Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hezbollah Sees No End To Syria War

Lebanon's Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem gestures as he speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Beirut's suburbs, April 7, 2014. Reuters/ Issam Kobeisi

Reuters: Hezbollah sees no end to Syria war, Mideast at risk of partition

Lebanon's Hezbollah says the Middle East is at risk of partition and sees no end to the war in Syria, where it is fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad against insurgents supported by his regional enemies.

Sheikh Naim Qassem, deputy leader of the Iranian-backed group, said the insurgents would be unable to topple the Assad government despite their recent gains in battle, including this week's capture of Palmyra by the Islamic State jihadist group.

In an interview with Reuters, Qassem said Assad's allies - Iran, Russia and Hezbollah - would back him "however long it takes". There could be no solution to the war without Assad, and it was time for "Arabs and the world" to realize that, added the white-turbaned cleric, speaking at Hezbollah offices in Beirut.

WNU Editor: The Lebanese civil war went on for years (1975 to 1990) .... Lebanon's Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem appears resigned to the real possibility that the Syrian civil war may actually break that record.

Top Iran General: Tel Aviv Will Be Destroyed By 80,000 Hezbollah Rockets If Israel Attacks Iran



Times of Israel: Iran: If Israel attacks, Hezbollah will ‘destroy Tel Aviv’

Tehran’s proxy Hezbollah has more than 80,000 rockets ready to target Israel, says supreme leader’s military adviser

A senior Iranian military official warned on Thursday that any Israeli attack would unleash a firestorm of missiles on its cities fired by the Islamic Republic’s Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.

The Shiite militia has more than 80,000 rockets ready to fire at Tel Aviv and Haifa, said General Yahya Rahim Safavi, military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.


WNU Editor: A rare admission from Iran that Hezbollah has 80,000 rockets aimed at Israel.


More News On Iranian Claims That Aviv Will Be Destroyed By 80,000 Hezbollah Rockets If Israel Attacks Iran

Iran warns Israel of Hezbollah rockets -- AFP
Iran: We Have 800,000 Missiles to 'Rain Down on Tel Aviv' -- Arutz Sheva
Iran to the UN Security Council: Israel threatens to nuke us -- i24 News
Iran Could Raze Tel-Aviv to Ground if Israel Attacks – Top General -- Sputnik
Gen. Safavi: 80,000 Hezbollah Rockets Ready to Hit "Israel" -- Al Manar
Iran monitoring US moves in Persian Gulf: Official -- Press TV

Israel Fears That The Obama Administration Will Not Put An End To U.S. Policy Of Hiding Israel's Nuclear 'Secrets'

Dimona nuclear reactor circa 1960s. National Security Archive/Flash 90

Eli Lake, Bloomberg: Israel Fears Obama Will Stop Hiding Its Nuclear 'Secret'

The Israeli government is worried the Obama administration will allow a U.N. conference this week to adopt a resolution that could compel Israel to acknowledge its nuclear arsenal.

At issue is a proposal at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference that would empower the U.N. secretary general to organize a conference to pursue a Middle East free of nukes and other weapons of mass destruction.

Israel is one of three nuclear states (along with Pakistan and India) that have not signed the treaty. But unlike Pakistan and India, Israel has never formally acknowledged that it has nuclear weapons.

WNU Editor:
Sorry Mr. Lake .... but the White House has already blown their cover .... U.S. Government Reveals Israel's Nuclear Program And Secrets.

A Brutal Assessment From NBC Reporter Richard Engel On President Obama's Strategy Against The Islamic State



WNU Editor: A brutal analysis .... and I agree with it 100%.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- May 21, 2015



Martin Chulov, The Guardian: Ramadi and Palmyra: 'Whoever didn’t make it out was killed later on by Isis'

Terror group faced little resistance from local forces in Iraq and Syria, prompting re-evaluations across a region that had sensed it might be in retreat

Islamic State fighters are celebrating their second major conquest in a week in Syria and Iraq as they pick through the ruins of the historic city of Palmyra.

The sudden advance of the militants into the UN heritage site in central Syria resulted in the rout of a national army, the exodus of refugees and a fresh pulse of regional alarm at the resilience of the self-styled caliphate force.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- May 21, 2015

Is Fall of Palmyra a Strategic Loss for Syria? -- Heather Murdock, VOA

Could Palmyra Be a Turning Point for Syria? -- Marc Champion, Bloomberg

Will ISIS Wreck Ruin-Rich Palmyra? -- James Romm, Daily Beast

Inside Palmyra, the Ancient City ISIS Just Sacked --Michael Weiss, Daily Beast

Islamic State's War on Art Turns a Profit -- Erin L. Thompson, Bloomberg

Iran Isn’t Budging. Will Obama? -- Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary

How Obama Alienated the Arab World and Destroyed US Credibility -- Deroy Murdock, Algemeiner

Relying on the U.S. for security is a mistake -- Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Al Arabiya

Israel silent while Hamas digs tunnels -- Shlomi Eldar, Middle East Monitor

Beijing Won’t Back Down -- Peter Neville-Hadley, WSJ

Beware China's Grand Strategy -- Jeff M. Smith, Foreign Affairs

A Net Assessment of the World -- George Friedman, Stratfor

Europe Remains Far From Recovery -- David McHugh, RCW

Nazis Triumph Over Communists in Ukraine -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Obama Insists It’s ‘Not a New Cold War,’ But It Sure Looks Like One -- Noah Rothman, Commentary

Russia Strikes Back at Europe's Energy Games -- Kristine Berzina, RCW

How Somalia’s Al Shabaab Turned Against Its Own Foreign Fighters -- Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept

Bin Laden's Surprising Taste in Literature -- Adam Chandler, The Atlantic

We're getting to know just how different ISIS is from al Qaeda -- Natasha Bertrand, business Insider

World News Briefs -- May 21, 2015



Reuters: Islamic State says it has full control of Syria's Palmyra

Islamic State fighters tightened their grip on the historic Syrian city of Palmyra on Thursday and overran Iraqi government defenses east of Ramadi, the provincial capital that they seized five days earlier.

The twin successes not only pile pressure on Damascus and Baghdad but throw doubt on a U.S. strategy of relying almost exclusively on air strikes to support the fight against Islamic State.

U.S. and coalition forces had conducted 18 air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq since Wednesday, the U.S. military said.


MIDDLE EAST

Islamic State fighters overrun Iraqi govt lines east of Ramadi.

Fears mount over Palmyra as IS expands territory in Syria.

ISIL captures last Syria-controlled border crossing with Iraq.

IS poised to seize huge Syrian arms depot.

Iraq vet lawmaker: 'Too late' to retake Iraqi cities from ISIS.

Exclusive: Turkish intelligence helped ship arms to Syrian Islamist rebel areas.

Saudi shells hit Yemen aid office, killing five refugees: local official.

UN Yemen talks face hurdles amid political bickering.

Iran aid ship reaches Djibouti waters, waits to enter port: activist. Report: Iranian ship with Yemen aid has arrived in Djibouti.

Mideast youth unemployment rises amid post-Arab Spring chaos.

ASIA

Russia closes NATO supply corridor to Afghanistan.

Officials: Airstrikes kill 15 militants in northwest Pakistan.

U.S. Navy documents new islands being built in South China Sea.

China university denies U.S. economic espionage charges.

Rohingya migrant crisis eases, but hard questions remain.

Bugged phones and double barbed wire: far fewer North Koreans defect.

Cambodia takes first refugees from Australia in aid-for-refugees deal.

AFRICA

Gaddafi's home town falls to Islamic State in anarchic Libya.

Libyan army troops killed in push for Benghazi.

Somalia: Kenyan fighter jets bombed Al Shabab bases in Somalia.

South Sudanese army claims capture of rebel stronghold.

Aid groups raise fears of escalating violence in South Sudan.

Cholera kills Burundi refugees as aid agencies struggle.

Former Boko Haram captives still held by Nigerian military.

Tunisia says Moroccan held in Italy supplied weapons for museum attackers.

Obama designates Tunisia as major non-NATO ally.

Greepeace: Hundreds of Chinese boats illegally fishing in African waters.

EUROPE

Ukrainian forces says two drones shot down over war zone are Russian.

Soldier dies as fighting erupts in Ukraine's east.

Ukraine rips up key cooperation deals with Russia.

Germany’s Merkel dashes Ukraine’s EU membership hopes.

EU defies Russian 'bully' but disappoints ex-Soviets.

Deposit freezes at Greek banks 'likely' - Moody's.

Greece debt: Varoufakis 'taped confidential EU meeting'.

Terror threat: Belfast most dangerous city in Europe – risk analysts.

Italy passes law to tackle rampant corruption.

Italy rescues more than 900 migrants at Sea.

Spaniards to overturn 40 years of predictable politics in regional vote.

AMERICAS

McCain rips Obama administration over losses in Middle East.

Canadian jets strike Islamic State staging area in Syria.

US lawmakers scramble to avoid lapse in domestic surveillance.

U.S., Cuba talks resume with focus on opening embassies.

Guatemala president fires ministers amid corruption scandal.

Brazil blogger known for reporting on corruption found decapitated.

Killing of 14-year-old girl alerts Argentina to femicides - rights group.

Santa Barbara oil spill: Crude flowed 'well below' capacity in ruptured pipe.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Legion of foreign fighters battles for Islamic State.

US Court rules to keep classified ‘torture’ docs secret.

Months before U.S. raid, bin Laden considered leaving Pakistan compound.

Al Qaeda’s job application form: Do you want to be a suicide bomber?

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Gap between rich and poor 'keeps growing'. Rising inequality holding back economic growth, report warns.

Russia warns Google, Twitter and Facebook on law violations.

McDonald's faces worker pressure as shareholders meet. McDonald's boss 'proud' of wages he pays as thousands demand a pay rise.

5 scenarios for oil prices, including ‘meltdown’ (Commentary).

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- May 21, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Obama at the White House in October. Credit Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Bloomberg: U.S. in $1.9 Billion Arms Sale to Israel Amid Iran Deal Concerns

The U.S. has approved a $1.9 billion arms sale to Israel that analysts say is likely intended to offset its objections to the emerging nuclear agreement with Iran.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Wednesday on its website that the deal had received State Department authorization and will now be sent to Congress for review, where it is certain to be approved. The package includes 3,000 Hellfire missiles, 250 AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles, and 50 BLU-113 “bunker-buster” bombs.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- May 21, 2015

US, Israel exploring arms package to 'compensate' for Iran deal -- i24 News

Legion of foreign fighters battles for Islamic State -- AP

After the fall of Ramadi, the Obama administration weighs its options -- Washington Post

U.S. military confirms first civilian casualties in war against Islamic State -- Washington Post

Pentagon sending 2,000 anti-tank weapons to Iraq -- The Hill

Russia offers military aid to Iraq during PM visit -- Reuters

Moscow ready to supply weapons to Iraq to help fight ISIS -- RT

NATO Sees No Signs of Russian Nuclear Weapons Deployment – NATO Commander -- Sputnik

Russia Has Deployed Nuclear Systems: NATO Commander -- Value Walk

Russian army to receive over 250 planes and other aircraft in 2015 -- ITAR-TASS

Bad Business Practices: France Unwilling to Follow Mistral Contract Clause -- Sputnik

Will Finland Join NATO? Russian Military Activity Leads Finns To Question Neutrality -- IBTimes

Norway’s Top Spy Catcher Wary of Russian ‘Moles’ -- Sputnik

England's Submarines Are One Step from Nuclear Disaster -- Michael Peck, National Interest

Russian-Chinese naval exercise in Mediterranean ends -- ITAR-TASS

Ukraine Will Not Take Part in Creation of New Russian-Chinese Helicopter -- Sputnik

Internet the key front in China's battle with Western hostile forces: military paper -- Reuters

US Army told to get tougher with China, quit deferring to U.S. Navy in Asia -- Washington Times

Malware masterplan: NSA targeted Google & Samsung app stores to harvest data -- RT

Satellite photos of Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, before and after U.S. withdrawal -- Washington Post

Navy's new laser weapon: Hype or reality? -- Subrata Ghoshroy, Bulletin of the Atomic Sceintists

Boeing discussing international A-10 Warthog sales -- Flight Global

Army Tests New Acoustic Threat Detection System -- Defense Tech

U.S. Military Wraps Up Relief Effort for Nepal Earthquake -- NYT

Military: 2nd Marine killed in Hawaii crash of hybrid aircraft is 21-year-old from Arizona -- AP

Former military leaders ask for better Congressional oversight of women in combat -- Washington Times

We Need More Islamist Radicals in the Pentagon! -- Rubin, Commentary

The chasm between the security agencies and the Obama administration -- Mike Hayden, Washington Times

Letterman's last night: Top 10 (or so) military guests -- Army Times

President Obama: If Iran Develops A Nuclear Bomb It Will be 'My Name' On It

Reuters/The Atlantic

The Hill: Obama has 'personal interest' in preventing nuclear Iran

President Obama, in an interview published Thursday, says he has a "personal interest" in making sure Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.

“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” Obama told The Atlantic, referring to the pending nuclear deal between Tehran, Washington and five other Western powers.

"I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down," Obama added.

WNU Editor: President Obama is right about this .... Barack Obama: Iranian bomb would have 'my name' on (The Telegraph)

More News On President Obama's Remarks On Negotiating A Nuclear Deal With Iran

Obama Cites 'Personal Interest' in Locking Down Iran Deal -- AP
Obama has 'personal interest' in preventing nuclear Iran -- The Hill
Blame It On Obama: US President Wants To Be Held Responsible If Iran Poses Nuclear Threat In Future -- IBTimes
OBAMA: 'It's my name on this' if Iran nuke deal backfires -- Business Insider
Sanctions Relief Unlikely to Empower Iran Militarily - Obama -- Sputnik
Obama says Iran ‘rational’ about survival -- Times of Israel
Obama says he speaks ‘honestly’ about Israel, downplays Iran’s anti-Semitism -- JNS
Obama Explains How It’s Acceptable to Broker Deal with Regime That Wants to Annihilate Jews -- Bridget Johnson, PJ Media
Obama just hinted at something that could unravel his entire Iran policy -- Armin Rosen, Business Insider

President Obama: We Are Not Losing In The War Against The Islamic State


New York Times: Obama Defends Approach to ISIS Fight but Says More Is Needed

WASHINGTON — President Obama denied that the United States and its allies were losing the fight against Islamic State forces in the Middle East, but he acknowledged in an interview posted online on Thursday that more should be done to help Iraqis recapture lost territory.

While repeating his refusal to commit large-scale American forces to the region, the president said Sunni fighters in Iraq needed more commitment and training to take on fellow Sunnis aligned with the Islamic State. But he offered no regrets about his handling of the war and said in the end it would be up to the Iraqis to increase their efforts.

“I don’t think we’re losing,” Mr. Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg, a journalist for The Atlantic in an interview conducted on Tuesday just days after the Iraqi city of Ramadi fell to Islamic State fighters. “There’s no doubt there was a tactical setback, although Ramadi had been vulnerable for a very long time, primarily because these are not Iraqi security forces that we have trained or reinforced.”

Update #1: Obama: We're not losing against ISIS -- CNN
Update #2: Obama: 'I don't think we're losing' the fight against Islamic State --L.A. Times

WNU Editor: This blog has been chronicling and reporting on the rise of the Islamic State since the beginning .... including U.S. reaction to it. I still do not know what is the U.S. strategy to defeat this group even though President Obama feels supremely confident that his strategy will succeed.

Update: With the Islamic State on a "roll" .... Islamic State fighters overrun Iraqi govt lines east of Ramadi (Reuters) .... calls that the U.S. should change its "playbook" are rising .... Obama urged to ‘scrap’ parts of anti-ISIS playbook as Iraqi, Syrian cities fall (FOX News). Bottom line .... calls for deploying U.S. combat soldiers to both Iraq and Syria are now rising.

In An Interview With The Atlantic President Obama Discusses The Iranian Nuclear Talks, Islamic State, Saudi Arabia, And Israel

Reuters/The Atlantic

Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic: 'Look ... It's My Name on This': Obama Defends the Iran Nuclear Deal

In an interview, the U.S. president ties his legacy to a pact with Tehran, argues ISIS is not winning, warns Saudi Arabia not to pursue a nuclear-weapons program, and anguishes about Israel.

On Tuesday afternoon, as President Obama was bringing an occasionally contentious but often illuminating hour-long conversation about the Middle East to an end, I brought up a persistent worry. “A majority of American Jews want to support the Iran deal,” I said, “but a lot of people are anxiety-ridden about this, as am I.” Like many Jews—and also, by the way, many non-Jews—I believe that it is prudent to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of anti-Semitic regimes. Obama, who earlier in the discussion had explicitly labeled the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an anti-Semite, responded with an argument I had not heard him make before.

“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” he said, referring to the apparently almost-finished nuclear agreement between Iran and a group of world powers led by the United States. “I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”

WNU Editor: One can I say .... this Atlantic interview is a must read. The next few posts will be an analysis on this interview.

Ukraine Wants To Host U.S. Anit-Missile Systems On Its Soil

A Patriot anti-missile system (Reuters)

Washington Post: Ukraine says it wants a missile shield to protect against Russian aggression

MOSCOW — Ukraine wants a nuclear missile shield, according to the country’s security chief, something that would almost certainly provoke an aggressive response from Russia.

Ukraine is “rebuilding our ­missile shield, the main task of which is to defend against aggression from Russia,” Oleksandr Turchynov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said Wednesday in an interview published by the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform.

Turchynov explained that the new objective is part of a play to strengthen Ukraine’s defenses through “economic, political and military measures” as Kiev continues to fight a war against pro-Moscow separatists in the east. It also comes during a period in which Russia has said that it could deploy nuclear weapons to the recently annexed territory of Crimea. He called on “all leading countries” to help Ukraine defend itself against the potential nuclear threat from Russia through “interaction and systemic coordination.”

Update: Ukraine Open to Hosting Missile-Defense System -- AP

WNU Editor: The Russian response to such a deployment is ominous .... Moscow says it will retaliate if Ukraine hosts US anti-missile defenses (RT).

Ukraine News Updates -- May 21, 2015

Pro-Russian rebels take their positions on a street, during what the rebels said was an anti-terrorist drill in Donetsk, March 18, 2015.

Reuters: Ukraine reports fresh casualties in east, OSCE sees violence spreading

One Ukrainian serviceman has been killed and eight wounded in fresh separatist attacks, the military said in Kiev on Thursday, as the OSCE security watchdog warned of a "worrisome" spread of violence in eastern Ukraine.

Fighting has lessened significantly since a ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels was declared in mid-February, but both sides accuse the other of violations and casualties are reported almost daily.

"Fighting has not died down along a broad stretch of the frontline from Krasnogorivka to Svitlodarsk," Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksander Motuzyanyk said, referring to government-controlled villages to the west and north-east of rebel-held Donetsk city.

"The enemy is actively using heavy weapons ... The area of fighting is expanding," he said.

Ukraine News Updates -- May 21, 2015

Ukraine Fears Summer Offensive Despite Diplomatic Initiatives -- VOA
Ukraine rips up key cooperation deals with Russia -- AFP
Ukraine suspends military cooperation with Russia -- AP
Ukraine's president: 'This is not a fight with Russian-backed separatists, this is a real war with Russia' -- AFP
Learning from Uncle Sam: to Russia's annoyance, U.S. hones Ukrainian fighting skills -- Reuters
Russia upset over US training Ukraine soldiers -- BBC
Fighters captured in Ukraine admit to serving in Russia's army: OSCE -- AFP
Ukraine charges 2 suspected Russian soldiers with 'terrorist activity' -- CNN
Video raises concerns over Ukraine's treatment of Russian prisoners -- The Guardian
Ukraine Piles Pressure on Creditors Payment-Delay Powers -- Bloomberg
Ukraine Votes for Moratorium on Foreign Debt Payments -- WSJ
Ukraine wants roadmap to EU accession at Riga summit - minister -- Reuters
Germany’s Merkel Dashes Ukraine’s EU Membership Hopes -- WSJ
'Humanitarian suicide': Kiev backtracks on human rights pledge in Eastern Ukraine -- RT
On Mariupol’s Front Lines With Ukraine’s Mother Courage -- Anna Nemtsova, Daily Beast

Ukraine Honors Nationalist Groups That Committed Ethnic Cleansing And/Or Allied With The Nazis During The Second World War

A statue of Lenin in Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine. Symbols of Ukraine's Soviet past have become collateral victims of the struggle over the country's future. © Sergei Supinsky, AFP

The Guardian: Ukraine bans Soviet symbols and criminalises sympathy for communism

New laws also honour controversialist nationalist groups that committed ethnic cleansing or allied with the Nazis for part of second world war

Two new laws that ban communist symbols while honouring nationalist groups that collaborated with the Nazis have come into effect in Ukraine, raising concerns that Kiev could be stifling free speech and further fragmenting the war-torn country in the rush to break ties with its Soviet past.

The first law “on the condemnation of the communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes” forbids both Soviet and Nazi symbols, making something as trivial as selling a USSR souvenir, or singing the Soviet national hymn or the Internationale, punishable by up to five years in prison for an individual and up to 10 years in prison for members of an organization.

WNU Editor: For most Ukrainians .... they have far more pressing matters than reading up on news reports that Soviet symbols have been banned and that sympathy for Communism is now criminalized. But honoring nationalist groups that committed ethnic cleansing and/or allied with the Nazis during the second world war .... that is having an impact outside of the country. Kudos to the The Guardian for at least reporting on it .... this is another one of those stories that most Western media outlets have choose to ignore or underplay.

Anti-Government Protests In Kiev Are Turning Violent



MINA: Chaos in Kiev as Anti-Government Protest turns Violent

Clashes are reported in central Kiev where crowds of protesters are rallying against the economic crisis and the soaring cost of private loans. Local media say several people have tried to break into the Ukrainian parliament. The protesters have clashed with police and blocked the entrances to the parliament building.

The so-called "Financial Maidan" crowd is demanding that the parliament approves the law on restructuring private loans in foreign currency, which would convert people's debts into national currency at pre-crisis levels. The protesters have set fire to car tires and attempted to break into the Parliament building. Riot police have so far been able to hold them back.

Update: Clashes, tires on fire outside Ukrainian parliament in Kiev -- RT

WNU Editor: Just finished talking to a friend who also sits in parliament and has been witnessing these demonstrations/riots all day. What concerned him about the crowd is that they were not young men demonstrating .... but everyday middle aged Ukrainians who are upset that the economic crisis is now destroying their livelihoods, savings, and the ability to pay their household bills. He also believes that this is only going to get worse. What's my take .... he is right. On a side note .... no coverage from the Western media on this story.

Islamic States Continues To Fail In Gaining A Foothold On The Syria - Israel Border

Israeli soldiers walk near mobile artillery units near the border with Syria in the Golan Heights on January 27, 2015. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

IBTimes: ISIS Approaches Israel: Islamic State Loyalists Thwarted By Syrian Rebels Along Golan Heights Border

Islamic State loyalists in Syria have made attempts in recent weeks to expand the extremist group’s territory near the border with Israel, but have been twice thwarted by Syrian rebels along the Golan Heights. Israel has not yet responded to the incidents, even as mortar shells from the battles with ISIS fighters landed across the border into Israeli territory, Israeli news site Ynetnews said.

In the past, Israel has increased its forces in the Golan Heights near the Syrian border when shells fired by the Syrian army spilled over into Israeli territory, the Jerusalem Post said. However, Israel has remained quiet during the past two weeks as rebel fighters from Syria repelled militants loyal to the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Update: Islamic State finding it hard to gain foothold on Syria's Israel border -- Ynet News

WNU Editor: For now .... this is a "bridge too far for them".

Russia To Aid Iraq In Their War Against The Islamic State

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 21, 2015. (Reuters)

Bloomberg: Iraqi Premier Meets Putin as Islamic State Threat Grows

Russian President Vladimir Putin began talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Moscow on Thursday as accelerating gains by Islamic State pose a growing threat in the Middle East.

Abadi told Putin he hoped his visit to Russia would help the fight against terrorism in Iraq and in the region. Islamic State militants last week seized the city of Ramadi, 110 kilometers (68 miles) west of the capital Baghdad. The radical Sunni group, which controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria, on Wednesday also occupied the northern Syrian city of Palmyra, a strategic location that is home to one of the region’s most renowned classical sites.

More News On Russia Ready To Aid Iraq In Their War Against The Islamic State

Moscow ready to supply weapons to Iraq to help fight ISIS -- RT
Iraqi leader in Moscow for talks on investment, weapons -- AP
Russia ready to help Iraq defeat Islamic State: Lavrov -- Reuters
Iraqi PM urges Russia to boost role in fighting IS -- AFP
Moscow offers Baghdad military aid, investment -- Deutsche Welle
Isis: Russia pledges weapons to Iraq in battle against Islamic State -- IBTimes
Iraqi prime minister seeks Russian support against Islamic State -- Middle East Online
Iraq PM heads to Russia seeking more arms -- i24 News
Putin: Russia, Iraq expanding military cooperation -- Al Arabiya

U.S. Politics And The Rise Of The Islamic State

The U.S. Capitol Building is pictured in Washington, February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Washington Post: How Republicans hope to turn Islamic State into a problem for Democrats

DES MOINES — One by one, nearly a dozen GOP presidential hopefuls took the stage here last weekend for a Lincoln Dinner, each different in style and stature but all joining a rising Republican chorus that lays blame for the Islamic State terrorist group squarely at the feet of President Obama.

“If you fought in Iraq, it worked. It’s not your fault it’s going to hell. It’s Obama’s fault,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) said to cheers.

Even the event’s timing — hours after U.S. Special Operations killed a key Islamic State leader — did little to alter the pitch. “It’s a great day, but it’s not a strategy,” said former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

WNU Editor: President Obama has been in the White House for 6 and a half years .... and he has had a big hand (if not the only hand) in shaping U.S. foreign policy .... specifically in the Middle East. But as much as his policy may have failed in the Middle East .... bottom line .... the American public (at this point in time) do not relish the idea of going back and escalating our military involvement in the many wars and conflicts that are now raging throughout the region. In this environment the Republicans have a problem .... the options that many of them favor is not what the U.S. public is interested in. So as much as the rise of the Islamic State is raising U.S. concerns .... the U.S. public is tuned out.  On the flip side .... the group that deserves to be criticized is the peace movement. After years of being actively involved against U.S. wars .... they have been silent for the past 6 and a half years .... even though U.S. involvement in wars and conflicts continue to escalate and grow.

With The Islamic State Continuing To Win Battles, The U.S. Has Three Options On What To Do Next

Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province in Syria, June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Wall Street Journal: After Ramadi, U.S. and Allies Face Dilemma in Fight Against Islamic State

Three options: carry on, escalate or quit fight against militant group

The fall of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s largest province, has bared the weaknesses in the American strategy against Islamic State.

Evaluating how to respond, the U.S. and Western allies face three potential paths—to keep going with the current approach, to double down and start taking casualties, or to acknowledge that the Iraqi state is beyond salvation and leave.

Considering how intractable the conflict has become, all of these policy choices present significant risks.

“To be frank, you don’t have a hell of a lot of options,” said Anthony Cordesman, the chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and a former senior defense official.

WNU Editor: The fall of Ramadi was a surprise in not falling, but that only a few hundred Islamic State soldiers were able to do it even though they were outnumbered 10:1 and the Iraqi soldiers that they were facing were considered to be "the best". As to what are the three options left for U.S. and ally policy makers .... they are .... carry on, escalate or quit fight against militant group. Carry on will only mean a continuation of the Islamic State cementing its control in the Sunni regions of Iraq and Syria. Escalating will mean more air strikes .... but more importantly deploying ground troops .... an option that has very little if any political or public support in the U.S.. The third option is quitting .... but even if the U.S. and the coalition "quit" .... the Islamic State will only continue to grow and they have been very adamant that their long term goal is the establishment of a global Caliphate that will only threaten us in the future.

Islamic State Seizes Gaddafi's Home Town In Libya



Reuters: Gaddafi's home town falls to Islamic State in anarchic Libya

SIRTE, Libya (Reuters) - Standing guard at his frontline post, Libyan soldier Mohammed Abu Shager can see where Islamic State militants are holed up with their heavy weaponry less than a kilometer away.

The militants have effectively taken over former dictator Muammar Gaddafi's home city of Sirte as they exploit a civil war between two rival governments to expand in North Africa.

"Every night they open fire on us," said Abu Shebar, who with comrades on Sirte's western outskirts holds the last position of troops belonging to one of the two warring Libyan governments, the General National Congress, which controls the capital Tripoli and most of the west of the country.

More News On The Growing Chaos In Libya

Militias, Islamic State Extremists Clash in Central Libya -- AP
Ten killed as Libya's rival governments take on Islamist fighters -- Reuters
Libya says 11 killed in fresh Benghazi clashes -- AFP
Libya Islamists battle ISIS near Sirte -- AFP
ISIS claims suicide bombing in Libya’s Misrata -- Al Arabiya
Suicide car bomber kills two near Libya's Misrata - state agency -- Reuters
Islamic State Solidifies Foothold in Libya to Expand Reach -- WSJ
Isis: Mokhtar Belmokhtar defection shows the deadly threat of Libya -- IBTimes
Libya Still Reeling From 2011 NATO Removal Of Gadhafi -- Fire Dog Lake

With The Fall of Palmyra The Islamic State Now Controls 50 Percent Of Syria



FOX News: ISIS controls 50 percent of Syria after takeover of Palmyra, activists say

The Islamic State terror group now controls over half of Syrian territory after seizing the village and archaeological site of Palmyra Thursday, activists monitoring Syria's civil war said.

Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told the Associated Press the extremists overran the archaeological site, just to the southwest of the modern settlement on Palmyra, shortly after midnight local time.

In Damascus, state TV acknowledged that pro-government forces had withdrawn from the town. A Facebook page close to ISIS published a statement Thursday, purportedly from the group, saying "the soldiers of the Islamic State" completed their control of Palmyra. The capture came after government forces collapsed, "leaving large numbers of dead whose bodies filled the streets," it said.

WNU Editor: If one includes the territory that the Islamic State now controls in Iraq, one can then say that geographically speaking, the Islamic Sate now controls a territory that is larger than what the Syrian state controls.

More News On The Fall Of Palmyra

Activists: Islamic State seizes more than half of Syria -- USA Today
Isis 'now controls half of Syria' as ancient site of Palmyra falls into terror group's hands -- The Independent
Islamic State controls half of Syrian territory: monitor -- Reuters/Aol
Islamic State takes control of Syria's Palmyra in westward advance -- Reuters
Resident: ISIS is 'everywhere,' in full control of ancient Syrian city of Palmyra -- CNN
ISIS Strengthens Its Grip on Ancient Syrian City of Palmyra -- NYT
Islamic State Claims Full Control of Syrian City of Palmyra -- WSJ

China Warns U.S. Spy Plane 8 Times To Leave Airspace Over Disputed Islands



CNN: Exclusive: China warns U.S. surveillance plane

Above the South China Sea (CNN)The Chinese navy issued warnings eight times as a U.S. surveillance plane on Wednesday swooped over islands that Beijing is using to extend its zone of influence.

The series of man-made islands and the massive Chinese military build-up on them have alarmed the Pentagon, which is carrying out the surveillance flights in order to make clear the U.S. does not recognize China's territorial claims. The militarized islands have also alarmed America's regional allies.

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell told CNN's Erin Burnett Wednesday night that the confrontation indicates there is "absolutely" a risk of the U.S. and China going to war sometime in the future.

WNU Editor: The U.S. responds to these Chinese warnings .... US warns China over provocative 'sandcastles' in the South China Sea (Al Jazeera). My prediction .... once these islands with their airplane strips are completed, expect Chinese jets to confront these surveillance planes instead of just radio warnings.

More News On China Warning A U.S. Spy Plane 8 Times To Leave The Airspace Over Disputed Islands In the South China Sea

China says it’s entitled to keep watch over island claims -- AP
China warns U.S. jet away from disputed islands -- CBS
China issues EIGHT warnings to U.S. surveillance planes to get away from the airspace above disputed man-made islands -- Daily Mail
China warns US plane to leave airspace over disputed islands -- The Guardian
Report: China demanded U.S plane leave island airspace -- USA Today
Chinese navy barks at U.S. surveillance aircraft over disputed islands: ‘You go!’ -- Washington Times
Report: China Warns US Spy Plane -- VOA
Chinese Navy to US Surveillance Plane: ‘Leave Immediately!’ -- Epoch Times
Chinese warnings to U.S. plane hint of rising stakes over disputed islands -- Washington Post
China Asserts Right to Watch Skies After Warning U.S. Plane -- Bloomberg

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Editor's Note

Feeling under the weather this evening. I am going to call it an early evening. Blogging will return tomorrow morning.

Update Thursday 8:50 EST:  WOW!!!! I just woke up. Slept for almost 14 hours straight. I have not done that in years. I am up north right now in the middle of the woods all by myself. I guess the fresh air knocked me out. I have no idea on what is happening in the world right now .... but rest assure I will soon know. Blogging will return after I have made my cup of coffee.

Update #2: Military and Intelligence News Briefs, World News Briefs, and Commentaries/Analysis/Editorials will be posted later in the day.