- “We’ve got to show that if you say ‘yes I condemn terror — but the Kuffar are inferior’, or ‘violence in London isn’t justified, but suicide bombs in Israel are a different matter’ — then you too are part of the problem. Unwittingly or not, and in a lot of cases it’s not unwittingly, you are providing succour to those who want to commit, or get others to commit to, violence.” — Prime Minister David Cameron.
- In a series of religious rulings published on its website, the Islamic Network charity advocated the murder of apostates; encouraged Muslims to hate non-Muslims; stated that when non-Muslims die, “the whole of humanity are relieved;” and described Western civilisation as “evil.”
- The Charity Commission’s solution, however, was to give the charity’s trustees booklets titled, “How to manage risks in your charity,” and warn them not to do it again.
In a speech before Ninestiles School, in the city of Birmingham, Cameron articulated a view of the Islamist threat that, just a couple of years ago, few else in British politics would have dared to support.
In a report for BBC Radio 4, the journalist John Ware described Cameron’s speech, and the government’s proposed counter-extremism measures, as “something no British government has ever done in my lifetime: the launch of a formal strategy to recognize, challenge and root out ideology.” Continue reading
The common thread running through these incidents is that they were all haphazardly planned and executed by ‘lone-wolf’ attackers, who were markedly limited in both resources and skill. But the men implicated in Wednesday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo, which left 12 people dead, were different. The two brothers, Cherif and Said Kouachi, who are said to be the main perpetrators of the assault, are believed to have “returned to France from Syria in the last year”, according to MSNBC. Undoubtedly, the two siblings saw action in the Syrian armed conflict, which is primarily fought in urban settings, and were systematically trained in urban warfare by men with considerable experience in it. Continue reading
Nato is to deploy its forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its secretary general.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organisations’s summit in Cardiff next week would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia’s borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.
He also outlined moves to boost Ukraine’s security, “modernise” its armed forces and help the country counter the threat from Russia. Continue reading
Today is the 75th anniverary of the non-aggression pact between the Hitler and Stalin, the latter becoming (after Hitler attacked Stalin on June 22, 1941) the member of the “Big Three” known as “Uncle Joe.” In the commemorative essays discussing the twin dictators’ earlier alliance of August 23, 1939, which would be followed by Hitler and Stalin’s conquest of Poland the following month, the pact’s secret protocol that divided the nations of central and Eastern Europe between them is also mentioned. I have yet to see, however, any discussion of how that secret protocol became known to the public.
There, in a Nuremberg prison yard, a German defense lawyer by chance overheard top Nazis (von RIbbentrop and Goering) discussing the contents of the still-secret protocol, which offered evidence of Stalin’s guilt in committing “conspiracy to wage aggressive war,” one of the key charges against the German high command. With Stalin trying to blot out his alliance with Hitler from the record — with full support of his British and American allies — how did the secret protocol ever come to the world’s attention?
… Even to participate in these trials, the Western Allies had to overlook Stalin’s crimes and pretend they had not taken place within the timeline of the war whose very outbreak was precipitated by the infamous 1939 Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact negotiated by German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov. After all, the Nazis and Soviets had begun World War II together as allies with the invasion of Poland. The Germans invaded Poland from the west on September 1, 1939—a well-known date—and the Red Army invaded from the east on September 17, 1939. Continue reading
Germany is planning to possibly resume counter-espionage measures against several Western allies, according to a report in the news magazine Spiegel. The report said British and US embassies could be targeted.
Germany is debating plans to expand its counter-espionage personnel and conduct “foundational monitoring” of the embassies of such nations as the United States and Britain, Spiegel said in its report on Sunday. Continue reading
A Department of Defense teaching guide meant to fight extremism advises students that rather than “dressing in sheets” modern-day radicals “will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place,” and describes 18th-century American patriots seeking freedom from the British as belonging to “extremist ideologies.”
In Nigeria’s so-called Middle Belt, 785 people have died in the past two years in sectarian violence, and the government is doing little to stop it.
As the military’s assault against Boko Haram and civilians in northern Nigeria continues, so too does the ongoing and underreported conflict in the villages around Jos, the capital of Plateau state in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. As in other parts of the Sahel stretching from Khartoum to Dakar, rivalries between ethnic groups, settlers and indigenes, herders and farmers, and religious groups overlap to create a kaleidoscope of insider and outsider identities. Resulting conflicts, in turn, create openings for international jihadist Islam, as in other parts of the Sahel. In the Middle Belt thus far, conflicts still remain largely local, but there is potential that they could acquire a cross-border dimension. Continue reading
It is no coincidence that on the same day Merkel visited Cameron, virtually all of Britain’s main newspapers ran stories highlighting Germany’s mounting frustration.
“Listen, Britain. Germany’s Had Enough of You,” stated the headline in the Times. In the article, Alan Posener cites a recent editorial from the political editor of Bild, Germany’s most influential newspaper, making the case that Turkey is now more integrated and on better terms with Europe than Britain. “One way or another, Turkey is becoming more relevant to discussions on the future of Europe than Britain,’ concluded Posener. Continue reading
Should this be confirmed, be ready to possibly hear that all hell is breaking loose in the middle east (and possibly on the homeland) as described in a previous post — and soon.
Unconfirmed first reports from British, French and Turkish sources say British special operations forces crossed from Turkey into northern Syria Tuesday, May 26, and advanced up to 10 kilometers inside the country. The same sources report heavy fighting around the Presidential Guards compound on the outskirts of Damascus.
debkafile’s military sources note that this compound exists to defend Bashar Assad’s presidential palace on Mount Qaisoun overlooking Damascus.
British and Gulf TV stations are again running interviews with dozens of Syrian soldiers taken prisoner by rebel forces and transferred to Free Syrian Army centers in South Turkey. But this time, they are being aired in conjunction with those two developments, indicating pivotal and coordinated military action inside the embattled country, or even the start of western intervention against the Assad regime. Later Tuesday, Gulf military sources confirmed the presence of British special forces in Syria.
Our military sources estimate that the British military drive into Syria, if confirmed, is designed to establish the first safe zone along the Syrian-Turkish border, to be followed by more Western military incursions to establish additional zones of safe asylum in other parts of Syria.
This follow-up action would depend substantially on Syrian, Russian and Iranian (+ Hizballah) responses to the initial stage of the operation.
The reported British incursion, if confirmed, occurred at the tail end of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 24-hour visit to Israel Tuesday morning and would have posed a direct challenge to his repeated warning that Moscow would not tolerate Western military intervention in Syria and actively prevent it. Similar warnings have issued from Tehran.
As for the timing, the double military drive against Assad also occurred hours before a NATO “consultation” in Brussels on the shooting down of a Turkish warplane by Syria last Friday, June 22, which Ankara stated Monday “must not go unpunished.”
The two-pronged operation – the reported British incursion and major clash at the front door of Assad’s presidential palace – would appear to be designed to widen the cracks in his regime and speed its final breakup.
Full article: British forces in Syria, Assad presidential compound said under attack (DEBKAfile)
Thirty years ago, on April 2, 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher quickly assembled and dispatched a formidable naval task force to retake the islands, which had been a British possession since 1833. On June 14, Argentine forces surrendered to the Royal Marines. The conflict was brief and violent, with both nations losing ships and hundreds of sailors and soldiers. The war was, however, a decisive victory for the United Kingdom.
As the 30th anniversary of the war approached, in December, Argentinian President Christina Kirchner vowed that her nation would reclaim the Islas Las Malvinas, as the Falklands are called in Argentina. She stated that “[i]n the 21st century [Britain] continues to be a crude colonial power in decline.” She branded British Prime Minister David Cameron “arrogant” and said his defense in parliament of the right of the people of the Falklands to self-determination was an expression of “mediocrity and stupidity.”
Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, claims that Cameron’s defense of the Falklands sovereignty “is perhaps the last refuge of a declining power.” Prince William aka Flight Lieutenant Wales, who is currently piloting a Royal Air Force rescue helicopter in the Falklands, has been labeled a “conquistador” by Argentine officials.
While it seems unlikely that Argentina would risk another humiliating defeat by invading the Falklands in the near term, the temptation of appealing to nationalism to mask an economic or political crisis combined with the desire to control what appear to be significant South Atlantic oil reserves means that another Argentine military adventure cannot be ruled out. There are four key takeaways from the current situation with implications that stretch much further than the issue at hand:
First, military weakness is provocative. Argentina ramped up its aggressive rhetoric and diplomatic efforts to reclaim the Falklands only after P.M. Cameron announced massive cuts to the Royal Navy and British ground forces. The decommissioning last December of the U.K.’s sole remaining aircraft carrier, Ark Royal, well before its service life ended, and the sale of Britain’s 50 G-9 Sea Harrier fighter jets to the U.S. Marine Corps, seems to have emboldened the Argentines. In 1982, the Royal Navy had approximately 90 warships from which it could assemble a task force. Today it has 30. Indeed, most experts believe that while it would be very difficult for the Argentine military to successfully invade the islands, it would be nearly impossible for the U.K. to retake them without an aircraft carrier in the event that Argentina was successful in overrunning Britain’s key air base at Mount Pleasant.
Second, the Obama administration has made the United States an unreliable ally for our closest friends. Britain has been a stalwart ally of the U.S. in both Iraq and Afghanistan, notwithstanding the tremendous domestic political pressure on Labour and Conservative governments not to participate in those unpopular wars. However, in 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for talks over the dispute and even appeared to side with Argentina during a press conference with President Kirchner in Buenos Aires. Last month, as the current situation developed, rather than send a clear message to Argentina that the United States supported its longtime ally, a State Department spokesman demurred: “[t]his is a bilateral issue that needs to be worked out directly between the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom…We recognize de facto United Kingdom administration of the islands, but take no position regarding sovereignty.” Nile Gardiner, the Telegraph’s Washington correspondent, wrote in response that the “Obama administration knife[d] Britain in the back again over the Falklands.”
The shabby treatment meted out to America’s “special relationship” partner in this instance cannot be seen as a surprise. It is in line with the administration’s treatment of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (at least prior to Bob Turner winning Anthony Weiner’s Congressional seat in New York). Poland and the Czech Republic suffered similar slights after the Administration unilaterally cancelled ABM sites in those countries as part of its naïve and, so far, unsuccessful attempt to “reset” relations with Russia. And, there has been much criticism of the Administration for failing to provide Taiwan with the latest F-16 fighters that it has long requested to defend itself against a potential attack by China. There is no doubt that American allies such as Israel, Colombia, Georgia, Taiwan, the Gulf States and the Baltics, all of which live in dangerous neighborhoods, are watching the United States’ response to the Falklands row with concern.
Full article: Obama’s Falklands Failure (The Diplomat)