Libya: Tarhuna’s time to bleed

The forces of Libya’s UN-backed government have taken control of the town of Tarhouna, in a highly significant advance.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced a unilateral initiative to end the civil war in neighbouring Libya.
The conference in Cairo was attended by Commander Khalifa Haftar and Aguila Saleh, speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives. Several foreign diplomats, including US, Russian, French and Italian envoys attended. Haftar and Saleh are allies.
There were no representatives of the Tripoli-based administration, or of its main backers, Turkey and Qatar, at the conference.

Tarhouna was the last stronghold of the warlord Gen Khalifa Haftar in the west of the country.

[june 1 2020]

The next big battle could be for Tarhuna, a town that lies around 90km (55 miles) south-east of the capital.

It is Gen Haftar’s western stronghold, controlled by a militia known as al-Qaniyat, mainly made up of men previously loyal to the Gaddafi regime.

Troops loyal to the Tripoli government, former opponents of Gaddafi, are advancing on Tarhuna.

The fight against the old regime is still a factor in Libya’s never-ending war.

Gen Haftar’s most important backers are Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Turkey is the key ally of the Sarraj government in Tripoli.

The US has sent a variety of signals out about Libya under President Donald Trump, offering encouragement at different times to Mr Sarraj and Gen Haftar, and bombing jihadist extremists when they can find them.

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Mali: tit-for-tat violence

mopti

“On June 3, French army forces, with the support of their local partners, killed the emir of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abdelmalek Droukdel, and several of his closest collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly wrote on Twitter. Parly said that French forces, which number about 5,100 in the region, had also on May 19 captured Mohamed el Mrabat, a fighter she identified as a veteran militant in the region and member of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
https://www.dw.com/en/frances-confirms-death-of-north-africas-al-qaeda-head/a-53703153

[December 23 2019\

As French commandos were searching the combat zone in Ouagadou forest, 90 miles from the town of Mopti, “they were attacked by a group of terrorists on motorbikes”, the statement said. A Reaper drone and a French Mirage 2000 patrol opened fire to support the ground troops. French army has Reaper drones at the Niamey air base, in Niger .V

[November 19 2019]

tongo_tongo 111819 - Edited

Twenty-four soldiers have been killed in an attack by militants in eastern Mali, the country’s army has said.
Another 29 were also injured during a joint operation between troops from Mali and Niger in the Gao border region.
Mali’s army said 17 “terrorists” were killed and 100 suspects were being held in Tiloa, in Niger.
The balance of the clashes, Monday, November 18 in Tabankort (Gao), between the Armed Forces of Mali (FAMa) and terrorists, has increased. According to an evening update of the FAMA staff, 29 Malian soldiers were killed, 29 wounded and material damage recorded. “On the enemy side, according to the same source, there are 17 terrorists killed, as well as a hundred suspects apprehended by the Nigerian Forces in Tiloa and 70 motorcycles destroyed.”
Mali-Niger military operation
A little earlier in the day, the Malian armed forces have made the case of an initial assessment of 7 dead and 15 wounded in their ranks. According to a statement from the staff, it is in the context of the operation “Tongo Tongo”, a bilateral operation between Mali and Niger to track terrorists at the border between the two countries, that FAMa patrol was hung in Tabankort. According to the same source, with the support of the French Force Barkhane, the FAMa and the Nigerian Armed Forces (FAN) have taken over the initiative on the ground in Tabankort. “The Nigerian force is conducting the search,” said the statement of the Malian army.

[July 11 2018]The village of Tiloa, located 90 km northeast of the Ouallam department (Tillabéri-Niger), welcomed new displaced persons from the Fulani Bororo community from the Menaka area (Mali). According to the interviewees, the night of May 10, 2018 was marked by an exaction and threats in their camps by the armed self-defense group MSA Gatia who fights against the jihadists and who considered these Fulani as accomplices of these.
[November 12 2017] For now, analysts say the local IS affiliate remains small, at fewer than 80 fighters. But that was also the case at first with al Qaeda-linked factions before they tapped into local grievances to expand their influence in Mali in 2012.

[November 2 2019]

liptakp

menaka

Indelimane, to Menaka

[Official statement,rough translation]On 2 November, at 11:00 am, Paris time, a light armored vehicle of the Barkhane force engaged in an operation in Liptako was hit by the explosion of an explosive device. This vehicle ensured the protection of a convoy between Gao and Menaka.
The explosion caused the vehicle to turn over.
The medical team present on site immediately intervened to support the vehicle crew, while a Tiger helicopter secured the area
After this first medical intervention, the armored vehicle crew was evacuated using a Cayman helicopter to the Gao Surgical Antenna. The death of Brigadier Ronan Pointeau of the 1st Spahis Regiment was noted.
Other armored vehicle passengers were taken care of. Their condition does not inspire worry.
This insidious attack shows the importance and harshness of the fight against armed terrorist groups for the security of Liptako.
tigercayman

0211-mali-m

French light armored vehicle 2019

Screenshot 2019-11-02 at 9.41.20 AM - Editedindimwnw

Official Statement: Following the attack of the FAMa base in Indelimane, the reinforcements dispatched found 54 bodies including 1 civilian, 10 survivors & found significant material damage. The situation is under control. Collection and body identification process are continuing.

[October 2 2019]

photo_1563962954

Niger Gen. Oumarou Namatou Gazama.

Screenshot 2019-10-02 at 11.00.48 AM - Edited

Assailants rode into the community of Boulikessi with heavy weaponry overnight Sunday to Monday to attack a Malian battalion of the regional G5 Sahel Force, said a force commander, Niger Gen. Oumarou Namatou Gazama. He blamed “the terrorist group” Ansarul Islam.

Mali’s government said that after exchanges of gunfire, the army had retaken Boulikessi, killing at least 15 extremists and destroying five of their vehicles. It said a joint force with Burkina Faso soldiers was pursuing the extremists behind the attacks.

On 19 May, elements of the Malian armed forces under the command of FC-G5S reportedly killed at least 12 civilians in retaliation for the killing of one of their own soldiers in Boulikessi, in the Mopti region of central Mali. The incident was investigated by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which concluded that soldiers assigned to FC-G5S had “summarily and/or arbitrarily executed 12 civilians”, according to a 26 June statement. The report of this inquiry was sent to the Mali government. The Malian Ministry of Defense announced the opening of a criminal investigation into the matter. On 5 September, the prosecutor of Mopti requested MINUSMA’s assistance in the investigation.  https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/monthly-forecast/2018-11/group_of_five_for_the_sahel.php?print=true

[September 27]

Screenshot 2019-09-26 at 6.58.36 PM - Edited

Photo June 29, 2018, shows damaged buildings inside African military taskforce, G5 sahel headquarters, in the town of Sevare, Mali

Mali’s army says seven soldiers are dead after their vehicles struck an explosive device and were ambushed.
Army spokesman Col. Diarran Kone said the army on September 26 2019 was escorting two vehicles full of fertilizer between the communities of Douentza and Sevare in central Mali when the first vehicle struck the explosives.

[August 21 2019]
Screenshot 2019-08-21 at 3.43.28 PM - Edited

Five troops were killed in central Mali on August 21 2019 when their convoy was ambushed by jihadists on a road between the villages of Boni and Hombori, “the jihadists… burned at least two military vehicles. At least two soldiers were also wounded.”

[July 2 2019]

Screenshot 2019-07-02 at 1.48.46 PM - Edited

Bomako, l, Ouenkoro, r

“During [July 2 2019], and overnight, in the villages of Bidi, Sankoro and Saran, armed men attacked civilians, killing 23 of them,” Cheick Harouna Sankare, mayor of the neighboring town of Ouenkoro. The attacks come following a wave of deadly assaults between Fulani herders and Dogon farmers who have long fought over land and resources.

The rivalry has escalated in recent years due to the growing presence of armed Islamist groups.

[June 27 2019]

Screenshot 2019-06-27 at 8.10.08 AM - Edited

“About 100 unidentified armed men circulating on motos all of a sudden invaded Yoro and fired on the population,” said Issiaka Ganame, the mayor of Yoro. “Then they descended on the village of Gangafani 2, which is about 15km (9 miles) away.”

The tit-for-tat violence in recent months has largely pitted Dogon hunters against Fulani herders. Attackers believed to be Fulani raided a Dogon village last week, killing at least 35 people.

[June 16 2019 French kill terrorists ]

Screenshot 2019-06-16 at 8.38.41 AM

akabar - Edited

French in Akabar

Allied French and Malian forces killed 20 militants in an operation in the district of Akabar, a remote part of a game reserve near the border with Niger and not far from the Malian city of Menaka,

[June 11 2019   after attack on Fulanis, reply on Dogons   [

Screenshot 2019-06-10 at 9.49.19 AM - Edited

Mali’s central Mopti region

[June 12 2019] The number of people killed in an attack on Sobame Da in Mopti central Mali has been revised to 35, down from nearly 100, the initial figure corresponded to the combined number of dead and disappeared.
At least 95 people were killed when gunmen raided their village in central Mali late on June 9 2019.

The attack took place in the ethnic Dogon village of Sobane, in Mali’s central Mopti region,
Members of the Dogon and Fulani groups often clash over access to land and water. The Dogon also accuse Fulanis of having ties to local jihadist groups, while Fulanis claim that Mali’s army has armed Dogon hunters to attack them.

Earlier this year, the massacre of more than 150 Fulani villagers, including women and children, prompted Mali’s government to sack senior military officials and dissolve a militia composed of Dogon hunters.

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Syria: Russian Air Force in Latakia

On May 26, a U.S.Navy P-8A Poseidon operated off Latakia, northwestern Syria, well outside the Syrian airspace but not too far from Hmeimim, the base that hosts the Russian Air Force contingent.

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Syria: Russia fed up with mess

tartus

Tartus, Syria, Russian Navy

Both the Tartus and Latakia bases are set to be expanded to allow Russian armed forces higher levels of performance and functionality, said Yuri Shvitkin, the vice chair of the Russian state Duma defense committee.

“Tartus now has a rather limited functionality,” he told Interfax, adding that the port should become a fully-fledged navy base. In 2019, Moscow had already pledged millions of dollars to modernize the facility.

At Latakia, Shvitkin said Russia would like to separate the civilian section of the airport from the air force section to ensure better protection of its military and technology.

[May 26 2020]

James Jeffrey: In terms of getting Russia out of Syria, that has never been our goal. Russia has been there for 30 years. It has a long-term relationship with Syria. We don’t think it has been healthy for the region. We don’t think it really is even healthy for Russia. But that’s not our policy. Our policy right now is to restore the situation in 2011 before the conflict began, and that would eventually lead to all of the other military forces that have entered leaving. Ones were most interested in, of course, are the Iranians and the Iranian-commanded militias.

TEHERAN, May 17. /TASS/. Russian Ambassador to Iran Levan Dzhagaryan has refuted allegations that the Russian side is dissatisfied with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

[May 17 2020]

Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Ambassador James Jeffrey spoke by phone on May 14 with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin on the situation in Syria and on the importance of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2254 to achieve a political settlement to the Syrian conflict.

Special Representative Jeffrey’s Call with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin

rami-makhloufDirectly appealing to the president, his maternal cousin, in a 15-minute video, Rami Makhlouf claimed he had been ordered to pay up to 130bn Syrian pounds (£202m) in fines for tax fraud, a figure that he said could result in the “collapse” of his businesses.

In a video, the third he has issued bringing into the open a rift with his cousin Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf said that authorities had set a deadline for him to resign from top mobile operator Syriatel or they would revoke its licence but that he would not step down.

[May 1 2020]
He claimed his company paid 12bn Syrian pounds in tax last year and shares the profits equally with the state.
It is not known what first sparked the rift in the Assad family; however, there has been growing speculation that Russia, fed up with the protracted and expensive war in Syria, has increased pressure on the Syrian president.

Russia has been a key backer of Syrian government forces throughout the country’s civil war, but there have been a number of recent articles in Russian media criticising the Syrian president and endemic corruption in the country.

[October 22 2018 Damascus at peace ]
Damascus 11 18
This was the first summer since 2011 without the sound of fighting in Damascus. President Bashar al-Assad’s success in the war owes much to Russia, which entered the war on his side in 2015, and whose soldiers are now a common sight in government-held areas. Syria cannot afford a major rebuilding programme. Its closest allies, Russia and Iran, seem unlikely to foot the bill. Western nations will pay no cash without a political transition.

[December 03 2014 View from Baghdad: wrong al-Dulaimi ]

Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi

Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi

Members of the tribe known as Al-Dulaimi come originally from Anbar province in western Iraq, and held important positions in Saddam’s government, were professors and heads of departments in universities, judges and generals in the army as well as high-ranking officials in the now defunct Baath Party.

“The one detained by Lebanese authorities was Saja Abdul Hamid al-Dulaimi, sister of Omar Abdul Hamid al-Dulaimi who is detained by authorities and sentenced to death for his participation in … explosions,” ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan told Reuters.

“The wives of the terrorist al-Baghdadi are Asmaa Fawzi Mohammed al-Dulaimi and Esraa Rajab Mahel al-Qaisi, and there is no wife in the name of Saja al-Dulaimi.”

Maan said Saja Dulaimi had fled to Syria where she was detained by authorities. She was part of a group of female detainees freed in exchange for the release of a group of nuns captured by Islamist insurgents in Syria, he said

[December 2]
Lebanese security officials had reported earlier that al-Baghdadi’s wife and one son had been arrested more than a week ago while trying to enter Lebanon from Syria. But U.S. officials said that the child was a girl and that it remained unclear whether her mother was al-Baghdadi’s legal wife, common-law wife or former wife. [earlier]Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi, a wife and her daughter of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was detained by Lebanese army as they crossed from Syria nine days ago. U.S. officials said they were looking into the reports from Lebanon. One official said that if one of Baghdadi’s wives or children were detained, the U.S. believes it could positively identify them, though the official would not say how. Details of her existence first emerged earlier this year following the release of 13 nuns who had been kidnapped by anti-government rebels from a Christian town in Syria.
The nuns were freed as part of a prisoner swap involving women who had been arrested by Syrian security forces. Media reports earlier this year claimed that one of those then released was Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi, who had reportedly been detained along with three of her children during an operation near the Syrian capital, Damascus.

[August 10 2013 Attack on Assad fails near Enas bin Malik mosque[

Assad was travelling to a mosque in the Damascus suburb of Malki, where he has an office and a residence, when the attack took place in the early morning. Residents confirmed to the Guardian that at least three mortars, or small rockets, landed as his convoy arrived at the Enas bin Malik mosque for prayers to mark the beginning of the three-day Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr.

It is not clear whether the motorcade was hit. Syria’s information minister, Omran al-Zoubi, later denied any attack had taken place and said Assad was safe and well.

[June 4]


Participants compete in a game of ultimate frisbee during the 39th Air Base Wing Sports Day May 24, 2013, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Sports day was an event that brought Airmen together through sports and recreation. Airmen from several squadrons competed in friendly game.

the only hope for an acceptable political settlement in Syria lies in an intervention that would decisively shift the balance of Syria’s war — through arms supplies to the rebels and airstrikes to eliminate the regime’s air power. [WAPO May 30]

The apparent ease with which Israel struck missile sites and, by Syrian accounts, a major military research center near Damascus in recent days has stoked debate in Washington about whether American-led airstrikes are the logical next step to cripple President Bashar al-Assad’s ability to counter the rebel forces or use chemical weapons.
That option was already being debated in secret by the United States, Britain and France in the days leading to the Israeli strikes, according to American and foreign officials involved in the discussions.

David Sanger[May 6]

Russia has sent a dozen or more warships to patrol waters near its naval base in Syria, a buildup that U.S. and European officials see as a newly aggressive stance meant partly to warn the West and Israel not to intervene in Syria’s bloody civil war.

Russia’s expanded presence in the eastern Mediterranean, which began attracting U.S. officials’ notice three months ago, represents one of its largest sustained naval deployments since the Cold War. While Western officials say they don’t fear an impending conflict with Russia’s aged fleet, the presence adds a new source of potential danger for miscalculation in an increasingly combustible region.

“It is a show of force. It’s muscle flexing,” a senior U.S. defense official said of the Russian deployments. “It is about demonstrating their commitment to their interests.” [WSJ may 16]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her delegation said they had frank words with President Bashar al-Assad, April 5, 2007

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her delegation said they had frank words with President Bashar al-Assad, April 5, 2007

Winning is living another day, and if you bring it down to that, (Assad) is. Civil wars since 1945 have lasted an average 10 years.
Some analysts are starting to draw parallels with the civil war in Lebanon, which dragged on from 1975-1990. After the amnesty in Lebanon, former militia warlords, now cemented as sectarian leaders, were able to place their supporters at all levels of national institutions. Insertion and amnesty gave peacetime legitimacy to militia fighters. Along with the persistence of ‘gun culture’ and predatory behaviour in society, militia fighters were able to pervade the administration, instead of becoming ‘civilianised’.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, whose government was last year described as close to collapse by groups ranging from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the armed opposition, may remain in power for years to come.
“The regime is still in place, strong and not going anywhere,” Julien Barnes-Dacey, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said in an interview. Widespread predictions of his demise reflected an “unwillingness to assess the regime’s strength, wishful thinking, a desire for a swift end, and a failure to recognize this is a civil war.”

[May 14]

30 MANPADS now in Syria, and number is growing

30 MANPADS now in Syria, and number is growing

According to American officials and nongovernmental groups that work in the region, the overwhelming majority of the rebels are fighting for an Islamic republic. Al Nusra, like the other Al Qaeda affiliates, wants to do away with the Syrian state altogether and reëstablish the Islamic caliphate. “The Islamists are the majority,’’ Elizabeth O’Bagy, an analyst for the Institute for the Study of War who has travelled to rebel-held areas several times, said. The small number of non-Islamists among the rebels are often socialists, she told me, and are referred to by their peers with an English word: “hippies.”
In April, Dempsey reversed his position on giving weapons to the rebels, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that he was no longer sure the United States “could clearly identify the right people” to arm. “It is actually more confusing on the opposition side today than it was six months ago,’’ he said. The rise of Al Nusra has made it seem increasingly possible that what comes after Assad will be a regime led by hard-line Islamists or, perhaps more likely, a bloody fight for power among various rebel groups. C.I.A. operatives have begun helping more moderate rebels conduct operations against Al Nusra, according to an expert on the region. In May, the senior American official who is involved in Syria policy met me at his office in Washington. When I asked him to predict Syria’s future, he got up from his desk and walked over to a large map of the country which was tacked to his wall. “You could have a situation where the more secular rebel groups could well be fighting the more Islamist-oriented groups,” he said. “We are already getting that in places like Deir ez-Zor, in the east. In Aleppo, they fight each other.” Pointing to an area near the Turkish border, he said, “We see fighting between Kurdish and Arab militias up in the north.” Elsewhere, there were Druze militias, members of a small religious community most often associated with Lebanon. “They have had some clashes with the Free Syrian Army. And here is my favorite. Christians are now setting up their own militia.
“What does that sound like? Lebanon. But it’s Lebanon on steroids.” He walked back to his desk and sat down. “The Syria I have just drawn for you—I call it the Sinkhole,’’ he said. “I think there is an appreciation, even at the highest levels, of how this is getting steadily worse. This is the discomfort you see with the President, and it’s not just the President. It’s everybody.

Supporters of the regime and Hezbollah point out that the rebellion tolerates Sunni fundamentalist extremists whereas Assad and Hezbollah rely on a time-tested alliance of minorities, including Alawites, Christians, Druze, and Shiite Muslims. The propaganda of both sides has sharpened a narrative of the Syrian conflict as a struggle between Sunni extremists and old-style authoritarians, who at least protect the minorities they exploit. Deadly identity politics have taken root, and people on both sides of the conflict see it more and more as a matter of survival.
[April 30 2013]

Syria's NDF being formed for the endgame

Syria’s NDF being formed for the endgame

BEIRUT: U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly renewed April 30, 2013 04:59 PM her government’s call for the release of the two bishops recently kidnapped by gunmen in Syria, following a meeting with Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East John X.

Vatican Radio reports Shortly after confirming in some greek-orthodox priests living in Turkey their reunion in Syrian territory, the two bishops have become untraceable. While rumors continue to circulate rumors and uncontrolled and from time to time denied the imminent release of the two abducted bishops – the last one was dated on the morning of April 26 on several news sites Arabs – the identity of the kidnappers remains obscure. In the area between Aleppo and the Turkish border move factions and heterogeneous groups, often at war with each other. Meanwhile, from Jeddah, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned the kidnapping of the two bishops. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of Pan-Islamic body, called for their release, “immediate and unconditional”, insisting that their seizure “contradicts the principles of authentic Islam, and the high status reserved to the Christian clergy in Islam.”

[April 23]
Two bishops who were abducted by gunmen in a rebel-held area of northern Syria have been released,. Christians made up about 10% of the mainly Sunni Muslim country’s population before the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began just over two years ago.

President Assad’s government has hoped to retain their loyalty, based on a shared fear of what might happen if Sunni Muslims take over the country.

But some Christians have chosen to join the opposition – including George Sabra, the newly appointed leader of the opposition coalition.

[April 22]
Two Aleppian bishops were kidnapped by Syrian rebels in the outskirts of the city April 21, Yaziji, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo and Iskandaroun and Yuhanna Ibrahim, the Syrian-Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo.
Sunday, 24 March 2013, Chaldean Catholic Bishop Antoine Audo repeatedly referred to the war as a “confessional conflict” between the minority Alawite Shiites and the country’s Sunni Muslim majority. He insisted Christians have not been targeted as Christians, except in some kidnapping cases, because Christians are thought to have more money.

[earlier]
How to back the Syrian rebels enough to induce the stubborn regime to negotiate a controlled transition, but not enough to trigger an abrupt regime collapse which might allow the radicals to take over.
Assad’s National Defence Forces started out as popular committees patrolling their neighborhoods. Then they became armed groups. And in late 2012, they were legitimized under the name National Defence Forces (NDF). Army officers belonging mainly to the minority Alawite sect, to which Assad himself belongs, sit uncomfortably in charge of a conscript army of men who are mostly from Syria’s majority Sunni Muslims. Officers wary of their own recruits say they can create a more reliable force out of irregular loyalist militias spread across the country.Most NDF fighters are Alawites, but many Christians and Druze have joined as well.
it is not hard to imagine the emergence of an informal – possibly even formal – union between Sunni parts of western Iraq and a Sunni-dominated Syria, as the region slides into a kind of sectarian and ethnic balkanisation whose fault-lines are already visible.
The survival of the Assad regime [without Assad and his family], or its transition into something retaining many of its pluralistic traits and structures, is the only serious obstacle to that process.

[April 16]

Syrian Army gradually losing control

Syrian Army gradually losing control

Two years into the uprising against Assad, government forces are fighting hard to maintain control of cities. Many rural areas and provincial towns have fallen to the rebels. Aleppo, formerly a business hub, is locked in a stalemate between the rival forces.

.   Fahd Jassem al-Freij, minister of defense.

. Fahd Jassem al-Freij, minister of defense.

Dawoud Rajha was assassinated in 18 July 2012 Damascus bombing at the Syrian National Security Building at Rawda Square, Damascus. Fahd Jassem al-Freij was named by President Assad as Rajiha’s successor as minister of defense.

[May 29 2011]

Defense Minister Ali Habib Mahmoud

Syrian Defense Minister Ali Habib Mahmoud

In addition to Bashar al-Assad, the Treasury Department froze U.S. assets of Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Shara, Prime Minster Adel Safar, Defense Minister Ali Habib Mahmoud, military intelligence chief Abdul Fatah Qudsiya, Interior Minister Muhammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, and Muhammad Dib Zaitoun, head of the country’s political security directorate.

Ali Habib Mahmud (Arabic: علي حبيب محمود‎) is the current defense minister of the Syrian Arab Republic, serving since June 2009.

Any divisions within the Syrian military are likely to be along sectarian lines, with Sunnis siding with the dissenters and Alawites siding with the regime, though the Alawite community is not homogenous and could possibly witness cracks within its members as well. Although many high-ranking military officers are Alawite, the majority of their divisions are not
Should the soldiers in those divisions begin to mutiny, they could compel their commanders to rebel against Assad.
Apart from the Republican Guard and the Fourth Armored Division, the army has not been involved in the crackdown,. more read

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Hajji Taysir, SDGT, killed in OIR airstrike

hajii - EditedMutaz Numan Abd Nayif Najm al-Jaburi, believed to be one of the top three leaders of ISIS, was killed in a coalition airstrike on May 26 2020 in Syria’s Deir al-Zour province. Operation Inherent Resolve had no comment on the strike that killed Jaburi, aka Hajji Taysir, who merited a $5 million bounty.

 
Designation of Hajji Taysir as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist
A Notice by the State Department on 09/19/2019

The person known as Hajji Taysir, also known as Mu’taz Numan `Abd Nayf al-Jaburi, also known as Mutazz Numan Abid Nayif al-Jaburi, also known as Mutaaz Numan `Abd Naif, also known as Mutaz Nuaman Abed Nayif, is a foreign person who is a leader of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to a determination by the Secretary of State pursuant to Executive Order 13224.

[April 8 2020 Abu Ghraib, K-1, Al-Qaim , Qayyarah , Al-Sqoor, and Al-Taqaddum ]

 Baghdad Central Correctional Facility or BCCF at Abu Ghraib 2007

Baghdad Central Correctional Facility or BCCF at Abu Ghraib 2007

The US-led international coalition tasked with fighting Daesh April 6 2020 withdrew from the Abu Ghraib base, west of the capital Baghdad. Over the past three weeks, the international coalition forces have withdrawn from the K-1 base in Kirkuk, Al-Qaim near the Syrian border, Qayyarah in western Iraq, Al-Sqoor base inside Nineveh operation command in Mosul, and Al-Taqaddum Air Base in Anbar province.

On 25 March, France decided to withdraw its troops from Iraq following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

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Tunisia: SFAB ‘in no way’ combat force

“As Russia continues to fan the flames of the Libyan conflict, regional security in North Africa is a heightened concern,” said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command. “We’re looking at new ways to address mutual security concerns with Tunisia, including the use of our Security Force Assistant Brigade.”

EDITOR’S NOTE (from May 30): To clarify, the Security Forces Assistance Brigade referred to by AFRICOM in our press release of May 29, 2020 refers to a small training unit as part of a military assistance program, and in no way implies combat military forces. It is important to understand potential needs and always look for new approaches and ways to partner as part of our ongoing dialogue. https://www.africom.mil/pressrelease/32888/africom-commander-reaffirms-bilateral-partner

AFRICOM continues to support diplomatic efforts to stabilize the political situation in Libya and disrupt terrorist organizations that threaten regional stability. While AFRICOM personnel are not currently located in Libya, the command continues to monitor conditions in Libya and assess the feasibility for a renewed U.S. military presence once the security environment permits doing so.Aug 27, 2019
STUTTGART, Germany – The new commander of U.S. Africa Command, Gen. Stephen Townsend, traveled to Tunis, Tunisia on Aug. 26,2019

https://wp.me/p1kUZv-at

[March 6 2020 Suicide attack with a motorbike targeting the US embassy in Tunis ]

[July 7 2011 Brotherhood joins rally – USA: talks with Muslim Brotherhood, Ennahda ]

Under Secretary of State William J. Burns,  in Cairo , left

Under Secretary of State William J. Burns, in Cairo , left

In a rare show of unity, Egypt’s largest political Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, will join a vast array of liberal, leftist and secular political forces, including youth representatives from this year’s anti-Mubarak uprising, July 8. They will demand that police officers and former regime officials are finally held accountable and that the army’s grip over the justice system comes to an end. The Muslim Brotherhood initially said it would boycott the rally due to disagreements with political rivals over whether a new constitution should be written before or after parliamentary elections. But the “constitution-first” demand has now been softened by rally organisers and the Brotherhood’s involvement, which analysts believe is essential if the group wants to maintain credibility, looks set to bolster protester numbers significantly.
“The Brotherhood is trying to reassure investors by saying, ‘Look, we are business owners and professionals,’” said Elijah Zarwan, an analyst in Cairo for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.
The Muslim Brotherhood initially said it would boycott the rally due to disagreements with political rivals over whether a new constitution should be written before or after parliamentary elections. But the “constitution-first” demand has now been softened by rally organisers and the Brotherhood’s involvement, which analysts believe is essential if the group wants to maintain credibility, looks set to bolster protester numbers significantly.
High level diplomats, including Under Secretary of State William J. Burns, were in Cairo this week and held talks with many different leaders of the coalition of movements that took part in the demonstrations, including several leaders of a youth movement within the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Obama administration has also reached out to Tunisia’s most prominent Islamist party, Ennahda.

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Niger Ambush: Old AUMF, new AUMF and such

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Flintlock 18 in Niger, Africa

Senate lawmakers temporarily blocked the promotion of an Army colonel formerly in charge of 3rd Special Forces Group to brigadier general.
Col. Bradley Moses was one of the Special Forces officers involved in the ambush that took the lives of four U.S. soldiers outside of Tongo Tongo, Niger on Oct. 4, 2017.

[October 23 2017]

 

“The president may rely on the 2001 A.U.M.F. as statutory authority for the military airstrike operations he is directing” against I.S.I.S., the administration said in a written statement provided to The New York Times and attributed to a senior administration official.

“The president may rely on the 2001 A.U.M.F. as statutory authority for the military airstrike operations he is directing” against I.S.I.S., the administration said in a written statement provided to The New York Times and attributed to a senior administration official.

As long as American military activity involves countering “radical Islamist fundamentalism and the spread of it,” Congress doesn’t need to give the Pentagon any special permission since, in the view of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the AUMF that passed in 2001 was sufficient: activity doesn’t need an Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) for that mission.
“The military determines who the threats are, they come up with the engagement policy and if we don’t like what the military does, we can defund the operation,” Graham said. That AUMF, which sailed through Congress after the attacks on 9/11 has been used as legal justification for numerous campaigns beyond counteracting the Taliban in Afghanistan; most prominently in Syria to target ISIS and, now, as far-flung as Niger.

[September 19 2014 ]

The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub. L. 107-40, codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001,
Be it resolved…
That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

50 U.S. Code § 3093 – Presidential approval and reporting of covert actions
The President may not authorize the conduct of a covert action by departments, agencies, or entities of the United States Government unless…
(e) “Covert action” defined
As used in this subchapter, the term “covert action” means an activity or activities of the United States Government to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly, but does not include—
(1) activities the primary purpose of which is to acquire intelligence, traditional counterintelligence activities, traditional activities to improve or maintain the operational security of United States Government programs, or administrative activities;
(2) traditional diplomatic or military activities or routine support to such activities;
(3) traditional law enforcement activities conducted by United States Government law enforcement agencies or routine support to such activities; or
(4) activities to provide routine support to the overt activities (other than activities described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3)) of other United States Government agencies abroad.

On September 17, the House passed a continuing resolution funding the arming of “moderate” Syrian rebels; September 18, the Senate voted 78-22 to arm them.)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a resolution authorizing military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The use-of-force resolution may be wrapped into the Defense authorization bill.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) proposes a new AUMF. The full draft text of the joint resolution, “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against ISIL,” is available below.

To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against the terrorist organization, “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” (ISIL) .

Whereas for months ISIL has been engaged in an almost unchecked campaign of murder and mayhem across a broad swath of Iraq and Syria that has killed thousands of innocent people and terrorized millions;

Whereas ISIL has brought under its control large areas of Iraq and Syria and announced on June 29, 2014 the establishment of a new caliphate;

Whereas in its conduct of military operations, its treatment of personnel captured on the battlefield, and its behavior towards civilians in areas under its control, ISIL has shown a level of brutality and depravity that shocks the conscience;

Whereas the threat posed by the recruitment of ISIL fighters in the United States and Europe and the prospect of these fighters returning to the United States or allied countries threatens the security of the United States and its allies;

Whereas ISIL poses an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States and if left unchecked will be the locus of plots to attack our homeland;

Whereas the rise of ISIL, the continuing threat posed by al Qaeda and the pending redeployment of American combat troops from Afghanistan highlight the need to re-examine and harmonize the legal authorities under which the President is authorized to take offensive military action;

Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to protect the United States from and its citizens from imminent threat or attack:

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

Section 1 – Short Title

This joint resolution may be cited as the ‘Authorization for Use of Military Force Against ISIL’.

Section 2 – Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces

(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against ISIL.

a) GEOGRAPHICAL LIMITATION – The authorization in this section shall be confined to the territory of the Republic of Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic.

b) NO AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF ROTATIONAL GROUND FORCES.-Except for special operations forces and other forces that may be deployed in atraining and advisory role, the authorization in this section does not include authorization for the use of rotational ground forces.

(b) TERMINATION: – The authority of subsection (a) shall terminate eighteen months from the enactment of this joint resolution.

Section 3 – Repeal of Prior Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces

(a) The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243; 50 U.S.C. 26 1541 note) is hereby repealed.

(b) Effective eighteen months from the date of enactment of this joint resolution, the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) is hereby repealed.

Section 4 – War Powers Resolution Requirements

(a) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

(b) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

Section 5 – Reports to Congress

a) IN GENERAL.- The President shall, at least once every 60 days, submit to the Congress a report on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 2 and the status of planning for efforts that are expected to be required over the next 60 days.

i. Such reports are to be submitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President pro tempore of the Senate.

b) CONSOLIDATION.-To the extent that the submission of any report described in this subsection coincides with the submissions of any other report on matters relevant to this joint resolution otherwise required to be submitted to Congress pursuant to the reporting requirements of the War Powers Resolution, all such reports may be submitted as a single consolidated report to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President pro tempore of the Senate.

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