Posts Tagged ‘Military Cooperation’

Despite Obama-Putin friction, Hagel meets with Russian defense minister

by Jim Kouri on Monday, August 12th, 2013

This is article 1020 of 1211 in the topic International

While President Barack Obama pouts over the disrespectful treatment he’s endured at the hands of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the Pentagon noted that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoygo in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

At the same time, Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, joined the discussion which was dubbed the “Two-Plus-Two Talks.”

At the start of the meeting, Secretary Hagel reportedly noted that it’s the major powers’ responsibility to seek mutual interests on pressing issues facing the United States, Russia, and the world.

“Secretary Hagel and Minister Shoygu agreed that it is time to build a more robust agenda for military cooperation and directed their staffs to put together a plan for more regular and frequent engagement,” according to the Pentagon’s press secretary, George Little.

Secretary Hagel told his Russian counterpart that the U.S. Defense Department desires a partnership with the Russian in order to overcome bumps in the road that impede deeper cooperation. The Americans and Russians by must seek “enabling agreements that will allow for improved information sharing, exchanges, joint exercises, and training.”

Secretary Hagel discussed the United States and the North American Treaty Organization’s approach to promoting continued security and stability in Afghanistan once the U.S. troops depart in 2014.

The U.S. Defense and State secretary’s also exchanged views with the Russian ministers on the Syrian civil war that continues to kill thousands of civilians and has led to reports of the use of chemical weapons.

While U.S. officials have claimed Bashar al-Assad’s regime is using chemical weapons against the rebels and those Syrians suspected of supporting the rebellion, the Russian government has alleged that it is the rebels — led by Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq — who are using chemical weapons.

According to June 3 Examiner news story, a former police intelligence analyst said that despite the Obama Administration, lawmakers such as Sen. John McCain, and many U.S. news organizations ignoring the “trespasses of the Islamist-infiltrated Syrian rebel militia,” those who are closely following events unfolding in Syria are concerned over the use of WMD by the rebels.

In the Examiner news story it was reported that:

Some American counterterrorism analysts believe President Barack Obama’s interest in capitalizing on the fear of chemical weapons is to encourage foreign intervention as occurred in Libya and Egypt. The goal is toppling the administration of President Bashar al-Assad and the Ba’ath Party by any means necessary.

Over the course of the weekend, the SANA news agency reported that among the terrorists slain by the Assad forces were Khaled Othman, the leader of the so-called “Andan Oqla Battalion” terrorist group, Abdul-Min’em Dyab, the leader of the so-called “al-Mout Battalion” terrorist group, Abdul-Hadi Meznazi, the leader of the so-called “al-Ansar and al-Sharia ” terrorist group which is affiliated to Jabhet al-Nusra, Abdul-Rahman Barakat, the leader of the so-called “al-Tasleeh battalion” terrorist group, Mohammad al-Hara, Mohammad Sweif, Mustafa Ziad, Tareq Rahmoun and Khaled Ja’moor.

On Monday, May 31, Turkish security forces also reported that they discovered a cylinder containing sarin gas when searching the homes of Syrian militants from the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front who were previously detained, the Turkish media reported. The gas was reportedly going to be used in a bomb.

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Anti-Assad rebels pose threat to Israel-Syrian border: Intel agencies

by Jim Kouri on Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

This is article 958 of 1211 in the topic International

For close to forty years the Syrian government had deployed at least four army divisions along the eastern border of the Golan Heights. As a result, the Israeli National Police (INP), the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and the intelligence community (such as Mossad) have looked upon the Israel-Syria border to be its safest border, according to a report on Monday from an Israeli security source, Jeffrey Hochman.

With the ongoing rebellion against the Syrian regime’s military, the Assad government is believed to be redeploying two divisions –- over 20,000 soldiers –- from the Golan Heights to Syria’s capital of Damascus to help fend off the growing rebel militias.

The rebellion against the Assad regime began in March 2011 in the southern Syrian town of Deraa. Since January, the Jihadi rebel groups have made major territorial gains in the area between Derra and the city of Quneitra, which sits on the border between the Golan Heights and Syria.

Some of the rebel groups possess Jihadi elements from the anti-Assad coalition and they reportedly have been filling “the security vacuum created along the Israeli border by the withdrawal of the Syrian troops, increasing the opportunities for friction and the likelihood of an Israeli military involvement in Syria,” according to the International Military Cooperation Department in Israel.

According to Hochman’s analysis, “The rebels in Syria are divided into many factions along ethnic, religious, and geographical lines. This factionalism has been one of the major obstacles to forming a coherent, unified alternative to the Assad regime, an alternative which would receive the political support of the non-Sunni groups in Syria and the material support of the United States and the European countries.”

Israeli security analysts say that one of the more ominous aspects of the geographical distribution of the anti-Assad groups is that the presence of Jihadi elements is especially pronounced in southwest Syria, right along the Israel-Syria border, and these Islamists despise the Jewish as much as they despise President Assad and the Ba’ath Party, a practitioner of national socialism.

“What is more, the freedom of action of these groups is set to grow as the besieged Syrian government has been pulling thousands of soldiers from the border area in order to strengthen the regime’s defenses near and around Damascus,” notes the MSIS officials.

The Israeli military has been reporting that Islamic terrorist groups have been observed moving into the vacuum left by the withdrawal of the Syrian military. The fear is that at least some of the rebels will now use their freedom to stage attacks against Israel.

Another senior Israeli official said: “It’s clear that the United Nations is having very serious problems in meeting its challenges. But Israeli national security figures are very skeptical as to the real utility of international forces in dealing with our security issues. We are very concerned [about the Golan]. As you know, we are building a fence along the border and monitoring matters very closely. We are aware of different actors in close proximity to the border, and we are watching them very closely.”

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New poll: Egyptians turning toward Iran, want nuclear weapons

by Josh Rogin on Saturday, October 20th, 2012

This is article 820 of 1211 in the topic International

A poll of Egyptians conducted last month shows that they have increasingly positive views of Iran, believe that both Iran and Egypt should obtain nuclear weapons, and still trust their own military more than any other institution in Egypt.

The poll of 812 Egyptians, half of them women, was conducted in a series of in-person interviews by the firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and sponsored by the Israel Project, a pro-Israel advocacy organization with offices in Washington and Jerusalem. According to the poll, Iran is viewed favorably in Egypt, with 65 percent of those surveyed expressing support of the decision to renew Egypt-Iran relations and 61 percent expressing support of the Iranian nuclear project, versus 41 percent in August 2009.

Sixty-two percent of those polled agreed that “Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are friends of Egypt,” though 68 percent held unfavorable views of Shiite Muslims.

Iran’s deputy defense minister said recently that the Iranian regime is seeking more military cooperation with Egypt. “We are ready to help Egypt to build nuclear reactors and satellites,” he said on the occasion or Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy’s meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last month. Morsy’s office has said the two didn’t discuss military cooperation.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents want Egypt to have its own nuclear bomb.

Israel Project CEO Josh Block told The Cable that the statistics show the effect of Morsy’s outreach to Iran and the danger of regional proliferation of nuclear weapons if Iran is successful in obtaining a nuclear bomb.

“Very scary to people opposed to proliferation of nuclear weapons, let alone to unstable countries in the world’s most turbulent part of the world, is the 87 percent who want Egypt to build nuclear weapons,” he said. “Morsy’s dangerous embrace of Iran is leading a surprising shift in favor support for Tehran, which has for decades been seen by Egyptians as their top threat, as well as for their work on nuclear weapons.”

Egyptians are overwhelmingly focused on the dire state of their domestic economy. Only 2 percent of those polled said that “strengthening relations with other Muslim countries” should be one of Morsy’s top two priorities, and 45 percent agreed with the statement that “Egypt needs to focus on things at home and should be less involved in regional politics.”

Nevertheless, 74 percent of those polled said that disapprove of Egypt having diplomatic relations with Israel — an increase from 26 percent in August 2009 — and support for a two-state solution to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at only 30 percent. Seventy-seven percent agreed that “The peace treaty with Israel is no longer useful and should be dissolved.”

Block blamed that result at least partially on the stance of leading Egyptian politicians like President Morsy, who has indicated recently he does not plan to abrogate the Israel-Egypt peace treaty but whose Muslim Brotherhood party identifies Israel as a racist and expansionist state.

“The fact that Morsy and other leading politicians in Egypt regularly express disdain for the peace treaty leads to such decay in public attitudes,” Block said.

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U.S. police and military trainers, advisers back in Yemen

by Jim Kouri on Thursday, May 10th, 2012

This is article 163 of 302 in the topic US Military

U.S. police and military trainers and advisors have returned to Yemen and are training that nation’s security forces, Defense Department officials announced on Monday.

President Barack Obama’s administration had ordered the training mission in Yemen to be suspended due to the political turmoil in that nation. The United States recently began reintroducing a small number of trainers into the country, Navy Captain John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman, said.

Kirby, speaking to reporters during a press briefing, noted that U.S. advisors had been working for years with the Yemeni government, police agencies, and military forces to combat increasingly powerful al-Qaeda threat throughout the Muslim nation.

“That threat doesn’t just threaten the Yemeni people but also Americans,” Captain Kirby said.

“There was a suspension of some of that activity in Yemen for a while due to the political instability in that country,” the spokesman said. “We are now beginning to resume more of that routine military-to-military cooperation.”

Just this week, the American people were told about how CIA agents thwarted an attempt by al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner one year after the killing of Osama bin Laden, according to a statement released on Monday. What surprised many counterterrorism experts was the sophistication of the upgrade of the so-called underwear bomb.

Pentagon officials will not discuss operations in Yemen, Kirby said. “And I’m certainly not going to provide specific details on the numbers of individuals that we have there,” he said.

The Somali group known as al-Shabaab has provided weapons, fighters and training with explosives over the last few months to the Yemen-based al-Qaeda branch that has been battling with the Yemeni police and army forces in Abyan since May 2011, according to officials such as Congressman Pete King (R-NY).

The country’s interior ministry reported earlier this month that al-Shabaab had sent 300 armed men to fight alongside the Yemen-based al-Qaeda wing known locally as Partisans of Sharia ( Islamic law) in Abyan province. The group is also known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Al-Qaeda militants, who took advantage of the conflicts in the country, have seized several towns in Abyan and Shabwa provinces after severe fighting with government troops backed by U.S. drones, according to the Law Enforcement Examiner’s police adviser source.

In January 2009, al-Qaeda affiliates in Saudi Arabia and Yemen officially merged and formed Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as reported in the Examiner.

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Iranian, Iraqi military chiefs cozy up as U.S. prepares withdrawal

by Jim Kouri on Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Iraqi officials have been meeting with their Iranian counterparts while the U.S. prepares to withdraw forces next month. Credit: IDF/ISA

Despite the Obama Administration’s “rose-colored glasses” assessment of Iraq’s future as a democratic haven in a sea of radical Islamist despots, political thugs and monarchs, Iraq appears open to befriending its neighbor Iran as was demonstrated yesterday.

As was predicted by several former military, intelligence and law enforcement commanders, the Iraqi military and their Iranian counterparts are already meeting in anticipation of the December withdrawal of  all  U.S. forces in an effort to thwart Iraq’s internal enemies.
General Babaker Zebari Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Joint Forces, during his visit to Iran, has called for the military cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad, Iran’s government-controlled news service reported on Monday.
Meanwhile, during a Veterans Day presentation at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D. C., President Barack Obama mentioned the U.S. military’s accomplishments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. However, he stopped short of discussing the problems the U.S. faces with a renegade Iran and the fact that once U.S. troops leave Iraq at the end of 2011, that nation is ripe for Iranian interference.
A former U.S. police advisor now living in Israel wonders if the Iraq War will be remembered as a success or the beginning of another radical Islamic nation.
“We sacrificed a lot of blood and treasure liberating that country. To have it fall into the hands of [Iranian] madmen would be a crime against all those who lost their lives and limbs fighting for Iraqi freedom and U.S. national security. It seems Americans are fickle when it comes to war and the bad guys know that,” said the former U.S. police supervisor.
Gen. Zebari, following his arrival in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Sunday while heading a delegation of senior Iraqi military officials, met with the leader of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Forces, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour.

The Iraqi general told his Iranian counterpart that Iraq continues to endure security threats from elements such as al-Qaeda in Iraq, radical clergy al-Sadr’s followers, etc., and Baghdad needs the help of a powerful country such as Iran, especially in the area of national security.

“[This] visit aims to develop bilateral relations, since Iran and Iraq are two friendly neighboring countries, which should have very close relations … The Islamic Republic of Iran is a capable country in many areas,” General Zebari was quoted as saying by the IRNS.

IRGC’s General Pakpour welcomed the idea and promised that Iranian government and military forces will make every effort to help the Iraqis build a secure and safe country. Pakpour said that the withdrawal of foreign forces provides an opportunity for the Iraqis to begin running their own affairs, according to the report.

But U.S. intelligence analysts believe Iran’s ultimate goal is the takeover of the fledgling democracy, and replacing Iraq’s duly elected government and its constitution with an Islamist regime and Sharia law.

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How the Media Make Obama Look Tough

by Cliff Kincaid on Thursday, November 17th, 2011

My column about Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney endorsing President Obama’s premeditated murder of an American citizen working for al-Qaeda was designed to make the point that the Republican candidates had fallen into a trap laid by Scott Pelley of CBS during last Saturday’s debate. Gingrich, who has made criticism of the media a hallmark of his resurgent campaign, should have sensed the trap. Instead, he fell into it, along with Romney.

One reader missed the point about the media and responded, “Despite all the harm this president has done, it is not wrong to support him when he is right.”

But Obama was wrong before he was “right.” He came into office opposed to the use of executive power in this manner. This is the point that Pelley ignored in his question to the Republicans but which should have been central to the discussion.

The killing of an American without due process, and who has not been charged with a crime, is not an insignificant matter. Obama clearly knows this, having refused to even acknowledge that he ordered the murder when questioned about it by talk show host Michael Smerconish.

Pelley’s raising of the issue suggests how the media will frame the campaign for Obama’s benefit. Most commentators recognize that Obama’s major weak point is the economy, but that his handlers and allies will try to compensate for this weakness by making him look tough on foreign policy. This strategy is apparent in Obama’s visit to Australia, where it has been announced that military cooperation between the allies will be expanded. On this trip, the purpose is to make Obama look tough on China.

Pelley asked if the Republicans would endorse Obama’s policy of killing terrorists abroad, even if they happen to be American citizens and have not been found guilty of anything by an American court. If Gingrich and Romney had rejected Obama’s policy, they would have looked weak and Obama strong. So they took the easy way out and defended Obama, more so than he has defended himself. It had the effect of making Obama look like a tough foreign policy president willing to take on America’s enemies.

The alternative, which would have had the additional benefit of exposing media hypocrisy, would have been to express satisfaction that Anwar al-Awlaki was dead, but note that the Obama Administration was opposed to the use of this kind of executive power when George W. Bush was president. Gingrich could have pointed out that the media were strongly critical of the Bush Administration in this regard.

Sensing they were on sensitive ground, officials of the Obama Administration illegally leaked information to The New York Times about the policy, indicating that Obama relied on a 50-page Department of Justice memo for justification to kill al-Awlaki. The New York Times said, “It was principally drafted by David Barron and Martin Lederman, who were both lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel at the time, and was signed by Mr. Barron.”

But these are the Obama lawyers who were supposed to stop this kind of thing in the executive branch.

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Obama tried to apologize to the Japanese for Nagasaki and Hiroshima?

by John Lott on Thursday, October 13th, 2011

This is article 472 of 1211 in the topic International

Possibly even the Japanese realize that the bombings on net saved a lot of Japanese lives. From IBD:

Leaked cables show Japan nixed a presidential apology to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for using nukes to end the overseas contingency operation known as World War II. . . .

Another stop on the tour was in Japan, where Obama in November 2009 bowed to the emperor, something no American president had ever done. It could have been worse if plans to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima to apologize for winning the war with the atom bombs had come to pass.

A heretofore secret cable dated Sept. 3, 2009, was recently released by WikiLeaks. Sent to Secretary of State Clinton, it reported Japan’s Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka telling U.S. Ambassador John Roos that “the idea of President Obama visiting Hiroshima to apologize for the atomic bombing during World War II is a ‘nonstarter.’”

The Japanese feared the apology would be exploited by anti-nuclear groups and those opposed to the defensive alliance between Japan and the U.S.

Whatever Tokyo’s motive, Obama’s motive was to once again apologize for defending freedom, this time for winning with devastating finality the war Japan started. . . . .

From the NY Post:

In a September 2009 cable prior to Obama’s official visit to Tokyo, our ambassador informs Washington that Tokyo had denied Obama’s bid to go to Hiroshima to publicly apologize for America’s dropping the atom bomb there — in short, to turn the defeat of Japan into a matter of national humiliation for America.
The Japanese government told the ambassador this would be a “non-starter,” because the gesture would encourage domestic anti-nuclear groups and leftist groups opposed to Japan’s military cooperation with the United States. . . .
A president who is either ignorant or blind to the fact that if we hadn’t used the bomb and had been forced to invade Japan instead, at least 2 million Japanese would have died in a full-scale invasion of Japan, instead of the 300,000 killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki — not to mention the 1 million US casualties that the War Department and Joint Chiefs of Staff calculated would come in that assault.
And a president who thinks that such groveling is the way to build good relations with an Asian ally — when a far better way passed him right by. . . .

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Egyptian military brass cut short U.S. visit

by Jim Kouri on Saturday, January 29th, 2011

This is article 313 of 1211 in the topic International

Egypt's Lieutenant General Sami Hafez Enan cut short his U.S. visit to return to his riot-torn nation. Photo: MCC

Visiting Egyptian military commanders and defense officials cut short their visit to Washington, DC on Friday night after being notified of a deteriorating situation by Cairo, according to a U.S. official.

“The 27th Annual U.S.-Egypt Military Cooperation Committee (MCC) adjourned [yesterday] morning after the Egyptian military delegation was called home by the [Mubarak] government,” said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan in a statement.

“The current situation in Egypt arose very quickly, but Ambassador (Alexander) Vershbow did have the opportunity to urge restraint to his Egyptian counterpart during the Wednesday and Thursday meetings here in the Pentagon,” stated Col. Lapan.

The 25 Egyptian commanders and officials were involved in a two-part visit and completed the MCC part of the program, which started on Wednesday.

“The schedule was accelerated to end early [Friday] so the Egyptian delegation could return to their home country,” according to American Forces Press Service’s Jim Garamone.

The U.S. contingent was led by Alexander Vershbow, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, while the visiting Egyptians were led by Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sami Hafez Enan.

The second part of the visit was sponsored by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen.

“The Egyptian delegation was to begin with cultural events and dinners this weekend, and continue with meetings with the Chairman as well as each of the military service chiefs until next Wednesday,” said Col. Lapan.“ Only a smaller part of the delegation was scheduled to participate, including Lt. Gen. Enan.”

The Military Cooperation Committee, or MCC, is the highest-level U.S.-Egypt dialogue on defense and strategic issues. The meeting place alternates between the U.S. and Egypt. The MCC typically includes several sub-committees that focus on issues such as security assistance, training, exercises and defense industrial cooperation according to Garamone.

The United States provides $1.3 billion annually in military assistance to Mubarak’s government and 625 American military advisors are stationed in Egypt.

To its credit, Egypt was the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel and has maintained good relations with the Israeli government.

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Will China make Gates’ visit worth the trip?

by Josh Rogin on Friday, January 7th, 2011

Defense Secretary Robert Gates will travel to China and Japan this week in what will be the most public demonstration of the resumption of the U.S.-China military to military relationship since Beijing suspended cooperation early in 2010. However, the future of military cooperation between the two world powers is far from determined.

The Gates trip follows a series of discussions between U.S. and Chinese defense officials last month on how to improve ties between the Pacific’s two most important military powers. The Chinese cut off military relations in February 2010 to protest U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, but the Obama administration has held firm in its stance that military cooperation is mutually beneficial to both countries, and therefore should not be used as leverage over Washington by Beijing .

The question remains whether the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is genuinely interested in deepening its connections to the Defense Department or whether the resumption of talks is a way for Beijing to remove the issue from the agenda of the upcoming summit between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao later this month in Washington.

“The PLA is significantly less interested in this relationship than the political leadership of China.” Gates said in June after being denied entry into China during a visit to Singapore for the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue.

Senior defense officials in Washington view the trip as a positive step but note that Gates’ meetings are only the start of the effort to build better military ties with China.

“With Secretary Gates’ trip, I think we can agree that the military-to-military relationship has been restored,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Schiffer at a Thursday event hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “This trip represents a step forward, an important one we think.”

But there are already a number of signs that the PLA is still skeptical of working with the Pentagon, even as they welcome Gates.

For example, Gates has no plans to visit any PLA facilities that haven’t previously been seen by U.S. officials. Such visits are often a sign that the PLA is extending an olive branch, as they did in 2005 when they allowed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to visit the PLA’s 2nd Artillery headquarters.

Also, in advance of the trip, the Chinese have rolled out the J20, their new advanced fighter plane, which is designed to counter (and kind of looks like) the U.S. Air Force’s F-22. That’s the plane that Gates fought successfully to end production of last year. Last week, U.S. Pacific Command head Adm. Robert Willard told the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun that the PLA has also reached initial operating capability for its new “carrier killer” anti-ship cruise missile.

“Across a broad array of weapons systems, they are making progress,” U.S. Navy Vice Adm. David Dorsett told reporters on Wednesday. While the development of the new stealth fighter was anticipated, he said that “the speed at which they are making progress . . . we underestimated.”

So how do we measure if Gates’ China trip is a success? The longstanding goals of the Pentagon, in addition to increasing lines of communication, are to press China for more transparency in its military spending and strategic thinking, and to further institutionalize cooperation on maritime security, anti-piracy, and counter-proliferation efforts.

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