Ethiopia–A Rising Star?

During the Cold War the East African nation of Ethiopia was on the front lines in our struggle with the USSR….it was a perfect region for the gathering of Sigint…..but has been happening since the end of the Cold War?

Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of a short-lived Italian occupation from 1936-41. In 1974, a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE (who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist state. Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was finally toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. A constitution was adopted in 1994, and Ethiopia’s first multiparty elections were held in 1995. A border war with Eritrea in the late 1990s ended with a peace treaty in December 2000. In November 2007, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) issued specific coordinates as virtually demarcating the border and pronounced its work finished. Alleging that the EEBC acted beyond its mandate in issuing the coordinates, Ethiopia has not accepted them and has not withdrawn troops from previously contested areas pronounced by the EEBC as belonging to Eritrea. In August 2012, longtime leader Prime Minister MELES Zenawi died in office and was replaced by his Deputy Prime Minister HAILEMARIAM Desalegn, marking the first peaceful transition of power in decades.

Ethiopia is a cog in our responses on the Horn of Africa….plus the renegade nation of Somalia is next door and from time to time has bucked the influence of Ethiopia in the region…..but their “friendship” with the US these days helps their star to rise in the Horn…..

When we think of countries competing for power and influence in the Horn of Africa, a short list of candidates comes to mind: the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Turkey and various European powers. Notably absent from this list are countries from within the region itself. But this may be about to change. Ethiopia has recently launched a number of political, economic and foreign policy reforms aimed at redefining the country internally and externally. These moves are a sign that Addis Ababa wants to increase its influence in the region and might be laying the groundwork to emerge as a regional power.

Ethiopia is uniquely positioned to take on this role. It has a history of resisting foreign intervention and remaining, for the most part, free of external domination in a region that was widely colonized by European powers. Now, as the presence of foreign powers grows, Ethiopia will need to become more assertive if it wants to compete for influence with these outside forces. But it has a number of challenges with which it must contend if it is to project power beyond its borders. This Deep Dive will examine the country’s history that has led it to this unique point in time and the conditions it must meet before it will be able to wield more influence in the region.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/ethiopia-regional-power-making/

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Niger–Update

Back in October 2017 when I was in the hospital a story came to my attention about the deaths of US Special Ops troopers in the West African nation of Niger.

Of course I had to write a post about the deaths for not many Americans even knew we were fighting and dying in Niger.

https://lobotero.com/2017/10/30/niger-wtf/

https://lobotero.com/2017/11/20/deaths-in-niger-update/

There has been further news developing in Niger…..it seems that the locals do not want us to be there fighting…..

In an interview with the Guardian, Nigerien President Mahamidou Issoufou said that he does not want US or other foreign troops fighting on the ground in Niger, and that such troops should limit their actions to training and intelligence-gathering.

Issoufou discussed the ongoing war on terror in western Africa’s Sahel, saying it will take years to finish, comparing it to the Syria and Iraq fight. He said foreign allies should do more to help the local militaries in the region fight for themselves.

The US has a substantial number of troops in Niger, a fact revealed after troops were ambushed last year and four were killed. The US also built a large drone base in Niger, despite substantial opposition within Niger to the US presence.

(antiwar.com)

https://theintercept.com/2018/07/03/us-niger-drone-base/

The US once again does what it wants in other countries….maybe a better plan would be to get local confirmation that we are at least wanted before he insert our troops into these countries.

Does Anyone Remember Al-Qaeda?

A good question.  It seems these days if AQ is not blowing up buildings in NYC then we do not care what is going on…..which is a defeatist attitude.

I tried to keep AQ in the minds of my readers…….I wrote a post over a year ago…..https://lobotero.com/2017/07/26/where-oh-where-has-al-qaeda-gone/

So to help my readers get the feel of what is happening with AQ……

A comparative analysis of al-Qaeda messaging from the Osama bin Laden-era to today demonstrates continuity. Such messaging indicates that al-Qaeda continues in the well-worn path of bin Ladenism, even with the seventh anniversary of his death, still adamantly focusing on the United States as enemy number one.

In 1996, bin Laden faxed an Arabic message from Afghanistan to newspapers titled in part, “Expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula[1].” Included in this message was a call for all Muslims to defend the Ummah, or the global Islamic community, from the United States. Bin Laden commanded, “Clearly after Belief there is no more important duty than pushing the American enemy out of the Holy land[2]…” Then, in 1998, bin Laden co-authored a fatwa, or Islamic legal ruling. This message demonstrates al-Qaeda’s anti-United States point of view, thereby framing the killing of Americans under bin Laden’s leadership as a legitimate strategic goal.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/06/25/assessment_of_al-qaedas_enduring_threat_113551.html

I wish I could say that Americans were concerned but they are not…..that is until another terrorists strikes in downtown Chicago and then they will do what they always do….blame others for their stupidity.

IST Afghanistan Report

I try to keep the readers of IST up to date on the progress or lack there of in the war being fought in Afghanistan….after 17 years the American people still do not care that there are Americans fighting and dying in  this country.

Spring has arrived in Afghanistan and Summer lurks….this is the time the Taleban and AQ and ISIS pick to up their attacks and their for attacks….plus the US and its allies also will be planning and attacking……

Following Thursday’s announcement that the US will comply with Afghanistan’s Ramadan ceasefire, which covers the Taliban and will last until June 20, the Pentagon now says they intend to step up offensives against ISIS in Afghanistan.

This announcement is perhaps unsurprising, as the US has not committed itself to a peace process in Afghanistan, and has been steadily escalating its military forces in the country. ISIS remains a convenient alternative target while the Taliban is off-limits.

While this opens up a lot more US troops to carry out strikes against ISIS, what it will accomplish remains to be seen. The US and Afghan governments have both claimed to have wiped ISIS out in Nangarhar repeatedly, only for the group to reemerge, seemingly unharmed.

(antiwar.com)

An interesting announcement considering there are very few that know just how strong ISIS is in Afghanistan…..

There are statements after statements about the situation in Afghanistan….but maybe we should hold our admiration for the job being done…….

The Lead Inspector General (IG) for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel released its quarterly report to Congress last week, assessing the state of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. To put it mildly, the situation is not good. As Glenn Fine, the Principal Deputy IG for the Defense Department writes in the report’s foreword and executive summary, “the percentage of the population living in areas under the control or influence of the Afghan government showed little positive change this quarter,” while civilian casualties were “near record high levels.”

There were some small signs of promise, such as a modest decrease in “security-related incidents” — violence. From April to February, violence was below historical averages, and remains there, despite the Taliban’s Spring Offensive beginning in April. At the same time though, high profile attacks by the Taliban and ISIS spiked, and the Director of National Intelligence, Daniel Coats, has written that the security situation in Afghanistan will likely continue to decline this year.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/06/08/dont_buy_the_pentagons_statements_on_afghanistan_113520.html

Rest assured that IST will always keep its readers up to date on the news of all our theaters of conflict.

And So It Begins

There comes a time when a nation realizes its capabilities and does what they all have done….flexes their muscle.

A few years ago a few missiles flew over the Arabian Peninsula originated in Yemen……the Saudis intercepted them, using equipment acquired from the US, and started a long war on civilians or should I say the Houthi tribesmen?  The country, Yemen, has been bombed into the Stone Age.  The death toll has been on the Yemeni side there have been very few deaths in Saudi Arabia (if any) because of something Yemen has done.

I bring up this short history of the struggle between Yemen and the Saudis because they, the Saudis, have threatened yet another country….Qatar.

Saudi King Salman has threatened to take military action against neighboring Qatar if the nation follows through with a plan to install an anti-aircraft defense system. Salman said he would take military action to “eliminate this defense system.

Saudi Arabia and many of its allies severed ties with Qatar last year, based around a false media report claiming the Qatari Emir wasn’t sufficiently hostile toward Iran. The Saudis have since suggested they’d channel out the entire Qatari border, turning it into an island, and dumping nuclear waste in the area.

Around this ever growing Saudi hostility toward Qatar, the nation made a deal to buy S-400 air defense systems from Russia. Russia says that plans to deliver he missiles have not changed, despite the Saudi threats.

(antiwar.com)

Was this threat needed?  Qatar already host a large US base.  That should protect Qatar from its war hungry neighbor.

By the way….last year the Saudis decided to punish Qatar for some alleged transgressions…..they, Saudis, and their allies tried to isolate Qatar from the outside world…..how did that work out for the Saudis?

It’s hard to imagine the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates thought it would go this way. Officials from their governments — as well as junior partners Egypt and Bahrain — described the punitive sanctions they collectively slapped on Qatar in early June as an unfortunate but necessary action, aimed at bringing the pesky Qataris to heel. It was as if Qatar, accused by its neighbors of fomenting extremism near and far, was an unruly child who needed to be disciplined.

But in the grown-up world of geopolitics, the Saudi and Emirati-led move against Doha does not seem to be achieving its goals. Rather than isolating Qatar, it has deepened Qatari ties with regional powers Turkey and Iran. Oman and Kuwait, two other states in the Gulf Cooperation Council, have not joined in. Food supplies and other goods are still flowing into Qatar’s docks and airports. And, no matter the White House’s mixed messaging, American diplomats appear to be pushing for conciliation and compromise with Qatar rather than seeking Doha’s acquiescence to the Saudi and Emirati demands.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/07/18/the-blockade-of-qatar-is-failing/

Let me close with something that few people will tell you…the Saudis export an extremist brand of Islam that is embraced by al-Qaeda and ISIS…..you want to look for the fathers of terrorism then look no further than Saudi Arabia.

With all the resources at the disposal of the Saudis and a friend like the US………Qatar wins!

foreignpolicy.com/2018/06/04/qatar-won-the-saudi-blockade

ISIS: The Rest Of The Story

There is a name that we seldom hear any more…..ISIS.  You would think that the lack of information would signal the demise of this barbarous group, right?  You would be mistaken.

While ISIS may be dying slowly in Iraq and Syria that does not mean the this group is dying out completely……not at all…..

Since ISIS has slipped from the headlines maybe now would be a good time for a refresher course…..

Bottom Line: The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), has experienced significant territorial losses in its former self-declared caliphate that once spanned large swaths of eastern Syria and western Iraq. However, the group remains a potent international threat as it increasingly adopts conventional insurgent tactics, increases its focus on executing terrorist attacks in the West and doubles down on supporting affiliate organizations across the globe as well as lone wolf actors pursuing inspired attacks in their home countries.

Background: ISIS is the third reincarnation of al-Qaida in Iraq, a group that was originally formed in the aftermath of the Iraq War in 2004 and later changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2006.

https://www.thecipherbrief.com/threat-report-2018-isis-spotlight#.Wvnnf6psq-0

Before ISIS there was al-Qaeda (AQ)……with ISIS getting most of the press for the last several years ….has AQ disbanded?  Has AQ decided to play nice?

What happened to AQ after the death of Osama?

And I have found an answer to your questions……

In the past five years, only one attack in a Western country — the Kouachi brothers’ attack against Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 — can be connected to al-Qaeda. Why did the once infamous and feared group halt its terror campaign in the West? Part of the explanation is that al-Qaeda has indeed suffered from targeted killings of senior operatives, making it harder for the group to plan and execute international attacks, and that regional events in the Middle East have enhanced the attractiveness of a local focus as opposed to conducting attacks in the West. Equally important to understand al-Qaeda’s changing priorities, however, is the rise of the Islamic State as a competing jihadi outfit and its ensuing terror campaign in the West. Intra-jihadi dynamics affect rival jihadi groups’ priorities for attacks. I outlined this argument in a recent article, Jihadi Competition and Political Preferences, which contends that intra-jihadi competition has played an important role in the changing enemy hierarchies of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State since 2014. Now, with the decline of the Islamic State, will al-Qaeda once again focus on launching attacks in (and not just against) the West?

https://warontherocks.com/2018/04/with-islamic-state-in-decline-whats-al-qaedas-next-move/

As you can see if you have read these reports…..these groups may be out of mind but they are not gone……

Do not let our attention be diverted…..please.

Death Among The Scrub

At the end of last year, 2017, word came out of the death of an American Green Beret possibly at the hands of some SEALs……I wrote about this situation awhile back….

https://lobotero.com/2018/01/13/death-in-mali-2/

So far not much info has come out of the so-called investigation that is until over this past weekend when a new twist was announced……instead of two SEALs being held there seem to be a couple Marines that are getting some scrutiny….as well.

The military is investigating whether two special forces Marines played a role in the choking death of a Green Beret in Mali last year and the possible cover up of how it occurred, according to five U.S. defense officials.

Two Navy SEALs from the famed SEAL Team 6 are already under investigation for their involvement in the strangling death of Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar during the predawn hours of June 4, 2017. Melgar, 34, died in embassy housing he shared with other service members in Bamako, capital of the West African nation.

A September 2017 Army Criminal Investigative Division report about the incident quotes Navy SEAL Tony DeDolph saying he and Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar were wrestling at 4 a.m. when a fellow SEAL Adam cranston Matthew came in and joined in the horseplay. According to the SEALS, the men fell down together and when they stood up Melgar wasn’t breathing.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/africa/military-investigating-if-two-marines-played-role-green-beret-s-n873141

A new twist….but the part that fascinates me is that the MSM has pretty much ignored this story….a story of Americans killing Americans……I guess the Hollywood image of the SEALs must be upheld at all costs, right?

This gets no coverage and soon we will be bombarded with a royal wedding….which has NO news value whatsoever…..and its entertainment value is dubious at best.