Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Look At The Misery In Eastern Ukraine

Misery In Ukraine As Deadly Conflict Drives Civilians From Homes -- CNN

Donetsk, Ukraine (CNN) -- In the city of Donetsk, the devastation wrought by weeks of fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces is all too apparent.

And as the civilians caught in the crossfire sweep up the debris of their homes and livelihoods, they are hardened against a president they say is killing his own people.

Alexander Omelyavenko, a Donetsk resident, told CNN, "We are Ukrainian but they kill us so we probably need our own country. Because these people in Kiev, they are not brothers for us."

Another Donetsk resident, Victoria Khrushova, wiped away tears as she told how her family had been forced to hide from the shelling in cellars.

Read more ....

More News On The Suffering In Eastern Ukraine

Number of displaced inside Ukraine more than doubles since early August to 260,000 -- UNHCR
Ukraine conflict: UN says million people have fled -- BBC
At least half a million displaced by Ukraine conflict: UN -- AFP
Crisis in Ukraine displaces 260,000 from their homes -- UPI
UN says more than 1 million flee Ukrainian crisis -- ITAR-TASS
UN Says More Than 1 Million Ukrainian Refugees Fleeing Conflict Zones -- Moscow Times/Reuters
UN: 260,000 people displaced inside Ukraine -- ITV News

My Comment: The above CNN video report is a must see on how wide spread the suffering has become in this war zone, and how difficult it will be for the Ukraine government to win the peace in this region.

Is Russia Planning An All-Out Attack On Ukraine?

Russia Preparing an All-Out Attack in Ukraine? -- Sarah Kaufman, Vocativ

As Kiev and the Kremlin talk peace plans, pro-Ukrainian militias prepare for a Russian invasion in southern Ukraine 

Ukrainian forces withdrew from a key eastern airport on Monday after coming under attack from separatist fighters, allegedly backed by Russian tanks. Now the conflict is threatening to escalate even further, with residents of Mariupol warning that Russian troops are preparing to stage a full-blown attack on the southern city. Russian tanks reportedly arrived in the nearby city of Novoazovsk, Ukraine on August 27, and ever since then Mariupol’s citizens have feared a Russian-led invasion.

Among those sounding the alarms in Mariupol are members of the pro-Ukrainian militia “Hundreds of Soldiers of Christ,” who are fighting for a unified Ukraine and more Christian government leaders. The group is part of the Azov battalion, a paramilitary organization comprised of about 300 mostly far-right Ukrainian activists. The commander of the Soldiers of Christ, Dmytro Linko, told Vocativ via Facebook that as of Sunday, Russian troops were visible 15 kilometers from the front in Mariupol, where locals are digging trenches and preparing for battle. The Russian troops’ presence could not be verified.

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My Comment: Why prepare for a massive invasion for the world to see .... when what Russia is doing now is achieving all of their military objectives on the ground. But if I see 80.000+ Russian troops on the border coupled with forward deployment of air force units .... that is when I will say that a full scale invasion is going to occur. But for now .... Russia will support pro-Russian irregular and militia forces coupled with Russia's own special forces and small scale military units.

Ukraine Defense Minister Accuses Russia Of Launching A Great War

Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey

Ukraine Warns Of 'Great War' As Pro-Russian Militants Seize Airport -- Deutsche Welle

Ukrainian rebels have taken control of a strategic airport, with Kyiv's troops in retreat. Ukraine's defense minister said Russia was responsible for the militants' recent advances and warned of a major conflict.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey accused Moscow of launching a "great war" that could claim tens of "thousands of lives."

Ahead of talks with the separatists later this week, Geletey said Russia was behind a counter offensive by pro-Russia militants in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Geletey, in a message posted on his Facebook page, vowed that his country would: "immediately mount defenses against Russia, which is trying not only to secure positions held by terrorists before but to advance on other territories of Ukraine."

"A great war arrived at our doorstep, the likes of which Europe has not seen since World War II," he said.

Read more ....

More News On Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey Accusing Moscow Of Launching A "Great War"

Ukraine crisis: 'Russia has launched a great war' -- BBC
Ukraine accuses Russia of "undisguised aggression" as rebels advance -- Reuters
Ukraine Warns of Escalation as Obama Set to Visit Area -- Bloomberg
'Great war has started between Russia and Ukraine' -- itv24
Russia has started a great war and deaths will be measured in the thousands: Ukraine defense minister -- The Independent

Ukraine Civil War News Updates -- September 2, 2014

Ukraine Cites 15,000 Russian Troops and Rebels as Putin Threatens War -- Bloomberg

Russia stepped up its criticism of the U.S. over Ukraine as President Barack Obama heads to eastern Europe to reassure NATO members of their security.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Ukraine’s allies are stoking the five-month conflict and should back peace talks, even as President Vladimir Putin sought to calm concern over remarks his army could “take Kiev” in a matter of weeks. Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey said defenses must be strengthened in the face of a “full-scale invasion” by Russia.

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Ukraine Civil War News Updates -- September 2, 2014

Ukraine crisis: Russian forces reportedly seen in rebel cities Donetsk and Luhansk -- CBC/AP
Ukraine Shifts to Defense Against Russian Incursion -- WSJ
'Russian tank battalion' helps rebels make gains in east Ukraine, Kiev claims -- The Guardian
Ukraine withdraws from Luhansk airport after 'Russian tank column' attack -- The Telegraph
Ukraine's troops retreat from vital airport -- Al Jazeera
Ukraine Suffers Harsh Defeat in Eastern Town -- WSJ
Ukraine crisis: Government setbacks in Luhansk and Donetsk -- BBC
Ukraine clashes force troops to abandon airport before crisis talks -- The Guardian
Ukrainian Military 'Fighting Russian Tank Battalion' Near Donetsk -- Newsweek/Reuters

Ukraine crisis: 'Russia has launched a great war' -- BBC
Ukraine accuses Russia of "undisguised aggression" as rebels advance -- Reuters
Ukraine Warns of Escalation as Obama Set to Visit Area -- Bloomberg

Ukraine war pulls in foreign fighters -- BBC
Thousands of Russian soldiers sent to Ukraine, say rights groups -- The Guardian
HRW: Civilian death toll in E. Ukraine rising due to 'indiscriminate and unlawful' shelling -- RT

Russia calls for cease-fire with rebels, but Ukraine vows to keep up the fight -- Washington Post
Russia Calls on U.S. to Push Ukraine Into Halting Military Campaign -- WSJ
Russian foreign minister calls for immediate ceasefire in Ukraine -- The Guardian
Russian foreign minister urges 'immediate' Ukraine ceasefire -- Deutsche Welle
Hope US won't help Ukraine as it did Libya and Iraq – Lavrov -- RT
Ukraine crisis: US senators urge arms 'to fight Russia' -- BBC

Ukraine rebels pull back from independence demands at cease-fire talks -- FOX News/AP
Ukraine rebels seek "special status", crisis talks to resume on Friday -- Reuters
Pro-Russia Rebels Say They Will Settle For Autonomy In Ukraine -- NPR

EU proposes tough sanctions on Moscow as Ukraine rebels advance -- Reuters
Poroshenko to lead Ukraine delegation at NATO summit in Wales -- ITAR-TASS
UN Security Council meets on Ukraine crisis -- AP

Moscow ready to expose 'Kiev in two weeks' spin with Barroso call transcript -- RT
Russian presidential administration ready to make public Putin-Barroso conversation -- ITAR-TASS
Russia’s EU Envoy: Kremlin Ready to Release Recording of Putin-Barroso Phone Conversation -- RIA Novosti

For now, a tense quiet in Ukraine’s east -- Al Jazeera
We need to tell the truth about what Russia is doing in Ukraine -- Wesley Clark, The Guardian
Russia has started a great war and deaths will be measured in the thousands: Ukraine defense minister -- The Independent

Breaking News: American Journalist Steven Sotloff Beheaded By Islamic Militants

A new video appears to show the beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff .

Video Appears to Show ISIS Execution of Second American Steven Sotloff -- ABC News

A new video appears to show the execution of Steven Sotloff, the second American killed by a self-professed member of the Islamist terror group ISIS.

In the video, which appeared online today, Sotloff addresses the camera, saying, “I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now and why I am appearing.”

“Obama, your foreign policy of intervention in Iraq was supposed to be for preservation of American lives and interests, so why is it that I am paying the price of your interference with my life?” Sotloff says calmly as the black clad militant holds a knife casually at his side.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That American Journalist Steven Sotloff Has Been Beheaded By Islamic Militants

ISIS video shows beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff -- CNN
ISIS Reportedly Executes Second American Journalist -- Business Insider
ISIS video appears to show beheading of US reporter Steven Sotloff -- NYPost
Second American journalist beheaded by ISIS terrorists -- RT
ISIL Has Reportedly Beheaded Journalist Steven Sotloff -- The Wire
Steven Sotloff, American Journalist, Allegedly Beheaded By ISIS -- Huffington Post

World News Briefs -- September 2, 2014

NATO Leaders Set To Gather On Russia, Middle East -- Voice of America

LONDON - The leaders of the 28 NATO countries will gather for the first time in two years starting Thursday in Wales, in western Britain, with an agenda very different from the one they had for their last summit.

When NATO leaders last met in Chicago, Afghanistan was at the top of their agenda, and Russia was considered a partner in addressing issues like terrorism and nuclear weapons proliferation. This year, responding to Russia's annexation of Crimea and its invasion of eastern Ukraine will top the agenda.

The alliance faces a "changed world," according to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Read more ....


Iraqi military families storm parliament, demand answers after ISIS slaughter.

As battle lines shift in Iraq, Sunnis who welcomed the Islamic State fear retribution.

Syrian forces escalate assault on rebel-held Damascus district.

Israeli military downs Syrian drone over Golan Heights.

Israel slammed for West Bank land expropriation.

Hamas popularity 'surges after Gaza war'.

Saudi Arabia 'foils al-Qaeda attack plot'.

Egypt security forces killed in Sinai attacks.


China 'has breached terms of Hong Kong handover'.

Pakistan crisis: Parliament holds emergency meeting.

Afghanistan’s election stalemate casts shadow on NATO summit.

Philippines foil bomb plot aimed at airport, Chinese targets.

North Korea fires missile in Sea of Japan - reports.

Tensions still simmer between Vietnam, China.

Kazakhstan authorities on high alert after radioactive container goes missing.

Chinese authorities offer cash to promote interethnic marriages.


Scores killed as Boko Haram insurgents overrun Nigerian town: sources. Nigeria's Boko Haram 'seize' Bama town in Borno.

Nigerian military failing to defeat Boko Haram, report says.

US attempts to kill Al Shabab leader in Somalia.

Lesotho 'coup': Thabane calls on South Africa to send peacekeeping troops.

CDC director raises Ebola alarm.

MSF calls for military medics to help tackle West Africa Ebola.

Landmine kills 4 UN soldiers in northern Mali.

UN: 1 million Somalis at risk of hunger.

Was it a coup? Lesotho unsure amid political crisis.


Ukraine: Russian forces in major rebel cities. Russian forces reportedly seen in rebel cities Donetsk and Luhansk.

EU to announce new sanctions against Russia by Friday.

France bans Muslim worker from nuclear sites.

UK terror threat level raised to 'severe'.

Islamic State extremists threaten all of Europe, says Cameron.

UK PM: Police need power to seize passports of would-be jihad suspects.

Ukraine crisis leaves Estonia feeling vulnerable and isolated – again.

Poll shows record support for Scottish independence.

Swiss economy fails to grow as EU stagnates.


Rebels say no to Colombian military role in peace.

Cuba enacts new rules to restrict imports.

Detroit's bankruptcy battle begins.

Fast-food workers to launch intensified protests across U.S..

More than 30 teenagers escape from Tennessee prison.

Cost to raise a child in US continues to rise.


Islamic State accused of 'systematic ethnic cleansing' in Iraq.

Afghan militants Hezb-e-Islami 'may join Islamic State'.

U.S. military conducts operation in Somalia, Pentagon says. Details scarce on US operation in Somalia.

U.S. wont raise terror threat level even though U.K.'s is 'severe'.

Islamic State group becomes target of Arab satire.


Some fear auto industry returning to bad habits.

Six steps to Alibaba’s twelve-figure valuation.

Burger King has maneuvered to cut U.S. tax bill for years.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 2, 2014

Russia And NATO Square Off Over Ukraine -- AFP

Moscow (AFP) - Moscow declared NATO a "threat" to its security Tuesday after the Western military alliance announced plans to reinforce defences in eastern Europe because of Russia's alleged stoking of war in Ukraine.

Moscow's surprise declaration of a shift in its military doctrine came just ahead of a NATO summit in Wales on Thursday at which beleaguered Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will lobby US President Barack Obama for military help.

The Russian national security council's deputy secretary Mikhail Popov said NATO's plan for new defence units in eastern Europe was "evidence of the desire of US and NATO leaders to continue their policy of aggravating tensions with Russia."

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 2, 2014

NATO summit 'most important' since fall of Berlin Wall -- Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY

Wales summit will test NATO’s vision in wake of new threats -- Stars and Stripes

NATO plans new 'spearhead' force to counter Russia -- France 24

Nato to create high-readiness force to counter Russian threat -- The Guardian

NATO moving to create a rapid-reaction force to protect against Russian aggression in Eastern Europe -- New York Daily News

NATO May Hold Drills, Set Up Military Training Centre In Georgia – Rasmussen -- RIA Novosti

Russia warns NATO against military presence in Eastern Europe -- Deutsche Welle

Russia to adjust military doctrine due to NATO expansion, Ukraine crisis -- RT

Deputy Prime Minister: 'Russia Proceeding With Plans for Grouped Military Satellites' -- RIA Novosti

Russian Armed Forces to Receive Minimum of 230 New Planes, Helicopters in 2014 -- RIA Novosti

India-Russia pact planned for new BrahMos missile version -- DNA India

Xi Urges New China Military Strategy for ‘Information Warfare’ -- Bloomberg

Expansion boosts Woody Island's strategic use for China -- Want China Times

Japan's Military Spending -- The Economist

South Korean military to press homicide charges over latest death -- Reuters

Nigerian Military Failing to Defeat Boko Haram, Report Says -- Bloomberg

MSF calls for military medics to help tackle West Africa Ebola -- Reuters

Will ISIS Attack The UK? Britain Raises Terror Threat Level To Severe; US 'Unaware' Of Specific Threat To America -- IBTimes

Cameron lays out plans to counter UK jihadi threat -- CNN

US leaves Free Syrian Army leaders out of military planning -- Stars and Stripes/McClatchy news

‘Partner and Target’: NSA spying on NATO ‘friend’ Turkey -- RT

What the US military wants for missile defence: multi-use sensors in the Arctic - Squamish Chief

Pentagon to Open Drone Base in Niger - Reports -- RIA Novosti

U.S. Military footprints in the Sahara (Map) -- Washington Post

Army sees 'megacities' as the future battlefield -- Army Times

A New Military Handgun? The Modular Handgun System -- Daily Caller

25 rescued after Marine Corps helicopter crashes in Gulf of Aden -- Washington Times

Pilot in F-15 crash was decorated combat vet -- Stars and Stripes

Budget cuts force Ohio Army National Guard to postpone training exercises -- Washington Times

Nerves fray over CIA report's release -- The Hill

Did CIA Director Brennan dodge a bullet? -- The Hill

U.S.-made sneakers may be afoot for military recruits -- USA Today/Military Times

An Air Force Strategy Stuck in the Future -- Robert Farley, RCD

A Master plan to Counter China’s Growing Military Might? -- Harry Kazianis, War On The Rocks

Sharing intel can backfire for U.S. -- Howard Altman, Tampa Tribune

NSA Close Up -- Michael Brenner, Huffington Post

America’s next security threat: resource wars -- Stephen Kinzer, Boston Globe

No military dog left behind -- Jonah Goldberg, USA Today

UK Raises Terror Threat Level To The Fourth Highest Of Five Levels

UK Raises Terror Threat Level, Citing Risks Out Of Syria, Iraq -- CNN

London (CNN) -- The UK government raised its terror threat level Friday from "substantial" to "severe," the fourth highest of five levels, in response to events in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS militants have seized a large swath of territory.

"That means that a terrorist attack is highly likely, but there is no intelligence to suggest that an attack is imminent," Home Secretary Theresa May said.

The "root cause" of Britain's terror threat is "Islamist extremism," Prime Minister David Cameron said. The execution of American journalist James Foley is clear evidence that ISIS's fight in Iraq and Syria "is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles from home that we can hope to ignore," according to the UK leader.

Read more ....

More News On The UK Raising The Terror Threat Level To The Fourth Highest Of Five Levels

UK terror threat level raised to 'severe' -- BBC
Britain raises its terrorism threat level over Syria, Iraq -- Reuters
UK terror threat raised to 'severe' -- Channel 4 News
Britain on red alert: Terror threat level raised to ‘severe’ -- Washington Times
UK raises terror threat to 'severe', Cameron says 'attack likely' -- RT
UK PM: Police need power to seize passports of would-be jihad suspects -- CNN

Reflecting A New Chill In It's Relations With NATO, Russia To Revise It's Military Doctrine

Russia will update its military doctrine by the end of 2014 to reflect new security threats, including the expansion of NATO, US missile shield plans and the political crisis in Ukraine. © RIA Novosti. Alexei Druzhinin

Russia To Revise Military Doctrine In Response To NATO -- New York Times

MOSCOW — With NATO leaders expected to endorse a rapid-reaction force of 4,000 troops for Eastern Europe this week, a senior Russian military official said on Tuesday that Moscow would revise its military doctrine to account for “changing military dangers and military threats.”

In an interview with the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, the official, Mikhail Popov, deputy secretary of Russia’s military Security Council, called the expansion of NATO “one of the leading military dangers for the Russian Federation.”

Mr. Popov said Russia expected that leaders of NATO would seek to strengthen the alliance’s long-term military presence in Eastern Europe by establishing new military bases in the region and by deploying tanks in Estonia, a member of NATO that borders Russia.

Read more ....

More News On Russia To Revising It's Military Doctrine

Russia to adjust military doctrine due to NATO expansion, Ukraine crisis -- RT
Russia to Update Military Doctrine by End-2014 – Russian Security Council -- RIA Novosti
Russia 'to alter military strategy towards Nato' -- BBC
Russia reviews military doctrine, reflecting chill with NATO -- Reuters
Russia to revise military doctrine, responding to NATO -- UPI
Russia to review military policy towards NATO -- Al Jazeera
Russia vows to adopt beefed up new military doctrine over Ukraine crisis -- The Telegraph
'Encroaching on our borders will be met with all due consequences': Russia threatens NATO -- The Daily Mail

Kremlin Official: Putin's 'I Can Take Kiev In Two Weeks' Remark Was Taken Out Of Context

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin talking during 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Benouville Castle, France. Regis Duvignau / Reuters

Kremlin Says Putin's 'I Can Take Kiev' Remark Misquoted -- USA Today

Against a backdrop of the start of fledgling peace talks over Ukraine, a top Kremlin aide accused EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso Tuesday of breaching diplomatic confidentiality and of taking words out of context by quoting President Vladimir Putin as saying that he could be in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, within two weeks if he wanted.

The Russian president allegedly made the comments during a phone conversation about the Ukraine crisis with Barroso, who reportedly related them to colleagues at last week's European Union summit.

"If I want to, I can take Kiev in two weeks," Italy's La Repubblica newspaper quoted Putin as saying, implying that this could be the fallout if the EU stepped up sanctions against Russia.

In Moscow, Yuri Ushakov, Putin's foreign policy adviser, pushed back strongly, telling reporters that the president's statement, as apparently quoted by Barroso, was "taken out of context and carried a completely different meaning," the Russian ITAR-TASS news agency reports.

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Previous Post:
Russian President Putin: 'If I Want To I Can Take Kiev In A Fortnight'

More News On reports That Putin's 'I Can Take Kiev In Two Weeks' Remark Was Taken Out Of Context

Putin’s remark about “taking Kiev in two weeks” was taken out of context — Ushakov -- ITAR-TASS
Putin comment on 'taking Kiev in 2 weeks' taken out of context: aide -- Reuters
Vladimir Putin's '2 weeks to Kiev' taken out of context: Yuri Ushakov -- AP
Putin's 'I'll Take Kiev in Two Weeks' Comment Taken Out of Context, says Foreign Adviser -- IBTimes

Foreign Fighters In Syria Pose A 'Very Serious Threat' To The West

Chechen Omar al-Shishani (centre) led Jaysh al-Muhajirin before it split, and is now part of the al-Qaeda-affiliated ISIS. BBC

U.S., Foreign Fighters In Syria Pose 'Very Serious Threat' To U.S.: Lawmaker -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Hundreds of U.S., British and Canadian citizens who have trained with Islamic State fighters trying to carve out their own state in Iraq and Syria pose a "very serious threat" to the United States, a top Republican lawmaker said Sunday.

Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, urged the Obama administration to aggressively prosecute U.S. citizens who had trained overseas as it weighed options for how to respond to escalating violence by Islamic State militants in Iraq.

He said an attack on the Jewish museum in Brussels in May had shown a new push by extremist groups to carry out attacks on Western targets, and growing efforts to recruit backers on social media.

"I'm very concerned because we don't know every single person who has gone and trained and learned how to fight," Rogers told "Fox News Sunday."

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My Comment: The FBI disagrees with this assessment .... FBI: No credible threats to US from Islamic State (AP). What's my take .... we should worry.

U.S. Military Expands Operations In Africa With The Opening Of A Second Drone Base In Niger

The Washington Post. Craig Whitlock and Gene Thorp/The Washington Post. Published on September 1, 2014

Pentagon Set To Open Second Drone Base In Niger As It Expands Operations In Africa -- Washington Post

The Pentagon is preparing to open a drone base in one of the remotest places on Earth: an ancient caravan crossroads in the middle of the Sahara.

After months of negotiations, the government of Niger, a landlocked West African nation, has authorized the U.S. military to fly unarmed drones from the mud-walled desert city of Agadez, according to Nigerien and U.S. officials.

The previously undisclosed decision gives the Pentagon another surveillance hub — its second in Niger and third in the region — to track Islamist fighters who have destabilized parts of North and West Africa. It also advances a little-publicized U.S. strategy to tackle counterterrorism threats alongside France, the former colonial power in that part of the continent.

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My Comment: This is a continuing  response to the growth of radical extremist groups in Africa .... but what is disconcerting is that this strategy is nothing new .... and it has yet to limit the growth of these groups.

U.S. Carries Out Counterterrorism Strike Against Al-Shabaab In Somalia. Fate Of Al-Shabaab Leader Unknown

U.S. Carries Out Counterterrorism Strike In Somalia -- Washington Post

The U.S. military carried out a counterterrorism strike Monday against leaders of the militant group al-Shabab in Somalia, Pentagon officials said, although it was unclear whether the operation was successful.

Journalists in Somalia reported that suspected U.S. drones fired missiles near the port city of Barawe, a stronghold for al-Shabab. In a rare acknowledgment of its clandestine military activities in Somalia, the Pentagon said it had conducted a counterterrorism operation there but gave no details.

“We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement late Monday.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That The U.S. Has Carried Out ACounterterrorism Strike Against al Shabaab In Somalia

Somali officials say U.S. struck where al Shabaab were meeting -- Reuters
U.S. military conducts operation in Somalia, Pentagon says -- CNN
U.S. Troops Take Action on Militants in Somalia -- NYT
US troops mount attacks on al-Shabaab in Somalia -- The Guardian
U.S. military operation targets extremists in Somalia -- USA Today
US targets al-Shabab militants in Somalia -- Deutsche Welle
US Targets Al-Shabab in Somalia Strike -- VOA
US forces target al-Shabab in Somalia -- Al Jazeera
Al-Shabaab leader's fate unclear after suspected U.S. drone strike -- CNN
US reportedly targets leader of al-Shabaab with Somalia drone strike -- FOX News
Who did the U.S. try to blow up in Somalia? -- CBS/AP

Foreign Fighters Are Abandoning The Taliban

Credit: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

The Taliban Is Running Low on Foreign Fighters -- Robert

Hint—they’re all going to Syria

Just a few years ago, the Taliban was one of the two prime Islamist militant groups—the other being Al Qaida-aligned insurgents in Iraq—for foreign fighters around the world to enlist with. But with the self-proclaimed Islamic State on the warpath and new conflicts in North Africa, the Taliban has become less attractive.

Specifically, the Pakistani Taliban. That’s the subject of a new report in CTC Sentinel, West Point’s counter-terrorism newsletter.

As of July 2008, the Pakistani Taliban included around 8,000 foreign fighters, notes Raza Khan, a political analyst who authored the report. These fighters came from western Europe, the Middle East, China, Russia, India, and central Asian countries, particularly Uzbekistan. But today, only a few hundred remain.

There are several reasons for the decline. For one, American drone strikes have killed thousands of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s a powerful disincentive for potential recruits.

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My Comment: I guess better options exist elsewhere for these fighters .... and it appears that the Islamic State is where they want to be.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Afghanistan's Unity Government Agreement Has Collapsed

Afghan Talks On Unity Government Collapse; Crisis Deepens -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Talks on a power-sharing deal between Afghanistan's rival presidential candidates have collapsed, a top leader said on Monday, rekindling fears of ethnic unrest over disputed election results.

Under the terms of a deal brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the runner-up in the vote was to name a "chief executive" in a national unity government conceived to keep the lid on political tensions.

Abdullah Abdullah was runner-up in the official election results. Mohammad Mohaqeq, one of Abdullah's vice presidential running mates, told Reuters the two sides could not agree on the powers of the chief executive, accusing the camp of election winner Ashraf Ghani of hardening its position.

"The talks collapsed two days ago. The political process is now at a stalemate, we don't see any way out," Mohaqeq, a leader of the minority Hazara community, said in an interview in Kabul, as a months-long power struggle to succeed President Hamid Karzai showed no signs of a resolution.

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My Comment: This is a breaking news story .... and if true .... another disaster for Afghanistan and U.S. policy in the region..

President Obama Prepares To Head To Europe To Reassure Allies On U.S. Committment

U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference on the second day of the NATO Summit in Chicago (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters).

From Syria To Ukraine, Crises Fill The Obama-NATO Agenda -- McClatchy News

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama heads to Europe next week, looking to assure nervous allies of the United States’ commitment to the region, as NATO prepares to beef up forces amid fears that Russia will step up its provocations beyond Ukraine.

Obama arrives in Estonia late Tuesday, where he’ll meet with the presidents of the three Baltic states, along with U.S. and Estonian troops. He’ll also travel to Wales to meet with world leaders at a NATO summit, as the group that was created in 1949 to bolster security against the Soviet Union finds itself gearing up to respond to a new type of Russian aggression.

“The two stops are essentially part of the same effort to send a message to the Russians that their behavior is unacceptable,” said Charles Kupchan, senior director for European affairs on the National Security Council.

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My Comment: ISIS, Ukraine, Russia .... it is going to be a busy week. But will he be offering concrete policies and a plan of action separate from what has already been discussed .... I guess we will know in the next few days.

NATO To Create A Rapid-Response Force For Eastern Europe

NATO to Create a Rapid-Response Force for Eastern Europe, Officials Say -- New York Times

WASHINGTON — As Ukrainian leaders warned on Monday of “a great war” with Russia, NATO leaders meeting in Wales this week were expected to endorse their most concrete response yet to increased Russian military intervention in Ukraine: establishing a rapid-reaction force capable of deploying quickly to Eastern Europe, officials of the alliance said.

The new force of some 4,000 troops, capable of moving on 48 hours’ notice, will be supported with logistics and equipment pre-positioned in Eastern European countries closer to Russia, with an upgraded schedule of military exercises and deployments that are intended to make NATO’s commitment of collective defense more credible and enhance its deterrence.

Read more ....

Update: NATO to create new 'spearhead' force to respond to crises -- Reuters

My Comment: The creation of a rapid response force of a few thousand men is not going to impress anyone .... least of all Moscow. This is more of a PR exercise to give the appearance that the U.S. and Europe are doing something within the framework of NATO.

NATO Is At Odds On How To Counter Russia's Intervention In Ukraine

Nato Allies At Odds Over Response To Russian Aggression -- Financial Times

In late March, Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, made a plea to Nato: put 10,000 troops in Poland, permanently, he asked.

But to the consternation of many in Poland and the Baltics, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, last week slapped down any notion of Nato boots in a long-term positioning on eastern European soil during a visit to Latvia.

In the wake of Russia’s land-grab in Ukraine, the debate over how Nato should respond has been an impassioned one that threatens to divide the alliance.

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My Comment: NATO is in disarray right now. No leadership from the White House. And as for Europe .... a limit on how far they will go.

Ukraine Refuses Russia's Call For A Cease-Fire With Rebels

Russia Calls For Cease-Fire With Rebels, But Ukraine Vows To Keep Up The Fight -- Washington Post

MOSCOW — Russian officials pressed Ukraine on Monday to declare a cease-fire with separatists, but Ukrainians say they are locked in a war not just against the rebels but also against Russia — on behalf of Europe.

“A great war has come, the likes of which Europe has not seen since the Second World War,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said on his Facebook page Monday, adding that the fight must go on to “show that Ukrainians are not going to give up.”

Lost territory, trapped soldiers and increasing reports of Russian tanks and troops operating in eastern Ukraine have changed the course of events in the past few days. Newly emboldened separatist forces are bearing down on strategic targets, such as the port city of Mariupol — which the Ukrainian military maintains it can defend — and the airport in Luhansk, where troops retreated in the face of a rebel onslaught Monday.

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My Comment: The rebels have dropped their demands for independence .... and are willing to accept autonomy in a Ukraine. This is a shift (albeit a small one) .... but like the offer for a ceasefire .... the government in Kiev is not interested.

Ukraine Warns Of An Escalating Conflict

Ukraine Warns Of Europe’s Worst Conflict Since World War II -- Bloomberg

Ukraine warned of an escalating conflict in its easternmost regions as a rebel leader said talks this week may include negotiations for a truce.

The country’s military will take on Russia’s “full-scale invasion,” Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey said on Facebook today, a shift away from the government’s earlier communication that focused on an offensive against insurgents. Ukraine “must urgently build up defenses against Russia,” which is seeking “to advance to other areas in Ukraine,” Geletey said.

Ukraine and its allies in the U.S. and Europe are accusing Russia of dispatching troops and backing militias to open a new front in the conflict that the United Nations estimates has claimed 2,600 lives. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied involvement in the unrest. Talks today between representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the separatists will continue Sept. 5.

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My Comment: This assessment is probably correct.

Russia's Military Led Bloc May Deploy 'Pecekeepers' To Ukraine

Military servicemen during the Interaction 2014 military drill for the Collective Rapid Reaction Force of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, at the Spassk Training Center near the city of Karaganda, Kazakhstan. (RIA Novosti / Sergey Kuznecov)

Russia-Led Military Bloc Ready To Send Peacekeepers To Ukraine -- RT

The head of the CSTO says its peacekeepers are ready for any operations, including in Ukraine, but their deployment requires the go-ahead from leaders of all member-countries.

"Deployment of the CSTO peacekeeping force can be ordered only by the Collective Security Council – the supreme body formed with heads of state of the member countries. By a joint decision these leaders can order the use of peacekeepers both on the territory of the member-states and also outside their borders,” General-Secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization Nikolay Bordyuzha, stated on Friday.

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My Comment: If these reports are true .... it is another ominous development on where the Ukrainian civil war/Russian intervention is going. In short .... by officially positioning military forces in eastern Ukraine, it will then become a defacto state independent from Kiev protected by the CSTO.

Update: Here is another equally bad idea .... U.S. lawmakers call for arming Ukraine government -- Reuters

Is Russia's Version Of The U.S. Navy SEALS Fighting In Ukraine?

Russia’s Version Of The Navy SEALs May Be Fighting In Ukraine -- Business Insider/Bellingcat

The Instagram account of a Russian special forces operative reveals that members of the elite Alpha Group took part in military operations in Ukraine.

Ilya Gorelyh, who has been highly decorated for his service in special operations, has suggested that he and his colleagues took part in the fighting against Ukrainian forces.

On the 21st of July, Gorelyh posted a photograph of his car driving through the border crossing at Nehoteevka with the comment “we are already close, fucking Banderas”. The reference is to Stepan Bandera, who led a nationalist movement in Ukraine during the Stalinist era and who remains notorious in Russia for his collaboration with the Nazis.

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My Comment: Russia's Alpha Group .... like the U.S. Navy SEALS and The British SAS do not make it a habit to advertise their operations. But if I was a betting man, I would bet that some these units are now in Ukraine.