bobby global

RSS
Jan 4

Al-Qaeda force captures Fallujah, site of bloodiest battle of Iraq war

MOHAMMED JALIL/EPA - Thousands of people attend Friday prayers in Fallujah on Jan. 3.

BEIRUT — A rejuvenated al-Qaeda-affiliated force asserted control over the western Iraqi city of Fallujah on Friday, raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state in one of the most crucial areas that U.S. troops fought to pacify before withdrawing from Iraq two years ago.

The capture of Fallujah came amid an explosion of violence across the western desert province of Anbar in which local tribes, Iraqi security forces and al-Qaeda-affiliated militants have been fighting one another for days in a confusingly chaotic three-way war.

image

Video

Gunfire and explosions could be seen across Fallujah as Al-Qaida militants and Iraqi government troops battle for control of Fallujah and Ramadi, both strongholds of Sunni insurgents during the US war in Iraq.

Gunfire and explosions could be seen across Fallujah as Al-Qaida militants and Iraqi government troops battle for control of Fallujah and Ramadi, both strongholds of Sunni insurgents during the US war in Iraq.

Elsewhere in the province, local tribal militias claimed they were gaining ground against the al-Qaeda militants who surged into urban areas from their desert strongholds this week after clashes erupted between local residents and the Iraqi security forces.

In Fallujah, where Marines fought the bloodiest battle of the Iraq war in 2004, the militants appeared to have the upper hand, underscoring the extent to which the Iraqi security forces have struggled to sustain the gains made by U.S. troops before they withdrew in December 2011.

The upheaval also affirmed the soaring capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that was formed a decade ago to confront U.S. troops and expanded into Syria last year while escalating its activities in Iraq. Roughly a third of the 4,486 U.S. troops killed in Iraq died in Anbar trying to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, nearly 100 of them in the November 2004 battle for control of Fallujah, the site of America’s bloodiest confrontation since the Vietnam War.

Events Friday suggested the fight may have been in vain.

“At the moment, there is no presence of the Iraqi state in Fallujah,” said a local journalist who asked not to be named because he fears for his safety. “The police and the army have abandoned the city, al-Qaeda has taken down all the Iraqi flags and burned them, and it has raised its own flag on all the buildings.”

At Friday prayers , held outdoors and attended by thousands of people, a masked ISIS fighter took the podium and addressed the crowd, declaring the establishment of an “Islamic emirate” in Fallujah and promising to help residents fight the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Iranian allies.

“We don’t want to hurt you. We don’t want to take any of your possessions,” the man told the crowd, according to the journalist, who attended the prayers. “We want you to reopen the schools and institutions and return to your normal lives.”

The extent of the militants’ control over the city was unclear, however. Some local tribes were challenging their presence, and there were scattered firefights, according to another Fallujah resident who also did not want to be named because he is afraid. The Iraqi army fired shells into Fallujah from bases outside the city, killing at least 17 people, and most residents spent the day hiding indoors, he said.

In the provincial capital, Ramadi, tribal fighters have succeeded in ejecting al-Qaeda loyalists, according to Ahmed Abu Risha, a tribal leader who fought alongside U.S. troops against al-Qaeda in Iraq following the “surge” of U.S. troops in 2007.

The tribesmen are cooperating with Iraqi police, Abu Risha said, and are receiving weapons and support from the Iraqi army. Among those killed in the fighting was Abu Abdul Rahman al-Baghdadi, the emir, or leader, of ISIS in Ramadi.

“All the tribes of Anbar are fighting against al-Qaeda,” he said. “We are happy this fight is taking place. We will confront them face to face, and we will win this battle.”

But it was unclear whether all the tribal fighters battling the al-Qaeda-affiliated militants were doing so in alliance with the Iraqi government. The current violence evolved from a year-long, largely peaceful Sunni revolt against Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government that drew inspiration from the Arab Spring demonstrations elsewhere in the region. But it was rooted in the sectarian disputes left unresolved when U.S. troops withdrew and inflamed by the escalating conflict in neighboring Syria.

Those disputes include the exclusion of Sunnis from important decision-making positions in government and abuses committed against Sunnis in Iraq’s notoriously inequitable judicial system.

When Maliki dispatched the Iraqi army to quell a protest in Ramadi this week, local tribes fought back. Maliki ordered the troops to withdraw, creating an opportunity for al-Qaeda fighters to surge into towns from their desert strongholds and triggering battles across the province.

Though some tribes have turned against the al-Qaeda-affiliated militants, others have not, said Kirk Sowell, a political risk analyst based in the Jordanian capital, Amman, who edits the newsletter Inside Iraqi Politics.

“Basically, no one is in control,” he said. “The situation was really horrible anyway, and the operation against Ramadi made it worse.”

A group representing the tribal fighters, calling itself the Military Council of the Anbar Rebels, posted a video on YouTube in which masked men declared their opposition to Maliki’s government but made no mention of al-Qaeda. The fighters called on local members of the Iraqi security forces to desert, hand over their weapons “and remember always that they are the sons of Iraq, not slaves of Maliki.”

Whether or how the Iraqi security forces will be able to regain the initiative is unclear. ISIS fighters have steadily asserted their control over the province’s desert regions for months, buoyed by their consolidation of control over territory just across the border in Syria. They are more disciplined and better armed than the tribal fighters drawn into the fray over the past week, and the Iraqi security forces lack the equipment and technology that enabled U.S. troops to suppress the al-Qaeda challenge.


Al-Qaeda’s ascendant influence in Syria has given the militants control over the desert territories spanning both sides of the ­Iraqi-Syrian border, enabling them to readily transfer weapons and fighters between the arenas.
In the past year, al-Qaeda has bounced back, launching a vicious campaign of bombings that killed more than 8,000 people in 2013, according to the United Nations. Sectarian tensions between Iraq’s Sunnis and the Shiite-led government have been further inflamed by the war in Syria, where the majority Sunni population has been engaged in a nearly three-year-old struggle to dislodge President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Shiite Alawite minority.

In Syria on Friday, there were demonstrations in several rebel-held towns against ISIS’s presence, and in at least one town ISIS fighters opened fire on protesters, echoing the suppression of anti-government demonstrations by Syria’s government in the early days of the revolt. Clashes also erupted between the al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters and Islamist fighters from the newly formed Islamist Front in the rebel-held north, in a sign of growing tensions between Syrians and foreign-influenced extremists.

Most residents of Fallujah do not support the al-Qaeda fighters, the journalist there said, but they also lack the means to oppose them, and they also oppose the Iraqi government.

“It is sad, because we are going back to the days of the past,” he said. “Everyone is remembering the battles of 2004 when the Marines came in, and now we are revisiting history.”

Ahmed Ramadan and Loveday Morris in Beirut and Ben Van Heuvelen in New York contributed to this report.

Nov 8
theatlantic:

The Kremlin is Losing Control of the Nationalist Movement It Helped Create

For all the crude xenophobic placards and slogans at this week’s Russian March, one stood out for its—dare I say—cleverness. 
“The good half of the population already hates the regime. Soon you will get to know the bad half,” read a sign carried by a marcher.
Not only was it clever, but it also rang true. In a recent editorial, Gazeta.ru wrote that “for the first time, nationalist marches are taking on an oppositionist character.”
After years of successfully manipulating nationalists for their own purposes and cultivating xenophobia among the population, the Kremlin is now standing face-to-face with the monster it helped create. “Those nationalists who did not join up with the authorities in time attached themselves to the protest movement—you have to avoid your own marginalization somehow,” political analyst Andrei Kolesnikov wrote in a​recent commentary. 
In addition to the predictable chants of “Russia for Russians,” “Stop Feeding the Caucasus,” and various anti-migrant diatribes at this year’s Russian March, there were plenty of calls for the end of Vladimir Putin’s “Chekist regime.”
Read more. [Image: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters]

theatlantic:

The Kremlin is Losing Control of the Nationalist Movement It Helped Create

For all the crude xenophobic placards and slogans at this week’s Russian March, one stood out for its—dare I say—cleverness. 

“The good half of the population already hates the regime. Soon you will get to know the bad half,” read a sign carried by a marcher.

Not only was it clever, but it also rang true. In a recent editorial, Gazeta.ru wrote that “for the first time, nationalist marches are taking on an oppositionist character.”

After years of successfully manipulating nationalists for their own purposes and cultivating xenophobia among the population, the Kremlin is now standing face-to-face with the monster it helped create. “Those nationalists who did not join up with the authorities in time attached themselves to the protest movement—you have to avoid your own marginalization somehow,” political analyst Andrei Kolesnikov wrote in a​recent commentary

In addition to the predictable chants of “Russia for Russians,” “Stop Feeding the Caucasus,” and various anti-migrant diatribes at this year’s Russian March, there were plenty of calls for the end of Vladimir Putin’s “Chekist regime.”

Read more. [Image: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters]

US official confirms Israel struck Syrian airbase

Satellite footage of alleged missile base in Latakia, Syria (photo credit: Wikimapia)

Satellite footage of alleged missile base in Latakia, Syria (photo credit: Wikimapia)

While Israel has remained tight-lipped over an alleged strike in Syria, a White House official confirmed to CNN on Thursday that Israel had in fact attacked an airbase in Latakia on Wednesday. Earlier Thursday, on the heels of reports that the airbase had possibly containing advanced, Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles, Al-Arabiya reported that Israel had attacked not one, but two targets in Syria.

Al-Arabiya’s report said two targets had been hit in Syria on Wednesday night – not just the Latakia air defense base, but a target in Damascus as well. Both targets were said to have contained shipments of Russian SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles meant for Hezbollah, which were reportedly completely destroyed.

A map of the Latakia airbase posted online shows three batteries of the Russian-made surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile at the base, outside Snobar Jableh in the country’s coastal Latakia region.

Earlier Thursday, Al-Arabiya quoted opposition forces as saying the base held S-125 missiles.

The S-125 is especially effective against maneuverable low- to medium-altitude targets, including aircraft. The Egyptians used such missiles with some success during the War of Attrition and the 1973 Yom Kippur war, and batteries used by Iraq may have knocked down coalition aircraft in the First Gulf War.

The system has undergone improvements since then, but countermeasures have also progressed significantly.

A massive explosion was reported at the base late Wednesday night, with some reports that it was targeted by missiles fired from the sea. The Syrian news outlet Dam Press, considered loyal to the regime of Bashar Assad, reported that the site was damaged but that there had been no injuries.

Map data ©2013 Basarsoft, Google, Mapa GISrael, ORION-ME - Terms of Use
Map
Satellite

Earlier on Wednesday the Lebanese government news agency reportedsix Israeli aircraft flying through Lebanese airspace along the coast north of Beirut.

The coastal strip of Syria, encompassing the cities of Tartous, Latakia and Baniyas, is part of a predominantly Alawite portion of the country which remains loyal to the Assad regime in its lengthy campaign against rebels.

Israel has been accused of striking Syrian sites in the past, including in January and May this year. Israel refused to confirm the reports that it targeted weapons transfers, possibly to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which has remained loyal to Assad during the country’s bloody civil war.

Syria is reportedly in the midst of upgrading its missile defense system to the Russian-made S-300, a move Israel has lobbied against.

Class 8th UP girl burned alive after gang rape by 3 villagers - The Times of India


The incident took place in Sirsa Kalaar area of Orai in the Jalaun district of the state. The girl, a student of class eight, had gone to a farm to along with her elder sister. As the two were returning, three villagers, including local goon RamBahadur, dragged her to a nearby area and gang-raped her, the girl’s family told the police.

The family said that the girl threatened the assailants that she would tell the villagers, which prompted the trio to set her on fire.

The assailants then escaped even as her elder sister rushed to the village and raised an alarm. But by the time family of the girl and neighbours reached the spot, the girl had already sustained 80 per cent burns.

The police station in-charge RP Pandey told IANS that the girl’s family has not lodged an official complaint.

He however had added that based on the information available, police teams were raiding different locations in pursuit of the assailants.

Really, India??? You’re just going to keep doing this shit?

Japan to Shoot Down Foreign Drones

By  Ankit Panda

October 22, 2013

China

Japan’s Defense Ministry has received approval from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for its plans to intercept and shoot down any foreign drones that ignore initial warnings to leave Japanese airspace. Abe’s approval of the plan asserts Japan’s readiness to respond unilaterally to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The move is the latest in a series of pronouncements and provocations by both China and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu territorial dispute. Japan controversially purchased some of the islands in 2012, which thrust the long-unsettled dispute to the forefront of China-Japan relations, which have been strained ever since.

On Sept. 9, a day after manned Chinese bombers flew near Okinawa, a Chinese military drone was observed nearby. The Japanese Defense Ministry dispatched fighters to shadow the manned bomber aircraft, which refrained from entering Japanese airspace. It used a similar procedure for the drone, which is believed to have been a Chinese BZK-005. In late September, The Diplomat noted that Japan’s Defense Ministry had been studying a plan to shoot down foreign drones over its airspace in response to this incident. 

According to The Japan Times, “The existing rules on how Air Self-Defense Force fighters should respond to intrusions by manned aircraft mandate that pilots first issue warnings. ASDF pilots are required to down intruding aircraft if they are judged to pose a risk to Japanese nationals after such warnings are ignored.”

In the case of drones­­—more accurately referred to as “remotely-piloted aircraft systems” (RPAS), or “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs)—the indeterminacy of being able to communicate warnings to aircraft that lack human pilots had left the Japanese Defense Ministry without clear rules in such cases. 

The development of this recent plan suggests that this contingency has been accounted for, and that the Japanese Defense Ministry believes that Chinese drones will be sufficiently capable of detecting warnings.

The East China Sea remains one of Asia’s most dangerous flashpoints, and recent events there have acutely transformed Japanese strategic planning. After Shinzo Abe’s election to a second term as prime minister, Japan’s long-running debate on military normalization has gained more traction in the political mainstream. General anxiety over China’s territorial ambitions, coupled with acute regional flare-ups such as the Senkaku/Diaoyu crisis, has prompted Japan to pursue a more active regional military presence. The ASDF has considered a number of changes to its operational rules, including firing warning shots at Chinese military aircraft in Japanese airspace. 

The United States, Japan’s treaty ally, has refrained from taking an official position on the East China Sea territorial disputes. However, in the case of any attacks on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, the United States would be treaty-bound to assist Japan in defending the islands. This includes a scenario involving China.

Reuters: World Wrap: October 18, 2013

reuters:

Libya battles militia forces, Assad forces drop bombs after general’s killing, Saudi Arabia opts out of U.N. Security Council. Today is Friday, October 18, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.

Libya fights for control

image

Members of the Libyan Army special forces…

€˜Media blackout on Bahrain inexcusable

reuters:

About 30 million people are enslaved around the world: trafficked into brothels, forced into labor, victims of debt or born into slavery.  http://reut.rs/17MlQY6 10 countries account for three quarters of the world’s slaves. Almost half are in India, but it exists in all 162 countries surveyed by Walk Free, an Australian-based rights group.Countries where slavery flourishes: http://reut.rs/1fDQWKF Photo: REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash

reuters:

About 30 million people are enslaved around the world: trafficked into brothels, forced into labor, victims of debt or born into slavery.  http://reut.rs/17MlQY6 

10 countries account for three quarters of the world’s slaves. Almost half are in India, but it exists in all 162 countries surveyed by Walk Free, an Australian-based rights group.

Countries where slavery flourishes: http://reut.rs/1fDQWKF 

Photo: REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash

CNN Exposed – Emmy Winning Former CNN Journalist Blows The Whistle: CNN is paid by foreign and domestic Government agencies for specific content...

aljazeeraamerica:

Deadly earthquake, aftershocks hit central Philippines

A strong earthquake measuring 7.2 struck islands popular with tourists in the Philippines on Tuesday killing at least 93 people, some while praying in a centuries-old church, officials said.
The earthquake was centered 34 miles below Carmen town on Bohol Island, about 250 miles southeast of the capital, Manila, and was felt across the region. The Philippine seismology agency reported at least 110 aftershocks.
Local radio stations also reported fatalities in nearby Cebu province, across a strait from Bohol. Bohol has 1.2 million people and is popular among foreigners because of its beach and island resorts.
Philippine radio reports quoted an official from the national disaster agency as saying four people died on Bohol when buildings collapsed during the quake.
Joseph Emilio Abaya, Philippine transportation secretary, said in a radio interview that parts of the Tagbilaran port had cracked and collapsed.

Read more
Photo: Reuters

aljazeeraamerica:

Deadly earthquake, aftershocks hit central Philippines

A strong earthquake measuring 7.2 struck islands popular with tourists in the Philippines on Tuesday killing at least 93 people, some while praying in a centuries-old church, officials said.

The earthquake was centered 34 miles below Carmen town on Bohol Island, about 250 miles southeast of the capital, Manila, and was felt across the region. The Philippine seismology agency reported at least 110 aftershocks.

Local radio stations also reported fatalities in nearby Cebu province, across a strait from Bohol. Bohol has 1.2 million people and is popular among foreigners because of its beach and island resorts.

Philippine radio reports quoted an official from the national disaster agency as saying four people died on Bohol when buildings collapsed during the quake.

Joseph Emilio Abaya, Philippine transportation secretary, said in a radio interview that parts of the Tagbilaran port had cracked and collapsed.

Read more

Photo: Reuters