Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Africa, U.S. EU, And Arab Countries Commit To A Sahel Anti-Terror Force



VOA: Africa, EU Leaders Add Funding, Urgency to Fight Sahel Jihadists

PARIS — African and European leaders called for intensifying the fight against terrorism in the Sahel during a meeting Wednesday outside Paris, as the recently created G5 Sahel force received fresh funding pledges.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Saudi Arabia was contributing $100 million, and the United Arab Emirates another $30 million to the G5 Sahel force. The United States and European Union have already announced contributions of roughly $60 million each.

Macron said France's 4,000-strong Barkhane operation in the Sahel will work with the G5 soldiers next year to combat jihadist groups in the region, such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. He predicted victories against the groups early in the year.

Read more ....

More News On Africa, EU, U.S., And Arab Countries Committing To A Sahel Anti-Terror Force

African anti-jihadi force gets $130 million at French meet -- AP
Saudi Arabia, UAE pledge $130 mn for Sahel anti-terror force -- AFP
Saudi Arabia pledges 100 million euros, UAE 30 million to Sahel G5 force -- RFI
Arab States Commit to Backing West African Anti-Terror Force -- Bloomberg
Angela Merkel: 'Urgent' need for Sahel anti-terror force -- DW
'Sahel coalition' wants victories against Islamist militants by mid-2018 -- Reuters
Sahel force could tackle jihadists 'without antagonizing communities' -- DW

Afghan Army Casualties In 2016: 6,785 Afghan Security Forces Killed, 11,777 Injured



Maija Liuhto, Foreign Policy: The Walking Dead

As U.S. troops draw down, the Afghan military struggles to provide care for its countless wounded soldiers — on the battlefield and at home.

It’s a warm day in Kandahar as we wait in the parking lot of the airport on the whim of the Afghan army. We are supposed to spend three days at the Kandahar air base, in one of the most violent provinces in Afghanistan, documenting the plight of injured Afghan soldiers. In the long struggle for Afghanistan, the men of the Afghan army have borne the brunt of the fighting. But it has been an uncertain road to get here, not least because the government is reluctant to admit the extent of its own losses. Citing troop morale, the Afghan government stopped releasing official numbers years ago.

In January, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which monitors the use of U.S. funds in Afghanistan, reported that a staggering 6,785 members of Afghan security forces had been killed and 11,777 injured in 2016. With an army of around 300,000 soldiers, the losses are unsustainable. Comparatively, only 10 U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan the same year. If the army were winning, these figures would be tragic but maybe justifiable. But the Taliban control more territory than at any point since 2001, and the drawdown of international troops has left Afghan forces practically alone in battle against an emboldened enemy.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I expect the 2017 numbers will be worse. Bottom line .... for any military these numbers are not sustainable over the long term.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas No Longer Wants The U.S. Involved In Brokering Any Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement



NPR: Abbas Says U.S. Shouldn't Lead Mideast Peace Process, Citing Jerusalem Policy

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says his people no longer want the U.S. involved in brokering any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, after President Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital last week.

Abbas called Trump's actions a crime and said he'll appeal to the United Nations.

Abbas made his forceful remarks Wednesday toward the end of an emergency session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, held in Istanbul. The meeting was dominated by talk of how to respond to the Trump administration's decision to change U.S. policy on Jerusalem and to begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The White House has responded to the Palestinian leader .... Abbas 'distorting' Trump remarks on Jerusalem, and preventing peace, White House says (The Jerusalem Post).

More News On Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas No Longer Wanting The U.S. Involved In Brokering Any Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement

The Latest: White House says it’s still seeking Mideast deal -- AP
Palestinian leader rejects US role in peace process -- AP
Palestinian president: No role for US in peace process -- The Hill
Palestinians no longer accept US as mediator, Abbas tells summit -- The Guardian
Abbas: Palestinians will go to Security Council over full U.N. membership -- Reuters

Muslim Leaders Have Declared East Jerusalem As The Capital Of Palestine



Al Jazeera: OIC declares East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has declared East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, rejected the US stance as "dangerous" and called on the international community to follow in its footsteps.

At a summit held in Turkey a week after US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the group of Muslim leaders on Wednesday called on all countries to "recognise the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital".

In a statement, the OIC added that the 57-member group remains committed to a "just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution".

Read more ....

More News On Muslim Leaders Declaring East Jerusalem As The Capital Of Palestine

Muslim nations urge recognition of East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital -- BBC
Muslim leaders call on world to recognize East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital -- Reuters
Islamic leaders urge East Jerusalem recognition as 'Palestine's capital' -- AFP
Erdogan Forges Accord to Name East Jerusalem Palestinian Capital -- Bloomberg
Iran calls on Muslim nations to step up efforts against Trump's Jerusalem decision -- Reuters
Palestinians have right to Jerusalem as capital: Saudi king -- AFP
OIC draft declaration says Trump's Jerusalem move marks U.S. withdrawal from peace process -- Reuters
Jordan's King rejects change in status of Jerusalem, its holy sites -- Reuters

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un Vows To Develop More Nuclear Weapons



ABC News Online: North Korea vows to keep making nuclear weapons, decorates creators of latest missile

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to develop more nuclear weapons while personally decorating scientists and officials behind Pyongyang's most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-15.

Hwasong-15, which was test-launched on November 29, has been largely perceived by analysts and government officials to have a range that can reach all of the mainland United States.

However, experts said North Korea still had some technical points it needed to improve before fully completing its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could hit the entirety of the United States.

Read more ....

More News On North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un Vowing To Develop More Nuclear Weapons

Kim Jong Un vows more 'quality' nuclear weapons, honors rocket scientists -- FOX News
North Korea's Kim Jong Un Promises to Build More A-bombs, H-bombs and Missiles While Honoring Rocket Scientists -- Newsweek
Kim Jong-un asks for strengthening of North Korea's nuclear force -- Economic Times
Kim Jong-un boasts of 'death-defying struggle' to build nuclear arsenal as he prepares for showdown against US -- South China Morning Post
N.Korean Missile Scientists Gather for Arms Conference -- The Chosun Ilbo

USA Today Editoral: Trump Is Unfit To Clean Toilets In Obama's Presidential Library Or To Shine George W. Bush's Shoes


USA Today Editorial: Will Trump's lows ever hit rock bottom?

A president who'd all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama's presidential library or to shine George W. Bush's shoes: Our view

With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the president's smear as a misunderstanding because he used similar language about men. Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her "wherever," he didn't mean her nose.

And as is the case with all of Trump's digital provocations, the president's words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I would say that about 90% of the news media believe and support the above editorial .... Even As Media Whine About Trump, Their Hostile Coverage Shows No Let Up (Newsbusters).

A Look At How The Islamic State Produced Its Arsenal On An Industrial Scale

A series of shoulder-fired, recoilless launchers made by the Islamic State, shown with a variety of repurposed projectiles. ISIS weapons engineers took Soviet-era munitions and made Western-style disposable launchers for them, even affixing written instructions for their use.
Credit Damien Spleeters/Conflict Armament Research

New York Times: How ISIS Produced Its Cruel Arsenal on an Industrial Scale

WASHINGTON — Late this spring, Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State in Mosul discovered three unfired rocket-propelled grenades with an unusual feature — a heavy liquid sloshing inside their warheads. Tests later found that the warheads contained a crude blister agent resembling sulfur mustard, a banned chemical weapon intended to burn a victim’s skin and respiratory tract.

The improvised chemical rockets were the latest in a procession of weapons developed by the Islamic State during a jihadist arms-manufacturing spree without recent analogue.

Irregular fighting forces, with limited access to global arms markets, routinely manufacture their own weapons. But the Islamic State took the practice to new levels, with outputs “unlike anything we’ve ever seen” from a nonstate force, said Solomon H. Black, a State Department official who tracks and analyzes weapons.

Humanitarian de-miners, former military explosive ordnance disposal technicians and arms analysts working in areas captured from the Islamic State provided The New York Times with dozens of reports and scores of photographs and drawings detailing weapons that the militant organization has developed since 2014, when it established a self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: More specifics on how the Islamic State produced its arsenal is here .... Exclusive: Tracing ISIS’ Weapons Supply Chain—Back to the US (WIRED).

China Gathering Blood, DNA And Iris Scans For Massive Database Of All Muslim Uighurs

Xinjiang is one of the most tightly controlled parts of China. Photograph: China Daily/Reuters

The Guardian: Chinese authorities collecting DNA from all residents of Xinjiang

Officials build database of iris scans and blood types of everyone aged 12 to 65 in region home to 11 million Muslim Uighurs

Chinese authorities are collecting DNA samples, fingerprints and other biometric data from every resident in a far western region, Human Rights Watch has said.

Officials are also building a database of iris scans and blood types of everyone aged between 12 and 65 in Xinjiang, adding to controls in a place some experts have called an “open-air prison”.

The region is home to over 11 million Uighurs, a Muslim Turkic minority, and is occasionally hit by bouts of violence.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: China responds .... China slams HRW's report on alleged Xinjiang human rights violations (Global Times).

 More News On China Gathering Blood, DNA And Iris Scans For A Massive Database Of All Muslim Uighurs

China: Minority Region Collects DNA from Millions -- Human Rights Watch

Rights Group Criticizes China for Mass DNA Collection in Xinjiang -- US News and World Report/Reuters
China Gathering Blood, DNA and Iris Scans for Massive Database of Millions in Muslim Province -- Newsweek
China collecting DNA, biometrics from millions in Xinjiang: report -- CNN
China authorities mandated to collect DNA from Xinjiang residents -- Financial Times
China is collecting DNA under the guise of providing free health care -- Quartz

World News Briefs -- December 13, 2017



Reuters: Palestinian leader says Trump's Jerusalem 'crime' prevents U.S. peace role

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Muslim leaders on Wednesday that a U.S. decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was a crime which showed that Washington should no longer play a role in Middle East peace talks.

Addressing an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Turkey, Abbas said President Donald Trump was giving Jerusalem away as if it were an American city.

“Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine,” he said, adding Trump’s decision was “the greatest crime” and a violation of international law.

Wednesday’s summit was hosted by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who has bitterly criticized the United States, a NATO ally, for its stance on Jerusalem.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Russian, Syrian jets hit Aleppo, Damascus countryside.

Syrian opposition seeks direct Geneva talks with regime.

Houthis: Saudi-led raid kills prisoners in Sanaa. Yemen war: Air strikes on rebel prison in Sanaa 'kill 30'.

Israeli military strikes Hamas in Gaza in response to rocket fire.

Istanbul hosts summit against Trump’s Jerusalem recognition.

OIC declares East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital.

Press freedom index: Turkey remains world's worst jailer of journalists.

Palestinian leader says Trump's Jerusalem 'crime' prevents U.S. peace role. Palestinian president says no role for US in peace process.

ASIA

Philippines extends martial law for one year in restive Mindanao amid fears of IS resurgence.

UN official says North Koreans agree on importance of avoiding war.

Tillerson says U.S. ready to talk to North Korea; Japan wants pressure.

Russia welcomes US pledge to drop preconditions on North Korea talks.

H.R. McMaster: Time running out for China on North Korea.

China gathering blood, DNA and iris scans for massive database of millions in Muslim province.

Presumed North Korean ghost ship washes ashore in northern Japan.

China marks 80th anniversary of Nanjing massacre.

AFRICA

UAE, Saudi Arabia join G5 Sahel force summit in Paris.

France seeks ways to boost anti-jihadi force in Africa.

Boko Haram displaced get ID cards in Nigeria.

Rwanda-backed report alleges France’s role in 1994 genocide.

Wanted Sudan leader Bashir attends Turkey's Islamic summit.

Global companies snared in South Africa’s corruption scandal.

Shyma: Egyptian singer jailed over music video inciting debauchery.

EUROPE

EU parliament backs starting next phase of Brexit talks.

Brexit: May stands firm over Commons vote demands.

Germany's Angela Merkel and SPD start grand coalition talks.

Catalan secessionists face steepest challenge in Barcelona's bruised beltway.

Kremlin calls U.S. allegations of subversive activity 'groundless'.

More Russians want to vote for Putin, poll shows.

German soldier charged with plotting to kill politicians while posing as refugee.

AMERICAS

Democrat Jones wins stunning red-state Alabama Senate upset.

Trump Jr. to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday.

Canada cautions Boeing amid trade row.

Argentina: DNA reunites thousands after 'Dirty War'.

Joshua Holt: Venezuela court rules US man to be tried on weapons charges.

Venezuela’s opposition, prisoners win EU human rights award.

California hills appear to be covered with lava in apocalyptic scenes as wildfires grow to five times the size of DC and 8,000 firefighters battle to contain them.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Men due to leave Gitmo under Obama seem stuck under Trump.

New York bombing suspect Akayed Ullah warned Trump on Facebook.

LinkedIn hosted jihadist lectures, Blair institute reveals.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Google to open artificial intelligence centre in China.

Disney set to seal $60bn 21st Century Fox takeover.

Facebook hits back at former executive's claims the company is 'destroying how society works'.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 13, 2017



Reuters: Backed by Putin, Russian military pushes into foreign policy

MOSCOW (Reuters) - From Damascus to Doha, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has been showing up in unexpected places, a sign of the military’s growing influence under Vladimir Putin.

In the past few months, at times wearing his desert military uniform, Shoigu has held talks with Syria’s president in Damascus, met Israel’s prime minister in Jerusalem and been received by the Emir of Qatar in Doha.

The defence ministry’s forays into areas long regarded as the preserve of the foreign ministry are raising eyebrows in Russia, where strict protocol means ministers usually hold talks only with their direct foreign counterparts.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 13, 2017

Vladimir Putin's secret army: Thousands of Russian private contractors fighting in Syria -- ABC News Online

In Secret Court Trial, Russia Charges 'CIA Spy' With Treason -- Newsweek

Russian Suspected of Spying for CIA Arrested in Moscow -- Moscow Times

Russia and China Military Drills Target Both North Korea and US -- Newsweek

China's Americanized Military -- The Diplomat

Chinese air force flexes muscle into Western Pacific in warning to Taiwan -- SCMP

China, Singapore vow to boost military exchanges in latest sign of improved relations -- SCMP

China, Russia send message to North Korea with anti-missile drills in Beijing -- SCMP

North Korea's Kim Jong Un fetes rocket scientists, promises more weapons -- Reuters

U.S., South Korea may delay annual joint military exercises during Winter Olympics -- Japan Times

How Will US Push to Cut UN Peacekeeping Budget Affect Soldiers? -- VOA

How ISIS Produced Its Cruel Arsenal on an Industrial Scale -- NYT

Turkey snubs NATO allies and buys missile systems from Russia -- NBC

Canada to buy fleet of 30-year-old fighter jets from Australia in snub to US -- The Guardian

Raytheon to provide AGM-154 missiles to Saudi Arabia -- UPI

Royal Marines chief stays on in post amid Navy fears that 1000 of his men will be cut -- The Telegraph

Britain propped up Europe’s defence after other EU states short-changed Nato by £338billion -- The SUN

NATO Prolongs Chief Stoltenberg's Term for 2 More Years -- US News and World Report/AP

Macedonia will become the 30th member of NATO next year -- Novinite

After Russia’s Ukraine incursion, NATO troops drill for war on a Cold-War scale -- PBS NewsHour

Japan air force drills with U.S. bombers, stealth fighters near Korean peninsula -- Reuters

US general on Trump's Afghanistan strategy: 'This will be a very long winter for the Taliban' -- Washington Examiner

The Army’s New Modular Handgun Is Heading Out to the Field -- Popular Mechanics

Window falls from U.S. Marines helicopter onto school grounds in Japan's Okinawa -- Reuters

The A-10 Warthog Gets A Boost From Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson -- Task & Purpose

The Navy's Electronic-Warfare Planes Could Soon Become 'Motherships' -- National Interest

Marine Corps Wants Hundreds More Small Boats for Coastal Operations -- Defense Tech/Military.com

US Navy ships in deadly collisions had lengthy training lapses -- CNN

Trump to release national security strategy next week -- AP

Trump Signs 2018 Defense Bill: Here's What It Means for You -- Military.com

Trump Signs Bill to Provide $700 Billion for the Pentagon, Maybe -- Fiscal Times

Pentagon's Next Cloud Contract Could Be Worth Billions -- NextGov

The Pentagon Doesn’t Need More Money -- Robert L. Borosage, The Nation

Why Won’t the Pentagon Tell Us Where Our Troops Are Fighting? -- Emma Ashford, Newsweek

Decades Ago The Navy Tested A Maritime Patrol U-2 Variant That Was Way Ahead Of Its Time -- Warzone/The Drive

The U.S. Navy Is Going All Out to Manufacture More Attack Submarines

U.S. Navy photo By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelvin Edwards (Released)

Business Insider/Scout Warrior: The Navy is going to pump out more attack submarines to counter Russia and China

* A new Navy analysis says producing more Virginia-Class attack submarines on a much faster timetable is necessary to ensure the US' future undersea dominance.
* The previous status quo was to reduce production of Virginia-Class boats from to two to one in the early 2020s, but the study recommends two per year.
* If the study's recommendations are adopted, the US would produce two Virginia-Class boats and one Columbia-Class boat per year.

A newly completed comprehensive Navy analysis says producing more Virginia-Class attack submarines on a much faster timetable is "achievable" and necessary to ensure future undersea dominance for the US - in an increasingly contested strategic global environment.

The Navy report, titled The Submarine Industrial Base and the Viability of Producing Additional Attack Submarines Beyond the Fiscal Year 2017 Shipbuilding Plan in the 2017–2030 Timeframe, was delivered to Congress on July 5, 2017, Navy officials told Scout Warrior.

The current or previous status quo had been for the Navy to drop from building two Virginia-Class boats per year to one in the early 2020s when construction of the new Columbia-Class nuclear armed submarines begins.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  A lot of background information in the above post.

Russia's New Sniper Rifles Can Pierce U.S. Body Armo


Charlie Gao, National Interest: Russian Army Snipers Have Rifles and Ammo That Can Pierce U.S. Body Armor

The Russian involvement in Syria and Ukraine has provided a wealth of experience to the Russian military. One of the hallmarks of these engagements is the continued use of sniper tactics. As a result, the modern Russian sniper has evolved far beyond the relatively primitive technology used during the Cold War. Most notably, significant attention has been given to sniper systems that have the ability to penetrate body armor. There are currently three sniper systems in current use by the Russian military that pose a significant threat to American troops wearing body armor. Taken together, these systems cover all possible ranges in an engagement: the SVDK, various .338 Lapua systems and the ASVK.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Here is a must read article on how Russian sniper rifles will be changing the dynamics of the battlefield .... Russia's New Sniper Rifle Will Change The Shape Of Future Battlefields (December 9, 2017).

A Look At The Strengths And Weaknesses Of China's First Stealth Fighter

The Chengdu J-20. Wikimedia

Alex Lockie, Business Insider: 3D model of China's first stealth fighter reveals its greatest strengths and weaknesses

* China's J-20 stealth jet is getting closer to completion, and it poses a real threat to the US's weapons systems.
* The J-20 has many of the F-35's most favorable features, but slightly worse stealth.
* China has created the first stealth fighter outside of the US, and it will only improve it further.

China's Chengdu J-20, the first stealth jet ever produced by anyone other than the US, has presented a mystery to American military planners trying to maintain an edge in the Pacific.

As China gets closer and closer to actually fielding the revolutionary jet, details are becoming more abundant, and its role in the future of warfare more apparent.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has put together a report on the J-20, complete with a 3D interactive model that shows the plane's greatest strengths and weaknesses.

The J-20 benefits from a stealth airframe that will radically reduce its radar cross section and any adversaries' ability to detect it. The jet holds a competitive amount of ordnance, and it's slated to carry very long range missiles that can keep US systems at bay.

Read more .....

WNU Editor: This is China's first stealth fighter .... I expect them to improve its capabilities before they start fielding this jet.

How Close Did U.S. F-22s And Russian Aircraft Over Syria Came To Blows?

Su-35 in flight. Wikimedia

Michael Peck, National Interest: Did U.S. F-22s Almost Shoot Down Russian Aircraft over Syria?

U.S. and Russian warplanes almost clashed into each other over Syria.

And almost as important, those aircraft included America's vaunted but untried F-22 stealth fighter, and Russia's Su-35.

Yet disappointment awaits those aviation buffs and nationalists who savor the thought of a dogfight between the top American and Russian jets. There has no battle—so far.

The United States has shot down a Syrian jet, and Turkey has shot down a Russian plane, but the America and Russia are just eyeing each other for now.

However, the New York Times reported last week that there have been several incidents in which Russian planes have flown dangerously close to American aircraft over eastern Syria.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: In such a small war-zone I am not surprised that there were instances where the aircraft from both countries crossed each other's path. I guess we should be grateful that it did not escalate into a shooting confrontation.

A Look At How Drones Will Change Urban Warfare

DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program envisions future small-unit infantry forces using small unmanned aircraft systems and/or small unmanned ground systems in swarms of 250 robots or more to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments. By leveraging and combining emerging technologies in swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming, the program seeks to enable rapid development and deployment of breakthrough capabilities to the field. (DARPA)

Maj. John Spencer, C4ISRNet: How drone swarms could change urban warfare

For the first time since the Korean War, the U.S. military has to worry about enemy bombs dropping on them in combat.

This threat doesn’t come from multibillion-dollar next-generation aircraft dropping precision-guided bombs on open battlefields. Instead, it comes from cheap, commercial drones dropping low-tech explosives during urban battles. To take back the initiative, the Army should deploy current drone technologies to empower soldiers to address some of the fundamental challenges of urban warfare.

The range of challenges in urban environments is broad. It includes looting, civil disturbances, insurgences, and other levels of conflict where military forces may be sent to conduct stability operations, such as counterterrorism, counterinsurgencies and peacekeeping. For the most part, these are the types of urban operations the U.S. military conducted in Iraq from 2005 to 2010.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I was surprised that drones were not used as extensively as they could have been in the battle of Mosul. My guess is that lessons that were learned in that battle will be used in future conflicts as outlined in the above post.

Is The U.S. Now The Most Unpredictable 'Actor' In The World Today?

Center for Preventive Action / Council on Foreign Relations

Uri Friedman and Annabelle Timsit, The Atlantic: Global Conflicts to Watch in 2018

“The U.S. is now the most unpredictable actor in the world today.”

As conflicts ignite and burn and flicker out around the world, U.S. officials assess the dangers they represent back home. Not all of these conflicts directly threaten American interests, which is why the Council on Foreign Relations conducts an annual survey to help U.S. leaders prioritize threats in the year ahead. For the past decade, this survey has focused on the risks posed to America by foreign actors. Now it’s reckoning with the risks America poses to the world—and to itself.

“The U.S. is now the most unpredictable actor in the world today, and that has caused profound unease,” said Paul Stares, the director of CFR’s Center for Preventive Action, which produces the annual survey. “You used to be able to pretty much put the U.S. to one side and hold it constant, and look at the world and consider where the biggest sources of unpredictability, insecurity are. Now you have to include the U.S. in that. … No one has high confidence how we [Americans] would react in any given situation, given how people assess this president.” This president might welcome the development. “I don’t want people to know exactly what I’m doing—or thinking,” Donald Trump wrote in 2015. “It keeps them off balance.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: So among foreign policy experts .... many now see the U.S. (i.e. President Trump) as the most unpredictable actor in the world today. That is quite a mental leap .... when one looks at the multiple wars and conflicts that the U.S. sees itself in the world today  .... wars and conflicts that President Trump inherited.

The U.S. Navy's Newest And Latest Zumwalt-Class Stealth Destroyer Suffers A Breakdown



Popular Mechanics: The U.S. Navy's Newest Stealth Destroyer Promptly Suffers a Breakdown

It's not the first failure for Zumwalt-class destroyer's power system.

The USS Michael Monsoor, the second and latest Zumwalt-class stealth destroyer, suffered an equipment failure that prevented the ship from conducting sea trials. The ship returned to the shipyard for a fix. The repairs are not expected to delay handover of the ship to the U.S. Navy in March.

The Monsoor left Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine on December 4th to conduct builder’s trials. All ships conduct builder’s trials, in order to test key systems before handing them over to their buyer. According to Reuters, “Monsoor’s problem was electrical in nature, with the loss of an induction coil causing the failure of another system. The shipbuilder decided it would be more efficient to make the fix at the yard.”

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Navy's Newest And Latest Zumwalt-Class Stealth Destroyer Suffering A Breakdown

2nd Zumwalt-Class Destroyer Suffers Failure During Sea Trials -- AP
The Navy's newest stealthy destroyer is cutting sea trials short due to equipment failure -- Business Insider
US Navy's Top Battleship Zumwalt Reportedly Breaks Down During Trials -- Sputnik
2nd Zumwalt-Class Stealth Destroyer Suffers Equipment Failure -- The Diplomat

Tweets For Today





Is The U.S. Drone War Against al Qaeda In Yemen Working?

A man walks past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa November 13, 2014 Khaled Abdullah/REUTERS

Rathna K. Muralidharan, RCD: Trump Drone War Against al Qaeda Paying Dividends

Since taking office, Trump has been particularly focused on targeting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a major affiliate of the al-Qaeda network that operates primarily in Yemen and is a significant threat to the West. The Trump administration has escalated strike activity and walked back Obama era policies that restricted military and CIA operations in Yemen. As his first year in office comes to an end, it’s worth looking back at the president’s strike activity as a marker for what’s to come under, as well as after, his administration. How Trump dictates operations against AQAP will hold lasting consequences for future counterterrorism policies, regional stability, and the evolution of al-Qaeda’s threat to the U.S.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  Using drones is only a stop-gap measure .... not having boots on the ground to hold and deny territory to the enemy has never worked in the past, and will not now.

Picture Of The Day

R20 founder and former California state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger rides the new Velib' Metropole self-service public bicycle by the Smovengo consortium as he arrives at a news conference ahead of the One Planet Summit in Paris, France. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Editors Choice Pictures (Reuters).

Is Pakistan Making Progress In Countering Terrorism?


Michael Kugelman, War On The Rocks: Progress and Peril in North Waziristan

Last month, I had a rare opportunity to visit North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region blessed with rugged beauty, yet cursed with a long history of conflict. Long a haven for terrorists, both local and foreign, it’s been described as the most dangerous place on earth.

My visit was eye-opening — but it also raised some unsettling questions. There were clear signs that Pakistan has made progress in countering terrorism in North Waziristan, but also good reason to believe that a less positive picture lay beyond the small area I saw. Moreover, Pakistan’s efforts in the region cannot be designated an unqualified success, given its lack of decisive action against certain terror groups, particularly the Haqqani Network. I also was struck by how easily the progress made could be squandered, thanks to the enduring presence and appeal of extremism around the country. Ultimately, the North Waziristan counterterrorism campaign highlights the broader disagreements between the United States and Pakistan over the latter’s support for militants, a divide that has widened with the Trump administration’s threats to Pakistan over its ties to terrorists.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Pakistan showed this reporter what they wanted him to see. But it is true that terror incidents have decreased in Paksitan this past year .... and heh .... they felt that at least this part of the country was safe enough for an American reporter to be giving a tour, albeit probably under heavy protection.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The U.S. Military Believes It Will Take Two Years To Drive Back The Taliban In Afghanistan

U.S. Army General John W. Nicholson Jr., center, commander of Resolute Support forces and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, arrives during a transfer of authority ceremony April 29 at Shorab camp in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. (Reuters)

Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio, The Cipher Brief: The U.S. Military Believes It Will Take Two Years To Drive Back The Taliban In Afghanistan

America’s plan of attack in Afghanistan has evolved significantly, since President Donald Trump announced his new strategy for confronting the Taliban-led insurgency and the Islamic State’s inroads in Afghanistan – but the poor state of the Afghan troops, and the inability of the Afghan government to care for all its people are just two of the red flags warning of a long fight to come.

The U.S. defines victory in Afghanistan as a state in which the government in Kabul firmly controls most of the country, and is able to fend off challenges to its authority mostly on its own. Despite some progress, we are a long way from that day, and the U.S. will have to confront some hard truths in its latest iteration of America’s longest war.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I have mentioned it before, but sending in a few extra thousand U.S. soldiers and accelerating the training of Afghan recruits is not going to reverse the stalemate that currently exists in Afghanistan. As for General John W. Nicholson Jr.'s view that it will take two years to reverse the gains that the Taliban have made in recent years .... I personally do not see how that is possible.

Iranian Leaders Are Vowing To Back Hamas In Their Fight Against Israel

General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC Quds Force, has offered Iran's "complete support" for Palestinians in their struggle against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize al-Quds (Jerusalem) as Israel's capital. Tehran Times

Bloomberg: Soleimani Says Iran Is Ready to Back Palestinian Forces

* Soleimani offers support to Gaza-based groups over Jerusalem
* Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as capital of future state

Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani says his nation is ready to support Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip, days after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Soleimani, commander of the Al Quds force, made the offer in a phone call late Monday with leaders of groups in Gaza, according to the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ website, Sepah News, which didn’t give details of the assistance proffered. Other forces in the region are ready to defend the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Soleimani also told the Gaza faction leaders, without identifying them. The mosque is Islam’s third-holiest shrine and a frequent flashpoint for tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.

Read more ....

More News On Iranian Leaders Are Vowing To Back Hamas In Their Fight Against Israel

Soleimani offers support for Palestinian groups to resist Trump’s move on al-Quds -- Tehran Times
Iranian leaders vow to back Hamas in fight against Israel -- The Times of Israel
Iran's Revolutionary Guards offer support to Palestinians -- Gulf Times
Revolutionary Guard Commander Says Iran Will Support Palestinian Forces In Fight Against Israel -- Zero Hedge

U.S. Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson: US Ready For Talks With North Korea 'Without Preconditions'



The Guardian: US ready for talks with North Korea 'without preconditions', Tillerson says

Secretary of state’s remarks appear to mark shift in state department policy, which had previously required proof North Korea was giving up nuclear arsenal.

Rex Tillerson has said that the US is ready to begin exploratory talks with North Korea “without preconditions”, but only after a “period of quiet” without new nuclear or missile tests.

The secretary of state’s remarks appeared to mark a shift in state department policy, which had previously required Pyongyang to show it was “serious” about giving up its nuclear arsenal before contacts could start. And the language was a long way from repeated comments by Donald Trump that such contacts are a “waste of time”.

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WNU Editor: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has always been pushing to have talks with North Korea .... President Trump has always said that it was a waste of time. It looks like Tillerson has convinced President Trump to give it a try. What's My take? I have zero expectations.

Update: Maybe U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke too soon .... White House: Trump stance on North Korea has 'not changed' (Politico). More here .... White House walks back Rex Tillerson’s comment on North Korea talks (Washington Times)

More News On U.S. Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson Remarks That The U.S. Is Ready For Talks With North Korea 'Without Preconditions'

US ready for North Korea talks without preconditions, says Tillerson -- BBC News
Tillerson overture to North Korea: U.S. ready to talk without pre-conditions -- Reuters
Tillerson says US open to North Korea talks 'without precondition' -- NBC
US Is Ready to Talk to North Korea 'Anytime,' Tillerson Says -- Bloomberg
US Secretary Of State Wants To Start Talks With North Korea With No Conditions -- NPR
Tillerson on North Korea: 'I will continue our diplomatic efforts until the first bomb drops' -- Business Insider

Russian Soldiers Put Syrian President Assad 'In His Place' During 'Victory' Announcement In Syria



Daily Mail: Humiliating moment Assad is stopped from following Putin by Russian soldiers on SYRIAN soil during 'victory' announcement

* Putin was in Syria to announce a 'victory' following Russian intervention in Syria
* Clip shows Syrian president Bashar al-Assad walking behind Kremlin strongman
* But a Russian soldier then puts his hand on Assad's arm and tells him to wait
* Humiliating scene is believed to have been captured at a airbase near Latakia

This is the humiliating moment Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was stopped from following Vladimir Putin by Russian soldiers on his own soil when the pair staged a 'victory' announcement.

The Russian President yesterday declared that his alliance with Assad had been a success and that Moscow will start to withdraw troops from the war-torn country.

But on the same day, footage shows the Syrian strongman being humbled on his own turf - when a Kremlin serviceman ordered him to wait while Putin walked off in front of him.

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WNU Editor: This was a Russian President Putin show .... from beginning to end. And while Putin had his security entourage in force, I noticed that Assad's security presence was absent or minimal at best.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 12, 2017

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin walks with his counterparts Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Hassan Rouhani of Iran after a joint news conference in Sochi, Russia, on November 22, 2017. Photo: Sputnik / Mikhail Klimentyev / Kremlin via Reuters

M.K. Bhadrakumar, Asia Times: How Jerusalem issue plays into Iranian, Turkish (and Russian) hands

Iran has, predictably enough, taken a hard line on the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. There were public demonstrations in several Iranian cities following Friday prayers and statements by President Hassan Rouhani and other senior politicians. Notably, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, warned: “Al-Quds (Jerusalem) will be the place where the Zionist regime will be buried.”

It was Turkey’s reaction that set the mind thinking that the ground beneath our feet is shifting, however. President Recep Erdogan used exceptional language in his response, calling Israel a “terrorist” state. His stance is important for a variety of reasons. Turkey is currently chairing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and has called for an emergency summit in Istanbul on Wednesday. This puts Erdogan in the driving seat.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- December 12, 2017

Did the Saudis Shoot Down a Houthi Missile on Nov. 4? It Doesn’t Much Matter -- Defense One

Kim Jong Un's Mount Paektu visit may signal big decision -- Jennie Oh, UPI

North Korea's Nuclear Threat Reaches New Heights, But US Policy Remains Unchanged -- The Diplomat

The two Koreas have tried to make peace before – and they could do so again -- Dong Jin Kim, The Conversation

It’s time to educate the Chinese public about the nuclear threat next door -- Wang Xiangwei, SCMP

Why China Won't Cut Off North Korean Oil Lifeline: QuickTake Q&A -- David Tweed, Bloomberg

Moon Jae-in faces tightrope act in China over North Korea -- Fabian Kretschmer, DW

Diplomat’s warning of Taiwan invasion is no threat, says Global Times -- Asia Times

Why China Plans to Invade Taiwan -- Ian Easton, National Interest

China and India sail into choppy waters in New Great Game -- Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

How Trump can get tough on Ukraine corruption -- Josh Cohen, Reuters

Macron’s World: How the New President Is Remaking France -- Ronald Tiersky, Foreign Affairs

Vladimir Putin 4.0 — Russia's wartime president -- Roman Goncharenko, DW

Brexit leads to conflicting demands from Ireland, Scotland, Wales -- Kelly McParland, National Post

Fears grow across the Atlantic over Brexit fallout -- Kamal Ahmed, BBC

What Is Bitcoin? -- George Friedman, Geopolitical Futures

World News Briefs -- December 12, 2017



AFP: US urges talks as North Korea brags of nuclear arsenal

The United States is ready to talk to North Korea "without preconditions" but remains determined to force it to abandon its nuclear arsenal, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday.

But even as Washington stressed the importance of a negotiated end to the standoff, Kim Jong-un vowed to make his nation "the strongest nuclear power and military power in the world."

President Donald Trump has promised that Kim will not be allowed to complete his effort to develop nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching mainland US cities.

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MIDDLE EAST

Syrian opposition urges Russia to rescue UN peace talks.

Iraq’s Sadr militia agrees to disband, surrender weapons to Baghdad .

Russian diplomatic staff leave Yemen's Sanaa.

Two Palestinian militants killed in Gaza explosion.

Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah vows to focus on Palestine.

Tens of thousands of Israelis attend ultra-Orthodox rabbi's funeral.

'We are one': Palestinian Christians and Muslims unite against Trump's Jerusalem call.

ASIA

Tillerson, in new overture to North Korea, says ready to talk without pre-conditions.

N Korea criticises planned naval blockade as 'declaration of war'.

China building network of refugee camps along border with North Korea .

China can stop North Korea's nuclear aggression, former UN Secretary-General says.

North Korea camp survivor says guilt haunts her in South.

North Korean diplomat: Talks with U.S. are 'possible'.

US ready for North Korea talks without preconditions, says Tillerson.

Communist parties close in on Nepal election win.

China rubbishes claims that its intelligence services use LinkedIn to gather information.

Russian military chief warns Japan over U.S. exercises near Korean Peninsula.

US military touts drug lab air strikes in Afghanistan.

China marks 80th anniversary of Nanjing massacre.

AFRICA

UN: 4,500 civilians killed, wounded in Somalia since 2016.

South Sudan clashes 'kill 170'.

400,000 children in DR Congo could die from hunger, says Unicef.

Liberia elections: Run-off vote set for December 26.

Kenya's election violence worsens inter-ethnic divisions.

Togo's opposition coalition boycotts government talks.

Amnesty International claims EU 'complicit' in Libya migrant abuses.

Zimbabwe ex-leader Mugabe on 1st trip abroad since resigning.

Oscar Pistorius bruised in a jail fight over telephone use.

Egypt singer jailed for 'inciting debauchery' in music video.

EUROPE

UK's May faces parliamentary showdown with Brexit rebels.

Russian youth activists canvass uphill for opposition leader.

New Polish PM: must defend national interest in debate on EU future.

Ukraine authorities to appeal Saakashvili's release.

EU pushes to curb Africa migration more, still split on hosting refugees.

Italy declares state of emergency following deadly explosion at Austrian pipeline.

NATO prolongs chief Stoltenberg’s term for 2 more years.

AMERICAS

Decision day in Alabama after long, bitter U.S. Senate campaign.

Donald Trump calls sexual misconduct allegations 'fabricated', says he never met accusers. Trump attacks senator and dismisses sexual harassment claims as Democratic conspiracy.

Trump signs into law U.S. government ban on Kaspersky Lab software.

Venezuela's opposition rebuffs threats by President Nicolas Maduro.

US and Venezuela spar over ban on opposition parties.

Venezuela to investigate ex-oil tsar over corruption.

Honduras army moves in to quell post-election protests.


California Thomas Fire: No end in sight for week-long wildfire.

U.S. Coast Guard intercepts semi-submersible vessel packed with 3,800 pounds of cocaine.

Homeless in Rio skyrockets, creating tensions, violence.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

US drone strike removes ‘imminent threat’ to Somali capital.

Trafficking of pills used by suicide bombers soars in Sahel.

Turkey: 'Islamic State' militant on trial for New Year's Eve terror attack.

Russian security agency says it busts IS suicide bomber cell.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

US stock indexes close mostly up; New highs for S&P 500, Dow.

Bitcoin hits another record high in march towards $20,000.

Facebook hits back at former executive Chamath Palihapitiya.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 12, 2017



Al Arabiya/AFP: On Russia’s Syria pullout claims, Pentagon voices skepticism

The Pentagon on Monday voiced skepticism about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he had ordered the partial withdrawal of troops from Syria.

Putin visited the war-torn nation Monday and said a “significant part” of the Russian troop contingent in Syria is heading home after their mission had been largely completed.

But Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said such declarations were not necessarily reflected by action.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 12, 2017

Russia not withdrawing forces from Syria, Pentagon says -- Reuters

Russia will keep bases in Syria to strike at insurgents: Kremlin -- Reuters

Pentagon not yet ready to declare victory over ISIS in Iraq -- Washington Examiner

China's Second Aircraft Carrier Is Its Most Crucial Yet -- Popular Mechanics

North Korea says it is a 'matchless nuclear weapons state' -- UPI

Report: U.S. Navy deployed spy plane near North Korea -- UPI

U.S. 'well postured' to deal with possible N.K. SLBM: Pentagon -- Yonhap News Agency

US officials fear North Korea building biological weapons amid signs of microbe production -- The Telegraph

N.Korea media reports on munitions industry conference for first time -- NK News

Russia's top general warns against US-South Korea exercises -- Nikkei Asian Review

Spat over the F-35 bubbles up in Germany -- Defense News

Lawmakers extend German military missions until spring -- FOX News/AP

UK defence minister on $6.7bn arms deal with Qatar -- Al Jazeera

Potential ‘harm’ to economy now a factor in all Canada defense competitions -- Defense News

Pentagon Looking to Triple Size of Afghan Air Force by 2025 -- Sputnik

Hunting Taliban and Islamic State Fighters, From 20,000 Feet -- New York Times

Helmand again the focus of US strategy in Afghanistan -- Military Times

A return of flying sergeants? Air Force says no despite too few pilots -- Dayton Daily News

Fix the Fighter Pilot Shortage: It Can Be Done -- George Perry, RCD

SECNAV Memo: Navy Won’t Reactivate Perry Frigates for SOUTHCOM Mission; Will Send Ships to Fight Drug War in 2018 -- USNI News

Bath Iron Works to support Arleigh Burke-class destroyers -- UPI

Marine Corps Wants Hundreds More Small Boats for Coastal Operations -- Defense Tech/Military.com

US Officials, Lawmakers Warn More Cyberattacks Coming -- VOA

Trump signs $700B defense budget into law -- UPI

Trump announces pick for nuclear weapons czar -- Defense News

US military: 1 soldier dies, 2 injured in vehicle incident -- Fox News/AP

Ex-US Army defector Charles Robert Jenkins who spent decades in North Korea, dies at 77 -- DW

Does the U.S. Military Maintain Secret Underwater Bases? -- Diana Brown, How Stuff Works

After Court Ruling, Military Will Accept Openly Transgender Recruits As Of Jan. 1 -- NPR

Why Military Women Are Missing from the #MeToo Moment -- Time

Global U.S. military presence questioned -- Bryan Bender, Politico

Cruise Missiles – A Greater Threat Than North Korea’s Ballistic Missiles -- Sandy Clark, RCD