On display: an upgraded military relationship that could complicate U.S. strategy
BEIJING — Jeremy Page reports: When a Chinese honor guard joins a military parade in Russia’s capital this weekend, watched by China’s President Xi Jinping, it will mark more than just a symbolic recognition of the two countries’ contributions to the Allied victory in 1945.
China’s participation also reflects an upgrade of its military ties with Russia, including joint naval exercises and a revival of arms purchases, that could complicate U.S.-led efforts to counter both nations’ expanding military activities, analysts and diplomats say.
“They’ve basically come to a consensus that despite their differences over some national interests, they really face the same common enemy.”
The 102 Chinese troops who will join the Victory Day parade in Moscow on Saturday were seen during a rehearsal this week marching through streets near Red Square singing the Russian wartime ballad “Katyusha”, according to video footage posted online.
The only other foreign countries with troops in the parade are India, Mongolia, Serbia and six former Soviet states.
“I think they’re both sending a message that their relationship is stronger than outsiders generally expect and if others put pressure on either in their own arenas, the two will stand together.”
— Gilbert Rozman,an expert on China-Russia relations at Princeton University
The Chinese ships—two missile destroyers and a supply vessel — will then take part in joint exercises with the Russian navy in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time, according to Chinese and Russian authorities.
Both sides say the drills aren’t directed at other countries, but the timing, after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and the location, on NATO’s southern flank, have compounded Western concerns about an emerging Moscow-Beijing axis.
“The main significance is that the two countries’ navies are learning how to jointly project power into the other regions of the world,” said Vasily Kashin, an expert on China’s military at Moscow’s Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.
The Chinese ships’ visit to Novorossiysk could be seen as a response to NATO ships holding exercises in the Black Sea in March, he said, the message being: “Russia has allies too.”
On Wednesday, Russia’s government unveiled a draft cybersecurity deal with China under which both countries agree not to conduct cyberattacks against each other and to counteract technology that might disrupt their internal politics.
The rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing has been driven in large part by Western sanctions which have forced Russia to seek new markets for its oil and gas and new sources of investment.
Mr. Xi also appears to share a personal affinity with Russian President Vladimir Putin who is seen by many in China as a strong, patriotic leader.
The relationship, though well short of a formal alliance, is now developing a more substantial military dimension as Russia ramps up air and naval patrols around Europe and China seeks to challenge U.S. military dominance in Asia. Read the rest of this entry »
70 147 Kenyan students were massacred Thursday when Somalia‘s Shebab Islamist group raided a university, the interior minister said, the country’s deadliest attack since US embassy bombings in 1998.
“Unfortunately, we lost… a number of lives, we have not confirmed fully…”
“We are mopping up the area,” Interior Minster Joseph Nkaiserry told reporters, saying that four gunmen had been killed after Kenyan troops launched an assault on the final building where the insurgents had holed up for over 12 hours.
“The terrorists, 90 percent of the threat has been eliminated… we have been able to confirm that four terrorists have been killed.”
“Unfortunately, we lost… a number of lives, we have not confirmed fully, but it is in the region of 70 students, and 79 have been injured, nine of them critically,” he added.
The masked gunmen began the assault before dawn, using grenades to blast open the gates of the university in the northeastern town of Garissa, near the lawless border with war-torn Somalia, before attacking students as they slept. Read the rest of this entry »
Local media say that two policemen and a student have been injured and rushed to hospital, and Kenyan defence forces are said to have arrived at the scene.
It is not clear who is responsible for the attack, but Somali al-Shabaab militants have frequently targeted Kenya in the past few years….developing….
Police say Joan Kagezi, who was prosecuting the case of 13 men on trial for killing 76 people, was followed on a motorbike as she drove home
Joan Kagezi, acting assistant director of public prosecution, was murdered by men on a motorbike as she drove home in a suburb of the capital, Kampala police spokesman Patrick Onyango said. “They were trailing her on a motorcycle … They shot her dead.”
Her current cases included the trial of men allegedly linked to July 2010 suicide bombings targeting football fans watching the World Cup final at a restaurant and a rugby club in Kampala. Somalia’s al-Qaida-affiliated Shabaab militants claimed responsibility for the attack, the group’s first outside Somalia.
The trial of the accused – seven Kenyans, five Ugandans and one Tanzanian – began earlier this month at Uganda’s high court on a range of charges including terrorism, murder and membership of a terrorist organisation.
All but one have also been charged with belonging to the Shabaab. The case was due to resume on Tuesday.
Jane Kajuga, spokeswoman for the office of the director of public prosecution, confirmed the death of Kagezi, lead prosector in the bombing trial, and who also led the prosecution’s anti-terrorism and war crimes section.
“This is definitely a game changer for al-Shabaab and probably a turning point for the organization.”
The group said it had named Ahmed Omar Abu Ubeyd to succeed Ahmed Abdi Godane, who died of wounds sustained in the drone strike Monday in Somalia’s remote Lower Shabelle region, said the group’s spokesman, Abdiasis abu Mus’ab.
“This leader, Ahmed Godane, built the organization around himself for the past three years.”
— Abdi Aynte, head of The Heritage Institute, a Mogadishu-based think tank
“We will not sit alone,” he said, vowing revenge for a strike that appears to have killed not only Mr. Godane but several of his top aides.
Analysts said it was too soon to tell if al-Shabaab was indeed still unified or attempting to forestall its fragmentation after the death of a charismatic leader, who had sidelined or eliminated other powerful figures in the group since taking over in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »
“Here’s a man who comes into office and denies the existence of a war on terror.”
“And what do we see?” Krauthammer then proceeded to list attacks by Islamic jihadists in Somalia, Nigeria, Niger, Libya, Yemen, and, of course, Syria and Iraq. “It’s everywhere.”
“Obama persists in calling them ‘extremists.’ As if they are extremists for — what reason?”
[Charles Krauthammer‘s book “Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics”, available at Amazon]
“He will not call it by its name, Islamic radicalism.”
“He will not explain or concede that it is a worldwide movement, and he will not concede that what he’s done for these five years — underestimating, underplaying…(read more)
“We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate.”
— Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby
No further details about the operation in the African country were immediately available.
Al Shabaab is an Islamist group affiliated with al Qaeda that wants to impose its own strict version of Islam in Somalia. It ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when African peacekeeping troops marched into the capital, Mogadishu.
African and Somali forces have regained several towns this year, but rebels still hold other centers and tracts of countryside. Read the rest of this entry »
BREAKING: Large explosion, Gunfire at Somalia’s Intelligence Headquarters, Islamic Militants Attack a High Security PrisonPosted: August 31, 2014
MOGADISHU: Suspected Al-Shabab militants attacked Somalia’s intelligence headquarters in central Mogadishu Sunday, setting off a bomb and opening fire on the complex, police and witnesses said.
UPDATE (AP) — A Somali police officer says heavily armed suspected Islamic militants have attacked a high security prison in the Somali capital.
Capt. Mohamed Hussein said that armed men on Sunday morning invaded the Godka Jilacow prison, which also serves as a key interrogation center for Somalia’s intelligence agency.
Mohamed Hassan, a resident who lives near the prison in the neighborhood of the presidential palace, said he heard gunfire and explosions as soldiers and militants fought for the control of the notorious jail. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON—Putting the nation on alert against what it has described as a “highly credible terrorist threat,” the FBI announced today that it has uncovered a plot by members of al-Qaeda to sit back and enjoy themselves while the United States collapses of its own accord.
“We vow that we will not cease sitting around and laughing it up until America is reduced to rubble.”
Multiple intelligence agencies confirmed that the militant Islamist organization and its numerous affiliates intend to carry out a massive, coordinated plan to stand aside and watch America’s increasingly rapid decline, with terrorist operatives across the globe reportedly mobilizing to take it easy, relax, and savor the spectacle as it unfolds.
“We have intercepted electronic communication indicating that al-Qaeda members are actively plotting to stay out of the way while America as we know it gradually crumbles under the weight of its own self-inflicted debt and disrepair,” FBI Deputy Director Mark F. Giuliano told the assembled press corps. “If this plan succeeds, it will leave behind a nation with a completely dysfunctional economy, collapsing infrastructure, and a catastrophic health crisis afflicting millions across the nation. We want to emphasize that this danger is very real.”
“We have intercepted electronic communication indicating that al-Qaeda members are actively plotting to stay out of the way while America as we know it gradually crumbles under the weight of its own self-inflicted debt and disrepair.”
— FBI Deputy Director Mark F. Giuliano
“And unfortunately, based on information we have from intelligence assets on the ground, this plot is already well under way,” he added.
A recently declassified CIA report confirmed that all known al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations—from Pakistan to Yemen, and from Somalia to Algeria—have been instructed to kick back and enjoy the show as the United States’ federal government, energy grid, and industrial sector are rendered impotent by internal dissent, decay, and mismanagement. According to statements made by top-level informants and corroborated by leading Western terrorism experts, if seen through to its conclusion, al-Qaeda’s current plot could wreak far more damage than the events of 9/11.
“Once you get a taste for shutting people up, it’s hard to stop. Why bother winning the debate when it’s easier to close it down?”
The delightfully dyspeptic Mark Steyn writes: These days, pretty much every story is really the same story:
- In Galway, at the National University of Ireland, a speaker who attempts to argue against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) programme against Israel is shouted down with cries of ‘Fucking Zionist, fucking pricks… Get the fuck off our campus.’
- In California, Mozilla’s chief executive is forced to resign because he once made a political donation in support of the pre-revisionist definition of marriage.
- At Westminster, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee declares that the BBC should seek ‘special clearance’ before it interviews climate sceptics, such as fringe wacko extremists like former Chancellor Nigel Lawson.
- In Massachusetts, Brandeis University withdraws its offer of an honorary degree to a black feminist atheist human rights campaigner from Somalia.
- In London, a multitude of liberal journalists and artists responsible for everything from Monty Python to Downton Abbey sign an open letter in favour of the first state restraints on the British press in three and a quarter centuries.
- And in Canberra the government is planning to repeal Section 18C — whoa, don’t worry, not all of it, just three or four adjectives; or maybe only two, or whatever it’s down to by now, after what Gay Alcorn in the Age described as the ongoing debate about ‘where to strike the balance between free speech in a democracy and protection against racial abuse in a multicultural society’.
I heard a lot of that kind of talk during my battles with the Canadian ‘human rights’ commissions a few years ago: of course, we all believe in free speech, but it’s a question of how you ‘strike the balance’, where you ‘draw the line’… which all sounds terribly reasonable and Canadian, and apparently Australian, too. But in reality the point of free speech is for the stuff that’s over the line, and strikingly unbalanced. If free speech is only for polite persons of mild temperament within government-policed parameters, it isn’t free at all. So screw that.
This will not go over well for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
According to the new book “Double Down,” in which journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann chronicle the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama told his aides that he’s “really good at killing people” while discussing drone strikes.
Peter Hamby of The Washington Post reported the moment in his review of the book.
The claim by the commander-in-chief is as indisputable as it is grim.
Obama oversaw the 2009 surge in Afghanistan, 145 Predator drone strikes in NATO’s 2011 Libya operations, the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and drone strikes that killed the Pakistani Taliban leader and a senior member of the Somali-based militant group al-Shabab this week.
Daniel Greenfield writes: Clearly this is a problem that only can be solved with more Somali settlers moving out of the Midwest and into coastal states. And then Americans can finally experience Somali piracy without going anywhere near Africa.
These people are not Americans. They have no interest in being Americans. They’re sponging off America while sympathizing with Somali pirates. They’re no different than the Muslim terrorist supporters who move to Jersey City and send money to the Taliban.
Somalis living in Knoxville — and across the country — are anxious about the new negativity being circulated around the world by the actions of a few. The forecast isn’t getting any easier.
No other groups gets this treatment. This “backlash whining” in front of every story and after every crime. Now talking about Somali piracy, like talking about Muslim terrorism, becomes a hate crime that makes the poor dears feel unwelcome.
So let’s hear the response from patriotic Somali-Americans. Read the rest of this entry »
MOGADISHU, Somalia) —Abdi Guled reports: A member of the Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab and a Somali government intelligence official say a military strike, possibly a drone attack, killed at least two senior al-Shabab rebels.
The al-Shabab member, who gave his name as Abu Mohamed, said one of those killed was al-Shabab’s top explosives expert, known as Anta. He said a drone targeted a car carrying al-Shabab rebels in Somalia’s Middle Juba region.
A Somali intelligence official in Mogadishu said the attack occurred as al-Shabab members went to intervene in a clan dispute. The official insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to share intelligence.
Earlier this month, United States Navy SEALS attacked a coastal Somali town to take down a Kenyan al-Shabab member. The SEALs withdrew before capturing or killing their target.
Sophie Brown reports: Bodies recovered from the Westgate shopping center on Thursday are probably those of two attackers, according to a Kenyan official. Ndung’u Gethenji, who heads the committee investigating the Sept. 21 attack, said AK47 rifles were found next to the bodies, ruling out the possibility that they were soldiers since the army does not use those weapons.
Meanwhile, one of the suspected gunmen has been identified as Norwegian Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, 23, who was born in Somalia, the BBC reports.
More than three weeks on, it remains unclear how many gunmen were involved in the attack and whether any escaped. Authorities initially reported that 10 to 15 militants were at the mall but surveillance video appears to show only four men.
DEVELOPING: US Navy SEALS have conducted a raid of the Al Shabaab militant group in Somalia, killing at least one militant, Fox News confirms.
The group is linked to last month’s Kenya mall attack that killed more than 60 people.
In Somalia, officials say international military forces carried out a pre-dawn strike Saturday against foreign fighters in the town of Barawe. Officials say the strike was aimed at “high-profile” targets.
The strike comes two weeks after Al Shabaab militants attacked Nairobi’s Westgate Mall.
The strike was carried out in the hours before morning prayers in Barawe, the same town where Navy SEALs four years ago killed a most-wanted Al Qaeda operative, the officials said. Read the rest of this entry »
An off-duty member of the SAS emerged as a hero of the Nairobi siege yesterday, after he was credited with saving up to 100 lives. The soldier was having coffee at the Westgate mall when it was attacked by Islamists on Saturday. With a gun tucked into his waistband, he was pictured helping two women from the complex.
He is said to have returned to the building on a dozen occasions, despite intense gunfire. A friend in Nairobi said: ‘What he did was so heroic. He was having coffee with friends when it happened.
‘He went back in 12 times and saved 100 people. Imagine going back in when you knew what was going on inside.’ Read the rest of this entry »
Nairobi mall attack fits with Al-Shabaab’s motives
(CNN) — Peter Bergen reports: Al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s brutal Somali affiliate, has claimed credit for the attack by multiple gunmen at an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya that has already killed at least 59 people.
This should not be a surprise. For Al-Shabaab, the mall was an attractive target because Westerners, including Americans, frequented it. The mall is also in the capital of Kenya, a country that Al-Shabaab has good reason to dislike, as the Kenyan military played a major role in handing their forces a defeat last year when they liberated the key Somali port of Kismayo from their control.
Bridget Johnson writes: Al-Shabaab is claiming that there are American gunmen among those still holed up in the Westgate mall in a standoff with Kenyan and Israeli special forces.
The Somali al-Qaeda affiliate tweeted a series of names on its latest account before Twitter against suspended the group. Al-Shabaab has been creating new accounts each time they get shut down but a movement of pro-Kenyan tweeters has been tracking down the new accounts and complaining to Twitter.
“We received permission to disclose the names of our mujahideen inside #Westgate,” their latest account tweeted.
They proceeded to tweet the names one by one, including Ahmed Mohamed Isse, 22, “native” of St. Paul, Minn., Abdifatah Osman Keenadiid, 24, of Minneapolis, and Gen Mustafe Noorudiin, 27, of Kansas City, Mo.
Nick Gillespie writes: I’ve argued elsewhere that signs of the emerging “libertarian era” are everywhere around us, both in the voluminous and ever-growing positive press adherents of “Free Minds and Free Markets” and the increasingly shrill and misinformed attacks are drawing.
The latest example of the latter is on glorious, semi-literate display in the amazingly awful “Libertarians Are the New Communists,” by Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu and posted at Bloomberg View. Read the rest of this entry »