National Security

Thousands of Islamic State Militants Surrender as Group Nears Total Defeat

Thousands of Islamic State militants have surrendered to the U.S.-Syrian Democratic Forces as the caliphate nears complete defeat, according to the group’s spokesman. “Number of Daesh (ISIS) members surrendered to us since yesterday evening has risen to 3,000,’ Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted in English on Tuesday evening. “[Three] Yazidi women and [four] children were rescued, too.” Bali added that the “decisive moment is closer than ever before,” following heavy fighting in the Syrian town of Baghouz, the final stretch of territory in Syria and Iraq still held by the Islamic State. However, the group has not provided a timeline for when the group will be completely defeated. The operation to completely expel the caliphate from the Euphrates Valley has taken far longer than expected, having begun nearly six months ago. On January 25th, the SDF’s commander-in-chief Mazloum Kobani declared that the caliphate would be fully defeated within a month, a target the forces have not achieved. Meanwhile, U.S.-led coalition has previously explained that Baghouz had been “more crowded with both civilians and fighters than expected,” requiring troops to evacuate around 40,000 civilians from the area. “The overflow during the lull in battle has been difficult for the SDF and they have responded to everything well,” said coalition spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan last month.

 

Report: Assad has used chemical weapons 300 times since Obama ‘red line’

Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons in his country’s civil war more than 300 times over just the past five years, with the vast majority coming since President Obama declared in 2013 that chemical attacks constituted a “red line” that could not be crossed, a new report claims. The report from The Global Public Policy Institute, a leading European think tank based in Berlin, examined nearly 500 claims of chemical weapons attacks dating back to 2012. The organization said it was able to “credibly” confirm 336 of those attacks, with the first on Dec. 23, 2012, and the latest in April 2018. The comprehensive study makes the case that Mr. Assad, for the most part, has gone unpunished for his use of chemical weapons. “The Syrian regime’s persistent and widespread use of chemical weapons is best understood as part of its overall war strategy of collective punishment of populations in opposition-held areas,” the study reads in part. “We show that the Assad regime did not merely ‘get away’ with its use of these banned weapons, but succeeded in using them for strategic ends.” “More than two-thirds of Syria’s population are internally or externally displaced, and opposition-held communities have been buckling and surrendering under the cumulative weight — and eventually the mere threat — of violence, including the use of chemical weapons,” the report says, arguing that Mr. Assad is on the verge of crushing his foes largely due to the use of chemical weapons. There have been no confirmed uses of chemical weapons since President Trump ordered retaliatory airstrikes against the Assad regime in April 2018, the study says, suggesting the U.S. military action had a real impact on the Syrian leader’s strategy. But the Obama administration had far less success. Mr. Obama in August 2013 declared that Syria’s use of chemical weapons was a “red line” that would lead to a military response from the U.S. Instead, the administration struck a deal that centered on Russia overseeing the supposed dismantling and destruction of Mr. Assad’s chemical weapons capability. That process appears to have been little more than a sham, as chemical weapons have remained strewn across Syria for years afterward. The Assad regime was responsible for the vast majority of attacks, though the weapons in a few instances apparently fell into the hands of the Islamic State. “Our research found that there have been at least 336 chemical weapons attacks over the course of the Syrian civil war — significantly more than has commonly been known,” the report says. “Around 98 percent of these attacks can be attributed to the Assad regime, with the Islamic State group responsible for the rest. Approximately 90 percent of all confirmed attacks occurred after the infamous ‘red line’ incident of August 2013.”

That’s because Obama was all talk..and didn’t follow up his threats with action.  Obama was a weak president, and Assad knew it.  Trump followed up his threat with action and guess what?  Assad stopped using these chemical weapons.  Imagine that!

Opinion/Analysis: America should hit Iran where it hurts after 40 years of undeclared war

Most Americans don’t realize it, but we’ve been at war for the last 40 years with the Islamic state of Iran. This is not a war we declared. And often, it’s been a war that our political and intelligence elites have denied exists. That’s because, just like the war we’ve been fighting since the 9/11 attacks, it’s a war that others declared on us rather than a war of our choosing. It began on November 4, 1979, when “radicals” loyal to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held our diplomats hostage for 444 days. Once the hostages were released, on the very minute President Reagan was sworn into office, most Americans – including our politicians – thought the war was over. We did nothing. On April 18, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a truck full of explosives into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. (I reported from the scene of that bombing for USA Today at the time). The U.S. government never determined who was behind the attack, although we now know it was Iran. We did nothing. On Oct. 23, 1983, twin truck bombs killed 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French peacekeepers in Beirut. Once again, Iran ordered and carried out the attacks. We did nothing. Over the years, the Iranian regime, through its top terror-master, Imad Fayez Mugniyeh, kidnapped Americans, hijacked U.S. aircraft, and blew up more U.S. embassies while we did nothing. In 1998 Mugniyeh and his Iranian paymasters teamed up with Usama bin Laden, attacking U.S. embassies in Africa, driving a boat laden with explosives into the U.S.S. Cole, and yes, attacking America on Sept. 11, 2001. Victims of the 9/11 attacks have won more than $18 billion in damages against the Islamic state of Iran in U.S. courts, based on evidence that Iran “materially and directly supported al Qaeda” in preparing and executing those attacks. Iran has also targeted U.S. soldiers on the battlefield, killing more than 1,000 U.S. troops with specialized improvised explosive devices in Iraq, placing a bounty on U.S. service personnel in Afghanistan, and most recently targeting U.S. forces in Syria. The carnage just goes on and on. President Trump has said repeatedly that Americans are tired of endless wars. I agree. So here’s a strategy for winning this war and ending it once and for all. First, we need to increase military pressure on Iran by cutting off its “land bridge” through Syria to Israel’s northern border. This can be done by continuing to support the U.S. base at al Tanf in southeastern Syria, whether it is operated by Kurdish or Arab allies or members of the U.S. military. Next, we need to loosen Iran’s stranglehold over Iraq, by convincing the Iraqi government to disband the Iranian-backed Shiite militias that funnel arms and material through Iraqi territory into Syria, and by weeding out Iranian agents in the Iraqi government. Third, we need to provide material, political and diplomatic support to the pro-freedom movement inside Iran, striking the regime at the core of its weakness – its democracy deficiency. And fourth, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo needs to encourage U.S. friends and allies at the international meeting on the Middle East in Poland to enact new multilateral economic sanctions against Iran. These should include measures to freeze Iranian government assets so that the victims of Iranian terrorism with U.S. judgments can file claim to them overseas. Justice for victims of terrorism must be part of the U.S. strategy to defeat the Islamic dictatorship in Iran. After all, keeping safe those fat overseas bank accounts is something the corrupt mullahs in Iran treasure. Let’s hit them where it hurts.

We agree!!  Thanks to Kenneth R. Timmerman for that outstanding op/ed.  That was spot on!  Having personally spent some time in Afghanistan as a U.S. Army Military Intelligence “field grade” officer, I know that we have been fighting a proxy war with Iran for many years.   Kenneth R. Timmerman, best-selling author, lectured on Iran at the Joint Counter-Intelligence Training Academy from 2010-2016. He was jointly nominated for the Nobel Peace prize with Ambassador John Bolton in 2006 for his work on Iran. His latest book is “ISIS Begins: a Novel of the Iraq War.”

Newt Gingrich: Chinese companies pose serious threats to US

The recent federal indictments of Chinese telecom giant Huawei and its affiliates lay out a frightening story of a foreign company illicitly manipulating and exploiting loopholes in the American business system. The first indictment, filed in the Eastern District of New York, outlines 13 charges related to bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and obstruction of justice. During Monday’s press conference about the indictments, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker clearly described Huawei’s lies about its affiliations with an Iranian subsidiary, Skycom, which misled banks into conducting business that is illegal under U.S. law. As Whitaker pointed out, Huawei has been allegedly deceiving and conducting illicit activities against the U.S. government and global financial institutions for at least a decade. He said this behavior “goes all the way to the top of the company.” The second indictment was filed in Washington and details 10 charges related to theft of trade secrets, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice. This indictment describes how Huawei relentlessly attempted to steal the technology behind T-Mobile’s robot mobile phone testing system, Tappy. In this case, Huawei actually created an employee bonus program for those who engaged in stealing valuable and confidential information from their competitors. These allegations are serious and alarming. Circumventing U.S. sanctions against Iran – a nation ruled by a government that leads chants of “Death to America” and supports terrorist activities – undermines our national security interests. Engaging in activities that add to the estimated $225 billion to $600 billion that is lost every year to China through intellectual property theft is an attack on our economic interests. As I describe in my upcoming book, “Trump vs. China: Facing and Fighting America’s Biggest Threat,” in order to comprehend the significance of these charges – and the substantial risks that Huawei’s alleged crimes pose to America’s national security and economic interests – we must look at the bigger picture. Huawei was founded in 1987 by a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army – the Chinese Communist Party’s military arm. Since then, the company has become the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer – and the second largest smartphone maker. Huawei has benefitted greatly from China’s subjectively discriminatory business policies and has raised significant security concerns among U.S. government officials. In a hearing last February, intelligence officials, including the heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA and the director of national intelligence all agreed that they would not advise private American citizens to buy Huawei devices or services. This week, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that America’s national security and economic security are threatened by “the immense influence that the Chinese government holds over Chinese corporations like Huawei.” According to Wray, “the potential for any company beholden to a foreign government, especially one that doesn’t share our values, to burrow into the American telecommunications market” would allow “the foreign government the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, to conduct undetected espionage or exert pressure or control.” It is also important to consider the worldwide rollout of 5G telecommunications infrastructure and Huawei’s current leading position in the development of this new revolutionary technology. A company exhibiting this type of illicit behavior and generating the level of concern that it has within the American intelligence community should not be setting the global standards for the world’s telecommunications industry. Yet Huawei is currently testing in, has memorandums of understanding with, or is a confirmed network or vendor for at least 80 countries around the world. The reality is, whoever controls 5G ultimately controls the future. The emergence of this technology will be the cornerstone of the world’s advanced operational capabilities. It will be the key to connected infrastructure, autonomous vehicles, high-tech factories, worldwide commerce, aircraft, and even our personal devices. This 5G technology facilitates the ability to control critical infrastructure on a massive scale – which poses extraordinary security risks. It is not in the United States’ interest to have this emerging industry controlled by a foreign company or government which has already raised substantial security concerns. Lastly, the emergence of 5G and these new connective capabilities will result in a massive influx of data. Already, China has a strict set of laws that force companies to cooperate with government surveillance initiatives. FBI Director Wray said China’s cybersecurity law mandates that “Chinese companies, like Huawei, are required to provide essentially access upon demand (to the Chinese government) with little to no process to challenge that.”

Crazy..  For more on this excellent op/ed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R), click on the text above.

Pentagon: Military Logistics System Not Ready for War With China or Russia

The strategic American military system for moving troops, weapons, and supplies over long distances has decayed significantly and needs rapid upgrading to be ready for any future war with China or Russia, according to a report by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board. A special task force on survivable logistics evaluated the military’s current airlift, sealift, and prepositioned equipment and supplies and found major problems with supporting forces during a “high-end” conflict. “Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has not fought an adversary capable of the catastrophic disruption of military supply chains and deployment of personnel and materiel,” an unclassified summary of the report states. “As a result, the [joint logistics enterprise] has suffered neglect and chronic underfunding relative to other DoD priorities.” Additionally, the ability of strategic competitors to threaten military supply lines has increased with new and advanced weapons and missiles, as well as “gray zone” capabilities such as cyber attacks and space warfare. “Competitors and adversaries have already disrupted commercial logistics information technology systems,” the report said. “Military and commercial networks are at risk.” “Conflict against a strategic competitor will demand a dispersed and survivable logistics structure and robust IT systems capable of not only defending against cyber-attacks, but also safely sharing logistics information across military and commercial elements,” the report said. The task force concluded that a logistics system for the military that can survive a future war will be essential for continued American power projection and for readiness to deal with threats from China and Russia. “Without a demonstrably resilient and survivable logistics capability, U.S. deterrence will suffer and the ability of the U.S. military to operate globally will be at stake,” the report said. The report warned that American military readiness in recent decades “has severely decayed” as the result of budget cuts, misaligned funding priorities, a lack of incentives to protect the defense industrial base, and insufficient wargaming. The task force urged reversing course immediately to address one of the highest priorities of recently departed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who sought to rebuild military readiness in pursuit of more lethal forces. The 29-page report was made public in November and is the executive summary of a longer, classified study.

Interesting…   For more, click on the text above.

Sinking US aircraft carriers will resolve tension in South China Sea, says Chinese admiral

The deputy head of a Chinese military academy told an audience in Shenzhen last month that tensions in the South China Sea could be resolved by sinking a pair of U.S. aircraft carriers, reports said. “What the United States fears the most is taking casualties,” said Rear Admiral Lou Yuan, deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, news.com.au reported. He said sinking one carrier would kill 5,000 and sinking two would double that number. Brad Glosserman, a China expert and professor at Tokyo’s Tama University, said Lou’s comments reflect a growing belief in China that the United States has lost its stomach for war, according to a report from military.com. The Chinese believe that “Americans have gone soft … [they] no longer have an appetite for sacrifice and at the first sign of genuine trouble they will cut and run,” Glosserman said. In his speech, Loui said there were “five cornerstones of the United States” open to exploitation: their military, their money, their talent, their voting system — and their fear of adversaries, according to the news.com.au report.

Interesting…  For more, click on the text above.

China willing to use ‘force’ to absorb Taiwan if necessary

Chinese President Xi Jinping stated outright on Wednesday that Beijing’s goal is to absorb Taiwan and that China could use “force” to achieve the goal if necessary. Mr. Xi’s comments, which are likely to elevate tension over the prospect of Taiwan’s independence from Communist mainland China, came a day after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen vowed the democracy-oriented island will forever resist the sort of reunification being pushed by Beijing. “Taiwan will never accept ‘one country, two systems,’ Ms. Tsai said in a speech Tuesday, referencing China’s long-held claim that it’s open to allowing Taiwan to have its own semi-autonomous government as long as the island’s sovereignty is fully folded under Chinese rule. Mr. Xi dismissed Ms. Tsai’s remarks Wednesday, delivering his own major speech marking the 40 year anniversary of Beijing’s efforts to improve ties with Taiwan, in which the Chinese president urged the Taiwanese to submit to the reality that they “must and will be” reunited with China. “We make no promise to abandon the use of force, and retain the option of taking all necessary measures,” Mr. Xi said in a speech to Chinese military officials and others gathered in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. According to a New York Times report from the Chinese capital, the section of Mr. Xi’s speech referencing “force” drew rousing applause from the crowd, with the president specifically asserting that it could be used against “intervention by external forces.” It was Mr. Xi’s first major speech on Taiwan during his seven-year tenure as Chinese president, and he suggested Beijing’s absorption of the island is becoming a growing priority of his ongoing push to strengthen China’s position on the global stage. While Mr. Xi did not explicitly reference the United States or U.S. military support for Taiwan, his comments on force may have been a reference to the prospect of a military clash with America over Taiwan, which China views as a breakaway province. China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists lost to Mao Zedong’s Communists. The Nationalists subsequently fled the mainland and established their own government on the island of Taiwan. While Washington technically does not recognize Taiwanese sovereignty from China, it has a special relationship with the island democracy’s 23 million people and laws in place that require the United States to protect Taiwan from Chinese aggression. The issue of Taiwan-China relations is heated and complex one on the Taiwanese internal political landscape, with the latest back and forth between Mr. Xi and Ms. Tsai coming amid concern on the island over the prospect of a Chinese intervention of some kind. In her own speech Tuesday, Ms. Tsai said Taiwanese people treasure their autonomy from China. She then warned city and county officials on the island to exercise caution in any dialogue with officials from the mainland. Ms. Tsai spoke specifically of major gains that a Beijing-friendly opposition party made in Taiwan’s local elections in November. “The election results absolutely don’t mean Taiwan’s basic public opinion wants us to give up our self-rule,” she said, according to The Associated Press. “They absolutely don’t mean that the Taiwanese people want us to give ground on our autonomy.” Taiwan’s Nationalist Party, which in recent years has favored closer ties with Beijing, won 15 of 22 major seats in the local elections, reversing an advantage held by Ms. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party, which projects a far more guarded view of relations with Beijing.

This is probably just Xi puffing his chest out and throwing red meat to his supporters.   But, definitely something to keep an eye on..