Sudan’s democratic spring is turning into a long and ugly summer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Sudan’s democratic spring is turning into a long and ugly summer

Protestor’s near the Sudanese army headquarters in Khartoum in April 2019. Photo by M. Saleh (CC BY-SA 4.0)

When protesters forced Omar al-Bashir out of power in Sudan this April after 30 years of dictatorial role, it was an unalloyed good for the world. Bashir has been wanted by The Hague since 2008 for genocide and war crimes in Darfur, and his ouster was a key step towards a free and democratic Sudan, as well as justice for Darfuris.

But what’s followed in Sudan has been far less encouraging. Sudan’s military has promised elections, but not for as much as two years. The Transitional Military Council (TMC), the military leaders now in charge of the country, have included Bashir confidantes like Lt. General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who was suspected of leading Janjawid militia massacres in Darfur. Many Sudan observers Believe that Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, is the person really pulling the strings on the TMC, where he serves as vice president. Hemedti not only recruited and led many of the Janjawid fighters who brutally suppressed dissent in Darfur—he has also been accused of having recruited child soldiers from Darfur to fight in Yemen’s bloody civil war on behalf of the Saudis.

Despite the obvious dangers, Sudanese pro-democracy protesters are back out in the streets, demanding immediate transition to a civilian government. Their demands have been met with brutal violence. On June 3, security forces including the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—whose members are veterans of the Janjawid militias responsible for Darfur’s worst massacres—killed over 100 protesters, dumping bodies into the Nile River, raping and robbing civilians stopped at military checkpoints.

Despite these horrific incidents, Sudanese citizens have continued to fight, launching a mass general strike on Sunday June 9.

The struggle over the internet

As with most conflicts today, there’s an important information component to the struggle between activists and the Sudanese military. The protests that ousted Bashir and have confronted the military have been organized by groups of middle-class Sudanese like the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors using social media, especially Facebook. Since the June 3 massacre, Sudan’s mobile internet has been largely shut down, making online organizing and reporting on conditions on the ground vastly more difficult. Sudan’s government previously shut down the internet for 68 days to combat the protests that ultimately led to Bashir’s ouster.

Facebook was an especially significant force in bringing women into the streets to protest against Bashir. Tamerra Griffin reported on a set of women-only Facebook groups that were initially used to share gossip, but which were mobilized to identify abusive state security officials, who were then hounded and sometimes chased out of their own neighborhoods. The presence of women in the protest movements and the Zagrounda chant—a women’s ululation—has become a signature of the uprising. Bashir memorably declared that the government could not be changed through WhatsApp or Facebook. His ouster suggests that the power of social networks as tools for mobilization is routinely underestimated by governments.

But now social media seems to be leveraged at least as much by the military as by the opposition. The internet has not been completely shut down—the government has been able to maintain its presence on Facebook, which features at least four pages controlled by the RSF, which are advertising the militia veterans’ version of events. Sudanese activist Mohamed Suliman is organizing a petition campaign, demanding Facebook remove these pages in recognition that they promote violence against peaceful protesters in Sudan.

In addition to combatting Sudanese propaganda on Facebook, Sudanese activists inside the country and in the diaspora are looking for ways to return internet access to the general population, so they can continue organizing protests and document government violence. Activists are organizing information-sharing networks on top of SMS and voice phone calls, but I’m also getting calls from Sudanese friends who wonder whether technologies like Google’s Loon could be used to put a cloud of connectivity over Khartoum. (The answer: maybe. Loon acts as an antenna for existing telecoms networks, and those networks in Sudan have been forced to cut off connectivity. In addition, a balloon floating 20km over a city is a very attractive missile target.)

Until very recently, the few Sudanese who had access via ADSL had been opening their wifi networks or sharing passwords with friends and inviting them to post messages from their houses. A couple of days ago I was seeing reports—unconfirmed—that even ADSL has been turned off. This may signal the start of a new phase of the crackdown.

Space Cadet@nourality

🔻🔻🔻
Last available internet route “Sudani ADSL” is now reported to be down.

This completes a dark ring over sudan as internet are now Almost completely disabled, this gives the TMC milita “janjaweed” enough lack of media attention to continue abusing and killing the Sudan.

Ahmed Abdalla@A_Abdalla

الآن قطع خدمة انترنت سوداني ADSL أيضاً
الخدمة الوحيدة التي استمرت تعمل منذ إيقاف المجلس الانقلابي الانترنت في السودان قبل عدة أيام.
الآن اكتمل التعتيم على جرائم الجنجويد في السودان والعالم يتفرج#العصيان_المدني_الشامل

85 people are talking about this

On the morning of June 10 Yassir Arman, a major figure in the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, which fought a war against Khartoum leading to the independence of South Sudan, was deported from Khartoum to Juba by military helicopter.

Yassir Arman@Yassir_Arman

I have been deported against my will by a military helicopter from Khartoum to Juba. I was not aware of where they were taking me. I asked them many times. They tied me up in the helicopter together with Comrade Ismail Khamis Jalab and Mubarak Ardol.

1,201 people are talking about this

One major channel for information from Sudan in the future may be from Sudanese who are in touch with organizers on the ground who have been forced to flee the country and report from neighboring countries.

Countries are known by the company they keep, and the military government’s supporters are well resourced: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have provided $3 billion in aid to the military leaders. Given the Trump administration’s tight ties to the Saudi and UAE governments—which have extended to overruling Congress in selling arms to those regimes—it seems unlikely that a petition to the White House to recognize the RSF as a terrorist organization will meet with approval any time soon. (By contrast the African Union—which has a regrettable history of ignoring misbehavior by African military rulers— has suspended Sudan after this weekend’s crackdown.

A few things we can do to help

It’s hard to know what to do as a private citizen when faced with a situation like the one in Sudan. Some thoughts on what might actually be helpful:

– Pay attention and ask others to do so as well. All governments, including military governments, are limited in what actions they can take by public perception. If Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates understand that people are actually watching what the Sudanese military is doing, it may limit their willingness to support a government run in part by experienced génocidaires. Reporter Yousra Elbagir is reporting from the ground in Khartoum and her Twitter feed is deeply helpful. Declan Walsh, the New York Times bureau chief, is doing excellent reporting from the groundReem Abbas, a Sudanese journalist and blogger, is sharing excellent content, much of it in Arabic. Al Jazeera’s synthesis of the conflict has been excellent, but I worry that their reliance on Skype interviews to cover events may limit their coverage going forward:

– In the spirit of getting people interested in what’s going on in Sudan, I recommend Hasan Minhaj’s occasionally silly but good-hearted Patriot Act episode on Sudan’s pro-democracy movement and the military government’s violent reaction.

– Pressure organizations that are helping legitimate the military government. That includes Facebook, which should not be hosting pages for the Rapid Support Forces, or for any entities associated with the transitional military government.

Sudan’s two telecom operators—MTN and Zain—are international companies which could (in theory) be pressured to violate the military’s demands that they shut down. Zain is a Kuwaiti company, which means they are heavily influenced by Saudi Arabia, but MTN as a South African company might be susceptible to shareholder pressure, lawsuits, etc. The Internet Society has released a statement calling for Sudan to turn the internet back on. It’s unclear whether they would be an organizing point for protests to pressure MTN.

– It can be difficult to get money to the ground in Sudan. While the Trump administration removed some financial sanctions on Sudan in 2017, other sanctions stemming from the Darfur conflict remain in place. My friends in Sudan have pointed me to Bakri Ali and the University of Khartoum Alumni Association USA, a US 501c3 which is using their tax-exempt status to deliver aid to democracy protesters.

It can be hard, in retrospect, to remember the excitement and enthusiasm that accompanied the Egyptian revolution and the broader Arab Spring. But after only a year of a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, a military dictatorship took over. The fear right now is that Sudan could go directly from one dictatorship to another—from one Arab winter to another without an intervening Spring. Some Sudanese protesters have been using the slogan “Victory or Egypt”, looking at the return to dictatorship as the worst possible outcome. The worse outcome is even worse—it’s the prospect of systemic military violence like in Darfur, without intervention by the international community. The same folks are in charge, and we are already looking away.

The US just quietly challenged China on something Beijing promised to go to war over

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

The US just quietly challenged China on something Beijing promised to go to war over

china militaryJon Woo/Reuters
  • The US military recently called Taiwan a country, something that China routinely threatens to go to war over.
  • China thinks of Taiwan as a renegade province with a democratic government that’s an existential threat to the Communist party.
  • No US president for decades has been so supportive of Taiwan, and the US and China now find themselves in uncharted territory.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump has engaged China in a trade war that has global markets holding their breath, but his administration recently challenged Beijing on an issue Chinese officials have promised to go to war over.

The US military’s recent Indo-Pacific Strategy paper, published on June 1, goes further than perhaps any US document ever issued in potentially provoking China’s rage over what it sees as the most sensitive issue.

Buried in the paper, which charts China’s efforts to build up a military fortress in the South China Sea and use its growing naval might to coerce its neighbors, is a reference to Taiwan as a “country.”

“As democracies in the Indo-Pacific, Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, and Mongolia are reliable, capable, and natural partners of the United States. All four countries contribute to US missions around the world and are actively taking steps to uphold a free and open international order,” the strategy reads.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway island province that has its own, democratic government. Beijing sees this as an existential threat and the factor most likely to upset the Communist Party’s absolute hold on power in the mainland.

In July 2018, China threatened to blacklist airlines that referred to Taiwan as a country. US airlines fell in line, but the White House protested the strong-arm tactic as “ Orwellian nonsense.”

But now the US itself has clearly said it: Taiwan is a country, and the US will treat it as such.

“The Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs”

Trump Bolton
US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with senior military leaders at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 9, 2018.
 NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

In another unprecedented step, a high-ranking Taiwanese minister was allowed to meet with Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, in May. This move predictably enraged China.

At the Shangri La Dialogue, the top defense summit in Asia, Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe made clear the stakes of China’s Taiwan problem.

“Any interference in the Taiwan question is doomed to failure. If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs,” Wei said, according to Channel Asia News.

Taiwan is “the hot-button issue” in US-China relations, John Hemmings, the director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society, told Business Insider.

China has always maintained that it would prefer to reunify with Taiwan peacefully but will do so by force if needed. Additionally, China’s navy has increasingly patrolled the waters around the island and flown nuclear-capable bombers nearby.

But the US has also sailed warships through the narrow strait separating China and Taiwan and has gotten allies to pitch in.

The arms are already moving

Marine Corps Abrams tank Arrow 19 Finland
A US Marine Corps M1A1 Abrams tank from 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, during Arrow 2019 at the Pohjankangas Training Area near Niinisalo, Finland, May 12, 2019.
 US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins

The US’s rhetorical escalation follows the Trump administration normalizing arms sales to Taiwan and the news that it will sell $2 billion in tanks, anti-tank weapons, and air defenses to the island.

According to Hemmings, these weapons have a clear purpose: To fight back against a Chinese invasion of the island.

Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider that the US had now entered “uncharted territory” by acknowledging Taiwan.

The US under Trump has been the most pro-Taiwan administration in decades, Hemmings said. Trump demonstrated this when he had a call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen before Trump even took office.

Taiwan military exercise invasion artillery Han Kuang
Women soldiers from an artillery unit during the live-fire Han Kuang military exercise, which simulates China’s People’s Liberation Army invading the island, in Pingtung, Taiwan, May 30, 2019.
 REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

For years, China has slowly stepped up pressure on the US in areas like forcing companies to transfer technology, building up military sites on artificial islands in the South China Sea, and naval challenges.

Hemmings referenced a popular anecdote in China, where a frog is cooked by putting it in a pot of cold water and then slowly turning up the heat. The frog doesn’t realize it’s getting cooked until it’s too late. China’s gradual pressure campaign against the US has been compared to this practice.

With the US now quietly acknowledging Taiwan in a strategy document, it may have found its own small way to turn up the heat on Beijing.

More: China Taiwan Military Defense

Israeli minister fears Tehran ‘may fire rockets at Israel’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Amid US-Iran tension, Israeli minister fears Tehran ‘may fire rockets at Israel’

‘Things are heating up,’ Yuval Steinitz warns as US aircraft carrier sails toward Persian Gulf; Iranian Guards chief dismisses US ‘psychological war’

Iranians visit a weaponry and military equipment exhibition in the capital Tehran on February 2, 2019, organized on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iranians visit a weaponry and military equipment exhibition in the capital Tehran on February 2, 2019, organized on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Israel’s energy minister, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warned Sunday that escalating tensions between the US and Iran may lead the Islamic Republic to launch a missile assault against Israel.

“Things are heating up,” Yuval Steinitz told the Ynet news site. “I wouldn’t rule anything out. Iran may fire rockets at Israel.”

Steinitz added that Iran may also choose to attack Israel by activating its proxies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah or Gaza’s Islamic Jihad.

“The American sanctions are breaking the neck of the Iranian economy, and a new and stronger wave [of sanctions] is still to come,” he warned, suggesting that the danger was unlikely to pass in the near future.

Speaking later Sunday to the Kan state radio station, Steinitz stressed that he was not privy to any particular intelligence information on Iranian plans, but noted that Iran was facing drastic economic pressure and “anything could happen” in such a climate.

The Iranians could “go crazy” and “declare war on the whole Middle East,” he said.

There were some in Iran who recognized the imperative to dismantle their rogue nuclear program, and others who would seek to retain it in the hope that the regime could weather the current economic crisis.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz at a conference in Tel Aviv on February 27, 2019. (Flash90)

Steinitz’s comments follow a report on Israel’s Channel 13 on Friday that said Israel had warned the US that Iran was contemplating targeting Saudi oil production facilities.

The unsourced report said the Iranians were “considering various hostile acts” against American or American-allied targets. Tehran had looked at targeting American bases in the Gulf, but that had been deemed too drastic a step, it claimed.

The main target then became “Saudi oil production facilities,” the report said. Such a strike would also send world oil prices soaring and enable Iran to get more income from its oil sales, the report added.

Channel 13 also quoted unnamed Arab intelligence sources as saying there was a debate raging in the Iranian leadership about striking US and US-allied targets, with some in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps pushing for attacks, including against Israeli targets, while others cautioned that it would be “suicidal” to get into a serious military conflict with the US.

Earlier last week, the same channel was the first to report that the Israeli Mossad had tipped off the White House two weeks ago about an Iranian plan to attack either a US or US-allied target. That earlier report did not specify potential targets for such an ostensible attack.

The US responded to the reported message, and to escalating rhetoric from Tehran, by saying it was moving significant military assets into the region, including an aircraft carrier strike group and nuclear-capable bombers. The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, leading a larger naval strike group, sailed through the Suez Canal toward the Persian Gulf late last week.

Volume 90%

On Friday, the US Maritime Administration warned that Iran could try to attack American commercial vessels, including oil tankers, Reuters reported.

On Sunday, the move was dismissed by the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as “psychological war.”

The Pentagon’s deployment of the USS Lincoln, Major General Hossein Salami told lawmakers at a parliament session in Tehran, was part of the American military’s regular rotation schedule.

“Commander Salami, with attention to the situation in the region, presented an analysis that the Americans have started a psychological war because the comings and goings of their military is a normal matter,” Reuters quoted parliamentary leadership spokesman Behrouz Nemati as saying, summarizing Salami’s comments to the parliament’s ICANA news site.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened a “swift and decisive” American response to any attack by Iran.

In this undated photo released by Sepahnews, the website of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Hossein Salami speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran (Sepahnews via AP)

“The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“Our restraint to this point should not be mistaken by Iran for a lack of resolve,” he said.

The Pentagon also said Friday that the US would move a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to counter threats from Iran.

An American official said the decision to send in more forces was based in part on intelligence indicating that Iran had moved short-range ballistic missiles by boat in waters off its shores.

The moves have frightened some European allies as well as US President Donald Trump’s Democratic rivals, who fear the administration is pushing for war based on overhyped intelligence.

Illustrative: Iranian Navy exercise in 2011. (CC BY, Mohammad Sadegh Heydari, Wikimedia Commons)

Pompeo, who canceled a trip to Greenland to rush back to Washington last week, said, “We do not seek war. But Iran’s 40 years of killing American soldiers, attacking American facilities, and taking American hostages is a constant reminder that we must defend ourselves.”

Meanwhile Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, commander of the United States Naval Forces Central Command, told Reuters he would bring the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln through the Gulf’s sensitive Strait of Hormuz if need be.

“If I need to bring it inside the strait, I will do so,” Malloy said. “I’m not restricted in any way, I’m not challenged in any way, to operate her anywhere in the Middle East.”

Iran on Wednesday said it would suspend some commitments under a 2015 nuclear accord rejected by Trump, frustrated that renewed US sanctions have prevented the country from enjoying the economic fruits of compliance with the deal.

Earlier Thursday, Trump said he sought talks with Iran.

“What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We don’t want them to have nuclear weapons — not much to ask.”

Volume 90%

Trump also said Washington was not looking for a conflict with Tehran, but refused to divulge why the carrier had been dispatched.

“We have information that you don’t want to know about,” Trump said, according to Reuters. “They were very threatening and we have to have great security for this country and many other places.”

Asked about the possibility of a military confrontation, he said, “I don’t want to say no, but hopefully that won’t happen.”

Pak blinks, offers ‘moratorium’ on artillery firing to ease LoC tensions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Pak blinks, offers ‘moratorium’ on artillery firing to ease LoC tensions

Pakistan has offered to remove its Special Service Group (SSG) – the special forces of Pakistan – from the LoC and even suggested a “moratorium on the artillery fire from both sides,” a report sent to the Prime Minister’s Office said.

INDIA Updated: May 11, 2019 16:31 IST

Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Hindustan times, New Delhi
LoC tension,Pakistan,Special Service group
The government had warned the Indian Army and especially the Corps Commanders to take “adequate precautions” to prevent cross-border raids by the Pakistani army after the Pulwama suicide attack. (Photo by Nitin Kanotra / Hindustan Times)

Islamabad has blinked first in the staring battle along the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border between India and Pakistan. Under sustained pressure from India, Pakistan has offered to de-escalate tensions along the LoC . The offer to India was made by the Pakistani military “through the institutionalised military channels of communication between the two sides,” a senior official in the Indian security establishment said on condition of anonymity.

The Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries are regularly in touch and HT learns that the offer may have come during such an interaction.

Pakistan has offered to remove its Special Service Group (SSG) – the special forces of Pakistan – from the LoC and even suggested a “moratorium on the artillery fire from both sides,” a report sent to the Prime Minister’s Office said. HT has seen a copy of the report.

After the Pulwama suicide car bomb attack by a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist on February 26, which left 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) dead and led to the subsequent air strikes by the Indian Air Force on Jaish’s training camp at Balakot in Pakistan, Islamabad moved special forces and troops along the LoC and the border and “maintained a precautionary deployment”.

India’s pressure on Pakistan was not just along the border, but diplomatic as well. With the US, UK, and France backing India, China agreed to remove its so-called “technical hold” on declaring Maulana Masood Azhar, the emir of JeM, a global terrorist by the United Nations Security Council. Simultaneously, India is also pushing the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF), a global body that watches money laundering and terror funding, to blacklist Pakistan.

In the report, the Indian Army has said that there have been “no infiltration attempts,” and “no attempt to (carry out) cross border tactical action since the Pulwama terror attack.” Interestingly, terror launch pads along the LoC, from which terrorists infiltrate India are empty. “Terror infrastructure in close vicinity of the LoC has been temporarily closed due to overall pressure being maintained on Pakistan,” the Indian Army added in the report.

The thinning out of terror launch pads were reported “from active areas like Poonch and Rajouri as well,” a senior defence ministry official said, asking not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “These are clear on-ground signals from Pakistan for de-escalation.” Recently, when formations along the LoC also repaired bunkers –an annual feature to prepare for the monsoons– the “Pakistan army didn’t interfere,” the official added.

The government had warned the Indian Army and especially the Corps Commanders to take “adequate precautions” to prevent cross-border raids by the Pakistani army after the Pulwama suicide attack. And, while the Indian Air Force was planning air strikes, the Indian Army reinforced its positions along the border and adopted an aggressive posture all along the LoC and the international border. “There were over 100 instances when artillery was used,” the official said and added that “the use of artillery has considerably reduced now.” Pakistan army positions along the border from where Border Action Teams could be launched into India were especially targeted. “In the initial days, several Pakistan Army positions were destroyed, and we have not allowed them to rebuild or these positions,” a second senior official in the ministry of defence said on condition of anonymity.

First Published: May 11, 2019 07:13 IST

India: Attack signals Maoists may be regrouping

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

(INDIA IS IN A TOUGH SPOT CONSIDERING THAT CHINA IS BACKING PAKISTAN BECAUSE THEY ACCEPTED China’s ‘buyout’ called road and belt. Also, China’s Dictator Xi Jinping is a devout Maoist who undoubtedly is supporting these gorilla attacks on the Indian people.)(oped: by oldpoet56)  

Attack signals Maoists may be regrouping

This MMC corridor covers jungles in the three states and is a source of a new worry for the security forces, who believe the Maoists are building it to escape a crackdown in Bastar.

INDIA Updated: May 02, 2019 13:34 IST

Maoists,MMC,Maharashtra
The Wednesday attack scene – North Gadchiroli – covers one of the nine divisions of the Maoists in Dandakaranya, they added.(HT Photo)

The improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Maharashtra’s North Gadchiroli that killed 15 security personnel and a driver on Wednesday is likely to be the handiwork of Maoist cadres from neighbouring Chhattisgarh’s South Bastar region, according to police and intelligence officers.

The attack scene – Dadapur Road – borders Dandakaranya and the Maoists’ Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh (MMC) zone, they added.

“It is a well-planned attack in which company number four of North Gadchiroli… Maoists played a major role. We have information that some hardcore [Maoist] cadres from South Bastar were also in this part [Gadchiroli] for the last few days,” said an intelligence officer posted in this zone. He added more details about the attack will come after a couple of days.

This MMC corridor covers jungles in the three states and is a source of a new worry for the security forces, who believe the Maoists are building it to escape a crackdown in Bastar.

The Dandakarayana zone is spread across the borders of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Odisha. The Maoists call it a free zone. They have divided Dandakaranya into nine divisions, each comprising three to five area committees. Every area committee is composed of several local organisational squads and local guerrilla squads, the intelligence officials said.

The Wednesday attack scene – North Gadchiroli – covers one of the nine divisions of the Maoists in Dandakaranya, they added.

“We have issued a red alert in Chhattisgarh and meetings of senior officers are going on in the bordering districts. I believe that due to pressure from security forces in Bastar, most of the Maoist cadres are moving towards MMC and Gadchiroli. There are possibilities that Maoists from Chhattisgarh were also involved in the attack,” said Chhattisgarh police chief D M Awasthi.

Awasthi added that recent interrogations of senior Maoists, who have surrendered, suggest activities of the rebels in Gondia and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra have increased. He called it a matter of concern for both the states as it borders Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh.

Another Chhattisgarh-based intelligence officer, who has been closely watching developments in Maharashtra, said younger leaders of Maoists from South Bastar and Gadhchiroli areas have regrouped over the last few months and they could be behind the attack. “Usually in this TCOC [tactical counter offensive campaign] period Maoists coordinate and unite to attack the security forces. In this attack, a trap was laid by setting ablaze the vehicles in that area which increased the movement of security forces. The cadres of two or three divisions could be behind the attack,” said the intelligence officer.

In February 2017, police recovered a Maoist letter in Bastar, which suggested that increasing pressure from security forces in the region was forcing Maoists to shift to the MMC.

Comrade Somru had written the letter to another Maoist rebel, comrade Surendra. “Oppression is rising. The enemies are opening camps. Villagers are fleeing from the area and we are working in difficult conditions,” the letter said, which has been accessed by HT.

An officer posted in Rajnandgaon district said there are about 200 armed cadres roaming in the MMC region. “And the chances of attacks in MMC have increased after Gadchiroli attack because they are more confident now.”

An Indian Police Service officer posted in South Bastar said there has been a change in Maoist strategy after Nambala Keshav Rao, alias Basavaraju, became the new general secretary of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) in November 2018.

“The Maoists have changed their strategy after Rao took charge. They are focusing on IEDS and not engaging themselves in gunfights. Since last year, every major attack was carried out using IEDS because they are safe and we have no strategy to contain them. The only way to stop IED blasts is to follow the rules of the road in the jungle, which was not followed in Gadchiroli’s case.”

Raipur-based journalist Alok Putul said some parts of Gadchiroli and MMC zone are becoming a safe haven for Maoists of Bastar. “The government of all three states [Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh] should jointly work to contain the Maoists movement. The attacks clearly reflect intelligence failure of all the three states.”

First Published: May 02, 2019 13:33 IST

Brazil: Bolsonaro Fries General Santos Cruz And Opens Military Crisis In Government

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 24/7 NEWS NETWORK)

 

8 LNA Soldiers Killed In Attack In Southern Libya

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

8 LNA Fighters Killed in Attack in Southern Libya

Saturday, 4 May, 2019 – 10:30
Fighters from the Libyan National Army attend their graduation ceremony at a military academy in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi on April 18, 2019. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Eight fighters from Libyan National Army (LNA) were killed Saturday in an attack on their training camp in the southern city of Sebha, announced head of the local municipality Hamed al-Khaiyali.

A source from the LNA accused the ISIS terrorist group and Chadian opposition fighters of being behind the attack.

The LNA, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, had launched last month an operation against Tripoli to liberate it from terrorist gangs and militias loyal to the Government of National Accord.

Haftar’s forces have been marching steadily on the capital, with the LNA bringing in reinforcements in recent days.

Turkey Says Not Distancing Itself From NATO With S-400 Deal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Turkey Says Not Distancing Itself from NATO with S-400 Deal

Friday, 3 May, 2019 – 10:30
FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey is not distancing itself from the NATO alliance by buying Russian S-400 missile defense systems, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday, adding that Ankara should not be excluded from the F-35 jet project over the purchases.

Turkey and the United States, NATO allies, have been at odds over Ankara’s move to buy the Russian S-400s, which Washington says are not compatible with NATO systems and may threaten the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, of which Turkey is a prospective buyer and partner in production, Reuters reported.

In an interview with broadcaster NTV, Akar said that excluding Turkey from the F-35 project would put “very serious” burdens on the other partners in the project.

“There is no clause saying ‘you will be excluded if you buy S-400s’ in this partnership. Excluding us just because any one country wants so would not be in line with justice, laws or rights. This should not happen,” Akar said, according to Reuters.

He said Turkey was trying to explain to the United States and other partners in the F-35 project that the S-400s would not pose a threat to the jets, and added that Ankara had taken measures to prevent that.

In his strongest challenge yet to warnings that Turkey may be removed from the F-35 project, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the project would collapse if Turkey did not participate.

While Washington has warned of potential US sanctions if Ankara pushed on with the S-400 agreement, Turkey has said it would not back down from the deal.

Instead, Turkey has proposed to form a working group with the United States to assess the impact of the S-400s, but says it has not yet received a response from US officials.

Akar said on Friday Turkey was still evaluating the latest US offer to sell Raytheon Co. Patriot systems, which he said was more positive than Washington’s previous offers.

Former U.S. Soldier, Converted To Islam Planned Mass Murder In L.A. Foiled By FBI

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

A 26-year-old former US Army soldier who served in Afghanistan has been charged with plotting terror attacks in the Los Angeles area, the Justice Department said Monday.

Mark Steven Domingo allegedly sought to detonate improvised explosive devices containing nails this past weekend at a rally in Long Beach that was organized by a white nationalist group.
He was arrested Friday night after he took receipt of what he thought were pressure cooker bombs, US Attorney Nick Hanna announced at a press conference.
“Law enforcement was able to identify a man consumed with hate, and bent on mass murder and stop him before he was able to carry out his attack,” Hanna said.
Domingo allegedly wanted to “seek retribution for attacks against Muslims” and also considered attacks on Jewish people, churches and law enforcement.
He is accused of targeting “Jews as they walked to synagogue, police officers, a military facility, and crowds at the Santa Monica Pier.”
On March 2, DOJ says Domingo posted a video online professing his Muslim faith and wrote, “America needs another Vegas event,” referring to the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017 in which more than 50 people died.
Domingo is a recent convert to Islam, Hanna said.
He wanted to give “them a taste of the terror they gladly spread all over the world,” according to the Justice Department.
Following a mass shooting attack on a mosque in New Zealand in March that killed dozens of people, Domingo posted, “there must be (sic) retribution.”
Domingo asked a FBI informant to find someone to construct an IED, according to the Justice Department. He met with the informant and came armed with an AK-47 style rifle.
There is no ongoing threat to public and no known co-conspirators, Hanna said.
Hanna said the “criminal case outlines a chilling terrorism plot that developed over the past two months and targeted innocent Americans that he expected to gather this past weekend.”
This story has been updated.

After Pentagon Ends Contract, Top-Scientist Group Vows To Carry On

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

After Pentagon Ends Contract, Top-Secret Scientists Group Vows To Carry On

The Jasons, a group of scientists who advise the U.S. government, have developed technologies such as a laser that can help reduce atmospheric distortion. The Air Force uses it to better photograph passing spy satellites.

R. Fugate/Air Force Research Laboratory

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

A secretive group of scientists who advise the U.S. government on everything from spy satellites to nuclear weapons is scrambling to find a sponsor after the Defense Department abruptly ended its contract late last month.

The group, known as the Jasons, will run out of money at the end of April. The Pentagon says that the group’s advice is no longer needed, but independent experts say it has never been more relevant and worry the department is throwing away a valuable resource.

Russell Hemley, the head of the Jasons, says that other government agencies still want advice and that the Jasons are determined to give it.

Late Thursday, it appeared that another government agency might be willing to take on the group. The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration posted a solicitation saying it intends to take over the contract for the group. That could happen in a matter of months, and it is unclear how the Mitre Corp., which manages the Jasons, would fund the group in the interim.

The Jasons group comprises about 60 members. By day, they’re normal academics, working at colleges and universities and in private industry. But each summer, they come together to study tough problems for the military, intelligence agencies and other parts of the government.

The group’s name, like the group itself, is shrouded in mystery, though it’s believed to be a reference to Jason, the Greek mythological prince who leads the Argonauts in looking for the Golden Fleece.

“The idea that they’re going to cut back on the kind of advice that the Jasons provide is not good for the Department of Defense,” says Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, an independent watchdog group. “It’s not good for the nation.”

“We’re very independent, we have this diversity of talent and we often come up with very different, very original perspectives and solutions to problems,” says Hemley, a physicist and chemist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Hemley is one of the few members who publicly identify themselves as part of the group. He says the Jasons are unlike anything else out there — academics at the top of their individual fields, with security clearances that let them work on any problem.

The group’s origins go back to the early days of the Cold War.

“They just formed themselves, back in 1960,” says Ann Finkbeiner, who wrote The Jasons: The Secret History of Science’s Postwar Elite. It began when a group of physicists won funding from the Pentagon to spend the summer learning about the problems facing the Defense Department in its fight against the Soviet Union. These stubborn researchers were determined to advise the government. They went on to study everything from anti-submarine warfare to missile defense.

Enlarge this image

Russell Hemley is the chair of the Jasons. He says several government agencies remain interested in contracting with the group.

Geoff Brumfiel/NPR

“Probably their most famous study was about trying to stop the infiltration from North Vietnam into the South,” Finkbeiner says.

The problem was that North Vietnamese troops and supplies were hard to find beneath the dense jungle canopy. The Jasons’ solution was to develop a system of remote sensors that could be airdropped into the jungle and provide intelligence on the enemy. The program, like much to do with Vietnam, was controversial and didn’t work perfectly. But it laid the groundwork for modern electronic warfare, in which sensors provide troops with detailed battlefield information, Finkbeiner says.

In recent years, Hemley says, the Jasons have broadened the areas they study. They’ve tried to help the Department of Agriculture develop better ways to use data to understand crop production, for example. And they advised the Census Bureau on how to streamline its operations.

So it came as a surprise to Hemley and others when, in late March, the Pentagon abruptly announced it was ending its primary contract with the Jasons. The contract, run through the Mitre Corp., is the vehicle that allows the Jasons to do work with other parts of the government as well. Without it, the group has no way of getting the several million dollars in funding it needs to operate annually.

“The department remains committed to seeking independent technical advice and review,” Pentagon spokesperson Heather Babb said. But Aftergood sees another reason for the end of the relationship. He says that the Jasons are a blunt bunch. If they think an idea is dumb or won’t work, they aren’t afraid to say so.

“They were offering the opposite of cheerleading,” he says. “And DOD decided that maybe they didn’t want to pay for that any longer.”

Aftergood says it’s a real mistake to cut ties with the Jasons now. The Pentagon is embarking on ambitious research into artificial intelligence, quantum computing and advanced hypersonic missiles. The Jasons have expertise on these topics and will likely be useful.

For now, Hemley says, the group is eager to continue its research and is “working closely with our sponsors to make sure that happens.”

The National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons, would be a natural fit for the group. Over the years, it has solicited numerous studies from the Jasons on the nuclear stockpile.

At a congressional hearing this month, NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty voiced her support for the Jasons: “I can tell you that they are rich in history,” she said, “and their technical expertise is sound.”

Hopeless fountain

Living moments through words.

OSTENDNOMADOGRAPHY

About My Wanderings Through Urban And Nature Landscapes

karmenclair.wordpress.com/

Lifestyle blog dedicated to travel, food, nature and other ramblings

Everything Is Hack!

Find here all information on mental health, travel tips, and generally lifestyle questions answered! Whatever you need to know, this is the place for you.

Capt Jills Journeys

She sails the seven seas in search of FREEDOM

Learning to write

Just your average PhD student using the internet to enhance their CV

Wordsmith

Lost, at last.

Luna

Every now and then my head is racing with thoughts so I put pen to paper

%d bloggers like this: