Saudis: US Says Will Prevent Turkish Incursion against Kurds in Syria

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

 

US Says Will Prevent Turkish Incursion against Kurds in Syria

Tuesday, 6 August, 2019 – 09:45
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned Turkey on Tuesday that Washington would prevent unilateral incursions into northern Syria against Kurdish forces.

On Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey, which already has a foothold in northwest Syria, will carry out a military operation in a Kurdish-controlled area east of the Euphrates in northern Syria.

“Clearly we believe any unilateral action by them (Turkey) would be unacceptable,” Esper told reporters traveling with him to Japan.

“What we’re going to do is prevent unilateral incursions that would upset, again, these mutual interests… the United States, Turkey and the SDF share with regard to northern Syria,” Esper said.

The SDF stands for the Syrian Democratic Forces. With US backing, the SDF, which includes the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), have taken control over the last four years of much of northeastern Syria from ISIS. Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist organization.

Esper said the United States did not have any “ambition” to abandon the SDF, but stopped short of guaranteeing that the United States would protect them in case of a Turkish operation.

He said the US is trying to work out an arrangement that addresses Turkey’s concerns, adding: “I’m hopeful we’ll get there.”

He did not provide details on where progress is being made.

A team from the Pentagon was in Turkey to speak with Turkish officials about the issue.

Esper suggested that a Turkish operation into northern Syria could affect the SDF’s focus on ensuring ISIS did not retake the territory it once held in Syria and the ability of the US-backed forces to hold the thousands of alleged ISIS fighters in detention.

Esper said the US will not abandon its SDF allies.

The Turkish-led campaign, which has for months been delayed due to resistance from Washington, is aimed at evicting YPG forces from a string of border town in Raqqa and Hasaka provinces.

Ankara has accused Washington of stalling progress on setting up a safe zone inside Syria’s northeastern border with Turkey that would be cleared of the YPG.

This week, Erdogan said both Russia and the United States had been told of the planned operation, but did not say when it would begin. It would mark the third Turkish incursion into Syria in as many years.

Hundreds of US troops are stationed east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria working with the SDF, and an incursion by Turkey could put them in the middle of any firefight between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Turkey and the US have been negotiating for months over the establishment of a safe zone along the Syrian border that would extend east of the Euphrates to Iraq.

Turkey wants to establish a 25-mile-deep zone. But so far the two sides have failed to reach an agreement.

Ties between the two NATO allies have been strained over a host of issues, including the United States’ removal of Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program after Ankara bought and took delivery of Russian S-400 missile defenses that Washington sees as a threat.

India, US to ink two key defence pacts this week

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India, US to ink two key defence pacts this week

Defence secretary Sanjay Mitra is leading India’s delegation, a senior official aware of the details said on condition of anonymity. He will be meeting the US undersecretary of defence for policy John Rood.

INDIA Updated: Aug 02, 2019 05:17 IST

Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BECA will allow India to use US geospatial maps to achieve pinpoint military accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons such as cruise and ballistic missiles, even drones.
BECA will allow India to use US geospatial maps to achieve pinpoint military accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons such as cruise and ballistic missiles, even drones.(REUTERS)

India and the United States are likely to finalise two critical agreements, the Industrial Security Annexure (ISA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) – the second is a so-called foundational military agreement — in the coming bilateral Defence Planning Group (DPG) dialogue in Washington this week.

Defence secretary Sanjay Mitra is leading India’s delegation, a senior official aware of the details said on condition of anonymity. He will be meeting the US undersecretary of defence for policy John Rood. The DPG has been revived after a gap of four years. The decision to revive it was taken at the last 2+2 dialogue between India and the US last year in which their defence and foreign ministers participated.

BECA will allow India to use US geospatial maps to achieve pinpoint military accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons such as cruise and ballistic missiles, even drones. India is considering buying 30 High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drones from the United States. BECA is an important enabler of unmanned aerial vehicles from the US, such as the Predator-B, that use spatial data for accurate strikes on enemy targets.

The other agreement, ISA, is an annexure to the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and will enable the US government and US defence companies to share classified information with Indian private defence manufacturers. India and the US signed the GSOMIA 17 years ago. It allowed the sharing of classified information from the US government and American defence manufacturers with the Indian government and government-owned defence firms. Once the ISA is signed, the US will be able to share technology with Indian private companies.

The United States has already shared the draft agreements of both ISA and BECA with India. Although India initially had reservations on geospatial mapping on grounds of national security, the Narendra Modi government has made up its mind to sign BECA, provided its concerns are addressed.

India is already a signatory to the remaining two foundational military agreements, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), and Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). The former allows the US to transfer communication equipment to India that facilitate secure transmission of data and real-time information between the armed forces of the two countries. It was finalised during last year’s 2 + 2 talks in Washington.

India and the US signed LEMOA — it allows Indian and American defence forces to use each other’s facilities and establishes procedures of easier access to supplies and services required by them — in 2016. While India and US forces have always used each other’s facilities on a case-by-case basis, LEMOA gives blanket approval for use of facilities and also makes the accounting easier for both countries.

In the DPG, the two sides are likely to decide on the “future roadmap” for “joint advanced exercises” between India and the US, a second senior official who did not want to be named said. In addition, the DPG will also look at the prospect of technological cooperation in building military hardware under Make in India, the second official added. “Exercises between the two sides will become complicated in scale and scope with the militaries preparing for future scenarios.”

Experts said the two pacts are crucial for the defence cooperation between the two countries. “Sealing ISA and BECA is very significant. ISA will mean that the last hurdle to sharing critical technology with the private sector will go. It will be much easier to achieve Make in India,” said admiral Shekhar Sinha (retd), who advises the government on issues of security policy. “Similarly, BECA is also critical for more cooperation between US and India. I had expected these would be signed much earlier. With these two agreements in place the private sector is likely to play a bigger role in defence manufacturing and that will free up much needed resources for the government to concentrate on issues like health, water, etc,” he added.

First Published: Aug 02, 2019 05:16 IST

President Truman’s military desegregation order

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)

 

Like Truman’s military desegregation order, leadership against racism starts at the top

John R. Allen

Inspiration around issues of race and civility in America is in short supply. Racist, xenophobic language coming from social media platforms to the White House has corroded public discourse and widened the longstanding divides in the body politic. Rather than despair, I prefer to recall a previous commander-in-chief: President Harry S. Truman, who, on July 26, 1948, issued Executive Order 9981 to abolish discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion or national origin” in the U.S. armed forces. This morally courageous act, by a president who served his country as a young artillery officer in World War I, would eventually lead to the desegregation of the American military.

Author

I can only imagine what our honored veterans of President Truman’s era must think of this current moment. Now grown gray from too many wars and the relentless passage of time, these Americans are living examples of what this country can become when we are truly led from the White House, instead of battered by shrill vitriol.Contemporary audiences might be tempted to view EO 9981 as the outcome of logic and advocacy working together to right a historic wrong, and they would be partly right. But President Truman’s actions were highly controversial at the time. Even though over a million Black men and thousands of Black women served in the U.S. military during World War II, in April 1948 then-General Dwight Eisenhower testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that segregation was needed to protect unit cohesion (an action for which he would later express regret). Army Secretary Kenneth Claiborne Royall was forced from office in 1949 after refusing to desegregate the Army.

But Truman’s order launched the modern era of the U.S. armed forces, forging the diversity of my generation of military leaders and immeasurably strengthening American military capacity and cohesion. I use the word “forge” deliberately, as the process of integration—which was not completed until after the Korean War—was an often painful and slow process, full of bureaucratic roadblocks to true inclusion. When I was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1976, the Marines had only been fully integrated for 16 years. As a young enlisted man and then as an officer I saw firsthand the often gut-wrenching impact of racial upheaval in the 1970s and ‘80s. Dealing with near-constant racial tension, service in the military of that day often taxed our commitment and patriotism to the limit. But as difficult as that time was, I am confident it pales with what service members of the post-World War II and Korean War era faced as they struggled to implement President Truman’s desegregation order.

Desegregation of the military was a vital chapter in a proud history of Americans of all colors and creeds serving our nation, fighting enemies whose empires were built on racist principles and racial supremacy. These American heroes fought in segregated units while their families endured racism, segregation, and even internment at home. We should never forget, for example, that German fighter pilots who came up to dispute the skies against American World War II bomber crews were rightfully petrified by the “Red Tails” of the Tuskegee Airmen. Very few American bombers accompanied by a Tuskegee airman escort were lost over Europe. Tuskegee airman and fighter pilot Benjamin O. Davis would become America’s first Black general officer in the United States Air Force.

We should never forget that during the Second World War the 442nd Infantry Regiment (also known as the “Go for Broke” regiment) of Japanese-Americans became the most combat-decorated regiment in U.S. military history (including a young then-Second Lieutenant Daniel Inouye, who lost his arm in Italy and who would eventually receive the Medal of Honor). That record holds today. But too many of the 442nd served while their loved ones languished under desert skies behind the wires of American internment camps. As well, we should never forget the segregated Montford Point Marines or the nearly all-Black crew of the American destroyer escort, the USS Mason.

And not nearly enough Americans fully understand the impact of the nearly 200,000 native-born free and formerly enslaved Blacks who fought for the Union in the American Civil War. It is not a stretch to suggest that without their numbers and this vital infusion of fighting spirit the North may not have prevailed to preserve the Union and destroy once and for all the odious institution of slavery in the United States.

Today the legacy of slavery, America’s original sin, is still alive in the foundations of many of our institutions. That President Truman needed to sign EO 9981 in the first place is a testament to how deeply racism and hate have been embedded in daily American life. As my Brookings colleague Andre Perry has rightly noted, racism in the United States is not a distraction, it is policy. Racism and discrimination are embedded in policies that limit the social and economic mobility of Black communities. Racism is baked into restrictions on voting rights that disproportionally target communities of color. The Trump administration’s moves to scale back programs that protect undocumented family members of active duty troops are racist. And President Trump’s comments about congresswomen of color, and the cowardice of those who excuse or deny the shameful legacy his words invoke, are a reminder that racism can still find purchase even within the most hallowed halls of our democratic institutions.

Racism cannot be defeated unless we confront it and condemn it wherever we see it. But President Truman’s bravery reminds us that American leadership is capable of taking action to rip out systemic racism at its odious roots. Americans deserve leadership that unites us by challenging us to do the hard work of bettering ourselves and, together, overcoming our past. Until that leadership returns, we should be inspired by the example of President Truman and look to ourselves to move forward together.

U.S. military brings back remains from World War II battle of Tarawa

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JAPAN TIMES)

 

NATIONAL / HISTORY

U.S. military brings back remains from World War II battle of Tarawa

AP

The U.S. military has brought back the remains of more than 20 servicemen killed in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

An Air Force cargo plane flew the remains from Tarawa atoll in the remote Pacific island nation of Kiribati (KEE-ree-bas) to Hawaii on Wednesday. Marines carried flag-draped caskets off the plane for a ceremony.

The remains are among those discovered in March by History Flight, a nonprofit organization that searches for the remains of U.S. servicemen lost in past conflicts.

They’re believed to belong to Marines and sailors from the 6th Marine Regiment who were killed during the last night of the three-day Battle of Tarawa. More than 6,000 Americans, Japanese and Koreans died.

Forensic anthropologists with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency will work to identify the remains using dental records, DNA and other clues.

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.

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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.”

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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.”

Trump Reportedly Thought General Dunford Made $5 Million A Year

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘TASK AND PURPOSE)

 

Trump Reportedly Thought General Dunford Made $5 Million A Year
6 

President Donald Trump doesn’t seem to know how members of the military are paid, according to a new report from The Washington Post.

Retired Gen. John Kelly, now the White House Chief of Staff, has told others in the administration that Trump once guessed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs was pulling in $5 million a year, according to The Post.

Kelly, who the Post described as startled, informed the president he made under $200,000.

Everyone in the military, from private to general, is paid according to a standard table that increases based on pay grade and time in service. A private just joining the Army, for example, takes in just under $20,000 in base pay.

Meanwhile, Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, a four-star general with 41 years of service, rakes in $189,600 in base pay. He could be making more than that if he is also taking advantage of a basic allowance for housing or other incentive pays, but obviously, it’s not going to be anywhere close to $5 million.

Still, according to the Post, Trump noted Dunford had four stars and “suggested he get a large raise.”

Donald Trump: What I am Most Thankful On Thanksgiving is: Myself

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

Donald Trump said he was most thankful for himself on Thanksgiving as he spent the holiday weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The president was on a phone call with members of the media and the military early Thursday morning when one reporter asked him what he was “most thankful for” this year.

“For having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country,” Trump responded. “I made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you won’t believe it.”

The president continued, adding, “And I mean, you see it, but so much stronger that people can’t even believe it. When I see foreign leaders, they say we cannot believe the difference in strength between the United States now and the United States two years ago. Made a lot of progress.”

His response contrasted sharply with that of his Oval Office predecessor, Barack Obama, who said on Wednesday that he was thankful for the future “generation of leaders.”

“I am grateful for the next generation of leaders—the young people who are tolerant, creative, idealistic and doing the work to create the world as it should be. Who understand that hope requires action. From the Obama family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving,” Obama posted on Twitter.

Obama’s comment came after he made a surprise appearance at a Chicago food bank, where he volunteered ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

trump/thanksgiving/phone/call/militaryPresident Donald Trump speaks to military members via teleconference from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 22. Trump told reporters on the call that he was most thankful for the “tremendous job” he’s doing for the country.MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

On the phone call Thursday morning, Trump also addressed American service members who were spending Thanksgiving at the southern border awaiting the arrival of the migrant caravan. The president has ordered nearly 6,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to prepare for the caravan of asylum-seekers, which Trump claimed, with no evidence, was filled with dangerous gang members, drug dealers and terrorists.

During the holiday call, Trump took the opportunity to slam the federal courts for ruling against his decisions on immigration. He directly referred to the judge who had issued a temporary restraining order blocking the White House from barring immigrants who crossed the border illegally from seeking asylum.

“It’s a terrible thing when judges take over your protective services, when they tell you how to protect your border. It’s a disgrace,” Trump said. He also gave the military permission to use lethal force along the border.

In a video message posted on Twitter, Trump gave tribute to the military members overseas, police officers, first responders and firefighters, saying: “These are brave people, these are great people, these are special people.”

Trump says ‘good time’ for a government shutdown if no money for border wall

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Trump says ‘good time’ for a government shutdown if no money for border wall

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House Saturday that this would be a “good time” for a government shutdown if he doesn’t get funding from Congress for his border wall.

“I think probably, if I was ever going to do a shutdown over border security, when you look at the caravans, when you look at the mess, when you look at the people coming in, this would be a very good time to do a shutdown,” Trump said.
Trump added, however, that he didn’t think a shutdown would “be necessary, because I think the Democrats will come to their senses.”
Congress averted a government shutdown in September by passing a massive spending bill to fund a large portion of the government. The package did not, however, include money for Trump’s border wall, and Congress passed a shorter-term spending bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, among other agencies, until December 7.
With the midterm elections now over, Congress is anticipating returning to a battle over funding for Trump’s promised border wall before the December deadline. Since most of the government is funded, Congress will be trying to avoid a partial shutdown.
Last month, House Speaker Paul Ryan predicted a “big fight” over border security on the horizon, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the GOP is “committed” to working to secure the funding the President wants for his signature campaign pledge.
Congress allocated $1.6 billion for border security in a spending bill enacted in March.
At a White House event in August, Trump said he was looking for about $5 billion for the wall to cover this fiscal year, which some Democrats have already said they would vote against.

Military border mission

Trump also said Saturday that the US military will remain at the US-Mexico border “as long as necessary,” suggesting that the 5,900 troops deployed to the border could stay there past December 15, the scheduled end of the mission.
The President also touted the “tremendous military force” assigned to the border mission in Texas, Arizona and California, lauding the troops for building “great fences.”
“They built great fences. They built a very powerful fence, a different kind of a fence, but very powerful. The fence is fully manned,” he said.
On Tuesday, CNN reported that the troops are expected to finish their assigned task of reinforcing border crossing points, largely with barbed wire, in the coming days. After that, it’s unclear what additional orders they will be given other than putting up more wire, two defense officials told CNN.
Trump ordered the troops to the border to deter a caravan of migrants making its way through Mexico from seeking asylum in the US. Trump has called the caravan a threat and has alleged that gang leaders and criminals are among the migrants.
A senior administration official told CNN that the use of troops at the border is “a paper tiger.”
“A total joke,” the official said. “Of limited operational utility, and a waste of our troops’ time. (Defense Secretary James) Mattis knows it. (Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen) Nielsen knows it. (White House Chief of staff John Kelly)knows it. But that battle was lost with the President. He was hell-bent on troops.”

China Trying To Start WW III By Actions Against England In South China Sea?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘EXPRESS NEWS’ OF ENGLAND)

 

WW3 WARNING: China UNLEASHES helicopters and warship at British Navy in South China Sea

THE Royal Navy was confronted by China’s military might after a British warship passed close by Beijing-claimed Paracel Islands, in a move the Asian superpower has dubbed “provocation”, with tensions escalating in the region.

HMS Albion out at sea patrolling Asia Pacific Region

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HMS Albion sailed passed Paracel Islands in a bid to assert the “freedom of navigation rights” and challenge China’s “excessive claims” over the South China Sea.

Upon reaching the Islands, the warship was met by two Chinese helicopters and a frigate, but both sides reportedly remained calm during the stand off.

China’s navy warned the British vessel to leave Chinese territorial waters.

China’s Foreign Ministry added: “The relevant actions by the British ship violated Chinese law and relevant international law, and infringed on China’s sovereignty.

China strongly opposes this and has lodged stern representations with the British side to express strong dissatisfaction.

“China strongly urges the British side to immediately stop such provocative actions, to avoid harming the broader picture of bilateral relations and regional peace and stability.

“China will continue to take all necessary measures to defend its sovereignty and security.”

The 22,000 ton warship was packed with Royal Marines as it made its route to Hanoi where it docked on Monday after a deployment in and around Japan.

british navy warship passes china claimed island

A British navy vessel was confronted by Chinese military after it sailed near Paracel Islands (Image: GETTY)

However, the Royal Navy insisted they did not enter the territorial disputed region but travelled twelve nautical miles away from the area, in accordance to the internationally recognised territorial limit.

In a statement, a Royal Navy spokesperson said: “HMS Albion exercised her rights of freedom of navigation in full compliance with international law and norms.”

The Paracel Islands are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, as countries in the region compete over territorial claims within the South China Sea.

Dr Euan Graham, a Senior Fellow at the Lowy Institute in Australia, told the Daily Telegraph: “The UK has impressively deployed three Royal Navy surface ships to Asian waters this year, after a long gap between ship visits, to this part of the world.”

British navy warship passes China's claimed paracel islands

The HMS Albion, a Royal Navy assault ship sailed close to the Paracel Islands last week (Image: GETTY)

Chinese military warn US Navy not to fly over SECRET ISLAND

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He added: “Also, the fact that Albion was coming from Japan and on her way to Vietnam gives the signal a sharper edge to China.”

In June, UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced plans to send three warship to the South China Sea “to send the strongest of signals” to countries that “don’t play by the rules”.

This follows US Secretary of Defence, James Mattis warning to China, declaring the country would suffer “consequences” if it continued to militarise the South China Sea.

The US has previously announced hopes for more international initiative towards challenging Chinese claimed territories in the South China Sea, after Beijing claimed reefs, islands and built missile systems in the disputed region.

‘Leave immediately’: US Navy plane warned (6 Times) over South China Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

‘Leave immediately’: US Navy plane warned over South China Sea

Above the South China Sea (CNN) High above one of the most hotly contested regions in the world, CNN was given a rare look Friday at the Chinese government’s rapidly expanding militarization of the South China Sea

Aboard a US Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane, CNN got a view from 16,500 feet of low-lying coral reefs turned into garrisons with five-story buildings, large radar installations, power plants and runways sturdy enough to carry large military aircraft.
During the flight the crew received six separate warnings from the Chinese military, telling them they were inside Chinese territory and urging them to leave.
“Leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding,” a voice said.
The US Navy jet flew past four key artificial islands in the Spratly chain where China has built up fortifications: Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson Reef and Mischief Reef.
On Subi Reef, the Poseidon’s sensors picked up 86 vessels, including Chinese coast guard ships, moored in a giant lagoon, while on Fiery Cross Reef rows of hangers stood alongside a lengthy runway.
“It was surprising to see airports in the middle of the ocean,” said Lt. Lauren Callen, who was leading the air combat crew aboard the Navy flight.
Each time the aircraft was challenged by Chinese military, the US Navy crew’s response was the same.
“I am a sovereign immune United States naval aircraft conducting lawful military activities beyond the national airspace of any coastal state,” the response said.
“In exercising these rights guaranteed by international law, I am operating with due regard for the rights and duties of all states.”
CNN has reached out to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

CNN gets rare access on board a US military surveillance flight over the hotly-disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Competing claims

The Chinese government staunchly maintains large areas of the South China Sea have been part of the country’s territory “since ancient times.”
Beijing’s “nine-dash line” extends more than one thousand kilometers from its southernmost province, taking in more or less the entirety of the waters, through which the United Nations estimates one-third of global shipping passes.
The South China Sea is also believed to contain rich oil and natural gas reserves that have yet to be fully explored.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei all claim overlapping portions of the sea which spans 3.6 million square kilometer (1.4 million square miles), but the most far-reaching claims have been made by China.
Beijing’s sovereignty claims are considered by most other countries as unsubstantiated, a view backed by an international tribunal in 2016.
Despite this however, little has changed in China’s approach to the region in recent years.
To reinforce its claims of sovereignty, Beijing has been reclaiming land on and around reefs and shoals to construct artificial islands which are then militarized with airfields and radar equipment.
China has spent much of the past two years fortifying these islands, including placing missiles on the Spratly island chain during naval exercises in April.
This is despite a promise made by President Xi Jinping to then-US President Barack Obama in 2015 that the Chinese government would not be militarizing the artificial islands.

The US Navy's P8-A Poseidon plane which carried a CNN crew from Okinawa, Japan, over the South China Sea on August 10.

Rapid expansion

The last time CNN was given access to a US Navy mission over the South China Sea was in September 2015, when the aircraft was also warned off by Chinese military.
Since then, Beijing’s island building in the contested waters has moved forward at a rapid pace.
Flying over Fiery Cross Reef on Friday, a five-story building was visible, as well as a large radar installation, which looked like neatly arranged golf balls on the Navy plane’s infrared camera.
Though no Chinese missiles were seen on Friday’s flight over the South China Sea, Navy officers said some of the structures seen could potentially be used to house them.
Cmdr. Chris Purcell, who leads Patrol Squadron Four which undertook Friday’s mission, said the US has been doing these flights for five decades and they show US commitment to maintaining free passage in international waters.
“The reason we’re here hasn’t changed,” Purcell said. “The reason (the Chinese) are here has changed.”
Within hours of the trip, Chinese state tabloid Global Times posted a reaction to CNN’s report on its Chinese-language website. The article called for all readers to “give a thumbs-up to Chinese servicemen” for their defense of China’s territory.

China claims US sparking militarization

Beijing says its growing military presence in the South China Sea is necessary to protect its sovereignty, blaming Washington and its allies for tensions in the region.
Source: CNN reporting
Chinese military exercises in April included the largest naval parade in the country’s history, with President Xi Jinping overseeing drills that included 10,000 troops, 48 naval vessels and 76 fighter jets.
Beijing points to the regular US Navy patrols and flyovers of the South China Sea as an example of US militarization and provocations, and a justification for the increased Chinese military presence.
“By playing up the so-called China’s militarization in the South China Sea, certain people in the US are staging a farce of a thief crying “stop thief”,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in May. “It is self-evident to a keener eye that who is militarizing the South China Sea.”
In the past year, the US has stepped up freedom of navigation operations in the region, sailing US naval vessels within miles of China’s artificial islands across the South China Sea.
The exercises, which the US also conducts in other parts of the world, assert the navy’s right to travel wherever it pleases in international waters, a vital component of Washington’s naval power across the world.
Time may be running out to effectively challenge China’s claims in the South China Sea however.
Adm. Philip Davidson, the recently installed head of the US Pacific Command, told Senators during a confirmation hearing in April that China is already very firmly entrenched.
“China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” Davidson said.
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