Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Editor's Note

Busy this morning. Blogging will return in a few hours.

Tweets For Today








The Hunt For ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi making what would have been his first public appearance, at a mosque in the centre of Iraq's second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet. REUTERS/Social Media Website via Reuters TV/File Photo

The Guardian: 'We will get him': the long hunt for Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The world’s most wanted man remains at large, but as his ‘caliphate’ has crumbled so has the discipline of his leadership.

Day and night for the past three years, an unprecedented number of the world’s spies have zeroed in on a patch of Iraq and Syria to hunt for one man. Their target, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group, has eluded them all. But only just.

The most wanted man on the planet has been traced to a specific place at least three times in the past 18 months alone. And despite the protection of a devoted network, there have been other sightings of the reclusive leader, reported by Isis members shortly afterwards and confirmed later by intelligence officers. Being a fugitive in the digital age, or in a losing cause, clearly has its shortfalls.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: They will get him one day.

Picture Of The Day

Police investigate near the statue of 'Christ of the Pacific' that was partially burned after a fire at the base of the monument, at Morro Solar hill in Chorrillos, Lima, Peru, January 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

WNU Editor: The above picture is form this photo-gallery .... Editor's Choice (Reuters).

Cranberries Singer Dolores O'Riordan Dead At 46





WNU Editor: I have always enjoyed her music with the Cranberries and when she went solo. Too young to die at 46 .... Friends reveal troubled Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan was 'dreadfully depressed' in the weeks before she was found dead at 46 having previously told of battle with alcohol and failed suicide attempt (Daily Mail). The above are two of my favorite songs.

Monday, January 15, 2018

U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis: North Korea Didn’t React To False Hawaii Missile Alert



NBC: North Korea didn’t react to false Hawaii missile alert, Mattis says

There is no indication that North Korea reacted after the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency mistakenly sent an alert Saturday warning of an imminent ballistic missile strike against the islands, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday.

On Saturday morning local time, thousands of tourists and residents in Hawaii received mobile alerts on their phones that a missile would soon be impacting the state. With tensions high over the regime's ballistic missile program and President Donald Trump recently warning North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, that he has the bigger "nuclear button," the false alarm prompted panic that Hawaii was the target of an attack from North Korea.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: It looks like the North Koreans did not know what was happening. But I am definitely curious on what was the Russian and Chinese reaction to this alert.

Why Hasn't There Been A Nuclear War?

Amos Zeeberg, Nautilus: Why Hasn’t the World Been Destroyed in a Nuclear War Yet?

When opposing nations gained access to nuclear weapons, it fundamentally changed the logic of war. You might say that it made questions about war more cleanly logical—with nuclear-armed belligerents, there are fewer classic military analyses about morale, materiel, and maneuverings. Hundreds of small-scale tactical decisions dissolve into a few hugely important large-scale strategic ones, like, What happens if one side drops a nuclear bomb on its nuclear-armed opponent?

Using a dangerous weapon like a nuclear bomb can of course provoke dangerous responses. If one country crosses the nuclear line, what will its opponent do? What will its allies, or other nuclear-armed states do? The decision to use a nuclear weapon is practically nothing next to the chain reaction it begins. The act of one nation simply developing a nuclear weapon can provoke a “nuclear proliferation cascade,” as other nations, concerned about new nuclear-armed rivals, rush to follow suit. This is cited as one reason why it’s so important to prevent Iran from building its own nuclear weapons.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Mankind since Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been incredibly lucky.

U.S. State Department: Americans Traveling To North Korea Should Draft A Will And Make Funeral Plans

People look through binoculars towards North Korea from the destroyed bridge across Yalu River that once linked North Korea's Sinuiju and Dandong, China's Liaoning province, September 10, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

FOX News: Visiting North Korea? Draft a will and make funeral plans, State Department says

Americans can travel to North Korea, if they wish -- but it may just be a death wish, the U.S. State Department cautioned.

The State Department last week issued a stark warning to people setting out for the Hermit Kingdom, cautioning that anyone heading to the dangerous dictatorship should prepare for the possibility of not returning.

“The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in North Korea as it does not have diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea,” the State Department published Wednesday on its website.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: A person has got to be "nuts" if he or she wants to go to North Korea. And while business has been tough for those who arrange tours to North Korea, people are still traveling to the country .... The North Korea crisis is crushing this company (CNN)

Djibouti Is The Most Valuable Military Real Estate In The World

Bruno Maçães, Politico.eu: The most valuable military real estate in the world

Strategically placed at the entrance to the Red Sea, Djibouti is home to more foreign bases than any other country.

DJIBOUTI — “World War III will start here.”

We had been driving around the streets of this African city for more than an hour, and my companion — an agent from the national intelligence service whom I will call Mohammed — was excited by the implications of what he had been showing me.

Strategically placed at the entrance to the Red Sea, commanding a large percentage of the trade and energy flows between Europe and Asia, Djibouti is home to more foreign bases than any other country. We drove by one of the four surviving French bases. The perimeter was wide, but the building immediately reminded you of an old Foreign Legion fort, with its run-down walls and picturesque watch towers.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Djibouti is definitely open for business .... if you can pay.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- January 15, 2018



Nathan VanderKlippe, Globe And Mail: Vancouver summit risks angering China while it pressures North Korea on trade, critics warn

In the summer of 2017, Shuguang Kaixuan Mining Company went to court to defend itself against a creditor who wanted back nearly $40,000 lent to support the company's business of buying and selling North Korean mineral goods.

The dispute was longstanding, but this time Kaixuan had a new defence: It had no money, since the commodities it wanted to sell were stuck in North Korea.

"Because of the sanctions against North Korea, their normal work with iron ore has been halted," said Chen Weiguo, a lawyer for the company.

Over the course of a year in which North Korea claimed the successful detonation of a hydrogen bomb and a missile capable of reaching deep into North America, Beijing has responded with heavy new restrictions on the nuclear-armed renegade state.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- January 15, 2018

The critical question: Why is North Korea going nuclear? -- Andrew Salmon, Asia Times

Ready for the Winter Olympics? How about war? -- Nikkei Asian Review

Philippine brass up in arms on the South China Sea -- Richard Javad Heydarian, Asia Times

Will It Even Matter If U.S.-Pakistan Ties Collapse Altogether? -- Steven Metz, WPR

Four-party talks with Taliban in Turkey could ‘pave the way’ to Afghanistan peace deal -- Chad Garland and Zubair Babakarkhail, Stars and Stripes

How the U.S. Is Making the War in Yemen Worse -- Nicolas Niarchos, The New Yorker

Why the U.S. should support Iran protesters -- Roya Hakakian, Reuters

This Time, the Iron Fist Wasn't Iran's Only Protest Response -- Ladane Nasseri, Bloomberg

Trump and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- AFP

Dubai's the Very Model of a Modern Mideast Economy -- Matthew Winkler, Bloomberg

A New American Leader Rises in ISIS -- Seamus Hughes, Defense One

How and why Britain might be asked to vote once more on Brexit -- Andrew Rawnsley, The Guardian

In NAFTA Talks, Canada Raises the Pressure on the US -- Allison Fedirka, Geopolitical Futures

Venezuela: A country in meltdown -- Cristina Esguerra, DW

Pressure Rising on OPEC to Develop Long-Term Output Plan -- Robin Mills, Bloomberg

World News Briefs -- January 15, 2018 (Evening Edition)



VOA: Tillerson to Join Foreign Ministers in Vancouver for North Korea Talks

STATE DEPARTMENT — Days after high-level talks between South and North Korea, U.S. Secretary State Rex Tillerson will join foreign ministers in Vancouver on Tuesday to discuss the latest diplomatic push to counter Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile threats.

Foreign ministers of the U.N. Command Sending States are set to gather on January 16 to assess progress made by the international pressure campaign aimed at thwarting North Korea's efforts to evade U.N. sanctions through smuggling.

While participants in the talks will be from countries that have sent troops and humanitarian aid to support South Korea during the Korean War, U.S. officials said the gathering itself would not be focused on coordinating a military plan.

Read more ....

MIDDLE EAST

Baghdad reports 'atmosphere of trust' in talks with Kurdistan region.

Erdogan accuses U.S. of creating `Army of Terror' on Turk border. Erdogan: US trying to form 'terror army' in Syria.

Russia's Lavrov: US wants to slice up Syria.

Turkey to launch imminent Syria operation against YPG.

Twin blasts kill dozens in Baghdad. Double suicide bombing in Baghdad kills at least 38 people.

UAE claims Qatari fighter jets intercepted 2nd civilian aircraft - reports. Qatar denies intercepting Emirati civilian aircraft.

Car bomb blast in Lebanon's Sidon wounds Hamas member.

Iran unblocks Telegram messaging app as protests wane.

Israel vows to destroy all Gaza attack tunnels by year-end.

Mahmoud Abbas dismisses Donald Trump's peace efforts as 'slap of the century' to Palestinians.

Palestinian leaders urge PLO to suspend recognition of Israel.

Across the Mideast, Palestinians brace for Trump aid cuts.

ASIA

Top U.S. general says 'not giving up' on Pakistan ties.

North Korea meeting to stress importance of sanctions: Canada.

Indian army kills 7 Pak soldiers, 5 JeM terrorists in J&K. Kashmir border violence kills nine.

Japan says China sent nuclear-powered sub to disputed isles.

Chinese President Xi publishes a new book on governance.

North Korea to send orchestra to Winter Olympics. North Korean pop group could perform at Winter Olympics.

Thai junta boss eyes staying on with little stopping him.

Huge oil spill left after burning tanker sinks off China.

Indonesia Stock Exchange floor collapse leaves dozens injured. Indonesia Stock Exchange reopens after structural collapse.

AFRICA

Nigeria's Buhari vows to punish all those behind ethnic violence.

Tunisia says more than 900 arrests in anti-austerity violence.

Policeman killed in fresh violence in anglophone Cameroon.

Deadly clashes in Libyan capital force airport to close. 10 killed in clashes at Libya's main international airport.

Libyan eastern army accuses Turkey of sponsoring terrorism in Libya.

Three DR Congo soldiers killed while fighting Ugandan rebels.

Somalia's Shabaab forcing civilians to hand over children: HRW.

'People were screaming': troops destroy $200,000 aid camps in Somalia.

Sudan announces arrival of military reinforcements in Kassala province. Sudan deploys more troops to Eritrea border.

Zimbabwe aide: I feared Robert Mugabe lynching.

WHO says 'high' cholera risk in DR Congo capital.

Zambia cholera crisis: 'Burying people by the hundreds'.

Tropical cyclone threatens Mauritius and Reunion.

EUROPE

Greek parliament approves more bailout reforms despite protests.

America Last? EU says Trump is losing on trade.

Romania’s PM resigns after he loses support from party.

Russia's Sergei Lavrov slams US for ignoring 'multipolar' world.

Russia will not support U.S. bid to change Iran nuclear deal: Lavrov.

Russian Ambassador offered US counterpart to resume contacts in '2+2' format.

Growing number of nations banking on military might to guarantee sovereignty, says Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.

UK air force scrambles 2 fighters as Russian jets fly nearby.

Spain to impose direct rule on Catalonia if ex-leader Carles Puigdemont tries to govern from Brussels.

Merkel could join Macron in Davos for epic clash with Trump.

IMF concerned by Ukraine's new anti-corruption draft law - paper.

Pope warns world is one step away from nuclear war.

AMERICAS

Trump blames Senator Durbin for blowing immigration deal.

Reported hijab attack on 11-year-old girl 'did not happen,' Toronto police say.

Hawaii missile false alarm due to badly designed user interface, reports say. Hawaii alert: Employee who sent missile warning reassigned.

Hawaiian emergency worker who sent the wrong message is reassigned.

China absence looms over Canada meeting on how to pressure North Korea.

Trump defends himself anew against charges that he is racist.

Venezuela forces launch deadly assault, capture rebel police officers.

Venezuelan rogue police pilot says he is wounded as authorities close in.

Peru earthquake: Casualties reported after powerful quake hits south coast.

Chile, Peru await tricky Pope Francis visit.

Chile complains of World Bank unfair treatment.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Trump thanks Qatar for efforts to combat terrorism.

The US military is fighting terrorism in 76 countries around the world — here's where.

The legacy of the 'Islamic State'.

Sahel defence ministers in Paris in push for 'G5' force.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Carillion collapse weighs heavily on UK and European equities.

Dollar fall weighs on global stocks; US shut for holiday.

Ford to invest $11bn and have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles by 2022.

Airbus says A380 superjumbo production could end.

Sudan Continues To Deploy More Troops To The Eritrean Border

The latest tension was sparked after Sudan signed an agreement to temporarily hand over the Red Sea island of Suakin to Turkey [Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters]

Al Jazeera: Sudan deploys more troops to Eritrea border

Sudan says it has sent more troops to its eastern border with Eritrea as tension in the Red Sea region continues to rise.

Early this month Khartoum closed its borders with Eritrea and sent troops to its border region of Kassala, following reports that Egypt has deployed troops in Asmara.

"Sudan's national army has sent part of its forces to this area to protect Sudan's security as we have information that some parties are targeting us," Sudanese foreign minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, said after meeting his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu in Khartoum on Sunday.

Read more ....

Previous Post: Sudan Closes Border With Eritrea. Deploys Military Forces To The Border (January 6, 2018)

WNU Editor: Sudan believes there are Egyptian forces in Eritrea. Egypt is concerned that there are Turkish military forces in Sudan. Eritrea and Sudan have had border disputes for years. No one wants to start a war .... but everyone is preparing for one.

More News On Sudan Continuing To Deploy More Troops To The Eritrean Border

Sudan continues military buildup on eastern border -- Sudan Tribune
Sudan says faces 'threat' on Egypt-Eritrea border -- Anadolu Agency
Sudan Backs Down from Accusing Egypt, Eritrea of Threatening its Security -- Asharq Al-Awsat
Eritrean president denies presence of Egyptian troops in Eritrea -- Egypt Today
Afwerki speaks on Horn affairs, denies Egypt’s troops are in Eritrea -- Africa Times

Tensions Grow Between Egypt and Sudan/Ethiopia Over The Nile River



Reuters: Egypt Says It Does Not Want War as Tension Grows With Sudan

CAIRO (Reuters) - President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Monday Egypt is not conspiring against its neighbors and has no intention to fight, a reference to growing tension with Sudan.

Relations have deteriorated in recent weeks, including over a Sudan-Turkey naval agreement that angered Cairo and an ongoing dispute over a dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile river that runs through all three countries.

In the latest move, Sudan recalled its ambassador to Egypt without saying when he might be back.

"Let's always look for peace and development, our people need that. They don't need us arguing and entering conflict," Sisi said at an inauguration of new projects in the province of Monofeya.

Read more ....

More News On The Growing Tensions Between Egypt and Sudan/Ethiopia Over The Nile River

'Egypt doesn't conspire or fight against its brothers': President Sisi tells Sudan and Ethiopia -- Ahram Online
Egypt's leader seeks to defuse tension with Sudan, Ethiopia -- SF Chronicle/AP
'Egypt Does Not Conspire Against Anyone': Sisi on Tensions With Sudan -- Al-Bawaba
Egypt's Sisi denies conspiring against Sudan, Ethiopia -- Xinhuanet
What is going on between Egypt and Sudan? -- Sudan Tribune
Fog of War Looms over Egyptian-Sudanese Relations -- The North Africa Post

Syrian Rebel Envoys In Washington Asking For A Revival Of CIA Aid

Rebel fighters walk carrying their weapons on the outskirts of the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Syria January 15, 2017. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Reuters: Syrian rebel delegation in Washington seeking revival of CIA aid

AMMAN (Reuters) - Free Syrian Army envoys have urged U.S. officials at talks in Washington to resume a suspended CIA program of military aid if it is serious about challenging growing Iranian influence in Syria, according to Syrian opposition figures.

Mustafa Sejari, a senior official in Syria’s mainstream rebel group, said the envoys described to U.S. officials the damaging impact of President Donald Trump’s decision last year to stop equipping and training certain rebel groups.

Trump’s move was driven by a wish to focus on fighting Islamic State militants and to improve relations with Russia, as well as a lack of results from the CIA’s support of the FSA, U.S. officials suggested.

“We endorse President Trump’s statements about the need to confront Iranian hegemony in the region. It is time to turn words into action. Until now on the ground it’s the Iranian militias that are expanding without serious resistance,” Sejari told Reuters by telephone from Washington.

Read more ....

Update: Syrian rebels make pitch to restore CIA program: report (The Hill)

WNU Editor: They are using the Iranian card to get the CIA to resume aid. Will it work? I doubt it, but this is one those stories that the truth will only be known later.

Will North Korean-Bound Ships Be Intercepted By U.S. And Allied Naval Forces?

Prepare to be boarded. (Reuters/Paul Yeung)

Steve Mollman, Quartz: North Korea-bound ships could soon be routinely intercepted by the US and its allies

In December, North Korea warned that a naval blockade would be considered an “act of war.” This week, foreign ministers from the US and about 20 other countries will discuss the possibility of intercepting vessels headed to North Korea, as part of expanding efforts to pressure Pyongyang into abandoning its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

The meeting will take place in Vancouver on Jan. 16, with Canada and the US serving as co-hosts. Attendees will primarily be the nations that sent troops to the Korean war of 1950-53, among them South Korea, Japan, Australia, India, Britain, and France. Neither China nor Russia will attend, though they will be given a readout of the discussion.

Read more ....

WNU Editor:North Korea has already warned that such actions would be regarded as a declaration of war.

Ministers Of 16 Countries Gather In Vancouver To Discuss North Korea



Reuters: North Korea meeting to stress importance of sanctions - Canada

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - A summit on curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions will focus in part on how to ensure countries fully implement all the sanctions imposed on the reclusive state, a Canadian government source said on Monday.

Senior officials from 20 nations will gather in Vancouver on Tuesday for the full-day meeting, which is designed to increase diplomatic and financial pressure on Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear programs. Canada and the United States are co-hosts.

The United Nations Security Council, which has already imposed a wide range of sanctions, last month approved new punitive measures seeking to limit Pyongyang’s access to refined petroleum products and crude oil and its earnings from workers abroad.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This summit is on, but China is not there .... China absence looms over Canada meeting on how to pressure North Korea (Reuters), and neither is Russia who is now criticizing this entire summit .... Russia calls Vancouver meeting on North Korea 'destructive' (TASS).

More News On Ministers From 16 Countries Gathering In Vancouver To Discuss North Korea

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Vancouver Monday to co-host North Korea crisis meeting -- Vancouver Sun
Vancouver summit risks angering China while it pressures North Korea on trade, critics warn -- Nathan Vander Klippe, Globe and Mail
North Korea summit in Vancouver to focus on enforcing sanctions ahead of diplomacy -- Murray Brewster, CBC News
The Vancouver Meeting on North Korea: What Should We Expect? -- Andrea Berger, Arms Control Wonk

British Fighters Intercept Two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack Bombers Off The East Coast Of Scotland


Daily Mail: RAF Typhoon fighter jets are scrambled to intercept Russian supersonic 'Blackjack' bombers approaching UK airspace

* Typhoons took off from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, at 9.30am today
* They are said to be intercepting Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers at 28,000ft
* Incident among stand-offs over North Sea between RAF and Russian Air Force

Two RAF Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled to intercept Russian planes approaching UK airspace this morning.

The planes took off from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray on the coast of Scotland just before 9.30am today in Britain's latest military stand-off with Moscow.

They were said to have been flying towards two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers at about 28,000ft off the east coast of Scotland.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That British Fighters Intercepted Two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack Bombers Off The East Coast Of Scotland

RAF fighters intercept two Russian bombers near UK airspace -- The Guardian
UK Air Force Scrambles 2 Fighters to Intercept Russian Jets -- US News and World Report/AP
Britain scrambles two Typhoon jets to intercept Russian planes -- CNBC/Reuters
UK Scrambles Jets to Intercept Russian Bombers -- Epoch Times
UK scrambles Typhoon fighter jets to intercept Russian aircraft — source -- TASS

Turkish President Erdogan Vows To Destroy U.S.-Backed Force In Syria





Daily Hurriyet News: Turkey to crush ‘terror army’ to be set up by US in Syria: Erdoğan

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 15 threatened to thwart the creation of a U.S-backed 30,000-strong border security force manned mostly by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria.

Turkey’s armed forces completed preparations for an operation against the YPG in their strongholds Afrin, in northwestern Syria, and Manbij, in northern Syria, Erdoğan said on Jan. 15 at an opening ceremony in Ankara.

“The operation may start any time. Operations into other regions will come after,” the president said, noting that the Turkish army was already hitting YPG positions.

Read more ....

More News On Turkish President Erdogan Vowing To Destroy U.S.-Backed Forces In Syria

Erdogan: we will 'strangle' U.S.-backed force in Syria "before it's even born" -- Reuters
Erdogan accuses US of creating Kurdish terror enclave on Turkish border -- CNN
Syria war: Turkey denounces US 'terror army' plan for border -- BBC
Turkey threatens attack 'at any moment' on Kurdish-held Afrin in Syria -- DW
Erdogan: US trying to form 'terror army' in Syria -- Al Jazeera
Erdogan vows to ‘drown’ US-backed Syrian Border Force before it’s born, labels unit ‘terrorist army' -- RT
Trump Is 'Playing With Fire,' Turkey Says, After US Sets Up Syrian Border Force -- Newsweek
Syrian Kurds mobilise civilians as Erdogan warns of attack 'at any moment' -- The National