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The Middle East War


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#21 BansheeOne

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 1001 AM

World | Wed Jul 1, 2015 3:48pm BST Related: WORLD

 
Islamic State attack in Egypt's North Sinai kills 50
 
ISMAILIA, EGYPT/CAIRO | BY YUSRI MOHAMED AND AHMED HASSAN
 
Islamic State militants launched a wide-scale coordinated assault on several military checkpoints in Egypt's North Sinai on Wednesday in which 50 people were killed, security sources said, the largest attack yet in the insurgency-hit province.
 
The onslaught marked a significant escalation in violence in the Sinai Peninsula, located between Israel, the Gaza Strip and the Suez Canal, and raised questions about the government's ability to contain an insurgency that has already killed hundreds of police and soldiers.
 
It was the second high-profile attack in Egypt this week. On Monday, the prosecutor-general was killed in a car bombing in Cairo.
 
Islamic State's Egyptian affiliate, Sinai Province, claimed responsibility for the Sinai attacks in a Twitter statement.
 
The army said five checkpoints were attacked by about 70 militants and that soldiers had destroyed three landcruisers fitted with anti-aircraft guns.
 
The fighting, which raged for more than eight hours, was the biggest onslaught yet in the insurgency. One security source put the number of militants at about 300, armed with heavy weapons and anti-aircraft weaponry.
 
Security sources said the militants had planned to lay siege to Sheikh Zuweid town, where most of the fighting has been concentrated, by hitting all army checkpoints simultaneously.
 
"But we have dealt with them and broke the siege on Sheikh Zuweid," one of the sources said.
 
Army F-16 jets and Apache helicopters strafed the region.
 
[...]
 
Security sources said militants had surrounded a police station in Sheikh Zuweid and had planted bombs around it to prevent forces from leaving.
 
The militants also planted bombs along a road between Sheikh Zuweid and al-Zuhour army camp to prevent the movement of any army supplies or reinforcements. They also seized two armoured vehicles, weapons and ammunition, the sources said.
 
"We are not allowed to leave our homes. Clashes are ongoing. A short while ago I saw five Landcruisers with masked gunmen waving black flags," said Suleiman al-Sayed, a 49-year-old Sheikh Zuweid resident.
 
Ambulance medic Yousef Abdelsalam said he was at the entrance to Sheikh Zuweid but could not enter because of warnings that the road was rigged with bombs.
 
Witnesses and security sources also reported hearing two explosions in the nearby town of Rafah, which borders Gaza. The sources said all roads leading to Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid were shut down and residents were staying in their homes.
 
Sinai Province said in Wednesday's statement that it had attacked more than 15 security sites and carried out three suicide bombings.
 
"It is a sharp reminder that despite the intensive counter terrorism military campaign in the Sinai over the past 6 months, the IS ranks are not decreasing - if anything they are increasing in numbers as well as sophistication, training and daring," Aimen Dean, a former al Qaeda insider who now runs a Gulf-based security consultancy, said in a note.
 
In Cairo, security forces stormed an apartment in a western suburb and killed nine men whom they said were armed, security sources said.
 
The sources said authorities had received information the group was planning to carry out an attack. Among those dead was Nasser al-Hafi, a prominent lawyer for the Muslim Brotherhood and a former lawmaker.
 
STUBBORN INSURGENCY
 
Islamic State had urged its followers to escalate attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan which started in mid-June, though it did not specify Egypt as a target. In April, the army extended by three months a state of emergency imposed in parts of Sinai.
 
The army has taken several measures to crush the insurgency. Besides bombardments in the region, they have destroyed tunnels into the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip and created a security buffer zone in northern Sinai. The army is also digging a trench along the border with Gaza in an effort to prevent smuggling.
 
Under the terms of Egypt's 1979 peace accord with Israel, the Sinai is largely demilitarized. But Israel has regularly agreed to Egypt bringing in reinforcements to tackle the Sinai insurgency, and one Israeli official signalled there could be further such deployments following Wednesday's attacks.
 
"This incident is a game-changer," an official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

 

http://uk.reuters.co...N0PB3QM20150701


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#22 Gregory

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 1555 PM

At least 68 dead by last count, and probably will increase. That's a huge black eye for Egyptian military and security services.  We may be looking at the start of Syrian-style civil war in Egypt.  While there is no Sunni-Shiite divide to exploit, the large number of MB supporters provides a large pool of latent recruits for ISIS.  And I don't see Egyptian military as being any more adept than Syrian one in containing an ISIS insurgency - especially considering Libya will probably fall to ISIS in 6-12 months.


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#23 MiloMorai

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Posted 01 July 2015 - 1747 PM

 

Gaza - Hamas (backed by Iran)

 

They lost that when they came out for the Sunni side in Syria. Unless they have made up lately; I thought their HQ was still in Qatar after they moved out of Damascus, but now I find they went on to Turkey early this year when Qatar's ties with the Saudis tightened.

 

ISIS next target > Gaza

 

http://www.huffingto...anada-webmail21


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#24 BansheeOne

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Posted 04 August 2015 - 0602 AM

I read an interesting analysis yesterday which tried to make the point that Assad may yet fall due to coalition dynamics among his enemies. Having predicted three years ago that he was unlikely to survive another 18 months myself, I'm not so sure about that, but thought said dynamics were well-depicted.

 

Southern Front: Coalition of 58 groups, both Islamic and secular, formed in February and headquartered in Amman. Supported by Western and Gulf states, and to some degree also by Israel. Declared to no longer cooperate with Al-Nusra in April as long as the latter retains their affiliation with al-Quaeda, but still coordinate on the battlefield. Greatest recent success was taking the last government-held border crossing to Jordania at Nasib on 1 April, which previously permitted most of the trade with other Arab states.

 

Jaish al-Fatah: Two dozen groups with a total of 10,000 fighters headed by al-Nusra but also including other Islamist militia, the moderate Islamic Front and ten Free Syrian Army formations, headquartered in the nortwestern Syrian province of Idlib, most of which they have taken. Formed in late March after the Saudis on one hand and Turkey and Qatar on the other overcame their quarreling over support of the Muslim Brothers. Qatar in particular is said to try turning al-Nusra into a presentable option; in two al-Jazeera interviews in late May/early June their leader Abu Mohammad al-Julani promised that no revenge would be exacted against Alawis and other minorities after victory, that they would be "heard" before establishment of an Islamic order, and that al-Nusra would attack no Western targets, but did not distance himself from al-Qaeda as expected by some. However, in the northwest al-Nusra is considered too strong to be excluded.

 

On 25 June, the Southern Front, al-Nusra and Ahrar ash-Sham, the principal group in the Islamic Front, started an offensive onto the provincial capital of Dara'a. Jaish al-Fatah is expected to attack the Alawi areas on the coast and Aleppo, supported by a Turkish-created buffer zone also directed against the Syrian Kurds. In the mid-term there could be a joint attack by the Southern Front and Jaish al-Fatah against Damascus along with local groups there. On top of that, the IS has announced plans to advance onto Damascus too, though that might be PR. However, the government position has been weakened after Iranian Revolutionary Guard and even Hisbollah units were redeployed from Syria to Iraq after the IS took Tikrit and Mossul last summer. Hisbollah also has to fight rebel incursions into Lebanon in the Kalamun Mountains.

 

Government forces themselves have suffered heavy losses in the recent fighting against the IS, Southern Front and Jaish al-Fatah. Volunteers have been recruited with high payments to compensate, including 7,000 Shi'ites from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan to reinforce Damascus, but the reduction of the Syrian GDP by 50 percent and devaluation of currency by 80 percent since 2011 make for increased material difficulties. Iran is thought ready to increase its  engagement, but open military deployment might lead to a response by the Saudis and Israel. For the moment Assad has been shortening his lines, withdrawing from loyal regions like the majority Druse as-Suwaida in the South to protect the Alawi core areas. Another 8,000 volunteers were deployed on the coast, along with the auxiliary "Coast Shield Brigade" militia.

 

Unlike at Kobane, the US did not stop the IS advance onto Palmyra by airstrikes, possibly to demonstrate Assad's weakness and possible catastrophic results to his principal supporters Russia and Iran. The American aim is said to be an interim government of representatives of the current regime, minus Assad, and the rebels, minus the IS and preferrably al-Nusra. Russia might be bought off with a guarantee for the naval base at Tartus, and losening of sanctions over Ukraine, Iran with concessions over Iraq; Turkish President Erdogan recently said something like that Putin would surely see the wisdom in dropping Assad if things became desparate, which might be wishful thinking or based upon the rather friendly relations between the Sultan and the Czar.

 

Obviously there are several incertitudes here though; among the bigger is the al-Nusra-IS relationship which has been hostile since 2014, though local commanders sometimes cooperate like in the Kalamun Mountains and Yarmuk. But a rapprochement in the Islamist camp could make for a whole new dynamic, and personally I see an intended exclusion of both groups from an interim government as a possible catalyst. Of course counting on the stability of any coalition of such diverse groups is precarious in Afghani dimensions.


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#25 Simon Tan

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Posted 05 September 2015 - 1057 AM

UAE took a hammering today. 45 KIA in a ammo dump going high order.
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#26 urbanoid

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Posted 05 September 2015 - 1059 AM

Yesterday, methinks. Tochka.


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#27 Simon Tan

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Posted 05 September 2015 - 1104 AM

See...SRBMs rock!
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#28 BansheeOne

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 1056 AM

The German government was slightly pissed by the BND disparaging the Saudis on its own like this:

 

German spy agency warns of Saudi intervention destabilizing Arab world

 
Germany's foreign intelligence agency BND has released a disparaging report on Saudi Arabia. Their assessment says the country is destabilizing the Middle East with proxy wars in Yemen and elsewhere in the region.
 
The BND document entitled "Saudi Arabia - Sunni regional power torn between foreign policy paradigm change and domestic policy consolidation" singled out Saudi Arabia's defense minister, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as trying to strengthen his place in the royal succession while putting Saudi Arabia's relationship with erstwhile regional allies in jeopardy.
 
"The careful diplomatic stance of older members of the Saudi royal family has been replaced by an impulsive policy of intervention," the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) said.
 
The spy agency accused bin Salman, second in line to the throne, and his father, King Salman, as trying to create an image of Saudi Arabia being the leader of the Arab world. The BND added that bin Salman's quest to cement his place in the nation's leadership could also irritate other members of the royal family.
 
As another reason for the shift in policy, the BND also cited a perceived change in the role of the United States as the guarantor of stability in the face of growing influence exerted by Iran.
 
Since King Salman's succession to power in January 2015, there's been a more forceful response to the regional standoff between Iran and Saudi Arabia largely set in motion by Prince Mohammed. The BND said that this could mainly be observed in Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Yemen as well as its increased support for Syrian rebels in a bid to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
 
Power struggle with Iran
 
The brief report chiefly spoke about Saudi Arabia's involvement in Yemen and Syria, but also highlighted other countries such as Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq as realms of growing Saudi interest, saying that Saudi Arabia was "prepared to take unprecedented military, financial and political risks to avoid falling behind in regional politics."
 
According to the BND, Saudi Arabia continued to view Iran's involvement in the region as an increasingly aggressive tactic, pointing to Iran's reported cooperation with paramilitary organizations like Hezbollah in Lebanon and other non-state proxies in conflict-ridden areas of the Middle East.
 
Iran has denied having any ambitions to meddle in foreign affairs, but has accused Saudi Arabia of undermining regional stability through its military support and financing of rebels. Iran, a chief ally of Syria's Assad, has been accused of financing and assisting Houthi rebels in Yemen.
 
Saudi Arabia's expanding influence in the Middle East also comes at a considerable price tag. The Gulf kingdom will likely face a budget deficit of at least $120 billion this year alone.

 

http://www.dw.com/en...orld/a-18889664


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#29 Panzermann

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 1132 AM

BND reporting the obvious. And my government does not want to hear. Great.

the saudi meddling dovetails with the projected pipelines across arabia and who wants to build their own pipeline and deny the competition from building theirs. Cannot give Iran easy access to european market.
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#30 urbanoid

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 1159 AM

At the same time, they'd like that easy access for themselves. Via Syria and Turkey.

 

Not that it's the only, or even the main reason for current unpleasantness. They feel their very grip on power might be at stake if the Iranians manage to secure their Shia crescent. After that Yemen will be a formality, and then there is Shia minority in KSA (and near quite a lot of oil fields at that) and Bahrain.

 

Obviously it concerns whole GCC, not just KSA.


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#31 Panzermann

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 1457 PM

How many foreign states are stirring the pot of excrements in Syria at the moment? Fifteen? And each has a different agenda.
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#32 BansheeOne

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Posted 15 December 2015 - 1429 PM

World | Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:06pm EST

 

Saudi Arabia announces 34-state Islamic military alliance against terrorism

 
DUBAI/PARIS | By Noah Browning and John Irish

 

A new Saudi-led Islamic alliance to fight terrorism will share information and train, equip and provide forces if necessary for the fight against Islamic State militants, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Tuesday.

 

Saudi Arabia announced earlier on Tuesday the formation of a 34-nation Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism, a move welcomed by the United States which has been urging a greater regional involvement in the campaign against the militants who control swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

 

"Nothing is off the table," al-Jubeir said when asked whether the initiative could include troops on the ground.

 

"It depends on the requests that come, it depends on the need and it depends on the willingness of countries to provide the support necessary," he told a news briefing in Paris.

 

A statement carried by Saudi state news agency SPA said the new coalition would have a joint operations center based in Riyadh to "coordinate and support military operations".

 

The states it listed as joining the new coalition included Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan and several African nations.

 

The list did not include Shi'ite Muslim Iran, the arch rival of Sunni Saudi Arabia for influence across the Arab world. Tehran and Riyadh are ranged on opposite sides in proxy conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

 

The statement cited "a duty to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organizations, whatever their sect and name, which wreak death and corruption on earth and aim to terrorize the innocent."

 

[...]

 

ISLAMIC STATE NOT SOLE TARGET

 

In a rare press conference on Tuesday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's 30-year-old deputy crown prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman said the new coalition aimed to "coordinate" efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

 

"There will be international coordination with major powers and international organizations ... In terms of operations in Syria and Iraq, we can't undertake these operations without coordinating with legitimacy in this place and the international community," bin Salman said, without elaborating.

 

He offered few concrete indications of how the new coalition's military efforts might proceed.

 

Asked if the new alliance would focus only on Islamic State, bin Salman said it would confront "any terrorist organization that appears in front of us".

 

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab neighbors have been waging war for nine months against Iran-allied rebels in Yemen, launching hundreds of air strikes there.

 

A ceasefire took effect in Yemen on Tuesday as parties to the civil war began United Nations-sponsored peace talks in Switzerland in a new push to end fighting that has killed nearly 6,000 people.

 

http://www.reuters.c...N0TX2PG20151215


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#33 urbanoid

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Posted 15 December 2015 - 1439 PM

I'm afraid to ask about his grandpa. ^_^


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#34 Simon Tan

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Posted 15 December 2015 - 1938 PM

Our MoD has clarified that no Malaysian servicemen are going anywhere in support of this effort. Lol.
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#35 Panzermann

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 1113 AM

Pakistan and Le anon seem rather surprised:

Pakistan surprised by its inclusion in 34-nation military alliance (dawn.com)

...
This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has named Pakistan as part of its military alliances without Islamabads knowledge and consent. The Saudis earlier named Pakistan as part of the coalition that carried out operations in Yemen and a Pakistani flag was displayed at the alliances media centre.
Pakistan later declined to join the Yemen war.
...



Lebanon FM says not member of Saudi anti-terror coalition (The Daily Star Lebanon)

The Foreign Ministry Tuesday denied having knowledge of Saudi Arabia's creation of an Islamic anti-terrorism coalition announced overnight, contradicting an earlier statement made by Prime Minister Tammam Salam implying that Lebanon was a member of the alliance.


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#36 BansheeOne

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 1241 PM

I'm afraid to ask about his grandpa. ^_^

 

I think you meant to reply to this thread. ;)


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#37 Panzermann

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 1306 PM

Our MoD has clarified that no Malaysian servicemen are going anywhere in support of this effort. Lol.


Hadn't Malaysia deployed a handful of soldiers to Iraq as apart of the "coalition of the willing" or what it was called? So saying that they do not take part this time around makes sense I think.
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#38 urbanoid

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 1310 PM

 

I'm afraid to ask about his grandpa. ^_^

 

I think you meant to reply to this thread. ;)

 

Yup. My bad. :)


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#39 Corinthian

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 1842 PM

Pakistan and Le anon seem rather surprised:

Pakistan surprised by its inclusion in 34-nation military alliance (dawn.com)

...
This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has named Pakistan as part of its military alliances without Islamabads knowledge and consent. The Saudis earlier named Pakistan as part of the coalition that carried out operations in Yemen and a Pakistani flag was displayed at the alliances media centre.
Pakistan later declined to join the Yemen war.
...


Lebanon FM says not member of Saudi anti-terror coalition (The Daily Star Lebanon)

The Foreign Ministry Tuesday denied having knowledge of Saudi Arabia's creation of an Islamic anti-terrorism coalition announced overnight, contradicting an earlier statement made by Prime Minister Tammam Salam implying that Lebanon was a member of the alliance.


Coalition of the Unwilling. :lol:
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#40 Simon Tan

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Posted 16 December 2015 - 1905 PM

Coalition of the Clueless!
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