sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Geopolitics - North Korea and China


Chilling relations between China and North Korea are becoming more evident. It's North Korea's game at this point and they can choose how it ends. 

The Korean People’s Army (KPA) celebrated its 85th anniversary today. Reuters reported that North Korean forces staged a massive live-fire artillery demonstration at a military base near Wonsan. The Party daily, Rodong Sinmun, reported, "There is no limit to the strike power of the People's Army, armed with our style of cutting-edge military equipment including various precision and miniaturized nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles." 

All open source news services reported that only conventional weapons systems participated in the display.

According to the Daily NK, North Koreans in the China border region were disappointed that China did not send a delegation to North Korea on Kim Il-sung’s birthday on 15 April. They interpreted that as a portent of difficult times ahead.

This is the first credible report that did not send a delegation to Pyongyang to honor Kim Il-sung. The Chinese Foreign Ministry press spokesperson has been asked on multiple occasions whether China sent a delegation to watch the North Korean military parade on the 15th. The spokesperson always replied that China and North Korea are friendly neighbors. The two sides always maintain friendly exchanges.

On 24 April, the spokesperson was asked whether China sent a delegation to watch the military parade. The spokesperson again replied that China and North Korea are friendly neighbors. The two sides always maintain friendly exchanges.

A Chinese official snub of Kim Il-sung’s birthday means that relations with North Korea are extremely strained. If the Chinese also boycotted the KPA anniversary, relations might be at an all-time low.

China Daily is an English language daily newspaper owned by the China Daily Information Company. The BBC describes it as state-owned, meaning that it carries official views. They published an editorial today on China’s assessment of the confrontation with North Korea. Excerpts follow:
“… the situation is still inflammable.” 
“For as the sanctions imposed by the United Nations begin to bite deeper, the possibility that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea might become reckless out of desperation has never been higher….” 
“Judging from their recent words and deeds, policymakers in Pyongyang have seriously misread the UN sanctions, which are aimed at its nuclear/missile provocations, not its system or leadership. They have unfairly misrepresented Beijing's role in the process, disregarding its preoccupation with peace, humanitarian concerns and non-interference in the DPRK's domestic affairs. And they have greatly underestimated the international community's-not just any individual stakeholder's political will to denuclearize the peninsula.” 
“They are at once perilously overestimating their own strength and underestimating the hazards they are brewing for themselves.” 
“They need to reassess the situation so they do not make any misjudgments.” 
“Likewise, Washington should continue to exercise restraint and pursue a peaceful resolution to the issue.” 
“There have already been enough shows of force and confrontation, it is time for Pyongyang and Washington to take a step back from their previous rhetoric and instead heed the voices of reason calling for peaceful denuclearization of the peninsula.”
The editorial praised the President Trump for using “impressive patience” after announcing the end of “strategic patience.” It also praised him for agreeing with “peace-minded China.” It said tension has eased, but the situation is still dangerous. (Don't expect the corrupt, lying, smug, elite mainstream media in the USA to report the praise.)

The editorial restated themes from an earlier Chinese commentary that the North Korean policymakers are misreading their situation and that they have overestimated their strength and underestimated their peril.

The message is that UN sanctions and Chinese enforcement actions are not directed at overthrowing the North Korean government and system. They are designed to persuade North Korea to halt specific programs that China opposes. 

Kim Jong Un personally identifies with the missile and nuclear programs. Chinese advice and wisdom probably are unwelcome and, thus far, unheeded. At the same time the Chinese are exerting more pressure during this confrontation – including sanctions enforcement and use of blunter, more critical language -- than in any past crisis.

Brief Summary

You can make of this what you will. This blog does not tell you how to think or what to think, but simply provides the information with a little analysis that may or may not be correct. I don't think that anyone can tell you how this will end. Doing that would require that we crawl into the muddy, mushy minds of the power elite who rule North Korea and into the mind of the fat, near-sighted Dear Leader, bad haircut and all.   

China likely has spies close to the throne. Their reaction tells us things that we may not have direct knowledge of. All that is disturbing.

China has repeated to the US that North Korea is their problem and that they will deal with it. President Trump said that North Korea is China's problem and that they should deal with it. China is praising President Trump for impressive patience and agreeing with China.

Things are coming to a head with the Norks.



Monday, April 24, 2017

Geopolitics - North Korea

Because of the general interest in North Korea that has been building for some time, I'll keep updating y'all on details. The mouse that roared is continuing to roar. It's what they do.

Kidnapping as a Signal

North Korea detained a Korean-American professor at Sunan international airport outside Pyongyang just before he was boarding an aircraft for China. The professor had just completed a month-long course at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. In my humble opinion, ANYONE who travels to North Korea essentially signs their own death warrant. If they come back out, they dodged a bullet. I don't think that the US should take extraordinary means to rescue/save them beyond the general humanitarian efforts that we always make to ease the suffering of US prisoners held by savage and uncivilized nations.

North Korea has not announced the arrest. The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which performs consular functions for the US, informed the press, but provided no information about the reason for the arrest.  Kidnapping is a tactic that the North Koreans sometimes use to invite talks with the US without appearing to be weak. However, President Trump is not his predecessors. Kidnapping may be something that the Norks like to use, but that is unlikely to bring the US to any sort of bargaining table during this administration.

Nuclear Weapon Test

North Korea has resumed activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Volleyball time has ended. The workers have placed more camouflage materials over trailers and equipment.

The imagery analysts at 38 North published an update of the status of the site based on the latest imagery. On 19 April, the site was judged to be in standby status. That has ended, though a volleyball court outline is still visible. The judgment still stands that the North Koreans can detonate a nuclear device at any time. 

North Korea issued more threats against the US and against the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. One threatened a "super mighty attack". The threats against the US are worth relating. The North Koreans have submarines that can be deployed against the carrier battle group. The carrier battle group also includes attack submarines that specialize in sinking enemy submarines.

The North's Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which serves as a liaison in inter-Korean affairs, issued a statement on Friday, 21 April. It warned that, "Anyone who threatens Pyongyang must be ready for South Korea to be turned into ashes, the sinking of the Japanese archipelago and nuclear hail to rain down on the US mainland.”

The North Koreans heavily rely on US press releases for locating US aircraft carriers beyond the Sea of Japan. They can be deceived and regularly miss US deployments that are made without accompanying press releases.

The anniversary of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) is 25 April. It is another occasion for a show of capabilities.

China-Russia

On 21 April, news services reported alerts and force movements by China and Russia towards the North Korean border.

Some units of the Chinese air force reportedly were placed on high alert. Specifically mentioned were Chinese bombers equipped with air launched cruise missiles. They reportedly conducted a major exercise in northeast China. China denied the aircraft alert.

Reports on Russian movements said that ground force units were moving to the North Korean border. The Russian government denied that it was reinforcing the border, but did not deny that troops moved into the border area. It said the troops were returning to base from deployments in other regions. 

The Russian border with North Korea is 17 kms long, just northeast of Sonbong. It is not an area where major Russian troop units can be concentrated. Vladivostok, however, is a major Russian port and military town. It is 170 miles northeast of the North Korean border.

This was an unusual convergence of reporting for nothing to be happening. Something North Korea did or was about to do seems to have got the attention of the Chinese and the Russians.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Really?

File this one under, "aren't you special!" (with a Southern, "bless your heart" thrown in for good measure)
Outraged Muslims are reportedly planning a May 1 demonstration at the Amazon headquarters in Seattle, Washington. The company is under fire after several Muslim security guards demanded time and space to pray five times a day, while on the job
The guards contend in a lawsuit filed this week that the subcontractor who employs them does not appropriately accommodate their faith and retaliates against those who speak out. 
There are a few things that stand out here. (1) Why would you want to hire a Muslim security guard? Think on that one for a while. (2) Can't they drop and pray at the lunch room? - The whole aloha snack bar thing seems appropriate in a place where people are nuking frozen burritos, slurping down vending machine coffee and pulling left-over spaghetti stuffed into tupperware out of the common refrigerator. (3) I'm sure that the broadcast of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer will offend somebody and we wouldn't want that, now, would we? (4) Why can't Amazon host a "draw Mohammed" competition? (5) Finally, there would be something terribly wrong going on if Muslims weren't outraged at something (a daily event for the religion of peace).

Amazon has dedicated prayer rooms for Mohammedans (note the linked article above) The Muzzies are mad because they don't have ENOUGH OF THEM. Amazon does not provide dedicated prayer rooms for Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Baptists, Mormons, Sikhs, Animists, Native Americans (sweat lodges), Pagans, Buddhists or Hindus - and a mini casino for the agnostics and atheists. I call that religious discrimination. 


Bullet Points


In Sweden and France, they're
Mohammedans
In the USA they're rich college kids.
Sunday Sermonette - The glories of the progressive agenda may be something that plays well with college professors and administrators, but it doesn't play well in Fly-Over-Country. You know, the place that elected Donald Trump to be President - and elected the legislature - and supported Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court.

I was at my grandson's flag football game yesterday and my daughter's mother-in-law was also there. She is reading Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign, and she may be the only person on the planet who dislikes Hillary more than I do. She gave the book high marks and is not surprised that Hillary spent good money to hire people to find out who leaked. The book paints Hillary Clinton as a nasty, mean, egotistical, shrewish, smug, lying, incompetent (bitch) candidate. No surprise there. We know that Bill wants nothing to do with her.

The surprise to Democrats was that America saw through the smoke screen, generated by the lying, smug, elitist mainstream media's white-wash of her.  Hillary out-spent President Trump well over two-to-one and felt that would be what she needed to win.

I can't recommend the book because I haven't read it yet, but if Nancy is enjoying reading how the authors are skewering Hillary, it's got to be good.

Chicago Homicide - numbers still lead the aggregate of Juarez and Tijuana, Mexico again this month in what has become a national disgrace. Anything from the elite mainstream media on the wholesale slaughter of black-on-black crime? Not a peep.

And while I'm discussing the media, you don't see any of their vaunted incisive reporting on Mohammedans engaging in female genital mutilation of pre-pubescent girls (I support the AHA foundation). The practice is SICK and the people doing it (often Islamic family members) need to be imprisoned at hard labor for life. When they die, bury a freshly killed pig in the grave with them. (The 8th Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment doesn't apply here because they're dead when you dump the freshly killed swine in the hole for the six foot drop to rest in peace next to them for all time.) And if you don't like my take on the situation, I offer you a heartfelt, aloha snack bar. I have no time for crimes against children. Public flogging is not enough (see suggested sentence, above).

The French Presidential Election - moves forward with the run-off today. The votes are not in as of this blog posting, but Le Pen stands a good chance of being in the final two. There are those who are upset that she has a philosophy that French people should come first in France and that France's interests are more important to French people than Europe's. If she should win, she proposes a FREXIT from the EU, following the British model. The EU leadership is a mixture of smug, pro-Islamists who wish to force France to accept more Mohammedan savages - not a good idea in a nation with at least documented 10,000 jihadis running around springing regular terrorist attacks and killing the innocent. The French should do what's right for them. The US elected President Trump to build a wall, drain the bureaucratic swamp and help make America great again. The Brits voted to leave the EU. Why should the French do otherwise?

Ann Coulter - pretty here
prettier in person
Has the World Gone Mad? - Bill Maher, a liberal whacko, is defending Ann Coulter, whose April 27 speech at Cal-Berkeley was canceled amid concerns of another attack by the Democrat Party faithful. She's showing up on April 27 anyway. It's a public school, funded at taxpayer expense. Free speech should be respected...should be.
Maher said this sort of thing goes on at campuses nationwide, calling it the liberals' version book burning. "They invite someone to speak whose not exactly what liberals want to hear and they want to shutter it," Maher said. "I feel like this is the liberal's version of book burning. And it's got to stop."
Bruce Jenner - is back in the news, having announced that he had his courting tackle removed. The 66 year old former Olympian is a lesbian. Tell me how that makes any sense and I'll buy you a (cheap) cigar. Jenner has a screw loose. He'll be on Fox News on Monday (Tucker Carlson show in Bill O'Reilly's old time slot) to discuss it. I have a feeling that I'll need to take a pass on that.

Benediction to the Sermonette: My take on Islam - may be different than you think it is. The peaceful exercise of religion is a protected activity in the US. Islam is a political system that masks itself as religious faith, thus the duality and the problem. I have no issue with Muslims who follow the law of the land, but we have seen time and time again where they set themselves above it. Wife beating, mutilating little girls, honor killing, etc. are barbaric and intolerable, savage practices embraced by Islam. They need to be prosecuted with extreme vigor* so that the savages can pack their $hit and flee back to the hell holes that they left if they can't live with that. The official stance of the USA should be "caution" when it comes to Islam - "tolerance with a BIG F-ing caveat".

*See suggestion above - imprisonment at hard labor for life. When death arrives, bury them with a freshly killed pig.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day

An Interesting Rant

Michelle Obama promoted "healthy"
school lunches that turned out to be
too foul for children to eat.
The Fox News website had an interesting piece on school nutrition. It seems that schools in the American South have banned grits. I'm not sure what a grit is. I've eaten them before, but not being from that part of the country, I don't eat them regularly. The Obama White House apparently banned them in schools along with biscuits and gravy. Naturally, as the article points out, biscuits should be made from buttermilk and Martha White Flour. 
The Obama administration also had a problem with traditional Southern buttermilk biscuits made from Martha White Flour. 
“Biscuits have to be 100 percent whole grain,” Ms. Dillard said. “It’s not the kind of biscuit you would see at a restaurant.” 
Nor is it the kind of biscuit you would see on your grandmother’s dining room table or a Wednesday night church supper. Why, no self-respecting Southerner would ever serve such an atrocity.
The people of Alabama are trying to restore the imbalance caused by the era of Obamanation and want both grits and genuine biscuits returned to the school menu. The Obama menu included the government sanctioned whole grain cathead biscuits but the kids just threw them in the trash...who wouldn't? I would think that the biscuits could be thrown by high school students, but if you hit somebody in the head with one, it could kill him. There's a lot of liability there.

What's Taught in School

Teachers in Great Britain must be insane. (Fox News) But I'm not going to say that it won't or isn't happening in the US, because our education system is twisted beyond all rationality at present. The British Teacher's Union wants to encourage sodomy as a lifestyle choice among daycare children.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) called on members this week at their annual conference in Wales to promote LGBTQ issues to children -- beginning in nursery school. NUT also urged ministers to make proposed sex and relationship education “inclusive” of lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues. 
“It is far better that children are provided with accurate information in the classroom rather than inaccurate information in the playground,” a NUT booklet on advice for teachers about LGBTQ equality and transgender issues said.
Happy Earth Day 

Predictions made around 1970 when the “green holy day” (aka Earth Day) started:

1. Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.

3. The day after the first Earth Day, the New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”

4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”

6. Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”

7. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” declared Denis Hayes, the chief organizer for Earth Day, in the Spring 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness.

8. Peter Gunter, a North Texas State University professor, wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

9. In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”

10. Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time that, “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”

11. Barry Commoner predicted that decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in America’s rivers, causing freshwater fish to suffocate.

12. Paul Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in 1970 that “air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during “smog disasters” in New York and Los Angeles.

13. Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out. (Note: According to the most recent CDC report, life expectancy in the US is 78.8 years).

14. Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.'”

15. Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.

16. Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look that, “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

17. In 1975, Paul Ehrlich predicted that “since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 years or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it.”

18. Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

Being a skeptic at settled science has some basis in reality. It's good to look at the past, even though the progressive thing to do is listen to your local Democratic Party apparatchik and take what they say as gospel.

Syria

US news sources reported that Syria has redeployed most of its operational combat aircraft near the Russian base of Khmeimim in northwestern Syria. The move is said to be a precaution to deter additional attacks by the US from destroying the Syrian air force.

The Syrian government denied the report. A spokesman said that some aircraft routinely moved to Khmeimim and others used it because of its proximity to terrorist targets.

Russian forces and the Russian government have been severely criticized for not shooting down any of the US cruise missiles used in the 7 April attack. When Russia deployed advanced air defense systems to Syria, military officials said that they were to help defend Syria from outside aggression. They later revised that mission statement, but Russian analysts commented that the US attack fell within the rules of engagement for any basic air defense mission.

Some writers suggested that the missiles were not used because they are not effective against US cruise missiles. They wrote that the government is doubly embarrassed by the US attack because it occurred and because it revealed the limits of the anti-missile system in which the Russian government has heavily invested.

The Russians are now under pressure to demonstrate the effectiveness of the air defense system. I don't think that they want the US to launch a cruise missile attack on Khmeimim Air Base to demonstrate its effectiveness (or lack thereof) all the same...

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Follies

Racial Self-Identification

I had lunch on Wednesday with a friend who is a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribal Council. The White Mountain Apache have a reservation in Arizona and the land that the White Wolf Mine is on, once belonged to the White Mountain Apache before the white soldiers came and stole it from 'us'. During lunch, I told him that I am self-identifying as a White Mountain Apache since race is fluidic. However, in the effort to remain on friendly terms, I wouldn't put a claim on federal (welfare) money due tribal members, and didn't intend to build a casino. 

He looked at me as if I'd just eaten a raw bass. I went on to explain that I would, however, claim the tribal right to hunt big game on Indian land whenever I felt like it (a tribal perquisite). 

He thought that I was joking, but I "educated him" (but he wasn't buying the BS) that since white men and women can claim negro status if it advances their personal agendas, and Elizabeth Warren, a senator, can claim to be an Indian in order to make $330,000 to teach one class at Harvard, it's only right that the tribe recognize me as a member in those moments when I want to go hunting. When I'm not hunting, I can remain an evil white man, occupying what once belonged to the Apache. 

The discussion wound around with some harsh words for Senator Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren (D-MA) from the Chief. It would be interesting to see Senator Warren come to the White Mountain, San Carlos or Ft. Apache reservations in Arizona. Her welcome would be one for the ages and we'd want to insure that there were plenty of cameras present to record her homecoming, the scalping, being stretched over an anthill, massacre of her bodyguards, etc. 

I'll cut to the chase. I can go hunting as his guest on Indian land, (Whatever game I kill will be left on the rez. to feed people in need. I'm fine with that.) but the White Mountain Apache don't recognize gender or racial fluidity. How can this be? (I hear you scream) Arn't Indians down for the progressive movement. I thought that after the Sioux and Standing Rock that they embraced the "new racial paradigm". Apparently not on the rez. 

Politics - Free Advice to the Donkeys


The Democrat Party is still slugging it out by trying to out-nasty itself in the hopes that swing voters will be swayed by the filth and invective. They need to put somebody in charge who is from outside of their inner circles and who is a decent human being if they want to reach the America that is represented on the map. It would also help to put the love of sexual perversion on hold while doing this. The Dems don't even have to bring it up. Simply by being decent human beings, they might recover some of their lost empire.

The amazing thing is that it doesn't seem to have occurred to any ranking Dems. Nastier is better has become their mantra. And if you think that they were upset with having Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch take the bench at the Supreme Court, they're REALLY not going to like it when President Trump appoints the next round. They're pinning their hopes on taking back the US Senate in 2018, and hoping that Justice Ginzburg and Justice Beyer can hold out that long. Justice Kennedy will almost surely step down this summer offering President Trump another nominee.

The Politics of Tampons

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is rolling out a new pilot program to provide free menstrual products in several of its campus bathrooms — including some men’s restrooms.

The public university will offer the women’s hygiene products in three campus buildings. In two of them, Helen C. White and Sterling halls, the products will be available in all of the women’s restrooms, said Steve Wagner, a spokesman for the school, in an email to The College Fix.

But in a third venue, the Red Gym, the products will be available in all of the building’s bathrooms, he said. Wagner said: “Menstrual products will be available in all of the bathrooms of the Red Gym so that they are available to any student who might need them.”

It appears the products are needed in men’s bathrooms to benefit transgender males (biological women who identify as male).

The three-level Red Gym houses the institution’s Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Campus Center, the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiative, Multicultural Student Center and a variety of other student and academic programs and divisions, according to its website.

United Airlines - the Beating Continues

...and they deserve it.




Thursday, April 20, 2017

What about Mali?

Islam on the move in Mali

French news services reported on 19 April that a wave of attacks and clashes with Islamic extremists is taking place.

Drapeau du Mali
On 18 April, French and Malian armed forces killed at least a dozen Islamic extremists who attacked an army camp in northern Mali, killing at least four soldiers and wounding another, according to a statement by the French Operation Barkhane.

The attack on the army camp in Gourma-Rharous, about 120km east of Timbuktu, also destroyed a half-dozen vehicles. French air forces, alerted by Mali's army, responded as the assailants fled in two pick-ups, according to the Operation Barkhane statement.

In a second action on 19 April, the recently formed extremist group Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen claimed responsibility for an attack on Malian forces in Tagharost, about 150km south of Timbuktu. 

French Foreign Legion troops in Mali
Also on the 19th, a United Nations peacekeeping mission vehicle was escorting a logistics convoy when it hit a land mine about 30km south of Tessalit in the Kidal region, the UN mission said. Two peacekeepers and one civilian were wounded, it said.

The Mali-based al-Qaeda affiliate Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen claimed responsibility for the attack and for another one on UN forces in the Kidal region. The extremist group said it destroyed two UN vehicles on the road between Aguelhok and Tessalit on Monday and hit the same convoy on Tuesday.

Security developments in Mali have not been front page news lately, but the terrorist and militant threat remains serious enough to tie down some French forces, four years after the French completed their operations against the Touaregs and al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. 

Islamic Consolidation

The surge in the past four days appears directly related to a merger of extremist groups. French media reported that Ansar Dine, Al-Mourabitoun and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in March declared they had merged into Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, which translates as, The Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims. The is the group that claimed responsibility for the recent attacks, as noted above.

Clashes and attacks in Mali pose no direct threat to important US interests. Nevertheless, the fight in Mali reveals the tenacity and resilience of the Islamic extremist groups. They have been suppressed heavily at least twice, including during US-supported French operations in 2013. The go to ground for a time; regroup; rearm; recruit and return to battle.

It's about Freedom...and uranium

The French-backed operations in Mali prevent the Islamic extremists from acquiring a secure base of operations, as they had in Yemen and Libya. They also keep the zealots from executing southern Mali Christians and animists by the hundreds.

AND...80% of the domestic power production in France is derived from nuclear plants.The French Uranium mining consortium was unable to come to an agreement to continue mining in Niger. At the moment, Mali is home to their only supply of uranium.  Once the uranium supply in Niger is re-established, the back-up supply in Mali will become less critical, but France still needs it.

Air Base 201
The US provides air support for French ground operations from its base at Agadez, Niger. The AFRICOM support hub (Air Base 201) was constructed at a cost of $100 million. The US dumped another $437 million Millennium Cha‎llenge Corporation Compact money into Niger in the form of financial support (a bribe) to keep AFRICOM's role in Forces Armées Nigériennes (FAN) both vibrant and "loving".

With half a billion dumped into Niger during the final years of Obamanation, the US remains poised to strike locations in neighboring Mali as required to aid our French (NATO) allies.

Secret US forces in Niger could have responded to the crisis at the US Embassy, Benghazi, Libya in 2012 with air support (it didn't just have to come from Italy), but utilizing those assets would have disclosed the now open secret.