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Preview: Austin Bay from Creators Syndicate

Austin Bay from Creators Syndicate



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Last Build Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2017 15:06:12 -0800

 



The Islamic State's Bloody Defeat In Mosul for 11/22/2017

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800

On June 21, as Iraqi ground forces neared the center of Mosul's Old City, Islamic State fighters detonated explosives and destroyed the al-Nuri Grand Mosque.

For eight centuries, the building symbolized Mosul, which is why, in June 2014, ISIS senior commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the ISIS caliphate from a Grand Mosque balcony. Speaking freely in the great house of worship demonstrated Al-Baghdadi's control of Mosul. As an internet propaganda tool, video of his declaration confirmed he was a caliph, the religious-political ruler of an expanding militant Islamist territorial state.

Updated: Wed Nov 22, 2017




Have Iranian Threats Spurred a Saudi-Israeli Alliance? for 11/15/2017

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800

The Iranian-sponsored November 4 ballistic missile attack on Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh, continues to roil the Middle East — and it should.

Last week, I wrote a column arguing that missile attack signaled an escalation in the simmering regional war between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Iran's Shia Islamic revolutionary regime. Their proxy war in Yemen would become more intense and could spread to the Persian Gulf littoral.

Updated: Wed Nov 15, 2017




The Saudi Arabia-Iran War Escalates for 11/08/2017

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800

On November 4, a U.S.-made Patriot missile intercepted an Iranian-manufactured Burkan H-2 short-range ballistic missile as its warhead plunged toward the international airport outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital.

Though the missile was launched from Yemen, with good reason Saudi leaders called the attack an act of "aggression" by Iran. A human rights organization said the "indiscriminate" missile attack was "an apparent war crime."

Under any circumstances, the missile attack signals that war between the Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran's Shia Islamic revolutionary regime is escalating and their proxy war in Yemen will become more intense.

Updated: Wed Nov 08, 2017




North Korea's Criminal Sovereignty for 11/01/2017

Wed, 01 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0700

The economic and political sanctions regimen the Trump Administration has placed on North Korea and its corporate enablers may help undermine one of the dictatorship's most important industries: its global organized crime operation.

Military and diplomatic analysts agree that criminal organizations influence several ongoing wars. But crime syndicate participation is rarely a decisive factor.

However, trans-national narcotics trafficking organizations like Mexico's notorious drug cartels have the financial resources to bribe key government and law enforcement officials. They can also hire gunmen with military-level combat skills and arm these gunmen with better weapons than the federal police.

Updated: Wed Nov 01, 2017




Niger and the West African War on Terror for 10/25/2017

Wed, 25 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700

In his October 23 Pentagon press conference describing the U.S. military presence in Niger, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford demonstrated it is possible to address serious national security issues and finesse the current spate of domestic political hysterics.

"This area (in west Africa) is inherently dangerous," General Dunford said. "We're there because ISIS and al-Qaida are operating in that area."

Here's the predicate to Dunford's statement: on October 4, four U.S. Army Green Berets died in combat in Niger. They were part of a 12-man U.S. detachment accompanying 30 Nigerien soldiers on a patrol returning from the village of Tongo Tongo, near Niger's border with Mali. Five Nigerien troops died in the battle.

Updated: Wed Oct 25, 2017




As Benghazi's Port Re-Opens, Libyan Factions Start to Talk for 10/04/2017

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700

The UN and western diplomats are trying to put Libya back together again.

Previous diplomatic attempts to glue the broken state have failed — bloodily. The Libyan curse of regionalism is a major reason.

World leaders underestimated the damage done to Libyan society by dictator Muammar Gaddafi. During his four decades in power, Gaddafi savaged the country, leaving a legacy of torture and corruption. He exacerbated factional resentments. The factional resentments fed the regional rivalries and distrust that, in turn fired, the episodic warfare that has shredded Libya from 2014 through mid-2017.

Updated: Wed Oct 04, 2017




The Nationalist Aspirations in Kurdistan and Catalonia for 09/27/2017

Wed, 27 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Kurdistan and Catalonia both have long histories. That's one reason many Kurds and Catalans argue that they deserve their own nation states.

Iraqi Kurds voted September 25, and it appears a majority support establishing an independent Kurdistan in what is now Iraqi Kurdistan. Though the referendum is advertised as "non-binding," Kurdish leaders say the results will empower them to negotiate a "peaceful secession."

On October 1, Catalans will vote on secession from Spain. Current polls indicate Catalan voters will narrowly reject secession. However, ham-handed Spanish attempts to halt the referendum have sparked a pro-secession uptick.

Updated: Wed Sep 27, 2017




Russia's War in Ukraine and War Games in Belarus for 09/20/2017

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Russian President Vladimir Putin's personally expressed dismay at the collapse of the Soviet Union connects directly to two current events: Russia's war of conquest in Ukraine and the Russian Army's large-scale war games in western Russia and Belarus. By the way, the Russian military calls its war game enemy "The Western Coalition." The name deliberately incriminates NATO, the USSR's Cold War nemesis and an outfit on which Putin ritually blames 21st century Russian woes.

A minor dispute rages over the precise translation of Putin's April 25, 2005, USSR lamentation. Did he say that the USSR's demise was "a major geopolitical disaster of the (20th) century" or that it was the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century"?

The BBC and NBC News chose the "catastrophe" translation. Both renditions confirm the USSR's collapse appalled the former KGB colonel, who is now Russia's president.

Updated: Wed Sep 20, 2017




Congo's Vicious Kasai War Could Reignite The Great Congo War for 09/13/2017

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

In August 2016, small but violent conflict erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo's south-central Kasai region.

In the world beyond the Kasai region's five provinces (Kasai, Kasai-Central, Kasai-Oriental, Sankuru and Lomami) the cause of the violent outburst was unclear. According to initial reports, it involved a local grievance.

The Kasai region's relative isolation contributed to the lack of information. However, President Joseph Kabila's government wanted to limit news coverage. A self-serving decision made by his regime and related to the upcoming November 2016 national election was the "local grievance" that deeply offended hundreds of thousands of citizens within the region. Members of the dominant Luba tribe scorned Kabila's decision as an arrogant cultural insult and an outright political crime.

Updated: Wed Sep 13, 2017




Yemen's Odd War Is A Human Disaster for 09/06/2017

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Three civil wars with roots in Arab Spring revolts continue to plague the Arab world: Yemen, Syria and Libya.

Syria receives the most international attention. With over 500,000 dead that's understandable. Libyan battles over oil facilities also draw headlines.

Updated: Wed Sep 06, 2017




North Korea Targets Japan -- 1998 and 2017 for 08/30/2017

Wed, 30 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700

On August 31, 1998, North Korea bluntly informed Japan that the next time the Korean War escalated to all-out combat, Tokyo would be a target.

Pyongyang used a multi-stage Taepodong-1 intermediate range ballistic missile to deliver the diplomatic message as a military object lesson. The first stage of the rather poorly constructed missile landed in water west of Japan not that far from Russian territory. The second stage slammed into the North Pacific about 300 kilometers east of Japan.

Poor construction, however, had a virtue. A splash on either side "bracketed" Japan. Kentucky windage said the next shot could hit a Japanese home island.

Updated: Wed Aug 30, 2017




Interring the Islamic State in Iraq for 08/23/2017

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700

President Barack Obama's 2011 decision to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq was not based on the political and security conditions within the country. Obama's 2012 re-election campaign determined the withdrawal timetable. Obama intended to sell himself as a war-ender no matter the real world conditions.

No debate — Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Iraqi government blundered, repeatedly. But in Iraq American troops served as mentors, honest brokers and a reassuring security presence. When the GIs left the Maliki government's sins multiplied. One of its worst mistakes was sectarian favoritism in the security forces — giving unqualified Shia Arabs commands at the expense of more qualified Sunni Arabs, Kurds and other minorities.

Updated: Wed Aug 23, 2017




Practicing Coercive Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula for 08/16/2017

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700

On August 11, the U.S. island territory's Homeland Security Office of Civil Defense posted a website fact sheet entitled "In Case of Emergency...Preparing for an Imminent Missile Threat" in response to North Korea's threat to launch a volley of ballistic missiles in Guam's direction.

The fact sheet included a warning reminiscent of late 1950s Cold War "duck and cover" advice American citizens were to follow during a nuclear attack: "Do not look at the flash or fireball...it can blind you."

Guam, located west of the International Dateline, likes to call itself the place "where America's day begins."

Updated: Wed Aug 16, 2017




Floating A Diplomatic Solution In The South China Sea for 08/09/2017

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Beijing's slow but belligerent invasion of the South China Sea has created Cold War conditions in the sub-tropical zone.

For diplomats, the question of the moment is this: Can we craft a political accommodation that can keep the peace while ensuring sovereign territorial rights?

Updated: Wed Aug 09, 2017




Venezuela Slides Toward Civil War for 08/02/2017

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700

In the early morning hours of August 1, Venezuelan secret police arrested the country's most prominent opposition political leaders, Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, and quickly hauled them off to prison.

Lopez is the gutsy leader of the Popular Will Party and a former mayor of Caracas. Ledezma also served as mayor of Caracas and is a long-time critic of President Nicolas Maduro and his bombastic predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

Updated: Wed Aug 02, 2017




Time for a Free World Bullet for 07/26/2017

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700

The allies should use their anti-missile missiles to intercept a North Korean ballistic missile test launch. Whatever its operational code name — Operation Return Of Serve is amusing — intercepting a Pyongyang missile test has military and political utility.

North Korea's regime, led by rotund dictator Kim Jong Un, has invested its scant resources and Kim's personal prestige in its weapons programs. The regime has bet on strategic policy of implacable belligerence backed by the development of long-range offensive missiles and nuclear weapons.

Updated: Wed Jul 26, 2017




Mosul and Urban Warfare for 07/19/2017

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700

On July 10, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared coalition forces had won a "total victory" in their fight to free the city of Mosul. Since June 2014, the unfortunate city had been occupied by ISIS terrorists.

Abadi's claim of total victory was premature. In the following days, several small firefights erupted around the city. ISIS fighters reportedly entered a liberated village outside Mosul. Had they been hiding, planning to stage "stay behind" attacks on coalition forces? Or were they fleeing? Who knows. In city fights, flickering resistance may continue for weeks after the major battle is done.

Offensive operations to free Mosul officially began on October 16, 2016. "Shaping operations" to prepare for the decisive assault arguably began in 2015. Throughout the campaign the Iraqi government, fragile as it is, remained patient and persistent. To defeat the Islamic State, Iraqi Army and police units conducted operations with pro-Iranian Shia militias of suspect loyalty and Kurdish militias who disdain Baghdad. The government sought U.S. and NATO help, air support first and foremost, but also special operations personnel, the U.S. Marines and Army artillery units, and intelligence and logistics support.

Updated: Wed Jul 19, 2017




Responding to North Korea's Fourth of July ICBM for 07/12/2017

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700

North Korea's Kwasong-14/KN-14 intercontinental ballistic missile test launch was by far the Fourth of July's most disturbing firework.

Spoiling America's birthday was Pyongyang's goal. In fact, for the Kim dictatorship, it's an old hat propaganda tactic. On July 4, 2009, North Korea test-fired seven short-range missiles. July 4 missile displays send a provocative signal: the North Korean dictatorship is targeting the U.S.

Updated: Wed Jul 12, 2017




When Organized Crime Connects to International Terror for 06/28/2017

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700

In a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing held June 14, Rep. Mike McCaul, R.,TX, asked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to comment on the troubling issue of connections between transnational criminal organizations and terrorist networks.

McCaul quoted Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as saying "...cartels share ties with terror networks...and they have the ability to sneak drugs and people, including potential terrorists and dirty bombs" into the U.S.

McCaul asked Tillerson if he agreed that these ties represent a real national security threat, to which Tillerson replied: "Yes, I do...We clearly see the connections, extending all the way back to ISIS and al-Qaida." He then discussed joint U.S.-Mexico efforts to combat illicit financial networks that support transnational crime and terror.

Updated: Wed Jun 28, 2017




The Navy Downs A Syrian Jet -- But Dogfights Are Few And Far Between for 06/21/2017

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700

The recent downing of a Syrian Air Force jet by a U.S. Navy Super Hornet fighter has produced another political confrontation between the U.S. and Russia. Until passions ebb, Australia has withdrawn its air units from the American-led coalition.

Kremlin accusations of American aggression are propaganda. Syria is small. When a plane is aloft, every major nation with aircraft engaged in Syria has the technology to track it. The U.S., Turkey and Israel have it; so does Russia. Russian forces knew the location of the Syrian jet and knew it had attacked an area with U.S. personnel.

The Navy jet intercepted the Syrian in order to protect Americans on the ground. It enforced a red line of a sort. If the Assad regime attacks U.S. personnel, expect a military response.

Updated: Wed Jun 21, 2017