Wednesday, March 29, 2017

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at Ambassadors Against BDS Conference

Turkey ends its military campaign inside Syria

(Ankara) Last August after a suicide bomb attack on a Kurdish wedding inside Turkey , the Turks went into action against ISIS elements based across the border in Syria and they started their wee military adventure by attacking the Kurds. The same kurds who have (And still are) the most successful people to have taken on ISIS on the Battlefield. Anyway 7 months down the line and the Turks have declared 'Mission accomplish' in regards to Operation Euphrates Shield . The strange thing is taking into account the sheer size of the Turkish military, they actually haven't done much. Here's a map of the situation on the ground and at its furthest penetration the Turks have only managed to advance around 30 miles into Syria. (The distance from Aleppo to Al Bab is around 25 miles)

Situation inside Northern Syria Feb 17:
Key: Yellow=Kurds, Green (North) = Turks.Green (West)= Rebels  Brownish/Grey=ISIS . Red= Syrian Government          Map by Mr Penguin 

After spending a couple of months in which to take the city of Al Bab and not exactly advancing much more than that, the Turkish Government have now declared that they have achieved everything that they set out to do and they are calling it a day.  With the elections next month in which to grant Erdogan dictator like powers, the last thing the Turkish Government wants is Turkish military losses upsetting the apple-cart.

However whilst stating they have ended their military adventure inside Syria, the Turks haven't mentioned if they will pull out. (Highly unlikely for time been as this will allow the Kurds to link up)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Russia: Police clamp down on anti-corruption/Putin protests

(Moscow) On Sunday past, tens of thousands of people answered the call by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and took to the streets in over 80 cities and towns across the land in which to protest at the corruption written into the DNA of Russian politics.

Locations of protests with numbers who attended
The Russian authorities denied permission for the rallies. Police arrested those who were holding posters or chanting, and also on occasion simply swept random people off the street. 1,030 people were detained in Moscow alone. About 120 remained in custody on Monday morning. The majority of those released were charged with the minor offence of taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration and are likely to be fined.

Pushkin Square ,Moscow 
Navalny himself was jailed and given a 20,000-rouble (£280) fine by a Moscow court for disobeying police orders and organising the protests,

Navalny has declared his intention to run for president next year, an election in which the president, Vladimir Putin, is expected to stand for, and almost certainly win, a new six-year term.

The protests were held over an investigation into the current Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's alleged corruption. Navalny’s team released a video alleging Medvedev had amassed a collection of mansions, yachts and vineyards - a fortune that far outstripped his official salary.

Somalia: Al Shabab Bases attacked by AU forces, over 30 Terrorists killed.

(Mogadishu)  More than 30 al-Shabab fighters were killed when African Union and Somali forces attacked two of the armed group's bases in southern Jubaland, Mohamed Ahmed Hersi, a deputy commander with the Jubaland administration, said al-Shabab weapons were also destroyed in the "surprise" attacks that began Saturday and continued Sunday near Badhadhe.

"We killed at least 33 al-Shabab militants and destroyed vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft guns," Hersi told VOA's Somali Service. "I have seen the dead bodies of the 33 militants with my eyes."

A separate statement by Kenya's Defence Force said 31 al-Shabab militants were killed during the attacks, and IEDs, 11 AK-47 rifles and 634 rounds of ammunition were seized.
"The intelligence-led operation was executed by air and ground assets. Ground troops were supported by attack helicopters and artillery fire to access the terrorists' base and the two commands and logistics bases 17 kilometers from Siraria near Hola Wajeer," 
However, al-Shabab later denied the Kenyan military's report. Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Musab, the terrorist  spokesman for al-Shabab said that no attack was carried out on al-Shabab bases, calling the Kenyan military's claims a "fabrication".

Monday, March 27, 2017

Russia Moves to Supplant U.S. Role

(ISW)  The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) have knocked out an article which illuminates exactly what Russia is up to in the ME:

Russian President Vladimir Putin is leveraging Russia’s position in Syria to further diminish U.S. influence in the broader Middle East and North Africa. Russia will increasingly constrain U.S. freedom of maneuver in the broader region by expanding its military footprint and its anti-access and area denial zone. Putin advanced his regional strategy from February 27 to March 20, 2017 in three ways. First, he promoted economic relationships with key U.S. allies, including Egypt and Iraqi Kurds. Russia and Egypt reached tentative agreements to establish a Russian industrial zone in the Suez Gulf area and to resume Russian flights to tourist destinations in Sinai. Russia also renegotiated its oil agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government on February 28. Second, Putin cultivated ties to local security forces, particularly those he seeks to draw away from partnership with the U.S., such as the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Russia brokered an agreement to give the Syrian regime control of villages near Manbij, Syria to deter a Turkish-backed offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces, and deployed Russian forces to train the YPG on March 20. Third, Putin took steps to further develop Russian strategic basing across the region. The deployment of Russian special forces to a base in western Egypt in early March signals Russia’s intent to expand its strategic basing along the Mediterranean Sea. Russia’s overtures to Egypt pose a particular concern as NATO conducts greater outreach to Egypt.