Monday, November 30, 2015

Commander Of U.S. Special Operations Command: ‘Gray Zone’ Conflicts Far More Complex To Combat

Commanding General of U.S. Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph Votel. Army.mil

Tampa Tribune: ‘Gray Zone’ conflicts far more complex to combat, says Socom chief Votel

TAMPA — Between peace and all-out war exists the Gray Zone.

To Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, the Gray Zone is a familiar place of ambiguity. It’s a place where the Islamic State operates. A place where Russia has taken on Ukraine.

And it’s home to many other spots, hot, lukewarm or otherwise, around the globe.

“The Gray Zone,” said Votel, “really defines this area between ... for the most part healthy economic, political competition between states, and open warfare.”

It’s a place, he said, where “actors, sometimes state actors and sometimes non-state actors, act in a manner just below what would normally take us into normal open warfare.”

In September, Socom, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, issued a paper on Gray Zone challenges. The paper says that while traditional war might have been the dominant means of deadly conflict, Gray Zone challenges have now become the norm, and that countering foes like the former Soviet Union in many ways proved far less complex than taking on current adversaries.

WNU Editor: This is not an easy subject to discuss or comment on. I need to think about it, and yes .... I will be posting more on this topic at a future date because I do not think we are winning these conflicts .... not even close.

The Islamic State's Tax-Man Konws How To Collect Money

The ISIS earns around $2 million per day from the illicit sales of crude oil. Reuters

New York Times: Predatory Islamic State Wrings Money From Those It Rules

Three times a month, Mohammad al-Kirayfawai hands $300 to fighters from the Islamic State for the privilege of driving his refrigerated truck full of ice cream and other perishables from Jordan to a part of Iraq where the militants are firmly in charge.

The fighters who man the border post treat the payment as an import duty, not a bribe. They even provide a stamped receipt, with the logo and seal of the Islamic State, that Mr. Kirayfawai, 38, needs for passing through other checkpoints on his delivery route.

Refuse to pay and the facade of normality quickly falls away. “If I do not,” Mr. Kirayfawai explained, “they either arrest me or burn my truck.”

Across wide expanses of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State, with the goal of building a credible government, has set up a predatory and violent bureaucracy that wrings every last American dollar, Iraqi dinar and Syrian pound it can from those who live under its control or pass through its territory.

WNU Editor: Oil revenues do help the Islamic State make ends meet, but it is collecting money using other methods (taxes, duties, owning businesses, revenues on rent, etc.), that makes up a lion share of the SIS's budget.

Former Pentagon Intelligence Director: Our Military Strategy Since 9/11 Has Been Going In The Wrong Direction

Lieutenant General Michael Flynn during his interview with Mehdi Hasan on Al Jazeera.

Interview Conducted By Matthias Gebauer and Holger Stark, Spiegel Online: Ex-US Intelligence Chief on Islamic State's Rise: 'We Were Too Dumb'

Without the Iraq war, Islamic State wouldn't exist today, former US special forces chief Mike Flynn openly admits. In an interview, he explains IS' rise to become a professional force and how the Americans allowed its future leader to slip out of their hands.

Michael Flynn, 56, served in the United States Army for more than 30 years, most recently as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he was the nation's highest-ranking military intelligence officer. Previously, he served as assistant director of national intelligence inside the Obama administration. From 2004 to 2007, he was stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, where, as commander of the US special forces, he hunted top al-Qaida terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of the predecessors to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who today heads the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. After Flynn's team located Zarqawi's whereabouts, the US killed the terrorist in an air strike in June 2006.

In an interview, Flynn explains the rise of the Islamic State and how the blinding emotions of 9/11 led the United States in the wrong direction strategically.

Update: Ex-Intel Chief Admits US Was 'Dumb' on Middle East Strategy After 9/11 (Sputnik)

WNU Editor: Memo to Michael Flynn (ret.) .... regular readers of this blog figured out this wrong strategy direction years ago.

Russian President Putin Accuses Turkey Of Shooting Down The Russian Military Jet To Protect Islamic State Oil Trade

© Sputnik/ Alexey Nikolsky

RT: Russia has ‘more proof’ ISIS oil routed through Turkey, Erdogan says he’ll resign if it’s true

Russia has received additional intelligence confirming that oil from deposits controlled by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) goes through Turkey on an industrial scale, President Vladimir Putin said speaking on the sidelines of the climate change summit in Paris.

Moscow has grounds to suspect that the Su-24 was downed by Turkish jets on November 24 to secure illegal oil deliveries from Syria to Turkey, he said.

“At the moment we have received additional information confirming that that oil from the deposits controlled by Islamic State militants enters Turkish territory on industrial scale,” he said.

“We have every reason to believe that the decision to down our plane was guided by a desire to ensure security of this oil’s delivery routes to ports where they are shipped in tankers,” Putin said.

WNU Editor: On the day that the Russian military jet was shot-down I had mentioned in this blog that I found it to be quite a coincidence that this happened a few days after Russia began bombing the Islamic State's oil facilities and tanker trucks in Syria. Is there a Turkey - ISIS link over oil .... I do not know. But that oil has to be going somewhere, and since the neighbouring states of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are not interested in this oil .... one can only guess it has to be going to Turkey.

More News on Russian President Putin Accusing Turkey Of Shooting Down The Russian Military Jet To Protect Islamic State Oil Trade

Putin: Russia has grounds to suspect Russian plane was downed to secure oil deliveries -- TASS
Russia says Turkey 'shot down plane for IS oil' -- BBC
Turkey shot down Russian warplane to protect IS oil trade: Putin -- AFP
Putin says Turkey shot down Russian plane to defend IS oil supplies -- Reuters
Putin claims Turkey downed Russian fighter jet to defend IS oil supplies, Turkey offers no apology -- ABC News (Australia)
Putin: Turkey shot down Russian warplane to protect its oil trade with Islamic State -- ITV News
Putin: Turkey Shot Down Russian Jet to Protect Islamic State Oil -- RFE

Update: Erdogan says ready to resign if claims about Turkey's buying oil from IS are confirmed (TASS).

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



Oren Cass, Politico: Why the Paris climate deal is meaningless

The more seriously you take the need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the angrier you should be.

Negotiators from around the world gather in Paris this week to finalize an international climate change agreement, capping a years-long process on which hopes have been riding for global action to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. When those demanding U.S. action speak of the need to show “leadership” and foster international progress, they speak of building momentum toward Paris.

“This year, in Paris, has to be the year that the world finally reaches an agreement to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can,” said U.S. President Barack Obama on his recent trip to Alaska. Miguel Cañete, the EU’s chief negotiator, has warned there is “no Plan B — nothing to follow. This is not just ongoing UN discussions. Paris is final.”

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

Russia and the West Face a Common Enemy -- Evgeny Lebedev, Telegraph

Turkish Shootdown Shows Importance of NATO-Russia Dialogue -- Kevin Ryan, Moscow Times

The Rhetoric Over a Downed Plane -- Krishnadev Calamur, The Atlantic

Putin’s New Missiles Dial Up the Tension with Turkey -- Rob Graver, Fiscal Times

Putin's latest message to Turkey could 'spin any future incident beyond control' -- Natasha Bertrand, Business Insider

Double dealing tyrant who's sabotaging the West's battle to crush ISIS: Turkey's Erdogan seems to be doing almost everything he can to cripple the forces actually fighting ISIS -- Michael Burleigh, Daily Mail

Spain Yesterday, Syria Today -- Ross Douthat, NYT

In unexpected twist, Assad ally may be Lebanon's next president -- Tom Perry and Laila Bassam, Reuters

A unified force should wage war on extremism -- Jonathan Gornall, The National

Banking on Arab youth to turn Arab countries around -- Doug Sanders, The Globe and Mail

After sanctions, Iran must choose one of two paths -- Faisal Al Yafai, The National

Behind sparkling Afghan city, a strongman's hand? -- Scott Peterson, CSM

Fatal Guesswork: Why the U.S. Military Attacked that Afghan Hospital -- Mark Thompson, Time

The India-Nepal Crisis -- Hemant Ojha, The Diplomat

Decades after Nigeria's war, new Biafra movement grows -- Alexis Akwagyiram, Reuters

Our Precarious Defenses in Europe -- Robert H. Scales, WSJ

Time to Bring Cuba Online -- New York Times editorial

The folly of the fiscal break-even oil price -- Michael Levi, Financial Times

World News Briefs -- November 30, 2015 (Evening Edition)



Reuters: With climate at 'breaking point', leaders urge breakthrough in Paris

World leaders launched an ambitious attempt on Monday to hold back rising temperatures, with the United States and China leading calls for the climate summit in Paris to mark a decisive turn in the fight against global warming.

In a series of opening addresses to the U.N. talks, heads of state and government exhorted each other to find common cause in two weeks of bargaining to steer the global economy away from its dependence on fossil fuels. French President Francois Hollande said the world was at a "breaking point".

MIDDLE EAST

France carries out strikes on IS in Iraq after Paris attacks.

U.S., allies conduct 15 air strikes against Islamic State: statement.

Deadly Kurd-Islamist clashes in northern Syria.

Israel's Netanyahu stresses importance of Israel-Russia military cooperation at meeting with Putin.

At NATO, Turkey remains defiant over Russian jet. Turkey will not apologise for shooting down Russian jet.

U.S. backs Turkey's explanation of Russian air incursion.

Turkey's Prime Minister criticizes Putin's sanctions.

Turkish group says Russians targeted bakery in Syria.

Mourners at funeral of Kurdish lawyer cast doubt over justice. Turkish opposition says police bullet may have killed Kurdish lawyer.

Iraqis find 3 more mass graves in formerly IS-held Sinjar.

Iraqi army warns of imminent assault on IS-held Ramadi.

Iranian general Soleimani denies rumors of his death.

Iran demands closure of UN nuclear watchdog probe.

Ayatollah dashes Obama moderation hopes, reaffirms commitment to Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

Yemen shells kill 3 more in Saudi border zone.

Israel suspends EU role in peace process with Palestinians.

ASIA

Philippines official confident in South China Sea arbitration case.

Afghanistan, Pakistan leaders to hold icebreaking talks in Paris.

US warns of 'imminent attack' in Kabul. U.S. Embassy warns of imminent attack in Kabul.

Thai junta briefly detains opposition leaders ahead of anti-graft inspection.

China deploys mass surveillance to secure streets around ancient Tibetan temple.

China raises alert level as thick smog engulfs Beijing.

Japanese military scrambles F-15 jets after Chinese planes fly near Okinawa.

Japanese whaling fleet to set sail for Antarctic.

India's economic growth picks up to 7.4%.

India's Modi says developing nations need space to grow.

Nepal unrest leaves millions of children facing food, medicine shortages: U.N..

AFRICA

War-weary Syrians find unlikely shelter in Sudan capital.

Boko Haram destroys Nigerian military base.

Mali attack: Rocket kills three at UN base at Kidal.

DR Congo raid by Ugandan Islamist rebel group 'kills 24'. Seven hacked to death in Congo hospital, dozens killed in clashes with Ugandan rebels.

South Sudan rebels sending advance team to Juba.

Pope Francis visits besieged mosque in Central African Republic.

Counting under way in Burkina Faso elections.

UNICEF: AIDS now top killer of Africa’s teens.

African leaders urge world to save drought-hit Lake Chad.

EUROPE

British leader sets Syria airstrikes debate for Wednesday.

UK's Labour to let its lawmakers vote with their consciences on Syria strikes.

Greek PM goads Turkish PM on Twitter over downing of Russian jet.

Russia's Putin, China's Xi meet on sidelines of Paris summit.

Poroshenko calls for visa-free regime with EU and extension of sanctions against Russia.

Declaring 'new beginning,' EU and Turkey seal migrant deal.

Europe split over refugee deal as Germany leads breakaway coalition.

Hundreds involved in mass brawl at Berlin refugee shelter.

Ukraine says can restore some power to Crimea when activists ready.

AMERICAS

Venezuela arrests three for killing of opposition candidate.

Venezuela seeks to downplay security fears around vote.

White House to update governors on refugees in their states.

Obama urges climate deal as U.N. summit opens in tense Paris.

Obama, Putin discuss Syria, Ukraine at summit: White House.

Colombia tries to end five decades of war with rebels. Colombian FARC rebels demand UN monitors for ceasefire.


US lawmakers brace for end-of-year battles.

Guatemala prison fight turns deadly.

Brazil to sue Samarco mining firm for $5.2bn over dam burst.

Gun threat prompts University of Chicago to cancel Monday classes.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Russia says top Russian and U.S. military officials discuss fight against IS.

Paris terror attack suspect believed to be in Syria.

Islamic State defections mount as death toll rises, U.S. official says.

Isis mocked with rubber ducks as internet fights terror with humour.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Gates, Zuckerberg and other billionaires to back clean energy.

World Bank, six nations call for a price on carbon.

IMF gives China's currency prized reserve asset status.

Iran seeks $30bn of new oil contracts.

Clicks defeat bricks during U.S. retailers' Black Friday weekend.

Russian Fighter Jets Are Now Armed With Air-To-Air Missiles For The First Time Over Syria



RT: Russia arms Su-34s with air-to-air missiles in Syria for 1st time

Russian Su-34 bombers, additionally equipped with air-to-air missiles, have set out on their first mission in Syria, said Igor Klimov, spokesman for the Russian Air Force.

“Today, Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers have made their first sortie equipped not only with high explosive aviation bombs and hollow charge bombs, but also with short- and medium-range air-to-air missiles," Klimov said.

"The planes are equipped with missiles for defensive purposes," he added.

The missiles have target-seeking devices and are “capable of hitting air targets within a 60km radius,” he said.

WNU Editor: This is a clear message to NATO.

More News On Reports That Russian Fighter Jets Are Now Armed With Air-To-Air Missiles For The First Time Over Syria

Russian Su-34 planes in Syria for the first time make sorties with air-to-air missiles -- TASS
Russia fighter jets flying with AIR-TO-AIR missiles in 'self defence' after Turkey downing -- Express
Russian SU-34 jets fly with air-to-air missiles in Syria for self-defense for first time -- Reuters
Russian Jets To Be Armed With Air-To-Air Missiles -- Forces TV

Russian Pilots in Syria Are Now 'Armed To The Teeth'

A Russian pilot shows off his hidden weapons and bullets at Khmeimim air force base in Latakia, Syria

Daily Mail: Armed to the teeth: Russian air force gives its pilots pistols and Kalashnikovs in case any more are shot down by Turks amid rising tensions

* Russian pilots have been given handguns and AK-47s to defend themselves
* New measures come after the death of Russian pilot Lt-Col Oleg Peshkov
* Kalashnikovs will be hidden in their seats which eject with them

Russia is issuing its warplane pilots on missions over Syria with pistols and Kalashnikov machine guns in case they are forced to eject and defend themselves on the ground.
This comes as images emerged of the Kremlin's most advanced missile defence system - the S-400 - deployed to protect its air force pilots in the war-ravaged country.
Russia has threatened to use the S-400's devastating firepower to defend its air strikes in Syria, which the West claims are targeted at moderate opponents of the Assad regime as well as ISIS jihadist terrorists.

WNU Editor: These Russian pilots were already "armed to the teeth" .... Russian Pilots In Syria Are Arming Themselves With The Expectation That They Will Be Shot Down

A Twitter War Between Turkey And Greece?

The Greek Prime Minister took direct diplomacy to a rather more public forum last night as he sent a series of barbed tweets to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Daily Mail

Reuters: Greek-Turkish Twitter dogfight started in error: official

Greece and Turkey fought a brief dogfight on Twitter over Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane due to an error by an aide in Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' office, a Greek official said on Monday.

It began in the middle of a summit between Turkey and the European Union on Sunday, when a message appeared on Tsipras' Twitter account saying: "To Prime Minister Davutoglu: Fortunately our pilots are not as mercurial as yours against the Russians."

A second tweet issued in Tsipras' name referred to near-miss aerial incidents between Greek and Turkish planes over the Aegean Sea, saying: "What is happening in the Aegean is outrageous and unbelievable".

A third tweet added: "We're spending billions on weapons. You - to violate our airspace. We - to intercept you."

More News On Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' Tweets To Turkey

Greek Prime Minister Tsipras slams Turkey on Twitter, then deletes his comments -- Washington Post
Greek PM Tsipras Takes on Turkey's Davutoglu on Twitter -- NYT/AP
Greek PM goads Turkish PM on Twitter over downing of Russian jet -- AFP
Tsipras in Twitter outburst after Turkey downs Russia plane -- BBC
Greek PM taunts Turkish counterpart over downing of Russian jet in astonishing series of Twitter posts -- Daily Mail
Tsipras Pokes at Turkey on Twitter Over Russian Jet Downing -- Bloomberg
Greek PM Criticizes Turkey Over 'Mercurial' Downing of Russian Su-24 -- Sputnik
Tsipras tweets sent in error, Greece admits -- Politico

Five Countries Are Now At High Risk Of Unrest Because Of Low Oil Prices

Reuters

FOX News: Oil Plunge Raises Fears of Societal Unrest

With Wall Street shops like Goldman Sachs (GS) and government officials in Venezuela signaling oil could go to the mid-$20 per barrel range next year, analysts at places like RBC Capital Markets have been warning that chronically low oil prices plunging towards seven-year lows means increasing social chaos in countries on the edge—including those battling ISIS.

Five countries are high on the radar screen for societal risks from low oil prices, which RBC Capital Markets has labeled the “Fragile Five.” They are Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, and Venezuela. ISIS operatives are believed to be in most of these countries.

Previous Post: Are Low Oil Prices Aggravating Internal Conflicts And Civil Wars?

WNU Editor: Even if oil prices were high .... these countries would be facing unrest.

Two Senior U.S Senators Want To Deploy 20,000 U.S. Soldiers To Iraq And Syria



Reuters: U.S. senators call for 20,000 troops in Syria and Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two senior U.S. senators called on Sunday for Washington to nearly triple military force levels in Iraq to 10,000 and send an equal number of troops to Syria as part of a multinational ground force to counter Islamic State in both countries.

Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham criticized President Barack Obama's incremental Islamic State strategy, which relies on air strikes and modest support to local ground forces in Iraq and Syria, and said the need for greater U.S. involvement was underlined by this month's Paris attacks.

"The only way you can destroy the caliphate is with a ground component," said Graham who is seeking his party's presidential nomination. "The aerial campaign is not turning the tide of battle."

WNU Editor: There is a zero chance for such a deployment to happen now. Later .... who knows.

More News On Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham Advocating The Deployment Of 20,000 U.S. Soldiers To Iraq And Syria

Graham, McCain want U.S.-led force against ISIS in Syria -- CNN
John McCain and Lindsey Graham call for 20000 US troops in Syria and Iraq -- The Telegraph
John McCain and Lindsey Graham call for 20,000 troops in Iraq and Syria to fight Isis -- The Independent
Republicans urge Obama to send 20,000 troops to Iraq, Syria -- Al Bawaba

Remembering Maurice Strong

IISD

WNU Editor: From the AP.... UN: Maurice Strong, climate and development pioneer, dies (AP).

It is strange that the man who first started the debate on global cooling .... followed by global warming .... followed by the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 .... and to where we are today (i.e. climate change) .... should pass away a week before today's COP21 summit. I am not going to air all the dirty laundry on the man (Google it to find out), but I do remember him as an intense man who believed that mankind had (and has) an impact on global climate, and that his industrial activities must be limited. I met him a year after the Rio Earth Summit (it was 1993 or 1994 when he was with Ontario Hydro), wanting him to know if he was interested in helping an anti-pollution cause that I was a part of back in Moscow .... but he was not interested. I was disappointed, but I sensed even at that time that his agenda was something bigger .... which we are not seeing it discussed in Paris today.

Update: This commentary from Peter Foster summarizes him perfectly .... The man who shaped the climate agenda in Paris, Maurice Strong, leaves a complicated legacy (Peter Foster, National Post).

Paris Climate Change Summit -- News Updates November 30, 2015



Reuters: World leaders launch bid for climate breakthrough in Paris

World leaders launched an ambitious attempt on Monday to hold back the earth's rising temperatures, with French President Francois Hollande saying the world was at a "breaking point" in the fight against global warming.

Some 150 heads of state, including U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, will urge each other to find common cause in two weeks of bargaining to steer the global economy away from its dependence on fossil fuels.

They arrived at United Nations climate change talks in Paris armed with promises and accompanied by high expectations. After decades of struggling negotiations and the failure of a previous summit in Copenhagen six years ago, some form of landmark agreement appears all but assured by mid-December.

WNU Editor: Why am I not surprised that he said this .... Obama, at Conference, Says U.S. Is Partly to Blame for Climate Change (NYT).

Paris Climate Change Summit -- News Updates November 30, 2015

LIVE COP21: Paris summit opens -- BBC
World leaders call for action at Paris climate talks – live -- The Guardian
Paris climate summit LIVE: 'future of planet at stake' - Hollande (Live Updating) -- The Telegraph
Live Updates: At United Nations COP21 Climate Change Summit In Paris, China Urges Europe, US To Lead In Fight Against Global Warming -- IBTimes
In progress COP21 Paris climate talks – live -- Financial Times
COP21 — Latest -- Politico

COP21: Ban tells world leaders ‘a political moment like this may not come again’ -- UN News Centre
COP21 climate summit opens in Paris amid high security -- France 24
Obama Urges Action at Climate Summit -- VOA
Obama says COP21 is 'act of defiance' against terrorism -- Al Jazeera
COP21: Paris conference could be climate turning point, says Obama -- BBC
COP21 climate change summit: 'Never have the stakes been so high' -- CNN
Climate Change Takes Center Stage in Paris -- FOX News
Major powers pledge $20bn for green energy research -- The Guardian
Paris police arrest 100 in clashes after Cop21 climate change protest -- RFI
10 Things To Know About The U.N. Climate Talks In Paris -- NPR
Paris Primer: Rundown on Climate Talks -- VOA

Pakistan And Afghan Leaders Meet To Discuss Resuming Afghan-Taliban Peace Talks

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Wall Street Journal: Pakistani, Afghan Leaders Discuss Resuming Afghan-Taliban Peace Talks

Sharif, Ghani meet in Paris as step toward mending bilateral ties

The leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan met Monday and discussed the resumption of peace talks between the Kabul administration and the Taliban, Pakistani officials said, in an attempt to revive the stalled reconciliation process in Afghanistan that aims to end the long-running war.

After months of strained ties, the meeting was seen by analysts as the first step toward mending bilateral ties, which is essential for Pakistan-brokered peace talks to resume. The peace process is being actively encouraged by the U.S. and China, with the hope that talks with the Taliban can be resuscitated in the next few weeks.

WNU Editor: This is pointless, the Taliban and now the Islamic State are not interested in peace talks.

More News On The Leaders Of Pakistan And Afghanistan Meeting To Discuss Resuming Afghan-Taliban Peace Talks

Pakistani, Afghan leaders discuss mending ties, reviving Taliban talks -- Reuters
Pakistan, Afghanistan agree on action against anti-peace elements -- Xinhua News Agency
Pakistan, Afghanistan Set for 'Ice Breaking' Talks in Paris -- VOA
Pakistan Wants Cordial Ties With Afghanistan, Says PM Nawaz Sharif -- NDTV
Pakistan, Afghanistan agree on action against anti-peace elements -- Business Standard

Afghans Blame Each Other For The Deteriorating Situation In Their Country

Reuters

L.A. Times: Afghanistan's precarious security has officials pointing fingers

Nearly three months ago, Haji Abdul Zaher Qadir took a leave of absence from his position as deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament to address deteriorating security in his native Nangarhar province.

Faced with an increased presence of militants vowing loyalty to Islamic State, not to mention Taliban fighters, Qadir said he saw an immediate need to challenge the armed opposition directly.

Qadir said the central government in Kabul is doing little to thwart the growing ranks of foreign fighters in Nangarhar, east of the capital, and he has armed hundreds of men across the province to take on the two foes.

Last week, he dispatched a cadre to the eastern district of Shinwar, which he says has become the "ISIS factory of Afghanistan," using an acronym for Islamic State.

Qadir, who headed President Ashraf Ghani's campaign in the eastern zone during last year's hotly contested election, has become increasingly negative about the government in Kabul.

WNU Editor: More evidence that the Afghans are not ready to face this growing insurgency.

U.S. Embassy In Kabul Warns Of Attack in City In The Next 48 Hours


Washington Post: U.S. Embassy warns of ‘credible reports of an imminent attack’ in Kabul

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned American citizens in Afghanistan on Monday that officials had received “credible reports of an imminent attack,” and urged them to be careful when traveling in the area.

The embassy said in a statement that the reports indicated that an attack could happen in the capital “within the next 48 hours.”

“During this period of heightened threat, the U.S. Embassy strongly urges U.S. citizens to exercise extreme caution if moving around the city,” the embassy said in the release. It added that there were no further details regarding the targets, timing or method of the planned attack.”

More News On U.S. Warnings Of An Imminent Attack In Kabul

US Embassy in Afghanistan warns of Kabul attack within 48 hours -- FOX News
U.S. Embassy in Kabul warns of imminent attack -- AP
U.S. Embassy has 'credible reports of imminent attack' in Kabul -- CNN
U.S. Embassy in Kabul warns of 'imminent attack' -- UPI
U.S. embassy in Kabul warns of imminent attack in city -- Reuters
US Embassy: Kabul Attack 'Imminent' in Next Two Days -- Newsmax

World News Briefs -- November 30, 2015



BBC: COP21: High-level climate talks open in Paris

High-level climate talks have begun in Paris, aimed at signing a long-term deal to reduce global carbon emissions.

More than 150 world leaders have converged to launch the two-week talks, known as COP21.

The last major meeting in 2009 ended in failure. But French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is chairing the meeting, said a deal was within reach.

Most of the discussions are expected to centre on an agreement to limit global warming to 2C (3.6F).

Assessments of the more than 180 national plans that have been submitted by countries suggest that if they were implemented the world would see a rise of nearer to 3C.

MIDDLE EAST

Turkey will not apologise for shooting down Russian jet.

U.S. backs Turkey's explanation of Russian air incursion.

Turkey's Prime Minister criticizes Putin's sanctions.

Turkish group says Russians targeted bakery in Syria.

Mourners at funeral of Kurdish lawyer cast doubt over justice. Turkish opposition says police bullet may have killed Kurdish lawyer.

Iraqis find 3 more mass graves in formerly IS-held Sinjar.

Iraqi army warns of imminent assault on IS-held Ramadi.

Iranian general Soleimani denies rumors of his death.

Iran demands closure of UN nuclear watchdog probe.

Ayatollah dashes Obama moderation hopes, reaffirms commitment to Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

Yemen shells kill 3 more in Saudi border zone.

Israel suspends EU role in peace process with Palestinians.

ASIA

Afghanistan, Pakistan leaders to hold icebreaking talks in Paris.

US warns of 'imminent attack' in Kabul.

Thai junta briefly detains opposition leaders ahead of anti-graft inspection.

China raises alert level as thick smog engulfs Beijing.

Japanese military scrambles F-15 jets after Chinese planes fly near Okinawa.

Japanese whaling fleet to set sail for Antarctic.

India's economic growth picks up to 7.4%.

AFRICA

Boko Haram destroys Nigerian military base.

Mali attack: Rocket kills three at UN base at Kidal.

DR Congo raid by Ugandan Islamist rebel group 'kills 24'. Seven hacked to death in Congo hospital, dozens killed in clashes with Ugandan rebels.

South Sudan rebels sending advance team to Juba.

Pope Francis visits besieged mosque in Central African Republic.

Counting under way in Burkina Faso elections.

UNICEF: AIDS now top killer of Africa’s teens.

EUROPE

Greek PM goads Turkish PM on Twitter over downing of Russian jet.

Russia's Putin, China's Xi meet on sidelines of Paris summit.

Poroshenko calls for visa-free regime with EU and extension of sanctions against Russia.

Declaring 'new beginning,' EU and Turkey seal migrant deal.

Europe split over refugee deal as Germany leads breakaway coalition.

Hundreds involved in mass brawl at Berlin refugee shelter.

Ukraine says can restore some power to Crimea when activists ready.

AMERICAS

Obama urges climate deal as U.N. summit opens in tense Paris.

Obama, Putin discuss Syria, Ukraine at summit: White House.

Colombia tries to end five decades of war with rebels. Colombian FARC rebels demand UN monitors for ceasefire.


US lawmakers brace for end-of-year battles.

Guatemala prison fight turns deadly.

Brazil to sue Samarco mining firm for $5.2bn over dam burst.

Gun threat prompts University of Chicago to cancel Monday classes.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Paris terror attack suspect believed to be in Syria.

Islamic State defections mount as death toll rises, U.S. official says.

Isis mocked with rubber ducks as internet fights terror with humour.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

China's yuan set for IMF reserve status.

Iran seeks $30bn of new oil contracts.

Clicks defeat bricks during U.S. retailers' Black Friday weekend.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- November 30, 2015

© Sputnik/ Dmitry Vinogradov

Sputnik: What is Russia's S-400 Air Defense System Set to Do in Syria?

Moscow has deployed its most advanced S-400 air defense system, said to have no equals globally, to guard the skies over Syria after a Turkish F-16 fighter shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber over Syrian territory on Tuesday.

The S-400 Triumf (NATO codename SA-21 Growler) is an anti-aircraft and anti-missile system, which is capable of intercepting all types of modern air weaponry, including fifth-generation warplanes, as well as ballistic and cruise missiles at a maximum range of nearly 250 miles. It has a tracking range of over 370 miles.

The system uses three types of long- and medium-range missiles and can simultaneously engage as many as 36 targets.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- November 30, 2015

Russian raids repeatedly hit Syrian Turkmen areas, Moscow's data shows -- Reuters

American and Russian militaries don’t agree about much in Syria -- Washington Post

Commander: U.S. dropping more bombs on Islamic State than ever before -- Air Force Times

US Senators Call for Multinational Force in Syria -- VOA

At NATO, Turkey remains defiant over Russian jet -- Reuters

Russia’s Aerospace Forces chief: Turkish F-16 didn't warn Su-24M crew at agreed frequency -- TASS

Russian Su-24M communications equipment blamed for shootdown -- IHS Jane's 360

Russian pilot's body flown home from Turkey -- BBC

Russia plane entered Israel control zone from Syria: minister -- AFP

Russian aircraft occasionally intrude Israeli airspace, whereas Turkish jets regularly violate the Greek one. -- The Aviationist

Russia does not want a clash with NATO, says top NATO general -- Daily Sabah

Russia’s Sevmash shipyard to lay down 8th Borei and 6th Yasen-class submarines in 2016 -- TASS

North Korea's Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile Test Fails -- The Diplomat

North Korea Tested Submarine-Launched Missile, But Launch Failed: Report -- IBTimes

China's Power Play in Djibouti: First Step to Great Naval Power Status? -- Sputnik

China voices opposition to Japan-US drills in South China Sea -- Kyodo

'Large' Chinese military fleet flies near Japan islands: media -- AFP

Philippines Gets 2 New Fighter Jets Amid S. China Sea Tensions -- VOA

Taiwan and China swapped spies ahead of leaders' talks -- BBC

Eurofighter Typhoon of German airforceBerlin May Send 1,200 Military to Syria to Participate in Air Campaign -- Sputnik

Israel Outlines Unmanned Systems Plans -- Defense News

Huge question marks over Cameron's pair of £6bn aircraft carriers -- The Guardian

U.K. Royal Navy Making Plans to Scrap Flagship HMS Ocean -- USNI News

European Intel Agencies Slammed Over Paris Attack Failures -- Sputnik

Hull-aballoo: New US Navy destroyer's seaworthiness questioned -- AP

U.S. B-52 Bombers To Sport Long-Range Missiles -- Value Walk

Latest model of E-3G Sentry makes combat debut -- Air Force Times

Counter-IED Training Prepares Soldiers for Unexpected -- Defense News

Seeking Game Changers in the Underwater World -- Defense News

Study: Air evacuating casualties might do more harm than good -- Washington Post

Carrier Wars: Imagine a US Navy Without the F/A-18 Super Hornet -- Robert Farley, The Diplomat

Top Israeli Defense Official: Syria Is A Failed State And Israel Must Be Prepared For What Comes Next

Israeli soldiers walk next to armoured personnel carriers (APC) in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria © Baz Ratner / Reuters

Times of Israel: ‘Syria is dead, Israel must prepare,’ top defense official warns

Amos Gilad says Bashar Assad’s grip on his country is failing and it has become ‘a land without rule’

The nation state of Syria has collapsed, a fact that Israel must internalize about its northern neighbor, a senior Israeli defense official said Saturday.

“Syria is a dead state, and Israel must understand this and prepare accordingly,” Amos Gilad, the director of the political-security division in the Defense Ministry and a former senior Military Intelligence official, told a cultural event in Beersheba.

“[Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s grip on the country is faltering, it is a land without rule,” Gilad said, according to Army Radio.

With swathes of Syria falling into the hands of opposition forces, including jihadist groups, Assad has increasingly relied on support from allies Iran and the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah, both sworn enemies of Israel.

WNU Editor: The Western strategy is to replace Assad and replace him with a moderate coalition .... but if this senior Israeli Intelligence officer is to believed .... it is not going to happen.

Israel Defense Minister: Russian Military Jet Violated Israeli Airspace

Russian pilots ready a Su-30 fighter for a raid at Hmeimim aerodrome in Syria. Reuters File

Haaretz: Israeli Defense Minister: Russia Also Violated Our Airspace

The incident was 'an error' and marks the only failure so far in military coordination between the two countries over Syria, Moshe Ya'alon said.

Military coordination between Israel and Russia over Syria broke down once, said Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Sunday.

Speaking on Israel Radio, Ya’alon said that despite Israeli and Russian efforts to coordinate military operations in Syria, on one occasion a Russian plane penetrated Israel's airspace by one mile. Ya'alon said that Israel immediately made contact and the plane immediately returned to Syrian airspace.

He defined the incident as an “error," caused by the pilot’s flying in close proximity to the Golan Heights. The Israeli and Russian air forces have been conducting talks in recent months, regarding coordination measures that will prevent “misunderstandings” when their military forces, particularly the air forces and navies of both countries, operate in the theater.

More News On The Israeli Defense Minister's Remarks That A Russian Military Jet Violated Israeli Airspace

Russia sometimes breaches Israeli air space, top defense official reveals -- Times of Israel
Israel says Russian jet breached airspace without incident -- CBS/AP
Minister: Russia Plane Entered Israel Control Zone From Syria -- Defense News/AFP
Ya’alon: Russian jet recently breached our airspace, wasn’t shot down -- Times of Israel
Israel says it averts shooting Russian planes with communication -- The Guardian/AP
'No need to shoot': Israel reveals Russian warplane ‘crossed’ into its control zone from Syria -- RT
Russian plane enters 1.5 km into Israel from Syria, retreats after communication -- IBTimes
Analysis: Israeli Army Avoids Poking Russian Bear With a Stick - Amos Harel, Haaretz

Kurdish Fighters Are Claiming That US Special Forces Have Been Fighting The Islamic State For Months

A peshmerga commander indicates US forces fighting in Kirkuk with video footage on his phone. Photograph: Fazel Hawramy for the Guardian

The Guardian: Kurdish fighters say US special forces have been fighting Isis for months

US denies peshmerga claims after Obama last year announced redeployment of 300 military advisers to Iraq, saying US combat troops would ‘not be fighting’.

On a damp afternoon in Iraqi Kurdistan, a 29-year-old peshmerga fighter named Peshawa pulls out his Samsung Galaxy mobile phone, flicks hurriedly through his library until he finds the video he wants, and presses play.

The clip, filmed just after dawn on 11 September, shows four tall and western-looking men in the heat of a battle against Islamic State militants in northern Iraq. “These are the Americans,” says Peshawa in a secretive tone.

One is crouched behind a machine gun firing round after round from the top of a fortified mound; another lies on his front a few feet away, legs outstretched and taking aim at the enemy with a long rifle. A third wields a long-lens camera taking photo after photo, and the last stands back, apparently overseeing the others during the combat south-west of the city of Kirkuk.

Update: US Special Forces Fight IS Group for Months, Kurdish Forces Say (Telesurtv)

WNU Editor: Cannot say that I am surprised.

Russia's President Putin 'Snubs' Turkey's President Erdogan At The Paris Climate Summit

IBTimes

Moscow Times: Putin and Erdogan Will Not Meet in Paris — Peskov

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan will not meet in Paris, where they are both currently attending a summit on climate change, Russian media reported Monday, citing Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“There are no plans to meet Erdogan [in Paris], there are no talks about such a meeting. There will be no such meeting,” Peskov was cited by the TASS state-owned news agency as saying Monday.

An unidentified Turkish official confirmed to Reuters on Monday that there will be no meeting, the RBC news agency reported.

WNU Editor: Their positions are so far apart that even I do not see the point of such a meeting. In fact .... it will probably only aggravate the situation, especially since Turkey is refusing to "apologize", and Russia now seeing Turkey as a "hostile" power.

More News On Presidents Putin And Erdogan Not Meeting At The Paris Climate Conference

No plans for Putin’s meeting with Erdogan in Paris — Kremlin -- TASS
Putin snubs Erdogan as Russian pilot's body returned -- AFP
Vladimir Putin declines to meet Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at Paris climate summit -- IBTimes
Kremlin: No plans for Putin to meet Erdoğan -- Politico
Putin snubs meeting with Erdogan at Paris climate conference -- Times of India/IANS
Putin 'Not Planning to Meet Erdogan' at Paris Climate Talks -- Novinite
Putin will not meet Erdogan at Paris climate conference: Kremlin -- Middle East Eye

Presidents Obama And Putin Meet On The Sidelines At The Climate Summit In Paris

Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama as they meet during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin

Reuters: Obama and Putin discuss Syria, Ukraine at summit: White House official

U.S. President Barack Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of the climate summit in Paris on Monday and discussed the Syrian crisis as well as the situation in Ukraine, a White House official said.

Obama told Putin he believes Syrian President Bashar al- Assad must leave power as part of a political transition, the official said.

Update #1: Obama, Putin Discuss Syria, Ukraine During Climate Talks -- AP
Update #2: Putin, Obama meet behind closed doors on sidelines of Paris conference -- TASS

WNU Editor: No specific details have been released on what was discussed, but I can only presume that Syria was on the top of the agenda followed by Ukraine. Was anything agreed upon .... probably not.




Turkey Charges Military Officers For Uncovering Shipments Of Arms To Syrian Rebels



Daily Sabah/Anadolu Agency: Three Turkish army officials arrested in MİT trucks case

Three high-ranking army officials were arrested Sunday on charges of espionage and leading an armed terrorist organization.

General İbrahim Aydin and a retired colonel, Burhanettin Cihangiroğlu, have been found guilty of forming and leading an armed terrorist organization as well as spying and trying to oust the Turkish government.

General Hamza Celepoğlu was also accused of forming and leading an armed terrorist organization and of trying to overthrow Turkish government by Istanbul prosecutor, İrfan Fidan.

The three suspects were called to an Istanbul courthouse on Saturday as part of an investigation involving the search of trucks belonging to the Turkish intelligence (MİT) in 2014.

WNU Editor: The above video shows the weapons that these military officers discovered.

More News On Turkey Charging Military Officers For Uncovering Shipments Of Arms To Syrian Rebels

Turkish officers arrested for ‘treason’ after intercepting weapons destined for Syria -- RT
Turkey Arrests Generals for Stopping Syria-Bound Trucks 'Filled With Arms' -- Sputnik
High-ranking Turkish army officials face charges of ‘terrorism’ -- Al Bawaba
Syria-bound intel trucks operation targeted us: Turkish PM -- Daily Hurriyet News

Hat Tip to my readers for this story.

Is Turkey Blockading Russian Naval Vessels From Transiting Through The Dardanelles And The Strait Of Bosporus?


Superstation 95: Turkey Blockading Russia From Dardanelles; Black Sea Fleet Completely Cut Off

Turkey has begun a defacto blockade of Russian naval vessels, preventing transit through the Dardanelles and the Strait of Bosporus, between the Black Sea and Mediterranean.

According to the AIS tracking system for the movement of maritime vessels, only Turkish vessels are moving along the Bosphorus, and in the Dardanelles there is no movement of any shipping at all.

At the same time, both from the Black Sea, and from the Mediterranean Sea, there is a small cluster of ships under the Russian flag, just sitting and waiting. The image below shows the situation with the ships using the GPS transponder onboard each vessel:

WNU Editor: Russia has cancelled naval exercises with Turkey .... Russia suspends participation in BLACKSEAFOR drills after Turkey’s downing of Russian jet (TASS). As to preventing Russian ships from transiting through the Dardanelles and the Strait of Bosporus, that has not happened yet, but the Russian media is taking notice .... Kremlin hopes for inviolability of international law on Black Sea strait shipping (TASS). My prediction .... Turkey has signed international agreements to not impede the transit of naval vessels, to do so would make it a pariah on any future treaty talks with any country or organization.

Hat Tip to Anon for this story.

Chinese Currency To Be Added To The IMF's 'Basket' Of Global Currencies

New 100-yuan notes wheeled out in the factory of China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation, Oct 29. (Photo: Xinhua)

The Guardian: Chinese yuan likely to be added to IMF special basket of currencies

China hopes stamp of approval will improve yuan’s desirability among investors and undermine hegemony of US dollar as global reserve currency.

China’s efforts to make the yuan an international currency on a par with the US dollar are to receive a fillip with the International Monetary Fund widely expected to add it to a special basket of global currencies.

Analysts say the shareholders in the Washington-based IMF will vote on Monday to include the yuan, also known as the renminbi, as the fifth member of its special drawing rights currency basket alongside the dollar, the Japanese yen, sterling and the euro.

China has been lobbying for the IMF to add the yuan to its basket of reserve currencies, which it uses to lend to sovereign borrowers. A vote to include the currency in the SDR basket would mark a significant milestone for Beijing, according to experts.

WNU Editor: It is only a question of time before it is added to the IMF's basket of global currencies. The real question that concerns everyone is the long term is .... will the Chinese yuan become the world's reserve currency replacing the U.S., as the U.S. did with the British pound over a century ago.

Another Story That Makes The Case For Keeping The A-10

 A-10s of the 81st Fighter Wing sit at Spangdahlem Air Base in 2012. At top — A-10s from the 188th Fighter Wing take part in an exercise. Air Force photos

Times Record/McClatchy News: War Against Islamic State Moves Warthog From Cutting Board To Front Line

WASHINGTON — Air Force Col. Martha McSally was leading a squadron of A-10 attack jets over Afghanistan when they encountered U.S. forces engaged in a desperate fight against Islamist insurgents.

One of the embattled troops signaled his unit’s location with a small mirror that reflected sunlight upward. McSally, the first American woman to fly in combat, and the other pilots flew to the light and opened fire with the seven-barrel Gatling cannons nestled in the A-10s’ noses. The fire, at 65 rounds per second, devastated the enemy. The surrounded Americans lived.

“They didn’t have time to figure out the eight-digit coordinates of the enemy or to put a laser spot on the target because they were on the run with their lives in danger,” McSally recalled in a recent interview. “The other (jet) fighters were above the weather, so they could not get down to save these guys. They were not going to live, but we went down and saved their asses. We were able to get below the weather in the mountains because the A-10 is slow and maneuverable.”

WNU Editor: It looks like this plane will have a few more years left.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

4 Reasons To Not Underestimate The Russian Military



Popular Mechanics: 4 Ways Russia's Military Is More Advanced Than You Might Think

With Russia itching to fight after one of its jets was shot down by Turkey, we assess why Putin's war tech might be better than many people believe.

Vladimir Putin is not a man to back down from provocation, especially a direct, lethal provocation like the shooting down of a Russian Su-24 aircraft by Turkey on Tuesday. Such an attack raises the possibility of a direct military confrontation, and makes you wonder just what Russia could do if you rattled its cage. How dangerous are they?

Russia's defense complex may be just a shadow of the old Soviet Union, with defense spending only about 12 percent of the USA's. As such, many in the West tend to see Russian hardware as second-rate—stuck with 1970's electronics, crude manufacturing standards, and no money to improve matters. If the Russians make anything good, the thinking goes, they must have copied it from the West. The poor performance of the Russian-equipped Iraqi army in 2003 (and Russian-supplied Arab forces against the Israelis) reinforces the idea of inferior Russian military tech.

WNU Editor: Like DARPA in the U.S., the "weird stuff" is what has always interested me.

Russia Intensifies Bombing Campaign In Northern Syria



Reuters: Russian air strikes kill at least 30 in stepped up raids in northwest Syria

Air strikes believed to have been carried out by Russian jets killed at least 30 people in the town of Ariha in northwestern Syria on Sunday, rescue workers in the rebel-held area said, part of an escalation of Russian strikes near the Turkish border.

In separate air strikes closer to the frontier with Turkey, jets believed to be Russian hit a truck depot that was also struck on Thursday, destroying 10 trailers and killing five people, a rebel in the area said.

Officials at the Russian defense ministry could not immediately be reached for comment. Syrians in rebel-held areas of northwestern Syria near the Turkish frontier have reported intensified air strikes in the days since Turkey downed a Russian warplane near the border.

More News On Russia's Bombing Campaign In Northern Syria

Dozens killed in Russian airstrike on marketplace in Syria's north-west, activists say (ABC News Australia)
Stepped-up Russian strikes kill at least 43 in Syria -- Daily Star
Civilians killed in suspected Russian strikes on Syria -- Al Arabiya
'At least 40' killed after Russian airstrike hits popular marketplace in Syrian town controlled by rebels -- Daily Mail
‘Russia’ air strikes kill at least 18 civilians in Ariha town in Syria -- Middle East Online

Iran Is Denying Reports That Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Commander Of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Has Been Injured In Syria

Qassem Soleimani visits front line with ISIS in Iraq. Reuters

Defense News/AFP: Iran General Soleimani Lightly Wounded in Syria

BEIRUT — Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations wing, was lightly injured in fighting against Syria rebels near Aleppo, a monitoring group and a security source said Wednesday.

Soleimani "was injured a few days ago" in an offensive in the southwest of Aleppo province, a security source on the ground told AFP.

The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, also said the general was hurt.

He was "lightly injured three days ago in the Al-Eis area in the south of Aleppo province," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

WNU editor: This story has been making the rounds on the news for the past few days, but Iran is dismissing these reports .... Iran Dismisses Reports on General Soleimani’s Injury (Tasnim news Agency). More denials here.

More News On Reports That Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Commander Of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Has Been Injured In Syria

IRAN: Qods Force’s Qassem Soleimani severely injured in Syria -- NCRI
Senior Iranian General Lightly Wounded in Syria -- Haaretz
Head of Iran’s Quds Force reported injured in Syria -- Times of Israel
Was Iran's terror commander Soleimani gravely wounded in Syria? -- Arutz Sheva
Qassem Soleimani reportedly injured in Syria’s Aleppo -- Al Arabiya