexit 

British officials were left red-faced when news of the schedule change came through.

Mrs May had to settle for a brief walk and talk with Angela Merkel in the capital, Valetta.

Following the chat the prime minister flew home after lunch whilst EU leaders continued discussions on the impact of Brexit.

The short meeting saw the chancellor criticise Mrs May for wooing firms with low taxes, adding there was no need for ‘a race for the lowest corporation taxes’.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4190042/Merkel-humiliates-Theresa-EU-summit.html#ixzz4XfgpF8g9

 

North Korea fires its state security chief, South Korea says

FILE - In this photo distributed on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, by the North Korean government, Kim Won Hong, elected as a member of the Political Bureau of the Workers' Party at the Workers' Party congress on May 9, poses for a photo.

FILE – In this photo distributed on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, by the North Korean government, Kim Won Hong, elected as a member of the Political Bureau of the Workers’ Party at the Workers’ Party congress on May 9, poses for a photo.  (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

North Korea fired its state security minister last month, presumably over corruption, abuse of power and torture committed by his agency, according to rival South Korea’s government on Friday.

Jeong Joon Hee, spokesman for the Unification Ministry, said the sacking of Kim Won Hong, who had been seen as close to leader Kim Jong Un, might cause instability in the country’s leadership by causing more fear into the ruling elite. North Korea has not said anything about Kim Wong Hong, and Jeong did not say how the South’s government obtained the information.

There’s a possibility that Kim Won Hong will face stronger punishment as the investigation into his actions is ongoing, said Jeong.

South Korea has a spotty record of tracking developments in North Korea as information about the secretive, authoritarian state is often impossible to confirm.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/02/03/north-korea-fires-its-state-security-chief-south-korea-says.html

US threatens North Korea with ‘overwhelming’ retaliation if it uses nuclear arms

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Thursday threatened North Korea with an “effective and overwhelming” retaliation if the country decided to utilize its nuclear arsenal.

According to Reuters, Mattis issued the warning during his two-day visit to the South Korea, where he sought to reassure U.S. allies in the region that President Donald Trump‘s administration is fully committed to their security.

“Any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming,” the Defense secretary said.

“North Korea continues to launch missiles, develop its nuclear weapons program and engage in threatening rhetoric and behavior,” Mattis added.

Pyongyang’s nuclear program has advanced rapidly in the the last few years, forcing U.S. to make plans for a missile defense project in South Korea.

EU leaders attack Donald Trump at Malta summit

French President Francois Hollande, bottom left, hit out at Trump at the Malta summit

  • French President attacks Trump’s comments on Europe
  • Largest party in European parliament calls Trump’s likely pick for EU envoy “hostile”

Valletta, Malta (CNN)EU leaders, led by French president Francois Hollande, have denounced recent attacks on Europe by Donald Trump as they met for a summit to debate the future of the union.

Hollande described Trump’s statements as “unacceptable”, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the EU to press ahead with its own plans whatever the US says.

EU leaders have been rattled by Trump’s comments on Europe and the NATO transatlantic alliance. He has voiced his support for Britain’s departure from the EU, criticized European refugee policies and called NATO “obsolete”.
Hollande hit out at Trump as he arrived at an informal summit on the future of the EU in Malta. “There are threats, there are challenges. What is at stake is the very future of the European Union,” he said.

U.S. defense chief, in Japan, reaffirms commitment to defense treaty

By Phil Stewart and Kiyoshi Takenaka | TOKYO

U.S. President Donald Trump’s defense secretary on Friday reaffirmed America’s commitment to its mutual defense treaty with Japan during a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

Jim Mattis, who was on his first trip since taking over the Pentagon, appeared eager to reassure Japan of U.S. resolve, after an election campaign that saw Trump question the value of U.S. alliances.

Mattis said provocations from North Korea left no room for doubt about U.S. commitment, a similar message he delivered over the past two days in South Korea.

“I want to make certain that Article 5 of our mutual defense treaty is understood to be as real to us today as it was a year ago, five years ago – and as it will be a year, and 10 years, from now,” Mattis said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-usa-mattis-idUSKBN15I11K

Trump administration imposes sanctions on 13 people, 12 companies in response to Iranian ballistic missile test

President Trump issued a fresh round of sanctions against Iran on Friday in retaliation for the country’s decision to test a ballistic missile over the weekend in violation of a United Nations resolution against such activity.

The sanctions apply to 13 individuals and 12 companies in Iran, according to the Treasury Department, which unveiled the measures Friday morning.

Iran’s missile launch on Jan. 29 provided Trump with the first real test of his foreign policy toughness.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trump-administration-imposes-sanctions-on-iran-in-response-to-ballistic-missile-test/article/2613828?utm_campaign=Washington%20Examiner:%20Breaking%20News%20Alert&utm_source=Washington%20Examiner:%20Breaking%20News%20Alert%20-%2002/03/17&utm_medium=email

U.S. sends Navy destroyer to patrol off Yemen amid Iran tensions: officials

[Editor’s Note: The USS Cole is the same ship that was attacked by a boat stuffed with explosives on 12 October 2000 in Aden harbor, resulting in the deaths of 17 sailors and the wounding of 39 others.  The ship was towed back to the United States and rebuilt.  The Cole has a score to settle.]

The United States has placed a Navy destroyer off the coast of Yemen to protect waterways from Houthi militia aligned with Iran, two U.S. officials said on Friday, amid heightened tension between Washington and Tehran.

The USS Cole arrived in the vicinity of the Bab al-Mandab Strait off southwestern Yemen where it will carry out patrols including escorting vessels, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Earlier this week the armed Houthi movement attacked a Saudi warship off the western coast of Yemen, causing an explosion that killed two crew members.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-yemen-idUSKBN15I25F?il=0

Obama plan to arm Kurds to fight Islamic State in Syria quickly discarded by Trump team

Adam Entous, Greg Jaffe, Missy RyanThe Washington Post

Planning for the final assault on Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State‘s caliphate, had been grinding on for more than seven months. There had been dozens of meetings of President Barack Obama‘s top national security team, scores of draft battle plans and hundreds of hours of anguished, late-night debates.

There were no good options, but Obama’s top foreign policy advisers were convinced that they had finally settled on an approach that could work – arming Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, current and former U.S. officials said. There was just one problem: The Obama team had deliberated for so long that there was no time left to pull the trigger. Donald Trump‘s advisers had also sent word that they wanted to make the decision.

 http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-obama-trump-islamic-state-plan-20170202-story.html

Germany to admit 500 refugees from Turkey each month: Merkel

By For Citizen Digital
Germany to admit 500 refugees from Turkey each month: Merkel

Germany is going to receive 500 refugees from Turkey each month, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday in Ankara, while paying a one-day working visit to Turkey.

Merkel held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim during her visit.

The Chancellor praised Turkey’s great efforts in arranging refugees. She said the refugee deal signed between Turkey and the European Union in 2016 worked for the interest of both Turkey and the EU and should be kept alive.

According to the deal, Turkey will stop refugees from smuggling to Europe, while the EU offers six billion euros in aid for refugees being sheltered in Turkey.

The Turkish Coastal Guard’s data showed that they captured 756 smuggling refugees in January 2017, 86 percent less than the same period of last year. The EU has paid Turkey 2.2 billion euros for construction of refugee schools and humanitarian assistance.

https://citizentv.co.ke/news/germany-to-admit-500-refugees-from-turkey-each-month-merkel-156690/

Wife interview deepens woes for France’s Fillon

Clare BYRNE, AFP

Paris (AFP) – Embattled French presidential hopeful Francois Fillon warned Thursday of a plot to “steal” his voters as a scandal over payments to his wife rumbled on, fuelled by new footage from an interview.

Fillon’s campaign has been struggling since it emerged that his Welsh-born wife Penelope was paid 830,000 euros ($900,000) as a parliamentary assistant over more than a decade — despite almost no one recalling her on the job.

On Thursday, one of France’s main investigative news programmes, Envoye Special, aired previously unseen footage from a 2007 interview in which she said, referring to her husband: “I’ve never been actually his assistant.”

The candid remarks in the interview with Britain’s Sunday Telegraph were likely to compound suspicions that she was paid for a fake job.

The Canard Enchaine newspaper has unearthed payslips showing she earned thousands of euros a month from 1998 to 2007 and again in 2012, as an assistant to Fillon and his 2002-2007 replacement in parliament.

Her lawyer, Pierre Cornut-Gentille, insisted her remarks had been “taken out of context.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/wife-tv-clip-poses-problems-frances-fillon-112710150.html

Why did Russia offer autonomy for Syria’s Kurds?

Russia seizes diplomatic momentum on Syria

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura praised the Russian-brokered Syria talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, which ended Jan. 24, as a “concrete step” toward implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions dealing with Syria, commending Russia, Turkey and Iran for setting up a mechanism to ensure compliance with the cease-fire announced last month.

Russia’s diplomatic blitz did not end in Astana, however. On Jan. 27, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Syrian opposition parties in Moscow for further discussion of a Russian draft of a new Syrian Constitution that had been offered in Astana. While representatives of the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian opposition and the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces refused to attend, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey had excluded from the Astana talks, participated in the Moscow meeting.

Maxim Suchkov reports that the draft constitution includes restrictions on the power of the Syrian presidency, with most powers deferred to the parliament and a newly created “Assembly of Regions.” Under the draft, the president would serve for seven years with no option for a second consecutive term.

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/01/russia-offer-kurds-syria-autonomy-turkey-islamic-state.html#ixzz4XcOudtEH

Venezuela: Chavistas Shut Down Mass, Force Faithful to Listen to Anti-Catholic Rant

The head of Venezuela’s opposition coalition in the legislature denounced the violent takeover of a Catholic Mass in late January by armed Chavista gangs known as colectivos, who forced those congregated to listen to a disparaging rant against the Catholic Church instead of prayer.

Jesús Torrealba, the secretary general of Venezuela’s Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), tweeted this week that colectivos stormed into Caracas’s San Pedro Claver Church on January 23 mid-Mass. “The violent government supporters closed the door, prevented the parishioners from leaving, and forced them to listen to a political speech,” Torrealba denounced on Twitter. “The violent colectivos offended the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference and social leaders in the area in their speech.”

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/02/02/venezuela-chavistas-shut-mass-force-catholics-listen-socialist-rant/

Record radiation level detected inside damaged Fukushima reactor

A record radiation level has been detected inside the No. 2 reactor at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, with the estimated reading of up to 530 sieverts per hour, the plant operator said Thursday.

The reading means a person could die from even brief exposure, highlighting the difficulties ahead as the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. grope their way toward dismantling all three reactors that melted down in the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

The plant operator also announced that based on an image analysis, a 1-square-meter hole has been found on a metal grating beneath the reactor pressure vessel, likely caused by melted nuclear fuel that fell through the vessel.

The new radiation level, described by some experts as “unimaginable,” far exceeds 73 sieverts per hour, the previously highest radiation reading monitored in the interior of the reactor.

An official of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences said medical professionals have never considered dealing with this level of radiation in their work.

According to TEPCO, the extremely high radiation level was detected inside the containment vessel, in the space around 2.3 meters away from the base of the reactor pressure vessel.

https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/record-radiation-level-detected-inside-damaged-fukushima-reactor

 

11 arrests in NYU protest at event by conservative speaker

Fights that broke out at a New York University protest during an appearance by a conservative speaker have led to 11 arrests

NEW YORK (AP) — Fights that broke out at a New York University protest during an appearance by a conservative speaker have led to 11 arrests. School officials also say the speaker, Gavin McInnes, was hit by pepper spray.

McInnes is an actor, comedian and co-founder of Vice Media. He was invited to speak on campus Thursday night by the NYU College Republicans.

His appearance sparked a protest by a group called the NYU Anti-Fascists, who said that McInnes has a track record “of using incendiary language.”

http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2017-02-03/protests-erupt-at-nyu-amid-event-by-conservative-speaker

ISIS could establish a EUROPEAN base if they are outed from the Middle East… with Bosnia the most likely location, say experts

  • ISIS could set-up a base in Europe should they get outed from the Middle East
  • Security experts agree that Bosnia and Herzegovina could become a terror hub 
  • Bosnian activist Djevad Galijasevic said the Balkans nation would fertile ground
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina has a Muslim majority and has produced extremists

The Balkans nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been earmarked as an ‘ideal refuge of last resort’ for the Sunni terror faction, said political activist Djevad Galijasevic.

Galijasevic said the country, which is bordered by holiday hot-spot Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, could be fertile ground for the jihadists to spread their ideology.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4188754/ISIS-set-European-base-Middle-East-outing.html#ixzz4Xfhg3TU5

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January 23, 2017

(CNN)President Donald Trump on Monday will unravel the behemoth trade deal he inherited from his predecessor, as two sources familiar with the matter told CNN he plans to sign an executive order to withdraw from the negotiating process of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

That executive order will send signals to Democrats and leaders in foreign capitals around the world that Trump’s rhetoric on trade during the campaign is turning into action. Trump vowed during the campaign to withdraw the US from the Pacific trade deal, commonly known as TPP, which he argued was harmful to American workers and manufacturing.

The executive order is expected to be the first Trump will issue Monday, a senior White House official said, and will amount to the administration’s first major action on foreign policy.

Syrian peace talks get off to shaky start after rebels refuse direct negotiations with government

Syrian peace talks in Kazakhstan got off to a rocky start on Monday after rebel groups refused face-to-face negotiations with the government, which in turn labelled its delegation terrorists.

The landmark talks, brokered by Russia and Turkey, are the first between armed opposition groups and the regime since war erupted in the country in 2011.

They are a showcase of the new power brokers in the region, with an increasingly disengaged Washington left sidelined.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/23/syrian-peace-talks-get-shaky-start-rebels-refuse-direct-negotiations/

China just made VPNs illegal

The Great Firewall just got more impenetrable.

Chinese authorities block access to big-name websites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and numerous others, and to thwart these restrictions, many residents on the mainland use virtual private networks. Starting this week, that could be a crime. Use of VPNs and special cable connections in China must now be approved by the government, essentially making these services illegal in the country.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/23/china-vpn-illegal-internet-censorship-government-approval/

Key port town in Yemen liberated

The recapture of Mocha by Yemeni forces cuts off Iran-backed Al Houthi militants from vital weapons shipments

Yemeni loyalist forces patrol a highway near the Red Sea port town of Mocha on January 20, 2017.
Gulfnews

Mocha: Yemeni government forces captured on Monday the key port of Mocha as they pushed to oust Iran-backed Al Houthi rebels from the Red Sea coastline, an AFP journalist said.

The Iran-backed rebels have received weapons shipments from Iran through this port and liberating it delivers a major blow to the militants.

Government forces were combing the port, a journalist accompanying the troops said, almost three weeks after Yemeni forces launched an offensive against the rebels and their allies on Yemen’s southwestern coast.

An official statement said government forces recaptured the whole city, but a military commander in the field told AFP that the army was still fighting the rebels on the southern outskirts of Mocha.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/yemen/key-port-town-in-yemen-liberated-1.1966642

Counterintelligence officials probe Flynn’s links to Russia

 

U.S. counterintelligence agents have investigated communications that President Donald Trump’s national security adviser had with Russian officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

Michael Flynn is the first person inside the White House under Mr. Trump whose communications are known to have faced scrutiny as part of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Treasury Department to determine the extent of Russian government contacts with people close to Mr. Trump.

A key issue in the investigation is a series of telephone calls Mr. Flynn made to Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., on Dec. 29. That day, the Obama administration announced sanctions and other measures against Russia in retaliation for its alleged use of cyberattacks to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election. U.S. intelligence officials have said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hacks on Democratic Party officials to try to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/01/23/counterintelligence-officials-probe-flynns-links-to-russia.html

Trump picks former congresswoman and Air Force veteran Heather Wilson as Air Force secretary

January 23 at 1:11 PM

President Trump will nominate a former congresswoman and veteran who served on the National Security Council during President George H.W. Bush’s administration to be his Air Force secretary, the White House said Monday.

Former representative Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.) is currently the president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, a science and engineering university in Rapids City, S.D. She was the first female veteran elected to a full term in Congress, and left the House in 1999 after a failed primary run for the Senate seat now held by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). She served in the Air Force in the 1980s after graduating from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, leaving as a captain, and was a Rhode Scholar.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/01/23/trump-picks-former-congresswoman-and-air-force-veteran-heather-wilson-as-air-force-secretary/?utm_term=.c8a2e8659d73

Syrian Democratic Forces condemn their exclusion from Astana peace talks

SDF leaders speak to a press conference in Raqqa countryside. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Qamishli – The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a main group fighting Islamic State’s (ISIS) militants in northern Syria, have been excluded from the Russian-led peace negotiations in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.

Starting on Jan. 23, the talks are supposed to bring parties to conflict in Syria to the table of negotiations.

“Despite all the victories we’ve achieved against ISIS terrorism in northern Syria, we have been excluded from the Astana talks,” the Kurdish-led SDF said in a statement on Sunday.

The SDF condemned the exclusion, saying it was a violation to their sacrifices in the fight against ISIS, stressing that they’ve “liberated key Syrian territories from terrorist groups”.

http://aranews.net/2017/01/syrian-democratic-forces-condemn-exclusion-astana-peace-talks/

Iran welcomes Russian participation in the $2.5 billion construction of a pipeline to transfer Iranian gas to Europe, a deputy oil minister says.

IGAT-9 is a 35 billion cubic meter per year pipeline that Iran plans to use to send gas from its giant South Pars field to Europe via Turkey.

Russian companies have indicated interest in Iran’s gas development projects, with state-run Gazprom recently signing a letter of intent with the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC).

“We are welcoming Russians’ participation in the project to build Iran’s IGAT-9 with $2.5 billion of investment,” Deputy Minister of Petroleum Hamid Reza Araqi said in remarks published by the Mehr news agency on Monday.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/01/23/507398/Iran-gas-exports-Russia-Europe-pipeline

Most wanted French jihadist charged with terrorist offences in France

One of the UN’s most wanted jihadists has been charged with terrorist offences in France after being transferred from Turkey where he had turned himself in.

Kevin G., 24, is a high-profile French jihadist who converted to Islam 10 years ago, and who was placed on a blacklist in 2014 and is suspected of being a major recruiter for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL).

The suspect’s reported role was to attract young French people to join IS in Syria and Iraq. The jihadist is also thought to have had connection with some of the perpetrators who carried out the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015.

“He spent four years in Syria amongst jihadists, first with former al-Qaeda affiliate the Fateh al-Sham Front, and then the IS group,” according to France 24.

https://www.rt.com/news/374728-un-wanted-jihadist-charged/

Taiwan’s Ancient Submarine Will Reach an Astounding 80 Years in Service

On Jan. 21, 2017, Taiwan announced that the 72-year-old SS-791 Hai Shih, or Sea Lion, will receive a retrofit allowing it to continue sailing until 2026. The $19 million retrofit will be to improve the hull and the diesel vessel’s “navigational elements,” Taiwan News reported.

Eight-zero. That’s a remarkable lifespan for a submarine, and the Hai Shih is already the oldest submarine still in service with a navy anywhere in the world — she looks like she traveled decades into the future through a wormhole.

Before she was Hai Shih, she was the U.S. Navy submarine USS Cutlass, a 1,570-ton Tench-class vessel that launched on Nov. 5, 1944 during World War II. Her wartime service was brief, and Cutlass didn’t reach her first patrol zone near the Kuril Islands until the day after Japan capitulated.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/taiwans-ancient-submarine-will-reach-astounding-80-years-19150

The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) will discipline one of its state leaders over remarks he made criticizing Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial. Bjoern Hoecke, AfD head in eastern Thuringia state, triggered anger across Germany with a comment about the memorial. He told party members in a speech in Dresden last week: “Germans are the only people in the world who plant a monument of shame in the heart of the capital.” AfD co-leader Frauke Petry told German broadcaster MDR on Monday that its executive committee had concluded Hoecke’s statements harmed the reputation of the party. The party considered it necessary to take disciplinary action, said Petry, who had already distanced herself from Hoecke’s remarks. Hoecke said his remarks were misrepresented by the media. (Reuters)

https://www.rt.com/news/line/

 

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January 21, 2017

Gen. James Mattis, Gen. John Kelly confirmed for Trump Cabinet spots

As President Trump’s limousine drove the Washington, D.C. parade route on Friday, the Senate was busy at work stocking Trump’s Cabinet – though not fully.

Gen. James Mattis was confirmed as Secretary of Defense and Gen. John Kelly was confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security in a pair of Friday evening votes.

Mattis was approved by a vote of 98-1. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was the lone vote against. Kelly was approved 88-11. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., did not vote on either Kelly or Mattis. Sessions has been nominated to be Attorney General.

Trump signed the commissions for Mattis and Kelly later Friday. Vice President Mike Pence swore in both Generals.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/01/20/gen-james-mattis-confirmed-as-secretary-defense.html

US won’t sent delegation to Syria talks in Kazakhstan, will be represented by ambassador

US won’t sent delegation to Syria talks in Kazakhstan, will be represented by ambassador
The US will not send a special delegation to the Syria talks, which are due to be held in the Kazakhstan capital, Astana on January 23, according to the US State Department. Instead, the US will be represented by its ambassador to Kazakhstan.

Given our presidential inauguration and the immediate demands of the transition, a delegation from Washington will not be attending the Astana conference,” the US State Department acting spokesman, Mark Toner said in a statement, cited by Reuters.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced Russia’s invitation to the US to take part in the upcoming talks on Syria.

https://www.rt.com/news/374601-syria-talks-astana-washington/

Fox declines to renew contracts for several contributors

Fox declines to renew contracts for several contributors
© Getty

Fox News has declined to renew contributor contracts for longtime political commentator George Will, Republican strategist Ed Rollins and actress Stacey Dash, according to a network spokesperson.

Will, 75, is a Pulitzer-winning conservative columnist who was with ABC from 1981-2011 before coming to Fox in 2013.

In June of 2016, he declared he was leaving the Republican party because of Donald Trump, a decision the then-nominee appeared to embrace.

http://thehill.com/homenews/media/315480-fox-declines-to-renew-contracts-for-several-contributors

Chinese selfie app raises red flags with security researchers over privacy concerns

Chinese selfie app raises red flags with security researchers over privacy concerns
A Chinese beautifying selfie app, that is taking the world by storm with it’s ability to turn mere mortals into anime characters, has raised red flags with security researchers for its apparent excessive collection of data.

Meitu, which is available for iphone and android, has been popular in China since its launch in 2008, but is only now gaining prominence elsewhere as selfie lovers have turned to the app in their droves sharing their perfected pictures across social media sites.

https://www.rt.com/viral/374479-chinese-selfie-app-privacy/

Raids in Austria as terror suspect grilled

Authorities say alleged Islamic extremist may have been planning an attack to be executed in the immediate future

VIENNA, Austria — Austrian police raided several addresses early Saturday as they grilled a suspected Islamic extremist thought to have been planning an attack, authorities said.

“There were several raids on homes in Vienna and Lower Austria (state),” interior ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck told AFP.

“Material recovered in these searches is now being evaluated… So far there has only been one arrest, the one which took place yesterday (Friday),” he said.

The 18-year-old man arrested on Friday evening in Vienna was meanwhile being questioned, Konrad Kogler, national security chief, said on public radio.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/raids-in-austria-as-terror-suspect-grilled/

Apple sues Qualcomm for withholding $1 billion ‘as retaliation’

21

Following FTC anti-competition suit against Qualcomm

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January 17, 2017

Obama commutes Chelsea Manning’s sentence & General Cartright’s Pending Sentence

Obama commutes Chelsea Manning's sentence

President Obama on Tuesday commuted the prison sentence of former Army soldier Chelsea Manning, according to the White House.

Manning was convicted in 2013 of leaking classified information about U.S. national security activities that were later disclosed by WikiLeaks.

The 35-year sentence Manning received was the longest ever imposed for a leak conviction. Manning has already served seven years of her sentence and will now be released on May 17, 2017.

She was originally set to be released be released in 2045.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/314663-obama-commutes-chelsea-mannings-sentence

Federal prosecutors asked a judge on Tuesday to sentence James E. Cartwright, a retired Marine Corps general and former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to two years in prison for lying to F.B.I. agents about his discussions with reporters about Iran’s nuclear program.

However, the White House announced today that President Obama has commuted any sentence for Cartright that might be imposed.  

Nigerian military jet ‘mistakenly bombs refugee camp’, killing more than 100 including 20 Red Cross volunteers

Major General Lucky Irabor, who ordered the mission
Major General Lucky Irabor, who ordered the mission CREDIT: REUTERS/AFOLABI SOTUND

Istanbul nightclub attack: suspected gunman ‘had training in Afghanistan’

Man held by Turkish authorities is named as Abdulgadir Masharipov, who was born in Uzbekistan in 1983

Abdulgadir Masharipov, the main suspect in the Istanbul nightclub attack on New Year’s Eve, was arrested on Monday night.
Abdulgadir Masharipov, the main suspect in the Istanbul nightclub attack on New Year’s Eve, was arrested on Monday night. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The man accused of killing 39 people in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Eve was born in Uzbekistan, received training in Afghanistan and entered Turkey illegally last year, Istanbul’s governor has said.

Vasip Sahin said it was clear that the gunman, arrested on Monday night and named as Abdulgadir Masharipov, carried out the attack on behalf of Islamic State. Masharipov has admitted his guilt and his fingerprints matched those at the scene, Sahin added, describing the attacker as a well-educated terrorist, born in 1983, who speaks four languages.

He was apprehended at the house of a friend, a Kyrgyz national, in the Istanbul suburb of Esenyurt, a community made up largely of families and retired people. The friend and three women were also arrested.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/17/istanbul-nightclub-attack-suspected-gunman-abdulgadir-masharipov-had-training-in-afghanistan

We’re going for FULL Brexit! PM puts immigration curbs at heart of 12-point plan for leaving the EU as she confirms we are quitting single market… but MPs WILL get a vote on final deal

  • Prime Minister is finally unveiling her blueprint for taking UK out of the EU
  • Rejects ‘half-in, half-out’ deal and makes clear are leaving the single market
  • Britain will regain control over borders and quit the European Court of Justice
  • Warns that EU could be ‘crushed to tiny pieces’ unless it recognises demands for greater sovereignty 
  • But makes concession by announcing MPs and peers to get vote on final deal 
  • Says should be fixed length ‘transitional’ deal to avoid cliff edge for business

Theresa May unveiled her bold blueprint for cutting ties with Brussels today – and warned that if the EU does not cooperate it could be ‘crushed into tiny pieces’.

In an historic speech that will define the UK for generations, the Prime Minister vowed to take the country out of the European single market

She insisted controlling rampant immigration is a red line – and made clear Britain will no longer tolerate being bossed around by European judges.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4127246/PM-immigration-Brexit-plan-leaving-EU-single-market.html#ixzz4W1QPvX82

Serbia plans to annex part of Kosovo ‘using the Crimea model’ claims president after soldiers are deployed to stop a train with the slogan ‘Kosovo is Serbia’ entering the country

  • President Hashim Thaci fears Serbia wants to seize a slice of northern Kosovo
  • Balkan neighbours are trading accusations of wanting to ignite new regional war
  • Kosovo has prevented train in Serbia’s national colours from crossing the border

Kosovo’s leader fears Serbia is trying to annex part of his country – just as Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014.

President Hashim Thaci said Serbia wants to seize a slice of northern Kosovo as the two Balkan neighbours trade accusations of wanting to ignite a new regional war.

It comes after Kosovo special police units on Saturday prevented a train painted in Serbia’s national colours and bearing the words ‘Kosovo is Serbia’ from crossing the border.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4125406/Serbia-wants-annex-Kosovo-using-Crimea-model-president.html#ixzz4W1RLPfgw

Waning Influence: Washington Losing Its Grip and Its Allies in Asia Pacific

Washington’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region is waning with its allies adopting a more independent foreign policy course and bolstering economic ties with China.

Although the Obama administration continues to push ahead with its “Pivot to Asia” project, Washington’s influence is steadily waning across the Asia Pacific region, Tony Cartalucci, a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher, notes in his article for New Eastern Outlook. “Washington has suffered geopolitical setbacks in virtually every nation in Asia Pacific, including those now led by regimes it has meticulously organized, funded, and backed for decades. It is also waning, however, among those nations considered long-time and crucial US allies,” Cartalucci emphasizes.

‘America Has Lost’ Behind Manila’s Separation From Washington

According to the researcher, Thailand, Washington’s longstanding ally, has recently “incrementally dismantled American influence over it.” Thailand’s trade activities are now focused primarily on Asia with the majority of its imports and exports “divided equally between China, Japan, and ASEAN” nations. For its part, the West represents a smaller, “though not insignificant,” market, the researcher stresses. Likewise, the country has also rushed to diversify its military acquisitions. “What used to be a military dominated by American hardware and military exercises, is transforming with the acquisition of Chinese tanks, European warplanes, Middle Eastern assault rifles, Russian helicopters, and Thai-made armored vehicles — as well as joint drills held with a variety of nations, including for the first time, China,” he writes.

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201610261046758004-us-asia-pacific-thailand-philippines/

McCain Calls For Major Boost to Defense Spending, Modernization of Joint Force

McCain, who chairs the Senate Committee on Armed Services, released a 28-page white paper recommending a $640 billion base defense budget in fiscal year 2018, which would represent a $54 billion increase over the budget proposal put forth by outgoing President Barack Obama. The plan also calls for repealing the Budget Control Act of 2011, which placed caps on the federal budget for a decade and paved the way for roughly $1 trillion in cuts to defense spending.

If adopted, the plan would add $430 billion to defense spending over the next five years in order to modernize the joint force and regain the capacity of the armed forces that has been eroded as a result of budget constraints and force drawdowns.

The paper includes specific recommendations to grow and modernize the Army, Air Forces, Marine Corps, Navy, and special operations forces. It also calls for expanding U.S. missile defense, making investments in next-generation space capabilities, and boosting funding for cyber forces and cyber weapons systems.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/mccain-calls-for-major-boost-to-defense-spending-modernization-of-joint-force/

F-35 has 276 deficiencies and counting, unfit for combat operations – Pentagon report

F-35 has 276 deficiencies and counting, unfit for combat operations –  Pentagon report
The F-35 stealth fighter jet suffers from hundreds of problems and won’t be fully combat-capable before 2020, says a scathing report from the Pentagon’s top evaluator. New issues keep cropping up, and fixing them all may cost over $1 billion.

Dr. Michael Gilmore’s damning assessment is part of the massive annual report for fiscal year 2016, and his 62-page dossier devoted to the F-35 paints a grim picture of America’s much touted,futuristic Joint Strike Fighter. The program, which began in 2001, was supposed to deliver a fifth-generation jet serving the needs of the Air Force, the Navy and the Marine Corps, achieving savings through a modular design. Instead, it is 70 percent over initial cost estimates and years behind schedule.

Dr. Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test & evaluation (OTE) under President Barack Obama, is leaving the Department of Defense as part of the regular change in politically appointed officials. Though F-35 officials have continued to insist the jet is doing just fine and that the problems found in operational testing were being fixed rapidly, Gilmore’s final report makes it clear that he doesn’t believe their reassurances.

“The Services have designated 276 deficiencies in combat performance as ‘critical to correct’ in Block 3F, but less than half of the critical deficiencies were addressed with attempted corrections,” says Gilmore’s report, referring to problems in the F-35’s software. “Deficiencies continue to be discovered at a rate of about 20 per month,” the report added.

“Much more testing is needed to assess the cybersecurity structure of the air vehicle and supporting logistics infrastructure system,” the report says, “and to determine whether, and to what extent, vulnerabilities may have led to compromises of F-35 data.”

https://www.rt.com/usa/373891-f35-report-flaws-delays/

 

Upgrade of Finland’s Military Planned According to Russia’s Sputnik International Paper

Finland is planning a series of massive updates for its armed forces, which include counter artillery systems and high-precision projectiles. Moreover, the non-aligned Nordic country is buying torpedoes for the first time since World War II.

Cold War Apparitions Resurface as Norway Welcomes US Marines In the coming years, Finland plans to acquire counter artillery radar systems, previously unbeknown to the Finnish Armed Forces. According to Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat, the effectiveness of such systems has been observed during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, where 85 percent of casualties were reportedly caused by artillery fire.

According to Finnish Armed Forces artillery inspector Colonel Pasi Pasivirta, the aim is to accelerate the acquisition schedule so that the radar system will be in active use by 2020. By Pasivirta’s estimations, the choice is between six to seven companies, including Sweden’s Saab, Israel’s Elta Systems and the US’ Raytheon. The Finnish Defense Forces have made an open request, which means that Russia potentially may participate in the tender. However, Pasivirta declined to assess what the Russians could offer. The overall price tag for the new system is expected to run into tens of millions of euros. The final price will be determined by the scope of the system purchased. In a related case, the Finnish Armed Forces are seeking high-precision ammunition for their artillery. According to Pasivirta, Finland is prepared to study the state-of-the-art market for homing missiles and is preparing a market survey, to begin with.

https://sputniknews.com/military/201701171049679876-finland-army-upgrade/

China to develop prototype super, super computer in 2017

China plans to develop a prototype exascale computer by the end of the year, state media said Tuesday, as it seeks to win a global race to be the first to build a machine capable of a billion, billion calculations per second.

If successful, the achievement would cement its place as a leading power in the world of supercomputing.

The Asian giant built the world’s fastest supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight machine, in June last year, which was twice as fast as the previous number one.

It used only locally made microchips, making it the first time a country has taken the top spot without using US technology.

Exascale computers are even more powerful, and can execute at least one quintillion (a billion billion) calculations per second.

https://sg.finance.yahoo.com/news/china-develop-prototype-super-super-113730727.html

 

Leonardo Lands $532 Million in Trainer, Helo Contracts

The Italian Ministry of Defense signed contracts with Leonardo for the acquisition of its new M-345 jet trainer and a new assault helicopter set to replace the  A129 Mangusta.

The two contracts were together worth over 500 million euros, or US $532 million, the Italian state controlled firm said in a statement released late Friday.

The M-345 contract covers five aircraft, making it the initial batch in an eventual expected order of 45 aircraft, Leonardo said, which will replace 137 MB-339 aircraft that entered service in 1982. First deliveries will be in 2019.

The company announced Dec.30 that the prototype of the jet made its first, 30-minute flight in Italy.

The aircraft’s development has been funded by the Italian government and is set to be acquired by the Italian Air Force to prepare trainee pilots to move up to the firm’s advanced M-346 trainer, which is now being offered to the US in the TX program.

New T-X Request for Proposals Tees Up Major Fight Among Defense Primes

The Williams FJ44-4M-34 engine on the aircraft offers 3,400 pounds of thrust, and has been touted by Leonardo officials as contributing to the aircraft’s low life cycle cost, similar to or lower than a turbo prop.

The firm, which believes it can sell 200 M-345s around the world, will be using life cycle stats to try to woo turbo prop trainer customers.

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/leonardo-lands-532-million-in-trainer-helo-contracts

Experts Following Florida Terrorist Attack –  Huge Breach Neglected by US

This post is also available in:heעברית (Hebrew)

By Arie Egozi

“In a state where one can purchase almost any type of weapon just as you buy a hamburger, it has been reasonable to expect that weapons would not be allowed at a passenger aircraft baggage hold, ready to use for a terrorist attack right after landing”, an Israeli expert on aviation security said yesterday.

According to this expert, he and his colleagues had cautioned the US security authorities time and again about this danger, but the regulations were not changed.

http://i-hls.com/2017/01/experts-following-florida-terrorist-attack-huge-breach-neglected-us/

Mazda reportedly introducing sparkless gas engine in 2018

Mazda MX-5 engine for illustration purposes only

Mazda MX-5 engine for illustration purposes only  (Mazda)

 

Mazda may be losing its spark, and that’s a good thing.

The automaker is reportedly set to introduce the first modern gasoline automobile engine that works more like a diesel, using compression to ignite its fuel mixture, rather than an electronic spark.

The technology is known as Homogenous Charge Combustion Ignition (HCCI,) and it could deliver a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy, according to Nikkei. The lean-running motors also deliver better emissions performance than conventional gasoline engines.

http://www.foxnews.com/auto/2017/01/16/mazda-reportedly-introducing-sparkless-gas-engine-in-2018.html

Shock Israeli Poll Finds Only 4% Want a Left-of-Center Prime Minister

 

 

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