Archive for July 5, 2017

Haley on North Korean Missile Test: ‘Action is Required. The World is on Notice.’

July 5, 2017

Haley on North Korean Missile Test: ‘Action is Required. The World is on Notice’, Washington Free Beacon via YouTube, July 5, 2017

 

Trump Admin Authorizes Strikes on Iranian-Backed Forces

July 5, 2017

Trump Admin Authorizes Strikes on Iranian-Backed Forces, Washington Free Beacon, July 5, 2017

(Please see also, Astana Peace Talks Fail over Syrian Safe Zones. — DM)

Syrian regime and pro-regime forces inspect an area recently recaptured from the Islamic State near Aleppo / Getty Images

U.S. forces have been instructed to take all measures needed to protect American interests in Syria, including military measures, as part of a new strategy that comes after top officials in the Trump administration assessed that Iran is deliberately probing American weaknesses and reactions on the Syrian battlefield, according to senior Trump administration officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

Iran-backed forces, including Hezbollah, have already initiated multiple encounters with the United States by violating agreements worked out between Washington and Moscow aimed at preventing the various factions targeting ISIS inside Syria from coming into conflict. This is part of a campaign that analysts inside and outside the White House believe is aimed at testing the Trump administration’s resolve, sources said.

“That was very clearly a process of the Iranians and Hezbollah and [the] Syrian regime probing and testing our limits, and testing how much we were willing to do,” one senior Trump administration official said. “In every case, it was a matter of them testing and probing, and us responding by defending ourselves.”

These clashes were the result of pro-Syrian regime forces, including Iran and Hezbollah, “violating a de-confliction measure that had been worked out with the Russians,” the official said. “The forces violated the measure.”

The Trump administration has instructed U.S. forces to respond to Iranian attacks with force if necessary.

“What they found out very quickly,” said the official, was “us responding by defending ourselves. What was established was that we’re determined to defend ourselves.”

This new strategy is being implemented at the same time the Trump administration turns its attention to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Islamic Republic’s paramilitary force that coordinates operations in Syria and other warzones.

Trump administration officials view the IRGC as being part of “every malignant protrusion of the Iranian regime,” according to one administration official, who said the White House is dually focused on choking off this force.

The actions by U.S. forces are part of a broader pushback against Iran, ranging from battlefield responses to diplomatic action, according to a veteran Iran policy analyst who has been briefed by the White House both on parts of the Syria strategy and on parts of an ongoing Iran policy review being conducted by the administration.

The Free Beacon first reported many details of the review several weeks ago, including actions by the Trump administration to potentially block the sale of U.S. commercial aircraft to Tehran.

“For the first time since the U.S. intervened into the Syrian conflict, American forces have been authorized to do take all measures to defend U.S. interests against Iranian provocations and aggression,” said the source. “This is part of a concrete strategy that has already been implemented in part, and is being bolstered every day, but very senior Trump officials. No more of watching U.S. forces get rolled in Syria, and also no more of thanking Iran after they seize our sailors in the Gulf.

One senior Trump administration official familiar with the Iran policy review said the White House is currently “in the thick of it,” evaluating a range of options to confront Iran’s global terror operations.

The review expands far beyond the landmark nuclear deal, according to the administration officials.

“The tack we’ve taken is not to put the [Iran deal] at the center of the policy,” one senior administration official said. “The goals we set out focus on how to neutralize the threat the Iranian regime poses to the US and its allies in the region.”

U.S. official see the nuclear deal as secondary given Iran’s continued terrorist operations and pursuit of illicit arms. This is why the IRGC’s activities have become a source of concern in the White House.

“You find the IRGC in every malignant protrusion of the Iranian regime,” the senior administration official said. “They’re in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon,” and elsewhere.

As the U.S. plots its course with Iran, the Islamic Republic continues to invest in a massive military buildup that many believe has been partially funded by the economic sanctions relief granted under the former Obama administration.

Iranian military officials announced on Monday that the country will soon implement its own version of Russia’s advanced S-300 missile defense system, which Tehran purchased in a controversial arms deal opposed by many Western nations.

“Steady work efforts are being made on Bavar 373 missile system and a number of tests have been carried out on this system, and these tests will continue until the date of delivery,” according to Iranian military officials, who predicted the system would be perfected by March of next year.

Top Armed Services Dem: Russia, China ‘Spectacularly Disingenuous’ on North Korea

July 5, 2017

Top Armed Services Dem: Russia, China ‘Spectacularly Disingenuous’ on North Korea, PJ MediaBridget Johnson, July 5, 2017

(Please see also, North Korean Missiles Reaching USA. President Trump seems to have decided that joint action with China and Russia won’t work and that unilateral action by America will be needed. — DM)

South Korean army K-1 tanks move during the annual exercise in Paju, South Korea, near the border with North Korea, on July 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

China and Russia issued a joint statement calling Pyongyang’s ICBM test “unacceptable.”

“The two sides propose that the DPRK (North Korea) as a voluntary political decision declares a moratorium on testing nuclear explosive devices and ballistic rocket launches, and the US and South Korea refrain from carrying out large-scale joint exercises,” the statement said. “Parallel to this, the opposing sides should start negotiations and affirm general principles of their relations including the non-use of force, rejection of aggression and peaceful co-existence.”

“Neither one of them is doing a darn thing to stop North Korea. And they want to use it as an excuse to push us out of the region,” he added. “What we have to make clear to them is it’s going to have the exact opposite effect. Once North Korea is able to threaten us and even now, as they threaten our allies, we have to be in there to protect our own interests. 

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The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee declared this morning that the “threat from North Korea, regrettably, is not going to be removed” by the “global action” proposed by the Trump administration to curb Kim Jong-un’s behavior.

Pyongyang said Tuesday that it successfully test-fired Hwasong-14, a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile. According to Chosun Ilbo in South Korea, state TV in the North declared the regime “a full-fledged nuclear power… possessed of the most powerful intercontinental-ballistic rocket capable of hitting any part of the world.”

Kim reportedly watched the launch at the scene. The missile, said to be capable of reaching Alaska or Hawaii, flew for 39 minutes before hitting open waters.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement Tuesday evening condemning the July Fourth launch. “Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world,” he said. “Global action is required to stop a global threat.”

“Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime. All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons. We intend to bring North Korea’s provocative action before the UN Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable,” Tillerson continued.

“The United States seeks only the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the end of threatening actions by North Korea. As we, along with others, have made clear, we will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.”

President Trump and his national security team “are continuing to assess the situation in close coordination with our allies and partners,” he added.

Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) doubted that Tillerson’s vow would put pressure on North Korea.

“If there is an idea floating around out there for how we can remove that threat, I’m open to it. But we have been circling around this discussion of what we want China to do and what we want sanctions to do and all these other different pieces,” Smith said. “The bottom line is, what we need against North Korea, we need to put the best economic sanctions we can. I think it’s perfectly appropriate for the secretary of state to try to put pressure on other nations to do the same. But the most important thing we need is a credible military deterrent, so that whatever North Korea does in terms of building a missile, they know that if they act against South Korea or against Japan or against us, we will obliterate them.”

“That’s why THAAD [missile defense system] is important. That is why our alliance with South Korea and Japan is important, to have that credible military force, because what’s been proven — and all of the options have been discussed with your previous guests — is that North Korea is going to do it. They want to build nuclear weapons. They want to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile. And short of an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula, we don’t really have an option for stopping them.”

China and Russia issued a joint statement calling Pyongyang’s ICBM test “unacceptable.”

“The two sides propose that the DPRK (North Korea) as a voluntary political decision declares a moratorium on testing nuclear explosive devices and ballistic rocket launches, and the US and South Korea refrain from carrying out large-scale joint exercises,” the statement said. “Parallel to this, the opposing sides should start negotiations and affirm general principles of their relations including the non-use of force, rejection of aggression and peaceful co-existence.”

Smith slammed the statement as “spectacularly disingenuous.”

“Neither one of them is doing a darn thing to stop North Korea. And they want to use it as an excuse to push us out of the region,” he added. “What we have to make clear to them is it’s going to have the exact opposite effect. Once North Korea is able to threaten us and even now, as they threaten our allies, we have to be in there to protect our own interests. China’s not acting against North Korea. And the reason they’re not acting against North Korea is, they don’t want to cut off North Korea’s economic aid. They don’t want North Korea to collapse because they don’t want millions of North Korean refugees pouring across their border. They’re not happy that North Korea is causing such instability in the region, but the alternative of them trying to crush the regime somehow is something they’re not willing to do, and they haven’t been willing to do it through four administrations. So, we need a credible military deterrent, and that is our only option.”

Smith noted that Kim’s actions have been “all about ensuring regime survival,” as he’s “looked at Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, and they feel that unless they have a nuclear weapon and a credible deterrent of their own, that their regime is in jeopardy.”

“So, all the economic sanctions, all that needs to be done. But understand what I’m saying here. As you have discussed, there is not a good military option,” he said. “Thinking that we can preemptively go in there and somehow take out their capabilities, whatever we do leads to a massive war in the Korean Peninsula… we need our THAAD system in the region. We need a system to give us a shot at shooting down that missile if they decide to launch it. And then we also need a clear diplomatic policy that we will destroy them.”

After the THAAD system was installed in South Korea, Trump said Seoul should fork over a billion dollars for the missile defense. New South Korean President Moon Jae-in recently suspended further THAAD deployment pending a review of the program.

Smith stressed that Russia and China must “stop screwing around.”

“If you guys really want us to be less involved in the region, then you have got to figure out a way to control North Korea,” he said. “Now, I don’t think they’re going to do that. But that means that we have to stay active in the region.”

Astana Peace Talks Fail over Syrian Safe Zones

July 5, 2017

Astana Peace Talks Fail over Syrian Safe Zones, DEBKAfile, July 5, 2017

DEBKAfile’s sources report that the Russians suggested that the discussion be held over for the next session. They then took the Americans by surprise by relocating the sixth session of the Astana conference to Tehran. This too was a measure of the conference’s breakdown as a peace forum. US, Jordanian and Syrian rebel opposition groups will never travel to the Iranian capital to negotiate an end to the Syrian war.

The ceasefire was supposed to be in effect until midnight on Thursday, June 6, but there is now a possibility that the fighting will resume earlier, perhaps even in the coming hours.

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The fifth round of Russian-initiated Syrian peace talks taking place Tuesday, July 4, in the Kazakh capital of Astana was designed to prepare the ground for the Trump-Putin summit Friday on the sidelines of the Hamburg G20 summit, by laying out proposals for deconfliction zones in Syria.

To support this move, Moscow twisted the Syrian ruler Bashar Assad’s arm to declare a unilateral ceasefire in southern Syria.

However, the ploy was soon aborted. The Astana conference quickly broke down when Iran and Turkey, two of the three sponsors along with Russia, rejected the formula for deconfliction zones on Syria’s borders with Iraq, Jordan and Israel, DEBKAfile’s sources report.

Present at Astana along with the three sponsors were leading Syrian opposition and rebel groups, as well as UN envoy for Syrian affairs Staffan de Minstura, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones, and Jordanian Foreign Ministry adviser Nawaf Uasfi Tal.

The Iranina and Turkish delegates had no objections to the two demilitarized zones proposed for the Damascus and Homs areas, but withheld their consent for the zones in eastern and southern Syria, and refused to accept the formula for forces policing the latter deconfliction zones, their identity, powers as truce monitors and the types of arms they were allowed to carry.

Iran and Turkey demanded the deployment of their own troops along with Russians in the two safe zones, which border on Israel, Jordan and Iraq, and wanted them armed for “self-defense.” The representatives of the US and Jordan refused, proposing instead that an international force be established to supervise the zones. Turkey and Iran rejected this out of hand.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that the Russians suggested that the discussion be held over for the next session. They then took the Americans by surprise by relocating the sixth session of the Astana conference to Tehran. This too was a measure of the conference’s breakdown as a peace forum. US, Jordanian and Syrian rebel opposition groups will never travel to the Iranian capital to negotiate an end to the Syrian war.

By knuckling under to Tehran on this venue, the Russians have shown their hand as supporters of Iran’s military objectives in Syria, which they have hitherto tried to disguise.

The failure of the Astana peace track calls into question the ceasefire declared on Sunday by Damascus on all the warfronts of southeastern Syria, including the battle for Daraa, 1 km from the Jordanian border, and the fighting for the Quneitra region, just 3 km from Israel’s Golan.  That front was the source of the mortar shells that strayed across the border into the Golan last week.

The ceasefire was supposed to be in effect until midnight on Thursday, June 6, but there is now a possibility that the fighting will resume earlier, perhaps even in the coming hours.

From official terror to article 350 – 5) taking off Ortega before 350

July 5, 2017

From official terror to article 350 – 5) taking off Ortega before 350, Venezuela News and Views, Daniel duquenal, July 4, 2017

Writing this series of articles with long delays in between actually helped me a lot, proving that procrastination pays: the events of today establish beyond doubt that civil rebellion is the lone thing left for the Venezuelan population at large. I say “at large” in all confidence as there are no serious pollsters, even among those who predicted Chavez victories years ago, that give the regime and Maduro much more that 20%.  And this assuming that they can correct for the fear factor in their polling. The evidence is clear: even in a bad day the opposition drags quickly to the streets, in almost any Venezuelan city, more people to protest than the regime as a whole can do just in Caracas for support, after days of preparation.

We are not discussing anymore the regime “rights” to remain in office: that ship sailed long ago even though it is still trying to find the shipping lane between Saint Vincent and Mustique. But that is another story; today not even Salvador and Ecuador are unconditional allies

Before we get into the application of article 350, let me summarize briefly what has happened in the recent days. The whole show has been around the regime trying to eliminate Luisa Ortega, the nation’s general prosecutor, the head of the lone organization allowed to investigate any civilian criminal conduct. Clearly, that she has separated from the regime is unacceptable because, well, the regime has too much to hide, and will have much more to hide as criminal repression progresses.

So, when she became unreliable in April the regime decided, violating once again the 1999 constitution, to send protesting civilians to military courts because they supposedly committed treason. Never mind that even treason has to be tried in civilian courts when civilians commit this, the whole point was to sow terror in protesters, and browbeat Ortega, taking away from her competencies. Let’s note that no matter her role as regime enforcer in the past she would still make a more just prosecutor than any military court in Venezuela….  But let’s not digress.

Since then the escalation was on, from both sides.

Ortega from mild discreet criticism went to address the opposition controlled National Assembly on Monday July 3. Her prudence was good as the opposition could not digest too fast the woman that had offered the rigged evidence for the rigged trial of Leopoldo Lopez. But the opposition, at least the thinking one, realizes that today we cannot be picky about our allies, be it Trump taking a selfie with Leopoldo’s wife, be it Ortega jailing Lilian’s husband. We are all growing up.

The regime cannot make a solid case against Luisa Ortega. After all, trying to make a rational case against her in seeking her removal from office would be akin to a political hara-kiri from nearly two decades of injustice in Venezuela. So in true form the regime decided that she was a liar and possibly mad. For that the regime got its worst piece of garbage, representative Carroña Carreño to present a petition of destitution against Ortega which details are irrelevant for you to know since the result is already known: within hours she will be removed from office even though the constitution does not allow it the way the regime is operating against her.  But who’s counting?

So today we had Ortega refusing to go to her accusation hearing on the grounds that she did not recognize the court as illegitimate and out of constitution, Carroña Carreño outperforming himself and the two sad sacks of the “citizen power” demanding to pass a lie detector. A useless performance since both of them have been liars for so long that I bet their body has ceased to recognize whether they are lying.

I will leave at that. The point is made, the regime will do anything, ANYTHING to retain power.  You have on one side the AC shows in courts like today but you have on the other side the paramilitary colectivos of the regime which have been unleashed finally over the population, even using official transport….

The heat was on today.  There was a programmed “trancazo” from noon to 6 PM.  Since I live in El Cafetal, a nexus of resistance, they did not need me to block the local avenues, nor could I go elsewhere to help. So I made it home back before noon. As I went for a short nap I was frightened by the amount of gun shots coming from the Caracas valley. I heard dozens and dozens, perhaps hundreds, of shots as pellets or tear gas grenades were shot a protesters blocking highways….  I gathered they came mostly from Petare, La Urbina, El Marques and La California.  Repression is not anymore just in Altamira…

North Korean Missiles Reaching USA

July 5, 2017

North Korean Missiles Reaching USA, Front Page MagazineMatthew Vadum, July 5, 2017

(Peace talks have failed and the leftist view seems to be “if at first you don’t succeed try the same thing again.” President Trump does not agree and is no longer willing to rely on China. He recently tweeted, “Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” Please see also, Trump Hits China Over Trade Relationship With North Korea. If, as is now apparent, China wants more fruitless negotiations, it’s time to employ our military resources to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities. An EMP attack could be effective.– DM)

But Americans are finally being disabused of left-wing arms control fantasies, and fortunately, after eight years of dithering and appeasement, we now have a president who actually wants to defend the country from external threats.

And alongside President Trump there are serious adults in the White House and Foggy Bottom willing to respond with an appropriate show of force to the latest provocation from Pyongyang and take other necessary action.

Pentagon spokesman Dana White said “we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies and to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the growing threat from North Korea.”

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Less than six months into Donald Trump’s presidency America has awakened to the nightmare of a North Korea armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles that the Trump administration says are capable of reaching Alaska.

U.S., South Korean, and Japanese officials say the North Korean Hwasong-14 ICBM flew approximately 580 miles in 40 minutes and achieved an altitude of 1,500 miles, besting previously reported North Korean test results. North Korea’s successful but unexpected test is a sobering reminder of how urgently the United States needs to ramp up its antiballistic missile program after years of reckless military downsizing by the Obama administration.

The North Korean launch was “the big story we have all been waiting for,” Professor Bruce Bechtol of Angelo State University in Texas told Fox News on Tuesday. “All of the paradigms have changed. It is now time to see what action the USA will take.”

The missile was apparently launched from a mobile launcher, which “nearly destroys our warning time and also means that the North Koreans have a real shot at launching this system at us without us being able to destroy it on the ground.”

North Korea also carried out a successful ballistic missile test on May 14, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency conducted its first successful interception of an ICBM on May 30. A long-range ground-based interceptor missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California hit and destroyed the ICBM launched from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

This idea of missile defense, oft-compared to trying to shoot a bullet with another bullet, grew out of President Reagan’s Strategic Defensive Initiative (SDI), derided by left-wingers at the time and for years after as “Star Wars.” Unsurprisingly, Barack Obama used to scoff at the idea that a missile could take out another missile.

Meanwhile, Monday evening after news of the successful Hwasong-14 ICBM test broke, President Trump took to Twitter.

North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!

Apparently, “this guy” refers to dictator Kim Jong-un. Communist China has been propping up Kim’s dictatorship for years. The Trump administration wants China to push its North Korean ally harder to scrap its nuclear weapons program.

During Independence Day remarks at a picnic for military families on the South Lawn of the White House Trump did not refer to North Korea’s activities but said, “we do have challenges, but we will handle those challenges. Believe me.”

How did we get to this dangerous juncture in world affairs?

Blame the Left. After all, it’s not rocket science.

While left-wingers in Washington were busy reaching out to Islamofascists and projecting American weakness on the international scene over the eight long years of Barack Obama’s presidency, Kim Jong-il and his heir Kim Jong-un were busy transforming their Stalinist hellhole of a country into a nuclear power. They were aided not just by the permissive Obama administration, which did more or less nothing to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, but also years earlier by the enabling Clinton administration.

In 1994 Bill Clinton unveiled an agreement between the U.S. and North Korea that he claimed would achieve “an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.” Under the deal, North Korea “agreed to freeze its existing nuclear program and to accept international inspection of all existing facilities,” Clinton said at the time. The pact “is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world.”

But Americans are finally being disabused of left-wing arms control fantasies, and fortunately, after eight years of dithering and appeasement, we now have a president who actually wants to defend the country from external threats.

And alongside President Trump there are serious adults in the White House and Foggy Bottom willing to respond with an appropriate show of force to the latest provocation from Pyongyang and take other necessary action.

While American and South Korean forces conducted joint ballistic missile drills following the North’s ICBM test, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said yesterday that the U.S. government would “never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.” He urged countries around the world to fully enforce UN sanctions against the rogue nation, saying “global action is required to stop a global threat.”

Pentagon spokesman Dana White said “we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies and to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the growing threat from North Korea.”

The UN Security Council may convene an emergency meeting as soon as today. On Twitter, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley demonstrated her exasperation at having to devote her Independence Day holiday to emergency consultations by using the hashtag “#ThanksNorthKorea.”

Haley doesn’t have it quite right. If she wants to sarcastically “thank” anybody for the North Korean ICBM test, she should be “thanking” Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, whose suspect policies helped a pariah nation join the nuclear club.

Trump Hits China Over Trade Relationship With North Korea

July 5, 2017

BY:
July 5, 2017 8:26 am

Source: Trump Hits China Over Trade Relationship With North Korea

President Donald Trump knocked China for its continued economic relationship with North Korea on Wednesday, tweeting “so much for China working with us” on the rogue state’s nuclear threat.

“Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” he wrote.

North Korea announced Tuesday that it had successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, again flouting calls from the U.S. and its allies to cease such aggressive behavior. North Korea’s state media claimed that it was now capable of striking the U.S. with a nuclear warhead, according to CNN.

The U.S. and China diverged, however, in their responses. China and Russia called for North Korea to stop its missile and nuclear programs in exchange for the U.S. and South Korea not holding joint military drills, but the latter two countries held a ballistic missile drill to counter “North Korea’s destabilizing and unlawful actions.”

The Trump administration previously said the president would send a “clear signal” to Chinese President Xi Jinping that the U.S. expected China to put pressure on North Korea over its belligerent behavior. North Korea depends heavily on China for economic support.

Trump wrote the tweets shortly before his scheduled departure for Poland. He will then travel to the G-20 Summit in Germany as part of his second trip overseas as president.