News

All about control
In China it’s not just drugs and corruption the government is cracking down on, visible dissent is also a major target. The government has rehabilitated some old Maoists and encouraged a new generation of communist zealots to find and crush criticism of the government. This includes unauthorized discussion of corruption, criticism of communism or the Chinese Communist Party. This thought control is becoming more of a nuisance to Chinese, which is not good news for the government of the world’s largest communist police state.

Getting caught
Hardly a month goes by without another Chinese spy being arrested because of American counter-intelligence efforts. This is largely due to China’s increased spying efforts, rather than more success by the FBI and CIA. Industrial espionage has played a large part in turning China into the mightiest industrial and military power on the planet.

Amateurs
The fighting with IS is mostly about skirmishes, not large battles partly because of the airpower IS has to deal with but also because IS is mostly composed of amateurs. True, these amateurs are willing to die, but they are also eager killers who simply do not have the skills to carry out effective large-scale operations. So IS attacks wherever and whenever it can and the Kurds, Iraqi troops and pro-government militias have to adapt.

Weaken and destroy
The Palestinians have been trying to gain admission to the UN, even though they don’t have a functioning government and are, in fact, split into two entities with Hamas controlling Gaza, and Fatah the West Bank. Undeterred, the Palestinians are try-ing to gain admission to the International Criminal Court so they can prosecute Israel for killing Palestinians. This, they believe, would enable anti-Israel Arabs and Westerners to weaken Israel and eventually destroy it.

They’ve been warned
The U.S. has been warning Pakistan that their terrorism policy will only result in more attacks inside Pakistan and a lot of Pakistanis are beginning to publicly agree with this assessment. Pakistan has a created a monster that is turning on its maker.

Faces charges
The Mexican government has charged Jose Luis Abarca, former mayor of Iguala, Guerrero, with being involved in the Sep-tember ’14 kidnapping of 43 college students. To date, 45 people have been charged with kidnapping in the disappearance of the students and Abarca may ultimately face murder charges. Despite the charges levied against Abarca and his wife, Mexico’s President Peña still confronts an angry nation. Several demonstrations protesting Peña’s handling of the Iguala Massacre have occurred since January 1.

Genocide guilt
Germany has agreed to build four offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for Israel. Exact specifications were not released, but apparently the design is based on the Meko 100, a 1,600-ton warship that has been built in many different versions. Israel wants the Germans to build what amounts to a larger version of their successful Saar family of warships for about $146 million each, which includes a large “genocide guilt” discount. Right now the largest Saar ships are the three 1,075-ton Saar 5s.

Corruption reigns
The majority of Iraqis did not want the U.S. troops to leave in 2011, but their leaders didn’t agree because the Americans were always pestering the politicians and officials to be more efficient and less corrupt. Iraqi troops now believe the Americans leaving allowed the Iraqi politicians to destroy an efficient army that had been built between 2003 and 2011.

More vulnerable
Pakistan continues its heavy use of air attacks in North Waziristan, using American smart bombs to hit suspected terrorist hideouts. Cold weather has forced Islamic terrorists to seek shelter, which makes them more vulnerable to detection and attack. This is especially true since most of the civilians have fled North Waziristan. Army troops follow up on many of the air strikes to confirm who was killed and find that most of the attacks do, indeed, hit Islamic terrorists.

A free for all
Crime in Iraq has greatly increased since the IS offensive in 2014. Security forces are spending less time on law and order and more on fighting IS or just protecting themselves. All sorts of criminal activity has increased. Victims are easier to come by because over two million people were forced to flee their homes in 2014, including a growing number of Sunni tribesmen and their families who flee cross-country with wives and children to escape the increasingly harsh IS rule.

Similarities
Islam, like communism, uses collectivism to convince its victims to sacrifice themselves for the greater good.

Chinese aggression I
The growing aggression in the South China Sea and adjacent waters is based, according to the Chinese, on their interpretations of history. The Chinese claim just about every uninhabited islet and reef in the region, despite older and more substantial claims recognized by international agreements by nations that are closer to the disputed areas. Scholars, ordered to dig up any historical evidence for early Chinese presence in the South China Sea, have come up with vague reports subject to wide interpretation. In effect, China wants to reverse centuries of more recent claims and practices to justify its aggression.

Chinese aggression II
The Chinese effort in the South China Sea has one major flaw: it ignores the fact that for thousands of years the Chinese imperial government disregarded seaward expansion or exploration. The current government has ordered this well-documented, historical fact rewritten and reinterpreted and has made it clear that all contradictory opinions by foreign scholars are unacceptable. Meanwhile, tangible Chinese pressure comes mainly in the form of intimidation by their growing fleet of warships, naval aviation and patrol boats. Non-military Chinese ships are under orders to bump into “trespassing” fishing boats or other commercial ships. New tactics and procedures have to be worked out to counter these Chinese methods.

Chinese aggression III
In December 2014, the U.S. State Department released a study regarding the Chinese claims that pointed out the numerous legal and historical flaws in China’s claims and concluded that the Chinese have no case. It isn’t known what repercussions China would face if they ignore the rulings against them by international courts. At this point, China appears determined to increase its military control over the South China Sea until it can assert that it is most definitely part of China, is defended by the Chinese security forces and all foreigners must obey Chinese rules or stay out of the area.

Dependable & reliable
The Kurd soldiers follow orders and their officers, usually American-trained, are dependable. Unlike their Iraqi Arab counter-parts, they aren’t corrupt and prone to run away when things get rough. Because of the greater effectiveness and reliability of the Kurds, the U.S. trusts them to look after American air control teams sent to work with them, or to provide accurate and reliable information to warplanes overhead when there are no air controllers available. Thus the Kurds provide more good targets for air strikes.

Barter network
The Iranian economic problems have led India to make itself very useful to Iran. Barter deals enabled India to import 42% more Iranian oil in 2014. India, Russia and Iran have created an unofficial currency union and barter network to facilitate trade that gets around the sanctions. India wants peace with Iran because Iran is often on bad terms with Pakistan. Russia is still a major supplier of weapons to India and India has many leftists who are still nostalgic about the old Soviet Union.

Trapped
Iraqi civilians in IS-occupied Fallujah sent cell phone pictures of anti-IS flags and banners being raised in Fallujah, which has been largely occupied by IS for a year. Iraqi troops have surrounded Fallujah since IS took over and control most of what goes in or out. Much of the population has fled but some have stayed and now there is an anti-IS guerilla movement operating inside the city. This year Iraqi troops have been shutting down IS activity outside the city and recently detected and cleared over 200 roadside bombs around the city.

Better soldiers
Iraqi leaders keep pressing the U.S. and the other nations supplying air support in Syria to do more in the fight against IS. The Iraqis are particularly upset at the disproportionate number of air strikes provided to the Kurds defending the Syrian town of Kobane and the reason is because the Kurds are better and more dependable soldiers. Over the last two decades, most of the Kurds at Kobane had been trained by American soldiers, and that training stuck. While recent volunteers may have only a few days or weeks of training, they have the same attitudes.

Stiffer border controls
Saudi Arabia changed the rules of engagement for its border guards on the Iraq and Yemen frontiers and ordered them to shoot on sight anyone refusing to obey orders at crossings or caught trying to sneak across the border. This could cause problems with some of the Bedouin tribes living near the border, where tribal members have been smuggling for generations, something the tribal leadership tolerates and Islamic terrorists can exploit. A new fence on the Iraq frontier is being augmented with more barriers and sensors, in addition to having over 30,000 personnel stationed on the Iraq border. A similar system is being built on the Yemen border.

Fox in the hen house
Xiafen Chen, an American government official, was arrested in October and charged with supplying China with classified data about U.S. dams. This is part of a Chinese effort to collect detailed data on American infrastructure and other economic targets to support preparations for Internet-based attacks on these facilities in wartime, or any time. Chen and her husband moved to the U.S. from China in 1992 and later became American citizens. The FBI found emails in which Chen discusses the data she took from U.S. government databases and passed to senior Chinese officials.

U.S. invention?
Iraqi leaders continue to complain that the West, especially the U.S., is not doing enough to deal with the Islamic State. This is not helped by the conspiracy theory that the U.S. invented the IS. In response to Iraq’s appeals, Western leaders are not particularly sympathetic and press Iraqi leaders to get their own house in order. Many Iraqis are comfortable with the culture of corruption and excuse a lot of problems as being the result of foreign interference. Some Iraqis now understand what is really going on, but they have a hard time winning elections or mobilizing public support. This is the Iraqi minority that Westerners try to work with, but many would just rather emigrate.

Biggest threat
The IS is increasingly on the defensive and see the Kurds in the north as their biggest threat. For the last few months, the Kurds have been driving IS forces farther away from Kurdish territory and closer to Mosul. To the east, the Kurds have control of Kirkuk and, to the consternation of the Iraqi government, seem intent on keeping it, but that may not happen with Mosul. IS has brought most of its Iraq manpower to Mosul to both police it and defend it from the Kurds, yet without more help from the Iraqi Army, the Kurds do not believe they can take the city.

Busted!
On 5 Dec 14, Chinese citizen Sihai Cheng was flown, under guard, into Boston from Britain and arrested for organizing a smug-gling operation to export thousands of U.S.-made transducers to Iran that were needed to enrich uranium. From 2009-11, Cheng ordered these transducers from a Massachusetts company, which were sent to companies in China, under the guise of legitimate business. Originally arrested in Britain in February 2014, Cheng was indicted in April, for espionage and fought extradition. He lost and has now been sent to the U.S. for trial. If convicted, Cheng could face up to 20 years in prison.

Changing ways
In addition to inflicting casualties, the air attacks over Iraq have forced the IS to change the way they operate. IS can no longer operate in the open and refugees from IS-held areas report that IS is abandoning checkpoints and open-air fortifications, shifting instead to bunkers or anywhere that will conceal them from above. When this doesn’t work, IS suspects local spies rather than better surveillance. The air strikes have also become more effective against IS supply vehicles and storage sites. Although IS tries to make their vehicles look like typical civilian traffic, Western intelligence efforts have been successful in detecting which vehicles belong to IS and destroying them.

Pushed out
Kurdish fighters have been pushing IS out of Iraq’s Sinjar area since December. Back in August, Kurdish fighters, along with a few U.S. American Special Forces, rescued thousands of Yazidi refugees trapped on Mount Sinjar, but IS continued to control the surrounding area and the town. Most of Sinjar’s 90,000 inhabitants fled and on 17 December, 8,000 Kurdish fighters began an operation to retake the town and allow over 100,000 Yazidis still trapped in the area to escape. The air strikes make suc-cessful defense of the town difficult and the Kurds tend to take advantage of successful air strikes to advance.

Follows the rules
Israel gets accused of war crimes a lot, but proving it is another matter. Israeli commanders and troops have long complained about the government giving into anti-Israel groups and investigating soldiers for “war crimes.” These charges never stick, but the troops feel that after risking their lives to halt rocket attacks coming out of Gaza, they don’t deserve this sort of harassment, especially since the Palestinians regularly praise terrorists, even those who kill children, as heroes. Israeli soldiers follow rules; Palestinian terrorists do not.

Just a myth
Thousands in Pakistan protested the publication of a picture of Mohammed on the cover of French magazine Charlie Hebdo. These demonstrations had been taking place for nearly a week when, on 16 January, an armed demonstrator shot a journalist in Karachi. Despite, or because of this, more Muslims are speaking up about the fact that there was never a religious prohibition to depicting the prophet Mohammed, in fact, centuries-old pictures of Mohammed exist. Prohibitions were created in Muslim countries where there was never any homicidal rage over such illustrations. The current violence is based on a myth created by modern Islamic radicals.

All for show
Pakistan has agreed to ban the Haqqani network and 10 other Islamic terrorist organizations that long had sanctuary in Pakistan because these groups only attacked foreigners in particular countries Pakistan wanted to fight — mainly Afghanistan and India — but could not handle just using its military forces. This relationship was never an official policy but Afghanistan, India and the U.S. have compiled a massive amount of evidence in documents, witness statements, Pakistani communications and such showing that Pakistan began using Islamic terrorism this way in the 1970s. It is believed that this new ban will largely be for show.

Tribal
Over a decade of operations in Afghanistan gave American forces lots of data about life under Taliban rule as well as what passes for “normal.” Using Afghans to conduct surveys, NGO aid groups, government agencies and intelligence personnel col-lected data that confirmed some things, such as tribal Afghanistan and the areas where most people live are violent and varied. There are dozens of major tribes and hundreds of smaller tribes and clans. Aside from the violence, there is a great deal of vari-ety in local customs, and, while some areas want to embrace modern education and culture, others are very culturally and religiously conservative. Most of the Taliban come from the latter and it’s where most of the opium and heroin is produced.

Sounds like Obama
A dictator is someone who puts themselves above the law and rules the people around him with intimidation.

Disillusioned
Intelligence and police agencies in Europe are scrambling to identify, monitor and study their Muslim citizens who have been recruited by Islamic terrorist groups to go fight, usually in Syria. For example, Spain analyzed the attitudes of 70 Spanish Mus-lims recruited to fight in Syria and found that most of them became disillusioned soon after arriving. Many went to Syria with the idea of forming a better society using Islamic scripture as a guideline, but quickly learned it works better in theory. New recruits were ordered to attack local tribes who initially supported IS, but rebelled when harsh lifestyle rules were imposed as part of the “creating a better society using Islamic scripture.”

Appeasement
“Because it telegraphs weakness, appeasement encourages violence and aggression. History has taught this lesson over and over, yet liberals never seem to get it.” — Columnist Jack Kelly

Power grab
Pro-reform Pakistanis see another military power-grab in the recent decision to allow the military to set up special courts to try the thousands of Islamic terrorism suspects awaiting trial. Since the late 1990s, there has been growing pressure to strip the military of all the economic and political privileges it has acquired over the last half century. The reformers also note that the military is continuing to create border incidents with India, violating a 2003 ceasefire negotiated by elected politicians and largely ignored by the military.

Plausible deniability
NATO accused Russia of building up its military forces inside eastern Ukraine and along the Ukrainian border. As evidence, NATO pointed to social media where Russian soldiers and Ukrainian rebels still post photos of themselves inside Ukraine han-dling new Russian weapons and equipment. NATO also has satellite photos as well as many taken on the ground by Ukrainian forces. Russia denies everything. NATO also criticized Russia for increasing the frequency of its warplanes and warships mov-ing close to the borders of NATO countries, particularly those bordering the Baltic and North seas.

America the loser
Whenever Obama wins, America loses.

Will face opposition
Pemex, Mexico’s national oil company, formally proposed an oil trading deal with the U.S., which could face political resistance in Mexico and the U.S. because the trade would involve importing American crude into Mexico. For four decades, the U.S. has had a ban on most crude oil exports, but there are some loopholes. Mexico has been proudly self-sufficient in oil production for decades and now Pemex wants to mix lighter grades of American crude with heavier Mexican crude at its refineries. Currently Mexico exports around 800,000 barrels a day to the U.S.

Pooling intel
Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S. have agreed to cooperate on finding and killing Mullah Fazlullah, the head of the Pakistan Taliban, who is believed to operate from a hideout in Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan on the Pakistan border. All three countries will pool their intel on Fazlullah while the Americans will seek to kill him as soon as he is found using missile armed UAVs. This sudden cooperation over Fazlullah is the result of Pakistanis capturing radio messages in which Fazlullah can be heard directing the December attack on a Pakistani school that left 132 children dead.

More espionage
Saudi-born Mostafa Ahmed Awwad, a civilian engineer who worked for the Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s nuclear engi-neering and planning department, was arrested in November 2014 and charged with espionage. The engineer, who received a security clearance in August to work on the new Ford-class aircraft carriers, began stealing technical data on the Fords and passing it to Egyptian intelligence for cash, or so he thought. It turns out that he gave documents to an undercover FBI agent posing as an Egyptian spy. In 2007 Awwad married an American in Cairo and had applied to become a citizen.

Do something
The UN is under growing pressure from members to “do something” about Libya. In early January, Mali and four of its neighbors appealed to the UN for intervention in Libya because southern Libya had become a sanctuary for Islamic terrorist groups that were increasingly active in nearby countries because of those sanctuaries. No one is willing to intervene in Libya but there is UN support for a negotiated settlement and that led to the current peace talks. Some countries, especially Egypt, see Libyan peace talks as futile and counterproductive because the Islamic terrorist factions really have no interest in compromising.

Developing its own
China’s development of a stealth fighter is evidence that they are determined to develop their own high-tech military gear and are eager to develop advanced military technology locally. The Chinese know this will take time and much effort; they also want to avoid the mistakes Russia made in this area, which means having competing designs and developing necessary supporting industries. The Chinese are doing it right and are willing to wait until they get military tech that is truly world class.

The dragon’s train
The Mexican government canceled a high-speed railway contract with a Chinese firm on 6 November. China was footing most of the $3.75-billion project, but the Mexican government implied that the cancellation was caused by suspicions that the Chinese used bribes to get the deal done. In reality, it appears the bribes came from the Mexican side and, according to media reports, that Angélica Rivera Hurtado, the wife of Mexico’s president, had business relationships with one of the large Mexican construction companies involved with the railway project. China protested the cancellation, but it’s well known that Chinese firms tolerate and even encourage bribes to get profitable contracts in foreign markets.

Leader dead
Ansar al Sharia, the largest Islamic terrorist group in Benghazi, admitted that its leader, Mohammed al-Zahawi, is dead. He apparently died from wounds suffered back in September fighting pro-government troops. Ansar al Sharia, responsible for the 2012 embassy attack that killed an American ambassador and three other Americans, has most of its strength in the east around Benghazi. The fighting in Benghazi has cost Ansar al Sharia a lot of people and hurt the group’s reputation because of territory lost in the city.

America today
Logic is dead, excellence is punished, mediocrity is rewarded and dependency is to be revered.

Many news items courtesy of strategypage.com & James Dunnigan. All material ©2015, StrategyWorld, Inc.