Thursday, June 12, 2014

In The News: More War Preparations (III) - Wars And Rumors Of War

If you view the world-wide news on a daily basis, you simply cannot escape the closeness of the coming wars. At a minimum, the prophetic statement about our seeing "wars and rumors of war" have become part of our daily consciousness. This isn't confined to Russia, Ukraine or Iraq - this process is everywhere we look: 

An Israel Air Force strike targeted a Salafist in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening.

The IDF said in a statement the incident was a targeted hit against “global Jihad-affiliated terrorists,” in conjunction with the Shin Bet security service.

Palestinian media reported one killed and two injured in the incident.

The raid came hours after a projectile launched from the coastal enclave caused significant damage to a major road outside a southern Israeli community, in an attack condemned by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The airstrike was the first Israeli action against Gaza since rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas formed a unity government earlier this month.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the strike that Awwar represented the “true face of Hamas.”
“It continues to plan terror attacks against Israeli civilians while in the Palestinian government,” he said in a statement released by his office. “I would like to remind the international community that Abbas committed to uphold all previous agreements the day he established the government with the terror group Hamas, meaning he is responsible for dismantling Hamas and other terror groups’ arsenals in Gaza.”

The Egyptian military has deployed a large military force near the border crossing with Israel at Taba in order to prevent rocket and missile attacks on Israel, and especially on Israeli civilian airplanes.

Egyptian sources estimate the force is about the size of a battalion, or several hundred men. The move was coordinated with Israel.

Egypt is concerned that jihadist operatives in the Sinai Peninsula who are affiliated with al-Qaeda may try to down an Israeli civilian aircraft flying near the border during its approach for landing in the resort town of Eilat.

In January, members of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, an Egyptian Islamist militant group, downed an Egyptian military helicopter, killing the five officers aboard. Investigation of the incident found that the jihadist group used SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles smuggled from Libya.

Officials in the US and Israel urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to disarm terrorists in the Gaza Strip Wednesday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief spokesman characterizing Abbas’s condemnation of rocket fire on Wednesday morning as “empty rhetoric.”

The statements came hours after a rocket shot out of Gaza struck a major road in southern Israel, causing damage, but no injuries.

Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Mark Regev asked why Abbas was letting the rocket fire continue, despite bringing Gaza’s Hamas rulers into the Palestinian Authority as part of a unity deal last week.

“President Abbas claims that the new Palestinian government honors all previous commitments. So why has he not disarmed the terrorist organizations in Gaza as he is obligated to do?” Regev said. “Without such action his ‘condemnation’ of today’s rocket attack on Israel is nothing but empty rhetoric.”

The attack marked the second time this week that alarm sirens have sounded in the south near the Gaza Strip.

Four Russian strategic bombers triggered U.S. air defense systems while conducting practice bombing runs near Alaska this week, with two of the Tu-95 Bear H aircraft coming within 50 miles of the California coast, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) confirmed Wednesday.

Davis said the latest Bear H incursions began Monday around 4:30 p.m. Pacific time when radar detected the four turbo-prop powered bombers approaching the U.S. air defense zone near the far western Aleutian Islands.
Two U.S. Air Force F-22 jets were scrambled and intercepted the bombers over the Aleutians.
After tracking the bombers as they flew eastward, two of the four Bears turned around and headed west toward the Russian Far East. The bombers are believed to be based at the Russian strategic base near Anadyr, Russia.
The remaining two nuclear-capable bombers then flew southeast and around 9:30 pm entered the U.S. northern air defense zone off the coast of Northern California.
Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, called the Russian flights “intentional provocations.”
“Putin is doing this specifically to try to taunt the U.S. and exercise, at least in the reported world, some sort of saber-rattling, muscle-flexing kind of nonsense,” Conaway said in an interview.

"It’s a provocation and it’s unnecessary. But it fits in with [Putin’s] macho kind of saber-rattling,” he said, adding that he expects Russia will carry out more of these kinds of incidents in the future.

Japan protested to Beijing on Wednesday after Chinese fighter jets flew within 30 metres of Japanese military planes in airspace claimed by both nations. Similar flybys in the same area took place several weeks ago.
In two separate episodes on Wednesday, Chinese Su-27 fighters flew dangerously close to two Japanese propeller-driven reconnaissance airplanes in skies over the East China Sea, Japan's defence ministry said.
The flybys are the latest escalation in an increasingly tense test of wills between China and Japan for dominance of the East China Sea, which includes a group of uninhabited islets that both nations claim. Japan took control of the island group when it was a rising imperial power in the late 19th century, but now a newly resurgent China wants to regain what it sees as stolen territory.
The ministry said the Japanese planes had returned safely to base, though the faster Chinese jets came close enough that the crew of one Japanese craft photographed what appeared to be white missiles on the underside of the jets.

A similar encounter took place last month, when Chinese fighter planes flew as close as 30 metres to Japanese reconnaissance planes in the same area.
Japan's defence ministry said the incidents had taken place in airspace where both nations claim overlapping "air defence identification zones" - areas bordering sovereign airspace where foreign aircraft were required to identify themselves and to provide flight plans. Japan has ignored the Chinese air zone since Beijing declared it late last year.

Russia has deployed 24 Baltic Fleet warships and vessels, along with heavy fighter jets and bombers, as reinforcement for military drills in the westernmost Kaliningrad region while NATO stages its own war games across the border.
On Wednesday, Moscow deployed a grouping of 24 Baltic Fleet warships and vessels for military drills in its exclave on the Baltic Sea coast. The drills were launched on Tuesday in response to NATO’s international drills – Saber Strike 2014 and BALTOPS 2014 –near Russia’s border.

"The squadrons of warships are performing the tasks of ensuring the protection of the state border of the Russian Federation, protecting marine communications, providing for shipping safety, organizing air defense, and searching for and detecting surface ships and submarines of the imaginary enemy," said Russia's Defense Ministry.

The ministry added that the newest Su-34 Fullback fighter bombers and Su-24MR reconnaissance aircraft have also taken off from their air base in Voronezh region to join the war games in Kalinigrad.

"Tu-22M3 long-range bombers are in the state of readiness to patrol the area of the exercises. An A-50 long-range airborne warning and control system aircraft is involved in the drills for reconnaissance purposes."

The presence of Russia’s military force in the war games is “equitable” with the number of NATO troops concentrated in the three nearby Baltic states – Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia – which are hosting the drills from June 9-21, the Defense Ministry noted. 

IRAQ, the country the West shed so much blood to liberate, is hurtling towards disaster, with militants marching towards the nation’s capital.
In a series of spectacularly successful attacks, jihadist militants belonging to an al-Qaeda splinter group have seized two major cities: Mosul, the country’s second largest, and Tikrit, the hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
As many as half a million people — the population of Tasmania — are believed to have fled their homes in Mosul as a band of around 800 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants seized the city on Tuesday.
When the 30,000-strong army defending the city saw the band of jihadists approaching, it turned around and fled, Iraqi officials told a British news outlet. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki suggested it was because of a conspiracy.

It has been a week of stunning advances by Islamic militants across a belt from Iraq to Pakistan. Not only are the jihadists rampaging across Iraq and the civil war continuing to rage in Syria, but days ago Pakistan’s largest airport was paralysed and rocked by explosions as gunmen stormed it in a dramatic show of strength.
More than a decade after the US launched its “war on terrorism”, Islamic militant groups are bolder than ever, exploiting the erosion or collapse of central government control in a string of nations — Syria, Iraq and Pakistan — that are more strategically vital than the relatively failed states where al-Qaeda set up its bases in the past: Somalia, Yemen and 1990s Afghanistan.

ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), sometimes referred to as al-Qaeda in Iraq or ISIL, wants to establish an Islamic state called a “caliphate” across two countries.
Known for its ruthless tactics and suicide bombers, ISIS is arguably the most capable force fighting President Bashar al-Assad inside Syria as well as the most powerful militant group in Iraq.
The group commands more than 10,000 fighters and has steadily been consolidating its hold on much of north-eastern Syria across the Iraqi border.

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