sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, November 25, 2016

Wars and Rumors

Limiting Coal Exports

Fat Little Dictator
The United States and China have agreed on new UN sanctions to impose on North Korea in response to the nuclear test it conducted in September. According to a diplomatic source, a key provision of the new sanctions is that the US and China have agreed to cap North Korean coal exports to China. Coal exports to China earn hard currency which the North Korean regime uses to finance its nuclear and missile programs.

The new sanctions are intended to close loop holes in the existing sanctions architecture, one of which was coal exports. Coal exports for civilian uses are permitted, but not for earnings to support the nuclear program. Heretofore, coal exports have been unrestricted.

The Chinese are as good as their word in supporting multilateral sanctions on the North’s nuclear program. China opposes the North Korean nuclear weapons program because Chinese leaders consider it to be destabilizing. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is testy and impulsive. North Korean nuclear weapons also can be turned against China as easily as towards South Korea.

So long as Kim relies on advice from Dennis Rodman on matters of life, love and leadership, who knows what those lovable Norks will do?

Kashmir and General Escalation

On 22 November, three Indian Army soldiers on patrol in the Machil sector of Kupwara District were killed by infiltrators from Pakistan. The infiltrators decapitated one of the Indian soldiers. The Indian Army said that the action “bore the signature of the Pakistan Army’s Border Action Team.” Three weeks ago, members of this team infiltrated across the Line of Control and beheaded an Indian soldier.

The actions by the Pakistani Border Action Team appear to be responses to India’s surgical strikes into Pakistani Kashmir in September. The Indian artillery barrage resets the cycle of escalation. There will be more attacks. Decapitation and mutilation of Indian soldiers are fairly recent additions to the practices of the Pakistani commandos, possibly borrowed from the Islamic State. They are deliberately intended to heighten Indian hostility.

Indian outrage is nationwide and the Indian Army vowed retribution. On 23 November, the Indians executed a large-scale artillery barrage against lines of communication in the Neelum Valley which leads to Muzaffarabad. 

The tone of Pakistani commentaries about Kashmir is increasingly inflammatory. At least three Pakistani comments on 23 November called for war against India. The reasons for Pakistani baiting of India over Kashmir at this time are still not clear, but the two states are moving slowly, but steadily on a path towards general war. 

Turkish Armor vs US Backed Kurds

Kurdish-led fighters of the Manbij Military Council (MMC), which is associated with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), destroyed three Turkish army tanks in clashes on 23 November on the outskirts of Manbij.

The MMC-SDF fighters targeted the tanks of the "Turkish occupation forces" in intense fighting that has been taking place between the villages of Beshamel and Dam al-Jab in the Manbij area, the SDF website said. The SDF forces said that fighting had been ongoing for two days "after Turkish troops targeted MMC-SDF positions from the air and on the ground." 

On 22 November Turkish President Erdogan said that Manbij would be the next target of Turkish-backed forces after they captured al Bab. Erdogan was dissembling on all issues. The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army has not captured al Bab, but fighting already has increased on the outskirts of Manbij which remains under the control of the SDF. 

The Turkish Altay Tank, designed and developed by Otokar,
a subsidiary of 
KoƧ Holding, for the Turkish Army and
export markets.
The Turkish Army’s armor contingent is now leading the fight at Manbij. That is moderately good news for the Syrian Kurds because they have destroyed more than a battalion of Turkish main battle tanks since August and just added three more to their tally. 

Note to Turkey: The US-made Javelin anti-tank missile is combat effective against your Altay (Turkish made), and Leopard 2 (German made) tanks. Teaching the Kurds a lesson has not come cheap to the Turkish tankers.

Both the Israeli-made Spike Missiles and the Javelins have been used against the Turks. Being cooked inside a tank by a missile made in Tel Aviv is a particular insult to the Muslim Turks, but not one that bothers the Kurds.

A FARC Peace Agreement?

The (communist) People's Army of Colombia or Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) has been engaged in talks with the Colombian government over the details of a peace agreement. The chief complaint of the opposition to the peace deal is that the FARC face no consequences — punishment -- for decades of murders and crimes. Instead they are being rewarded with amnesty and political inclusion. Even FARC members convicted of crimes will have them excused.

Colombian voters rejected a peace treaty with the FARC rebels in a national referendum in October. Since then, President Santos has renegotiated the peace agreement and intends to submit it to Congress for approval, instead of trusting the voters. Santos signed the new agreement on 24 November. Santos is practicing voter nullification in refusing to accept the referendum outcome. His efforts are likely to fail.


15 comments:

  1. I feel the same way about FARC as I do about the Clintons. No Forgiveness, No Peace.

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    1. Farc has rained blood and horror down on Colombia. The blood of their victims cries from the ground. Kissing that off for amnesty doesn't smack of justice.

      Not unlike the Clintons.

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  2. Agree with Sig94. And the Paki/Indian situation IS getting near the boiling point, which is NOT good...

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    1. Do you have any predictions on how President Trump would respond to a general (and likely nuclear) war between India and Pakistan?

      India will roll up Pakistan in short order unless Pakistan uses Nuclear weapons...and then an Indian nuclear response would be wicked.

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  3. Nork Coal- Money is fungible. How will the agreement ensure the proceeds from nork coal go to "civilian" uses? It's just like "relief" supplies"- even if the supplies DO go to humanitarian causes (yeah, I have this bridge to sell also),it just frees up other money for less agreeable things.

    Why would the Indians bother with less than a full nuke attack if they go after Pakistan for real? It would be a sure thing Pakistan will respond with nukes if the situation is perceived as an existential threat, and just give them a free first use.

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    1. Coal - The Chinese want to pinch the Norks without starving them. When it comes to nuclear adventurism, they have the same goals that everyone else does (presumably). That's historically been the case and the move is intended to send a message to Kim. If Kim doesn't hear it, they'll buy even less coal. The Norks need to buy food to keep the country going because they can't grow enough to feed the population. My sense is that the coal shipments are offset by shipments of grain and other foodstuffs.

      I doubt that the Indians will start the war. They will respond to the Paks. India has a large enough conventional army not to need nuclear weapons as a war-winner. In order for Pakistan to achieve parity on the battlefield, it must use nuclear weapons. And once the genie is out of the bottle, I'm confident that India will end the war. India is known to have two or three times the nuclear weapons that Pakistan does. The wild card in this equation is China, which built a large road across Pakistan recently to reach the Indian Ocean. Whether China would consider itself to have a horse in the race is something that I don't know.

      In the past, China helped Pakistan develop its nuclear weapons capability and sold it missiles, BUT taking part in a nuclear shooting war against India would not be helpful to China's long term goals.

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    2. Two decades ago I advised an Indian military think tank and am familiar with their (and the Pakistani) mindset. Neither side is averse to war.

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  4. Hopefully Trump is enough of a pragmatist to let India and Pakistan sort out their issues with no interference from us. Will make supplying our people in Afghanistan difficult at first but Pakistan isn't a reliable ally anyway.

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    1. WSF - Another and related question is, "Why are we in Afghanistan?" I understand why were were there post 911, but can anyone articulate a cogent reason for us spending American lives there at this point?

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    2. Inertia, vested interests, and avoidance of taking responsibility.

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  5. I am hoping that Trump will help the Kurds more. It would be nice if they could be given a little part of Syria, but I imagine neither the Turks nor the Syrians would allow that.

    For some reason, when Kim Jong Un first came to power, I had some idea that he might be more reasonable. But that is obviously not the case.

    Ah well. Thank you, again, for the updates.

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    1. The Kurds have more of a chip in the big game than they've had for a very long time. I'm hopeful that they can translate it into a Kurdish homeland that they can defend and truly call their own. Which is precisely what the Turks don't want to see.

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  6. Thanks for the briefing. Note how Megynne Kelley didn't cover this unimportant "news."

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    1. Nobody covers the news anymore. It's all yellow journalism as the networks try to make the news rather than report on it.

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