Monday, September 25, 2017

A Chinese Take On The North Korean Crisis

Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge reopens: A sign with the Korean and Chinese flags is displayed near the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, the biggest border crossing between Korea and China. [AFP]

Liu Zhen, SCMP: What if worst comes to worst with North Korea? China ‘must be ready’ for war on the peninsula

Beijing should consider talks with other countries to prepare for possible fallout in the region, analyst says

Beijing needs to come up with backup plans – either on its own or with Washington and Seoul – in case the crisis on the Korean peninsula escalates into conflict, a leading Chinese analyst has warned.

But other observers said it was still too early to discuss a post-war Pyongyang with other countries, insisting there is no sign of the North Korean regime falling.

In an article published in Australia-based online magazine East Asia Forum earlier this month, Peking University international relations professor Jia Qingguo called on China to work with the United States and South Korea on contingency plans.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Chinese focus right now is on the Party Congress next month .... after that .... the focus will be on North Korea.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- September 25, 2017



Daniel Lewis, National Interest: Kurdistan Independence: An Island of Stability or Source of New Conflict?

And why America could be in a lose-lose position.

Today, millions of people living in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) area of Iraq will go to the polls to vote on an independence referendum. Will the vote help usher in stability for the region or fuel yet more disruption and violence, possibly even a new war? Either is possible, yet neither is set in stone.

To support Kurdish independence would potentially pit the Trump administration against NATO ally Turkey, cause a rift between Baghdad and Washington, and just as the fight against ISIS appears to be winding down, possibly spawn a civil war between the Kurds, Shia and Sunni militias within Iraq. America is in a lose-lose position.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- September 25, 2017

The inconvenient Kurds -- David Goldman, Asia Times

What is the Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum? -- Matthias von Hein, DW

What’s next after Iraqi Kurds vote on independence -- AP

Iraqi Kurdistan’s Unlikely Ally -- Kamran Bokhari, Geopolitical Futures

This Man Helped The US Fight ISIS. Now He Wants Payback. -- Mike Giglio, BuzzFeed

Japan’s Abe calls snap election amid worries over North Korea -- Linda Sieg, Asia Times

Abe gambles on snap election as Koike surprises with new party -- Tomohiro Osaki and Reiji Yoshida, Japan Times

Bangladesh holds the key to Rohingya insurgency -- Bertil Lintner, Asia Times

The Future of Germany's Social Democrats -- Michael Bröning, Foreign Affairs

Angela Merkel's Bitter Victory -- E. Wayne Merry, National Interest

Merkel's Lackluster Win Is Good for Germany -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Three myths about Catalonia’s independence movement -- Francisco de Borja Lasheras, European Council on Foreign Relations

Catalans are not alone. Across the world, people yearn to govern themselves -- Neal Ascherson, The Guardian

The Devastation of Puerto Rico -- Daniel Larison, American Conservative

Corruption in Latin America: Taking Stock -- David Lipton & Alejandro Werner & Carlos Gonçalves, IMF Blog

OPEC Deal With Russia Is Showing Signs of Strain -- Robin Mills, Asia Times

The NFL Can't Afford to Become a Battleground -- Megan McArdle, Bloomberg

World News Briefs -- September 25, 2017 (Evening Edition)



Reuters: North Korea says U.S. 'declared war,' warns it could shoot down U.S. bombers

NEW YORK/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea’s foreign minister said on Monday President Donald Trump had declared war on North Korea and that Pyongyang reserved the right to take countermeasures, including shooting down U.S. bombers even if they are not in its air space.

Ri Yong Ho said a Twitter message by Trump on Saturday in which the president warned that the minister and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer” if they acted on their threats amounted to a declaration of war.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders on Monday denied the United States had declared war, calling the suggestion “absurd”.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Iraq’s Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears.

Iraqi Kurds to hold independence vote, KRG leader says 'will never go back to Baghdad'. Kurdish president: Independence referendum will go on Monday. Iraqi Kurds voting in non-binding referendum on independence.

Iran halts flights to Kurdish region before referendum.

Iraq parliament demands troops go to areas disputed with Kurds.

Iraq hangs 42 prisoners on death row: ministry.

Lebanon’s president says Syrian refugees must return home.

Russia, Syria intensify bombings of rebel-held Idlib, even targeting signatories to truce: witnesses.

US-backed forces seize Conoco gas plant from Islamic State.

US-backed Syria militia says Russia hit forces at gas plant.

Russia denies it bombed US-backed militias in Syria - RIA.

Erdogan ready to send more troops to Syria, praises Russian role.

Israel builds settlements 'at high rate': UN.

ASIA

North Korean diplomat says Trump has ‘declared war’. North Korea says Trump has declared war.

Seoul urges US to avoid 'further escalation' with N. Korea.

North Korea blows up US aircraft carrier, bombers, jets in new propaganda video.

South Korea's ruling party warns Trump and North Korea: Stop 'excessive verbal threats'.

Rohingya face hunger and disease in Bangladesh refugee camp after escaping Myanmar violence.

Cambodian opposition erects banners urging leader's release.

Bali volcano: Evacuations continue as tremors suggest Mount Agung eruption imminent. 35,000 flee amid fears of volcano eruption in Bali.

Australia to get its own space agency, government says.

New Zealand election result stalled as PM Bill English and Opposition's Jacinda Ardern woo minor party.

AFRICA

'Hundreds' dead in Ethiopia ethnic clashes.

DRC's Kabila paints violence in Kasai as war on terror.

Kenya election: Chief prosecutor orders inquiry into electoral commission.

Moscow welcomes Libya’s fighting factions.

UN peacekeepers killed in Mali explosion.

Authorities in Somalia's Puntland region tout capture of weapons-laden boat.

Hospitals in crisis in Uganda as Middle Eastern countries poach medical staff.

Rwandan police arrest Paul Kagame critic Diane Rwigara.

Egyptian students told to respect the flag or risk a year in prison.

EUROPE

Hopes and frustrations as Brexit talks resume after May speech.

Germany: Merkel faces thorny task in building new government.

Lithuania cautions German elections should not weaken NATO against Russia.

Catalonia referendum: Final week before independence vote.

French Senate vote: Macron's En Marche! disappoints as conservatives retain majority.

Moscow concerned over possible supply of Canadian lethal weapons to Kiev.

UN accuses Russia of violating human rights in Crimea.

Six people believed injured in suspected London acid attack.

UK credit rating downgraded by Moody's.

AMERICAS

Venezuela: Trump acted like ‘the world’s emperor’ at UN.

New travel ban leads Supreme Court to cancel Oct. 10 hearing.

Donald Trump orders sweeping new travel ban, including N. Korea. Trump slaps travel ban on Chad, North Korea, Venezuela.

Trump NFL row: US president denies comments were race-related.

Most schools in Mexico City still closed after earthquake.

Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico facing crisis. Devastated Puerto Rico struggles without power, water, phones.

Soldiers descend on Rio 'Favela' as shootouts erupt.

Mexico: As quake search continues, thousands left homeless.

Canada pressured to dump dairy supply management in NAFTA talks.

Chelsea Manning says she was denied entry to Canada.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

U.S. air strikes kill 17 Islamic State militants in Libya: U.S. military.

Police remove Islamic State flag waving in Islamabad.

Pakistani Taliban video features white socks and M4s.

Rohingya exodus: Myanmar at risk of becoming a magnet for global jihadists.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

A rare tumble for tech stocks pulls US indexes lower.

OPEC to discuss extending cuts, quotas: UAE minister.

Exclusive: Toshiba tells banks chip deal delayed as Apple yet to approve.

US commerce secretary in Beijing ahead of Trump trip.

Could The Kurdish Independence Referendum Cause A Civil War Or Worse?



Joseph Trevithick, The Warzone/The Drive: How the Kurdish Independence Referendum Could Spark a Civil War or Worse

The vote on whether Iraqi Kurdistan should be independent will have far reaching impacts no matter the outcome.

Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region has finished voting on a controversial referendum that could potentially lead to a new independent country. It is a goal that Kurds around the world have long pushed for, but it potentially touch off a broader conflict involving Iran, Turkey, and Syria, as well as test loyalties and allegiances between the Kurds and dozens of nations and ethnic groups throughout the Middle East and beyond.

On June 7, 2017, President Masoud Barzani, the present head of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), met with various parties and formally announced the date for the non-binding poll as Sept. 25, 2017. Barzani, who has been president of the KRG since 2005, had initially called for the vote in 2014, following the meteoric rise of ISIS in Iraq following the spectacular collapse of the Iraq’s national army in the face of the terrorist group, but delayed it due to apparent international pressure. With ISIS in retreat and the situation stabilizing, it has been harder to argue for further delays.

Read more ....

Update: Kirkuk teetering on the brink of war (Fazel Hawramy)

WNU Editor: Iraq does not have the military capability on taking  on the Kurds .... so I doubt that such a military undertaking will be pursued by Baghdad. Turkey and Iran do have the military capability .... but invading Iraqi Kurdistan (even with Baghdad's approval) .... all that I can say is "talk about walking into a hornet's nest". My prediction .... Iraqi Kurdistan is landlocked .... if they push forward with their goal of independence they will be cut-off from the rest of the world by Turkey-Iran-Iraq. It is not a military conflict, but it will cripple the Iraqi-Kurdistan economy. But if there is going to be bloodshed, it will be in the territories that Kurdish forces are present and where the majority of the civilians are Arab or Turk-men .... Kirkuk is such a place. That type of conflict may be local .... but it will carry international consequences. If Iraq explodes into another civil war, it will start in a place like Kirkuk.

What Has Been The Middle East's Reaction To The Referendum In Iraqi Kurdistan?



Daily News (Egypt): Regional threats mount as Kurdistan holds referendum

Iraq, Turkey aim at preventing Kurdistan’s oil exports

Thousands of Kurds casted their votes on Monday in a referendum aimed at separating Iraqi Kurdistan from Iraq. According to the Kurdistan government, there were 12,000 polling stations, including in disputed areas.

In a press conference Monday, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani said, “The referendum is not a threat to Turkey or any neighbouring countries, and it is a peaceful and democratic process.”

But in light of previous international and regional opposition to the referendum, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned on Monday that his country might take a military action in Northern Iraq if the referendum resulted in threatening Turkey. He also announced closing the crossings to prevent Kurdistan from exporting oil.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The U.S. is trying to satisfy all sides .... Refusing to Back Kurdish Independence, White House Hopes for 'Unified Iraq' (Haaretz). The Gulf states have also been low key.

Reactions From The Middle East On The Referendum In Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraq’s Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears -- AP
Kirkuk Kurds hail independence vote, but Arabs, Turkmen wary -- The Times of Israel
Iraq, Turkey Threaten Kurdistan's Oil Boom After Controversial Independence Vote -- Wall Street Journal

Iraqi Reaction

Iraq parliament demands troops go to areas disputed with Kurds. -- AFP
Baghdad Asks World To Stop Buying Kurdish Oil -- OilPrice.com
Iraqi MP: Like Israel, Kurdistan will cause years of war -- Rudaw
Iraq takes control of borders ahead of Kurdish independence vote -- Middle East Monitor

Syrian Reaction

Damascus rejects Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum -- Reuters
Syria Says Recognizes Only A Unified Iraq -- Tasnim News Agency

Turkish Reaction

Erdogan threatens military action over Iraqi Kurdish referendum -- The Times of Israel
Turkey tightens border as Kurds vote in independence ballot -- The Australian
Turkey Warns Iraq Kurds It Can 'Close the Valves' on Oil Exports -- Bloomberg
Turkey's Erdogan threatens to cut off oil flow from Iraq's Kurdish area over referendum -- Reuters
Turkey will only make contact with Baghdad government in Iraq from now on: PM Yıldırım -- Daily Sabah
Turkey's Erdogan to discuss response to Iraqi referendum during Iran visit: PM -- Reuters

Iranian Reaction

Iran closes border with Iraqi Kurdistan -- Arab News
Iran halts flights to Kurdish region before referendum -- Al Jazeera
Iranian leaders are quietly panicking over the Kurdish referendum -- Michael Rubin, Washington Examiner
As Iraqi Kurds Go to the Polls, Iran Warns Against 'Separatist Secession' -- Sputnik International

Israeli Reaction

Netanyahu muzzles Israeli officials on Kurdish referendum -- Reuters
As Israel Backs Kurdish Independence, Palestinians May Reap the Benefit -- Haaretz

Will North Korea Sell Its Know-How On How To Build Nuclear Bombs?

Kim Jong-un, center, before a nuclear test at an undisclosed location, according to the North’s state-run news agency. Credit KCNA

Daniel Salisbury, The Conversation: Will North Korea Sell Its Nuclear Technology?

North Korea is more than willing to breach sanctions to earn cash.

Earlier this month CIA Director Mike Pompeo suggested “the North Koreans have a long history of being proliferators and sharing their knowledge, their technology, their capacities around the world.”

My research has shown that North Korea is more than willing to breach sanctions to earn cash.

A checkered history

Over the years North Korea has earned millions of dollars from the export of arms and missiles, and its involvement in other illicit activities such as smuggling drugs, endangered wildlife products and counterfeit goods.

Still, there are only a handful of cases that suggest these illicit networks have been turned to export nuclear technology or materials to other states.

North Korean technicians allegedly assisted the Pakistanis in production of Krytrons, likely sometime in the 1990s. Krytrons are devices used to trigger the detonation of a nuclear device.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It is always about the money. And while I do not see North Korea selling a nuclear weapon or two (for now), selling the know-how is not a stretch. The question that needs to be asked is .... what are we going to do about it? Specifically .... since China has been the way-station for the North Koreans to do business with the outside world, what will the Chinese do to change this behavior. As of today .... aside a few sanctions .... the Chinese are not instilling much confidence.

North Korea's Foreign Minister Is Accusing The U.S. Of 'Declaring War'



BBC: North Korea accuses US of declaring war

North Korea's foreign minister has accused US President Donald Trump of declaring war on his country.

Ri Yong-ho told reporters in New York that North Korea reserved the right to shoot down US bombers.

This applied even when they were not in North Korean airspace, the minister added. The world "should clearly remember" it was the US that first declared war, Mr Ri said.

The two sides have been engaged in an increasingly angry war of words.

Despite weeks of tension, experts have played down the risk of direct conflict between the two.

Read more ....

North Korea's Foreign Minister Is Accusing The U.S. Of 'Declaring War'

North Korea Says It Has the Right to Shoot Down US Warplanes -- New York Times
North Korean diplomat says Trump has ‘declared war’ -- AP
North Korea says Trump has declared war -- AFP
North Korea says US 'declared war' warns it could shoot down US bombers -- Reuters
'Declaration of war': North Korea claims Trump speech brought 'all options' to the table -- FOX News
North Korean Foreign Minister Says Trump Has 'Declared War' -- NBC
North Korean minister says Trump has declared 'war' -- ABC News
North Korea Claims Right to Down U.S. Jets Outside Airspace -- Bloomberg
North Korea's foreign minister: Trump's words are 'clearly a declaration of war' -- Politico
North Korea Claims US Has Declared War -- VOA

Is Syrian President Assad Here To Stay?

Mr. Assad, center, greeting worshipers at a mosque in Qarat, Syria, this month. He increasingly seems likely to rule for years to come, albeit over a greatly reduced country. Credit Syrian Arab News Agency

New York Times: Syrian War Drags On, but Assad's Future Looks as Secure as Ever

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Although Syria’s bloody six-year war is far from over, one result is already becoming clear: President Bashar al-Assad looks as though he is here to stay.

On the battlefield, no one remains who is willing and able to topple him. The rebel forces are waning, and President Trump has canceled the C.I.A. program that provided them with arms and support. The Islamic State, with its own agenda to rule Syria as a caliphate, is being routed from its strongholds.

Regional powers, foreign officials and Syrians themselves are increasingly operating as if he will rule for years to come, albeit over a greatly reduced country. His allies have begun to trumpet what they see as their impending victory, and his government is talking about rebuilding a shattered country, hosting an international trade fair last month and signing a deal with Iran to rebuild its power grid.

Even some longtime rebel supporters have grown war-weary and started to embrace the inevitable.

Read more ....

Update: The Syrian war is far from over. But the endgame is already playing out (Liz Sly, Washington Post).

WNU Editor: The war will grind on .... even if every region in the country is taken over by the Syrian army. Too many people have been killed, wounded, or displaced. The sense of revenge and retribution will be a part of the Syrian culture for years .... if not decades. But for now .... the war continues.

It Is Getting Tense In Eastern Syria Between U.S. Backed-Forces And Russian- Backed Forces

A Russian military helicopter flies over Deir el-Zour province, Syria, Sept. 15, 2017. A U.S.-backed force in Syria said a Russian airstrike killed one of its fighters and injured two others in the province.

RT: Death of Russian general in Syria is result of US hypocrisy – Moscow

The death of Russian Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov in Syria is the price Russia was forced to pay for hypocritical US policy, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

“The death of the Russian commander is the price paid with blood for the hypocrisy of American policy in Syria," Ryabkov said on Monday.

General Asapov was serving as one of Russia’s military advisers in Syria. On Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry said he was fatally wounded by an exploding shell in a sudden mortar attack by IS terrorists.

Read more ....

More News On Growing Tensions Between U.S. Backed-Forces And Russian- Backed Forces In Eastern Syria

Russia, US Maintain Close Military Contacts on Syria - Ryabkov -- Sputnik
Moscow blames 'two-faced US policy' for Russian general's Syria death -- Gulf Times/Reuters
US special ops forces & hardware spotted at ISIS positions north of Deir ez-Zor – Russian MoD -- RT
Russia's Sergey Lavrov calls for 'pullout' of US forces from Syria -- Washington Examiner
Lavrov calls to coordinate Russian, US military action in Syria -- TASS
Russia stokes propaganda war, claims US troops in Syria met with no resistance from Isis -- International Business Times
U.S.-backed alliance says Russian jets struck its fighters in east Syria -- Reuters
US-backed Syria militia says Russia hit forces at gas plant -- AFP
US-backed forces say Russia attacked them in eastern Syria -- AP
Kurdish-led forces accuse Russia of targeting, wounding troops in Syria -- Kurdistan24
Russia denies it bombed US-backed militias in Syria - RIA -- Reuters
US sends mass military gears to SDF in Raqqa -- The Statesman
US-backed fighters elated over front-row seats to Raqa fall -- AFP
Syrian militias aim to push Islamic State out of Raqqa within a month -- Syria
US-led strikes killed 84 civilians near Syria's Raqa: HRW -- AFP

Commentaries, Reactions, And Analysis On Germany's Election Results



Stefan Kuzmany, Spiegel Online: A New Germany

The Alternative for Germany's entry into the German parliament is not normal -- it's an attack on our liberal democracy, one that all the other parties must fight. That's just one reason that going into opposition is the right decision by the Social Democrats.

Don't worry! Why all the handwringing? Angela Merkel will stay on as chancellor -- that much we know -- and she'll continue to govern with her wonted calm and reason. And -- chill out! -- that 13-plus percent for the Alternative for Germany (AfD) isn't so bad either -- for unlike our European neighbors, we never had right-wing populists in parliament before -- and now we do. So what? Germany is just ceding to the norm, that's all.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Reactions, And Analysis On Germany's Election Results

German election press review - shock and concern the abiding reaction -- DW
German election: World reacts to Merkel victory, AfD rise -- DW
Juncker to Merkel: EU needs stable German government to shape Europe -- Reuters
As Germans clip Merkel's wings, Brussels braces for turbulence -- Reuters
Germany: Merkel faces thorny task in building new government -- Geir Moulson, AP
Uncharted political waters for Angela Merkel -- Volker Wagener, DW
'Angela's nightmare victory': German press react to Merkel's election win... with most focussing on her share of the votes crashing more than anyone had expected -- Daily Mail
German election: Not so boring now, is it? -- Sky News
Four graphics that explain how a far-right party won third place in Germany -- CNN
The German election: Here's what happens next -- Holly Ellyatt, CNBC
Five things to know about Germany´s surging nationalist party -- Press Association
Who is Frauke Petry, the AfD's controversial co-chair? -- Alex Pearson and Nancy Isenson, DW
What the stunning success of AfD means for Germany and Europe -- Cas Mudde, The Guardian
View: The five major policy challenges facing Germany’s new government -- Euronews
Merkel’s poll win unlikely to make much difference to Brexit, analysts say -- Jon Henley and Daniel Boffey, The Guardian
German election: Can the Greens and FDP join Angela Merkel in a coalition? -- Jefferson Chase, DW
Far-right AfD enters German parliament: What it means for German politics -- Jefferson Chase, DW
Germany wants to battle again -- Ines Pohl, DW
Merkel ‘to blame for AfD existence’ & will be challenged by new reality – analysts to RT -- RT
'A lot of people feel left behind': voters on the far-right surge in Germany -- The Guardian
German vote could doom Merkel-Macron deal on Europe -- Noah Barkin, Reuters
The end of German exceptionalism -- Gideon Rachman, Financial
What is the role of Germany's parliamentary opposition? -- Carla Bleiker, DW

Germany's Election -- The Aftermath (News Roundup)



DW: German election results: Disappointing victory for Angela Merkel as CDU sinks, nationalist AfD surges

Angela Merkel has won a fourth term, but official results have shown she'll have a "tough road" for coalition talks. While the CDU remains the largest party, the far-right AfD will be the third biggest political force.

With all 299 constituencies reporting, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the CSU came out ahead in Germany's national election on Sunday, with 33 percent of the vote.

Rival Social Democrats (SPD) led by Martin Schulz tumbled to a mere 20.5 percent, while the Green and Left parties remained about the same as they did in 2013, each with 8.9 and 9.2 percent, respectively.

The only real success stories of the night were for the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). After failing to make the 5-percent hurdle to enter the Bundestag last time around, the FDP managed a 10.7 percent to cement its comeback.

Read more ....

Germany's Election -- The Aftermath (News Roundup)

German election, the day after: Angela Merkel leaves door open for SPD coalition talks - live updates -- DW
German elections 2017: Angela Merkel wins fourth term but AfD makes gains – as it happened -- The Guardian
The Latest: Merkel’s bloc comes 1st in German election -- AP
German election: Angela Merkel hangs on to power but forced to form coalition after losing support to far-right -- ABC News Online
Merkel faces tough coalition talks as nationalists enter German parliament -- The Guardian
German election: Merkel vows to win back right-wing voters -- BBC
Merkel tries to build coalition after vote that puts far right in parliament -- Reuters
Merkel: Open to coalition talks with FDP and Greens, but also SPD -- Reuters
Merkel wins 4th term as nationalists enter German parliament -- AP
Angela Merkel wins fourth term as nationalists enter German parliament -- Press Association
German election: Angela Merkel wins fourth term -- Al Jazeera
Incensed over refugees, east Germans punish easterner Merkel -- Reuters
German nationalists seek to allay fears; show cracks at top -- AP
Anti-AfD protests break out across Germany after election -- DW
Germany's jubilant far-right has Merkel in its sights -- Reuters
AfD leader quits party caucus hours after German election breakthrough -- The Guardian
Germany's AfD warn Merkel they will 'fight the invasion of foreigners' after winning their first seats in parliament... but one of the far-right MPs immediately ditches the party -- Daily Mail
Germany's FDP sees common ground with Greens on education, digitization -- Reuters
Germany's FDP says won't agree to 'Jamaica' coalition at any price -- Reuters
Euro slips on Merkel's losses, fractured parliament -- DW

World News Briefs -- September 25, 2017



Reuters: Iraqi Kurds shrug off threats to hold independence vote

ERBIL/SULAIMANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) - Kurds voted in an independence referendum in northern Iraq on Monday, ignoring pressure from Baghdad, threats from Turkey and Iran, and international warnings that the vote may ignite yet more regional conflict.

The vote organized by Kurdish authorities is expected to deliver a comfortable “yes” for independence, but is not binding. However, it is designed to give Masoud Barzani, who heads the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), a mandate to negotiate the secession of the oil-producing region.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Russia, Syria intensify bombings of rebel-held Idlib, even targeting signatories to truce: witnesses.

US-backed forces seize Conoco gas plant from Islamic State.

US-backed Syria militia says Russia hit forces at gas plant.

Russia denies it bombed US-backed militias in Syria - RIA.

Erdogan ready to send more troops to Syria, praises Russian role.

Iraqi Kurds to hold independence vote, KRG leader says 'will never go back to Baghdad'. Kurdish president: Independence referendum will go on Monday. Iraqi Kurds voting in non-binding referendum on independence.

Iran halts flights to Kurdish region before referendum.

Iraq parliament demands troops go to areas disputed with Kurds.

ASIA

North Korea blows up US aircraft carrier, bombers, jets in new propaganda video.

South Korea's ruling party warns Trump and North Korea: Stop 'excessive verbal threats'.

Rohingya face hunger and disease in Bangladesh refugee camp after escaping Myanmar violence.

Cambodian opposition erects banners urging leader's release.

Bali volcano: Evacuations continue as tremors suggest Mount Agung eruption imminent. 35,000 flee amid fears of volcano eruption in Bali.

Australia to get its own space agency, government says.

New Zealand election result stalled as PM Bill English and Opposition's Jacinda Ardern woo minor party.

AFRICA

DRC's Kabila paints violence in Kasai as war on terror.

Kenya election: Chief prosecutor orders inquiry into electoral commission.

Moscow welcomes Libya’s fighting factions.

UN peacekeepers killed in Mali explosion.

Authorities in Somalia's Puntland region tout capture of weapons-laden boat.

Hospitals in crisis in Uganda as Middle Eastern countries poach medical staff.

Rwandan police arrest Paul Kagame critic Diane Rwigara.

Egyptian students told to respect the flag or risk a year in prison.

EUROPE

Lithuania cautions German elections should not weaken NATO against Russia.

Catalonia referendum: Final week before independence vote.

French Senate vote: Macron's En Marche! disappoints as conservatives retain majority.

Moscow concerned over possible supply of Canadian lethal weapons to Kiev.

UN accuses Russia of violating human rights in Crimea.

Six people believed injured in suspected London acid attack.

UK credit rating downgraded by Moody's.

AMERICAS

Donald Trump orders sweeping new travel ban, including N. Korea. Trump slaps travel ban on Chad, North Korea, Venezuela.

Trump NFL row: US president denies comments were race-related.

Most schools in Mexico City still closed after earthquake.

Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico facing crisis. Devastated Puerto Rico struggles without power, water, phones.

Soldiers descend on Rio 'Favela' as shootouts erupt.

Mexico: As quake search continues, thousands left homeless.

Canada pressured to dump dairy supply management in NAFTA talks.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

U.S. air strikes kill 17 Islamic State militants in Libya: U.S. military.

Police remove Islamic State flag waving in Islamabad.

Pakistani Taliban video features white socks and M4s.

Rohingya exodus: Myanmar at risk of becoming a magnet for global jihadists.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

OPEC to discuss extending cuts, quotas: UAE minister.

Exclusive: Toshiba tells banks chip deal delayed as Apple yet to approve.

US commerce secretary in Beijing ahead of Trump trip.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 25, 2017


CBC: Anaysis: 'Now you can feel Russia's power:' Russian military in Syria eager to show its victories

At home, Russians fear getting bogged down in another war, but military looks set to stay

Standing on a runway less than 10 metres from a Russian Su-34 fighter jet reaching takeoff velocity leaves one rattled to the core.

The intensity of the engines' roar makes it impossible to not cover your ears and look away.

"Now you can feel Russia's power," said a Russian officer. He smiled as he watched the effect on the international media just arrived in Syria as part of a public relations tour of Russia's military activities in the country.

Russia has been at war in Syria since September 2015, supporting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 24, 2017

Russian Navy Warship Heads for Greek Vacation Hotspot Before Joining Syria War -- Newsweek

Russian lieutenant-general killed in ISIS shelling near Deir ez-Zor, Syria - MoD -- RT

Lavrov calls to coordinate Russian, US military action in Syria -- TASS

Russian defense minister to make rare Israel visit for talks on Syria -- The Times of Israel

Russia’s Unmanned Aircraft Are Getting Lethal New Munitions -- Task & Purpose/Business Insider

Chinese, Russian navies hold joint exercises in Okhotsk Sea for first time -- Global Times

China names new military commander for strategically important region near North Korea -- South China Morning Post

How China is using military ties to expand its reach in Southeast Asia -- Sarah Zheng, SCMP

China, Singapore reaffirm military ties, but is the deal anything more than symbolic? -- Minnie Chan, SCMP

Nigeria: Military Approach Against Separatists Stokes More Tension -- All Africa

Egypt receives new French Corvette -- UPI

Europe is training military forces in weak states – and that’s seriously risky -- The Conversation

North Korea Also Has Nerve Agent VX, Chemical Weapons Expert Warns -- NBC

U.S. Flies Unprecedented Show of Force North of DMZ -- AP

Mattis Visits South Asia Amid Afghanistan Shakeup -- VOA

U.S. to provide over 6,500 Humvees to Afghanistan -- UPI

U.S., British navies practice mine countermeasure operations -- UPI

Mattis to Visit India: Drones, Fighter Jets on Table -- Military.com/AFP

Watch the US Military Launch a Super Secret Spy Satellite Into Space -- Gizmodo

If unresolved, KC-46 deficiency could threaten acceptance of Boeing tanker -- Defense News

New Northrop, Navy electronic warfare tech expands aircraft attack envelope -- Defense Systems

New Stealth Weapon for F-35 Built to Defeat Enemy Air Defenses -- Scout

US stealth fighter jets adding more firepower -- CNN

The US Congress Is Trying to Give the F-35 a Pass for All Its Problems -- The National Interest

Some F-35s could remain without fully combat-capable software -- Defense News

Urban warfare a driving force behind future Air Force decisions, leaders say -- Defense News

Military stretched thin by hurricane relief efforts -- The Hill

Navy takes delivery of new attack submarine -- UPI

Army looks for new ways to address misbehaving generals -- FOX News/AP

Navy Sailor Indicted In Series Of Bomb Threats At Bases Across Hampton Roads -- Task & Purpose/Virginia Pilot

Iraqi Kurdistan Are Now Voting In An Independence Referendum



New York Times: Iraqi Kurds Vote on Independence, Angering Neighbors and U.S.

ERBIL, Iraq — Kurds across northern Iraq lined up Monday morning to vote in a referendum on whether to seek independence for an autonomous Kurdish region that has yearned for nationhood for more than a century.

Despite withering criticism from the Iraqi government and the United States, voters marked simple paper ballots with boxes offering a “yes” or “no” choice on whether to embark on a path toward an independent Kurdistan.

Some Iraqi Kurds were in a defiant mood, reflecting the region’s determination to withstand resistance from the international community, which fears the vote will unleash ethnic conflict and further destabilize Iraq. The Kurds’ two much larger neighbors, Turkey and Iran, have threatened to close borders and impose other sanctions.

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More News On Iraqi Kurdistan Now Voting In An Independence Referendum

Voting begins in historic Kurdistan independence referendum -- Rudaw
Turkey's Erdogan threatens to cut off oil flow from Iraq's Kurdish area over referendum -- Reuters
Iraqi Kurds Vote on Independence as Neighbors Warn of Conflict -- Bloomberg
Kurds in Iraq vote in historic referendum for independence -- Washington Post
Iraqi Kurdistan in historic independence vote -- BBC News
Iraqi Kurds Vote in Independence Referendum Despite Warnings From Baghdad, US -- Wall Street Journal
Explained: Who Are the Kurds and Why Are They Seeking Independence? -- Haaretz

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Has Called A Snap Election



ABC News Online: Japan to go to the polls next month after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls snap election

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced he plans to dissolve parliament this Thursday and take the country to the polls next month.

He is striking while the iron is hot — a weekend survey by the Nikkei newspaper showed 44 per cent of voters planned to vote for Prime Minister Abe's Liberal Democratic Party versus 8 per cent for the main opposition Democratic Party

Mr Abe has been in power for almost five years. He was elected in late 2012, promising to turn around Japan's sleepy economy.

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WNU Editor: The voters will go to the polls on October 22.

More News On Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Calling A Snap Election

Abe gambles on snap election as Koike surprises with new party -- Japan Times
Shinzo Abe of Japan Calls Early Election, as a Rival Party Forms -- NYT
Japan's Abe announces snap election amid worries over North Korea -- Reuters
Japan's PM Shinzo Abe calls snap election -- BBC
Japan's PM Shinzō Abe calls snap election -- The Guardian
Koike to head new party, puts emphasis on reform -- Asahi Shimbun
Two-thirds of Japan voters oppose PM Abe calling snap election - Kyodo survey -- Yahoo News UK

President Trump Adds Travel Restrictions On North Korea, Venezuela In A Sweeping New Ban




FOX News: Trump approves updated travel restrictions on 8 countries, adding North Korea and Venezuela to list

President Trump on Sunday signed off on updated travel restrictions that would limit entry for people coming to the U.S. from eight countries, as the existing travel ban is set to expire.

The new travel restrictions, set to take effect Oct. 18, would slow or limit entry from citizens of North Korea, Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. North Korea and Venezuela were not listed in the earlier ban.

Iraqi citizens do not face the same travel restrictions, but will "be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if they pose risks" to U.S. security, the White House said.

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More News On President Trump Adding Travel Restrictions On North Korea, Venezuela In A Sweeping New Ban

Trump replaces travel ban with new restrictions -- AP
Trump slaps travel restrictions on North Korea, Venezuela in sweeping new ban -- Reuters
North Korea, Venezuela, Chad among 8 countries on new US travel ban -- AFP
White House expands travel ban, restricting visitors from eight countries -- Washington Post
Trump Restricts Visas From Eight Countries as Travel Order Expires -- NBC
Trump's Revised Travel Ban Opens New Stage in Legal Fight -- Bloomberg

Seven Stories On Why Many In The U.S. Military Love The A-10

Deadly force: A line up of A-10s at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. Planes of this type will arrive in Kuwait for combat operations next week

Task & Purpose: 7 Stories That Remind Us Why Troops Love The A-10 Warthog

Every generation of American warriors gets the iconic aircraft it deserves, from the legendary B-52 Stratofortress to the F-14A Tomcat, and the service members and veterans who answered the call of duty after 9/11 are no exception. But the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, the workhorse of U.S. close air support in the skies for decades, and lovingly nicknamed “Warthog” by American troops, is more than just an aggro 30mm cannon with wings — it’s the guardian angel of U.S. and partner forces on the front lines of the Global War on Terror in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

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WNU Editor: The end for the A-10 may come sooner rather than later .... Air Force could ground A-10s as early as FY18 as life of wings runs out (Defense News).

Remembering The Time When North Korea Tried To Kill The South Korean President

Images from an April 15 military parade in Pyongyang show what appear to be North Korean 'commandos' carrying AK-47 assault rifles with attached grenade-launchers. But they are really 'helical' magazines designed to store bullets in a spiral shape

Sebastien Roblin, Scout Warrior: How North Korean Commandos Tried to Kill South Korean President

Recently the South Korean defense minister caused a stir when he announced the military was forming a “decapitation unit” of airborne special

Recently the South Korean defense minister caused a stir when he announced the military was forming a “decapitation unit” [3] of airborne special operators to target Kim Jong-un in the event of a conflict. While Seoul has long been exploring such a contingency, its prominent public airing is undoubtedly meant as a pressure tactic to cause Kim to reconsider how he might best ensure his own survival.

South Koreans are quite familiar with the stress caused by the threat of “decapitation.” That is because South Korean presidents have been the target of two major assassination attempts orchestrated by Pyongyang, both of which resulted in dozens of deaths.

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WNU Editor: A reminder on the "who and what" North Korea is.

These Are The Weapons That The U.S. Military Will Use Against North Korea?

US intelligence assessments say Pyongyang still faces hurdles in creating a nuclear capable missile [Reuters]

Kyle Mizokami, National Interest: Every Part of the U.S. Military That Could Get Dragged Into a War with North Korea

The United States has substantial air, land, and sea forces stationed in South Korea, as well as several units based in Japan and the western Pacific earmarked for a Korean contingency. Together, these forces far exceed the firepower of North Korea’s armed forces and represent a powerful deterrent not just against Pyongyang but any potential adversary in the region.

The first U.S. forces that would be involved in a North-South Korean conflict are those currently based in South Korea. On the ground, the U.S. Army rotates a new armored brigade into South Korea every nine months—currently the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Each brigade is manned by 3,500 soldiers and consists of three combined arms battalions, one cavalry (reconnaissance) battalion, one artillery battalion, one engineer and one brigade support battalion. Armored brigade combat teams typically consist of approximately 100 M1A2 Abrams tanks, 100 M2A3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and eighteen M109-series self-propelled howitzers.

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WNU Editor: The South Koreans are building up their own arsenal .... South Korea to Boost Military Arsenal With Nuclear Submarines, Spy Satellites (Sputnik).

U.S. Boosts Surveillance In Syria After Russian Threats

© Photo: Facebook / Russian Defense Ministry

CNN: US boosts surveillance amid Russian threats in Syria

(CNN)US forces in Syria have increased surveillance of Russian troop locations following Moscow's suggestion that US troops could get caught in Russian military operations, according to a US official directly familiar with US military planning.

While the US has kept a close eye on Russian troop locations for the past several months, the need for increased surveillance has become critical given the proximity of US and Russian units in eastern Syria.

The goal is to ensure that US forces continue to know the location of Russian forces, especially those in eastern Syria, at all times, said the official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. Surveillance and reconnaissance levels routinely fluctuate based on threats.

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WNU Editor: The Russians are doing the same (i.e. surveillance) .... Russia Reveals Footage of US Forces Near Daesh Positions North of Deir-ez-Zor (Sputnik)

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Cartoon Roundup ....

Picture Of The Day

Electoral officials sort ballot papers after the conclusion of voting in the general election (Bundestagswahl) in Cologne, Germany. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Merkel wins German election (Reuters)