Thursday, July 20, 2017

President Trump's Eldest Son, Former Campaign Manager And Son-In-Law To Testify Next Week On Their Meeting With A Russian Attorney

VOA: Trump Jr., Kushner, Manafort to Testify Next Week

WASHINGTON — U.S. senators announced Wednesday that President Donald Trump's eldest son, former campaign manager and son-in-law would testify next week about their meeting last June with a Russian attorney who said she had damaging information about Trump's Democratic opponent in last year's election.

Two Senate committees will be involved. The Judiciary Committee will question Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort, the former campaign chief, in a public session July 26. The Intelligence Committee will hear from Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior White House adviser, on July 24, but that meeting will be closed to the public and reporters.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I expect nothing to come out from this .... but it is going to be great theatre, and soundbites/videos/pictures for the evening news.

More News On President Trump's Eldest Son, Former Campaign Manager And Son-In-Law Testifying Next Week On Their Meeting With A Russian Attorney

Trump campaign inner circle called before Senate committees -- AP
Trump's son, close associates to appear before Senate -- Reuters
Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner set to testify before Senate committees next week -- L.A. Times/AP
Jared Kushner to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee Monday -- ABC News
Trump Jr., Manafort, Kushner to testify before lawmakers next week -- Washington Times
Donald Trump Jr and Paul Manafort to testify before Congress about Russia -- The Guardian
Donald Trump's son and aides to testify in Senate about Russia -- BBC
Donald Trump Jr, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner to appear before US Senate committees -- ABC News Online

World News Briefs -- July 20, 2017

Reuters: Syria rebels blindsided by U.S. move, say jihadists to benefit

BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian rebels said on Thursday a U.S. decision to halt a covert CIA program of military aid would mark a big blow to the Syrian opposition and risked allowing jihadists to tighten their grip over the insurgency.

Rebels who have received aid under the CIA program said they had yet to be informed of the U.S. decision first reported by the Washington Post on Wednesday and confirmed by two U.S. officials to Reuters.

A Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander said the U.S. decision risked triggering the collapse of the moderate opposition, which would benefit President Bashar al-Assad and jihadists linked to al Qaeda that have long sought to extinguish more moderate groups.

Read more ....


IS families, Mosul displaced live side-by-side in Iraq camp.

Rebel ambush kills 28 regime fighters near Damascus: monitor.

Syria war: Trump 'ends CIA arms programme for rebels'.

Iran's president says his country will 'stand up to' US.

Kuwait closes Iran cultural mission, expels diplomats. Iran slams 'baseless' Kuwait claims over terror plot.

Saudi prince arrested on King Salman’s order after video appears to show abusive behavior. Video of beating shared on social media leads to Saudi prince arrest.

Hamas warns Israel of al-Aqsa 'red lines' amid protest. Israel and Palestinians dig in over Jerusalem site security.


North Korea drought: Children at risk in 'worst crisis since 2001'.

U.S. Navy chief asks Chinese counterpart for help on North Korea.

Philippines' Duterte makes surprise visit to warzone.

Pakistani forces kill 13 terrorists, destroy hideouts: army.

India low caste leader elected president in boost for Modi coalition.

Get out! Chinese agents bar access to the 'free' wife of Liu Xiaobo.

PNG elections: Free speech under attack during vote, Media Council warns.


Clashes between herdsmen, farmers kill 33 in Nigeria.

US warns South Sudan regional plan is last chance for peace.

Rival Libyan leaders Haftar, Seraj to meet in Paris on July 25: Hayat.

Ugandan police arrests dozens over presidential age limit protest.

Suspects 'tortured' at Cameroon military base, says Amnesty. Amnesty: Cameroon troops tortured Boko Haram suspects.

DRC: vast business network of president who won't step down revealed.

Tanzanian leader urges Burundian exiles to go home.

Protesters to hold Morocco march in defiance of ban.

Son of Cecil the Lion is shot dead by a big game hunter two years after his father was killed.


Brexit: UK and EU at odds over 'exit bill'.

Turkey slams 'dangerous' Cyprus plans after talks failure.

France’s Macron visits air force base amid military crisis.

Polish lawmakers pass controversial Supreme Court bill.

‘It hurts not having ambassadors,’ says US Army commander in Europe.

Court convicts more than 40 in Rome corruption trial.

Germany overhauls Turkey policy. Germany warns citizens of Turkey risks amid arrests.


Venezuela crisis: Violence fears as strike action begins.

US House GOP defiant on health bill amid Senate uncertainty.

Trump nominees lose patience with lengthy vetting process.

Brazil's former President Lula has assets frozen.

Police: 2 African teens reported missing crossed into Canada.

Top adviser to Puerto Rico governor resigns, 'in no way pressured'.


US praises Qatar's role in fight against 'terrorism'.

US: Iran still top state terror sponsor; global attacks down.

IS falling 'very fast': Trump at Pentagon.


US and China emerge from trade talks without agreement.

AlphaBay and Hansa dark web markets shut down.

ExxonMobil fined by US for Ukraine sanctions violations.

U.S. says ExxonMobil violated Russia sanctions while Tillerson was CEO.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 20, 2017

Military Times: Military officials to brief Trump on deployed forces, Afghanistan and ISIS

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will visit the Pentagon Thursday to get briefed on the military’s global deployments and discuss potential plans to increase those commitments in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State, defense officials said.

No additional troop level decisions are expected to be announced as part of the visit, which comes as Trump’s national security team finalizes its revised plans for Afghanistan and continues to formulate its way ahead against the Islamic State.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 20, 2017

Trump Convenes Full Natl. Security Team to Discuss Afghanistan -- Washington Post

Trump-Putin Meeting Raises Red Flags for National Security Experts -- NBC News

Trump's embrace of Russia making top advisers wary -- Military Times/AP

U.S. and Russia clash over military exercises -- Politico

How India stacks up against China, and why China can't win despite its military superiority -- Economic Times

Analysts: India won't ink a single-engine fighter deal before 2019 -- Defense News

Chinese military developing unmanned supply truck -- Jane's 360

Brazilian aircraft takes on an American military icon -- CNN

The Dangers of the UK’s Blanket No Comment Policy for Special Forces -- RCD

Veterans merge sexual-assault suits against Canadian military -- Globe and Mail

Macron vs the military -- Politico

Turkey's state-run news publishes locations of previously unknown US bases in northern Syria -- Military Times

European, U.S. Troops Conduct Joint Drills as Russia Tensions Grow -- RCD

US Army Europe sets its posture as big Russian wargame looms -- Stars and Stripes

US armored vehicles seen pouring into Syria -- Military Times

US intelligence shows North Korean preparations for a possible missile test -- CNN

Army cyber fighters are on the offensive against ISIS -- Defense Systems

Navy Report: Submarine Industrial Base Can Maintain 2-Attack Boat Construction Rate, Bolstering Lawmakers’ Plans -- USNI News

Navy may need to reconsider the future of its fleet, study says -- Navy Times

DARPA, BAE Systems Developing Small Unmanned Underwater Vehicles to Hunt Enemy Submarines -- USNI News

DoD Is Buying Fewer, Yes, Fewer Commercial Items. Oops! -- Breaking Defense

Textron, Sierra Nevada prep for OA-X experiment at US Air Force base -- Defense News

US Military building for info warfare -- Washington Times

Heat illness remains 'significant threat' to troops, despite warnings and guidance -- Military Times

Trump: The US is ready to leave one of its most important military bases if the Gulf crisis worsens -- Business Insider

Navy Has First Female Applicants for SEAL Officer, Special Boat Units --

Is the Military Losing Its Ability to Fight Capable Foes? -- Daniel Davis, American Conservative

The Nuclear Posture Review, Bomber Capability, and Extended Deterrence -- RCD

Trump aides want to re-privatize the military. That would be a big mistake -- Jon Michaels. LA Times

Chinese Warships In The English Channel

The Telegraph: Royal Navy scrambles to shadow Chinese warships in English Channel as they head to Baltics for first war games with Russia

The Royal Navy scrambled a warship to shadow a Chinese flotilla as it steamed through the English Channel en route to meet Russian vessels for manoeuvres in the Baltic Sea.

The trio of Chinese warships passed through the Strait of Dover under the watch of the HMS Richmond, a Type 23 frigate, at the weekend.

They then headed across the North Sea, where they were spotted being escorted by Dutch vessels earlier this week ahead of manoeuvres with Vladimir Putin’s navy which begin on Friday.

Read more ....

WNU editor: Who would have thought this was possible 10 years ago.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: Israel Struck Hezbollah Targets In Syria Dozens Of Times

© Ronen Zvulun / Reuters

Haaretz: Israel Struck Hezbollah Targets in Syria Dozens of Times, Netanyahu Reveals in Hot-mic Remarks

Although the meeting had been behind closed doors, Netanyahu's remarks were accidentally transmitted to the earbuds distributed among reporters

BUDAPEST - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted to the prime ministers of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia that Israel had carried out dozens of attacks against Hezbollah arms convoys in Syria.

"We blocked the border not only in Egypt but in the Golan Heights," he said. "We built the wall because there was a problem with ISIS and Iran trying to build a terror front there. I told Putin, when we see them transferring weapons to Hezbollah, we will hurt them. We did it dozens of times."

Although the meeting had been behind closed doors, Netanyahu's remarks were accidentally transmitted to the earbuds distributed among reporters, though his people discovered the transmission and shut it down within a few minutes.

Read more ....

WNU Editor
: A part of me wonders if this "accidental transmission" to reporters was done on purpose. Israel sees this growing Iran-Hezbollah involvement in Syria as a serious national security threat that is unacceptable .... and what better way to warn them than by stating bluntly the consequences of what happened in the past .... Fmr. Israeli Security Chief: Iranian Land Corridor, Bases in Syria Biggest Threats to Israel (The Tower).

More News On Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Admitting That Israel has Struck Hezbollah Targets In Syria Dozens Of Times In The Past

Netanyahu accidentally reveals Israel has struck Iran-backed fighters in Syria ‘dozens of times’ -- Washington Post
Netanyahu Admits Israel Struck Iranian Convoys 'Dozens of Times' -- The Atlantic
Israel Escalates Threats Against Iran -- Haaretz
Mic blunder: Netanyahu ‘admits Israel carried out dozens of strikes on Hezbollah convoys’ -- RT

Hat tip Fred for this link.

A U.S. - Russia ceasefire Will Put Russian Military Forces Near The Israeli Border

An IDF soldier looks into southern Syria from the Israeli side of the border. Photo: IDF via Wikimedia Commons.

Yossi Alpher, Forward: The Trump-Putin Syria Ceasefire Puts Russia On Israel’s Border

The United States, Russia and Jordan, with Israel’s acquiescence, recently negotiated a ceasefire among warring parties in the southwest corner of Syria, an area bordering both Israel and Jordan. Presidents Trump and Putin announced the achievement at their Hamburg summit, and it took effect July 9.

On the face of it, an end to the killing anywhere in Syria is a good thing. If stray shells and bullets no longer “leak” into the Israeli Golan, that, too, is obviously welcome news. And if this step offers a model for additional ceasefires throughout Syria and enables refugees to return home, that is a move in the right direction for the entire Middle East.

But there is far more to this ceasefire than a mere cessation of hostilities next door. By augmenting Russia’s capacity to affect Israel’s strategic interests, it could have far-reaching consequences.

While the U.S. is a party to the ceasefire agreement, it will not be involved in policing it. That task apparently falls to Russia. This could place Russian combat troops, dubbed “military police” for protocol purposes, across a narrow boundary divide from the Israel Defense Forces patrolling the Golan.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: If a ceasefire is to hold in south-east Syria, Russian forces will be instrumental in policing the peace. Is this acceptable to Israel .... for some I will have to say no (see below links) ....

Analysis Syria Cease-fire: Israel Will Have to Live With Russian Dominance on Its Border -- Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz
Iran, With Russian Help, Threatens Israel From Syria -- Algemenier
Russian troops for Quneitra in defiance of Israel -- Debka

Hat tip to Fred for this story.

Iran Warns The U.S. To Remove Their Bases 1000 Kilometres Away From The Region

SKY News: Iran warns US to 'disassemble military bases within 1,000km' over sanctions

The warning was reportedly made in response to new US sanctions over Iran's ballistic missile programme.

The leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guard has warned the US to move its military bases from within 1,000km of the country.

Mohammad Ali Jafari is said to have made the remarks in response to new US sanctions over Iran's ballistic missile programme.

"If the United States wants to pursue sanctions against Iran's defences and the Guards, then it has to move its regional bases to a distance of about 1,000 km (620 miles) around Iran," he was quoted as saying by state TV.

The US should also "be aware that it would pay a high price for any miscalculations", he said.

Read more ....

More News On Iran Warning The U.S. To Remove Their Bases 1000 Kilometres Away From The Region

US Military Must Leave Iran's Borders And Stop Calling Us Terrorists, Revolutionary Guards Say -- Newsweek
U.S. should move bases away if it pursues sanctions - Iran guards -- Reuters
Iranian Guards Warn U.S. To Move Gulf Bases, Avoid 'Miscalculations' -- RFE
Iran threatens US forces deployed near its borders -- Stars and Stripes
Iran warns US to 'disassemble military bases within 1000km' over sanctions -- Sky News
Iran's Elite Corps Commander Delivers Ultimatum to US -- Sputnik
US should move bases 1,000km from Iran if it wants to pursue further sanctions – army chief -- RT
US Warned to Dismantle Bases in Region before Insisting on Sanctions against IRGC -- Tasnim News Agency

Turkey Intensifying Military Operations Against Kurdish Forces In Northern Syria

Kurdish fighters from the Popular Protection Units (YPG).

VOA: Arab-Kurdish Feud Deepens as Fears Mount Over Battle for Raqqa

Syrian rebel militias and Turkey appear to be preparing to intensify their military operations north of Aleppo aimed at taking back mainly Arab towns and villages the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, seized in 2015.

The fighting is a new sign that the United States Turkey, Russia and Iran are plunging deeper into a multifaceted conflict that's carved Syria into unstable zones of influence with no clear lines emerging of how piece it back together.

The Syrian Kurdish force is the United States' main ally in northern Syria. More Arab-on-Kurd clashes would complicate plans for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to assault Raqqa, the Islamic State terror group’s self-styled capital.

Read more ....

More News On Turkey Intensifying Military Operations Against Kurdish Forces In Northern Syria

Turkey-backed FSA launches offensive against US-backed SDF in Syria -- TRT World
Turkish-YPG clashes rage around critical sites in northern Syria -- Al-Monitor
Turkish Army suffers heavy casualties in latest attack on Kurdish-held northern Aleppo -- AMN Al-Masdar
AFP: At least 15 dead after clashes between Syrian rebels and Kurds -- iFocus
Turkish-backed Forces Clash With Kurdish Fighters in Northwest Syria: Monitors -- VOA
Russia mediates YPG handover of fighters killed in clashes in Syria -- RUDAW

U.S., Russia, And Iran Are Rushing To Build Bases In Syria

Newsweek: US, Russia and Iran Battle to Build Bases in Syria as ISIS Falls

Three of the leading international powers involved in Syria's war—the U.S., Russia and Iran—are looking to expand and fortify their military presence in the country by building and upgrading foreign bases, with some already in the works.

U.S. special operations forces have been involved in Syria for years, and the U.S. appears to be broadening the platforms from which it operates. Earlier this month, satellite imagery showed what appeared to be the construction of a new airstrip near Syria's southern border with Jordan and Iraq, according to The Daily Beast. This base, along with other "temporary" installations, reportedly could be used to both battle the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and bolster forces of the rebel Free Syrian Army in areas where fighters supportive of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are poised to take over. Meanwhile, Assad allies Russia and Iran have announced plans to develop their own military presence in the country.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Syria/Turkey/and Iran are not happy with the U.S. presence. Israel is concerned about the Iranian presence. The Arab states are hostile towards the Russian presence. This is what happens when much of a country becomes a failed state

Turkish State Media Exposes Secret U.S. Military Bases In Syria Potentially Endangering Troops

Newsweek: US 'Concerned' About Turkey Leak of Special Force Positions In Northern Syria

The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) condemned Turkey late Wednesday for leaking locations of key bases for U.S. special forces supporting a Kurdish-Arab coalition in northern Syria.

On Monday, Turkey's state-run news agency Anadolu reported that the U.S. has 10 military points in northern Syria to assist the People's Protection Units, or YPG, in the fight against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

The agency gave precise locations of the bases and even the numbers of U.S. and French special forces stationed at each compound. The U.S. does not disclose the locations for operational and security reasons and

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The Turkish government believes the U.S. is supporting AND protecting Kurdish forces in northern Syria .... and since Turkish government views these Kurdish forces as a threat,this U.S. support is unacceptable .... Secret US military bases in areas controlled by PYD terrorists revealed (Daily Sabah).

More News On Turkish State Media Exposing Secret U.S. Military Bases In Syria Potentially Endangering Troops

Turkey's publication of U.S. troop locations poses risk, Pentagon says -- Reuters
Turkey reveals secret US military locations in Syria -- The Hill
Pentagon voices ‘concerns’ after Turkish news agency posts map of U.S. bases in Syria -- Washington Post
Turkey's state-run news publishes locations of previously unknown US bases in northern Syria -- Military Times
Turkey's leak of US military data puts troops' lives at risk, Pentagon says -- FOX News
Turkey's state news agency exposes US positions in Syria -- Al-Monitor
Pentagon Irked After Turkey Publishes Map of US Military Posts in N. Syria -- VOA
NATO Ally Turkey Threatens to Reveal More Top-Secret Details About U.S. Special Forces in Syria -- PJ Media
Turkey Just Blew Up US Military OPSEC In Syria, Potentially Endangering Troops -- Task & Purpose

Tweets For Today

Picture Of The Day

Fueling Underway
An Air Force F-22 Raptor aircraft is refueled by a KC-10 Extender aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean, July 15, 2017. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen

WNU Editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Airmen Refuel F-22 Raptors Over Atlantic Ocean (US Department of Defense).

U.S. Military Is Learning The Value Of Lower Cost Weapons In The War Against The Islamic State

U.S. Army soldier launches AeroVironment's Puma unmanned aerial vehicle during an Iraqi security forces' offensive on an ISIS position near the western edge of Mosul, Iraq, March 19, 2017. Source: Army/Staff Sgt. Jason Hull

CNBC: ISIS fight shows US military can use lower-cost weapons with lethal results

* The fight against the Islamic State is seen as a learning opportunity for the U.S. military as it looks to a future of a new kind of opponent in urban settings.
* Low-cost solutions, whether in precision weapons or lighter attack aircraft, provide advantages in an era of constrained budgets.
* Anti-UAV technology in demand as enemy develops more weaponized uses for drones.

The fight against the Islamic State has become a learning opportunity for the U.S. military as it looks to a future taking on very adaptable and resourceful opponents.

There's also a growing realization that lower-cost technology solutions, whether in precision weapons or lighter attack aircraft, can provide advantages in an era of constrained budgets.

"What we've discovered is we're using very expensive stuff like B-1s, F-22s and even MQ-9 Reapers with things like Hellfire missiles, when you can do a lot of this with cheaper aircraft," said Daniel Goure, a defense analyst and vice president of the Lexington Institute, a nonprofit public policy research organization based in Arlington, Virginia.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Why is a $60,000 missile being used when an artillery round can do the same job. Why send in a B-1 bomber when a Hell-Fire missile fired from a drone can be used. But the big question is .... will the military change its ways. If the past is any indication .... we should not be optimistic.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

President Trump Cancels CIA Program Started By President Obama To Arm And Train Syria's Rebels

New York Times: Trump Ends Covert Aid to Syrian Rebels Trying to Topple Assad

President Trump has ended the clandestine American program to provide arms and supplies to Syrian rebel groups, American officials said, a recognition that the effort was failing and that the administration has given up hope of helping to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The decision came more than a month ago, the officials said, by which time the effort to deliver the arms had slowed to a trickle.

It was never publicly announced, just as the beginnings of the program four years ago were officially a secret, authorized by President Barack Obama through a “finding” that permitted the C.I.A. to conduct a deniable program. News of the troublesome program soon leaked out.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This secret CIA program was an unmitigated disaster. Radical jihadists benefited from it. The misery and the war just exploded .... resulting in the refugee disaster that we are still facing today. And in the war against ISIS .... the only group that have proven their worth are the Kurds .... and not the Syrian rebel groups who originally got these weapons and who were suppose to go to war against ISIS. But even with this CIA cut-off the Syrian civil war is going to continue .... there are just too many arms and too many outside governments vested in keeping the conflict alive.

More News On President Trump Cancelling The CIA Program Started By President Obama To Arm And Train Syria's Rebels

Report: Trump ending secret CIA program to arm Syrian rebels -- CBS
Trump 'ends programme to arm anti-Assad rebels' in move sought by Russia -- The Independent
Victory for Putin as Trump ends CIA program to arm Syrian rebels which Kremlin boss had claimed was illegal -- Daily Mail
Trump shuts down CIA program to arm Syrian rebels: report -- The Hill
Donald Trump drops CIA programme in Syria 'in bid to improve Russia ties' -- The Guardian
U.S. Drops CIA Support For Anti-Assad Syrian Rebels To Please Russia: Reports -- RFE
'Trump ends CIA support for anti-Assad Syria rebels' -- Al Jazeera
Trump cancels CIA program to arm, train Syrian rebels: report -- NYPost
Trump to end CIA support for anti-Assad forces in Syria – reports -- RT
'Putin won in Syria': Trump is reportedly ending the CIA's covert program to arm Syrian rebels -- Business Insider

U.S. Senator John McCain Has Been Diagnosed With Aggressive Brain Cancer

CNN: Sen. John McCain has brain cancer, aggressive tumor surgically removed

(CNN)Sen. John McCain, 80, has been diagnosed with a primary glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor, Mayo Clinic doctors directly involved in the senator's care told CNN exclusively. The doctors spoke directly to CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

The senator underwent surgery to remove a blood clot on Friday at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix. Lab results from that surgery confirmed the presence of brain cancer associated with the blood clot.

Glioblastoma is a particularly aggressive tumor that forms in the tissue of the brain and spinal cord, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is a shock. Sadly .... I also know that the type of cancer that he has .... at his age .... will be very difficult to recover from, even if the operation to remove the tumor was a success. Our prayers are with him, his family, and loved ones.

More News On U.S. Senator John McCain

Doctors: Sen. John McCain has brain tumor -- AP
Senator McCain diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer -- Reuters
Sen. John McCain Diagnosed With Brain Cancer -- NBC
John McCain, Republican senator from Arizona, diagnosed with brain tumor -- Washington Post
John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer, spokesman says -- The Guardian
John McCain: US senator diagnosed with brain cancer -- ABC News Online
McCain’s brain tumor is particularly aggressive type -- AP
What if McCain leaves office? Here's how the process works -- AZ Central

The Chinese Navy Is Preparing To Fight On The High seas

The Chinese guided missile destroyer PLANS Jinan (DDG 152) during a passing exercise. Wikimedia

Ryan Martinson and Katsuya Yamamoto, National Interest: How China's Navy Is Preparing to Fight in the 'Far Seas'

Two PLA Navy officers might have a clue.

On June 28, the Chinese navy launched the first of a formidable new class of warship. At over twelve thousand tons and bristling with sensors and weapons, the Type 055 destroyer is among the most advanced surface combatants in the world. When completed, it will join the world’s fastest-growing fleet, a service that commissioned twenty-three new surface ships in 2016 alone, compared with just six for the U.S. Navy and zero for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Clearly some great fear or ambition hastens China’s investment in sea power.

But what is it?

Read more ....

WNU editor: the Chinese are focusing their energies on being able to fight in the Pacific and Indian Ocean. And while they do not seem much of a threat right now .... one can only imagine what they will be 10 or 20 years from now.

Who Is Flying This Mysterious Helicopter Near Raqqa?

The Drive/Warzone: Unmasking The S-92 Mystery Helicopter In Syria Which Was Spotted Again Near Raqqa

We may have finally discovered who likely owns the helicopter, but who is using it and exactly for what remains a mystery.

A new video has surfaced that shows the same unmarked, gray S-92 Helibus that we identified last March in northern Syria, but this time it was seen supposedly flying over or very near the Islamic State's defacto capital of al Raqqa. Similar helicopters were originally spotted in Djibouti in 2015, adding to the mystery of who owns and operates them, especially considering the type is not officially in the Pentagon's active inventory.

The video, which was posted on social media, cuts to V-22 Ospreys, which are also known to be highly active in the region. The Ospreys ferry US special operations forces, US Marines, and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters, which are primarily made up of Kurds, around eastern Syria to battle zones and forward operating bases. With the offensive to rout ISIS from al Raqqa finally underway, it only makes sense that the Ospreys are now flying along the outskirts of the the besieged city. As to the exact mission of the shadowy S-92, we still don't know.

Read more ....

WNU editor: This looks like black-ops/special operations.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 19, 2017

Fred Kaplan, Slate: The Iran Trap

Trump is stuck with Obama’s nuclear deal. And his efforts to undermine it can only help Tehran.

President Donald Trump is having, even by his standards, a very bad week. On Monday alone, quite apart from the continuing Russia scandal, he found himself blocked from fulfilling his dreams and campaign promises to repeal the two landmark achievements of the Obama years—the Affordable Care Act and the Iran nuclear deal.

In the former, Senate Republican leaders couldn’t muster enough votes, even within their own party, for an alternative plan that was drawn up in secret and would snatch health care from more than 20 million Americans. In the latter, Trump was met with—and, at first, tried to resist—an unpleasant surprise: The Iranians, it turns out, are in full compliance with the accord’s quite stringent terms. The deal, which Trump and other critics had denounced as dangerous and unworkable, is working.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- July 19, 2017

Exclusive: Iran's Foreign Minister Warns Donald Trump That Tehran Can Abandon the Nuclear Deal -- Mohammad Javad Zarif, National Interest

With US indifferent, scope of Syria ‘peace talks’ has shrunk -- Sami Moubayed, Asia Times

What's the US Plan for Post-ISIS Syria? Let Them Fight Among Themselves -- Newsweek

Doha must negotiate its way back into the fold or face years of isolation -- Hassan Hassan, The National

Addiction and intrigue: Inside the Saudi palace coup -- Reuters

Is Turkey Headed for Another Coup? -- Mohammed Ayoob, National Interest

Empty US threats over North Korea are serving Beijing’s interests -- Hugh White, SCMP

Mouth-dropping corruption charges rock Indonesia -- John McBeth, Asia Times

What's Driving the India-China Standoff at Doklam? -- Ankit Panda, The Diplomat

Honour Mandela: SA can no longer stand by and watch their 'house' burn -- Chris Jones, Mail & Guardian

Kenya is set to hold one of the most expensive elections in Africa -- Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz

Don’t Tolerate the Intolerable from Chechnya’s Strongman Kadyrov -- Tanya Lokshina, Moscow Times

French Class: Macron Embraces Trump -- Ronald Tiersky, RCW

Five Years After Benghazi, U.S. Diplomats Still Think ‘It’s Not Going to Happen to Me’ -- Kimberley Dozier, Daily Beast

When Strategic Bombing Works and When It Doesn't -- Robert Farley, The Diplomat