Libya:Haftar to control entire onshore oil?

screenshot 2019-01-17 at 11.36.59 am - edited
Forces loyal to Libya’s eastern leader Khalifa Haftar have swept into the country’s lawless and oil-rich southern region to expel militants and secure energy facilities. In his televised speech on January 15, Haftar’s spokesman didn’t specify any intention for the LNA to replace the Petroleum Facilities Guard, which has been responsible for security at Sharara. But if Haftar does take control of the fields and then hands them over to the NOC, this could help stabilize Libyan production and exports. Sharara in particular has endured sporadic shutdowns in recent years, mostly from groups with financial or political grievances.

Brower of RS Energy is skeptical of a tidy outcome. “It’s unclear what Haftar will do if and when he has total control of the onshore oil sector. If he is going to push once again for eastern Libya to erect an independent oil business, this would seem to be another opportunity — and this too would risk a severe escalation of the divisions” in the country, he said

[April 5 2011 Libya’s al-Thinni opens new oil sales set-up ]

Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, based near Benghahzi, in the eastern city of Al-Bayda, announced late on April 4 he had authorized his internationally recognized government’s oil corporation to open a separate bank account in the United Arab Emirates for oil revenues and to seek independent oil sales. Libya now produces around 600,000 barrels of crude per day, less than half the 1.6 million bpd it produced before the fall of Gaddafi. Several oil ports and major fields have been closed by fighting but the two biggest oil ports, Ras Lanuf and Es Sider with a combined capacity of 600,000 bpd, may open soon.
Until now oil sales and revenues have gone through Libya’s central bank and National Oil Corporation in Tripoli. Introducing a new payment mechanism would also mean breaking up the central bank system, the only source of hard currency for importers and one of the last institutions left untouched by the rival governments’ power struggle. It still pays public salaries across the country.

[March 5 2011 Mahmoud Jabril, Ali Tarhouni, Libyan rebel Interim National Council takes shape. Qatar markets oil

Mahmoud Jabril,  de facto prime minister, Libya

Mahmoud Jabril, de facto prime minister, Libya

Ali Tarhouni, the acting finance minister

Ali Tarhouni, the acting finance minister

Kofi Annan, Dar es Salaam April 3

Kofi Annan, Dar es Salaam April 3

Libya’s rebel Interim National Council has gently sidelined its bumbling head, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, while letting him keep his title of president. Instead, an “executive committee”, whose members are American-trained and experienced in running Libya, has taken up the reins. The de facto prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, is an American-trained politics professor who, until he resigned last year, ran Libya’s National Planning Council, which managed the economy with the colonel’s son, Seif al-Islam Qaddafi. Ali Tarhouni, the acting finance minister, responsible for oil and trade among other things, taught economics at the University of Washington in Seattle.

A fledgling diplomatic corps is also setting itself up in Benghazi, the rebels’ capital in the east. The French were first to arrive, with the British close behind and the Americans next. A Qatari representative is said to have set up camp at Marsa Matruh, the Egyptian town closest to the Libyan border. The Turks, who kept a presence all along, have become more openly active now that the rebels have promised to honour building contracts said to be worth $25 billion.
Qatar’s agreement to sell oil on the rebels’ behalf has let the fledgling Libyan government raise loans and revenues. Mr Tarhouni felt confident enough to pay civil servants their salaries for March and to make good on February’s shortfall.
Kofi Annan expressed his concern on the ongoing political unrest in some African countries like Ivory Coast, Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He said if left to continue they might be the source of food insecurity in the continent. Former UN secretary General Kofi Annan, who is alliance for a green Revolution in Africa (Agra) chair, addresses a news conference in Dar es Salaam April 3.

The Obama administration dropped Musa Kusa’s financial sanctions to encourage other senior aides to abandon Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“One of the intended purposes of sanctions against senior officials in the Libyan government was to motivate individuals within the Gaddafi regime to make the right decision and dissociate themselves from Gaddafi and his government,” said David S. Cohen, the acting treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

In an interview with the BBC, the Libyan leader’s son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi denied Kusa knew incriminating information about Lockerbie and other incidents and denied the former foreign minister had defected. He said Kusa was in London seeking medical help.

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Manbij Syria: cannot allow ISIS to gain momentum

[June 6 2018]
shafah syria

The plans for Manbij could be implemented before the end of the summer, U.S. and Turkish forces would control the region until a new administration was formed. Cavusoglu told broadcaster AHaber May 30, 2018

https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/06/282929.htm

 

On May 30, near Sha’fah, which is north of Abu Kamal, one Coalition strike engaged one Daesh tactical unit and destroyed two Daesh vehicles.

[May 31]

We don’t have any agreements yet with the Government of Turkey…. We’re continuing to have ongoing conversations regarding Syria and other issues of mutual concern.

The two sides then had outlined the contours of a roadmap for further cooperation, and that includes on Manbij. I know that the Secretary looks forward to hosting Foreign Minister Cavusoglu on June 4th here in Washington for those conversations to continue. Heather Nauert State Department Press Briefing May 29 2018

Turkey has plans to buy more than 100 of the F-35 jets and the Pentagon last year awarded Lockheed $3.7 billion in an interim payment for the production of 50 of the aircraft earmarked for non-U.S. customers, including Ankara.    General elections are scheduled to occur throughout Turkey on 24 June 2018. Originally due on 3 November 2019, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that the vote was being brought forward on 18 April 2018

[April 10]

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An XM905 Advanced Mortar Protection System being set up in Manbij, Syria, April 4 2018.

AMPS is a dismounted 120mm mortar system. The system has a recoil design, which reduces shock and improves accuracy, according to the Army. It also has an electric drive system, providing a 360-degree firing range, and allows for computerized laying of the cannon’s azimuth and elevation.

All of this makes the system “capable of providing an accurate solution when emplaced on a sloped terrain,” according to the Army.   The build-up comes days after an American and a British operator were killed by an improvised explosive device while conducting a mission in an urban area of Manbij on March 29.   During that same incident, five other coalition troops were wounded.

The coalition forces were conducting a raid to kill or capture a known member of the Islamic State.

[April 5]

A U.S. soldier sits on an armored vehicle behind a sand barrier at a newly installed position near the tense front line in Manbij, north Syria, Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The U.S. is building two military bases in the region of Manbij west of the Euphrates River, which is under the control of the Kurdish People’s Defense Unit (YPG), reports the Turkish news agency Anadolu.

On Wednesday April 4, there was a growing fortified position with a perimeter of large sand barriers and barbed wire, a new watch tower and a half-dozen armored vehicles.

Even as U.S. President Donald Trump spoke of pulling out of Syria “very soon,” an Associated Press team saw American forces setting up front-line positions west of the Euphrates River.

[April 4]

Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State Brett McGurk noted the role both American military and diplomatic assets had played in staving off violence between Turkey and Syrian Kurdish allies of the United States. “It’s incredibly complex,” McGurk said, “But we have to work through this diplomatically with our NATO allies and reassure our partners on the ground in Manbij.”

Currently, the United States has roughly 2,000 soldiers in Syria, and along with regional allies, has taken back more than 90 percent of the territory formerly held by the militant group.

[more] US Army Master Sgt. Jonathan Dunbar, 36, of Austin, Texas, was assigned to the headquarters of US Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina

[more]Sergeant Matt Tonroe, from the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, died in an improvised explosive device blast on Thursday March 29 while embedded with US forces.

A US and a British service member in the US-led coalition battling ISIL were killed by an improvised explosive device in Manbij, Syria, US and British officials said on Friday, March 30.

They are the first coalition service members to be killed or wounded in an attack this year.

manbij-syria

March 6 2017

Army Col. Robert Manning III said, referring to advances into Syria by Turkish forces.   The United States is not involved in the movement of forces of either side, he said, but U.S. officials are very concerned about the effect that fighting there has had on its defeat-ISIS efforts. The United States would like to see an end to the hostilities before ISIS has the opportunity to regroup in eastern Syria, Manning said.   “We cannot allow ISIS to gain momentum at this critical point,” he stressed.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin: “Pompeo is not informed on the issues, so it will cost us 1-2 weeks, but we will continue working on this.”

[March 17 State – we’re not done talking ]

QUESTION: — working group meetings between Turkish and U.S. officials, and yesterday, I believe, Turkish foreign minister stated that Turkey and U.S. agreed on Manbij, that the Syrian Kurdish fighters, YPG, are going to leave the city. Is that your understanding?

MS NAUERT: It is not our understanding. We have a lot of conversations that we’re having with the Turkish Government at this point. We had a day and a half or a day worth of meetings last week with Turkish Government officials. We’re still working to reach an agreement with Turkey at this point and we’re not done talking with them.
Heather Nauert, , Spokesperson, State Department Press Briefing, Washington, DC,March 15, 2018

[March 2 U.S.ashamed to abandon Kurds? ]

Vast territories to the east of the Euphrates have been captured by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) with US air support from Isis since 2015. 30 per cent of Syria is now held by the Kurds.
Probably, the US will stick with the Kurds because it would be ashamed, at least in the short term, to abandon them. Doing so too swiftly would also deter other potential US allies in the Middle East who might fear a similar fate.

[February 23 Manbij Syria:Pentagon has designated funding for the SDF separately]

“The reason for us to base soldiers in Manbij is to ensure that the town remains under the control of our partners,” said Rex Tillerson
The United States considers the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) a partner. Playing a large role in the SDF is the YPG, which Turkey considers a terrorist-affiliated group.
The Pentagon has designated funding for the SDF separately from money for the so-called Syrian “border force” in its 2019 budget.

[February 7 Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk in Manbij, “We’re here…my job is to fight.” ]

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Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk February 7 during a visit to U.S. forces in Manbij., Syria

MANBIJ, SYRIA –   “We’re here to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS is maintained in this area,” Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk said February 7 during a visit to U.S. forces in Manbij.
Funk told reporters in Manbij that the U.S. would continue to support the Syrian fighters despite tensions with Turkey and that a continued U.S. presence in Syria’s north is aimed at deescalating tensions.
“I don’t worry,” Funk said when asked about recent Turkish threats, “It’s not in my job description to worry, my job is to fight.”

On February 6, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Manbij and renewed a threat to expand Ankara’s military offensive in Syria to this town.

“Why are you staying there (in Manbij)? Leave,” Erdogan said, referring to American troops.

[January 24 Syrian airspace under Russian control west of Euphrates ]

manbij

The Turkish campaign only became possible when Russia agreed not to oppose it and, above all, allowed Turkish jets to operate in Syrian airspace. This is under Russian control west of the Euphrates.   Is control east of Euphrates American…over Manbij?

Screenshot 2018-01-24 at 10.02.39 AMCombined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve precision strikes killed an estimated 145-150 ISIS terrorists near As Shafah, Syria which is north of Abu Kamal, Jan. 20.

The precision strikes were a culmination of extensive intelligence preparation to confirm an ISIS headquarters and command and control center in an exclusively ISIS-occupied location in the contested Middle Euphrates River Valley.   The United States has around 2,000 special forces troops in Syria, officially as part of an international U.S.-led coalition, assisting the Kurds in battle against Islamic State. A U.S. official said the administration is unlikely to commit more troops or covert operators to Syria, even if Turkey makes a move from Afrin to Manbij.

[January 23 Manbij: entire U.S. strategy rests on the Kurds ]

Gonul Tol, director of the Middle East Institute think tank’s Turkey program, said persuading Erdogan not to move against Manbij could prove extremely difficult.

The Trump administration’s Syria strategy – crushing the remnants of Islamic State and reviving the U.N.-led Geneva talks on ending the Syrian civil war – almost entirely depends on preserving the 30,000-strong YPG as a fighting force.

“The entire U.S. strategy rests on the Kurds. Even if Turkey doesn’t attack Manbij, the fall of Afrin will weaken the Kurds, and that will weaken the U.S. influence with the Kurds, Tol said. “The only leverage the U.S. has (in Syria) is through the Kurds.

“If Manbij falls, Raqqa is going to be threatened and that is key for the U.S.,” Tol continued, referring to the Syrian city that Islamic State declared as its capital and from which it was driven out last year. “The U.S. will do everything to ease the tensions with Turkey. But I don’t know what they will come up (with). They have to be very creative.”

[ November 9 2017 SDF in Raqqah release 86 former ISIS fighters ]

raqqa nov8

On November 8, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that it released 86 former ISIS fighters who were captured or surrendered during the battle for Raqqa. The SDF said that the former ISIS fighters who were released went through a strict investigation and stressed that none of them committed crimes during their service with ISIS.

[October 12 400 militants left near Raqqa ]

Fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces inspect weapons and munitions recovered at the former positions of the Islamic State militants inside a building at the frontline in Raqqa

KOBANI, Syria (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters in the Syrian city of Raqqa are expected to fight to the death, but some local militants have surrendered recently as U.S.-backed forces close in on their last strongholds, a U.S. coalition spokesman said on October 11.
Colonel Ryan Dillon said officials in the Raqqa Civil Council, which is to govern the city after IS has been driven out, were working to negotiate the safe passage of thousands of civilians being held hostage.
But the coalition would not support any negotiated withdrawal of fighters, he said.
“The coalition would not be party to a negotiated settlement. (But) we’re jumping ahead of anything that’s being discussed right now … as (the council) try to get civilians out,” he told Reuters by phone.
Up to 400 militants are believed to remain in a small part of Raqqa surrounded by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, he said.
“The foreign fighters (in IS), we fully expect them to fight till the end – there’s a hardcore of (foreign) fighters.
“But we have seen a rate of four to five ISIS fighters surrendering a week, including emirs – local leaders within Raqqa – over the past month,” Dillon said, using another acronym for Islamic State.
On Oct. 11, Coalition military forces: Near Ar Raqqah, 24 strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units, damaged nine fighting positions, destroyed 11 fighting positions, 12 vehicles, two communication nodes and one ISIS supply route

June 19 Warning after Bush F/A-18E shoots down Syrian SU-22 near Raqqah ]

tabqa-dam

Russia announces it will target any plane from the US-led coalition flying west of the Euphrates river in Syria after the US military shot down a Syrian air force SU-22.   The U.S.-led coalition conducts missions in areas west of the Euphrates River near Manbij and Al Bab, two towns retaken from ISIS by U.S.-backed rebel forces.   

[June 18

575968-bigthumbnail

SU-22

US Central Command said the SU-22 dropped bombs near the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who are being supported by the US-led coalition as they advance on the terrorist stronghold of Raqqa.  “In accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces, it was immediately shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet,” a statement said.

[March 17 1000 more U.S. to Syria

usrangers2014 Rangers training

The Pentagon has considered increasing the U.S. military presence in Syria by up to 1,000 troops as the international battle to oust the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, from their de facto capital of Raqqa heats up.

The U.S. has already deployed about 500 U.S. Special Operations forces, 250 Rangers and 200 Marines to Syria.

.[March 15 U.S. Rangers near Raqqa]

The U.S. is looking for options to ease the tensions with Turkey over the plan to use U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds in the fight to oust Islamic State fighters from Raqqa but has offered no details on what those options could be.

The U.S. is considering arming the Syrian Kurdish forces, which the Pentagon considers the most effective fighters against IS militants in northern and eastern Syria. But Turkey, a key NATO ally, considers the Syrian force, known as the YPG, a terrorist organization. Turkey wants to work with other Syrian opposition fighters known as the Free Syrian Army to liberate Raqqa.

Paentagon leaders sent a new plan to defeat IS to the White House late last month that included a variety of options for the ongoing fight in Iraq and Syria.

95060669_syria_turkey_kurds_v15_624map_9_3_2017

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters walk with their weapons during an offensive against Islamic State militants in northern Raqqa province

SDF Forces in Rakkah February 2017

1-us-troops-in-syria

3rd Ranger Battalion March 8

MARCH 6, a separate force of elite US army Rangers was deployed near a town north-west of Raqqa in heavily armoured vehicles, in an attempt to end clashes between SDF fighters and a Turkish-backed rebel force.   http://bigstory.ap.org/article/former-trump-security-adviser-flynn-admits-turkey-lobbying

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-09/turkey-kurd-tension-in-syria-war-a-train-wreck-mccain-warns

“Just days ago, fighting broke out between the Manbij Military Council (SDF), who had Green Berets embedded within their ranks, and Turkish-backed forces in the Manbij area. The movement of more US troops in the area will signify to our allies that they have our support, and show the Turkish forces and pro-Assad fighters that they’re messing with the wrong dudes.”

]February 16 Trump not insisting on Kurds in Raqqah Assault]

U. S. support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance dominated by the Kurdish YPG, has caused tensions with NATO ally Turkey, which views the Kurdish militia as an extension of militants fighting on its own soil.

“If we want the Raqqa operation to be successful, then it should be carried out with Arab forces in the region and not the YPG,” Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik told reporters in Brussels.

“The new U.S. administration has a different approach to the issue. They are not insisting anymore that the operation should definitely be carried out with the YPG. They haven’t yet made up their minds,” he said in comments broadcast live.

The SDF alliance, which includes Arab and other groups in Syria’s north as well as the YPG, has taken territory along the Syria-Turkey border as they push back Islamic State.

With air strikes and special ground forces from the U.S.-led coalition, the SDF is in the middle of a multi-phased operation to encircle Raqqa, Islamic State’s base of operations in Syria.

A key decision for the Trump administration will be whether to provide weapons to the YPG despite Turkish objections. The U.S. says weapons provided to the SDF are so far limited to its Arab elements.

“We are working with the U.S. on the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij by the time the al-Bab operation is completed,” Isik said, referring to a town currently under SDF control.

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Mahmud al-Isawi, a Syrian-based ISIL leader and facilitator, was struck and killed by a Coalition precision airstrike Dec. 31, 2016, in Raqqah, Syria.   CJTF-OIR does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.  Coalition nations which have conducted strikes in Syria include Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

[July 3 2015 U.S. kills IS leader in airstrike in  al-Hasakah area of Syria]

Tariq Bin al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-Awni al-Harzi, a senior Islamic State leader, in Syria was killed June 16 in Shaddadi, Syria. He was the subject of a $3 million reward offered by the U.S. State Department.
The military reported conducting two airstrikes in the al-Hasakah area of Syria, which includes the town of al-Shaddadi, on June 16. It said at the time that those strikes hit an Islamic State tactical unit, two antenna arrays and a vehicle, but made no mention of enemy casualties.
Al-Harzi’s death came one day after that of his brother, Ali Awni al-Harzi, a key suspect in the 2012 Benghazi U.S. Consulate attack and also a member of IS. He was killed June 15 in a U.S. drone strike in Mosul, Iraq.

June 11 2011 Syria: Rifaat Assad Redux?]

Rifaat Assad

Assad Dynasty

Rifaat Assad

Rifaat Assad

In 1983, Hafez’ younger brother Rifaat, who drew a significant amount of support from the military, attempted a coup against Hafez Assad
In 1992 he returned to Syria following the death of his mother. However, in 1998, as Bashar Assad was being groomed for the presidency, Rifaat was denied the title of vice-president and left the country one again.

For years he has been deemed a potential threat to Bashar’s inheritance of his father’s regime, but when Hafez Assad died in June 2000, Rifaat refrained from taking any major steps to prevent Bashar from assuming power.
Rifaat is considered close, by some observers, to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Abdullah is married to a sister of Rifaat’s wife, and Rifaat has on occasions—even after his public estrangement from the rulers in Syria—been invited to Saudi Arabia, with pictures of him and the royal family displayed in the state-controlled press.
After the Iraq war, there were press reports that he had started talks with US government representatives on helping to form a coalition with other anti-Assad groups to provide an alternative Syrian leadership, on the model of the Iraqi National Congress. Rifaat has held a meeting with the former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Yossef Bodansky, the director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, has stated that Rifaat enjoys support from both America and Saudi Arabia; he has been featured in the Saudi press as visiting the royal family in 2007. The Bashar regime remains wary of his intentions and carefully monitors his activities.

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Blackwater to Syria?

deepstate - Edited

Private military contractors could replace US troops withdrawing from Syria, Blackwater founder Erik Prince has suggested.

The former security firm chief said contractors could protect US allies and counter Iranian influence after the US leaves the country, he told Fox Business.

 

[ December 5 2017  Blackwater spy network for U.S.?   ]

Executive Office figures are considering a set of proposals developed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer — with assistance from Oliver North, a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal — to provide CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House with a global, private spy network that would circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies.
https://theintercept.com/2017/12/04/trump-white-house-weighing-plans-for-private-spies-to-counter-deep-state-enemies/

[July 11 Erik Prince & Bannon on the use of mercenaries for US soldiers in Afghanistan ]

ap_-_pakistan_-_muhammad_sajjad_0

Afghan Pakistan border

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and another senior advisor, Steve Bannon, asked two military contractors, including the founder of Blackwater, to help form an alternative defense strategy in Afghanistan.
Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon asked Stephen Feinberg, the owner of DynCorp International, and Erik Prince, of Blackwater fame, to submit proposals on the use of contractors in place of US soldiers in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon is known to be considering a troop surge in the country where the US battled the Taliban for 16 years.
Bannon brought up the contractor approach to Defense Secretary James Mattis July 8 but the Pentagon chief was not interested. Mattis and Lt. Gen. HR McMaster both support a troop surge in Afghanistan. Late last month, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan left the post of Special Representative – commonly known as SRAP – along with her deputy, triggering speculations that Trump might eliminate the post altogether.

Eliminating the post created in 2009 by then-President Barack Obama to monitor and handle the volatile situations in Kabul and Islamabad would go in line with Trump’s announced pledge to cut the State Department’s budget.
Senator John McCain during his visit to Rawalpindi on July 5.“We have made it very clear that we expect they (Pakistan) will cooperate with us, particularly against the Haqqani network and against terrorist organizations.”

[April 3 Prince met with Putin aide ]

web-1484683812-article-header

Trump supporter Erik Prince reportedly met Russian close to Putin in meeting coordinated with United Arab Emirates officials

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4377426/Did-Trump-Russia-connection-run-Seychelles.html#ixzz4dEOZ5lbk

[February 17 Prince’s Frontier Services contracting with Chinese]

Erik Prince — founder of the private military company Blackwater, financial backer of President Donald Trump, brother to the new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has been offering his military expertise to support Chinese government objectives and setting up Blackwater-style training camps in two Chinese provinces

Frontier Services Group said all of its security services were unarmed and therefore not regulated. “FSG’s services do not involve armed personnel or training armed personnel.” The training at the Chinese bases would “help non-military personnel provide close protection security, without the use of arms.”
Asked about Frontier’s claim that Prince was planning “unarmed” security projects, both sources dismissed it, and emphasized that was not their understanding. It is “ridiculous,” said one.
“Are they using sonic weapons,” joked the other. “Is it psychic powers?”

[January 17]

Erik Prince, the chairman of Hong Kong stock exchange-listed Frontier Services Group (FSG) and ex-CEO of Blackwater, private security firm which gained notoriety during the invasion of Iraq and who now leads FSG,a Hong Kong company aiming to play a key role in China’s “new Silk Road” initiative , received a “personal invitation” to the inauguration of US President Donald Trump.  Prince has described his relationship with the newly installed 45th president as one of “mutual respect” but rejected suggestions that he is offering advice on intelligence matters to Trump.

[January 18 ]

Erik Prince has been advising the Trump team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the defense and state departments says a former senior U.S. official who has advised the Trump transition. . Prince sold Blackwater and now heads up a Hong Kong-based company known as Frontier Services Group.

[June 7 2011 Reflex Responses: State refuses to say whether licensed ]

R2 president, Michael Roumi

R2 president, Michael Roumi

A State Department spokesman said the Obama administration was aware of R2’s operations, but would not say whether the company was operating with licenses from the department.
In letters sent to lawmakers and Obama administration officials, the head of Reflex Responses, a company based in Abu Dhabi, said that Mr. Prince “has no ownership stake whatsoever” in the business.

“He is not an officer, director, shareholder, or even an employee of R2,” wrote the company’s president, Michael Roumi, referring to the company by its common name.
Five former employees, speaking on condition of anonymity because they had signed confidentiality agreements, said Mr. Prince had overseen the hiring of American military and law enforcement veterans for the project, as well as European and South African contractors. They said he made occasional trips to the desert camp where the foreign troops, many of them Colombians, were being trained. And some of R2’s top managers had worked with Mr. Prince at Blackwater.

The former employees said that Mr. Prince took pains to mask his role in the operation, and that his name did not appear on contract documents between R2 and the U.A.E. that were provided to The Times. R2’s origins and affiliations are unclear; most corporate records are not public in Abu Dhabi. R2’s commercial license lists two other companies as partners, and the name of a third business was posted outside the office suite R2 had been using in the last year.

American laws governing the export of defense technology are murky, but American citizens involved in training foreign troops run legal risks if the State Department does not grant permits for the training. A State Department spokesman said the Obama administration was aware of R2’s operations, but would not say whether the company was operating with licenses from the department.
NYT Corrections
An article on May 15 about efforts to build a battalion of foreign mercenary troops in the United Arab Emirates referred imprecisely to the role played by Erik Prince, the founder of the security firm Blackwater Worldwide. He worked to oversee the effort and recruit troops. But Mr. Prince does not run or own the company Reflex Responses, which has a contract with the government of the U.A.E. to train and deliver the troops, according to the company president, Michael Roumi. An article on May 16 repeated the error.

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Syria: playing with fire on Twitter

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Pompeo: expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria

 

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US secretary of state John Kerry, left, met then Egyptian defence minister Abdel Fattah

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State, The American University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt January 10, 2019 declared that the U.S. would “use diplomacy and work with our partner to expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria. And he promised that the Trump administration would keep up the fight against ISIS, suggesting this could be done mostly from the air.

 

[ September 8 2015  British terrorist in Syria killed from Lincolnshire/ Nevada   ]

RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, from where pilots seated in small purpose-built cabins control aircraft thousands of miles away, RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, from where pilots seated in small purpose-built cabins control aircraft thousands of miles away,

The drone was launched by an air crew from a base in the Middle East but controlled by a British crew thousands of miles away, from RAF 39 Squadron either at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire or operating from the US air base at Creech, in Nevada. The Ministry of Defence never confirms which of the two bases is involved in attacks.

[earlier]It has been confirmed that, for the first time, a unmanned drone launched from the UK was used to assassinate two British extremists in Syria – and it was piloted from RAF Waddington near Lincoln. The launch was 3,000 miles away from where a missile from a remotely-piloted aircraft killed two British Isis members outside Raqqa on August 21. Cardiff-born Reyaad Khan, 21, was killed in the strike. It was later confirmed Rahul Amin, 26, from Aberdeen was also killed.

UK Reaper drones were at first all flown from Creech US Air Force base in Nevada, but since April 2013 missions have also been controlled by pilots stationed at RAF Waddington. Once airborne the mission is flown by the crews of 39 Squadron from Creech Air Force Base in the USA, before control is handed back to the crew in theatre for landing. The pilots of UK Reaper have all been previously qualified as pilots on other military aircraft. A ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MOU) between the UK and US Governments, obtained under Freedom of Information by legal charity Reprieve, shows how British pilots have been assigned to the command of American drone squadrons operating out of Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) are growing in importance and the RAF formed 39 Sqn at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada two years ago to operate RAF Reaper aircraft alongside USAF squadrons. Reaper provides real-time video imagery to ground commanders, and has the capability to engage ground targets if required. 39 Squadron trains and operates alongside USAF counterparts as part of the Combined Joint Predator Task Force. Although 39 Squadron is an RAF squadron, the unit includes personnel from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the British Army.

drone out of control
[June 8 Ramadi: Iraqi gunships carried out a number of strikes

On the eastern outskirts of Ramadi; Iraqi gunships carried out a number of strikes on ISIL positions within the city, killing at least 7 gunmen gathered around an ISIL observation post facing the front lines in Ramadi. The Bu-Farraj and Bu-Ghanim areas were also struck.
11:00 / 08.11.2013 Iraq accepted the first of four Russian-made Mi-35 helicopter gunships sold to the Middle Eastern nation as part of a multibillion dollar weapons deal.
In October 2012, Iraq signed a deal with Russia for the purchase of 30 helicopters Mi-28NE. And on 11 July 2014 Moscow akghirnya sends one of the first order who transported by Antonov An-124 Condor.
According to media the Government of Russia, Iraq have accepted delivery of the first batch of the ‘ Havoc ‘ Mil Mi-28NE (Night Hunter) attack helicopter, as well as additional Mil Mi-35 m ‘ Hind ‘. The helicopter has a very effective attack capability that will provide the ability for the army to fight ISIS.
In Afghanistan, the U.S. bought Russian helos because they were durable and, easy-to-operate .

[March 20 Russians can make a ‘drone no-fly zone’]

The Euro Hawk produced wiith Northrop Grumman, the American contractor that has created a joint venture with EADS to build the European version.


The Euro Hawk produced wiith Northrop Grumman, the American contractor that has created a joint venture with EADS to build the European version.

In Eastern Ukraine, Lt. Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe., said, Russian-backed forces are employing jammers to interfere with drones that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe intended to monitor in compliance with the Minsk cease-fire agreement. Ukraine’s ground defense systems are being jammed, creating what is essentially a “no-fly zone,”
“The quality and sophistication of their electronic warfare is eye watering,” Hodges said of the Russian military.

July 2 2004 Shadow U.S. drones now being used in Iraq by U.S. force]

The drones were not Reapers or Predators but smaller Shadow robotic aircraft that are launched from a catapult, a senior defense official.

The Shadow aircraft, which have been heavily used by US forces previously in Iraq and in Afghanistan, are about 14 feet (4 meters) long and can fly at an altitude of 8,000 feet (2,400 meters).

[December 26 2013]

cessna caravan in iraq

Iraqi airmen load an AGM-114 Hellfire missile onto an AC-208 Cessna Caravan for an operational exercise March 23. Iraqi air force pilots hit a specific ground target with guidance and direction from Iraqi Special Operations Forces forward air controllers on the Aziziyah Training Range, south of Baghdad.
The ATK improvements on the AC-208B include the STAR Mission System, to provide the typical crew of 3 with both day and night reconnaissance and fire control capabilities. Tactical displays help the crew to find their targets, while extra protective plates and a self-defence suite give the crew protection from ground fire. A laser designator and up to six sensors are stowed away in the L-3/Wescam MX-15D turret on the aircraft.

For about eight weeks, unarmed U.S. drones sporadically flew over Anbar to gather intelligence to target militants, but they “have been temporarily halted at the request of the Iraqi government,” a senior U.S. official said.

U.S. drones, probably taking off from a base in Jordan , flew over the Iraqi governorate of Anbar, a few days before the outbreak of the Sunni insurgency against the government of Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The drones gathered intelligence to hunt down the men of the Islamic state, the military group that has inherited the legacy of al Qaeda in the region. The missions began soon after Maliki’s visit to Washington November 1, but were stopped last week at the request of Baghdad, fearing that the cooperation will become even more awkward and turn the revolt. But not before you have used that information to mount a ground offensive against camps of the Islamic State, then ended in disaster.

But the Iraqis are less willing to accept that, because they’re worried it’s going to allow the U.S. to look under the hood and see what they’re doing. Instead, the Iraqis have emphasized big-ticket military hardware that they could operate themselves, including F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters.

[December 26]

 AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles made by Lockheed Martin Corp.

AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles made by Lockheed Martin Corp.

The Shiite-led government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will receive 75 AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and 10 ScanEagle reconnaissance drones made by Boeing Co.‘s Insitu unit.

The missiles, which cost about $70,000 apiece, will be outfitted onto small Cessna 208 Combat Caravan turboprop planes and fired at militants using targeting information supplied by the C.I.A., according to the report. The drones, which cost about $100,000 apiece, are small, low-altitude craft that can be launched from a catapult.

[December 8]

RQ-180, for operations in “contested” or “denied” airspace

RQ-180, for operations in “contested” or “denied” airspace

A new UAS, dubbed the RQ-180, was awarded to Northrop Grumman after a competition that included Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The RQ-180 is likely flying from the secret Air Force test facility at Groom Lake, Nevada, widely known as Area 51.

The aircraft will conduct the penetrating ISR mission that has been left unaddressed, and under wide debate, since retirement of the Lockheed SR-71 in 1998.
This aircraft’s design is key for the shift of Air Force ISR assets away from “permissive” environments—such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where Northrop Grumman’s non-stealthy Global Hawk and General Atomics’ Reaper operate—and toward operations in “contested” or “denied” airspace.
out of control.

[December 8 2011]

UAV X-47

UAV X-47

U.S. officials said that CIA operators were flying the unmanned drone when it veered out of control and headed deep into Iran. The drone eventually ran out of fuel and crashed in Iran’s remote mountains.
A former senior Defense Department official said the stealth drone flights had been underway for “at least four years,” The aircraft, built by Lockheed Martin, is best known for its role in surveilling the compound in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was killed. “But it wasn’t only being flown in Pakistan,” the former official said.

The CIA is thought to have a dozen or so of the batwing-shaped, radar-evading aircraft, which are capable of being fitted with different “sensor payloads,” meaning they can be equipped to capture a range of intelligence material, including high-resolution images, radiation measurements and air samples.

U.S. officials have described the loss of the aircraft in Iran as a setback but not a fatal blow to the stealth drone program. “It was never a matter of whether we were going to lose one but when,” the former official said, indicating that the CIA had used technologies that it could afford to have exposed.
[December 6]Officials here confirm that the vehicle was a highly secret stealth drone called an RQ-170. A statement issued by the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan on December 4 said that the downed drone “may be a U.S. unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week. The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status.” U.S. officials insisted December 5 that the statement was technically accurate, noting that it did not explicitly assert that the aircraft was being operated by ISAF or the U.S. military. FMV sensor system, the single-channel, full-motion video capability , that made the stealthy flying wing so invaluable when it debuted in Afghanistan about two years ago is considered outdated, potentially limiting the intelligence fallout..
the single-sensor capability is being multiplied by 65 times, resulting in an exponential increase in data, packaged for carriage by UAS and automated so it can be monitored by significantly fewer intelligence analysts than the current model of FMV exploitation. The BAE Systems-developed, wide-area, persistent surveillance sensor called the Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System (Argus-IS) will provide that level of functionality in a single sensor operating on a single platform.

Argus-IS is considered part of a whole new class of sensor. In this package it combines wide-area coverage (40 sq. km) with impressive detail (15-cm-resolution ground sample distance per pixel). Moreover, the imagery resolution allows tracking of moving vehicles and dismounted individuals.

“The way the sensor actually operates is to continuously image an area on the ground about the size of a small city, and it stores the data onboard for the entire mission,” says Jeremy Tondreault, program director of BAE’s electronic systems business. “Each of the [65] video windows is analogous to what [we get] today with narrow-band FMV.”

The U.K. Royal Air Force in Afghanistan is using the Goodrich Raptor reconnaissance pod, which houses the DB-110 dual-band (infrared and visual), long-range oblique photography (Lorop) camera. In addition, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is advocating to provide more money for a new DB-110 demonstration on the MQ-9A Reaper UAS, while an earlier demonstration on a pre-production Predator B supported Britain’s interests.

The Lorop camera system was developed by what was then Litton’s Itek division, which has been associated with CIA reconnaissance programs. For nontraditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Lorop has the advantage of being able to image a large area—such as a road, its surroundings, a valley—quickly and in detail from standoff range.

Israel-based Rafael’s Recce-Lite uses the Litening pod shape and other components, eliminating the laser in favor of bigger optics. The U.S. Air Force has tested a Goodrich MS-177 camera with a multi-spectral, 177-in. focal length on an E-8C Joint Stars as a means of identifying targets detected by radar.
[Dec.5] It is a 95 percent chance that it just malfunctioned. There are a lot of things that can fail. the latest generations of aircraft, use encrypted satellite technology that is very hard for ground systems to intercept and modify, and even if an enemy could somehow breach the satellite communications, only the most sophisticated adversary could crack the encryption protecting control codes,
In the past, pilots have lost satellite connections to drones, causing them to veer off course, run out of fuel and crash.
Northrop Grumman’s unmanned aerial vehicles business is booming, and the company plans to add 150 new jobs — mostly for engineers — at its San Diego area plants where the company manufactures the Global Hawk, Fire Scout and X-47B.
In the tight budget environment, the Defense Department is heavily investing in UAVs, which are comparatively inexpensive to operate and play a key role in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in Afghanistan and global hot spots.

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U.S. convoy withdraws from Rmeilan, Syria to Iraq

U.S. military vehicles in Syria

A line of U.S. military vehicles advances in Syria’s northern city of Manbij on December 30, 2018

A convoy of about 10 armored vehicles, in addition to some trucks, pulled out from Syria’s northeastern town of Rmeilan into Iraq.

rmeilan

Foreign Minister of France Jean-Yves Le Drian, as to French troops in Syria, said they would leave when there is a political solution in the country.

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Turkey v SDF in Manbij


“Before us we have Manbij on one side and the east of the Euphrates on the other,” Turkey’s Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar said in a speech to military personnel at a brigade command center in the province of Sanliurfa, underscoring the scale of a potential operation. “Important preparations and planning have been made in connection with this. Our preparations are continuing intensively.”

 

[May 4 2018   French in Manbij from Army Times   ]

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the U.S. troops are seen in Oshkosh M-ATVs and regular Humvees, while their French counterparts appear to be driving Nexter Aravis infantry mobility vehicles. Additionally, one of the French trucks is spotted with a satellite communications antenna flared out on top of the roof.

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