Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Turkey Has Vetoed NATO's Partnership With Austria In Retaliation For Austria Blocking Its Bid To Join The EU

BBC: Nato hit by Turkish veto on Austria partnership

Turkey is vetoing Nato's co-operation with Austria, blocking the alliance's partnership activities with 41 countries, the BBC understands.

Turkey is in Nato, providing the most military muscle after the US, while Austria is not. But Austria co-operates closely with Nato, and has more than 400 troops serving in Kosovo.

Austria condemned the Turkish veto, calling it "irresponsible".

Turkey is angry with Austria for trying to block its bid to join the EU.

A well-informed source told the BBC that heightened tensions between Turkey and Austria had essentially blocked Nato co-operation with the government in Vienna for the past year. The veto was affecting all the Western alliance's partnership activities, which include several ex-Soviet states.

A Nato meeting is planned for Thursday, at the 28-nation alliance's Brussels headquarters.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Turkey is only making Austria's case on why they should not be a part of the EU.

Three Out of Four U.S. Marine Strike Aircraft Are Grounded


Dave Majumdar, National Interest: 74 Percent of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Strike Fighter Fleet Can't Fight

The United States Navy has awarded Boeing a new contract to help resolve serious readiness problems with its F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet fleets.

The Department of the Navy’s (DON) strike fighter squadrons are in a dire situation where—at least at last report during Congressional testimony on Feb.7, 2017—more than 62 percent of the service’s fighters are for all intents and purposes grounded. Of that total, the Marine Corps’ strike fighter fleet—which is composed mostly of older original model F/A-18A/B/C/D Hornets—is in even worse shape with as many as 74 percent of its jets not ready for war.

The DON is taking steps to resolve the problem, which is the cumulative result of years of overuse and funding disruptions that stem from the 2011 Budget Control Act. Additionally, in the case of the Marine Corps, the service made some very poor decisions on aircraft procurement—betting its future on the on-time arrival of the Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.

The solution to the problem is to increase the purchase of spare parts and push aircraft through depot maintenance faster. This new $238 million contract extension with Boeing to upgrade additional F/A-18s for the Navy and Marine Corps is part of that overall effort. The company’s Cecil Field facility will perform high flight-hour inspections, periodic maintenance inspections, in-service repair and modifications, upgrades and other engineering work for the aircraft.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:  Talk about poor decisions on aircraft procurement and maintenance.

Is Now The Time To Leave Afghanistan?

U.S. Marines stand in formation during a transfer of authority ceremony at Shorab camp, in Helmand province, Afghanistan April 29, 2017. REUTERS/James Mackenzie

James D. Durso, The Hill: Time for the US to take a step back from Afghanistan

Otto von Bismarck said, “The whole of the Balkans is not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.” America should apply the same reasoning to Afghanistan.

This month we learned the U.S. Marines are back in Helmand, Afghanistan’s most violent province and the center of opium poppy production, and their mission may expand. President Trump will soon decide if he should send 8,400 more troops there for the latest chapter in America’s longest war. Should he?

I think not. We gave Afghanistan out best effort: over 2,200 dead soldiers, over 20,000 wounded, and over $700 billion for everything from ammunition to medical care for veterans. We need to face the fact that it’s an endemically violent place and may never change and another “whole of government” effort may not make any difference.

And don’t take my word for it: the Talban has rejected peace talks with the Afghan government as surrendering to the enemy and against Islam.

Read more ....

Update: America's Afghanistan Problem: It's Not Just about Sending More Troops (Michael O'Hanlon, National Interest)

WNU Editor: The U.S. should have left Afghanistan after overthrowing the Taliban in 2001-2002 .... and leave the mess to Afghan President Karzai and his allies to sort it out. But the West chose nation building .... to a country and people who have a completely different view on what nation building is. My prediction is that the U.S. mission is going to change (but only by a bit) .... put in a few extra soldiers, change the rules of engagement (if they have not already changed), and maintain the status quo while trying to build an Afghan Army that can keep the Taliban and their allies off-balance coupled with a political strategy of weaning people away from what the Taliban are promising. This is going to be a 50 year conflict .... it is time that the politicians be honest about it. Aa for the Afghan war .... it continues .... Militants kill 10 Afghan soldiers in base attack: defense officials (Reuters).

South Korea Fires On North Korean Drone When It Crossed The DMZ



Reuters: South Korea fires at suspected drone at border with North amid missile crisis

South Korea's military fired warning shots at a suspected drone from North Korea on Tuesday amid tension over Pyongyang's latest missile test which drew international condemnation and a warning from China.

The identity of the object remained unclear, the military said, but Yonhap news agency said it was possibly a drone, more than 90 shots were fired in return and it disappeared from radar screens.

The incursion came with tension already high on the Korean peninsula after the North's test-launch of a ballistic missile test on Sunday which Pyongyang said proved advances in its pursuit of building a nuclear-tipped weapon that can hit U.S. targets.

Read more ....

More News On South Korea Firing On A North Korean Drone When It Crossed The DMZ

S. Korea fires shots at N. Korea after object crosses border -- USA Today/AP
South Korean troops open fire at 'unidentified projectile' that flew across the border from North Korea -- Daily Mail
North Korea fires object over South Korean border: report -- Sydney Morning Herald
Unidentified object flies from North Korea over border with South -- CNN
South Korea fires at North 'object' -- BBC
South Korea Fires Warning Shots at Flying Object From North -- Bloomberg
“Flying object” crosses Military Demarcation Line into South Korea: JCS -- NK News

Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's Childhood Home Burned By Protesters


Press Association/Daily Mail: Hugo Chavez´s childhood home burned by anti-government protesters in Venezuela

Protesters have set late president Hugo Chavez’s childhood home in western Venezuela on fire, an opposition legislator said, as protests against the nation’s socialist government grew increasingly hostile.

Demonstrators lit the house – in the city of Barinas, where Mr Chavez spent his early years – aflame along with several government buildings, including the regional office of the National Electoral Council, said Pedro Luis Castillo, who represents the area.

The burnings capped a violent day in Barinas - known as the cradle of Mr Chavez’s socialist revolution - during which protesters clashed with national guardsmen, businesses were closed and roads blocked with fire-filled barricades.

Read more ....

Update: Lawmaker: Hugo Chavez's childhood home burned by protesters -- McClatchy News/AP

WNU Editor: When protesters start desecrating or destroying childhood homes of former leaders .... that is when you know the country has reached the tipping point. Venezuela is at that tipping point right now.

U.S. Navy SEAL Raid In Yemen Kills 7 Al Qaeda Militants

New York Times: Navy SEAL Team Kills 7 Militants in Yemen During Raid, U.S. Says

Members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 killed seven militants in central Yemen during an early Tuesday raid on a compound associated with Al Qaeda, American military officials said.

It was the first ground raid in Yemen that the military has acknowledged since Navy SEALs carried out a similar attack in late January — the first such operation authorized by President Trump. One Navy SEAL team member died and three others were injured in that mission, and as many as 25 civilians were killed.

In a statement after the operation, the United States Central Command said the latest raid targeted a compound in the governorate of Marib that was linked to the Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It looks like some drone and air strikes are now being replaced by on the ground special forces raids. This shift in operations is telling me that the U.S. military is becoming more focused on gathering intelligence.

More News On Today's U.S. Navy SEAL Raid In Yemen That Killed 7 Al Qaeda Militants

U.S. forces kill 7 suspected al-Qaeda militants in new Yemen raid -- Washington Post
Yemen raid kills 7 al-Qaeda militants, U.S. military says -- CBC/Reuters
Seven al Qaeda Militants Killed in Yemen Raid, U.S. Says -- NBC
US forces conduct raid against Al Qaeda fighters in Yemen, 7 militants killed -- FOX News
US Kills 7 Al-Qaida Militants in Yemen Raid -- VOA
US forces kill seven Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen raid -- Gulf Times/AFP
US military raid kills 7 al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen -- International Business Times
US raid kills 'seven al-Qaeda fighters' in Yemen -- Al Qaeda

Does Melania Trump Hate Her Husband?


Erin Gloria Ryan, Daily Beast: Melania’s Swat Proves She Hates Donald Just as Much as America Does

The first lady’s hand slap heard ’round the world is far from the first time she’s shown disdain for her husband. Welcome to the club.

Maybe Melania Trump, a woman who was once photographed for Vanity Fair forking a bowl of expensive necklaces as though they were spaghetti noodles, has more in common with the average American than we initially thought. Like the average American, it appears that she too, cannot stand her husband.

This afternoon in Tel Aviv, President Donald Trump reached for his wife’s hand. Rather than indulge him with human touch, the sort of human touch regular married people who like each other might engage in, the reluctant First Lady swatted his hand away. This wasn’t done backstage before an event, or in the privacy of a place where it was safe to assume there weren’t any cameras. No, Melania has grown bolder in her push to telegraph her disdain for Donald. She did it as she and her husband joined Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife in a photo op. She did it in front of a veritable United Nations of news cameras. She did it so the whole world could see. She doesn’t care if he’s embarrassed, and it completely rules.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: To begin .... IMHO she has been a rock star as First Lady, and I can understand why President Trump was attracted to her when he first met him. As for her "swatting" his hand or behaving with him in public .... LOL .... trust me on this one who has dated central and eastern European women .... they are all like this. The above author (Erin Gloria Ryan) and those who have commented in her comment thread are making the mistake that I see too often from American commentators .... they are looking at this through the cultural lens of the West on how women and men should behave .... here is a hint .... it is different elsewhere. I grew up in the Eastern Europe .... but when I moved to Canada and started to date the women here .... it was never easy. Too many differences on the small things. I guess that is why my GF is Italian-French whose cultural upbringing is also from Europe .... we both know the rules and what to expect. And yes ..... she never likes to be intimate in public .... but behind closed doors .... :)

Tweet For Today


Washington Post: President Trump Asked Intelligence Chiefs To Push Back Against FBI Collusion Probe



Washington Post: Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.

Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president.

Trump sought the assistance of Coats and Rogers after FBI Director James B. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 that the FBI was investigating “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: More anonymous leaks .... and repeating the same story that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians in last years Presidential campaign but with a twist .... apparently President Trump asked two top intelligence officials to (and I am quoting the Washington Post) "publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 campaign". I love how the Washington post writes this story .... the Washington post implies that there is evidence of collusion without presenting any evidence that there is. I also love how the media is now using the term "former officials" instead of saying "former Obama officials", thereby not tainting their sources as biased. This news story also tells me that the media narrative has now change .... the focus is on building a case that President Trump obstructed justice .... so I will not be surprised if in the coming days more anonymous leaks will be coming out to validate this claim. But the big story is not these anonymous leaks .... the big story is that I am now seeing for the first time some Democrats distancing themselves away from this entire affair .... with even Senator Feinstein admitting that there is no evidence of collusion .... Feinstein: No Evidence Of Russian Collusion With Trump Campaign, But There Are Rumors (RCP). My prediction .... the only person who I see who has a problem is Michael Flynn and his failure to disclose his earnings from foreign states .... but aside from him .... I do not see any evidence of a crime being committed .... just the usual talk, rumours, and anonymous sources. For Russia-Gate to move forward .... anonymous sources must become public, and the crimes that are being rumoured must be made specific and backed by evidence. When that will happen (or not) is something that I do not know. But then again .... if you can get the President on an obstruction of justice charge .... even when no crime was committed that deserved to be obstructed .... and having the President himself say repeatedly and publicly that no collusion or crime was ever committed .... is that where this investigation will eventually lead? I guess we will find out in the coming weeks.

More News On The Washington Post Report That President Trump Asked Intelligence Chiefs To Push Back Against FBI Collusion Probe

Trump asked DNI, NSA to deny evidence of Russia collusion -- CNN
Report: Trump asked top intel officials to defend him on Russia claims -- CBS
Trump asked Coats, Rogers to publicly deny Russian collusion allegations: Report -- Washington Examiner
Report: Trump Asked Intel Heads To Push Back On FBI Russia Probe -- NPR

Islamic State Supporters Celebrate Manchester Attack

Police escort an injured woman outside Manchester Arena after the explosion. Goodman/LNP/Rex/Shutterstock

Reuters: Islamic State supporters celebrate Manchester attack

CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State supporters celebrated on social media on Tuesday after a blast at a concert venue in the north of England killed at least 19 people, although the militant Islamist group has not formally claimed responsibility.

British police have said they are treating the blast at the Manchester Arena at the end of a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande as a "terrorist incident". More than 50 people were wounded.

Twitter accounts affiliated to Islamic State have used hashtags referring to the blast to post celebratory messages, with some users encouraging similar attacks elsewhere.

Some messages described the attack as an act of revenge in response to air strikes in Iraq and Syria.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: No confirmation yet on who was responsible for tonight's terror attack .... but all eye are on this group .... Around 3,500 suspected terrorists in UK - but powers to monitor used LESS than in 2015 (Express).

Monday, May 22, 2017

Terror Attack At Manchester. 19 Killed And Over 50 Wounded -- News Updates May 22, 2017





Daily Mail: 'Suicide bomber' strikes at Manchester Arena: Nineteen people are killed and 50 injured in terrorist attack as 'nail bomb near the exit' explodes, ripping into teens leaving packed Ariana Grande gig

* Nineteen people killed after explosions rang out at the end of an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester Arena
* Video footage showed thousands fleeing in tears from the venue, many covered in blood, when gig ended
* Armed officers surrounded venue and bloodied concertgoers pictured being helped by emergency services
* Horrifying footage showed petrified children leaping over chairs and barriers as they tried to escape
* At 3am chief constable of Greater Manchester Police said they were treating it as a 'terrorist incident'

At least 19 people are dead and 50 more injured after a suspected suicide bomber targeted children leaving a packed pop concert at Manchester Arena last night.

Witnesses told of nuts and bolts tearing into young concert-goers when the blast was detonated in the foyer area between the arena and the next-door Victoria station just after the Ariana Grande gig ended.

Horrifying footage showed petrified children leaping over chairs and barriers as they desperately tried to escape the 21,000-seat venue, which led to a stampede. Two US officials have said it was a suspected suicide bomber.

Read more ....

LIVE UPDATES

Terror attack in Manchester: Live Coverage -- BBC
Manchester Arena: 19 dead after explosion at Ariana Grande concert – latest updates -- The Guardian
Live Manchester Arena explosion: 19 killed in 'terror attack by suicide bomber' at Ariana Grande concert -- The Telegraph
Live: At least 19 killed in Manchester concert blast -- France 24
Ariana Grande concert incident: Live updates -- CNN
Police treating Manchester concert blast as 'terrorist incident' -- ABC News Online
Manchester Arena explosion Live updates -- RT

Terror Attack At Manchester. 19 Killed And Over 50 Wounded -- News Updates May 22, 2017

Manchester Arena blast: 19 dead and about 50 hurt -- BBC
At least 19 killed in suspected suicide attack at concert in British arena -- Reuters
Blast at Ariana Grande concert in England kills 19 people -- AP
Fatalities in suspected terror attack at concert in UK's Manchester -- France 24
At least 19 people die in explosion at Manchester Arena -- The Guardian
Manchester explosion: 19 confirmed dead and 59 injured following Ariana Grande concert -- The Independent
British police: At least 19 dead after 'possible' terrorist incident at Ariana Grande concert -- UPI
19 Killed in ‘Appalling Suicide Attack’ After Ariana Grande Concert in U.K. -- NBC
At least 19 people dead following ‘terrorist incident’ at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester -- Washington Post
Ariana Grande concert attack: At least 19 killed, 59 hurt in 'terrorist incident' -- FOX News
‘Terrorist incident’: 19 dead, 50 injured in Manchester Arena explosion -- RT
Manchester police confirm 'fatalities' after blast reports -- DW
Manchester Arena 'terror attack': At least 19 dead, dozens injured after Ariana Grande concert explosion -- ABC News Online
Ariana Grande concert: Blast a 'terrorist incident' -- Al Jazeera
Moment of deadly Manchester Arena blast caught on dashcam (VIDEO) -- RT
Islamic State supporters celebrate Manchester attack online, no official claim -- Reuters
"Pls help me...": Frantic parents hunt for missing kids after UK concert blast -- Reuters
'Pls help me...': Frantic parents hunt for missing kids after Manchester concert blast -- The Telegraph
'There was blood and bodies everywhere': witnesses describe aftermath of Manchester explosion -- The Telegraph
Concert-goers describe huge panic as fans fled arena `explosion´ -- Press Association
Manchester 'terror attack': Witnesses describe mayhem after concert explosion -- ABC News Online
Manchester Arena attack: what we know so far -- The Guardian
Ariana Grande says she's 'broken' after Manchester concert attack -- BBC
Ariana Grande on fatal Manchester incident: 'I don't have words' -- CNN
Manchester Arena concert 'terror incident' in pictures -- ABC News Online
Manchester Arena explosion: emergency services react – in pictures -- The Guardian
In pictures: 19 people killed after 'terror attack' explosion at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester -- The Telegraph

Editor's Note

I was at a concert tonight with the GF, and while watching the performance people started texting me on what had happened in Manchester. Just arrived home and I am in front of my computer. Will be updating this story within the next 30 minutes.

Is The U.S. Strategy To Defeat The Islamic State Working?


Next Big Future: Delegate and Annihilate is working against ISIS

But less than four months after Trump took office, Mattis said the operational and tactical difference has been clear.

Two significant changes resulted from President Trump’s review of our findings.
1. he delegated authority to the right level to aggressively and in a timely manner move against enemy vulnerabilities.
2. he directed a tactical shift”: surround ISIS fighters, instead of just pushing them out of a given territory.

The changes can be described as effective delegation and annihilation.

There has been no change to our continued extraordinary efforts to avoid innocent civilian casualties, despite needing to go into populated areas,” he said. And American troops are still under instruction to halt at the last point of cover and concealment, letting local forces go in for the direct assault.

Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) surged in northwest Mosul in a bid to clear the city prior to Ramadan, anticipated to begin on May 26. Emergency Response Division (ERD) and Federal Police (FP) units joined 9th and 15th Iraqi Army Division units in northwest Mosul on April 28. The combined forces recaptured the neighborhoods of Mushairfa and 30 Tamouz, and are fighting to seize the denser neighborhoods of Harmat, 17 Tamouz, and Hawi Kanisa as of May 11, 2017.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The trend is clearly favouring those who want to destroy the Islamic State. But others have a different point of view on what is unfolding in the Middle East .... Trump’s Simplistic Strategy on Jihadism (Robin Wright, The New Yorker)

Video Said To Show Houti Forces in Yemen Firing A Missile At A Saudi F-15 (Video)



Al Masdarnews: Yemeni air defense forces target Saudi F-15 fighter jet (VIDEO)

SANA’A, YEMEN (8:50 P.M.) – On Saturday morning, Yemeni Air Defense officials announced their forces had shot down a Saudi F-15 fighter jet over Saadeh province in northern Yemen.

Today Al-Sahat TV, a satellite channel broadcasting from Beirut, published a video supposedly showing the moment when the warplane was hit by a surface-to-air missile:

Read more ....

Hat Tip Alert 5

A Day In The Life Of One American Soldier In Kabul

Major Jared Auchey (Hollie McKay/Fox News)

FOX News: US soldier in Afghanistan: A day in the life of one American fighter

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Jared Auchey, Virginia-born and raised on a sequence of Air Force bases, was just 18 years old when he joined the U.S Army Reserve in 1999. Five years later, after graduating from Penn State University, his first assignment with the Harrisburg Recruiting Battalion was as an active duty soldier in Afghanistan.

Little did he know then that at age 36 and now with the rank of major, Afghanistan would still be the mainstay of his military career, or that the war against terrorism in that country would be far from over. Auchey spent his first deployment in the western province of Herat, then a relative sanctuary of stability compared to the southern and eastern provinces. Today Auchey works out of Kabul and is now six months into his third deployment in the conflict-torn country.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: My gut is telling me that things are going to be picking up for the U.S. in Afghanistan very soon.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- May 22, 2017

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud walks with U.S. President Donald Trump during a reception ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017.Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

Michael Leiter, The Atlantic: Trump Changed His Tone on Islam—Will He Change Strategy?

The president’s speech in Riyadh represented a welcome shift from his former rhetoric. The question is what actions will follow.

To say that candidate Donald Trump adopted a sharply critical and un-nuanced tone on Islam would be the grossest of understatements. Campaigner-in-Chief Trump proclaimed the need to adopt specific language (“radical Islamic terrorism”), proposed banning all Muslims from entering the United States, and bemoaned that “Islam hates us.” The president’s remarkable reversal in tone (and potentially substance) in Riyadh—combined with the region’s clear optimism for a post-Obama American approach to the region—offers opportunities for progress even if they’re unlikely to produce significant improvement in the root causes of the region’s broader economic, demographic, and political challenges.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- May 22, 2017

What Trump gets wrong about the Middle East -- Mohamad Bazzi, Reuters

Trump’s Statesmanlike Speech in Riyadh -- Elliot Abrams, NRO

Trump Turns Politically Correct in Saudi Arabia -- Peter Beinart, The Atlantic

Syria: Why Trump Must Learn the Art of Stalemate Diplomacy -- Raymond Tanter & Edward Stafford, National Interest

Yemen Foreign Minister: 'Our Enemies Want to Starve Us' (An Interview) -- Spiegel Online

The real test for an Arab Nato will come the day after Raqqa falls -- Faisal Al Yafai, The National

North Korea says world looks beautiful from a ballistic missile -- Asia Times/Reuters

The Birth of a Multipolar Asia? -- Chietigj Bajpaee, Lowy Institute

China's Belt and Road to Nowhere -- Christopher Whalen, National Interest

Asean powers continue to arm-wrestle over China’s nine-dash line and its potential abundance of resources, including the seaweed -- David Dodwell, South China Morning Post

Peace process in pieces in Myanmar -- Bertil Lintner, Asia Times

The Eruption of Moscow’s Housing Estates -- Nina L. Khrushcheva, Project Syndicate

Why Poland doesn’t want refugees -- Jan Cienski, Politico

Legendary U.S. General Edward L. Rowny looks forward and back at the Korean conflict -- Lima Charlie News

Why Center-Left Parties Choose to Go Radical -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

World News Briefs -- May 22, 2017 (Evening Edition)

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks before a dinner at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERSAriel Schalit/Pool

Reuters: Trump says concerns about Iran driving Israel, Arab states closer

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that shared concern about Iran was driving Israel and many Arab states closer and demanded that Tehran immediately cease military and financial backing of "terrorists and militias".

In stressing threats from Iran, Trump echoed a theme laid out during weekend meetings in Saudi Arabia with Muslim leaders from around the world, many wary of the Islamic Republic's growing regional influence and financial muscle.

Trump has vowed to do whatever necessary to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, dubbing a peace accord "the ultimate deal". But ahead of his Holy Land visit, he gave little indication of how he could revive talks that collapsed in 2014.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Trump's visit to Saudi a 'turning point': King Salman.

Israel in rare overture to Palestinians 'at Trump request'.

Trump warns of Iranian nuclear threat on visit to Israel.

Donald Trump accused of 'Iranophobia' as he lands in Israel. US stirring up ‘Iranophobia’ to boost arms sales to Arab nations – Tehran.

Trump in Jerusalem to explore Palestinian-Israeli talks. Trump arrives in Israel, says 'great opportunity' for peace.

Syria conflict: Government regains full control of Homs.

Jordan has 'hit limit' hosting Syrian refugees.

Iraqi forces begin manhunt inside ISIS pockets of Anbar.

Rouhani says regional stability impossible without Iran.

Iran reformists sweep Tehran municipal council election.

Turkey crowd taunts coup suspects at mass trial near Ankara. Turkey opens trial of suspected military coup plotters.

Palestinian basic rights 'not on the agenda' for Trump.

Yemen protesters call for southern secession.

Yemen war: Major cholera epidemic feared, says charity. Cholera kills 315 in Yemen in less than month: WHO.

ASIA

U.N.'s North Korea sanctions monitors hit by 'sustained' cyber attack.

UN calls on North Korea to stop missile tests.

Report: Xi Jinping asked for '100-day grace period' on North Korea.

Kashmir conflict shifts with top militant vowing fight is for an Islamic state.

Beijing and Manila end talks as ‘war’ threat recalled.

Thai military hospital bomb blast injures more than 20. 3 years after coup, Thailand sees sporadic, unnerving unrest.

Kabul probes 'terrorist' attack on foreign guest house.

Philippines' Duterte heads to Russia in blow to US.

China sidesteps Duterte claim of war threat over sea row.

China to host global meeting of Antarctic Treaty.

AFRICA

Leader of Nigeria's ruling APC party warns of coup threat.

Gambian authorities seize ex-president Jammeh's bank accounts.

Tunisia protester death raises fears of more unrest.

Cape Town region declares drought disaster.

South Sudan's Kiir declares unilateral ceasefire, prisoner release.

Nigerian troops battle Boko Haram in Lake Chad area.

Tunisian forces clash with protesters at oil fields.

Italy inks deal with Libya neighbours to block migrants.

Zambia considers treason charge against opposition leader Hichilema.

Angolan apartheid troops battle to survive in S.Africa.

Quality of life on rise for many Africans, report says.

EUROPE

Belarus backsliding badly on human rights: U.N. report.

Putin to meet Macron during visit to Paris on May 29 – Kremlin. Putin, Macron to discuss Syria and Ukraine at May 29 meeting: Kremlin.

EU nations set tough negotiating mandate for Brexit talks. EU's Barnier refuses to imagine UK Brexit talks walkout.

Rattled UK PM May forced into 'dementia tax' U-turn after poll lead halves.

Germany, France pledge new efforts to strengthen eurozone.

German foreign minister calls for Greek debt relief.

Germany urges Iran to stop supporting militants in Syria and Iraq.

Spanish Socialists re-elect Pedro Sánchez to lead party.

AMERICAS

Trump says he didn’t mention Israel in meeting with Russians. Trump: 'Never mentioned' Israel in Russia meeting.

Trump becomes first sitting US president to visit Western Wall.

Source says Flynn to invoke 5th Amendment. Flynn cites 'public frenzy' in refusal to comply with subpoena: report.

More Puerto Rico agencies enter bankruptcy.

Turkey slams US over ‘aggressive’ acts against bodyguards.

Venezuela prosecutor decries Maduro's new congress plan.

Death toll rises as protests continue in Venezuela.

Venezuela: Thousands cross bridge into Colombia for better opportunities.

Brazil's President Michel Temer wins time in corruption crisis. Brazil President Temer says 'I won't resign, oust me if you want'.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

ISIS wants to attack the West's food supply, practiced by poisoning prisoners in Iraq.

ISIS fanatics are plotting to blow up British ports by planting bombs on UK-bound fuel tankers.

Trump tells Middle East to 'drive out' Islamist extremists.

West Africa hit with spate of suicide bombings.

Japan protests against U.N. expert's queries on bill to fight terrorism.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Wall Street ends up; defense, tech stocks a boost.

Iraq agrees to nine-month extension of OPEC production cut: minister.

Apple is nearly 40% more valuable than the city of Chicago.

Boeing expands business ties with Saudis.

China, Russia launch long-haul challenge to Boeing, Airbus.

EU to conclude Google antitrust cases in next few months.

Battle For The Iraqi City Of Mosul -- News Updates May 22, 2017



CBS News: Iraqi forces face toughest battle in Mosul offensive

Iraqi military officials say they are closing in on the last remaining neighborhoods under ISIS control in the nation's second-largest city of Mosul, but as they prepare to mount a final assault on the Old City, they face their toughest battle yet in the seven-month offensive to liberate the city.

We joined the Iraqi federal police on the front lines in that fight, in the tight, congested neighborhoods bordering the Old City, and we were shown a hint of what is to come.

It is a warren of narrow streets and blind alleyways. Soldiers, now engaged in guerrilla warfare, are changing tactics on the fly.

They had strung up blankets and bedsheets across the alleyways so they could duck beneath them in order to stay out of an ISIS sniper's line of sight.

One soldier was using an ordinary household mirror in order to peek around corners to make sure ISIS gunmen weren't sneaking up to attack.

Read more ....

Battle For The Iraqi City Of Mosul -- News Updates May 22, 2017

Final stages of Mosul battle will be ‘extremely violent,’ U.S. commander says -- Washington Post
Iraqi forces pound Mosul's Old City ahead of ground op -- Anadolu Agency
Iraqi forces retake western Mosul’s al-Najjar district, move closer to last IS haven -- Iraqi News
Iraqi forces recapture Najjar district in western Mosul -- Al Arabiya
IS Fighters Cornered After Losing Territory in Western Mosul, Local Reports Say -- Yahoo News
IS members burn civilian vehicles in Mosul’s al-Shifa, evacuate to Old City -- Iraqi News
Seven militants killed in western Mosul airstrike, bridge installed for civilians evacuation -- Iraqi News

Turkey Blames The US For Being Aggressive Against President Erdogan's Body Guards When They Attacked Demonstrators Protesting Outside The Turkish Embassy



Washington Post: Turkey condemns U.S. over ‘aggressive’ acts against its bodyguards during Erdogan’s visit to D.C.

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s Foreign Ministry lodged a formal protest Monday with the U.S. ambassador over “aggressive” actions by American security personnel during violence between Turkish guards and protesters as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Washington earlier this month.

The summoning of the ambassador to Ankara, John Bass, sharply escalated a diplomatic rift between Turkey and the United States after the violence. Footage of the brawl that was widely circulated on social media prompted outrage in the United States, calls for the prosecution of the Turkish guards and even the expulsion of Turkey’s ambassador to Washington.

American and Turkish officials have provided directly contrasting versions of how the violence unfolded. Local police said the Turkish guards savagely attacked a peaceful protest outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence as Erdogan was visiting. The footage of the melee showed what appeared to be Turkish security guards kicking and choking protesters as police struggled to contain the unrest. It also showed Erdogan watching, from a distance, as the fighting raged.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The New York Times has the best video on what happened (the link is here). What's my take .... as I explained in this post .... New Video Emerges Showing Turkish President Erdogan Observing Clashes in DC (May 19, 2017) .... it started when President Erdogan talked to his bodyguard and within 20 seconds his security detail began attacking the demonstrators. Diplomatically speaking .... there has to be consequences for this. Expelling Turkish officials that were present when this happened .... and curtailing Turkish diplomatic activity is a must. Will the U.S. State Department do anything about this .... they should but I suspect that they will not.

Turkey Blames The US For Being Aggressive Against President Erdogan's Body Guards When They Attacked Demonstrators Protesting Outside The Turkish Embassy

Turkey Chides U.S. Envoy Over Handling of Brawl at Washington Protest -- NYT
Turkey accuses US of 'aggressive actions' over embassy brawl -- BBC
Turkey condemns U.S. over ‘aggressive’ acts against its bodyguards during Erdogan’s visit to D.C. -- Washington post
Turkey Angry at US For Stopping Erdogan's Goons From Beating Up DC Protesters -- Foreign Policy
The violence of Erdo─čan’s bodyguards in Washington DC is Turkey's new normal -- Ahmet A Sabanc─▒, The Guardian

Is President Trump's 'Aggressive Approach' Towards Iran Coming At A Worse Time?

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) waits for the start of an event with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (2-R) and Gulf Cooperation Council leaders at their summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

David A. Andelman, CNN: Trump's anti-Iran aggression couldn't come at a worse time

At first glance, it appears that there are only two clear paths that the US can take when dealing with the Middle East: the Sunni path of Saudi Arabia and the bulk of its Gulf allies, on the one hand; or the Shiite path represented by Iran.

There is the path of dictators -- like Egypt's autocratic Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the blinkered and aging royal family of Saudi Arabia, and the corrupt and helpless rulers of Iraq -- all Sunnis.

By contrast, there is the young and desperately eager majority of Iranians, all Shiites, seeking to drag their nation out from under the yoke of a medieval clerical oppression.

The Trump administration, seduced by an effusive Saudi welcome -- in sharp contrast to anything provided his predecessor, Barack Obama -- may be taking the wrong road.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: President Obama pursued a policy of engagement with Iran .... and while Iran's nuclear program appears to be on hold .... the jury is still out on how successful that engagement was. In the meantime .... the conflict between Iran and its Shiite allies versus Sunni governments and their Sunni allies is intensifying. As for President Trump .... I can understand why he is not "open" to Iran .... decades of "Death to America" demonstrations coupled with a policy that calls for the destruction of Israel is not a country that you want to be close to. But I must also admit that Saudi Arabia and its support of  the supremacy of Islam is also something that I do not feel comfortable with .... the worst terrorism against the West occurred because of the blind eye that Saudi Arabia had with these groups .... and that support is still there. The war in Yemen is also a unmitigated disaster and quagmire, and I am sure the Saudis are hoping that the U.S. will bail them out on that one. Anyway .... for the moment .... President Trump is communicating that he will work with Saudi Arabia and that U.S. ties with Israel are strong .... how this will translate into tangible policy is yet to be seen. A massive arms agreement that has been in the works for years has been finalised between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia .... what comes after that is something that we will have to wait and see. And as for Iran .... enough is enough .... if they want change .... so do it. But as long as the clergy rule that country .... I sincerely doubt that change will happen in that country.

Iran Accuses President Trump Of 'Iranophobia'





ABC News Online: Donald Trump accused of 'Iranophobia' as he lands in Israel

Iran has accused the United States of selling arms to "dangerous terrorists" in the Middle East and of spreading "Iranophobia", following US President Donald Trump's visit to Tehran's arch-foe Saudi Arabia as part of his maiden overseas trip as President.

Mr Trump signed arms deals worth almost $US110 billion during his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia. He has since arrived in Israel, for separate meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Sending a tough message to Tehran shortly after pragmatist Hassan Rouhani was re-elected president, Mr Trump had urged Arab and Islamic leaders to unite to defeat Islamist militants, and said Iran had for decades "fuelled the fires of sectarian conflict and terrors".

Read more ....

WNU Editor: President Trump's remarks are already being used by Iranian hardliners as ammo against the just elected President Rhouhani .... Iran's Hardliners Use Trump's Speech on Islam as Excuse to Hammer Rouhani (Time).

More News On Iran Accusing The United States Of Selling Arms To "Dangerous Terrorists" And Of Spreading "Iranophobia"

Iran accused the US of spreading 'Iranophobia' and arming 'dangerous terrorists' -- Reuters
Iran laughably rips Trump for spreading ‘Iranophobia’ -- Washington Times
Iran’s President Mocks Trump’s Visit to Saudi Arabia as ‘Just a Show’ -- NYT
US stirring up ‘Iranophobia’ to boost arms sales to Arab nations – Tehran -- RT
Iran President Hassan Rouhani blasts Trump's Saudi summit -- DW
Rouhani dismisses Trump warning over Iran 'threat' -- BBC
Iran calls Trump's Saudi visit 'theatrical' -- CNN
Iran's Rouhani: We will not wait for US's permission to test ballistic missiles -- FOX News
Rouhani says regional stability impossible without Iran -- Reuters
Iranian president calls US relations 'a curvy road' -- AP

U.S. President Trump: Iran Must Stop Funding And Training 'Terrorists And Militias' Immediately





Reuters: Trump says Iran must stop funding and training 'terrorists and militias' immediately

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that Iran must immediately stop its financial and military support for "terrorists and militias" and he reiterated that it never be permitted to possess atomic arms.

"Most importantly, the United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon - never, ever - and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias, and it must cease immediately," Trump said in public remarks at a meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

The United States brands Iran a "state sponsor of terrorism". It says Tehran's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war, Houthi rebels in Yemen's civil war and the Hezbollah Shi'ite political party and militia in Lebanon have helped destabilize the Middle East.

Read more ....

More News On President Trump's Remarks On Iran

Trump Assails Iranian Aggression During Israel Visit -- Voice of America
Donald Trump focuses fire on Iran's support for 'terrorists and militias' -- The Guardian
Trump says concerns about Iran driving Israel, Arab states closer -- Reuters
Trump urges all countries to work together to isolate Iran -- Straits Times
Trump, Netanyahu focus on Iran as common enemy -- Washington Times
Trump tells Israelis: Arab neighbors in ‘common cause with you’ against Iran -- FOX News
Trump tells Israel Iran will never have nuclear weapons -- BBC
Trump in Israel: Iran can 'never, ever' have nuclear weapons -- Washington Examiner
Trump tells Israel that 'Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon' -- CBC/AP

Wall Street Journal: A Dozen High Level Cuban Military Officers And Thousands Of Intelligence Agents Are Now In Venezuela

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, right, and Cuba's President Raul Castro attend an ALBA alliance summit in Caracas, March 17, 2015.REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

WNU Editor: The Wall Street Journal article is unfortunately under a paywall .... Cuba’s Proxy War in Venezuela (Mary Anastasia O’Grady, WSJ). Summarising .... there are more than a dozen high-ranking Cuban officers in Venezuela, along with thousands of Cuban intelligence agents. Apparently their job is to keep the Venezuelan army officers under constant surveillance to prevent any mutiny. Am I surprised by this report .... no. Cuban - Venezuelan government ties have been tight for almost 20 years .... and they do need each other for their survival as predicted by this analysis from last year .... After Fidel Castro's death, Cuba and Venezuela may turn to each other for political survival (Christopher Woody, Business Insider).

I will post Mary Anastasia O’Grady column when it becomes available (without a paywall) on another news website.

Hat tip to Publius for this link.

Report: Chinese President Xi Asked For A '100-Day Grace Period' On North Korea



UPI: Report: Xi Jinping asked for '100-day grace period' on North Korea

Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to implement sanctions against Chinese firms enabling North Korea during his first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, but also asked Trump for a "100-day grace period."

Multiple officials from the United States and Japan told the Asahi Shimbun the two leaders agreed to cooperate on North Korea, but Xi asked for more time.

According to the Japanese newspaper's sources, Trump said the United States would impose unilateral sanctions against "several Chinese companies, including major financial institutions that deal with North Korea," unless China agreed to work with Washington.

Read more
....

WNU Editor: This report makes sense .... US Secretary of State Tillerson hinted over the weekend that the diplomacy on what to do with North Korea was only starting .... Tillerson says US pressure on North Korea in 'early stages' (AFP). More here .... Chat Between Top Diplomats Signals China, US Are Moving Closer on North Korea (Sputnik). This also follows up on their agreement that after 100 days would pass for China and the U.S. to discuss trade .... US, China agree to first trade steps under 100-day plan (Reuters).

More News On A Japanese News Report Stating That Chinese President Xi Asked For A '100-Day Grace Period' On North Korea

China's Xi asks Trump for 100 days to strengthen N. Korea sanctions: report -- Arirang
China Asked US for 100-Day Delay to Prepare Sanctions Against North Korea -- Sputnik
Push for Pressure? Why Beijing Asked US for 100-Day Delay on N Korea Sanctions -- Sputnik

Philippine Foreign Minister Says Talk Of China Threatening War Not Serious

Chinese structures are pictured at the disputed Spratlys in South China Sea April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo

Reuters: Philippines, China play down Duterte's talk of war in disputed sea

The Philippines and China played down on Monday a warning by President Rodrigo Duterte that China would go to war if the Philippines drilled for oil in the disputed South China Sea.

The outspoken Philippine president has been facing criticism at home for being what some people see as too soft on China over a long-running territorial dispute.

Duterte met China's President Xi Jinping for talks in Beijing last week and later said Xi had warned him there would be war if the Philippines tried to explore for oil in a disputed stretch of sea.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said their meeting was frank and friendly, and the discussion was largely about preventing conflict, not threatening it.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Chinese are shrugging off this threat of war .... South China Sea dispute: Xi Jinping govt sidesteps Philippines' president Duterte's claims of war threat (First POst/AFP).

More News On The Philippine Foreign Minister Saying Talk Of China Threatening War Is Not Serious

Beijing and Manila end talks as ‘war’ threat recalled -- South China Morning Post
Philippine official downplays alleged China war threats -- Washington Post/AP
China War Talk Not Serious, Philippine Foreign Minister Says -- Bloomberg
The Philippines is starting damage control after Duterte claims China threatened war -- Business Insider/Reuters
China's Threat Of War Against Philippines Is Baseless Scare Tactic -- Anders Corr, Forbes

Chinese News Media Celebrates The Killing Of CIA Spies In China



The Guardian: Chinese newspaper applauds reported 'anti-espionage' killing of CIA sources

Global Times, controlled by the Communist Party, says reports of breaking of spy ring, if true, were a ‘victory for China’

An influential state-run newspaper has applauded China’s anti-espionage efforts after the New York Times said China had killed or imprisoned up to 20 CIA sources, hobbling US spying operations in a massive intelligence breach.

The Chinese killed at least a dozen people providing information to the US Central Intelligence Agency between 2010 and 2012, dismantling a network that was years in the making, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Chinese are contradicting themselves on this report .... Mission Implausible: China media claims 'victory' over US spy killings, but ridicules report (The Telegraph).

Update: Spy report claiming China Killed or jailed 18-20 CIA sources ‘won’t harm Sino-US ties’ (South China Morning Post).

More News On Chinese News Media Celebrating The Killing Of CIA Spies In China

Chinese paper applauds anti-spy efforts after report CIA sources killed -- Reuters
China’s state-run media declares reports that the government killed CIA sources as ‘a sweeping victory’ -- Daily Mail
Chinese paper cheers NYT report that U.S. spies were killed -- USA Today
China’s Global Times Applauds ‘Victory’ After CIA Sources Reportedly Killed -- NBC
Report claims Beijing destroyed CIA spy ring, Chinese state-run newspaper commends effort -- NYDaily News

World News Briefs -- May 22, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump (C) sits next to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Israel'sPresident Reuven Rivlin during a welcoming ceremony to welcome Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

DW: Trump, Israeli leaders pledge Middle East cooperation

US President Donald Trump has landed in Israel as part of his first foreign trip since taking office. Trump arrived fresh from inking a 12-figure arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

President Reuven Rivlin told his US counterpart, Donald Trump, that Israel was honored on Monday to welcome a partner in both business and peace.

"We created a miracle, a technological miracle, a human miracle, and, even during our most difficult times, we never gave up," Rivlin said, describing Israel's seven-decade expansion. However, he said, "we have not yet achieved our mission of living in peace with our neighbors: the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world."

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Trump warns of Iranian nuclear threat on visit to Israel.

Donald Trump accused of 'Iranophobia' as he lands in Israel. US stirring up ‘Iranophobia’ to boost arms sales to Arab nations – Tehran.

Trump in Jerusalem to explore Palestinian-Israeli talks. Trump arrives in Israel, says 'great opportunity' for peace.

Syria conflict: Government regains full control of Homs.

Iran reformists sweep Tehran municipal council election.

Turkey crowd taunts coup suspects at mass trial near Ankara. Turkey opens trial of suspected military coup plotters.

Palestinian basic rights 'not on the agenda' for Trump.

Yemen protesters call for southern secession.

Yemen war: Major cholera epidemic feared, says charity. Cholera kills 315 in Yemen in less than month: WHO.

ASIA

Report: Xi Jinping asked for '100-day grace period' on North Korea.

Kashmir conflict shifts with top militant vowing fight is for an Islamic state.

Beijing and Manila end talks as ‘war’ threat recalled.

Thai military hospital bomb blast injures more than 20. 3 years after coup, Thailand sees sporadic, unnerving unrest.

Kabul probes 'terrorist' attack on foreign guest house.

Philippines' Duterte heads to Russia in blow to US.

China sidesteps Duterte claim of war threat over sea row.

China to host global meeting of Antarctic Treaty.

AFRICA

South Sudan's Kiir declares unilateral ceasefire, prisoner release.

Nigerian troops battle Boko Haram in Lake Chad area.

Tunisian forces clash with protesters at oil fields.

Italy inks deal with Libya neighbours to block migrants.

Zambia considers treason charge against opposition leader Hichilema.

Angolan apartheid troops battle to survive in S.Africa.

Quality of life on rise for many Africans, report says.

EUROPE

Putin to meet Macron during visit to Paris on May 29 – Kremlin. Putin, Macron to discuss Syria and Ukraine at May 29 meeting: Kremlin.

EU nations set tough negotiating mandate for Brexit talks. EU's Barnier refuses to imagine UK Brexit talks walkout.

Rattled UK PM May forced into 'dementia tax' U-turn after poll lead halves.

Germany, France pledge new efforts to strengthen eurozone.

German foreign minister calls for Greek debt relief.

Germany urges Iran to stop supporting militants in Syria and Iraq.

Spanish Socialists re-elect Pedro Sánchez to lead party.

AMERICAS

Trump becomes first sitting US president to visit Western Wall.

Source says Flynn to invoke 5th Amendment.

More Puerto Rico agencies enter bankruptcy.

Turkey slams US over ‘aggressive’ acts against bodyguards.

Death toll rises as protests continue in Venezuela.

Venezuela: Thousands cross bridge into Colombia for better opportunities.

Brazil's President Michel Temer wins time in corruption crisis. Brazil President Temer says 'I won't resign, oust me if you want'.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Trump tells Middle East to 'drive out' Islamist extremists.

West Africa hit with spate of suicide bombings.

Japan protests against U.N. expert's queries on bill to fight terrorism.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Boeing expands business ties with Saudis.

China, Russia launch long-haul challenge to Boeing, Airbus.

EU to conclude Google antitrust cases in next few months.