Thursday, July 30, 2015

Japan Successfully Fired The World's Most Powerful Laser

Researchers in Osaka were able to produce a 2-petawatt - or 2 quadrillion-watt - laser beam using the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiments (LFEX). This is equivalent to 1,000 times the world's electricity consumption, causing the laser to be compared to that on the Death Star in Star Wars (pictured)

Daily Mail: The Death Star weapon is here! Japan fires world's most powerful laser to produce energy equal to 1,000 times the planet's power consumption

* LFEX device produced 2-petawatts (2 quadrillion-watts) of energy
* The energy used for the laser beam itself would only be powerful enough to run a microwave for around two seconds, the Osaka researchers claim
* The high output was produced by firing the beam for just 1 pico-second

Japan claims to have fired the most powerful laser ever created.

Researchers in Osaka were able to produce a 2-petawatt laser beam using a device known as the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiment (LFEX).

The power of the 'Death Star'-like beam is equivalent to 1,000 times the world's total electricity consumption, the scientists claim.

WNU editor: The Japanese are already giving an indication on where they want to go with this technology .... Japan to Equip Two Warships With Laser Weapons (Sputnik).

More News On Japan Successfully Firing The World's Most Powerful Laser

World's most powerful laser fired in Japan -- Space Daily
Move over Dr. Evil! Japan fires world’s most-powerful laser beam -- RT
Japan fires the world's most powerful laser. -- Popular Science
Japan Just Successfully Fired The World's Most Powerful Laser -- Tech Times
Japan Creates 'Death Star' Laser, World's Most Powerful Pulse Could Blow Stuff Up -- IBTimes

It Costs The Pentagon $600,000 To Train One Anti-Islamic State Fighter

Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Nancy Youssef, Daily Beast: U.S. Spends $600K Per Anti-ISIS Fighter

The Pentagon has spent roughly $36 million on its initial class of U.S.-trained rebels—or $600,000 per anti-ISIS trainee. The average fighter makes between $200-$400 a month, depending on his skillset. In all, officials have allotted $500 million for the training program. U.S. defense officials recently boasted that more Syrians signed up to receive U.S training and take on the self-proclaimed Islamic State since the inaugural class of only 60 fighters. As it turns out, the new class is short of 100 fighters, two defense officials told the Daily Beast. With that, the keystone of the U.S. approach to the war against ISIS in Syria – building up a force to counter the group continues to falter.

At U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East, defense officials said that while the current pace did not portend of reaching the goal of 15,000 recruits, at a rate of 5,000 a year, the program was on the right course. Defense officials said they are having a hard time because the vetting process is nearly impossible for most Syrians to pass through. The U.S. demands potential trainees vow to not attack Syrian President Bashir al Assad forces, even as many of those trainees hold Assad responsible for the destruction of their communities and unending death tolls. And U.S. trainers are reticent to accept fighters who have fought alongside many Syrian groups as they consider them too extreme, a difficult proposition in a nearly five-year civil war.

The result: 7,000 applied, 1,700 passed the initial vetting and only 60 completed the inaugural course.

WNU Editor: This article was posted 3 days ago .... but in view of what happened yesterday .... U.S. Anti-ISIS Rebels In Syria Kidnapped By Al Qaeda .... it is clear that this entire program is a complete and unmitigated disaster.

U.S. Anti-ISIS Rebels In Syria Kidnapped By Al Qaeda

Members of the Nusra Front, a group in Syria that is affiliated with Al Qaeda, near Aleppo last year. Nusra fighters have kidnapped the leader of a group of American-trained Syrian fighters. Credit Hosam Katan/Reuters

Michael Weiss and Nancy A. Youssef, Daily Beast: Pentagon Turns Its Anti-ISIS Rebels Into Cannon Fodder

Is Washington really trying to train a rebel army in Syria? Or are they just marking fighters for death—and worse?
The Pentagon’s plan to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight ISIS had already devolved into farce, with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter informing Congress this month that a mere 54 had so far graduated from a program meant to produce 5,000 by the end of this year. But now the inevitable has happened: America’s new-minted counterterrorist proxies have been abducted by al Qaeda.

Colonel Nadim al-Hassan and as many as 20 other members of his U.S.-backed “Division 30” faction of Free Syrian Army rebels were kidnapped in the northern Aleppo countryside Thursday. The culprit, apparently, was Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al Qaeda franchise in Syria. A statement put out by Division 30 called for their comrades’ immediate release “to avoid bloodshed between Muslims.”

Jabhat al-Nusra has yet to comment as of Thursday afternoon.

WNU Editor: This is worse than farce.

More News On Reports That Anti-ISIS Rebels Who Have Been Trained By The U.S. Have Been Kidnapped By Al Qaeda In Syria

Abductions Hurt U.S. Bid to Train Anti-ISIS Rebels in Syria -- New York Times
Al Qaeda Kidnaps U.S.-Trained Rebels In Syria -- AP
Syrian conflict: Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front abduct leader of US-backed rebels dealing blow to plans to build moderate opposition to regime -- The Independent
Commander Of US-Trained, Anti-ISIS Force Reportedly Captured -- Daily Caller

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 30, 2015



Joseph Goldstein and Taimoor Shah, New York Times: Death of Mullah Omar Exposes Divisions Within Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan — With word of Mullah Muhammad Omar’s death now getting out, most likely two years after the event, the world is catching up with a Taliban leadership crisis already in progress.

The questions the Taliban are wrestling with include not just who stands to succeed Mullah Omar as leader, but whether anyone has enough support to keep the insurgency from splintering irrevocably, especially over the issue of peace talks, according to Afghan and Western officials.

For the moment, the Taliban’s deputy leader over the past five years, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, is the de facto leader of the group’s governing body in exile, the Quetta Shura. He has had years to influence who rose among the Taliban’s ranks, has the tacit acceptance of the group’s Pakistani military monitors, and he has been the leader in a year when the Taliban have made their biggest military gains on the Afghan battlefield.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 30, 2015

Why the West may miss the Taliban’s Mullah Omar -- David Rohde, Reuters

How Turkey will change the war against ISIS -- Startfor

Mullah Omar's death: Will it make a difference in Afghan conflict? -- Tom Peter, CSM

After the Nuclear Deal, a Region Recalibrates -- Stratfor

Iran nuclear agreement: Is a 'better deal' possible – and at what cost? -- Howard LaFranchi, CSM

Are there really only two options on Iran? -- Doyle McManus, L.A. Times

Yemen's Hidden War: A journey into one of the most remote and dangerous countries in the world -- Matthieu Aikins, Rolling Stone

Democrats Own the Disaster in the Middle East -- Noah Rothman, Commentary

Africa to Obama: Mind your own business -- Andrew M Mwenda, Al Jazeera

The Greek crisis: What's Germany up to? -- ULRICH SPECK, EU Observer

Putin's Energy Giant Falls on Hard Times -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Vladimir Putin is suffocating his own nation -- Washington Post editorial

Why Americans Believe that Bombing Hiroshima was Necessary -- Gary G. Kohls, Scoop

Debris Shows MH370 Didn’t Nose Dive -- Clive Irving, Daily Beast

World News Briefs -- July 30, 2015 (Evening edition)



Reuters: Indian Ocean debris almost certainly from Boeing 777

Plane debris washed up on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean is almost certainly part of a Boeing 777, a Malaysian official and aviation experts said, potentially providing some answers for families of those aboard last year's vanished flight MH370.

Malaysian investigators are due in Reunion on Friday and the object, identified by numerous aviation experts as part of a wing, is then due to be sent to a French military laboratory near Toulouse for checks, French police sources said.

MIDDLE EAST

Iraqi government denies UN torture allegations.

Turkey onslaught on Kurds, after IS attack, fuels anger.

Turkey PKK: 'Three soldiers killed' as convoy ambushed. Turkish security forces killed in attacks blamed on PKK.

Erdogan taking Turkey to war to avenge Kurdish gains: opposition.

U.S.-backed rebel group says Syrian Al-Qaida kidnapped their leader.

Iran voices conditions for U.N. nuclear inspections.

4 Democrats get behind Obama's Iran nuclear deal.

Yemeni forces seize Houthi positions on Aden outskirts: local officials.

Israel passes law allowing force-feeding of prisoners.

Man goes on stabbing spree at Jerusalem gay parade.

ASIA

Number on Reunion Island debris corresponds to Boeing 777 component. MH370 search: Reunion debris to be tested in France.

Mullah Omar: Taliban choose deputy Mansour as successor. Taliban elects new leader after Mullah Omar's death.

Taliban disavows Afghan peace talks after leader declared dead.

India says Punjab attackers came from Pakistan.

For North Korea, Iran-style nuclear deal not an option.

Political prisoners, Chinese loggers among thousands freed in Myanmar amnesty.

Yakub Memon: India carries out execution over 1993 bomb attacks.

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei says UK denies him six-month visa.

AFRICA

Congolese opposition leader released from prison.

Libya's UN envoy to discuss peace plan with rival lawmakers.

Libya officials say jihadi offensive drives IS affiliate from most of eastern stronghold.

Nigeria names head of multinational force to battle Boko Haram.

Fierce fighting erupts between Chadian army and Boko Haram.

Burundi's opposition leader Rwasa becomes deputy speaker.

South Sudan soldiers accused of stealing relief food.

Sierra Leone faces Ebola setback: 500 under quarantine.

Mugabe threatens to expel US, British diplomats.

'What lion?' Zimbabweans ask, amid global Cecil circus.

EUROPE

U.S. imposes more Russian and Ukrainian sanctions.

Shelling in eastern Ukraine kills four civilians, soldier.

Russia vetoes U.N. tribunal on Malaysia airlines flight downed over Ukraine.

Russian state 'involved' in ex-KGB agent's London murder, inquiry hears.

Greek debt crisis: IMF wary of third bailout.

Greece's Tsipras challenges party bailout critics to showdown.

Yanis Varoufakis may face criminal charges over Greek currency plan.

France deploys riot police to stem flow of migrants from Calais. Calais migrants undaunted by extra French riot police.

Britain and France scramble as Channel becomes choke point in migration crisis.

British PM's 'swarm' of migrants comment sparks outrage.

AMERICAS

Filthy Rio water a threat at 2016 Olympics.

Scioli maintains lead in Argentina presidential race -poll.

US economic growth picks up to 2.3%.

Data in Clinton’s ‘secret’ emails came from 5 intelligence agencies.

Venezuela seizes Nestle, Polar warehouse as food shortages mount.

Venezuela's hospitals on life support.

Colombia’s ombudsman calls for urgent talks with Venezuela over border violence.

In landfill atop Medellin, Colombia begins work on exhuming bodies in mass grave.

Chileans spooked by crime, demand government action.

Killing of Cecil the lion triggers probe by U.S. agency: source.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Cheating evil: Chechen women con ISIS by posing as wannabe terror brides.

Islamic State ‘growing’ in Afghanistan: watchdog.

Leader of US-backed Syria rebels abducted by Nusra Front.

Drone kills 4 suspected militants in Yemen.

Islamic State uses women to recruit, raise next generation of fighters.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

US Fed's 'nearly balanced' language no bar to Sept rate rise.

OPEC says oil should not fall further, sees stability in 2016.

IMF rejects Greek bailout package, widening European rift on Greece.

Big four country boom could add $25 trillion to world economy.

Top French National Security Official Contradicts Kerry On Iran Nuclear Deal



Josh Rogin, Bloomberg: Top French Official Contradicts Kerry on Iran Deal

Secretary of State John Kerry has been painting an apocalyptic picture of what would happen if Congress killed the Iran nuclear deal. Among other things, he has warned that “our friends in this effort will desert us." But the top national security official from one of those nations involved in the negotiations, France, has a totally different view: He told two senior U.S. lawmakers that he thinks a Congressional no vote might actually be helpful.

His analysis is already having an effect on how members of Congress, especially House Democrats, are thinking about the deal.

The French official, Jacques Audibert, is now the senior diplomatic adviser to President Francois Hollande. Before that, as the director general for political affairs in the Foreign Ministry from 2009 to 2014, he led the French diplomatic team in the discussions with Iran and the P5+1 group. Earlier this month, he met with Democrat Loretta Sanchez and Republican Mike Turner, both top members of the House Armed Services Committee, to discuss the Iran deal. The U.S. ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, was also in the room.

WNU Editor: I still do not see this Iranian nuclear deal being voted down by the U.S. Congress with a "veto-proof majority" .... the Democrats would not allow it for the simple reason that they are not going to tarnish President Obama's "legacy". But this French official is giving an alternative view that deserves more attention .... that rejection of it is not the gloom and doom that the U.S. administration is trying its best to paint .... that patience and time may work in favour of a better deal in the future. Unfortunately .... even if this agreement is successfully voted down by the U.S. Congress .... I do not share this French diplomat's analysis. The international community has already voted in favour of this agreement, and even if the U.S. decides to say no .... these countries are going to rush into Iran to do and make the deals that sanctions have prohibited for years .... the only difference is that U.S. firms and financial institutions will not be permitted to take part. But from the Iranian point of view .... who cares.

Nigeria And Cameroon Agree To Cooperate In Their War Against Boko Haram



Wall Street Journal: Nigerian General to Lead West African Coalition Against Boko Haram

Maj. Gen. Iliya Abbah to lead army-in-waiting against Islamist militant group

ABUJA—Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday appointed an army general to lead a coalition of West African counterterrorism troops, a step forward for a fast-forming international effort against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

Maj. Gen. Iliya Abbah will lead the Multinational Joint Task Force, an army-in-waiting that will fight Boko Haram in the four countries in which it operates—Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon—said Mr. Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina.

The general previously served as a commander pursuing kidnappers and thieves in Nigeria’s oil-rich south.

“He is the right man for the job,” said Col. Sani Usman, a spokesman for the Nigerian military.

The appointment offered further evidence of how quickly a West African army is coming together against Boko Haram. Nigeria and its neighbors have talked about creating such a force since the early days of the group’s insurgency, back in 2009.

WNU Editor: Differences still remain between Nigeria and Cameroon .... Anti-Boko Haram force delayed by political divisions (France 24) .... but this meeting is a start to resolve them.

More News On Nigeria And Cameroon Agreeing To Cooperate In Their War Against Boko Haram

Nigeria's president pledges greater cooperation against Boko Haram during Cameroon visit -- AP
Leaders of Nigeria and Cameroon try to forge closer effort against Boko Haram -- Reuters
Nigeria and Cameroon team up to fight Boko Haram -- Deutsche Welle
Nigeria Names Head of Regional Force to Fight Boko Haram -- AFP
Nigeria frees 71 people, mostly women, girls, from Boko Haram, hold them at military barracks -- AP
Chad says killed 117 Boko Haram fighters in two-week campaign -- Reuters
Chad mulls controversial anti-terror bill to fight Boko Haram -- AFP

U.S. Policy In The Middle East Is Being Undercut By The Growing Egyptian - Turkish Feud

Washington Times: Bitter feud between Turkey, Egypt undercuts U.S. hopes for Middle East

Two of America’s linchpin allies in the Middle East are bitterly feuding, complicating the Obama administration’s hopes of confronting Sunni Salafists and containing the ambitions of Shiite Iran.

Egypt is accusing Turkey of working with the Islamic State on the Sinai Peninsula, a new low in the already poor relations between the two regional powers.

Washington has finally coaxed Turkey into a greater commitment to take on the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, across the border in Syria, while the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi battles a surge of Islamist violence.

WNU Editor: The Egyptian government is convinced that Turkey is supporting Islamic militants in the Sinai ... and the fact that Egyptian security forces have captured/arrested Turkish intelligence officers who are alleged to be linked to these recent attacks .... only adds fuel to this speculation. Either way .... relations are now rock-bottom.

On a  side note .... was this the reason why Turkey rushed to make an agreement with Washington in its war against the Islamic State .... to defuse pressure and anger that their officers were captured in Sinai (as some Israelis are now saying)? One has to wonder.

U.S. - Turkey Split On How To Use The Incirlik Air Base Against The Islamic State


Voice of America: US, Turkey Differ Over How to Fight IS From Incirlik Air Base

Differences have emerged between Washington and Ankara over how to use a Turkish air base near the Syrian border in the fight against Islamic State militants.

Ankara’s decision in recent days to open the Incirlik airbase to U.S. jets was reportedly described as a “game changer” by one U.S. official in the battle against IS. Incirlik is located 110 kilometers from the Syrian border, meaning U.S. jets could reach their targets much faster than from the locations they've been using. Anti-IS forces mainly operate from Bahrain, Jordan and aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf.

For months, Ankara resisted Washington’s calls to open Incirlik because of differences over fighting the Jihadists and the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

WNU Editor: The U.S. focus is to stop the Islamic State .... Turkey's focus is to stop Kurdish forces. These differences should have been taken care of before their joint announcement .... but in the rush to make this announcement no one bothered to hash out the details. As a result .... the U.S. is now in limbo and as far as the Turkish government is concerned .... they have a green light from Washington to go after the Kurds. This is a textbook example on how NOT to do diplomacy.

Saudi Arabia Wants 600 Patriot Interceptors


Defense One: Saudi Arabia Responds to Iran Deal: Give Us 600 Patriot Missiles

The Kingdom’s request for additional interceptors could be the first of many new Mideast arms purchases aimed at warding off Iranian missiles.

Just two weeks after Western nations and Tehran struck a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program, the Pentagon says Saudi Arabia wants to buy 600 new Patriot missile interceptors.

The $5 billion-plus purchase is likely just the first of many more as America’s Middle Eastern allies arm themselves in response to the nuclear deal, which would lift Iran’s conventional-arms embargo sanctions in five years and sanctions on long-range missile projects in eight.

“We saw this coming,” said Thomas Karako, a missile defense expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “This is the consequence of leaving the Iranian missile program intact and in fact signaling sanctions will go down on it.”

Update: Saudi Arabia Requests $5.4 Billion Worth of PAC-3 Missiles -- DoD Buzz

WNU Editor: Turkey is also on the market for missile interceptors .... Turkey May Renegotiate Air Defense Deal With China (Defense News). I guess the Middle East arms race is now on.

South Korean Intelligence: North Korean Scud Missiles Are Being Used By Houti Rebels Against Saudi Arabia

Scud missiles like those pictured here were fired into Saudi Arabia from Yemeni rebels during the ongoing armed conflict between Houthi rebels and forces loyal to the ousted former government. An official on Wednesday claimed the Houthis bought them from North Korea. Getty Images

VICE News: North Korea Likely Supplied Scud Missiles Fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthi Rebels

South Korean intelligence officials said Wednesday that around 20 Scud missiles fired at Saudi Arabia from Yemen by Houthi rebels and their allies originated in North Korea.

"North Korea has sold missiles to Yemen and sent missile engineers to that country in the 1990s," a former North Korean intelligence official told South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

The Shia rebels fired the Scud missiles in retaliation for an ongoing bombing campaign in Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition.

An independent expert told VICE News the South Korean report about the North Korean origins of the missiles is likely accurate. "Back in 2002, Yemen purchased around 20 Scuds from the North Koreans," Joseph Bermudez, an arms expert with All Source Analysis, said. "So it's likely the Scuds being used in the conflict did come from North Korea originally."

Update #1: Scud missiles fired into Saudi Arabia from Yemen traced to N. Korea: official -- Yonhap News Agency
Update #2: N. Korean missiles sold to Yemeni rebels used against Saudi Arabia -- Korea Times
Update #3: North Korea Missiles Fired From Yemen Into Saudi Arabia, South Korean Official Says -- IBTimes

WNU Editor: Who paid for these missiles? And how did they sneak through the embargo?

Yemen War News Updates -- July 30, 2015



Wall Street Journal: Yemen Fighting Spreads as Cease-Fire Falters

Airstrikes and ground clashes have continued, dimming prospects for political solution.

SAN’A, Yemen—Despite a five-day humanitarian cease-fire by a Saudi-led military coalition, violence has proliferated in Yemen, further dimming prospects for an imminent political solution.

The Saudi coalition has been targeting Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels with airstrikes since March, and said it would continue to respond to provocations by the Houthis when it declared the truce on Sunday. The Houthis say they never agreed to abide by the cease-fire. Strikes and clashes on the ground have continued in the lead-up to the cease-fire’s expiration on Friday night.

“There was no cease-fire at all,” said Ahmad al-Babily, a resident of the capital, San’a. “If the humanitarian cease-fire was aimed at bringing aid to Yemen, we have not seen any aid in San’a.”

Yemen War News Updates -- July 30, 2015

Yemeni forces seize Houthi positions on Aden outskirts: local officials -- Reuters
Saudi-led coalition plans ground attacks in Yemen after taking key city -- Washington Post
Yemeni forces seize Huthi positions on Aden outskirts: local officials -- i24 News
First aim is to restore Yemeni government in Aden, Sanaa later - Arab-led bloc -- Reuters
Yemen Leader Moves to Unify Fractured Fighting Force -- WSJ
Yemen's President Orders Militias Merged Into His Forces -- AP
Civilians and hospitals targeted in Yemen air strikes, warns medical charity -- The Guardian
WHO says nearly 4,000 killed in Yemen since late March -- Press TV
Lack of Pause in Yemen War Delays Aid -- NYT
Yemen conflict has pushed six million people to the brink of starvation, Oxfam warns -- The Independent
6.5 Million People at Risk of Starvation in Yemen -- Newsweek
Yemen: Iran Backed Rebels In Retreat -- Strategy page

Saudi Arabia And Egypt Agree To Expand Military Ties

A handout picture from the Office of the Egyptian Presidency on July 30, 2015 shows President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) meeting with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Cairo. AFP

Daily Star/AFP: Egypt, Saudi sign pact to boost military ties

CAIRO: Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed a pact in Cairo Thursday aimed at boosting military and economic ties between the two Arab allies.

Relations have warmed since the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohammad Morsi, with Saudi Arabia offering billions in aid to Egypt and Cairo participating in a Saudi-led bombing campaign against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

On Thursday, a Saudi delegation led by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman visited Cairo and signed the "Cairo Declaration," also attending a military parade with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

WNU Editor: This is fallout from the U.S. - Iranian nuclear deal. My prediction .... this Saudi - Egyptian military/political alliance is going to grow.

More News On Saudi Arabia And Egypt Agreeing To Expand Military Ties

Saudi and Egypt sign ‘Cairo declaration’ -- Gulf News
Egypt, Saudi sign pact to boost military ties -- AFP
Egypt, Saudi Arabia aim to enhance military, economic cooperation -- FOX News/AP
Egypt and Saudi leaders of Arab security, says Sisi -- Al Arabiya
Egypt and Saudi Arabia guarantors of Arab security: Sisi -- Ahram Online
Egypt and Saudi Arabia sign pact to boost military ties -- 9News

World News Briefs -- July 30, 2015



New York Times: Finding on Whether Debris Is From Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 May Take a Week

SYDNEY, Australia — It may be a week or more before investigators determine whether a piece of debris found on the island of RĂ©union came from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a French official with knowledge of the investigation said on Thursday.

The object, which appeared to be a wing flap torn from a jetliner, has been crated and sealed for shipment to France, the official said, but it is not expected to reach Paris for two or three days. It would then be forwarded to an aviation laboratory in Toulouse for analysis, which could take several more days.

MIDDLE EAST

Iraqi government denies UN torture allegations.

Turkey onslaught on Kurds, after IS attack, fuels anger.

Turkey PKK: 'Three soldiers killed' as convoy ambushed. Turkish security forces killed in attacks blamed on PKK.

Erdogan taking Turkey to war to avenge Kurdish gains: opposition.

U.S.-backed rebel group says Syrian Al-Qaida kidnapped their leader.

Iran voices conditions for U.N. nuclear inspections.

Yemeni forces seize Houthi positions on Aden outskirts: local officials.

Israel passes law allowing force-feeding of prisoners.

ASIA

Number on Reunion Island debris corresponds to Boeing 777 component. MH370 search: Reunion debris to be tested in France.

Mullah Omar: Taliban choose deputy Mansour as successor. Taliban elects new leader after Mullah Omar's death.

Taliban disavows Afghan peace talks after leader declared dead.

India says Punjab attackers came from Pakistan.

For North Korea, Iran-style nuclear deal not an option.

Political prisoners, Chinese loggers among thousands freed in Myanmar amnesty.

Yakub Memon: India carries out execution over 1993 bomb attacks.

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei says UK denies him six-month visa.

AFRICA

Libya officials say jihadi offensive drives IS affiliate from most of eastern stronghold.

Nigeria names head of multinational force to battle Boko Haram.

Fierce fighting erupts between Chadian army and Boko Haram.

Burundi's opposition leader Rwasa becomes deputy speaker.

South Sudan soldiers accused of stealing relief food.

Sierra Leone faces Ebola setback: 500 under quarantine.

Mugabe threatens to expel US, British diplomats.

'What lion?' Zimbabweans ask, amid global Cecil circus.

EUROPE

Shelling in eastern Ukraine kills four civilians, soldier.

Russia vetoes U.N. tribunal on Malaysia airlines flight downed over Ukraine.

Russian state 'involved' in ex-KGB agent's London murder, inquiry hears.

Greece's Tsipras challenges party bailout critics to showdown.

Yanis Varoufakis may face criminal charges over Greek currency plan.

France deploys riot police to stem flow of migrants from Calais. Calais migrants undaunted by extra French riot police.

Britain and France scramble as Channel becomes choke point in migration crisis.

AMERICAS

US economic growth picks up to 2.3%.

Data in Clinton’s ‘secret’ emails came from 5 intelligence agencies.

Venezuela seizes Nestle, Polar warehouse as food shortages mount.

Venezuela's hospitals on life support.

Colombia’s ombudsman calls for urgent talks with Venezuela over border violence.

In landfill atop Medellin, Colombia begins work on exhuming bodies in mass grave.

Chileans spooked by crime, demand government action.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Islamic State ‘growing’ in Afghanistan: watchdog.

Leader of US-backed Syria rebels abducted by Nusra Front.

Drone kills 4 suspected militants in Yemen.

Islamic State uses women to recruit, raise next generation of fighters.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

OPEC says oil should not fall further, sees stability in 2016.

IMF rejects Greek bailout package, widening European rift on Greece.

Big four country boom could add $25 trillion to world economy.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 30, 2015

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, center, testifies on the Iranian nuclear deal recently brokered by the Obama Administration before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C., July 29, 2015. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Secretary of State John F. Kerry, left; Teasury Secretary Jack Lew, second from left; and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz joined Carter during the hearing. DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett

Defense News: DoD to Congress: Iran Deal or No, Military Options Open

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Ash Carter continued the administration's defense of the Iran nuclear deal, telling lawmakers Wednesday that while a pact with Iran carries risks, it is better than the alternative: an inevitable military confrontation.

"The effects of a strike are temporary, and secondly, Iran would respond to an American military strike," Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee, when asked whether a military strike would set Iran's military program back further than the accord. Such a strike could lead Iran to become "irreconcilably committed to getting a nuclear weapon ... Effectively implemented, [the accord] stops Iran from getting a nuclear weapon not just for ten years or 15 years, but way beyond that."

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 30, 2015

It's Over: Russia, France Agree Mistral Contract Breach Settlement -- Sputnik

Russia developing 7-tonne universal combat robotic system -- ITAR-TASS

Group of Russian Black Sea Fleet ships returning to Mediterranean -- Itar-Tass

China, Russia to hold military drills in Sea of Japan -- Reuters

China Stages Huge Military Drills in South China Sea -- VOA

China’s Former Top General Snared in Xi’s Corruption Crackdown -- Bloomberg

Indian Officer Says India Will Keep Buying Russian Weapons -- Sputnik

Russia to Deliver Modernized Version of S-300 Air Defense System to Iran -- Sputnik

Saudi Arabia Requests $5.4 Billion Worth of PAC-3 Missiles -- DoD Buzz

Missing Lao Military Helicopter Found Crashed, Weather Hampers Rescue -- Radio Free Asia

Russian Military Near Latvia: A Dozen Aircraft Spotted In Airspace Around Baltic Sea -- IBTimes

Latvia, Lithuania To Raise Defense Spending -- Defense News

Is the Philippines’ Military Modernization Dead in the Water? -- Dr. Renato Cruz de Castro, The Diplomat

A look around the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier -- BBC

Canadian Military Buys Israeli Iron Dome Missile Defense Technology -- IBTimes

U.S. military service buys Israeli radar for testing -- UPI

US to deliver F-16 aircraft to Egypt -- Al Jazeera

US Senate confirms new Joint Chiefs chairman -- The Hill

Defense secretary will allow more troops to be armed following Chattanooga attack -- Washington Post

Army set to crack down on cyber bullying -- Army Times

US Navy to Commission Newest ‘Fast Attack’ Submarine -- Sputnik

Pentagon test chief raps F-35B reliability ahead of IOC -- IHS Jane's 360

US military's smart rifle can be HACKED: Security researchers remotely change weapon's target and disable its scope -- Daily Mail

US Military's Bomb Techs Fear Flying IEDs -- Defense News

FBI faces several challenges with cybersecurity program -- Washington Times

Dismantling military's transgender ban to begin Monday -- USA Today

Former Navy SEAL Alleges Anti-Gay Bullying by CIA Workers -- Military.com/AP

U.S. Senate Confirms Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. As The Next Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff

General Joseph Dunford © Gary Cameron / Reuters

USA Today/Military Times: Senate confirms Marine general as Joint Chiefs chairman

The Senate confirmed Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday after a brief dispute between Pentagon leaders and the chamber's leading critic of military sexual assault policy.

The spat between Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and military officials had nothing to do with Dunford's credentials but instead centered on data of sexual assaults at large military bases, information she has been seeking for years.

She stalled the confirmation process for about two days until Defense Secretary Ash Carter offered assurances to her Wednesday morning that the information would be made available soon.

More News On The U.S. Senate Confirming Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. As The Next Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford confirmed as Joint Chiefs chairman -- UPI
US Senate confirms Dunford as next Joint Chiefs chairman -- AFP
Senate confirms new Joint Chiefs chairman -- The Hill
US Senate confirms Dunford as Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman -- Deutsche Welle
US Senate Confirms Russia-Wary General as Next Joint Chiefs Chairman -- Sputnik
General who labeled Russia ‘America’s biggest threat’ confirmed as top US military officer -- RT

U.S. Accused By China Of Militarising The South China Sea


Voice of America: China Accuses US of Militarizing South China Sea

China's Defense Ministry Thursday accused the United States of "militarizing" the South China Sea by staging patrols and joint military drills there, leading to raised tensions in the disputed region.

China Defense spokesman Yang Yujun said Beijing has been angered by U.S. Navy and Air Force forays through waters it claims as its own, strengthened military alliances with the Philippines and others, and frequent military exercises in the region.

Yang said the actions are creating risks of incidents in the air and at sea.

Update #1: China says U.S. "militarising" South China Sea -- Reuters
Update #2: China Accuses US of 'Militarizing' South China Sea -- NYT/AP

WNU Editor: The tea kettle calling the coffee pot "black".

The Afghan Taliban Have Confirmed The Death Of Mullah Omar And Have Named A New Leader



Al Jazeera: Afghan Taliban confirm death of Mullah Omar, say group has new leader

Afghan Taliban sources confirmed to Al Jazeera that its reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, is dead. They also said that a high meeting of the Shura Council was held Wednesday night and Thursday, where the ruling council decided to elect Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, the head of the Quetta Shura, to be the new "Commander of the Faithful in Afghanistan.”

The Pakistan Foreign Office tells Al Jazeera that it is postponing the second round of talks between Afghanistan's government and the Taliban in Afghanistan in light of the news about Mullah Omar's death.

The Afghan Taliban, which has been fighting to topple the Kabul government for almost 14 years, said on Thursday they are “not aware” of a new round of peace talks due to begin on Friday in Pakistan — a statement indicating the group may be pulling out of the negotiations.

WNU Editor: I am impressed. Apparently they kept his death quiet for a very long time.

More On The Taliban Confirming The Death Of Their Leader Mullah Omar

Mullah Omar: Taliban choose deputy Mansour as successor -- BBC
Afghan Taliban names a new leader, but peace talks delayed -- Reuters
Taliban taps new leader, delays peace talks -- The Hill
Taliban confirm leader dead, name successor -- USA Today
Taliban Confirm Death of Mullah Omar and Weigh Successor -- NYT
Taliban officially announces death of Mullah Omar -- The Guardian
Taliban Appoints Mullah Akhtar Mansour as New Leader, People Close to the Group Say -- WSJ
Taliban confirm Mullah Omar's death -- CNN
Afghan Taliban: "Family" of Mullah Omar confirm his death -- AP
Afghan peace talks postponed amid fallout from Taliban leader’s death -- Washington Post
Appointment of new Taliban chief heralds 'ugly succession period' -- Deutsche Welle

Update: More on who is the new leader of the Taliban .... Who Is Mullah Akhtar Mansoor? New Afghan Taliban Chief To Succeed Mullah Omar Following Revelation Of Leader's Death (IBTimes).

The U.S. Has Betrayed The Kurds



Brendan O'Neill, The Telegraph: The West is betraying the Kurds and allowing them to be massacred

Stabs in the back don’t get much nastier than this.

For the past year, Western leaders have feted the Kurds of Northern Iraq, praising them as one of the few forces gutsy enough to face down the death cult of Isil.

Now, those leaders turn a blind eye, or even worse give an active nod, to attacks on Northern Iraqi Kurds by the Turkish air force.

Heroes one minute; fair game for massacre the next. In the long list of Western betrayals of former allies overseas, this one feels especially grotesque.

Last Friday, following months of negotiation with Washington, Turkey launched its first-ever air strikes against Isil in Syria.

A few hours later it started dropping bombs in Northern Iraq — not on Isil, but on the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, with which Turkey has been locked in bitter conflict since 1984.

WNU Editor: Brendan O'Neil's analysis is correct .... to say that there is a moral equivalence between a barbaric group that seems to have been teleported form the Middle Ages and a Marxist guerrilla outfit that wants to create a Kurdish homeland on Iraqi, Turkish and Syrian territory is a stretch .... but such is the state of affairs for how the Kurds are now being branded. Not surprising .... the Kurds that the West continues to support (YPG, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in Syria) .... are also now being bombed by the Turkish air force .... and they are the one military force that has been the most effective against the Islamic State. But what makes this betrayal even worse is that Turkey has been a worthless ally in NATO since the war against the Islamic State started, more so as close links between Turkey and the Islamic state continue to be uncovered .... Official: Links Between ISIS and Turkey ‘Undeniable’ (PJ Media). Bottom line .... when the Kurds won a number of seats in the Turkish parliamentary elections last month .... thereby hampering and stopping Turkish President Erdogan's agenda, people started to speculate on what will the Turkish President do next .... now we know the answer to that question.

More Commentary On The Betrayal Of The Kurds

Has the U.S. Just Sold Out the Kurds? -- Dan De Luce, Foreign Policy
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise -- Robert Fisk, The Independent
'Kurds Have No Friends But The Mountains' Trends On Social Media -- Vocativ
Some Kurds angered at Turkish attacks on PKK, accuse US of betrayal -- Rudaw
Is Turkey Really Fighting ISIL? -- Neil Quilliam and Jonathan Friedman, On Islam

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry To Travel To The Middle East For Talks On The Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York to speak about the Iran accord. Credit Hilary Swift/The New York Times

Washington Examiner: Kerry on mission to soothe Arab allies

With the Iran nuclear deal behind him, Secretary of State John Kerry is off to the Middle East next week to discuss a topic many in the region and in Washington have complained is missing from the complex arrangement: a plan to deal with Tehran's disruptive behavior.

Kerry will be in Cairo on Sunday to consult with Egyptian officials and will meet with Gulf Cooperation Council members in Qatar on Monday. He told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday that discussions would center on a "very robust initiative" to curb Iran's bad behavior.

"We will be engaging in special forces training, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, counter-finance — a whole series of steps in order to empower all of us to do a better job of reducing those activities," he said.

Update: Kerry To Pitch Iran Nuclear Deal In Mideast Visits Next Week -- Radio Free Europe

WNU Editor: If 99% of the world supports this agreement .... why the need to travel and gain support? .... Iran nuclear deal: '99% of world agrees' says Obama (BBC).

Update #2: Why am I not surprised .... Kerry to skip Israel during upcoming visit to Middle East (Israel Hayom).

Britain Fails To Stop Recruits From Joining The Islamic State


New York Times: Britain Is Losing Against ISIS Recruitment Tactics

LONDON — When Tasnime Akunjee’s father, a university student from a middle-class family in Bangladesh, came to Britain in the early 1970s, he thought the streets of London would be paved with gold. Literally.

“In those days, Britain had a powerful story to tell,” said Mr. Akunjee, a London-based lawyer. Once his father arrived, he said, he was shocked to find that he was walking on mere paving stones. But he quickly recovered. Golden sidewalks or not, Mr. Akunjee said, “he wanted to be part of it — they all did in that generation.”

Even educated young men and women in Britain’s former colonies believed in a sometimes absurdly idealized marketing pitch of its former empire. Now, a different pitch, but one that is proving similarly alluring, has swayed hundreds of young British Muslims into believing the Islamic State’s vision of its self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Leaving behind the Western opportunities their parents came to Britain for, those young Muslims make for a promised land of religious virtue, Muslim community and righteous revolution.

WNU Editor: The British authorities continue to not even identify the role that Islam is playing in these Islamic State appeals .... how can you defeat the enemy when you are not even permitted to define it? And the British are not alone .... other European/Western states and the U.S. are experiencing the same problem. The alternative then is to destroy the enemy at its source (Syria and Iraq), and hope that the recruiting pitches will disappear (which they will probably will). But for the moment the war against the Islamic State has been handed off to the Arab states in the region, and their effectiveness (or lack of) is clearly being shown with each passing day.

Some U.S. Senators Are Ready To Start An Oil War With Iran

Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields with an Iranian flag in the foreground in the Persian Gulf, 1,250 km (776 miles) south of the capital Tehran. Reuters.

CNN: Some U.S. senators want to start oil war with Iran

As Secretary of State John Kerry tried to sell the Iran nuclear deal to Congress Tuesday, some U.S. senators were ready to start an oil war with Iran.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski is sponsoring a bill to lift the ban on exporting American crude oil. Send U.S. oil abroad, she argues, so America can "compete against our foes in a way that doesn't involve sending our troops in and boots on the ground."

In other words, let the U.S. and Iran go head to head on the world oil market.

It's a timely debate. At a Senate Banking Committee hearing Tuesday, she asked why the U.S. would lift sanctions on Iran so it can export its oil, yet keep a ban in place on American oil exports.

WNU Editor: At least someone in the US government is trying to do some strategic thinking when it comes to Iran.