Photo-posted by local reporters- of a mass exodus from Kirkuk to Erbil as pro Iranian militias are advancing on the city. To be confirmed pic.twitter.com/x94bYbKDhT — Walid Phares (@WalidPhares) October 16, 2017
Iraq’s military has effectively gained control of major assets and government buildings in Kirkuk city, and is now set to fully pacify it after overnight clashes at a moment when oil prices rose toward a six month high as the conflict now threatens output. Iraq’s elite U. S.-trained Counter-Terrorism Force has taken over the provincial government headquarters in the center of Kirkuk after operations to seize the city from Kurdish forces began overnight – the contested city is now reportedly under the control of Iraqi national forces. Some of the first footage Western audiences woke up to Monday morning were of (ironically enough) US supplied equipment – including tanks, being used to bulldoze images of Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani. Iraqi forces have further pulled down Kurdish flags flying over government buildings throughout the city, while leaving the Iraqi flag flying.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 16, 2017.
In what is now being called the ‘worst terrorist attack’ ever on Somalia, at least 300 people have been declared dead after a truck bomb went off. The attack, which has also injured hundreds seriously is being blamed on militant group al-Shabaab. The death toll in the bombing that hit the center of Mogadishu on Saturday may still continue to rise as some people are still missing and life-saving efforts are underway for those who suffered severe injuries. The scale of the loss makes the attack, which involved a truck packed with several hundred kilograms of military-grade and homemade explosives, one of the most lethal terrorist acts anywhere in the world for many years. This major mass homicide was committed without guns, and the death toll dwarfs that of the Las Vegas shooting. Monday morning, Somalia’s information minister announced that 276 people had died in the attack with at least 300 people injured. Within mere hours, however, Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of Amin ambulances, said his service had confirmed that 300 people died in the blast. Some reports put the number of casualties as high as 500. ‘The death toll will still be higher because some people are still missing,’ Abdirahman told Reuters.
This post was published at shtfplan on October 16th, 2017.
In an unexpected diplomatic turn of events which underscores the seriousness of escalating tensions between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard (which last week were designated by the US as a terrorist organization), General Qassem Soleimani, arrived in Erbil on Sunday and met with Kurdistan regional president Masoud Barzani to discuss the growing crisis at a moment when Kurdish Peshmerga forces are blocking Iraqi Army access to Kirkuk oil fields and military installations. Major General Qassem Soleimani reports directly to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and his elite force provides training and weapons to Iraqi paramilitary groups (PMU or Popular Mobilization Units) backing the Baghdad government. The meeting comes just after President Trump announced his new policy against Iran on Friday that includes designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization. Though the Unites States officially backs the Iran-aligned Baghdad government in the Kurdistan crisis, Trump’s speech could signal a monumental shift in policy for Iraq. This as Kurdistan officials and media are highlighting Iran’s role in attempting to stamp out the Kurdish move for independence.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 15, 2017.
21st Century Wire says… Turkish troops have been entering northwest Syria for the last few days. Some reports have detailed the apparent compliance of Tahrir Al Sham terrorists with this maneuver by the Turkish military. HTS is a rebrand of Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda in Syria and the group controls the majority of Idlib province. al-Qaeda's Syria branch (HTS) escorts a group of Turkish troops as they enter Idlib via Atma border crossing. Looks like Turkey-AQ has a deal pic.twitter.com/pNgo8RUfvm — Ersin Satlyck (@e_sklt) October 8, 2017
Echoing a report from earlier this week, when on Wednesday the Seoul-based Asia Business Daily reported that North Korea is preparing to fire multiple short-range rockets around the opening of the Chinese Communist Party’s twice-a-decade congress on Oct. 18 – arguably the year’s most important geopolitical event – on Saturday the South Korean press claimed that “North Korea is believed to be preparing to launch a ballistic missile ahead of an upcoming joint naval drill by the US and South Korea”, according to a government source. The Donga Ilbo daily said satellite pictures show ballistic missiles mounted on “transporter erector vehicles” and being moved out of hangars near Pyongyang and in the North Phyongan Province. US and South Korean military officials suspect the North might be preparing to launch missiles capable of reaching US territory, the newspaper said. A defence ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying: “we don’t comment on any matters of military intelligence” but added that “we are keeping a close watch over the North.” Quoted by AFP, Donga Ilbo said that US and South Korean military officials suspect the North might be preparing to launch missiles capable of reaching US territory, and that this could be the Hwasong-14 inter-continental ballistic missile, whose range could extend to Alaska, or Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missiles which Pyongyang threatened to fire towards the US Pacific territory of Guam in Augus . Another possibility is that the North might be preparing to test a new Hwasong-13 ICBM, it added, that has a longer maximum range than the other two missiles and could potentially reach the US West Coast.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 14, 2017.
At the same time as the US Treasury’s declared Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization as part of Trump’s crackdown on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as Iran Nuclear Deal, a senior commander in Iran’s Quds Force, the elite overseas arm of the IRGC said that his forces have “buried many” like Donald Trump, and the US President’s threats against Iran will “damage” America. ‘We are not a war-mongering country. But any military action against Iran will be regretted … Trump’s threats against Iran will damage America … We have buried many … like Trump and know how to fight against America,’ deputy Quds commander Brigadier-General Esmail Ghaani said, cited by Tasnim news agency. The IRGC is Iran’s most powerful security entity and wields control over large swathes of Iran’s economy as well as considerable influence within its political system. The crackdown on the IRGC came just two days after Iran’s foreign minister warned of a tough response if Trump proceeded with threats to scrap a landmark nuclear deal signed under the Obama administration. Speaking during a closed session of parliament on Wednesday, Mohammad Javad Zarif told lawmakers that Iran ‘will never renegotiate’ the deal brokered between Tehran and six world powers, Fars news agency reported.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.
While Trump’s just announced decision to decertify the Iranian nuclear deal, giving Congress 60 days to decide whether to unwind Obama’s landmark deal, was widely leaked previously even though few can point to what terms of the agreement Iran has violated, one aspect of Trump’s Iran statement was unclear: whether he would designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, or IRGC, the elite wing of Iran’s army, a terrorist organization – a move which Iran vowed would prompt “decisive , crushing” retaliation. Trump did just that, and the new, sweeping sanctions on the IRGC could affect conflicts in Iraq and Syria, where Tehran and Washington both support warring parties that oppose the Islamic State militant group. This is what the Treasury’s OFAC unit posted on its sanctions website moments ago: Treasury Designates the IRGC under Terrorism Authority and Targets IRGC and Military Supporters under Counter-Proliferation Authority WASHINGTON – Today, the U. S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) pursuant to the global terrorism Executive Order (E. O.) 13224 and consistent with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. OFAC designated the IRGC today for its activities in support of the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), which was designated pursuant to E. O. 13224 on October 25, 2007, for providing support to a number of terrorist groups, including Hizballah and Hamas, as well as to the Taliban. The IRGC has provided material support to the IRGC-QF, including by providing training, personnel, and military equipment.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.
It didn’t take long for Europe’s biggest nations – the other signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the Iran Nuclear Deal – as well as Russia, to slam Trump’s unilateral decision to decertify the Iran agreement and, in the process, put the entire deal in jeopardy. Moments ago, in a joint statement, Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron all reiterated their commitment to the JCPOA, expressed their concern by the possible implications of Trump’s decision not to recertify the deal, and urged the US to think hard before taking further steps that might undermine it further. Here is the statement they released together moments ago: We, the Leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom take note of President Trump’s decision not to recertify Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to Congress and are concerned by the possible implications. We stand committed to the JCPoA and its full implementation by all sides. Preserving the JCPoA is in our shared national security interest. The nuclear deal was the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy and was a major step towards ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme is not diverted for military purposes. The JCPoA was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2231. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the JCPoA through its long-term verification and monitoring programme. Therefore, we encourage the US Administration and Congress to consider the implications to the security of the US and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the JCPoA, such as re-imposing sanctions on Iran lifted under the agreement.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.
Authored by Dmitiry Minin via The Strategic Culture Foundation, The Turkish media is reporting that a staffer at the American consulate general in Istanbul was recently arrested under the serious charge of attempting the ‘destruction of the constitutional order,’ ‘espionage,’ and seeking ‘to overthrow the government.’ To be specific, ties have been uncovered between the man under arrest and some prominent members of Fethullah Glen’s movement (FET), which is banned in Turkey. Previous accusations had been made against General Joseph Votel, the commander of US CENTCOM and an expert in covert operations, alleging that he had cooperated with the conspirators who attempted a military coup in Turkey in July 2016. And this is only the tip of a very cold and growing iceberg that has gradually been disrupting the relationship between these formerly close allies – the US and Turkey. Not even President Erdo?an’s visit to the US this year could buck these trends. Observing that relations between the two countries have been deteriorating for more than a decade, US columnists, for example – Tom Rogan of the Washington Examiner – reflexively sum it all up as evidence of the deleterious influence of Vladimir Putin. In his assessment of the most recent meeting between the Russian and Turkish presidents in Ankara, that journalist points to the fact that Recep Erdo?an called Vladimir Putin ‘my dear friend’ and even ‘stroked his ego’ by speaking to him – horror of horrors! – ‘in Russian,’ as though that were a crime.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard told reporters “Quebec has been attacked. And Quebec will resist. And Quebec will unite. . . .’ This sounds serious. I always thought Canada’s deference to its southern neighbour would preclude a confrontation with the almighty U. S. military. Couillard continued ‘All together, we will protect our workers.’ Okay, now we can relax. As they appeal for public support for their interventionist policies, politicians often resort to hyperbole. I should have known. The action which Couillard refers to as an ‘attack’ turns out to be an American tariff on the C Series jet produced by Bombardier, a Quebec-based manufacturer of planes and trains. The intent to impose a 220% tariff was announced on September 26th, ‘after rival Boeing Co accused Canada of unfairly subsidizing the aircraft, a move likely to strain trade relations between the neighbours.’ On October 6th, the U. S. Commerce Department proposed to increase the tariff to nearly 300%. The Evil of Government Subsidies As I have written previously, Bombardier has been the recipient of substantial government aid over the years. Politicians and bureaucrats constantly assure us that when the government provides financial aid to struggling companies, this actually promotes economic prosperity because jobs are ‘saved.’ Nonsense. Unprofitable firms must be allowed to die. It is not the government’s responsibility to preserve jobs in any particular sector. Consumers will make these decisions.
The first two parts of this series focused on how Trump-specific factors could lead the American empire into another series of foolish and highly destructive wars. Part 1 discussed my concerns regarding Iran deal certification, as well as Trump’s increased coziness with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who appears to get turned on by the use of violent force. Part 2 considered how Trump might sell his wars by promoting an environment of slobbering, superficial patriotism, and also speculated that corporate media might rally behind Trump if the target of his aggression happens to be Iran. Today’s piece will be slightly different. The prior posts focused on Trump-specific angles with regard to how America’s forthcoming military mistake might play out, but I want to make one thing clear. While Trump carries his own unique risks when it comes to militarism overseas, this is all much bigger than Trump. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, I’ve become convinced that the U. S. empire will never reform on its own. There’s simply too much money and power at stake, and we already know oligarchs are above the law under our two-tier justice system. The biggest financial criminals of a generation were not only spared prison for their actions, but were handsomely rewarded. Wall Street ran the Obama administration before, and it runs the Trump administration now. It’s become clear to me that these lawless elite crooks and their enablers will continue with their insane and oppressive policies until the whole thing collapses. Whether Trump, Pence or Hillary Clinton run the charade doesn’t change where this train is headed.
North Korea claims that president Donald Trump has ‘lit the wick of war,’ and has issued a threat. The tyrannical regime says that it will unleash a ‘hail of fire’ on the United States. Tensions are not even close to cooling especially when it comes to the rhetoric between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un. Ri Yong Ho, Pyongyang’s foreign minister, verbally lashed out at the US President and said that the red-hot tensions will not be settled with words. ‘With his bellicose and insane statement at the United Nations, Trump, you can say, has lit the wick of a war against us. We need to settle the final score, only with a hail of fire, not words,’ Ri said. President Trump has repeatedly hinted that conflict and war are in the near future with recent tweets suggesting that military action is still considered an option. With World War 3 perhaps just around the corner, Trump took to Twitter to raise tensions even higher. On Saturday he tweeted: ‘Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U. S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!’
This post was published at shtfplan on October 12th, 2017.
Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation, The Secretary-General of NATO said this on October 9th, speaking in NATO member Romania, right across the Black Sea from Russia’s region of Crimea (which had always been part of Russia except for the brief period 1954-2014, when the Soviet dictator arbitrarily transferred Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 – i.e., the Soviet dictator had made Crimea ‘Ukrainian’, and only in 2014 was a plebiscite actually held there in order to determine what the people there wanted, and more than 90% chose to be restored to the Russian Government). He said, on October 9th, that NATO is ‘concerned by Russia’s military buildup close to our borders’, but NATO actually had expanded up to Russia’s borders; in no way had Russia expanded up to NATO’s borders. NATO’s leader was importantly misrepresenting history, there.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 12, 2017.
Russia’s new combat suit is getting a major upgrade. With threats of nuclear warfare pending in important regions of the globe, the nuclear resistant watch was a necessary addition to the futuristic fight suit designed by the former Soviet Union. According to Newsweek, citing Rostec, the Russian defense contractor building the suit, the third-generation Ratnik-3 suit ‘comprises five integrated systems.’ Those five subsystems include ‘life support, command and communication, engaging, protection, and energy saving subsystems,’ according to Tass, a Russian state-owned media outlet. This could be the most advanced combat suit on the planet. In total, the suit comes with 59 items, Tass said, including a powered exoskeleton that supposedly gives the soldier more strength and stamina, along with cutting-edge body armor and a helmet and visor that shields the soldier’s entire face. The suit also has a ‘pop-up display that can be used for tasks like examining a plan of the battlefield,’ Andy Lynch, who works for a military company called Odin Systems, previously told The Daily Mail Online.
This post was published at shtfplan on October 11th, 2017.
North Korea is preparing to fire multiple short-range rockets around the opening of the Chinese Communist Party’s twice-a-decade congress on Oct. 18, the Seoul-based Asia Business Daily reports, citing an unidentified person. According to the newspaper, the U. S. and South Korean militaries have recently spotted about 30 Scud rockets being moved from Hwangju, south of the capital Pyongyang, to a missile maintenance facility in the western coastal city of Nampo. *** More from the report, google translated: According to the authorities, the ROK-US military intelligence agency captured the process of transferring 30 Scud missiles deployed in the Hwangju area of ??North Hwanghae province to a missile repair facility in Jamsun, West Sea, Nampo, through information assets. It is unusual for North Korea to massively move Scud missiles. The Jangjin missile factory, which North Korea refers to as the Taesung Machinery Factory, is the most important missile production plant in North Korea, producing a variety of missiles such as scud and labor. Kim Jong-un inspects the Jamsil plant in March last year, when the North Korean Workers’ Party chairman passed a resolution imposing sanctions on the UN Security Council, emphasizing that “the working class should shine forth the immortal achievements of the followers with high productivity.” to be.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 11, 2017.
Forensic Acoustic Analysis Points to Existence of a Second Shooter: This analysis seems to make sense. If it has been done correctly, it is evidence of a second Las Vegas shooter. It is evidence not only of two sets of gunshots but of bullets hitting the ground from two different distances. So unless the bullets were being fired into the ground only, it seems people will have been hit. On the other hand, we have what seem to be videos of crisis actors carrying pretend wounded people into a hospital, and we have videos of hospital visits with alleged seriously wounded people who have had an almost instantaneous recovery. As the letter from the purported military surgeon pointed out, quick recoveries from gunshot trauma are not the norm. Remember also the Republican congressman, Steve Scalise, who was shot in the hip last June in D. C. He was in critical condition for some time, and was in no condition to be giving interviews a couple of days later. Yet, here is a video of a young woman allegedly shot in the hip at the Las Vegas concert all rosy cheeked and chatting away a mere 3 days after being ‘nearly paralyzed’ by her gunshot injury.
While tensions with North Korea have receded in recent weeks, and especially following the latest uneventful weekend, when markets were on edge that Kim could try another missile test launch to celebrate the country’s national holiday, this could reverse following news from the BBC that North Korea hackers have reportedly stolen a large cache of military documents from South Korea, including a plan to assassinate North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. According to South Korean lawmaker Rhee Cheol-hee – a member of South Korea’s ruling party who sits on its parliament’s defence committee – the compromised documents, which were stolen from the country’s defense ministry, include wartime contingency plans created by the US and South Korea, and also include reports to the allies’ senior commanders. Plans for the South’s special forces are also said to have been accessed, along with information on significant power plants and military facilities in the South. Rhee also said some 235 gigabytes of military documents had been stolen from the Defence Integrated Data Centre, and that 80% of them have yet to be identified.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 10, 2017.
Russia has once again accused the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria of facilitating the entry of Islamic State terrorists into Syria in order to hinder the advance of the Syrian Army and its allies. On Tuesday Russia’s defense ministry accused the US of merely “pretending” to fight ISIS in a way designed to put maximum pressure on Syrian and Russian front line defenses in Syria’s east. Russian military spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said, ‘Everyone sees that the U. S.-led coalition is pretending to fight Islamic State, above all inIraq, but continuing to allegedly fight Islamic State in Syria actively for some reason.” The accusation comes a little over two weeks after Russia released aerial images allegedly showing ISIS, the SDF (US-backed “Syrian Democratic Forces”), and US special forces working side-by-side on the battlefield against Syrian and Russian forces in Deir Ezzor, Syria. While the previous charges implied some level of close coordination between US-backed forces and ISIS in the region, the new claims point to coalition air power intentionally facilitating and utilizing ISIS movements to its advantage: ‘The actions of the Pentagon and the coalition demand an explanation. Is their change of tack a desire to complicate as much as they can the Syrian army’s operation, backed by the Russian air force, to take back Syrian territory to the east of the Euphrates?’ asked Konashenkov. He continued with, ‘Or is it an artful moveto drive Islamic State terrorists out of Iraq by forcing them into Syria and into the path of the Russian air force’s pinpoint bombing?’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 10, 2017.
On July 21, 1821, John Quincy Adams, who would go on to become the sixth president of the United States, warned that if America were ever to abandon its founding principle of non-interventionism in foreign affairs, she might well become the dictatress of the world. Adams issued his warning in a speech he delivered to Congress, a speech that has gone down in history with the title ‘In Search of Monsters to Destroy.’ Adams was referring to the fact that the United States was founded as a constitutional republic, one whose military forces did not go around the world helping people who were suffering the horrors of dictators, despots, civil wars, revolutions, famines, oppression, or anything else. That’s not to say that America didn’t sympathize with people struggling to experience lives of freedom, peace, and prosperity. It was simply that the US government would not go abroad to slay such monsters. Here is how Adams expressed it: Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.
Authored by J. Hawk, Daniel Deiss, & Edwin Watson via SouthFront.org, One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was the pledge to ‘rebuild the US military’, and it is one of the few of his initiatives that appears to enjoy broad bipartisan support. The US Senate’s version of the defense appropriations bill provides for what amounts to a dramatic 10% increase in defense spending, or more than even the Trump Administration requested. The bill passed with a strong bipartisan majority and with hardly any debate. There is no reason to expect the House of Representatives will not follow suit.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 9, 2017.