Thursday, July 30, 2015

Saudi Arabia Wants 600 Patriot Interceptors


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yemen War News Updates -- July 30, 2015



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

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

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

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

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

Yemen War News Updates -- July 30, 2015

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

Saudi Arabia And Egypt Agree To Expand Military Ties

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World News Briefs -- July 30, 2015



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

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

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

MIDDLE EAST

Iraqi government denies UN torture allegations.

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

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

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

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

Iran voices conditions for U.N. nuclear inspections.

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

Israel passes law allowing force-feeding of prisoners.

ASIA

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

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

Taliban disavows Afghan peace talks after leader declared dead.

India says Punjab attackers came from Pakistan.

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

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

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

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

AFRICA

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

Nigeria names head of multinational force to battle Boko Haram.

Fierce fighting erupts between Chadian army and Boko Haram.

Burundi's opposition leader Rwasa becomes deputy speaker.

South Sudan soldiers accused of stealing relief food.

Sierra Leone faces Ebola setback: 500 under quarantine.

Mugabe threatens to expel US, British diplomats.

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

EUROPE

Shelling in eastern Ukraine kills four civilians, soldier.

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

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

Greece's Tsipras challenges party bailout critics to showdown.

Yanis Varoufakis may face criminal charges over Greek currency plan.

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

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

AMERICAS

US economic growth picks up to 2.3%.

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

Venezuela seizes Nestle, Polar warehouse as food shortages mount.

Venezuela's hospitals on life support.

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

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

Chileans spooked by crime, demand government action.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Islamic State ‘growing’ in Afghanistan: watchdog.

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

Drone kills 4 suspected militants in Yemen.

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

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

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

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

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

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latvia, Lithuania To Raise Defense Spending -- Defense News

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

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

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

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

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

US Senate confirms new Joint Chiefs chairman -- The Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

FBI faces several challenges with cybersecurity program -- Washington Times

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

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

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

General Joseph Dunford © Gary Cameron / Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The U.S. Has Betrayed The Kurds



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Commentary On The Betrayal Of The Kurds

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

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

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

Washington Examiner: Kerry on mission to soothe Arab allies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Britain Fails To Stop Recruits From Joining The Islamic State


New York Times: Britain Is Losing Against ISIS Recruitment Tactics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The U.S. Navy's Newest Amphibious Assault Ships Are The Size Of Other Countries’ Aircraft Carriers

The U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) approaches Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, for a scheduled port visit. America was traveling through the U.S. Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet areas of responsibility on its maiden transit, "America visits the Americas." The ship was scheduled to be ceremoniously commissioned on 11 October 2014 in San Francisco, California (USA). Wikipedia

Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat: US Navy Builds Largest-Ever Amphibious Assault Ship for F-35 Fighters

The America-class will be the size of other countries’ aircraft carriers.

Over at military.com, Kris Osborne reports that the assembly of the second America-class amphibious assault ship, USS Tripoli, is going according to plan, with a third of initial construction already complete.

The ship “is approximately 30% complete. Fabrication has started on 211 units, 97% of all units, and 84 grand blocks are erected — 47% of the total,” according to a U.S. Navy spokesperson who provided Osborne with a written statement.

Scheduled for launch in in July 2017 and with a tentative induction date set for December 18, the ship is specifically designed to accommodate Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, along a host of other aircraft such as MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, CH-53 Super Stallions, and UH-1Y Huey helicopters.

WNU editor: What I find remarkable about this story is atht the U.S. Navy still has faith in the Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters and what will be its role for these ships .... even with all of its problems .... Does The U.S. Navy Cares If The F-35 Cannot Win In A 'Dogfight'?

This Airport Is The Last Place That A Pilot Wants To Land


Bloomberg: This Remote Island Is the Last Place Pilots Want to Land a Plane

The Air Force calls Shemya Island "a place to land in the middle of nowhere".

Every commercial airline flight has a plan for diverting if necessary. But few pilots ever consider Shemya Island, a remote U.S. Air Force outpost 1,500 miles southwest of Anchorage, because there's so little infrastructure. The rocky island, about two miles by four miles, has a 10,000-foot landing strip—large enough for the biggest military cargo jets—and pretty much nothing else.

Today, the island’s population roughly tripled when a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles made an emergency landing at Eareckson Air Station on Shemya after the crew detected smoke. All 276 passengers and 18 crew on the Boeing 777-300ER were safe, the airline said. The island was last used as a diversion point in July 2010, when an American Airlines 777 en route to Tokyo landed with a suspected cargo fire. (No fire was found.) After a six-hour stop, the Cathay flight departed later Wednesday morning for a three-hour flight to Anchorage, according to Flightaware.com, a flight-tracking site. "We understand that this action resulted in a long and arduous journey for those onboard the diverted flight and we apologise for the inconvenience caused," James Ginns, a Cathay Pacific executive, said in a statement.

WNU Editor: At least that island and airport is there when someone does need to land.

Access To Fresh Water Could Be The Reason Why China And India Go To War

Economist

Palmo Tenzin, National Interest: This Is What Could Start a War between India and China

While everyone’s anxiously watching and analyzing the events unraveling in the South China Sea, there’s another resource conflict involving China that also deserves attention. In the Himalayas, China and India are competing for valuable hydropower and water resources on the Yarlung Tsangpo–Brahmaputra River. The dispute offers some important lessons for regional cooperation (on more than just water), and highlights what’s at stake if China and India mismanage their resource conflict.

The Yarlung Tsangpo–Brahmaputra River is a 2,880km transboundary river that originates in Tibet, China as the Yarlung Tsangpo, before flowing through northeast India as the Brahmaputra River and Bangladesh as the Jamuna River.

WNU Editor: On my first trip to China the first thing that I learned was it was a country beset with serious  problems when it came to freshwater and electricity interruptions. .... and that was in the 1980s. And while China has gone a lot of way in solving the problem of electricity interruptions (building coal plants while producing another problem .... pollution)  .... water is still a problem .... and doubly so in India. China's water plans are already causing concern .... China: As water demands grow sharply, supply is shrinking (CSM) .... but the big crisis will be with India, especially as that country's population continues to grow and its water needs expand .... World Population Set To Hit 9.7 Billion People By 2050.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 29, 2015



Inside Story/Al Jazeera: Is peace with the Taliban possible?

Little progress has been achieved as Pakistan and Afghanistan seek peace with the religious group.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says he is still hopeful that talks with the Pakistani Taliban will be successful, despite the militant group ending its call for a ceasefire. Sharif says the group has to lay down its arms and respect the Constitution.

Meanwhile. the Pakistani Taliban has made it clear it does not accept the Pakistani Constitution and says it is committed to enforcing its brand of Sharia law across the country. Since the group began its campaign of violence in 2007, thousands of people have been killed in bomb and gun attacks.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 29, 2015

What's next for Taliban after Mullah Omar's reported death? -- Tim Lister, CNN

Dead or alive? The story of the Taliban's missing leader Mohammed Omar -- Jason Burke, The Guardian

A Leaderless Taliban Benefits Islamic State -- Eli Lake & Josh Rogin, Bloomberg

Japan’s Strategy for Central Asia -- Samuel Ramani, The Diplomat

Tikrit In Ruins After Saddam Hometown Liberated From ISIS -- Hélène Sallon, World Crunch

Erdogan's Wars -- Bloomberg editorial

Exposed: China's Economy Won't Collapse -- Milton Ezrati, National Interest

Gazprom Putting The Squeeze On Turkmenistan -- Martin Vladimirov, Oil Price

Russia Can't Help Being a Gold Bug -- Noah Feldman, Bloomberg

Greece’s Relentless Exodus -- James Angelos, NYT

How the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel digs its tunnels. -- Monte Reel, New Yorker

US-Turkey military deal: A turning point in Obama's handling of Syria crisis? -- Howard LaFranchi, CSM

Iran deal: Why don't Americans like it? -- Aaron David Miller, CNN

It’s Simple: Under This Deal, Iran Will Have Nuclear Weapons in Little Over a Decade -- Jeff Robbins, Observer

Why Is the U.S. Releasing Israeli Spy Jonathan Pollard? -- Michael Weiss, Daily Beast

China Conducts Massive Military Exercises In The South China Sea



Washington Times: China fills South China Sea with over 100 ships for live-fire military drills

More than 100 Chinese ships sailed into the South China Sea for military drills on Tuesday.

“All sorts of information technology tactics,” were used during the training, which also required dozens of aircraft and China’s nuclear force, China Military Online reported.

The training exercises are likely to infuriate the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries, which dispute China’s claims on the Spratly Islands.

China Military Online reported that the training also took place in “a complex electromagnetic environment” involving many types of munitions, Reuters reported.

WNU Editor: China is laying the groundwork to do this .... Experts Worry China May Soon Establish South China Sea ADIZ (VOA).

More News On China's Military exercises In The South China Sea

China Conducts Military Drill in Disputed South China Sea Involving Live Fire, Philippines Calls for Transparency -- China Topix
China conducts air, sea drills in South China Sea -- Reuters
China’s PLA Launches Massive War Games in South China Sea -- Sputnik
China Conducts Live Firing Drill In Disputed South China Sea -- AFP
China conducts South China Sea live drill 'to improve at-sea combat ability' -- The Guardian
China's Navy Tests 'Maritime Combat Ability' in the South China Sea -- Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat
Vietnam Slams Chinese Naval Drill in South China Sea -- The Diplomat
China military exercises set to deepen concerns in region -- Financial Times

Pentagon Report: Climate Change Is A Threat To National Security


Washington Times: Climate change ‘urgent and growing threat’ to national security: Pentagon

A new Pentagon report says that climate change is an “urgent and growing threat to our national security” and blames it for “increased natural disasters” that will require more American troops designated to combat bad weather.

Some studies have questioned whether such a trend exists.

Says the Pentagon report released Wednesday, “Global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. national security interests over the foreseeable future because it will aggravate existing problems — such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions — that threaten domestic stability in a number of countries.”

Update #1: DoD Releases Report on Security Implications of Climate Change -- DoD Buzz
Update #2: Pentagon Spent $22,000 to Write 14-Page Report on Climate Change -- Washington Free Beacon
Update #3: Defense Department to Congress: Global warming is a 'present security threat' -- Mashable

WNU Editor: A lot of generalities, a few select footnotes, the same doom and gloom predictions that I have been hearing for over a decade (and counting). The full report .... “Report on National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate” .... can be found here.

U.S. Congressional Hearings On The Iran Nuclear Deal Continue



NBC: Kerry Back on Hill Facing Tough Questions on Iran Deal

Secretary of State John Kerry is back on the Hill again today after facing critical questions from House members Tuesday on the Iran nuclear deal.

This time he is testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, along with Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey and answering questions not only on the nuclear agreement with Iran, but also what it means for military balance in the Middle East.

"Let me underscore — the alternative to the deal we've reached isn't a better deal — some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran's complete capitulation. That's a fantasy plain and simple," Kerry said on Wednesday during his opening statements. "The choice we face is between a deal that will ensure Iran's nuclear program is limited, rigorously scrutinized, and wholly peaceful or no deal at all."

WNU Editor: No one is happy, but when the voting starts it will be split along party lines.

More News On Today's U.S. Congressional Hearings On The Iran Nuclear Deal

Obama works overtime to sell Iran deal -- USA Today
The Obama Administration’s Campaign for the Iran Deal Is in Full Force -- National Journal
Dems clash with Kerry over Iran deal -- The Hill
McCain says Iran deal increases risk of Middle East conflict -- Washington post
Senior US senator slams Iran nuclear deal as 'shopping spree' -- AP
Schumer still mum, but White House gets key Iran deal backer -- CNN
Many Democrats Not Ready To Decide Which Way To Vote On Iran Deal -- Daily Caller
Three Cabinet Secretaries Crashed John McCain’s Iran Hearing -- Defense One
Treasury: No, Iran Is Not Getting $150 Billion From The Nuclear Deal -- Huffington post
Ash Carter warns ‘no target out of reach’ in Iran -- Politico
Defense Secretary Carter: Successful Iran nuclear deal preferable to military strike -- US News and World Report
Top military leader: Deal keeps Iran from atomic weapon -- AP

World Population Set To Hit 9.7 Billion People By 2050


Daily Mail: World population is set to hit 9.7billion by 2050 with India overtaking China as the world's most populous country within seven years

* UN experts believe there will be an extra 2.4 billion people within 35 years
* By 2100, the UN claims the figure could increase to more than 11.2 billion
* The population of 28 African countries is expected to double by 2050
* Within 35 years, Nigeria is expected to have a larger population that the US

The world's population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050 as India becomes the largest country, the UN has reported.

In 35 years' time, there will be an extra 2.4 billion people in the world owing to high fertility rates in a handful of countries.

The UN predicts that the figure will rise to 11.2 billion by 2100.

More News On UN Predictions For World Population Growth

UN projects world population to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, driven by growth in developing countries -- UN News Centre
Global population set to hit 9.7 billion people by 2050 despite fall in fertility -- The Guardian
India Will Be Most Populous Country Sooner Than Thought, U.N. Says -- NYT
World population projected to hit 11.2 billion by 2100 -- Al Jazeera
Global Population to Top 11Bln by End of Century -- Sputnik

Ukraine's Regular Army Remains Disorganized And Poorly Equipped

US and Ukrainian soldiers attend an opening ceremony of the joint Ukrainian-US military exercise 'Fearless Guardian' at the Yavoriv training ground in the western region of Lviv on April 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Yuriy Dyachyshyn)

Reuters: Guns and underpants: Ukrainian army hobbled by bureaucratic woes

After more than a year of fighting in eastern Ukraine, the country's regular army remains disorganized and poorly equipped. "The Defense Ministry needed to test underpants for a year before approving them for use. I'm not kidding," President Petro Poroshenko told a meeting of regional chiefs this month.

Building up an army to withstand the threat from Russia and pro-Russian separatists has been a formidable task. When Moscow annexed Crimea and conflict erupted in Ukraine's east, Kiev had outdated Soviet equipment and just 180,000 troops, of whom only 5,000 were battle ready, according to a speech Poroshenko made last month. The government has since boosted military spending to an unprecedented 5 percent of gross domestic product and increased troop numbers to 250,000. Some 50,000 are actively serving in the east.

But examples of incompetence and corruption within the military regularly appear in Ukrainian media. In June, Segodnya newspaper reported that an administrative error had left eight servicemen on their way to the front stranded for days in the city of Kharkiv.

Update: Ukraine Military Seeks to Modernize Past Soviet Era -- Defense News

WNU Editor: The U.S. is still committed to training the Ukraine Army .... U.S. to Train More Ukrainian Troops (Time) .... my advice to the U.S. and other NATO countries who want to boost the Ukraine Army .... start from scratch.