Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Russia Launches Cruise Missiles At The Islamic State From The Caspian Sea

Sputnik: Russian Warships in Caspian Sea Launch Attack on ISIL in Syria

Russian warships have launched a total of 26 cruise missiles at Islamic State facilities, destroying all targets.

Russian warships have attacked Islamic State targets in Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday during a meeting with President Putin.

“Besides using aviation to destroy militants, this morning ships from the Caspian Flotilla were brought in, four destroyers launched 26 Kalibr sea-based cruise missiles at 11 targets,” Shoigu told Putin in a meeting televised by Rossiya-1.

WNU Editor: When I first heard of this report early this morning I was sceptical .... firing cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea?!?!?!? But apparently that is exactly what they did.

More News On Reports That Russia Has Launched Cruise Missiles At The Islamic State From The Caspian Sea

4 Russian warships launch 26 missiles against ISIS from Caspian Sea -- RT
Caspian Flotilla ships fire 26 cruise missiles on IS targets in Syria — Defense Minister -- ITAR-TASS
Russian missiles 'hit IS in Syria from Caspian Sea' -- BBC
Escalating Syria Attack, Russia Fires Missiles From Warships -- NYT
Russian Warships Hit IS Targets in Syria -- VOA
Russia in Syria: Russia launches missiles against Isis from Caspian Sea after Turkish PM says only two out of 57 Russian air strikes hit Isis -- The Independent
Russia Announces First Strikes in Syria From -- WSJ
Russian warships in Caspian Sea launch attack on IS in Syria -- Trend
Russian Warships in Caspian Sea Target ISIS -- NBC
Russia Fires Rockets At IS From Caspian Sea -- SKY News

China Starts Dumping U.S. Government Debt

Wall Street Journal: Once the Biggest Buyer, China Starts Dumping U.S. Government Debt

Shift in Treasury holdings is latest symptom of emerging-market slowdown hitting global economy.

Central banks around the world are selling U.S. government bonds at the fastest pace on record, the most dramatic shift in the $12.8 trillion Treasury market since the financial crisis.

Sales by China, Russia, Brazil and Taiwan are the latest sign of an emerging-markets slowdown that is threatening to spill over into the U.S. economy. Previously, all four were large purchasers of U.S. debt.

Few analysts expect much higher yields in the Treasury market as a result. Foreign private purchases of U.S. debt have increased amid pessimism about the world economic outlook. U.S. firms and financial institutions continue to buy Treasurys, as do some foreign central banks.

WNU Editor: There are a lot of reasons behind this dumping of U.S. securities .... all of them bad.

Breaking News!!! U.S. Will Not Cooperate Militarily With Russia On Syria

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Reuters: U.S. says won't cooperate militarily with Russia in Syria

ROME (Reuters) - The United States will not cooperate militarily with Russia in Syria because Moscow's strategy is "tragically flawed", U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday in his strongest comments yet on the issue.

However, the United States is willing to hold basic, technical discussions with the Russians to try to secure pilot safety.

"We are not prepared to cooperate in a strategy which as we explained is flawed, tragically flawed on Russia's part," Carter said during a trip to Rome, renewing U.S. accusations that Russia's strikes were not focused on Islamic State militants.

Update: US refuses to coordinate with Russia in Syria amid claims of attacks on rebels (RTE)

WNU editor: I am not surprised by this announcement .... both sides are far apart on what to do in Syria. But what probably put the nail in the coffin for any high level cooperation was this report .... Russian warplanes in Syria destroy U.S.-trained rebels' weapons depots: commander (Reuters).

Editor's Note

Stuck in meetings this morning. Military and Intelligence News Briefs and World News Briefs will be posted later today (17:00 EST).

Nuclear Smugglers Caught Tried To Sell Radioactive Materials To The Islamic State

BBC: Nuclear smuggling deals 'thwarted' in Moldova

Moldovan police working with the FBI are reported to have stopped four attempts by smugglers to sell nuclear material to extremists in the Middle East over the past five years.

The most recent case was in February when undercover agents were offered a large amount of radioactive caesium, the Associated Press reports.

Investigators say much of the material is believed to come from Russia.

They say some gangs have alleged links to Russia's intelligence services.

Police and judicial authorities in Moldova shared information with AP to highlight how dangerous the nuclear black market has become, the news agency says.

Update: Nuclear smugglers sought extremist buyers -- AP

WNU Editor: The fact that some of these gangs have alleged links to Russia's intelligence services is worrisome.

Iran's Supreme Leader Bans Any Negotiations With The U.S.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran June 12, 2009. REUTERS/CAREN FIROUZ/FILES

Reuters: Iran's supreme leader bans negotiations with the United States

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday banned any further negotiations between Iran and the United States, putting the brakes on moderates hoping to end Iran's isolation after reaching a nuclear deal with world powers in July.

Khamenei, the highest authority in the Islamic Republic, already said last month there would be no more talks with the United States after the nuclear deal, but has not previously declared an outright ban.

His statements directly contradict those of moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who says his government is ready to hold talks with the United States on how to resolve the conflict in Syria, where the two countries back opposing sides.

WNU Editor: I call this "giving the finger" to President Obama. Interesting .... the rumor mill is that John Kerry and Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are probably going to get the Nobel Peace Prize this Friday.

More News On Iran's Supreme Leader Banning Any Negotiations With The U.S.

Supreme leader: Iran against talks with US because it means "infiltration" -- Trend
Ayatollah Khamenei: No Talk with US -- Tasnim News Agency
Iran’s Supreme Leader Bars Further Talks With U.S. -- WSJ
Ayatollah Khamenei: Iran's Supreme Leader says negotiations with the US are 'banned' -- The Independent
Iran's supreme leader: No more talks with the U.S. -- Politico
Iran's Khamenei: No more talks with U.S. -- Washington Examiner

Israeli PM Netanyahu Cancels Trip To Germany Due To Deteriating Security Situation

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, speaking at an IDF base in the West Bank. Reuters

Haaretz: Netanyahu Cancels German-Israeli Summit Due to Security Situation

Berlin summit to commemorate 50 years of diplomatic ties cancelled, no new date has been yet.

Due to the security situation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a summit between the Israeli and German governments that was meant to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties. The summit was set to take place in Berlin on Thursday.

According to a senior official in Jerusalem, Netanyahu conveyed a message to Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying that the security situation requires him to stay in Israel and asking to set a new date for the meeting.

Update #1: Berlin Meeting Between German, Israeli Leaders Called Off -- AP
Update #2: Netanyahu cancels Germany trip due to security situation - sources -- Reuters

WNU Editor: Considering the fact that the Palestinians continue to protest and riot .... coupled with all out war in Syria .... this cancellation is understandable.

Russian Fighter Jets Are Intercepting U.S. Predator Drones Over Syria


FOX News: EXCLUSIVE: Russian jets intercept US predator drones over Syria, officials say

Russian fighter jets have intercepted U.S. predator drones on at least three separate occasions high above Syria since the start of Russia’s air campaign last week, according to two U.S. officials briefed on this latest intelligence from the region.

The Russians have not attempted to shoot down any of the U.S. drones, but instead have flown intercept tracks, a doctrinal term meaning the Russians flew close enough to make their presence felt, according to one official.

“The first time it happened, we thought the Russians got lucky. Then it happened two more times,” said one official.

WNU Editor: I think this is Russia's way of telling the U.S. that if these drones approach Russian air bases .... they will be shot down. And if that happens .... here is an easy prediction .... the situation in the skies over Syria are going to change dramatically.

Syrian Rebels Are Now Facing Coordinated Russian Air Strikes And Syrian Army Ground Attacks

Reuters/VICE: Syrian Rebels Face Coordinated Ground Attacks and Russian Airstrikes

Russian airstrikes have destroyed the main weapons depots of a US-trained rebel group in Syria, their commander said on Wednesday, and the aerial assault was backed by ground attacks by Syrian army and allied militia on insurgent positions, according to a monitor.

Moscow's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also told President Vladimir Putin during a televised meeting today that four Russian warships in the Caspian Sea had launched 26 rockets at Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria.

Meanwhile, across the border in Iraq, politicians said they may soon call for Russia to begin airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) group there.

More News On Reports That Syrian Rebels Are Now Facing Coordinated Russian Air Strikes And Syrian Army Ground Attacks

Syria regime launches ground offensive under 'intense' Russian air strikes for the first time -- The Telegraph
Syria claims new assault on rebels as Russia raises stakes -- CBS
Syrian regime launches ground assault 'backed by Russian air strikes', monitor says -- France 24
Russia, Syria launch coordinated attack on al-Assad opponents, activists say -- CNN
Syrian forces begin ground offensive backed by Russia -- Washington Post
Russian air strikes targeting Syrian rebel groups accompanied by ground assault from President Assad troops -- The Independent
Syria launches ground offensive under 'intense' Russian air strikes --
With Russian air support, Syria's regime launches assault on rebels -- DW
Russian warships strike IS targets as Syrian regime launches ground offensive -- i24 News

Update: There are reports that Russian naval forces are now firing from offshore .... Syria claims new assault on rebels as Russia raises stakes (CBS). Russian Warships Launch Missiles Against IS In Syria (RFE)

Iraq May Ask Russia Launch Airstrikes Against The Islamic State

NBC/Reuters: Iraq May Request Russian Airstrikes Against ISIS: Official

BAGHDAD — Iraq may request Russian airstrikes against ISIS on its soil soon and wants Moscow to have a bigger role than the United States in the war against the militant group, the head of parliament's defense and security committee said on Wednesday.

"We might be forced to ask Russia to launch airstrikes in Iraq soon," Hakim al-Zamili told Reuters. "I think the upcoming few days or weeks Iraq will be forced to ask Russia to launch air strikes and that depends on their success in Syria."

Iraq's government and powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militias question the United States' resolve in fighting ISIS militants, who control a third of the country. They say U.S.-led coalition airstrikes are ineffective.

WNU editor: This Russian expansion is probably going to happen. In a recent France24 interview, the Iraqi Prime Minister mades his frustrations with the U.S. very clear .... Iraqi PM Abadi accuses Obama of a lack of “will,” and may invite Russia to bomb ISIS (AEI). The above video is an interview between the Iraqi PM and PBS that was done last week where he also states very clearly that he would welcome Russian participation.

More News On Reports That Iraq May Ask Russia To Launch Airstrikes Against The Islamic State

Russia 'may start bombing Isil in Iraq as well as Syria' -- The Telegraph
Iraqi Shiite Politicians Call for Russian Airstrikes on Islamic State -- WSJ
Top Diplomat: Iraq Welcomes Russian Airstrikes Against Islamic State -- Washington Free Beacon
Iraq May Ask Russia for Airstrikes Against Islamic State -- Sputnik
Military officials say Iraq likely to welcome ‘no red line’ Russian airstrikes -- Middle East Eye

Syrian Rebels Repeat Their Request To The U.S. To Supply Them With Surface-To-Air Missiles

The strikes were carried out against targets in the strategic western province of Homs, though the U.S., which was given an hour’s notice of the attacks by Moscow, said that the sites hit were not in areas held by ISIS. Source: Reuters

Russia Beyond The Headlines: Syrian rebels ask U.S. for arms to defend against Russian strikes

Representatives of “moderate” rebel groups in Syria opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad have asked the U.S. to supply them with surface-to-air missiles to counter Russian air strikes, American media have reported. Russian observers say this is unlikely but caution that arms may be supplied by the key regional sponsors of Syria’s opposition, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

As accusations that Russia is bombing “moderate” opposition in Syria instead of ISIS targets continue to mount, the Washington Post reported on Oct. 2 that several rebel Syrian groups had asked the U.S. to supply them with air defense systems to counter Russian aircraft, which have been bombarding their positions.

However, should Washington or its allies take this step, it would be a throwback to Cold War times, when the U.S. supplied arms to Afghanistan’s mujahideen warriors for their fight against the Soviet army, and could further whip up tensions in the West’s relations with Moscow.

Update: The Syrian rebels are beginning to realize that the dynamics on the ground have changed .... Syrian rebels face a new reality amid Russian air campaign (AP).

WNU Editor: If the U.S. supplies weapons to the Syrian rebels .... there will be blow-back. In what form and where .... I do not know but I do know that it will happen.

Is President Obama Trying To Avoid A Showdown in Syria?

Micahel Crowley, Politico: Obama avoids a showdown in Syria

Administration officials game out options to respond to Putin's provocations, but Obama exercises "strategic patience."

As Vladimir Putin takes increasingly provocative actions against U.S. interests in Syria, President Barack Obama is tuning out calls from Republicans and foreign policy heavyweights to punish the Russian president through military or economic measures.

They include a call from Jimmy Carter's former national security adviser to "disarm" Russian assets in Syria if Putin doesn't change his behavior, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's insistence that conflict with Russia is a risk worth taking in the name of asserting America's goals in Syria, and talk of new sanctions on Moscow.

Obama's team has been gaming out options for responding to Russia, but so far there's no plan to use any of them, even as Putin keeps upping the ante.

WNU editor: According to the above commentary .... Obama is exercising "strategic patience." From my vantage point the ones who have been exercising "strategic patience" have been the Russians. They have been patient for the past few years as the Middle East unravelled, and with U.S. policy in the region being discredited with the rise of the Islamic State .... coupled with U.S. allies distrustful of the White House (especially after the Iranian nuclear deal) .... the Russians have "strategically" stepped in. A few weeks ago I wrote a commentary that when it comes to the Middle East, all roads now lead to Moscow .... this did not happen overnight .... it happened because Moscow practised "strategic patience", built the proper alliances, lobbied the critical players in the region .... and acted when Syrian President Assad was facing defeat. This Russian policy can still unravel .... the Middle East is a difficult place to succeed .... but for the moment everyone is looking at Moscow on what is going to happen next.

U.S. And Russia Try To Agree To Coordinate Air Operations Over Syria

Washington Post: Russia offers to reopen, broaden military talks with the U.S. over Syria

ROME — Russia and the United States tentatively agreed Tuesday to resume talks on how to prevent conflicts between their warplanes in the skies over Syria, even as concerns mounted about the potential for a broader confrontation in the Middle East between the two powers.

After days of complaints from U.S. and NATO officials about a lack of cooperation and risky maneuvers by Russian warplanes, Russia’s Defense Ministry offered to hold another round of discussions with the Pentagon on avoiding a midair disaster or a hostile encounter involving their fighter jets, drones and other aircraft over Syria.

The tone expressed by both sides remained distrustful, however, as they labored to agree on when to meet and accused each other of blocking progress. The dispute has escalated in recent days as Russia has ramped up its bombing campaign in Syria, further congesting a war zone that was already crowded with a dizzying array of foreign forces.

WNU Editor: I am not optimistic on these talks. Russia and the U.S. are nowhere near on the same page on what to do in Syria. What also does not help is that U.S. policy on Syria is all over the place .... John Kerry raises Syria no-fly zone despite Obama's skepticism (CNN).

More News On The U.S. And Russia Trying To Agree To Coordinate Air Operations Over Syria

Russia, US work on agreement to coordinate air operations in Syria – Moscow -- RT
U.S., Russia Agree to More Talks Over Air Operations in Syria -- WSJ
Russia agrees to further talks on Syria operations, U.S. says -- CBS/AP
U.S. and Russia remain at odds in skies over Syria -- CBS
U.S. and Russian officials agree to resume talks over Syrian airstrikes -- UPI
Syria’s Radiating Danger -- WSJ

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Who Is Supplying The Islamic State With New Toyoto Trucks?

ISIS militants race through Raqqa in a propaganda training film released online in September 2014

ABC News: US Officials Ask How ISIS Got So Many Toyota Trucks

U.S. counter-terror officials have asked Toyota, the world’s second largest auto maker, to help them determine how ISIS has managed to acquire the large number of Toyota pick-up trucks and SUVs seen prominently in the terror group’s propaganda videos in Iraq, Syria and Libya, ABC News has learned.

Toyota says it does not know how ISIS obtained the vehicles and is “supporting” the inquiry led by the Terror Financing unit of the Treasury Department -- part of a broad U.S. effort to prevent Western-made goods from ending up in the hands of the terror group.

WNU Editor: Its always about the money.

Top U.S. General In Afghanistan: 'We Need A New Afghan Plan'

CNN: U.S. Gen.: We need new Afghanistan plan

Washington (CNN)The top commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan said Tuesday that he needs to adjust troop level recommendations to respond to the growing strength of ISIS and al Qaeda.

Gen. John Campbell told the Senate Armed Services committee he has presented options for revising President Barack Obama's plan for slashing the U.S. troop presence after 2016 from its current level of about 9,800 to an embassy-based security force of 1,000.

"Based on conditions on the ground, I do believe we have to provide our senior leadership [with] options different than the current plan we are going with," Campbell said.

He did not provide details about the troops levels he was recommending.

Campbell said the reasons for revamping the existing plan include the strengthening of ISIS, "an increased al Qaeda presence," and the "upsurge" in insurgent violence in some areas of Afghanistan.

Update: Top general recommends keeping more US troops in Afghanistan -- Washington Times

WNU Editor: General John Campbell's entire U.S. Senate testimony on what is happening in Afghanistan can be seen in the above video.

Update #2: It also appears that the information that General John Campbell is receiving from Afghanistan is not correct .... Disputing U.S. General, Afghans Say Taliban Control Kunduz (NYT).

Top U.S. General In Afghanistan: Hospital Air Strike Was A Mistake

The Guardian: Doctors Without Borders airstrike: US alters story for fourth time in four days

Commander of war in Afghanistan tells Senate panel that US forces had called in airstrike at Afghan request – ‘an admission of a war crime’ says MSF chief

US special operations forces – not their Afghan allies – called in the deadly airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, the US commander has conceded.

Shortly before General John Campbell, the commander of the US and Nato war in Afghanistan, testified to a Senate panel, the president of Doctors Without Borders – also known as Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) – said the US and Afghanistan had made an “admission of a war crime”.

WNU Editor: This story is not going to go away.

More News On The U.S. Top General In Afghanistan Admitting That the Hospital Air Strikes Was A Mistake

Top U.S. general in Afghanistan: Hospital was ‘mistakenly struck’ -- Washington Post
Why did US attack an Afghan hospital? Kunduz's troubling questions. -- Mark Sappenfield, CSM
How the Pentagon shifted from ‘collateral damage’ to ‘deeply regrets’ on Afghan hospital attack -- Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Washington Post
Preventing Friendly Fire From the Sky -- Bloomberg editorial
Afghan Hospital Airstrike: US Has Long History Of Mistakenly Killing Civilians -- IBTimes

Rebels Regions Of Ukraine Agree To Delay Elections Until Next Year

Wall Street Journal: Russia-Backed Rebels in Ukraine to Delay Disputed Elections

Move welcomed by Moscow and Kiev as step towards implementing February’s peace plan.

KIEV, Ukraine—Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine said on Tuesday they would postpone the disputed elections that were threatening to derail peace talks.

The move was immediately welcomed by Moscow and Kiev as another step toward implementing a peace plan signed in February in Minsk, Belarus. While a cease-fire has largely held in the region for a month, both sides have balked at political concessions aimed at reintegrating the areas into Ukraine with increased local powers.

Separatist officials said in a statement carried by their official news agencies they would postpone elections originally scheduled for the coming weeks until next year.

Kiev and its Western backers, which have demanded that free and fair local elections take place according to Ukrainian law, had said that elections held on the rebels’ terms would be a violation of the peace deal.

WNU Editor: This is telling .... France, Germany Tell Ukraine to Cooperate with Putin (Washington Free Beacon). What's my take on the current situation in Ukraine .... this is going to be a very hard winter for all sides in the conflict. No one is really working, money is short, people are looking for a way out.

More News On Rebels Regions Of Ukraine Agreeing To Delay Elections Until Next Year

Ukraine crisis: Pro-Russian rebels 'delay disputed elections' -- BBC
Ukraine rebels to delay local election, sidestep tense topic -- AP
West, Ukraine, hail rebel decision to postpone disputed elections -- Reuters
In key concession, Ukraine rebels delay polls until 2016 -- AFP
Ukraine rebels push back controversial elections -- DW
East Ukraine Rebels Postpone Local Polls -- VOA
Ukraine Rebels Delay Local Election as Weapon Pullback Continues -- Bloomberg

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- October 6, 2015

Bloomberg editorial: Preventing Friendly Fire From the Sky

As the Pentagon investigates the airstrike that killed 22 civilians at an Afghan hospital last weekend, it's crucial that authorities be as transparent as possible -- not only about what the pilots and spotters on the ground did, but also about the rules they're required to follow.

The aerial attack on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz came from an AC-130 gunship. The AC-130, a transport plane outfitted with fearsome cannons on its wings, has traditionally not been subject to the strict "collateral damage estimation" procedure that air controllers use to determine whether fighter jets and drones get the green light to attack. The reason for the exemption, at least according to a copy of the collateral-damage guidelines obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2009, is that the gunship has highly accurate "direct fire" weapons with projectiles under 105 millimeters.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- October 6, 2015

Why did US attack an Afghan hospital? Kunduz's troubling questions. -- Mark Sappenfield, CSM

The Iranian Project: Why Assad Has Turned to Moscow for Help -- Christoph Reuter, Spiegel Online

Russia Is Bombing Ambulances in Syria -- Michael Weiss, Daily Beast

Is Syria's long war wearing down key Assad backer Hezbollah? -- Nicholas Blanford, CSM

Vlad and Yuri: How Putin is applying the lessons of Afghanistan to Syria -- Bruce Riedel, Al-Monitor

How Putin Wins in Syria -- Bill Powell, Newsweek

While Russia Makes War in Syria, It Makes Love in Egypt -- Torie Rose DeGhett, VICE News

Putin’s intervention in Syria may bog down Russia and vindicate Obama -- Walter Pincus, Washington Post

The violence in Jerusalem is spreading. Here's why it could be really hard to stop -- Laura Dean, Global Post

Obama can't stay in Afghanistan, but he can't leave -- Stephen Collinson, CNN

Congress to Push Obama on North Korea Sanctions -- Josh Rogin, Bloomberg

As winter looms, war-weary Ukraine shows signs of energy independence -- Cristina Maza, CSM

Here’s why Putin wants to topple Ukraine’s government, not to engineer a ‘frozen conflict’ -- Robert Person, Washington Post

Close Quarters: Asylum Shelters in Germany Struggle with Violence -- Spiegel Online

The Troubles Are Back -- Eamonn McCain, NYT