Adding fuel to an already highly combustible situation in Southeast Asia, Reuters reported Tuesday that China has “largely completed major construction of military infrastructure on artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea,”and that the Asian superpower “can now deploy combat planes and other military hardware there at any time.”
Citing satellite imagery analyzed by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative, part of Washington, D.C.’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, the news agency writes that “work on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs in the Spratly Islands included naval, air, radar and defensive facilities.”
Sticking to the mainstream narrative that China is an aggressor in claiming sovereign rights to the majority of the South China Sea, Pentagon spokesman Commander Gary Ross says the new images confirm what the U.S. military already knows.
“China’s continued construction in the South China Sea is part of a growing body of evidence that they continue to take unilateral actions which are increasing tensions in the region and are counterproductive to the peaceful resolution of disputes,” he told Reuters.
China, as it has repeatedly, downplayed this notion and stuck to the position that it’s simply erecting defensive infrastructure within its own borders, as would any nation.
“As for China deploying or not deploying necessary territorial defensive facilities on its own territory, this is a matter that is within the scope of Chinese sovereignty,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing Tuesday.
But the reality of the situation in the South China Sea - all geopolitical analysis aside - is that there’s about to be a hell of a lot of military hardware in those waters.
As Anti-Media has been reporting, U.S. forces are already in the region, taking part in joint drills with ally South Korea that will last until the end of April. Then, at the beginning of May, Japan — another U.S. ally — will sail its navy’s most powerful warship through the South China Sea on a three-month tour.
That means that just as the joint drills with South Korea end — which, incidentally, units from Delta Force, the Navy SEALS and Army Rangers are taking part in — Japan will shove off a warship aimed at waters claimed by China.
If that timing seems a little curious, also consider that the U.S. just deployed its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea, which both China and Russia cared none too much for.
With China showing no signs of backing away from its stance in the South China Sea — both ideologically and physically — and with the corporate media willing and eager to push the “evil China” narrative that the U.S. military appears hell-bent on capitalizing on, it appears the long-dreaded collision course with China may, indeed, be not far off on the horizon.
Officials at the US Defense Department are sending F-35Bs, the country’s newest strike fighter, to participate in this year’s joint military drills with South Korea. The annual exercises are taking place as tensions with North Korea continue to rise.
On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters,"This is the first time we have operated the F-35B in the Republic of Korea."
Pyongyang reportedly conducted a ballistic missile engine test on Friday, and CNN reported that the technology could be used in an intercontinental ballistic missile in the future.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called the engine test "a great event of historic significance," that would signal a "new birth" of Pyongyang’s rocket industry.
Davis added, "It goes without saying we are committed to defending the Republic of Korea and Japan against any North Korean aggression."
North Korea has been threatening Washington and Seoul ever since the joint exercises commenced earlier this month. Pyongyang sees the ground-based Foal Eagle drills as practice for the invasion of their country, along with the targeting and removal of North Korea’s leadership, especially Kim Jong-un.
North Korean Embassy Counselor Kim Jin Gyu said the military maneuvers "are the most undisguised scheme of nuclear war, which could plunge the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia into a nuclear catastrophe."
Russia’s intervention in Libya is designed to surround Europe in a “grand game” of geostrategy, Italy’s former military chief has said.
Luigi Binelli Mantelli, who led Italy’s armed forces from 2013 to 2015, told EUobserver that Russia’s attempt to gain a foothold in Libya was about bigger issues than oil, migrants, or terrorists.
He said Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s main objective was for Russia to “play a growing role as a global power, somehow overcoming even the US as a leader of the post-Cold War international order”.
He said Russia was doing this by “strengthening its strategic presence” in the Arctic, the Baltic, the Black Sea, and in the Mediterranean region in what he called an “arc of iron”.
The retired admiral said his views were his own and did not represent the official position of Italy, a former colonial power in Libya, which is leading EU efforts to establish order in the fragmented country.
The new “arc of iron” has seen Russia reopen Soviet-era bases in the High North and redouble military forces in its Kaliningrad exclave in the Baltic.
Three years ago, it seized Crimea from Ukraine and has built up its military presence in the Black Sea peninsula.
It has reinforced its naval base in Syria and has agreed with China to share a new naval facility in Djibouti.
It is also cultivating close ties with Egypt and with a Libyan warlord, Khalifa Haftar.
“If you look at the [Russian] naval bases, in particular the joint base with China, Europe is in a way surrounded on its eastern side and its southern side”, Binelli Mantelli said.
Mazen Faqha's career as a Palestinian terrorist came to an abrupt end this past Friday when a gunman or perhaps more than one gunman, pumped four bullets into his brain. According to his wife, the two had just returned home from a trip and the liquidation occurred just outside their home in the Gaza City neighborhood of Tel Al Hawa. “I didn’t feel or hear a thing,” she said, adding that, “everything happened quietly.” Hamas officials claimed that a silencer was used in the shooting though they offered no proof.
Whoever wanted him dead wanted to be sure that the job was completed successfully, thus the use of redundant measures. It was a clean kill without collateral damage and no gratuitous violence – almost business-like. The assassin or assassins escaped undetected.
As far as terrorists are concerned, Faqha was as bad as they come. In 2002, he recruited a suicide bomber to carry out a suicide attack that resulted in the deaths of nine Israelis. Later that year, he was apprehended by Israeli security forces after an intensive dragnet. He received nine life sentences for his role in the bombing only to be released in 2011 in the deleterious Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange where some 1,000 terrorists were released for the captive Israeli.
After his release, he was deported to Gaza where he quickly resumed his terror activities. According various published reports, Faqha was in charge of setting up Hamas terror cells in Judea and Samaria. Some of his extracurricular activities included recruiting terrorists and providing funds and instructions for execution of terror operations. These nefarious activities made him a marked man.
Hamas has offered no proof that Israel was behind the killing and Israel has offered no comment on the matter, though it did put its forces on high alert along the border as a precautionary measure. Hamas leaders have become unhinged as a result of the slaying and Israel is taking no chances.
There is good reason to believe that Israel was involved but there is equally good reason to believe that this was an internal matter between rival Hamas gang factions. Hamas is a notoriously corrupt organization where hundreds of millions in Western aid money is siphoned off by Hamas bigwigs. In addition, the lucrative smuggling industry represents a huge source of revenue for Hamas officials who impose taxes on smuggled goods and charge fees for tunnel operations. Hamas officials also operate extortion rings. The extent of the criminal enterprise in Gaza makes it extremely plausible that Faqha encroached on someone’s turf and paid the ultimate price for his transgression.
On the other hand, there is a strong likelihood of Israeli involvement. As noted, Faqha was knee-deep in terror activities. Moreover, he was a convicted murderer nine times over but thanks to the Schalit deal, only served one year for each person he killed. There was a strong motive for Israel to remove him from the scene.
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