sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Red Units, and other Geopolitical Stuff

I would like somebody to explain to me why the US remains in Afghanistan in such a way that it makes one lick of sense. Yes, I know that it will fall to radical Muslims as soon as we stop spending billions to prop up a corrupt (puppet) government and withdraw our army. I have a history with this place as do many other Americans. And I know that  inside every Afghan there is NOT an American screaming to get out.

What is our end-game? 
Why is Afghanistan worth one more American life?
Why is Afghanistan worth one more American dollar?

In addition to my history with Afghanistan, I have a son-in-law who pulls a 100% military disability pension from his service to our nation in that country. He's doing fine now, for the record. He's making it. But for him and for so many others who have left pieces of themselves behind in foreign lands, there is that enduring question of whether or not it was worth such a costly sacrifice.
Can somebody give me an updated count on post-military service service suicides? I've lost frigging count. The number is staggering.
The News: Afghan Taliban special operations forces, known as Sara Khitta or Red Unit/Group, conducted “rolling attacks” on 15 police checkpoints in Kandahar during the night of 13/14 November. The attack in Farah Province on the night of the 13th also was a Red Unit operation that killed nine, vice eight, policemen. 

The official death toll in Kandahar was 23 policemen killed and 16 wounded. However, local officials said that 70 policemen were killed in 36 hours.

Afghan sources said the Red Groups wear helmets with Russian night vision goggles attached. They have telescopic sights with laser target pointers and use US automatic rifles. Afghan sources said the equipment mix indicates outside sources of supply including Russian, Iran and Pakistan.

Context: The Taliban have created a force capable of much more effective night operations. The attacks this week appear to be the first of their type, although Red Units have been mentioned in reports since 2015.

Since mid-2015, various sources reported that the Taliban were forming and training new units modeled on their understanding of US special forces. They also were experimenting with new tactics.

In August 2016, Red Units participated in attacks in repeated attempts to capture Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province. They were used mainly as extra muscle in the attacks. 

Open sources said those Red Units were equipped with US automatic rifles with night-vision scopes and laser pointers. At that time, they supposedly numbered 300 members. They wore no distinguishing clothing or identifiers.

Dedicated Taliban fighters with better rifles and scopes are not major innovations. However, night vision goggles and different tactics are significant. These two features combine to represent an escalation of the terror threat to local security personnel.

All the sources state that the night vision goggles and helmets are Russian. No open sources identified the source of supply. Night vision goggles increase the vulnerability of Afghan police posts, which usually close during the night. The only Afghan units that have night vision equipment are the Afghan special operations forces. No Afghan police personnel have them, which means they can be killed in their sleep. That is what happened in Kandahar and in Farah.

The second new feature is the rolling attack tactic, hitting multiple checkpoints in succession to kill as many policemen as possible. The attackers overran police posts, but did not stay. 

A third point is not new, but is relevant. They coordinated attacks in separate provinces in cities more than 200 miles apart. If the police become afraid for their personal safety at night, the government presence at the district level will gradually collapse, which is why they're doing it.

Kurdistan Update

Iraqi Kurdish authorities said on 14 November that they would accept a court decision prohibiting the region from seceding.

On 5 November, the Federal Supreme Court ruled, “The Republic of Iraq is a federal, independent and fully sovereign state in which the system of government is parliamentary and democratic republic, and this Constitution is a guarantor of the unity of Iraq.” 
The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) statement said, “We believe that this Decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes through implementation of all constitutional articles and in a way that guarantees all rights, authorities and status mentioned in the Constitution, since this is the only way to secure the unity of Iraq, as Article 1 stated.”
The Iraqi government has not replied.

The KRG’s statement is the KRG’s third overture to the authorities in Baghdad to open talks. They are trying to ensure the survival of a semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region. The al-Abadi government is likely to reject the latest offer because the KRG has no right to reject the ruling without starting a civil war. Its statement of acceptance could be considered an insult to the federal authorities.

Syria

As the war against ISIS draws to a close, the US is agreeing to disagree about who goes and who stays. Concerning US military deployments in Syria, the US Secretary of Defense said on 14 November, “We're not just going to walk away right now before the Geneva process has cracked. That doesn't mean everyone stays there. That doesn't mean for certain — certain troops are leaving. I'm just saying that we're going to condition — and I've honestly not made those decisions. We're going to make sure we set the conditions for a diplomatic solution […] Not just, you know, fight the cop part of it and then say good luck on the rest of it. We did it for that — to support the diplomatic solution."

Commenting on the statement of the US Defense Secretary, the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said on the 14th that the presence of the US forces in Syria without the approval of the Syrian government is considered an aggression. 

The Syrian opposition to the presence of Turkish and American soldiers in Syria is unchanged. It considers those forces to be aggressors and their presence a violation of international law. Although Russia and Iran agreed to Turkish military monitoring of the Idlib de-escalation zone, Syria did not.

I do not interpret Syria’s comment as requiring an immediate withdrawal of forces. Instead, it is a statement for the legal record that the only forces with a legal basis for their presence in Syria are those Syria invited. They are, primarily, the Russians, the Iranians and Iranian-backed militias and Lebanese Hizballah. 

This is the kind of issue that can strongly influence a political settlement because there are parties who were important to the outcome of the fighting who have no standing to participate in settlement talks… except they have guns and hold territory. 

The issue is the integrity of the Syrian state. Turkish and US forces are the de facto protectors of separate fragments of Syria and sectarian populations. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov clarified that a recently announced agreement on the terms of a ceasefire in Syria did not include a Russian commitment to ensure Iran-linked militias would be pulled out of the country. Lavrov said Iran maintained a “legitimate” presence in Syria.

Lavrov’s comment may be understood in several ways, which is typical for Lavrov. In one sense, it is a clarification that the new ceasefire arrangement among Jordan, Russia and the US does not require the withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces from Syria. Russia is in no position to make such a commitment and such a commitment serves no long term Russian interests.

A second sense is that Russia might not be able to enforce the distance terms in the new ceasefire arrangement that purport to define how close Iranian-backed militias can deploy to the Golan Heights. In this sense, Lavrov seems to admit that Russia promised more than it was authorized or more than it is prepared to do. 

Israel's Concerns

Prime Minister Netanyahu told members of his Likud party, “We are controlling our borders, we are protecting our country and we will continue to do so.” 
“I have also informed our friends, firstly in Washington and also our friends in Moscow, that Israel will act in Syria, including in southern Syria, according to our understanding and according to our security needs.”
According to Israeli press, Netanyahu’s remarks echoed those on Sunday, 12 November, by Israel’s regional cooperation minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, told reporters that it “does not meet Israel’s unequivocal demand that there will not be developments that bring the forces of Hezbollah or Iran to the Israel-Syria border in the north. There’s reflection here of the understanding that Israel has set red lines, and will stand firm on this.”

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Zimbabwe

(The Army took over, but denies it’s a coup.) Zimbabwe sources stated that a “bloodless transition” is taking place to a new era in which ousted Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa will help.

On 14 November, Zimbabwe’s army took control of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and the main newspaper. Major General S. B. Moyo broadcast a statement.
“Fellow Zimbabweans. Following the address we made on 13 November 2017, which we believe our main broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporationand the Herald were directed not to publicize, the situation in our country has moved to another level.” 
“Firstly, we wish to assure our nation, His Excellency, the president of the republic of Zimbabwe and commander in chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, comrade R. G. Mugabe and his family, are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.” 
“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.”
The remainder of the statement directed people and businesses to go about their business normally. It ordered party and youth groups to not engage in acts of violence. 

The issue is the succession to President Mugabe.

The reference to a speech on 13 November is to a statement by Zimbabwe’s army chief, General Chiwenga, in which he demanded that President Mugabe halt the purge in the ruling Zanu-PF party, which began after Mugabe sacked Vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa for casue. Mnangagwa is out of the country, a fugitive from justice.

General Chiwenga told a media conference attended by at least 90 senior army officers at the army headquarters in Harare that "the current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith." He said the Army was prepared to step in.

Mugabe fired Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa last week. The veteran of the country’s 1970s liberation war was popular with the military and had been seen as a likely successor to Mugabe. Most observers believe that Mugabe is preparing his wife Grace Mugabe, a much younger person, to succeed him.

On the 14th, Zimbabwe's ruling party accused General Chiwenga of treasonable conduct. The army moved armored personnel carriers to Harare and took over the capital.

Mugabe chaired a weekly cabinet meeting in the capital on Tuesday. Afterwards, the ruling party, ZANU-PF, said it stood by the “primacy of politics over the gun.” After that the army made its broadcast.

Mugabe is 93 and has been in power since independence from the UK in 1980. The struggle over his successor is longstanding. This operation will not settle it. 

Despite the army’s denial, it’s a coup. There are no good guys in this setting, including the army whose leaders have gotten rich under Mugabe. 

Building a Better Home


Château de Peyrelade dates back to at least the 12th-century. Objects discovered in this area date back to prehistoric times. (YouTube Tour

There are some who dispute the value of a compound. 

However, history shows that it's better to be hard than soft. And it's better that people don't know precisely where you are or what your defensive measures are -- until it's too late.

I do not argue that entropy takes everything that we are and everything that we build. That's obvious.