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WORLD NEWS - page 27

Lima Charlie News reports on the latest stories from around the world.

Taunting the Bear: A Misapplication of American Military Power

|By Maj. Joe Labarbera, Lima Charlie News

The military forces of the United States absolutely must be the pre-eminent force in the world. This is demonstrated by a myriad of operational factors that clearly express U.S. superiority, such as technology, size, quality, leadership, logistical reach, and sound strategy. This is not, however, demonstrated by conducting provocative coalition exercises that, in fact, show just how anemic U.S. formations actually are in comparison to those forces it seeks to intimidate.

NATO launches Operation Anakonda-16

On Tuesday, June 7th, NATO launched Operation Anakonda-16, the largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War. Anakonda-16 consists of a coalition of 24 NATO and partner countries, and is the “largest training event in the modern history of Poland.” It is currently winding its way through Poland with the stated goal of “seek[ing] to train and integrate Polish national command and force structures into an allied, joint multinational environment”. This exercise, to last from 07-17 June, features 14,000 U.S. troops, 31,000 soldiers, 3000 vehicles, 12 ships and 105 aircraft. It launched with great fanfare, and an even greater cost.

The last 8 years have seen U.S. combat forces shrink and experienced, mid-level leadership cashiered. Adding to this has been the deliberate undermining of unit discipline and cohesion via Congressionally-initiated, politically motivated threats to the Chain of Command’s control over the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Under duress from socio-political shenanigans, the Department of Defense has, to continue the unsurpassed combat power projection America has enjoyed, shrunk the scope of what America can actually deploy into a combat theater. In short, American military power can, at best, deploy a Divisions’ worth of ad hoc fighting troops with air and missile defense cover. Much like the U.S. led campaigns in Afghanistan, these troops serve in a force protection role, at the mercy of foreign tolerance of our logistical lines of communication.

The Military and Naval forces of the United States are in need of major reform, and effete demonstrations in the face of a growing superpower will not bring us any closer to achieving this. That is the unavoidable truth.

With only 35 combat brigades in the Army operating at a quarter strength in terms of deployment readiness, an Air Force that is dependent on civilian contractors, and a Navy burdened with a crippling leadership crisis, America is now pursuing a course dependent upon large coalitions of small nations to support our combat power projection. In reality, the American Army weights its resources and trust on a few hand-picked “pet” units to maintain a state of wartime readiness.

Half of the 82nd Airborne and a third of the 1st Cavalry Division are not the only answer to the Army’s combat power.

The American National Security complex deems Russia our greatest threat. For the Obama Administration, global warming is the enemy, while the media continues to obsess over ISIS. In Eastern Europe, the Ukraine and the Baltic Sea, America patrols and collaborates with every entity imaginable in an attempt to intimidate Russia through containment. Russia, meanwhile, projects combat power only to defeat internal threats and exert hegemony over its historic neighbors and enemies.

Russian troops marchingThe potential of a nuclear war with Russia is unthinkable, a reality only in the event of an all-out armed conflict. So planning for a conventional war with Russia seems bizarre, even stupid. Nevertheless, wrought with the military’s deficiencies, the Defense Industrial Complex is more bloated and robust than ever. The Military and Naval forces of the United States are in need of major reform, and effete demonstrations in the face of a growing superpower will not bring us any closer to achieving this. That is the unavoidable truth.

It is possible that America, and the rest of the West, relished the thought of a debilitated and poverty-stricken Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Large scale capitalists like George Soros aggressively made inroads into dominating the post-Soviet Economy. The IMF and World Bank sought dominance over Russia under the guise of financial assistance. Yet a populist and nationalist reaction, led by Vladimir Putin occurred, expelling American-led economic power to the chagrin of the Western world. Does Russia have the audacity to function—even prosper—without its currency being controlled and its banks indebted to the IMF or World Bank? This presents a problem for the established order in the West, led by Neo Conservatives and faux leftists. If Russia has the gall to prosper using its own natural resources and industry, and hence is able to sustain its own military and navy without interdependence, the West’s thinkers interpret this as destabilizing to the rest of the world.

American National Security Strategies consistently blame the wars of the 20th Century on a lack of interdependence. This, in turn, perpetuates the belief that a large superpower, beholden to no one for its prosperity, is a threat. We then arrive at the current approach America and its Western comrades take toward Russia.

Anakonda16Even if the current hypothesis of Russia is valid – an independent superpower posing a threat to world stability – the approach of conducting paltry military demonstrations under the assumption a coalition of Eastern European nations will intimidate Russia is nonsensical. First of all, the idea of a conventional war in Eastern Europe where tactical nuclear weapons would, undoubtedly, be used, negates the reality of conventional forces being decisive on a contaminated battlefield. Therefore, a limited war, where Russia and an America-led coalition parlay attacks within non-nuclear-contaminated areas inside Eastern Europe would be the result. This would wreck Europe’s economy and environment for a lifetime, and possibly lead to a decade-long war that would further plunge America into unsustainable currency-based debt. This, in turn, would lead to even more interventions around the world, further redefining America’s very existence along lines of constant war.

The winner in this scenario would obviously be Russia, which would use this conflict as justification to seize all the resources it wants, and then trade with other nations hostile to the West to expand its own economy. This would be accomplished, all while teething its 2008 reformed Army on American and Eastern European forces. The loser would be America and the West, who would be paying the butcher’s bill in blood and treasure to thwart a hypothesis of instability that they themselves reaped.

America could, perhaps, swing a victory if it were able to provide unparalleled tactical supremacy and eliminate Russia’s ability to maneuver anywhere in Eastern Europe. This would be a valid assumption in the pre-Obama Department of Defense, where America maintained a much more disciplined and well-trained ground force. However, as it stands today, the U.S. Military is strife with issues that would make such a campaign, requiring a level of disciplined endurance and combat losses, largely unsuccessful. The casualty rates in a war with Russia over Eastern Europe would dwarf those experienced by the American Army in Iraq, where some Brigades lost as many as 90 Soldiers killed and over 200 wounded. This was enough to require two years of retraining and reconstitution, based on the American Army’s attitude toward casualties.

There is no doubt that Russia fully understands this. It observes American military and naval demonstrations as learning opportunities which only make their military stronger.

The approach of conducting paltry military demonstrations under the assumption a coalition of Eastern European nations will intimidate Russia is nonsensical

The 2008 Serdyukov reforms of the Russian Army ended the 20th Century mentality of a massively mobilized horde of conscripts. These changes reshaped the Russian Army into an idealized version of what the American Army aims to be. First of all, the Russian Army has become much more streamlined in terms of mission command than its Soviet predecessor. It may even exercise mission command more effectively than the American Army. In the Russian Army, their 40 maneuver brigades, combined with dozens of Artillery, Air Defense, and Logistical brigades, answer directly to an Army Headquarters which answers to the Military District Headquarters it belongs too. While this has more moving elements under a single command than an American force would have, it inspires decentralization, and ensures a quicker decision-making time from the strategic level to the tactical one.

From my combat experience, I can speak to the fact that an American military force is far more complex. It’s ad hoc, a “Joint Task Force,” of many different elements of Air Force, Navy and Army which have likely never worked together and form under a full-time headquarters that assumes control only on operations. Each element of a Joint Task Force has to answer, administratively, to its parent headquarters and, operationally, to its assigned headquarters, creating two separate masters.

What the U.S. military actually wields is cutting-edge technology based on space and air capability, and about a third of each of its 10 divisions (one Brigade) are kept deployment-ready, based on a rotational cycle of training, refit, and deployment. There are massive formations of National Guard and Reserve, but these are ad hoc in nature. Of these forces, the percentage that is actually combat-ready and deployable is miniscule.

To be fair, the Russian Army may have its own internal issues as well. Yet in this future fantasy war they would be fighting in their own backyard, dependent upon no other country for support. American forces would be far from home, dependent upon a complex myriad of host nations’ support to keep their ground and air lines of communication functional.

Assessing all of the above leaves us with an unsettling conclusion: a future limited war over Eastern Europe would be fought with American forces in their current state of readiness—which are largely off balance. Costly exercises on Russia’s doorstep only serve to make this all the more apparent.

Joseph Labarbera, Lima Charlie News

Joseph Labarbera (USMC, U.S. Army) served as Command Inspector General at Ft. Irwin, California. Joe served 54 months combined OEF/OIF, with 46 months of combat in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division throughout Afghanistan and Iraq.

#LimaCharlie #LimaCharlieNews

Immortal Regiment In the Big Apple

Who needs these wars?


New York, New York – Lima Charlie News
The ‪Immortal Regiment‬ is an international public rally held annually in May to commemorate veterans of ‪World War II. ‬The marches began in the Siberian city of Tomsk, Russia in 2012, where people were debating how to keep the memory of World War II heroes alive, even as the veterans themselves passed on. They asked people to create large posters with photos of their relatives who had served in the war, and carry them in Victory Day parades. The march follows Russia’s annual Victory Day parade, marking the anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. Today marches fill the streets of every Russian city and have since spread to over a dozen other countries, including nine U.S. cities this year. Immortal Regiment marches first found their way to New York City in 2015 amidst a growing Russian population.

Story: Elena Mavrina
Supervising Producer: Anthony A. LoPresti
Editor / Producer: Elena Mavrina
Camera / Director of Photography: Elena Mavrina /Anthony A. LoPresti
Research: Nikita L. Roach

(c) 2016 Lima Charlie Media

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ISIS’ Weapon of Mass Destruction: Water

ISIS' Weapon of Mass Destruction: Water

Report about the Tabqa Dam and the battle to retake Raqqa from the ISIS stranglehold.

Monday June 7th, 1222 ZULU +1

As the Kurdish and Iraqi offensive towards Mosul is ongoing and ISIS is losing its foot hold in Fallujah, quickly falling back to escape advancing Iraqi troops, the Tabqa Dam (or al-Thawra), is back in the news. Some might remember that it made headlines earlier this year while ISIS held onto the crumbling Mosul Dam on the Tigris River, about 50km north of Mosul, Iraq. The international community warned of structural damage and neglect in maintenance of the dam, and that its collapse would send a wall of 11 billion cubic meters of water crashing toward Iraq’s second biggest city. An immediate response was called upon.

ISIS has threatened to blow the Tabqa Dam

The Tabqa Dam, in the Ar-Raqqah province of Syria, fell to the Free Syrian Army affiliated Uwais al-Qarni Brigade on 11 February 2013, along with the village of Al Thawrah near the dam. A few months later a temporary ceasefire agreement was negotiated allowing the Syrian Government to send engineering crews to repair the dam to avoid further damage. Since then the Free Syrian Army has all but disintegrated in anything but name only, and the Uwais al-Qarni Brigade has largely joined forces, or been pushed aside, by ISIS militia.

Syria Map - Tabqa Dam

The Tabqa Dam, roughly three miles long and climbing up to 200 feet, is a mere 25 miles from the currently contested battlegrounds of Raqa’a, and the dam has become a stronghold for ISIS in the region. ISIS has reportedly been using it as a prison and as a base of operations that neither the Russian nor Syrian government is willing to attack by air out of fear it would devastate the region, possibly flooding the area and killing tens of thousands. And that is exactly the gambit ISIS is using it for.

As ISIS has been forced to retreat on multiple fronts, their hold on the dam is stronger than ever, and the threat is not only real but outspoken. “Attack the dam, and we will destroy it,” thus flooding and killing all in the valley.

By controlling the dam, ISIS controls the majority of water supplies in the area as well, which in turn means they can control farmers, villages, and the overall progression of the war, unless their oppositions logistics is up to the task.

An unnamed Israeli IDF colonel once said in regards to the Sinai campaign during the 6 Day War, “Napoleon is known to have said that an Army marches on its stomach; that may be true for Europe – but here in the Middle East an army marches on its water. The Egyptians (and the others) did not see that – and so our soldiers were always prepared even when outnumbered.” In fact, ISIS is now using the dam as a primitive form of a weapon of mass destruction. By their actions, not only can ISIS ensure a comfortable level of imposed control on civilians, they can leverage the very destruction of these civilians if the war continues to turn against them.

John Sjoholm, Lima Charlie News

John Sjoholm is Lima Charlie’s Middle East Bureau Chief, and founder of the consulting organization Erudite Group. He is a seasoned Middle East connoisseur, with a past in the Swedish Army’s Special Forces branch and the Security Contracting industry. He studied religion and languages in Sana’a, Yemen, and Cairo, Egypt. He lived and operated extensively in the Middle East between 2005-2012 as part of regional stabilizing projects, and currently resides in Jordan. Follow John on Twitter @JohnSjoholmLC

Lima Charlie provides global news, insight & analysis by military veterans and service members Worldwide.

For up-to-date news, please follow us on twitter at @LimaCharlieNews


Reports as of SUNDAY 1520 ZULU+1 state that ‪#‎Syrian Armed Forces (‪#‎SAA) along with ‪#‎Russian Special Forces have reached and encircled the‪#‎Tabqa military airport, which is currently under control by ‪#‎ISIS. Earlier today the coalition ground units captured the ‪#‎Sfaiyah gas fields from #ISIS and that they have dispatched units to begin to retake the #Tabqadam some 8km away from the Airbase.

The Tabqa Airbase and Airfield has been under near constant attack by Syrian (‪#‎SAF) and Russian Air Force for the past two days, with the Russian ground and air troops “pounding” the base with rockets according to accounts. Two days ago, the #SAF attacked a “massive” #ISIS convoys coming to the Airbase with men and resupplies, and the Syrian Government reports that there were hundreds of ISIS fighters killed in the air to ground attack.

Lima Charlie’s MENA News Briefing – 6th June

6th of June – ‪‎LimaCharlie’s ‪#MENA Weekly News Briefing:

As the month of #Ramadan begins, the battle for #Aleppo has reached new heights. The reported civilian death toll in Aleppo in the past week is in the high double digits, and there is little end in sight. Reports indicate that #Russian and #Syrian Air Force have been conducting aggressive close air support missions to aid the advancements of the Syrian Government supported Militia and Defense Forces.

The Russian Air Force’s escalation against Jabhat al-Nusra and allied groups signifies a break from the stated intent of Russian High Command in Moscow to begin a pause in air campaigns to allow allied armed groups to distance themselves, and to engage the groups on their own terms.

Reports indicate that the Russian lead proposed rewrite of the Syrian constitution is coming to an end and its contents will be announced to the public soon. Fear from Syrian Baath loyalists is that the Russian proposal will include a severely diminished power base for the Baath party in Syria to appease the base opposition.

Syrian troops on Saturday reached the edge of the northern province of Raqqa, home to the de facto capital of Islamic State militant group’s self-styled caliphate, in a push that leaves the extremists fighting fierce battles on four fronts in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

Iraqi Forces keeps pushing to secure the entirety of Fallujah in the Anbar province in an offensive that has now been going on for over 2 weeks. According to official sources, the Iraqi Forces are about to announce the conclusion of the securing of the southern edge of Fallujah. Fallujah has been the stronghold for #ISIS since ISIS’s offensive in Iraq began. ISIS is reportedly trying to hold off the assault with suicide and car bombings, and the military forces have said they will likely pause before striking Fallujah’s center to give the estimated 50,000 trapped civilians a chance to escape. Further on, reports say at least 130 Iraqi soldiers have been killed in a series of attacks by ISIS near #Fallujah. The first attack happened at dawn on Wednesday when 10 suicide bombers belonging to ISIL, also known as ISIS, hit the town of Kubaisah before storming the nearby village of Al Sejar, and then attacked an army convoy to the south of Fallujah at Amiriyat al-Fallujah with roadside bombs, military sources told Al Jazeera.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (#UNAMI) estimated that a total of 867 Iraqis were killed in violence in the month of May, 468 of them civilians.

#Kurdish troops offensive to retake Mosul has been at a stand still where both the #Peshmerga and ISIS have entrenched themselves in fixed positions. Saturday ISIS reportedly did a counter-offensive move in a twin multi-pronged assault. The Kurdish units were able to repulse the attack, and reportedly the ISIS casualty numbers were severe. Last Monday the Peshmerga launched a major offense against ISIS on the Khazir front, southeast of Mosul. Some 140 extremists were killed, 2 surrendered to the Peshmerga and nine villages were liberated. Also, 4 Peshmerga were killed and 34 others wounded, said the Peshmerga commander of the Khazir front.

The Kurdish offensive on Mosul has shown cracks in the fragile alliance between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Military. Reportedly neither side trusts that the other side will fight alongside or stand against ISIS if a large scale counter offensive were to happen. The politics that both sides represent are also at odds with one and other, the Iraqi Military representing a united Iraq, and the Kurdish one representing a divide that would enable a Kurdish state to emerge.

#Turkish Air Force attacked a Kurdish military convoy traveling on one of the main paths, and a Kurdish military installations, in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey on Sunday. The attack reportedly netted 27 Kurdish fighters the Turkish Military Spokesperson said.

#SaudiArabia’s Council for Economic and Development Affairs (#CEDA) has announced the completion of the national transformation plan overseen by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and will pass it to the cabinet on Monday for approval, a senior Saudi source said. “The Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) has approved the final draft of the National Transformation Plan, which is one of the plans adopted and part of the 2030 vision which was launched and adopted by the Saudi deputy crown prince, president of CEDA,” the source said. The Saudi central bank has told banks it is banning the use of options and other derivatives to speculate against the riyal, in a new effort to reduce pressure on its currency peg, a senior executive at a Saudi bank told Reuters on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia’s recently created Public Investment Fund, which is nationally funded by the Saudi Government and is part of the government’s economic reform program with $100bn in illiquid assets, has invested $3.5 billion US Dollars into #Uber. The investment announcement occurred this past Tuesday.

#Iran – Turkish energy company #UnitInternational has announced a $4.2bn deal with Iran’s energy ministry to build seven natural gas power plants there on Saturday, in what it said was the biggest investment in Iran since the lifting of sanctions.

The Iranian Supreme Cyberspace Council: Foreign messaging services must hand over their data. The Supreme Cyberspace Council, the highest state body in Iran tasked with developing and coordinating cyber policy, decreed that all foreign messaging services must store their data on Iranian users in servers located inside the country. This move would facilitate state monitoring and censorship of popular messaging services, such as Telegram, that the Iranian regime has sought to block in the past.

#Qatar Airways has canceled the order for its first A320neo jetliner from Airbus Group SE in the clearest sign yet that supplier bottlenecks are undermining commitments the European plane maker has made to customers. At the same time, Qantas Airways Ltd. has announced its intent to expand U.S. services with the introduction of new Boeing Co. long-range planes to bolster its budding partnership with American Airlines Group Inc.

The bodies of 133 migrants have washed up on the shore at the western #Libyan city of #Zuwara in recent days, the Red Crescent said on Sunday.

#Bahrain’s coastguard have arrested 8 men convicted or wanted on “terrorism” charges, as they tried to escape to Iran by speedboat, a Bahraini news agency reported on Sunday. Earlier in the week, Bahrain’s High Criminal Court has accused 24 Bahrainis of joining the ISIL terror group. 8 of the defendants were put on trial on Wednesday while the others were still at large, reported Gulf Daily News. Defense lawyer #AbdullaHashim, who represents five of the defendants, called for an acquittal and said his clients did not join ISIL. However, he said one of the defendants did fight alongside the Free Syrian Army in Syria.

#Jordanian Border Guards night killed two people who tried to illegally infiltrate into the Kingdom from Syria on Thursday, a military official at the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) said on Friday.

Last Monday saw a roadside attack on a Police transport in Northern Sinai which netted the life of 2 Egyptian Police officers. In response to the increasing turmoil in Sinai, Fuji has announced that they will be diminishing their deployed number of troops on Multinational Force and Observers (#MFO) peacekeeping missions. Egypt and the Kuwait fund for Arab Economic Development (#KFAED) signed on Tuesday the first agreement in a pledged series of projects for the development of Sinai, according to the international cooperation ministry’s website. The KFAED will loan Egypt $100 million to finance five water desalination plants in South Sinai. The loan will be repaid after five-year grace period for a 25-year duration at a yearly interest rate of 2 percent. The Kuwaiti fund had pledged in November 2015 $300 million annually over five years for developmental projects in #Egypt.

In 2015, several Arab funds pledged $1.5 billion to finance developmental projects in Sinai, including the #KFAED, the Abu Dhabi Fund, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development and the Islamic Development Fund.

Signals have been detected from the black boxes of #EgyptAir flight MS804, which crashed into the Mediterranean last month, the French aviation authority said on Wednesday.

#Somalian Sports radio journalist Sagal Salad Osman for State operated Radio Muqdishu was shot dead by unknown gunmen outside of Palasma University on the morning of Sunday. The United Nations Somalia office made a public statement 4 hours after the incident condemning the act, and stating that the “perpetrators must be apprehended.” Ms Sagal Salad Osman was one of the few female journalists in Somalia.

A total of 8 individuals, 3 of which are teenagers, have been arrested by the #Israel Defense Forces for working on the construction or security of #Hamas tunnels. Further on, on Thursday the Israeli military said a knife-wielding Palestinian woman was shot and killed as she tried to stab a soldier at a West Bank checkpoint. Over the last eight months, Palestinian attacks have killed 28 Israelis and two Americans. About 200 Palestinians have been killed during that time. Israel says most were attackers and the rest were killed in clashes with Israeli forces. The assaults were once near-daily incidents but they have become less frequent in recent weeks.

U.S. President Barack #Obama on Wednesday renewed a presidential waiver suspending the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for another six months. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 states the embassy must be relocated to Israel’s capital no later than 1999. However, all U.S. presidents have issued waivers at six-month intervals ever since.

#Afghan MP Sher Wali Wardak was injured in an explosion outside his house and died on the way to hospital, Afghan Government officials said. No group has so far admitted carrying out the attack. Separately, at least seven people were killed and more than 20 injured when Taliban gunmen, reportedly in police uniform, stormed a court in Puli Alam, capital of Logar province. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has pledged a tougher response to the Taliban after an attack in Kabul in April left 64 people dead.

#Oil prices stagnates. The price per barrel of oil has been fluctuating by about 2% up and down throughout the week. Last week we saw it hit $48.80, and today at the time of the publishing of this briefing it stands at $48.47.

We here at The Middle East Desk at #LimaCharlie wish everyone Ramadan Mubarak.

For up-to-date news from the Middle East, please join us on twitter at @LimaCharlieNews or @JohnSjoholmLC


John Sjoholm, Lima Charlie’s Middle East Bureau Chief

John Sjoholm is a seasoned Middle East specialist with a past in the Swedish Army’s Special Forces branch, and in the Private Military Contracting industry. He lived and operated extensively in the Middle East between 2005-2012 as part of regional stabilizing projects, and currently resides in Jordan.

Follow John on Twitter: @JohnSjoholmLC


#LimaCharlie #LimaCharlieNews #Iran #MENA #Ramadan #Aleppo #Russia #Syria #Jabhatal-Nusra #Raqqa #ISIS #Fallujah #UNAMI #Kurdish #Peshmerga #TurkishAirForce #SaudiArabia #CEDA #MohammedbinSalman
#Uber #Iran #UnitInternational #QatarAirways #Libya #Zuwara #Bahrain #AbdullaHashim #Jordan #MFO #KFAED #Egypt #EgyptAir #Somalia #IDF #Obama #Afghan #SherWaliWardak #Oil #MiddleEast #USStateDepartment #USDOS

Breaking: Iranian Reformer Released After 7 Years In Solitary

ZULU+1 2311/JUNE 03

Famous Iranian reformist politician, and senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Seyyed Mostafa Tajzadeh (Persian: سید مصطفی تاج‌زاده‎‎) was released today from the notorious Evin Prison after 7 years in solitary confinement. Mr. Tajzdadeh was briefly Acting Minister of Interior under the administration of President Mohammad Khatami after the impeachment of Abdollah Nouri, an advisor to President Mohammad Khatami in his last two years of administration, and a deputy at the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Culture. He was arrested as a result of his participation in the 2009 Iranian election protests, and convicted on the charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the regime”. He was sentenced to six years at the Evin Prison. In 2014, while still in prison, he faced new charges and was convicted of an additional 1 year in prison. He remains under a 10-year ban on political and press activities by Branch 15 of the Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court.

Mr Tajzadeh is also a member of Association of Iranian Journalists.

John Sjoholm, Lima Charlie’s Middle East Bureau Chief

John Sjoholm is a seasoned Middle East specialist with a past in the Swedish Army’s Special Forces branch, and in the Private Military Contracting industry. He lived and operated extensively in the Middle East between 2005-2012 as part of regional stabilizing projects, and currently resides in Jordan.
Follow John on Twitter: @JohnSjoholmLC


#LimaCharlie #LimaCharlieNews‬ #Iran #MENA #Tajzadeh
#MiddleEast‬ #USStateDepartment‬ #USDOS

Lima Charlie’s MENA News Briefing – 1st June

1st of June – ‪#‎LimaCharlie‬’s ‪#‎MENA‬ News Briefing:
Heavy fighting continues between the ‪#‎Kurdish‬ and ‪#‎IslamicState‬ fighters. The Iraqi Kurdish ‪#‎Peshmerga‬ forces in the early hours of the past Sunday launched an attack to dislodge Islamic State fighters from villages located about 20 km (13 miles) east of Mosul on the road to the regional capital, Erbil. U.S. Intelligence and Military sources describes the fighting as “heavy”, and that casualty figures are very high for all sides. Reuters correspondent, Hassan Shami, describes the battle as “Pick up trucks raced back from the frontline with wounded people in the back, and two of the U.S.-led coalition servicemen helped haul one man onto a stretcher. Gunfire and airstrikes could be heard at a distance, while Apache helicopters flew overhead. One of the villages, Mufti, was captured by mid-day, the Kurdistan Region Security Council said in a statement.”

At the time of the writing, the offensive is still going on – but at the present, the Kurdish forces have seemingly the upper hand. However, it is worth pointing out that historically, the ISIS forces have done poorly in responding to direct offenses by opposition forces, instead relying on falling back to safe ground only to circumvent the opposition by opening a rear front.

An estimated 5,500 Kurdish Peshmergas have taken part in the new offensive in northern Iraq, with the support of U.S. advisers and air support, that aims to retake a handful of villages from Islamic State east of their Mosul stronghold. The U.S. lead coalitions spokesperson, U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren, was quoted as saying that “U.S. and coalition forces are conducting advise and assist operations to help Kurdish Peshmerga forces”. He could not confirm nor deny if any U.S. Special Forces advisers were directly engaging in direct actions activities, stating that “They may be Americans, they may be Canadians or from other nationalities,” he said, when told that some forces were reported to be wearing maple leaf patches, the emblem of Canada.

The Iraqi army prepares to retake Fallujah. The Iraqi army has entered the city limits of Fallujah as part of an operation that started on May 23. Fallujah is presently a stronghold of the Islamic State, and is located 50 kilometers (32 miles) west of Baghdad, in central Iraq. The Iraqi army is backed by Shi’ite militias on the ground and airstrikes from the U.S.-led coalition. As the Iraqi army advance on Fallujah, the civilian population of the city is attempting to flee the city in the thousands. Hundreds have been detained by the Iraqi government under suspicion of having been part of the ISIS elements in the city.

Six Iraqi army and police personnel killed this past Thursday in an attack north of Baghdad, Major General Nadir al-Janabi told the Media during a press conference.The personnel were members of a joint force from both security branches, and were attacked by a sniper while searching a home in Basatin al-Tarmia district, located around 29 kilometers (18 miles) north of Baghdad. Sniper fire resulted in the death of a police captain and another policeman.

Turkey Foreign Minister accuses U.S. of being two-faced. The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the U.S. and the West, “Two-faced” for refusing to call the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia terrorists on Friday, reflecting Ankara’s growing irritation at Washington’s backing of the group in their fight against ISIS. Turkey launched an offensive earlier this year against YPG and other Kurdish military units that has resulted in over 5,000 casualties in both sides. Many of the reported casualties are civilians. Some of these Kurdish military units are at the present engaged in a large U.S. supported offensive to push ISIS forces back from their strongholds across North Iraq.

UN to Syria: This war is reprehensible. The United Nations humanitarian chief on Friday demanded that the Syrian government and militant groups stop interfering with the delivery of food and medicine for civilians trapped in besieged and difficult-to-reach areas in war-ravaged Syria. “The continued use of siege and starvation as a weapon of war is reprehensible,” UN Undersecretary General Stephen O’Brien told the 15-nation Security Council. “Based on the latest information, we now estimate that some 592,700 people are currently living in besieged areas,” he said, adding that most of those were surrounded by government forces. The five-year-old civil war in Syria has killed at least 250,000 people. Millions have been displaced and many of those are now refugees living abroad.

ISIS forces Doctors Without Borders to evacuate. ISIS is making gains near Syria’s border with Turkey, seizing a string of villages and trapping tens of thousands of civilians, according to the French aid/NGO organization Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF, and a Syrian monitoring group. ISIS offensive has forced the aid organization to evacuate key Syrian hospitals in the Azaz area. On Friday the aid organization announced the emergency evacuation of the Al Salamah hospital because of the ISIS offensive, leaving behind a basic team with a doctor and nurses.“We are terribly concerned about the fate of our hospital and our patients, and about the estimated 100,000 people trapped between the Turkish border and active front lines,” Pablo Marco, the aid group’s operations manager for the Middle East, said in a statement. Regional reports indicate that Syrian Government Air assets were deployed to help aid the emergency evacuation. “For some months, the front line has been around seven kilometers away from the hospital. Now it is only three kilometers from Al Salamah town. There is nowhere for people to flee to as the fighting gets closer.” Mr Marco of the MSF stated. A Syrian airstrike hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo in April, killing at least 50 people.

Riots in Syrian Prison. “A new riot started in the central Hama prison appearing to be more serious than the previous one as the prisoners were able to detain the director of the prison, the head of police in Hama city and nine policemen,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. This makes for the second time in under a month that the prison sees a riot. “The regime promised to release 491 detainees and now they are denying the amnesty agreement.” the spokesperson of the prisoners stated. This week, the prisoner release ground to a halt with the warden blaming the delay on Damascus authorities. Many detainees have also been rearrested shortly after leaving jail.

Humanitarian organization accuses Russia of massacres. Syrian humanitarian organizations calls for the international community to review “The Syrian Archive” data over Syrian Government and Russian Government attacks against strictly civilian targets. The call includes the claim that the Syrian Archive database contains video evidence of over “1560 attack against civilians by Russian troops during the Syrian Civil War”.

Over a hundred people killed in Yemen. At least a hundred people have been killed in the ongoing civil disorder in Yemen this past week. The fighting in Yemen saw a surge last week, and over a 72 hour period well over 80 people were reported killed in fighting in central Yemen between rebels and forces loyal to the internationally recognized government, Yemeni security officials said on Sunday, and updated on Wednesday morning. The government-allied forces said that 22 of their fighters were killed and 25 were injured.

Aden police forces arrested 7 accused Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) members, including one French national, in al Mansoura, Aden on May 29. These arrests come after a security push to discover and apprehend those responsible for the recent wave of high-casualty ISIS attacks in Aden, including a May 23 suicide bombing outside an army recruitment center that killed more than 25 people. Seven suspected members of an Jihadi Militant group, including a Frenchman,

al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula sees financial gains in the security vacuum. al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is thriving by joining diverse armed groups in taxing fuel delivered illicitly to remote beaches along the Arabian Sea coast, security, tribal and shipping sources say. Home to Yemen’s largest industrial project, a now-shut liquefied natural gas export facility at Belhaf, Shabwa is divided among al Qaeda, government troops loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Houthi forces and armed tribes. “There are five checkpoints in Shabwa between Bir Ali and Ataq leading to the (Houthi-controlled) interior … one by the army, one by a tribal militia and one by the acting governor. Al Qaeda maintains two at Azzan,” a local tribal leader said. Director of the Shabwa governor’s office, Muhsin al-Haj, defended the province’s role in the illegal trade when it is struggling to maintain security with limited outside help. “Shabwa is running on the most basic resources,” he told Reuters. “In a province of 42,000 sq km, we have just two security cars, and they’re not even armed.”

The White House blocks armory shipment to Saudi Arabia. The U.S. has placed a hold on further deliveries of the CBU-105 cluster bombs manufactured by the U.S.-based firm Textron Systems to Saudi Arabia after continuous complaints throughout the past two years by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that Saudi Arabia has dropped CBU-105 munitions in multiple locations around Yemen, including Al-Amar, Sanhan, Amran, and the Al-Hayma port. The cluster bomb type of weapons were banned in a 2008 international treaty that arms sales giants, including the United States and Russia, refused to sign. The United States concluded a contract for the manufacture of 1,300 CBU-105 weapons to Saudi Arabia in 2013. The total value of the deal is placed at roughly $1.3 billion US Dollars, including the shipments that have already been delivered.

Missiles fired against Saudi Arabia. al Houthi forces fired a ballistic missile toward Najran district in southern Saudi Arabia on May 30. Saudi air defense systems intercepted the missile. This is the second ballistic missile fired over the border since the official ceasefire began in April. The Saudi state news agency released a statement following the attack, stating that the Saudi-led coalition is rethinking its policy of “self-restraint” in response to cross-border attacks.

8 sentenced to death in Egyptian Court. An Egyptian military court sentenced 8 alleged Muslim Brotherhood members to death on terrorism charges on Sunday, a security official and the website of Egyptian state newspaper Al-Ahram said. The court issued life sentences to 12 defendants and sentenced another six to 15 years in prison. Two defendants were acquitted, and two were convicted in absentia. Rights group Amnesty International condemned the verdict, describing it as a “grossly unfair military trial” and demanding that the defendants receive a fair hearing before a civilian court.

Iran may be about to recall its Ambassador, Mr Saheed Kozechi, to Nigeria over an incident where the Nigerian military killed an unconfirmed, but believed to be in the hundreds, number of Shiites in the Nigerian city of Zaria in Kaduna state last December and the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (ISM), Sheik El-Zakzaky, wounded and detained since then.

Israeli forces detained at least 10 Palestinians during a Saturday to Sunday overnight raids in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on Saturday, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that Israeli forces raided the village of Beit Fajjar south of Bethlehem overnight, detaining Ahmad Yusif Taqatqa, 17, and Muhammad Mansour Thawabtah, 14. PPS also reported four detentions in the Ramallah-al-Bireh district, listing the detained as Ibrahim Diyaa, 25, Talha Abd al-Sattar Zibar, 26, Majid Faruq Hikmat, 22, and Zahir Huweij. Local sources stated that further detainments were carried out the city of al-Bireh adjacent to Ramallah in the central West Bank.

Oil prices declines. The past week saw the oil barrel valuation rise over $50 for the first time in seven months. Thursday last week marked the high point, with a peak of $50.21 on Thursday. By Friday it had fallen to $49.63, and by Wednesday we had seen the continued decline on the commodities trade market. At the present time, the price per barrel is at $48.42.

Lima Charlie, 1/06 1739 UTC/ZULU +1
Byline; John Sjoholm,

Lima Charlie’s Middle East Bureau Chief

Follow John on Twitter: @JohnSjoholmLC


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