23-Jan-17 The General of PR Trump’s “Mad Dog” — one of the most controversial figures in the American military establishment

by Pavel Ivanov Originally appeared at VPK, translated by Alice Decker via SouthFront

The US Congress approved the candidacy of the former head of the Central Command of the Armed Forces (CENTCOM), General James Mattis, for the post of secretary of defense. It is noteworthy that for the appointment of the future head of the Pentagon, a special procedure was created.

Under US law, a retired military man can serve as secretary of defense only after at least seven years since his dismissal. And Mattis resigned in 2013. Therefore, his appointment required special coordination with the Congress and the Senate, as well as individual hearings in the Committee on Armed Services.

“In Afghanistan and Iraq, the future head of the Pentagon was nicknamed ‘Poser’ and ‘PR man’ ”

Judging by statements from experts and analysts, the nomination of the ex-general who has served for 41 years was based on simple military talents. There is an opinion that the appointment of Mattis was opposed by the civilian leadership of the Pentagon, in particular by the outgoing head of the department Ashton Carter. Reports have been published in the American mass media many times about conflicts among the Defense Department’s civilian leadership, who have little understanding of the military and approach the armed forces like a corporation. So the appointment of the distinguished general as head of the Pentagon is seen as a victory for the “war lobby.”

Meanwhile, the appointment of James Mattis signals a big problem ahead. In reality, the Marines general is an ambiguous figure. It was not only some abstract “civic leaders” who opposed his candidacy but specific generals in the US Army Command and Special Operations Forces. During operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, this very same future head of the Pentagon earned the unflattering nicknames ‘the Poser’ and ‘the incompetent PR man.’

Afghan hyper-cautious syndrome

In November 2001, a Special Forces team, ODA 574, was abandoned in Afghanistan. The “Green Berets” had quite a difficult task: to help the future Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s forces prepare an attack on Kandahar. It’s noteworthy that he went with the advisors to the rear of the Taliban with the ODA 574 and instructors from the CIA.

At that time, there were no regular units or divisions of the US military in the country except the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit on objective “Rhino” — an abandoned airfield 190 kilometers from Kandahar. Brigadier General James Mattis was commanding the Unit.

On December 5, due to a targeting error by the gunlayer, a bomb dropped from a B-52 hit the ODA 574, killing and wounding several soldiers. The Commander of the 5th Special Operations Group appealed to Mattis, requesting evacuation. But he was refused: allegedly, the general was not aware of what was going on in the area, and did not want to risk the helicopter.

Despite the fact that the headquarters of a battalion of special forces, and a “Delta” squadron which guaranteed helicopters cover from ground fire, were already operating in the area, Mattis remained adamant. He didn’t change his decision even after he was informed that a number of the injured needed urgent surgery or they would die.

MH-53 helicopters from Uzbekistan had to be used for their evacuation. Two “Hercules” flew to “Rhino” with special medical modules in the cargo hold and teams of doctors. The helicopters made it in time. However, due to lack of fuel, the crews were forced to conduct aerial refueling over Kandahar at an altitude of just several hundred meters, under Taliban fire. Well, none of the MD-53 was hit.

But Mattis did not want guests at the “Reno” and barred a C-130 with physicians from landing. The aircraft circled in the air for several hours. At some point, the crew decided to land on their own. Then General Tommy Franks, the head of CENTCOM and the commander of Operation Enduring Freedom, stepped in. He made Mattis allow the landing and ensured that MH-53 with the wounded would be accepted.

But despite Franks’ personal intervention, Mattis turned to minor mischief as “Green Berets” later described. While medical operations were being conducted, Marines began to warm up the engines of the AH-1 helicopters and then to operate them. This caused shaking of medical C-130 and hindered the work of the surgeons.

The Unified Command of Special Operations Forces (OKSSO) of the US Armed Forces demanded an investigation into the conduct of James Mattis at the “Reno” facility. After some time, the proceedings were closed, but Mattis had won himself enemies in the OKSSO.

A Dubious victory

It is believed that Mattis earned the nickname Mad Dog, and a reputation as a harsh and brilliant warrior, during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But the general’s merits are rather controversial.

‘Mad Dog’ stuck to him after the publication of the book “Generation Kill” (a chronicle of the actions of the Marine reconnaissance battalion in Iraq) and the eponymous series. A few snippets show the general as a charismatic leader, not afraid of danger. Suffice it to recall how Mattis scolded the commander of an Expeditionary Division group right on the bridge under fire from Iraqi troops.

However, in the memoirs of one of the participants in those events, Lieutenant Nathaniel Fick, these episodes are, to put it mildly, more ambiguous. The General does not look “the father of the Marines.” But the book and the film played a role — now the successful operations of the Marine Corps in Iraq is attributed to Mattis. Later, the PR effect was when a collection of the general’s quotes was released to the press.

But the official historiography of the Marine Corps published in the late 2000s indicated that the most important decisions and the most difficult actions in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 were made by Lieutenant General James Conway, who was then commander of the expeditionary forces of the Commission in Iraq. Mattis obeyed him (at that time Conway was the commander of the 1st Marine Division), and not vice versa, as stated in some publications.

No less controversial were James Mattis’s decisions during the fighting in Falluja. Traditionally, it is reported that the brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division failed to subdue the city. To prevent disturbances, the Pentagon rushed the Marine Division headed by Mattis to Fallujah and he completed the job.

After several works on the “Delta” operations in Iraq were published, the situation looked different again. Despite Mattis’ best efforts, fighting broke out in Fallujah. “Delta” Special forces officers who were active in the city at the time claimed that the general was always late. Barricades were already being built and weapons were being brought in, but the Marines took down some of their posts, to, as Matthis said in his orders, normalize life. When clashes were expected to break out any minute, the general ordered them to conduct patrols without helmets and body armor, so as not to provoke the civilians and not to show the US Marines as occupiers.

This decision was widely repeated in the media, as well as in Mattis’ daily briefings, where he often used his famous “military wisdom.” However, the Marines themselves were somewhat disillusioned with the division commander. When fighting broke out in the city in full force, the Marine Division was not ready for it.

Interestingly enough, James Mattis is one of the few lieutenants-general (the highest military rank in the ILC) who was not made a commander of the Marine Corps, or at least a lieutenant commander.

Since 2005, Mattis has not actually directed led military units. In 2006, he headed up the development of the joint command responsible for introducing new weapons systems, and then the joint command of the forces and funding — in fact, managing military training.

And if under the Bush administration the general’s career faded, under Barack Obama it blossomed. However, the attempt to appoint Mattis USMC commander failed because of tacit resistance from his potential subordinates. The ILC is one of the few positions in the US Armed Forces where the commander is appointed by the president, but only with the agreement of the corps itself. But with CENTCOM, with its commander General Petraeus having fallen out of favor, everything worked out.

James Mattis is a general with a fairly dubious reputation. In many respects, he did not score military achievements but rather ran a public relations campaign. And he has a pretty complicated relationship with his colleagues. Mattis frankly is not liked in the US Armed Forces, Special Operations Forces Joint Command and Special Operations Command. And the leadership of the latter group (it consists of “Delta” and DEVGRU) are considered “gray cardinals” not only the Pentagon but also in the national security system.

17-Jan-17 In Syria, the Russian Navy and Air Force are testing new means of defense against an invasion by NATO

By Valentin Vasilescu
Translated by Alice Decker
Originally posted at Algora Blog.

From 8 November 2016 to 6 January 2017, Russia tested in the Eastern Mediterranean a naval group’s ability to execute complex missions similar to those missions that anti-assault craft would have to perform in the event of a NATO invasion targeting the coasts of Russia. The Russian naval group was composed of the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, the nuclear-powered cruiser Peter the Great, the destroyers Severomorsk and Vice Admiral Kulakov, and the frigate Admiral Grigorovich. The Russian aircraft carrier, with a displacement of 60,000 t., had onboard fourteen Su-33 multi-purpose aircraft, four Mig-29Ks (of the twenty Mig-29K/KUB which it could carry), four Su-25UTG/UBP training/ground attack aircraft, and fourteen Kamov Ka-27PLO anti-submarine helicopters.

The Russian aircraft aboard the Admiral Kuznetsov executed 420 missions, hitting 1,252 Syrian terrorist targets. Each plane onboard was armed with Kh-29 type L/T air–ground missiles and T Kh-25 (guided by laser or TV camera), launched from an altitude of 10,000 meters and at a distance of 10–12 km from the targets. The aircraft carrier supplemented the two Russian light bomber squadrons that remained behind to operate out of the Hmeymim airbase in Syria after the attempt to establish a ceasefire in Syria (February 27, 2016) and which can launch 72 “smart” guided bombs or missiles  daily.

The US nuclear propulsion aircraft carriers have on board 85 to 90 aircraft (of which 50 are F/A-18/EA-18Gs) and are provided with CATOBAR systems (Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery), which makes it possible to accelerate the take-off of aircraft having a mass of more than 40 t., including E-2D Hawkeye AEW aircraft (airborne early warning). The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov can take on board only 36 aircraft, and it is equipped with STOBAR (short take-off but arrested recovery) and a ski-jump ramp that does not allow the use of AEW aircraft. STOBAR limits the take-off mass of the aircraft and, therefore, they cannot take off with externally mounted extra fuel tanks. For this reason, jets flying from the American carriers have an operational range of 700 km, while those from the Russian carrier have a flight radius of only 300 km. This detail was not a problem since the distance between the Islamist targets in the governorate of Idlib or Aleppo and the position of the Russian naval group was about 150–200km.

Therefore, the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier is especially useful in the defense of Russia, as it can intercept enemy bombers or fighter-bombers operating beyond the tactical range of Russian aircraft stationed on land. It is also useful in forcing aircraft onboard a NATO naval group to engage battle before the Russian coastline comes into range. In the second case, the planes are armed with Kh-61 missiles (airborne version of the P-800 Onyx), with a range of 350–500 km and a flight speed of Mach 2.5 (2,800 km/h).

The Russian naval group was not limited to bombing Islamist rebels; it also tested counter-attack capabilities by launching real ship-to-ship missiles on board. The Admiral Kuznetsov is also armed with other defensive weapons, such as P-700 Granit ship-to-ship missiles, with a radius of 625 km, flying at Mach 1.6–2.5. The cruiser Peter the Great is also armed with P-700 Granit missiles, while the Severomorsk and Vice Admiral Kulakov destroyers have the P-270 Moskit missile with a range of 250 km. The frigate Admiral Grigorovich is armed with 3M14T Kalibr cruise missiles with range of 2500 km and P-800 Onix missiles.

Starting in October 2015, when Russia deployed an air-and-ground contingent in Syria, the Russian naval forces conducted several rounds of combat exercises aimed at Islamist terrorist targets. Through these exercises, Russia has actually tested the new capabilities that they would use in a defensive operation against NATO. On November 15, 2016, the K-300P Bastion coastal missile system — installed by the Russians on the Syrian coast — launched 24 rockets against terrorist Islamist bunkers in Syria. The K-300P is a coastal anti-ship missile, of the “sea-skimming” type, derived from the P-800 Onyx. On November 17, 2015, over sixteen 3M-14T Kaliber cruise missiles were launched from the diesel-electric submarine Rostov-on-Don, located in the Mediterranean Sea. Another twenty-six 3M-14T Kaliber cruise missiles were launched from a Gepard-class frigate and the two Buyan-class corvettes, all located in the Caspian Sea. Also on November 17, 2015, Russia launched thirty-four KH-555 cruise missiles at terrorist targets in Syria, using Tu-22M3, Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers that took off from the Engels air base in the Volga region, using the same battle technique as the Russian naval air forces.

From the doctrinal point of view, the US Navy supports the military invasion of distant lands, using naval expeditionary forces. This characteristic is based on the fact that they have a large number of modern ocean-going vessels. The US Navy fleet is composed of 10–11 aircraft carriers, 21 helicopter carriers (9 amphibious assault ships, 2 amphibious command ships and 10 amphibious transport docks), 22 cruisers, 63 destroyers, 8 LCS ships (Littoral combat ships), 51 nuclear-powered attack submarines, and 14 nuclear submarines equipped with ballistic missiles.

Since 2013 the U.S. Navy has received three ESD (Expeditionary Shuttle Docks) mobile amphibious platforms: the Montford Point (T-MLP-1), the John Glenn (T-MLP-2) and the Lewis b. Puller (T-MLP-3), with a displacement of 34,000–84,000 t. Only the US has this type of vessels, specially designed to transport armored vehicles and heavy fighting equipment close to the shore. Since the deck is accessible at water level, Marines and combat equipment can be transferred by helicopters  and large hovercraft, which deposit them to dry land. The U.S. Army has depots on every continent, and in countries close to areas of potential military conflict. For example, in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has huge depots that keep military equipment the U.S. Army for operations in any State from Asia and East Africa. Here are stored thousands of tanks, armored vehicles, logistical equipment, helicopters and ammunition that could make up two American army corps. ESD amphibious mobile platforms allow the timely transport, positioning, and concentration of maritime assault forces in any theater of action around the globe. They also serve as a base for naval Special Operations missions, along with an amphibious command ship (helicopter carrier).

Unlike the U.S. Navy, most Russian naval and naval aviation missions have to do with defending the Russian coast, from enemies far away and on distant fronts. Maintaining Russia’s strategic nuclear strike capacity is an exception; for this, they have a fleet of 38 atomic-powered submarines, most carrying intercontinental ballistic missiles (including three new Borey-class submarines and one Yasen-class). With the breakup of the Soviet Union, the shipyards on the Black Sea reverted to Ukraine. The most important of those was the shipyard at Mykolaiv, where Soviet aircraft carriers were built, along with helicopter carriers, cruisers and destroyers. However, the four sites for the construction of conventional and nuclear-powered submarines and their supply chain remained wholly within the territory of the Russian Federation. Although it has a very competent design team, Russia has stopped building aircraft, helicopter carriers, cruisers and destroyers since their naval gas turbines have all been designed and manufactured since the Soviet era in Ukraine’s Zorya plant in Mykolaiv. Ukraine stopped delivering any military equipment to Russia in 2014. Russian aviation engine manufacturer NPO Saturn tries to fill the gap by replacing Ukrainian engines with its own, but only for the new Russian frigates Admiral Gorshkov and Admiral Grigorovich, not for larger ships. At the same time, Western electronic and navigation systems are no longer available because of the sanctions imposed on Russia.

Russia retired many of its large Soviet-era ships in the last ten years, maintaining in service one aircraft carrier (the Admiral Kuznetsov), one nuclear-powered cruiser (the Pyotr Velikiy), three conventional cruisers (the Moskva, the Marshal Ustinov, the Varyag) and 15 destroyers. Retrofitting the large surface ships in this case entails replacing the old delivery systems and missiles by installing in the deck ten to twelve 3S-14, 3M-54, 3M22 or 3M55 vertical launch systems, each having eight launch cells, just like the MK41 on the American AEGIS destroyers and cruisers. The launch cells are compatible with 3M-14T Kalibr cruise missiles, similar to the RGM/UGM-109E Tomahawk on US ships, P-800 Onyx ship-to-ship rockets, and the Kh-41 Moskit, naval variants of ship-to-air missiles like the S-400 (range: 400 km) or the S-350, etc.

Russia has placed a particular emphasis on increasing the number of conventional attack submarines, which number 24 (of which six are new Varshavyanka class submarines). The Varshavyanka class submarine has hydro-acoustic technology and advanced electronics that make it the quietest submarine class in the world, and it is also extremely maneuverable in the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. Russian attack submarines are equipped with 3M-14T Kalibr cruise missiles and Kh-41 Moskit anti-ship missiles, with 250 km range and Mach 3.2 (3587 km/h).

Extremely useful for the new missions of the Russian Navy near the coast are fast, smaller, multi-purpose ships like the six frigates (two of which are of the new Admiral Grigorovich class) and 81 missile corvettes (of which two are Gepard class, eight are Buyan class, and four are Steregushchiy, all new). The new vessels have 3S-14 vertical launch systems, and the oldest ones are in the process of being upgraded to the same standard. The standard version has 3M-14T Kalibr cruise missiles, and P-800 and Kh-41 Moskit Onix ship-to-ship missiles. Their air defense systems are made up of ship-to-air Buk M3s (with a range of 70 km) or Pantsir-M (range: 24 km).

After the war in Georgia in 2008, when Russia was slow to respond due to the lack of high capacity amphibious transport ships, the Russian Navy wanted to get four amphibious assault ships (helicopter carriers). Unlike aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships have on board not only two to three squadrons of helicopters (or vertical take-off and landing aircraft) but a land contingent (a battalion of marines with all combat equipment) and the means for landing them on the coast (including ships and hovercraft). In 2014, Paris refused to deliver the two Mistral helicopter carriers that Russia had already paid for, citing Moscow’s involvement in the crisis in Ukraine. Subsequently, the two Mistral helicopter carriers were sold to Egypt. The Mistral has a displacement of 21,300 t., and can take on board sixteen Ka-52K attack helicopters and sixteen ASW (anti-submarine warfare) transport and reconnaissance helicopters.

Outside of France, there are only a few countries that can afford helicopter carriers. The US has eight Wasp-class helicopter carriers and one America-class, at 41,000 t., with twelve CH-46 Sea Knight transport helicopters, six AV-8B type vertical-takeoff-and-landing or mobile rotor planes (MV-22 Osprey), four AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters, and nine anti-submarine and search & rescue Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallions. England boasts three Ocean and Albion Class helicopter carriers (21,000 and 23,700 t.), built in their own shipyards, with eighteen helicopters each. Italy has three San Giorgio class ships with American helicopters equipped with SH-3D Sea King helicopters, South Korea has built a 18,000 t. Dokdo-class helicopter carrier with 15 American Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters on board. Japan has an Izumo-class helicopter carrier (27,000 t.) and two Hyuga-class (19,000 t.) that can carry American SH-60K and MH-53E Super Stallion helicopters. Australia has ordered from Spain’s Navantia shipyards two amphibious command ships (helicopter carriers) Juan Carlos class (27,000 t.): the Canberra and the Adelaide. These two have on board the American S-70B Seahawk multi-role helicopter. Spain also has a Juan Carlos class ship (with eleven AV8B vertical takeoff aircraft and twelve NH90 helicopters) and one Galicia class (13,815 t.) with six NH-90 helicopters. China has three Type 071 vessels for amphibious troops (20,000 t.), with Z-8 helicopters on board built under license after the French Super Frelon.

15-Jan-17 World View — Poland welcomes biggest deployment of American tanks and troops in decades

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Poland welcomes biggest deployment of American tanks and troops in decades
  • US troop deployment in Poland angers Russia

Poland welcomes biggest deployment of American tanks and troops in decades

Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydlo and Maj. Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, commander of Poland's 11th Armored Cavalry Division, conduct a review of U.S. and Polish troops during an official ceremony in Zagan, Poland (DVIDS)
Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydlo and Maj. Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, commander of Poland’s 11th Armored Cavalry Division, conduct a review of U.S. and Polish troops during an official ceremony in Zagan, Poland (DVIDS)

People across Poland are celebrating “Operation Resolve,” the arrival to Poland the largest US military deployment to Europe in decades. The deployment includes about 4,000 troops and also 2,400 pieces of military equipment, including tanks and Humvees.

The deployment is a reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. Other countries in eastern Europe are concerned that they will be the next victim of a Russian invasion, and it’s hoped that the presence of US troops will deter Russia.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said,

“Welcome to Poland. … The presence of American soldiers in Poland is another step in our strategy to ensure safety and security for Poland and the region. …

It’s a great day today when we can welcome, here in Zagan, American soldiers who represent the best, the greatest army in the world.”

Poland’s Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said:

“We have waited for you for a very long time. We waited for decades, sometimes feeling we had been left alone, sometimes almost losing hope, sometimes feeling that we were the only ones who protected civilization from aggression that came from the east.”

The American troops will be part of a Nato contingent that will include troops from Britain and Canada. The troops will be rotated every nine months through Poland, the Baltic countries, Bulgaria and Romania in order to provide a technical workaround to a promise made to Moscow after the fall of the Soviet Union that Nato would not permanently base large numbers of forces east of Germany. Deutsche Welle and CNN and AFP

US troop deployment in Poland angers Russia

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin is always calling everyone he dislikes “Nazis” and “Fascists,” but he doesn’t like to admit that Russia’s were also “Nazis and Fascists” prior Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Russia. Hitler and Josef Stalin had signed a treaty (the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact) in 1939 where they split up Poland between them. The agreement also divided Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Romania between the Nazis and the Communists. It was only in 1941, when the Nazis invaded Russia, that Stalin finally learned being a Nazi is not a good thing. Even so, after Hitler was defeated, Stalin’s Soviet forces occupied Poland and other east European countries for decades.

These events are far ancient history to today’s young generations in America and Western Europe, but they’re still very raw memories to the people of Poland and other East European countries. They’ve seen Russia invade and annex parts of Georgia and Ukraine, and they have no doubts that Russia would invade their countries, as has happened in the past.

Putin press spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the US troops in Poland would be “a threat to Russia’s national security.”

It’s hard to believe that 5,000 American troops would be a threat to Russia’s security, inasmuch as Russia has something like 330,000 troops along its western border. Furthermore, Russia has long-range Iskander cruise missiles in Kaliningrad that can be made nuclear.

The US deployment is being described as a “tripwire” force, designed to prevent Russia from getting away with an easy invasion of some other country, as they did with Georgia and Ukraine. It’s thought that Russia would not be willing to risk a larger war by attacking an American force of any size.

Russian military expert Vladimir Kozin says that another reasons for the deployment is that outgoing President Obama wants to box in Donald Trump:

“According to the German military, some 900 railroad cars will be needed to deliver all this equipment to the deployment sites. But what is the reason? First, [US President Barack] Obama wants to play a mean trick on President-elect Donald Trump who won the election.”

It’s worth mentioning that there’s one other possible theory why Obama did this in the last few days of his administration: It’s possible that Trump asked Obama to do it before leaving office, so that he wouldn’t have to do it.

Kozin said that the deployment is unprecedented since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that the US is forcing Europe to accept it:

“Finally, the US wants to maintain tensions around the world and particularly in Europe. They want to turn the region into another tinderbox ready to ignite. This number one priority. …

The US and NATO plan to increase aerial, anti-submarine, missile defense and intelligence activities with the use of heavy military equipment. In order to justify sanctions, the situation needs to be tense all the time. Europe is becoming a prisoner of this new Cold War initiated by Obama.”

Sputnik News (Moscow) and Deutsche Welle (14-Nov-2016) and Sky News

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Poland, Beata Szydlo, Jaroslaw Mika, Antoni Macierewicz, Operation Resolve, Ukraine, Crimea, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Dmitry Peskov, Kaliningrad, Vladimir Kozin
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

14-Jan-17 World View — Syria says that Israel bombed al-Mazzeh military airport near Damascus

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Syria says that Israel bombed al-Mazzeh military airport near Damascus
  • Israel’s motive was probably to prevent weapons from reaching Hezbollah

Syria says that Israel bombed al-Mazzeh military airport near Damascus

Huge explosions could be seen above the buildings of Damascus
Huge explosions could be seen above the buildings of Damascus

The Syrian army said that Israel has launched a missile strike on the al-Mazzeh military airport west of Damascus early on Friday morning. The army said it was a “flagrant attack” by Israel with the purpose of aiding the “terrorist groups” in Syria. According to the army statement:

“Syrian army command and armed forces warn Israel of the repercussions of the flagrant attack and stresses its continued fight against (this) terrorism and amputate the arms of the perpetrators.”

Syrian state television quoted the army as saying several rockets were fired from an area near Lake Tiberias in northern Israel just after midnight. The report said that the rockets landed in the military compound of the airbase, causing explosions and a large fire. Other reports were contradictory, saying that the Israeli attack was from missiles launched from Israeli warplanes.

Syria says that there have been several such attacks in the past, and that they all coincided with defeats for the armed terrorist groups in Syria, especially Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), which recently changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria). Syria said that the purpose of the attack was to “raise morale” of the terrorist organizations who are attempting to overthrow the regime of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad.

Syria has sent letters to the United Nations demanding international retaliation against Israel:

“The new Israeli missile attack on Mazzeh military airport west of Damascus comes within a long series of Israeli attacks since the beginning of the terrorist war on the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Syria which has been planned in the Israeli, French and British intelligence agencies and their agents in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other countries that wanted to impose control and hegemony on Syria and the region.”

Iran’s media added to the charges by claiming that Israel was attempting to prevent Syria’s army from restoring water supplies to Damascus. SANA (Syria) and Jerusalem Post and Press TV (Tehran)

Israel’s motive was probably to prevent weapons from reaching Hezbollah

As is their usual practice, Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that the attack took place. Some analysts are saying that the large explosions occurred because the target of the attacks was several large weapons stores. Syria’s army was using to those weapons to attack rebels in Syria, but it’s possible that Israel believed that some of those weapons were to be transferred to Lebanon’s Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in 2006 that largely ended in stalemate. However, it’s known that Iran has been supplying rockets and other weapons to Hezbollah in preparation for the next war. Israel has taken steps where possible to prevent other weapons from reaching Hezbollah. Missiles and chemical weapons from Syria are particular concerns.

In statements to Israel’s parliament (Knesset) in December, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman described Israel’s policy in Syria:

“Israel has no interest in intervening in the civil war in Syria. Our policies and our positions are very clear and are based on three red lines: we will not allow any harm to come to Israeli citizens, we will not allow any harm to the sovereignty of the State of Israel and we will not allow the smuggling of sophisticated weapons or chemical weapons from Syria to Lebanon for Hezbollah.”

Hezbollah’s major arms supply route between Damascus and Lebanon’s border has been targeted on several occasions in recent years by Israeli air strikes. This has included strikes on warehouses and convoys of weapons. Reuters and Israel National News and Middle East Monitor

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Israel, Syria, al-Mazzeh military airport, Russia, Iran, Bashar al-Assad, Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Avigdor Liberman
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13-Jan-17 – Russia Is Changing Tactics In Syria

By Valentin Vasilescu
Translated by Alice Decker

Originally posted at Algora Blog.

By January 10, 2017, Russia had deployed more Su-25 SM3 fighter bombers in Syria and withdrawn four Su-24 Ms. This is a signal that Russia is changing tactics in combating Islamist terrorism. The Su-25 has been modernized in multiple stages, resulting in the models Su-25 SM/SM2/SM3, with the latest modernization taking place beginning in 2013. The Russian Air Force has about 150 of the upgraded Su-25 aircraft (SM3/UBM2), along with another 120 non-upgraded Su-25s. The aircraft is powered by two RD-195 engines, with a thrust of 4,500 kgf, and has a maximum speed of 975 km/h.

Interestingly, at the time they attempted to impose a ceasefire in Syria, on February 27, 2016, Russia withdrew from Syria almost all the fifteen Su-25SM3s. As the fighter jets were over 20 years old and had each had over 200 flying hours in Syria, they were sent to Russian aviation repair shops for inspection. This is a part of  testing military equipment and train the Russian military under field conditions, with a view to defending against a NATO invasion of Russia [1].

What is the nature of Russia’s change in tactics in fighting Islamișt terrorists in Syria? Until now, Russia has attacked targets in Syria using cruise missiles launched from submarines, surface warships and long-range bombers. On the other hand, the Russian tactical bombers that operated from the Hmeymim base in Syria executed missions that were planned in advance, after unmanned reconnaissance located targets hours or days earlier. As a rule, these targets were not very mobile and were at a safe distance from civilians and the Syrian army troops. The Russian aircraft were armed with just two bombs or air-to-ground rockets, laser-beam guided by GPS and TV/IR, with the bombings executed from altitudes of 8,000–10,000m.

Russia’s change of tactics in Syria means that Russian aircraft will be tasked almost exclusively with close support missions (CAS — close air support) in order to create breaches in the Islamist rebels’ defense that will permit the swift advance of Syrian troops. Now, the Su-25 SM3 is the best suited aircraft for such missions. Most close support missions will be carried out at night, without timely, detailed information from unmanned reconnaissance drones, and will consist of lengthy patrols at high altitudes in areas located over territory held by Islamists rebels, using the “target hunting” approach. Once a target is identified, the pilot initiates the procedure for attacking it.

However, close support missions require perfect coordination in time and space with the military on the ground, which entails the use of Russian officers specializing in routing Su-25 MTS aircraft and firsthand target identification from the ground up. First, they identify the position of the pilots carrying out close support, by radio and, what is obligatory at night, by an invisible laser beam device that is detected by optical sensors onboard the Russian aircraft. Then the flight controller/targeting officer [NATO: Forward Air Controller; US: Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC)] uses the same instrument to mark with a laser beam the target that is to be hit. This provides the maximum accuracy in hitting moving targets like Toyota trucks armed with machine guns or sniper teams and rebel support bases located in the lower floors of buildings.

The electro-optical SOLT-25 system (with laser, TV and IR sensors) mounted in the nose supports the FLIR [forward-looking infrared] and the GLONASS navigation systems, for seeking and identifying targets from high altitudes for night strikes. For attacking targets, the Su-25 SM3 has the PrNK-25SM Bars navigation/attack suite for central fire control, using the SOLT-25 electro-optical system and a rangefinder with a laser marking instrument to direct precision weaponry. In the process of “target hunting,” guided bombs or small arms are rarely used, with unguided rockets and onboard cannon most often preferred. The SM3 Su-25 has a double-barreled GSh-30-2 type rotary cannon, 30 mm caliber firing at a rate of 2000 rounds/minute, using incendiary/armor piercing projectiles, incendiary/explosives and AP-T projectiles (Armour-Piercing Tracers) with a tungsten core.

The Su-25 SM3 has ten mounting points in the wings and fuselage which can take extra tanks and guns weighing 4340 kg. When “target hunting,” the Su-25 SM3 is equipped with eight to ten UB-32/57 blocks, each armed with thirty-two S-5M/K reactive projectiles (57mm caliber), or B-8M1, B-13L, PU-O-25 rocket pods, armed with rockets of 80mm, 122mm and 266mm caliber. An attack consists of launching a salvo of cannon projectiles or reactive projectiles at a dive angle of 15–30 degrees, from heights of 1000–3000m. The “target hunting” approach makes it possible to execute several attacks on different targets.

However, while they are much more effective than bombing runs planned in advance, close air support missions are extremely risky, as below the altitude of 5,000m all aircraft are vulnerable to MANPADS, and below 3,000m they are vulnerable to heavy machine guns and to 12.7mm, 14.5mm, 23mm and 30mm caliber cannons, which are in the possession of the Islamist rebels. The Russian Su-25 fighter jet is the equivalent of the American A-10, both having titanium armor weighing in at 500 kg, with a thickness of 15–30mm, which resists 23mm-caliber projectiles and carbon fiber projectiles (which produces fragmentation).

To protect against surface-to-air missiles, the Su-25 SM3 is equipped with the Vitebsk-25 system, similar to the Spectra ESM one seen on the French Rafale fighters. It locks in on the aircraft based on the enemy radar, calculates its azimuth and the type of aircraft, and after that jams the signals on many frequencies, using the L-370-3S integrated system. The Vitebsk-25 also protects the Sukhoi-25 SM3 against IR- and laser-guided missiles, including ground-to-air missiles (MANPADs), using the APP-50 passive jamming subsystem that generates infrared decoy flares.


[1]. HOW COULD THE CONFLICT IN SYRIA END IN 2017? (https://southfront.org/how-could-the-conflict-in-syria-end-in-2017/).

[2]. Who Forced Russia to Intervene in Syria? (http://www.algora.com/Algora_blog/?p=163).

13-Jan-17 World View — Peace conference to reunite Cyprus adjourns without a deal

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Peace conference to reunite Cyprus adjourns without a deal
  • History of Cyprus suggests that there is little hope for permanent reunification

Peace conference to reunite Cyprus adjourns without a deal

A Turkish army tank passes through the Turkish section of Nicosia in 1974. (AP)
A Turkish army tank passes through the Turkish section of Nicosia in 1974. (AP)

Negotiations in Geneva to reunite Cyprus ended on Thursday evening without a deal, but with plans to resume after January 18.

Almost two years of peace talks between leaders of Greek side and the Turkish side of the island of Cyprus have led to what Europe and Turkey will be the final negotiations leading to a united Cyprus.

Cyprus has been bitterly divided since a 1974 war, with Greek Orthodox Christian Greeks governing the south, and Muslim Turks governing the north. The two sides are partitioned by a “no-man’s land,” a strip that stretches 112 miles across the entire island.

The capital city Nicosia is in the center of Cyprus and is partitioned as well. While partitions of other cities, including Beirut, Belfast and Berlin, have disappear in the last few decades, the partition remains in Nicosia.

It’s not known whether Thursday’s negotiations brought the two sides close together, but the two most difficult issues are these:

  • Security. There are 30,000 Turkish troops in northern Cyprus, to protect the Turkish population from the Greeks, a vestige of the 1974 war. The Turks would like them to remain, but the Greeks would like them to be gone. At any rate, the question of protect the Greeks from the Turks and the Turks from the Greeks would have to be resolved for a unification deal.
  • Right of Return. Many people were forced to flee across the “no-man’s land” border during the 1974 war, and had to give up their homes. In most cases, it was Greeks that lost their homes in this way. Questions to be negotiated are whether people can reclaim their homes, or whether they should be compensated in some way.

According to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, the talks on Thursday showed progress, but there is no “quick fix.” Cyprus Mail and AP and Cyprus Mail

History of Cyprus suggests that there is little hope for permanent reunification

Because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus has been repeatedly conquered throughout history by different groups, including the Greeks, the Assyrians, the Egyptians and the Persians. It was annexed by the Ottoman Empire in 1571, but was conquered by Britain in 1878 and annexed in 1914.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960 under a power-sharing agreement between the Greeks and the Turks. Three countries — Britain, Greece and Turkey — would be responsible for guaranteeing security in the new country.

Violence erupted soon after. In 1974, Greece’s military junta backed a coup against the president of Cyprus, leading to a civil war. Turkey responded by invading northern Cyprus. About 165,000 Greek Cypriots fled or were driven from the Turkish-occupied north, and about 45,000 Turkish Cypriots left the south for the north.

Since ancient times, at least as far back as the time around 1200BC that the face of Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships, Greece and Turkey (Anatolia) have been at war repeatedly, in one of the most violent ethnic fault lines in history. Turkey’s greatest victory over Greece occurred in 1453, when the Ottoman’s conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) and destroyed the Greek Byzantine Empire. None of these wars has been forgotten by the participants. Guardian (London) and BBC

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Nicosia, António Guterres, Helen of Troy
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12-Jan-17 World View — Pakistan: Four secular anti-military activists vanish over the weekend

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Pakistan: Four secular anti-military activists vanish over the weekend
  • Pakistan’s army accused of dumping over 1,000 bodies in Balochistan

Pakistan: Four secular anti-military activists vanish over the weekend

Demonstrators in Pakistan rally to protest the abduction of Salam Haider and others
Demonstrators in Pakistan rally to protest the abduction of Salam Haider and others

In separate incidents, four secular anti-military activists in Pakistan have disappeared within the last few days, apparently kidnapped by the army. All of them actively post on social media, to the discomfort of the army.

Asim Saeed, who was abducted from his home in Lahore on Friday, and Ahmad Waqas Goraya, who was abducted the same day, both help run the Mochi Facebook page critical of the military.

Another man, Ahmed Raza Naseer, was taken from his family’s shop on Saturday. Naseer suffers from polio.

The disappearance on Saturday of Salman Haider, a lecturer at Fatima Jinnah Women University, was brought all four abductions to national attention. Haider frequently wrote about how troubled Pakistan’s society it, with government security forces targeting Shias and ethnic Hazaras in Balochistan. Haider also wrote about other people whom the army the abducted, and that perhaps angered the army the most.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called for country-wide protests against the abductions:

“HRCP is greatly alarmed by Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed disappearing on January 4, Salman Haider on Friday and Ahmed Raza Naseer on Saturday. All four are known for airing their views, sometime critical of authority, extremism and intolerance, on social media.

Pakistan has never been a particularly safe country for rights activists. Many have been killed, injured, abducted and threatened for their work… The events of the last week demonstrate that the dangers already extend to digital spaces. We cannot be sure if the four cases are connected but expect that would be worth looking into as well.

Threats and violence have never deterred Pakistan’s activists from speaking their mind and flagging issues that conscious citizens must raise in a civilized society. We know that the events of the last few days, will not change that. At the same time, however, HRCP also implores the government to wake up to its obligation to provide a safe environment for human rights defenders and activists.”

The abductions seem to be working. In the last two days, several activists have closed down their online accounts.

Last year, Haider wrote a poem about the abductions. The following is a translated excerpt from the Urdu:

“Now friends of my friends are going missing,
Then it will be my friends, and then,
It will be my file [of me missing] that
my father will take to the courts.”

Unfortunately, Haider’s prediction came true on Saturday. Dawn (Pakistan) and Guardian (London) and The Diplomat

Pakistan’s army accused of dumping over 1,000 bodies in Balochistan

According to Pakistan’s Human Rights ministry, over 1000 dead bodies of suspected armed separatists and political activists have been found in Balochistan over the past six years.

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) says it has recorded 1,200 cases of dumped bodies and there are many more it has not been able to document. VBMP says that most of the bodies were activists who, one day, were picked up by authorities and were never seen again.

However, Pakistan’s government claims that they had nothing to do with the killings. According to one provincial official: “There are several explanations. Sometimes insurgents are killed in a gunfight with law enforcement agencies but their bodies are found later. Militant groups also fight among each other and don’t bury their dead fighters. Then there are tribal feuds, organized crime and drug mafia.” BBC and International Business Times (London) and India Times

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Pakistan, Salman Haider, Asim Saeed, Ahmad Waqas Goraya, Mochi Facebook page, Ahmed Raza Naseer, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, HRCP, Balochistan, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, VBMP
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11-Jan-17 – Who Forced Russia to Intervene in Syria?

by Valentin Vasilescu

Translated by Alice Decker

Attempting to deduce the reasons behind Russia’s involvement in the conflict in Syria, we run into a number of unknowns. First, why were Russian planes in Syria that could have been equipped with 8–24 missiles or bombs furnished with only two bombs or missiles, all of them “smart” (KAB-250 S/LG, KAB-500 L/Kr, KAB-KAB-1500 L, 1500 K, Kh-29 L/T, Kh-25 T), guided by laser beam, GPS and TV/IR? These weapons are accurate to within 2–5 m. It is also unknown why the Russian fighter-bombers were sometimes kept in the air for an hour until the last Syrian civilian was removed from the target area. Don’t forget that the American B-52 bombers carpet bombed Vietnam, burying combatants along with the inhabited localities around them, and the US A-1 Skyrider, F-100, F-105, F-4, F-8, a-4, a-6, a-26 and B-57 planes dumped thousands of loads of napalm on Vietnamese villages. The procedure used by the Russians in Syria is one that is only used by an air force defending its own territory.

It’s also unclear why Russia decided to intervene only in October 2015, almost four years after the war began in Syria, when 75% of the territory of the nation had been occupied by Islamist rebels. In February 2014, the coup d’état took place in Ukraine, supported by the West and dubbed “Euromaidan,” followed by Crimea’s accession to Russia by referendum in March 2014 and the outbreak of the civil war in eastern Ukraine. The US, the EU and nations loyal to the United States instituted an economic embargo against Russia. In September 2014, during the summit in Wales, NATO decided to develop new defensive capabilities on the border with Russia. This took the form of relocating Brigade 3 tanks from the American 4th Division, to the Baltic countries and Poland (87 Abrams M1A1 tanks, 20 self-propelled M109A6 Paladin howitzers, and 136 M2 Bradley infantry fighting machines). To this is added the 10th Aviation Brigade (50 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, 10 heavy transport CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 24 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters).

In the Gulf War, the Americans formulated a new seek-and-destroy algorithm to penetrate into the strategic depth of the enemy’s defenses. After American aviation secured aerial superiority, American fighter-bombers shifted to neutralizing, with high precision, Iraqi armored vehicles along the fortified lines for counterattack and the armored vehicles along the counteroffensive lines, using the second tier and the reserve of large tactical-operative units. Simultaneously with this, the attack helicopters of the American Army and Marine Corps succeeded, together with the batteries of 155mm caliber Paladin M109A6 self-propelled howitzers, in neutralizing brigade artillery groups, divisions, and formations of the first echelon of the Iraqi army.

The precise location of Iraqi targets was obtained via the American Army’s complex reconnaissance program based on — in addition to satellite data — four levels of ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance), collecting and processing data in order to formulate a complete picture of the theater of operations on the ground. The first, strategic, level consisted of the RQ-4 A/B Global Hawk long-range unmanned surveillance aircraft and later the RQ-170 Sentinel, as well as the U-2, E-8C, and RC manned surveillance planes. The second level of ISR was represented by the RQ-7 Shadow, RQ-5 Hunter, MQ-1 Predator, and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned medium- and short-range surveillance planes. The third level of ISR consisted of manned prop planes, like the Cessna Caravan 208B, C-23A Sherpa, C-12R Horned Owl and the C-12 MARSS-II King Air. The fourth level was made up of a fleet of helicopters from the 12 aviation brigades of the US Army (OH-58D Kiowa Warriors and AH-64 Apaches).

Through the combined action of the American seek-and-destroy             systems, the Iraqi combat structure was disrupted, creating large corridors permitting the penetration of mechanized or tanks units. To pierce deep within the defenses and surround the flanks, they used not so much the M1A2 Abrams tank, M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, or AAV-7A1 marine infantry fighting vehicle — all slow-moving tracked vehicles — but rather gave preference to LAV-25 Stryker motorized units equipped with armored personnel carriers (which can reach a speed of 100km on the highway) made up into Stryker brigades.

The model Stryker Brigade has 135 Stryker armored personnel carriers and three infantry battalions (3 companies), a reconnaissance squadron (3 companies) with 33 Stryker armored personnel carriers and 12 HMMWV, an artillery division (3 batteries of towed howitzers, 155 mm caliber) and a battalion of special operations troops. Starting in 2012, the Russian army converted 7–10 motorized brigades in accordance with the American Stryker model, based on BTR-80 and BTR-82A amphibious armored personnel carriers. Over the next 2–3 years, the BTR-80/82A will be replaced with new the VPK-7829 Boomerang.

In Syria, the Russian Su-25, Su-24, and Su-34 fighter-bombers and those of the Syrian air force created breaches in the rebel battle formations, striking their ammunition and fuel reserves and mobile combat equipment (such as tanks and towable artillery pieces), and also their armored fortifications. Russian Mi-24V and Mi-28N attack helicopters eliminated from the rebels’ defense arsenal Toyota pick-up trucks armed with machine guns, rocket launchers and portable anti-tank rockets (from the counter-offensive arrays) and vehicles loaded with explosives for suicide attacks. Through these breaches they brought in Russian BTR-82A armored personnel carriers, considered to be highly advanced given their great maneuverability in unobstructed terrain, and their fire power from turret-mounted 30mm cannons. For their protection, along with the BTR-82As there were some Russian T-90A tanks equipped with the Shtora active defense system which renders useless the American TOW-2 anti-tank missiles. And it can’t be ruled out that Russia will also send Syria its new types of armored vehicles (the T-14 Armata tank, the T-15 and Kurganets-25 IFVS), which are in the test phase now — the most advanced tanks as of today.

In Syria, the Russian army has created a strong component of C4I reconnaissance (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence and Interoperability) for its search-and-strike system. The collection and processing of data has been stratified on many levels, just as it is in the US Army. These levels comprise, in addition to satellite data, Il-20M1 and Tu-214R manned reconnaissance planes (which can carry out missions lasting 12 hours or more), Zala, Yakovlev Pchela-1T and Orlan-10 short-range unmanned planes (UAVs), Dozor 600 long-range unmanned flights, and also Mi-35 and Ka-52 reconnaissance and attack helicopters.

Since the anti-Islamic State coalition led by the US (which includes NATO and the Arab Gulf States) had aircraft operating in the airspace of northern, central and eastern Syria, according to statements by General Philip Breedlove, the former NATO commander in Europe, the Russian air and land forces created an exclusion zone (A2 / AD bubble) in western Syria, barring NATO forces. Within the exclusion zone, Russia implemented a set of security measures by which it secured primacy in the radio-electronic war (Electronic warfare – EW) against the land, air and space reconnaissance systems of the anti-Islamic State coalition.

The area became opaque to the Coalition’s reconnaissance due to the Russian Krasukha-4 equipment, which jams radar surveillance from American spy satellites of the Lacrosse / Onyx families, ground based radars, AWACS and other airborne radar systems like the E-8C, RC135, Sentinel R1, and those mounted on unmanned planes such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-1 Predator, and the MQ-9 Reaper. The Russian planes were equipped with SAP-518/ SPS-171 and L-175B Hibini jamming pods, while the Mi-8AMTSh helicopters were outfitted with Richag-AV jamming systems. Other jamming equipment that Russia has sent to Syria can disrupt and cancel flight commands, from a distance, to drones executing reconnaissance in the airspace of western Syria, or it can generate countermeasures, in the visible spectrum, infrared or laser, against the Americans’ electro-optical aerial or cosmic surveillance (imagery intelligence, IMINT). Inside the zone of exclusion in Syria, Russia has also deployed Su-30 SM and Su-35 intercept jets along with S-400 long range anti-aircraft missiles.

Thus, the deployment of the Russian air and land forces in Syria was also a consequence of the Obama Administration’s measures with regard to Russia, especially the increased NATO aggression close to Russia’s borders. It has not only served to support Bashar Al Assad’s regime but has spurred Russia’s military preparation with a view to repelling the eventual NATO invasion of Russia desired by the Obama Administration. But it also served to test certain essential components of the new strategic search and strike system of the Russian army. This system had not been tested until now, under field conditions, in combat. The system that was copied from the American one has been adapted to the specific needs of the Russian army, and that is to defend Russia in the event of a NATO invasion.

11-Jan-17 World View — China threatens Trump with ‘revenge’ over one-China policy

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Taiwan president Tsai Ing-Wen meets with Senator Cruz in Texas
  • China threatens Trump with ‘revenge’ over one-China policy

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-Wen meets with Senator Cruz in Texas

Tsai Ing-wen (standing) meets with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday
Tsai Ing-wen (standing) meets with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday

Ignoring demands that the US forbid Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen from making “transit stops” in Houston and San Francisco en route to and from meetings with Central American leaders, Tsai met with both US Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott during a stopover in Houston.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman made this statement about the visit:

“I have taken note of relevant reports. I want to reiterate that we are firmly opposed to the Taiwan leader’s contact with any US officials in any form and engagement in actions that disrupt and undermine China-US relations during the so-called transit. We once again urge relevant people from the US to abide by the one-China policy and the principles of the three Joint Communiqués, and cautiously handle Taiwan-related issues so as not to harm the overall interests of China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.”

As I’ve said before, it really amazes me that the US is supposed to bow to demands from China not to speak to or meet with people that China tells us not to speak to or meet with, and yet we’re supposed to accept without question China’s right to build military bases in the South China Sea, in clear violation of international law as decided by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague in July of last year, while annexing other countries’ territories as Hitler did just prior to World War II.

Prior to the meeting, China’s Consul General Li Qiangmin of Houston sent a letter to Cruz:

“For U.S. leaders in administration and legislature, not to make any contact with Taiwan leaders nor send any implication of support of ‘Taiwan Independence’ are in the interests of China, the U.S. and the international community. So, dear Senator, I sincerely hope that you will neither meet, nor have any contact with Tsai during her upcoming visit to Houston, and continue to play a significant role in promoting mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples of China and the U.S.”

After the meeting, Cruz issued a statement saying the US doesn’t dictate to China whom its leaders can meet with, and China should not dictate to the US:

“Shortly before our meeting, the Houston congressional delegation received a curious letter from the Chinese consulate asking members of Congress not to meet with President Tsai, and to uphold the ‘One-China policy’.

The People’s Republic of China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves. This is not about the PRC. This is about the U.S. relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend. The Chinese do not give us veto power over those with whom they meet. We will continue to meet with anyone, including the Taiwanese, as we see fit.

The US-Taiwan relationship is not on the negotiating table. It is bound in statute and founded on common interests. I look forward to working with President Tsai to strengthen our partnership.”

Governor Abbott said, “It was an honor to meet with President Tsai and discuss how our two economies can expand upon our already prosperous trade partnership.” Houston Press and China’s Foreign Ministry

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China threatens Trump with ‘revenge’ over one-China policy

The “One-China Policy” states that there is one China, not two, but leaves ambiguous exactly what that means. Beijing interprets it to mean that Taiwan is province of China, to be completely governed one day by Beijing. Taiwan interprets it to mean that they are the official government of all of China. By not speaking these interpretations out loud, everyone is supposed to get along by saying “there is only one China.”

China’s politicians have made it clear that they will use military force against Taiwan and the United States if there is any threat that Taiwan will declare independence. In 2005 Beijing passed an “anti-secession law” requiring China to take military action even if Taiwan’s leadership simply makes plans or gives speeches about independence. President Tsai has refused to confirm the “1992 consensus” which is the vehicle that reaffirms the One-China policy.

Under these circumstances, it’s not surprising that China is becoming increasingly belligerent towards Taiwan. Arguably, Taiwan has already met the conditions set forth in the anti-secession law.

The reaction from China’s Foreign Ministry, quoted above, states China policy, but is fairly non-belligerent. However, an editorial in the state run Global Times promises revenge if Donald Trump abandons the one-China policy after taking office:

“The US passed bills that allow serving officers to visit Taiwan, while Chinese fighter jets patrolled around Taiwan and China’s aircraft carrier passed the island. It is widely expected that the mainland will impose further military pressure. Tsai needs to face the consequences for every provocative step she takes.

Trump is yet to be inaugurated, and there is no need for Beijing to sacrifice bilateral ties for the sake of Taiwan. But in case he tears up the one-China policy after taking office, the mainland is fully prepared. Beijing would rather break ties with the US if necessary. We would like to see whether US voters will support their president to ruin Sino-US relations and destabilize the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Beijing does not need to feel grateful to Trump for not meeting Tsai. The one-China policy is the basic principle reiterated in the three Sino-US joint Communiqués. It is also the foundation of the profound bilateral relationship. Sticking to this principle is not a capricious request by China upon US presidents, but an obligation of US presidents to maintain China-US relations and respect the existing order of the Asia-Pacific. If Trump reneges on the one-China policy after taking office, the Chinese people will demand the government to take revenge. There is no room for bargaining.”

This article threatens to break relations with the US if Trump does not reaffirm the one-China policy, and hints at unspecified military action against Taiwan.

Trump has said that his administration will review the one-China policy, but in view of the real possibility that China will end diplomatic relations, I’m going to assume that Trump will adopt the one-China policy, or some close variant.

But completely apart from anything the US administration does, it’s the attitude of the Taiwanese people that is most important. Time is not on China’s side, and Chinese officials know it, as the Taiwan’s population become more pro-independence every year. The Chinese people are highly nationalistic with regard to Taiwan, and it won’t be too much longer before Chinese officials decide that time has run out. Global Times (Beijing) and Xinhua

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, China, Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, Li Qiangmin, United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration, PCA, Anti-secession law
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10-Jan-17 World View — Thousands of migrants trapped in deep freeze temperatures in Greece and Balkans

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Thousands of migrants risk freezing to death as deep freeze spreads across Europe
  • Migrants in eastern Europe trapped in deep freeze temperatures
  • European Commission resettlement plan appears to be a disaster

Thousands of migrants risk freezing to death as deep freeze spreads across Europe

Screen grab from viral video showing migrant tents on Lesvos island
Screen grab from viral video showing migrant tents on Lesvos island

Europe’s migrant crisis has been mostly out of news since March 18 of last year, when the EU and Turkey signed their migrant deal, in which Turkey agreed to police the flow of migrants from Turkey across the Aegean Sea to Greece.

Even though it’s been out of the news, severe problems still remain. There are about 60,000 migrants still in Greece. When migrants travel from Turkey across the Aegean Sea, they usually stop at Greece’s Lesvos Island, because it’s close to Turkey, and because they’ve been welcomed by the Lesvians in the past. There are over 6,000 migrants at the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos Island, far over its capacity of 3,500, and the number is still increasing by a few dozen every day, since the Turkey blockade isn’t completely effective. About 1,000 are living in tents covered with snow.

There are 15,600 migrants on all the Greek islands put together. Last week, Greece’s Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said:

“There are no refugees or migrants living in the cold anymore. We successfully completed the procedures for overwintering.”

So a volunteer worker posted a video showing migrants on Lesvos living in extremely harsh conditions, with no heat and their tents buckling under the heavy snow.

European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud called the situation “untenable,” but that the Commission was ready to help:

“We can no more dictate policy in Greece than we can in any other member state.

I have to be quite clear here, the commission is aware that the situation is untenable but we also have to be clear as I was saying that ensuring adequate reception conditions in Greece is a responsibility of Greek authorities. …

We are pursuing a dual strategy of political pressure and financial and technical support to the Greek authorities to improve the situation.”

She explained that by “political pressure,” she meant a continued series of recommendations by the EC in its reports to Greece. Greek Reporter and EU Observer and EurActiv

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Migrants in eastern Europe trapped in deep freeze temperatures

When the so-called “Balkan route” was closed to migrants last year, it left thousands of them stranded. More than 7,500 people are currently stranded in Serbia, living in overcrowded camps and informal settlements. In Belgrade, around 2,000 young people, mainly from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria are currently sleeping in abandoned buildings in the city center, while temperatures plummet to as low as -20°C (-4°F). Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Deutsche Welle and Reuters

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European Commission resettlement plan appears to be a disaster

During the first week of 2017, 373 refugees and migrants crossed the sea from Turkey to Greece, an average of 53 per day. Most arrivals were from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Most arrived on the islands Chios and Lesvos.

During the same week, 1,080 people arrived by sea to Italy, mostly as a result of Italian and European search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea. Most arrivals were from Nigeria, Eritrea, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, and Gambia, with lesser numbers from . Senegal, Mali, Sudan, Somalia and Bangladesh.

In September 2015, the European Commission adopted an “emergency relocation scheme,” whereby 160,000 refugees, mostly in Greece and Italy, were supposed to be relocated to other EU countries.

However, the program has been something of a disaster. Out of the 160,000, only 8162 people were relocated since the beginning of the scheme. Austria, Denmark, Hungary and Poland have refused to take any migrants at all. The Czech Republic has taken 12, and Slovakia has taken 9.

With the rise of far-right, anti-migrant and even anti-EU populism growing in Europe, it seems unlikely that any of these problems will be resolved soon. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and European Commission (PDF) and Daily Sabah (Turkey)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Greece, Turkey, Lesvos Island, Aegean Sea, Yiannis Mouzalas, Natasha Bertaud, Balkan route, Serbia, Belgrade, Hungary, European Commission, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Eritrea, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Sudan, Somalia, Bangladesh, emergency relocation scheme
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Nonfiction for the Nonplussed