Russian siege on Raqqa, distant from US troops

Posted May 27, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Raqqa, Russia - Syrian war, Russia - Turkey, Russia and Iran, Russia and Islamic State, Syria war, U.S. Military

Tags: , , , , , ,

Russian siege on Raqqa, distant from US troops, DEBKAfile, May 27, 2017

DEBKAfile’s military sources can disclose that Putin has ordered the Russian commanders in Syria to impose an aerial and special forces ground siege on the northern town of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto Syrian capital. This move was designed to match the American initiative on the strategic Syrian-Iraqi border, without a military clash.

Why Raqqa? Firstly, it is in the north, far from the American positions. Second, Russian intelligence had apparently discovered a deal between the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces – SDF – and ISIS which allowed the jihadists safe passage out of their stronghold towards the south.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin acted to strengthen the military alliance he had set up with Iran and Turkey for working together in Syria – as a counterweight to President Donald Trump’s spectacular success in forging a Sunni Arab bloc during his four days in the Middle East.

It was a tough call. Putin’s allies demanded action to prevent a Syrian rebel force, backed by US, Western and Jordanian special forces, from taking control of the Syrian-Iraqi border. The Russian leader had to find a way to satisfy them without getting into a clash of arms with American troops.

On Saturday, May 27, as Trump flew home from his nine-day trip, Putin turned the dilemma over with his two allies, President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and the newly-elected Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.

Three days earlier, the Russian president was put on the spot by Iran’s National Security Adviser Ali Shamkhani, who arrived in Moscow Wednesday, May 24. He slapped down a demand from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for an answer as to how the Russian leader proposed to put a stop to the takeover by American special forces and their allies of the eastern province of Deir ez-Zour and the Al-Tanf crossing at the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border triangle. (See attached map)

Shamkhani warned Putin that without fast action, the Americans would block the routes from Baghdad to Damascus against the passage of Iranian and Russian forces.

The Russian leader took a couple of days to come up with a stratagem, which he revealed to Erdogan during their conversation on Saturday.

DEBKAfile’s military sources can disclose that Putin has ordered the Russian commanders in Syria to impose an aerial and special forces ground siege on the northern town of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto Syrian capital. This move was designed to match the American initiative on the strategic Syrian-Iraqi border, without a military clash.

Why Raqqa? Firstly, it is in the north, far from the American positions. Second, Russian intelligence had apparently discovered a deal between the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces – SDF – and ISIS which allowed the jihadists safe passage out of their stronghold towards the south.

The Russian siege on Raqqa was therefore a move against the US-backed SDF and the Kurds, without getting entangled in a direct showdown with the US forces in the South: Putin had installed a Russian-backed foothold in northern Syria to counter the US-led front in the south.

Immediately after the Putin-Erdogan phone call, a Russian military source in Moscow released this story: “Russian intelligence drones have set up a perimeter around the city ([Raqqa] to monitor possible terrorist escape routes, with combat aircraft and special forces units engaged in preventing militants’ escape.” The report went on to warn that any attempts by ISIS fighters to leave the town “will be squashed.”

Putin’s maneuver in Syria was designed to achieve three goals:

1. To counterbalance the America-led takeover of the Syrian-Iraqi border in the south, the Russians would assert control of the northern section of that same border.

2.  To showcase the Russian army as the great champions fighting the Islamic State terrorists, compared with the American troops and their allies who had turned aside from this mission, although President Trump had made it the centerpiece of his nine-day trip.

Putin was careful not to name his objective as the conquest of Raqqa, but only a siege operation.

3. To hit US allies, such as the Syrian Kurds in the north, without tangling with the Americans in combat.

UK: Welcome Mat for Jihadists

Posted May 27, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Britain and Islamic terrorism, Britain and Islamists, Britain and Sharia law

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UK: Welcome Mat for Jihadists, Gatestone Institute, Khadija Khan, May 27, 2017

(Please see also, Manchester: Europe Still ‘Shocked, Shocked’  and Federal Judges Invite Muslims To Veto Americans’ Elections Over Campaign Statements.– DM)

The Sharia Council of Britain determines the fate of women by undermining the laws of the land.

British politicians seem have become intoxicated by the propaganda of those who prefer to term any action to limit Islamic extremism or terrorism “Islamophobia.”

These human rights abuses are linked to the Islamic ideology, the end product of which often shows itself as violence against homosexuals, non-Muslims and other marginalized communities. It appears that most of these jihadists were radicalized through local mosques and madrassas.

England, which once was a jewel of both East and West, today symbolizes the degeneration of Europe, the continent which has turned its back on the threat Islamist terrorists are posing. England has increased its terror threat level from “severe” to “critical”; counter-terror measures include employing the British army in key public locations as well as stepped-up counter-intelligence, and raids against suspected terrorists.

It seems, however, that British politicians have simply put the whole nation in a loop of feed, kill, repeat; meanwhile acting as if they haven’t a clue as to what has stricken the lovely country.

Prime Minister Theresa May, in her public statement after the blast, stated:

“We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish but as an opportunity for carnage…. But we can continue to resolve to thwart such attacks in future. To take on and defeat the ideology that often fuels this violence.”

May was careful to avoid naming the ideology.

Ironically, the terror spree caught the United Kingdom in the midst of its election season. Nonetheless, neither the Tories nor the Labour Party are offering any solid plans to counter the menace. It seems these politicians have decided to sleep on the issue, while leaving their poor citizens at the mercy of terrorists, protected only by the brave law enforcement personnel who are also targets.

British politicians seem have become intoxicated by the propaganda of those who prefer to term any action to limit Islamic extremism or terrorism “Islamophobia.” When the government decides to look the other way, it allows many malpractices to flourish under the skin of British Muslim communities, among whom any action to protect the country would be stigmatized by apologists as “Islamophobic.”

The Sharia Council of Britain, for example, as the scandal of halala divorce recently highlighted, determines the fate of women by undermining the laws of the land. Other forms of exploitation by Islamists in Britain include forced marriage; intimidation of moderate Muslims by extremist imams such as Anjem Choudary and Mizanur Rahman; mosque-sanctioned domestic violence; gender segregation, Islamic dress code in schools, and female genital mutilation (FGM).

All these human rights abuses are linked to the Islamic ideology, the end product of which often shows itself as violence against homosexuals, non-Muslims and other marginalized communities.

Labour Party chief Jeremy Corbyn, reacting to the Manchester terror attack, did not even address any root cause, nor does his election platform contain a strong policy regarding “Prevent”, Britain’s anti-terror program.

Corbyn is, in fact, an open critic of Prevent; he instead suggested expanding Britain’s Prevent strategy to all communities, so that Muslims would not think that it only referred to them.

The Prevent strategy, Corbyn said, is “often counter-productive” and appears to cast suspicion on all Muslims. In fairness, he did add that extremism and racism must also be dealt with.

It is revealing that, instead of offering a concrete counter-terror policy, Corbyn seems to be confusing the issue of racism with the issue of the terror attacks that have taken dozens of lives in 2017 alone.

Conservative peer, Baroness Warsi is also one of those who does not seem to be fond of Britain’s counter terror policy; she demanded a “pause” to the Prevent program “for an independent review”.

“I think Prevent in its current form has huge problems,” she said; “I think it’s broken, I think the brand is toxic.”

The British government used a similar program, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, until 2000, to dismantle Irish terrorist organizations.

Warsi, who served in Prime Minister David Cameroon’s Cabinet, is known for defending a hardline Dewsbury madrassah, claiming that though the faith school “might have produced bombers, it also produced the first Muslim cabinet minister [Warsi]”.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 29: Baroness Warsi speaks during the Opening Ceremony & Leaders Panel at the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum at ExCel on October 29, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Miles Willis/Getty Images for 9th World Islamic Economic Forum)

Extremist mosques and madrassahs in Dewsbury and in surroundings of Manchester are notorious for spreading communal hatred and terror across the board.

Manchester seems to have a problem. The Guardian reported in February 2017 that at least 16 convicted or dead terrorists have lived within 2.5 miles of the Manchester home of Ronald Fiddler, aka Jamal al-Harith, an ex-Guantanamo prisoner who blew himself up while fighting for ISIS in Syria earlier this year.

Hundreds of Britons have joined ISIS and other terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq to date. The BBC reported in February that of the 850 or so British citizens who fall into this category, some 200 were killed fighting in the Middle East; the rest returned to Britain, potentially to resume terrorist activity at home.

It appears that most of these jihadists were radicalized through local mosques and madrassas.

Thanks to the handicapped Prevent strategy, we have, to date, not seen any inquiry or action against the environment or people that might have contributed to or supported this radicalization.

Khalid Masood, the perpetrator of the Westminster attack on March 22, did not go abroad to hone his terrorism skills; he served as a representative of the Luton Islamic Centre mosque — one institution among many that have eluded the government’s Prevent program, due to the pressure from so-called “moderate” Muslims such as Warsi.

Above all, politicians need to realize that failure on the government’s part to protect the public from Islamist radicals actually endangers the Muslim community as a whole. A general sense of insecurity in the Muslim community and lack of trust in law-enforcement only creates vigilantes.

It is therefore more crucial than ever for British Muslims and their influential representatives to join forces with the authorities to root out terrorism through sound counter-terror policies, instead of focusing only on short-term measures such as raising the terror threat level, deploying forces and trying to intimidate everyone into complicity by unjustly complaining about “Islamophobia”.

Cartoons and Video of the Day

Posted May 27, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Humor

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LatmaTV via YouTube

 

H/t Power Line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

H/t Vermont Loon Watch

 

 

Egypt launches air raids on Libya after Friday’s shooting attack

Posted May 27, 2017 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Ynetnews News – Egypt launches air raids on Libya after Friday’s shooting attack

Egypt shooting attack
Egyptian air force planes carries out six strikes directed at camps near Derna in Libya, where armed men responsible for Friday’s deadly shooting attack on Christians are believed to have trained.
Egyptian fighter jets carried out strikes on Friday directed at camps in Libya which Cairo says have been training militants who killed dozens of Christians earlier in the day.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he had ordered strikes against what he called terrorist camps, declaring in a televised address that states that sponsored terrorism would be punished.

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

Egyptian military sources said six strikes took place near Derna in eastern Libya at around sundown; hours after masked gunmen attacked a group of Coptic Christians traveling to a monastery in southern Egypt, killing 29 and wounding 24.

The Egyptian military said the operation was ongoing and had been undertaken once it had been ascertained that the camps had produced the gunmen behind the attack on the Coptic Christians in Minya, southern Egypt, on Friday morning. 

“The terrorist incident that took place today will not pass unnoticed,” Sisi said. “We are currently targeting the camps where the terrorists are trained.” 

Photo: MCT

Photo: MCT

 

He said Egypt would not hesitate to carry out further strikes against camps that trained people to carry out operations against Egypt, whether those camps were inside or outside the country. 

Egyptian military footage of pilots being briefed and war planes taking off was shown on state television. 

East Libyan forces said they participated in the air strikes, which had targeted forces linked to al-Qaeda at a number of sites, and would be followed by a ground operation. 

 

A resident in Derna heard four powerful explosions, and told Reuters that the strikes had targeted camps used by fighters belonging to the Majlis al-Shura militant group. 

Majlis al-Shura spokesman Mohamed al-Mansouri said in a video posted online that the Egyptian air strikes did not hit any of the group’s camps, but instead hit civilian areas. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the Christians, which followed a series of church bombings claimed by Islamic State in a campaign of violence against the Copts. 

“We will avenge them or die like them,” mourners said, while marching with a giant wooden cross. 

Gunfire and blood

Eyewitnesses said masked men opened fire after stopping the Christians, who were in a bus and other vehicles on a desert road. Local TV channels showed a bus apparently raked by gunfire and smeared with blood.

 

Clothes and shoes could be seen lying in and around the bus, while the bodies of some of the victims lay in the sand nearby, covered with black sheets.

Photo: EPA

Photo: EPA

 

Eyewitnesses said three vehicles were attacked. First to be hit was a vehicle taking children to the monastery as part of a church-organized trip, and another vehicle taking families there. 

The gunmen boarded the vehicles and shot all the men and took all the women’s gold jewelry. They then shot women and children in the legs. 

When one of the gunmen’s vehicles got a flat tire they stopped a truck carrying Christian workers, shot them, and took the truck. 

One of the gunmen recorded the attack on the Copts with a video camera, eyewitnesses said. 

Photo: EPA

Photo: EPA

 

The attack took place on a road leading to the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Minya province, which is home to a sizeable Christian minority. 

Security forces launched a hunt for the attackers, setting up dozens of checkpoints and patrols on the desert road. 

Police armed with assault rifles formed a security perimeter around the attack site while officials from the public prosecutor’s office gathered evidence. Heavily armed special forces arrived later wearing face masks and body armor. 

The injured were taken to local hospitals and some were being transported to Cairo. The Health Ministry said that among those injured were two children aged two. 

Photo: EPA

Photo: EPA

 

US President Donald Trump, who has made a point of improving relations with Cairo, said his country stood with Sisi and the Egyptian people.

 

“This merciless slaughter of Christians in Egypt tears at our hearts and grieves our souls,” Trump said. 

The Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Egypt’s 1,000-year-old center of Islamic learning, said the attack was intended to destabilize the country. 

“I call on Egyptians to unite in the face of this brutal terrorism,” Ahmed al-Tayeb said. The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shawki Allam, condemned the perpetrators as traitors. 

Sisi and Trump (Photo: AP)

Sisi and Trump (Photo: AP)

 

The head of the Coptic Christian church, Pope Tawadros, who spoke with Sisi after the attack, said it was “not directed at the Copts, but at Egypt and the heart of the Egyptians”. 

Pope Francis, who visited Cairo a month ago, described the attack as a “senseless act of hatred”.

 

Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office media adviser also issued a condemnation of Friday’s terrorist attack, writing that “Israel strongly condemns the severe terrorist attack in Egypt and sends the condolences of the Israeli people to President el-Sisi and the Egyptian people.”

 

“There is no difference between the terror of the attack in Egypt and that of attacks in other countries. Terror will be defeated more quickly if all countries work together against it,” read the statement.

 

Ongoing persecution

Coptic Christians, whose church dates back nearly 2,000 years, make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 92 million. 

They say they have long suffered from persecution, but in recent months the frequency of deadly attacks against them has increased. About 70 have been killed since December in bombings claimed by Islamic State at churches in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta

The Tanta Coptic church attack (Photo: AFP)

The Tanta Coptic church attack (Photo: AFP)

 

An Islamic State campaign of murders in North Sinai prompted hundreds of Christians to flee in February and March. 

Copts fear they will face the same fate as brethren in Iraq and Syria, where Christian communities have been decimated by wars and Islamic State persecution. 

Egypt’s Copts are vocal supporters of Sisi, who has vowed to crush Islamist extremism and protect Christians. He declared a three-month state of emergency in the aftermath of the church bombings in April. 

Photo: EPA (Photo: EPA)

Photo: EPA

 

But many Christians feel the state either does not take their plight seriously enough or cannot protect them against determined fanatics. 

The government is fighting insurgents affiliated with Islamic State who have killed hundreds of police and soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula, while also carrying out attacks elsewhere in the country.

 

40 Congressmen Write Letter Advocating for Turkish Personnel Involved in Attack on Protesters to be Expelled From the United States

Posted May 26, 2017 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

‘All of those involved—at all levels—must be held accountable’

BY:
May 26, 2017 2:40 pm

Source: 40 Congressmen Write Letter Advocating for Turkish Personnel Involved in Attack on Protesters to be Expelled From the United States

A group of 40 representatives wrote a letter to the Justice Department and State Department on Thursday urging them to immediately expel any Turkish personnel involved in a violent attack on protesters in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

“This may be how they deal with dissenters in Turkey, but here in America that’s against the law,” Rep. Randy Hultgren (R., Ill.) said in a statement about the letter. “Our country is founded on the rights of free speech and freedom of peaceful assembly. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s security team’s brazen, physical assault on American citizens and legal residents peacefully protesting his policies is outrageous and follows a disturbing pattern. Foreign leaders, diplomats, and staff are invited guests of our nation, and they should act as such. All of those involved—at all levels—must be held accountable.”

The attack on protesters came on May 16 during Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the United States. A few minutes after Erdogan arrived at the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C., a number of his bodyguards and supporters rushed a group of protesters and began beating them. D.C. Police eventually separated the attackers from the protesters but not before a number received injuries requiring hospitalization.

Erdogan’s government responded to the incident by blaming the protesters for instigating the attack despite video evidence that contradicts their claims. “The demonstrators began aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the President,” the Turkish embassy said in a statement on the incident. “The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defense and one of them was seriously injured. The violence and injuries were the result of this unpermitted, provocative demonstration.”

The Turkish government, which recently cracked down on free press in Turkey, has yet to respond to questions from the Washington Free Beacon.

The investigation into the attack is still ongoing and currently includes resources from the State Department, Secret Service, and D.C. Police. “The investigation remains active and is being conducted jointly by the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Secret Service, and MPD,” D.C. Police spokesperson Rachel Reid told the Free Beacon. “All three law enforcement agencies are actively sharing information and will remain in contact as the investigation proceeds.”

D.C. Chief of Police Peter Newsham has said diplomatic immunity may hinder holding some of those involved in the attack accountable for their actions.

In their letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the congressmen expressed outrage over the attacks and said the continued problems caused by Turkish personnel on American soil were unacceptable. “This behavior is the second time in two years that Turkish security forces have threatened and assaulted U.S. citizens and legal residents on American soil,” the letter said. “This is unacceptable in any situation, but even more so when Turkish leaders come and claim to be faithful allies to the United States. This clear disrespect for our laws and those who enforce them, especially during National Police Week, is intolerable.”

“The individuals involved in Tuesday’s attacks on Americans on U.S. soil must be identified and brought to justice,” the letter said. “Turkish personnel based in the U.S. who were involved in the attacks should be declared persona non grata and expelled from the U.S. immediately. Turkish personnel not based in the United States who were involved in the attacks should be barred from entry into the U.S. in the future. Foreign nationals who cannot respect the rule of law of this great country should not be allowed to enjoy the rights and privileges it affords.”

The letter comes as the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution condemning the attacks and calling for prosecution of the Turkish personnel involved.

Tom Fitton gives updates on Obama Spying Scandal, Unmasking Scandal, Rep. Adam Schiff, & Seth Rich

Posted May 26, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: 2016 elections and Russia, Democrat National Committee, Department of Justice, Intelligence leaks, Obama and Department of Justice, Obama and intelligence, Obama and media, Obama and Rice, Obama and Russian hacking, Obama and the media, Obama and Trump, Obama hold-overs, Rep. Adam Schiff, Seth Rich, Susan Rice, Unmasking

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Tom Fitton gives updates on Obama Spying Scandal, Unmasking Scandal, Rep. Adam Schiff, & Seth Rich, Judicial Watch via YouTube, May 26, 2017

(This video covers a lot of ground and is very much worth watching. — DM)

 

Trump Launches First FONOP in South China Sea

Posted May 26, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: China, Freedom of navigation, South China Sea, Trump and China

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Trump Launches First FONOP in South China Sea, American Interest, May 25, 2017

This patrol has been a long time coming. Along with others, we have been wondering whether the Trump administration had so far declined to approve FONOPs in a gambit to solicit China’s cooperation on North Korea. If that logic indeed held sway early on, it seems that the administration has now changed its tune, rightfully recognizing that going easy on China in one dispute won’t guarantee its cooperation on another.

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For the first time since President Trump took office, the U.S. Navy has conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea, provoking a predictable protest from Beijing. Reuters:

A U.S. Navy warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, the first such challenge to Beijing in the strategic waterway since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS Dewey traveled close to the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors.

China said its warships had warned the U.S. ship and it lodged “stern representations” with the United States. China said it remained resolutely opposed to so-called freedom of navigation operations.

This patrol has been a long time coming. Along with others, we have been wondering whether the Trump administration had so far declined to approve FONOPs in a gambit to solicit China’s cooperation on North Korea. If that logic indeed held sway early on, it seems that the administration has now changed its tune, rightfully recognizing that going easy on China in one dispute won’t guarantee its cooperation on another.

The exercise also sends an important signal in its own right that the U.S. refuses to recognize China’s claims, and that it will not remain passive as Beijing seeks to expand its maritime reach. That message comes none too soon, as China has lately been working out bilateral deals with its rival claimants while the U.S. has appeared missing in action. Let’s hope this is not a one-off but the start of a more active and engaged phase of the Trump administration’s South China Sea policy.

More, please.