Tag: russia

Firm but Fair: Key questions of the limited US Tomahawk strikes against Assad in Syria

Yesterday, around 4:40 local time in Syria, the United States Navy has launched 59 Tomahawk strikes from the USS Ross and USS Porter, eastern Mediterranean, and hit the Shayrat Airfield….

Yesterday, around 4:40 local time in Syria, the United States Navy has launched 59 Tomahawk strikes from the USS Ross and USS Porter, eastern Mediterranean, and hit the Shayrat Airfield. This airfield was used by the Assad regime to launch the deadly chemical attack that killed up to 80 people, including women and children, and wounded hundred other.  The missile strike was a limited action with no further plans to extend or escalate the situation.

Red – Assad’s Regime / Green – Rebels / Dark Green – Turkey’s Euphrates Shield mission + Rebels / Yellow – (east of Euphrates) SDF and YPG (Afrin canton) / Dark – ISIS; S-300 and S-400 range of action slightly inconsistent (too small)

 

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Road to Raqqa: Are we there yet?

INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS – The Euphrates corridor, as any waterway in the Middle East (and not only) has been a catalyst for urban settlement, agriculture industry and energy development. Crossing Syria…

INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS – The Euphrates corridor, as any waterway in the Middle East (and not only) has been a catalyst for urban settlement, agriculture industry and energy development. Crossing Syria from its north-western corner in Aleppo governorate all the way down to Iraq’s Anbar region, the Euphrates River has been used by ISIS as a blood vein to spread as a tumor in a ravished body. Through its road to Iraq, the Euphrates also crosses the sparsely populated but oil-rich region of Deir-Ezzor; it’s importance being critical for trade, exploitation and transport optimization. Moreover, capitalizing on the strategic importance of the river and its surroundings, ISIS has made its self proclaimed-capital in Raqqa since 2014 – after it ousted the Free Syrian Army and Jabhat al-Nusra that initially liberated it in June 2013 from the Syrian Arab Army, following the escalation of the Revolution into the Civil War.

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American, Russian troops in Manbij: Preventing an all-out Turkish-Kurdish face-off?

URGENT BRIEF – The United States have deployed more forces near the northern Syrian city of Manbij, liberated in July 2016 from ISIS, by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-led by…

URGENT BRIEF – The United States have deployed more forces near the northern Syrian city of Manbij, liberated in July 2016 from ISIS, by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-led by the Kurdish militia, YPG. Territory already transferred to Russian-Syrian control in order to prevent a Turkish assault on it.

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Al-Bab Liberated: What’s next? (VIDEO)

VIDEO BRIEFING – The strategic city of Al-Bab has been liberated by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) local allies from the “islamic state” (ISIS)…

VIDEO BRIEFING – The strategic city of Al-Bab has been liberated by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) local allies from the “islamic state” (ISIS) occupation. The battle is in the context of Operation Euphrates Shield launched by Turkey in late-August 2016 in northern Syria, with the strategic purpose of clearing ISIS out of the border, preventing the Kurdish YPG and the SDF from uniting the cantons and to maintain a leverage against Bashar Assad’s regime. The operational objectives of the battle of al-Bab was the city itself. Taking into consideration Syria’s road infrastructure, al-Bab is a logistical crossroads between the Syrian Arab Army-held (SAA) Aleppo city (west), YPG/SDF-held Manbij (east), ISIS between the lakes corridor (south) and the Turkish border and the Syrian bordering city of Al-Rai (just 35 km north). It was imperative in order to seal the deal of a buffer zone in northern Aleppo governorate. The battle for al-Bab began in November 2016 and ended in February 7th 2017 – lasting 104 days.

Check out the video briefing for maps and battlefield footage + voice commentary of the battle. Moreover, it remains the question of where to next? The Kurdish-held Manbij? Or ISIS self-proclaimed “capital” of Raqqa?

Battle of al-Bab: a story through maps

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Jihadi Affairs: Al-Qaeda re-emerges in Idlib

SITUATION REPORT – A major merger has occurred in the past days in Syria, giving birth to a troubling Jihadi force, called Tahrir al-Sham. The group is built on the…

SITUATION REPORT – A major merger has occurred in the past days in Syria, giving birth to a troubling Jihadi force, called Tahrir al-Sham. The group is built on the bedrock of Al-Qaeda in Syria. Rumors and buzz surfaced about clashes between the two strongest radical opposition groups: Ahrar ash-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. Both of them are based in Idlib Governorate located in northwestern Syria, while Idlib city is placed just 40 km southwest of Aleppo. They have supposedly received funding over the years from individuals originating from the Gulf states, and have Salafist agendas. 

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General McChrystal: “War in Europe is possible”

In an interview offered for Pirsm magazine, retired General Stanley McChrystal, made several observations and gave some warnings in regards to the current state of affairs. He is best known…

In an interview offered for Pirsm magazine, retired General Stanley McChrystal, made several observations and gave some warnings in regards to the current state of affairs. He is best known for leading Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and for his successful counter-insurgency operations (COIN) in Iraq. He wrote a novel, called “Teams of Teams” and is now the head of McChrystal Group, a consultancy and leadership company. Stanley McChrystal is also a distinguished thinker and strategist, being one of the few who really managed to understand and anticipate how a terror organization acts and moves. Alongside Mike Flynn and under David Patreus, Stanley McChrystal implemented the famous “fusion cells”, that managed to keep Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) on its toes, gain support from the Sunnis that eventually led to the the targeting and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – the leader of AQI. That later made way to the Anbar Awaking – the rare moment when the Sunni triangle revolved against AQI and cooperated with the US.

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Bizarre move in Deir Ezzor

INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING – The Department of Defense confirms that the United States have engaged ISIS targets around Deir Ezzor/ Dayr Az Zawr on 18th of Januariy 2017. Why this particular…

INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING – The Department of Defense confirms that the United States have engaged ISIS targets around Deir Ezzor/ Dayr Az Zawr on 18th of Januariy 2017. Why this particular news should raise questions? Because Deir Ezzor has become the scene of a fierce battle between the local Syrian Arab Army (SAA) 137th and 57th Brigades and the terror group’s forces that have surrounded the city since early 2015. The 120,000 civilian still living in the city risk a humanitarian crisis. Therefore the United States have joined, even if for some isolated strikes, Russia in aiding the Regime’s forces. In other news, incoming POTUS, Donald J. Trump has been invited by Russia and Turkey to take part in the Astana peace talks on Syria.

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New Year’s Resolution: Syrian Civil War

STRATEGIC FORECAST – Reflecting on the Syrian Civil War’s end of the year and debut of 2017 I have outlined the following scenarios.  The analysis consists of a procedural process…

STRATEGIC FORECAST – Reflecting on the Syrian Civil War’s end of the year and debut of 2017 I have outlined the following scenarios.  The analysis consists of a procedural process of summarizing the context, deepening into present tendencies and outlining the prospects.  Sources are as always, Open (OSINT) gathered through social media crowd-sourcing and personal empirical and holistic conclusions.

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Towards an Ankara-Damascus endgame in Syria?

The recent developments in northern Syria have reconfigured again the chessboard of the Syrian Civil War. Turks have crossed the border in Jarabulus alongside FSA groups to free the city…

The recent developments in northern Syria have reconfigured again the chessboard of the Syrian Civil War. Turks have crossed the border in Jarabulus alongside FSA groups to free the city from Da’esh, and then extended its effort towards ousting the YPG, and even Kurdish elements from SDF, towards east of Euphrates; the mentioned groups also planned to free Jarabulus from ISIS thereby extending Kurdish land grab to the Turkish border – from Ankara’s perspective. The US, who was believed to be in the middle of a fall out with Ankara, has not only supported the Euphrates Shield Operation in Jarabulus, but the White House publicly threatened that if the Kurds don’t retreat to the other side of the river, they will lose US support[1]. (VIDEO Briefing on the Turkish invasion in Syria here)

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U.S. moves nuclear weapons from Turkey to Romania? (+Updates)

In the context of degrading ties between Ankara and Washington, two independent sources told EurActiv.com that the United States has started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania. The…

In the context of degrading ties between Ankara and Washington, two independent sources told EurActiv.com that the United States has started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania. The geopolitical implications, Romania’s rising role, the nuke’s technical details and whether there’s truth behind it, will be the main explored topics of this analysis.
 The nuclear weapons were stationed in Incirlik Air Base near Adana in Turkey, just 100 km from the Syrian border. The precise location had a great strategic depth as the nukes were close to Iran, Russia and other possible hostile threats from Asia, or even Africa. But given the current Turkish state of affairs, the safest decision was to move them. Nukes cannot be activated without having the cryptic system, which is actually a code of which pieces need to be provided by different individuals from the Government, including the US President. But the nuclear assets can be compromised in case the need to use them. After the Coup, Incirlik was shut down, power cut off and US soldiers were forbidden to leave. Turkish officers were supervising them, while the commander of the base through many high commanding officers were arrested for supporting the Coup.
Moreover, yesterday the rumor of the nukes being moved to Romania began flowing in the Romanian Press. Even ex-President Traian Basescu has been asked about such a possible scenario. Today the Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs has denied the rumors, but then again, that’s the playbook. There’s never ever going to be a confirmation.
Not even the nukes in Incirlik Air Base were confirmed. But being stationed there for such a long time, information got leaked and independent studies were undertaken, so things got clear . It could be months, years, until we get a similar feeling about the US nukes being stationed in Romania. But following recent tensions between the US and Turkey, such a move was more than expected.

Aegis Shield System located in Deveselu, Romania

The same site, EurActiv.com has informed that the new home for the nukes is the Deveselu base, located in southern Romania. The base also shelters an Aegies anti-shield system build by the US to intercept any ballistic missile, especially those containing warheads.  At this year’s Warsaw Summit, the Aegis system got incorporated in NATO’s anti-missiles defense infrastructure. Having underground silos and a modern state of the art infrastructure to secure it, such a location is perfect to hide nukes. NATO’s nuclear capacity is heavily dependent on the US deposit thereby such a move is critical for Alliance defense also.
But what about other geopolitical implications? Well.. Strategically, this is a setback for the US, the location of Incirlik gave access to the Mediterranean Sea, Caucasus and the Middle East (even bordering Iran) while keeping a reasonable distance to the Black Sea. It was a textbook geo-strategic placement. But in the given situation, the Pentagon’s contingency planners pointed that Romania was the closes stable Ally to place the nukes in that hold all the necessary ingredients for become a nuclear host.. Romania has no nationalist movement, no extremists parties going mainstream, while not a successful economy, it is nonetheless a stable one, with even the biggest economical growth in the EU 2016 in Q2, and it’s currently undergoing a military modernization. It has access to the Black Sea, a huge interests in deterring Russia and also in protecting the Republic of Moldova from any Russian incursions. It also benefits from the US-funded Aegis Ashore anti-missile shield system, which is one of the most modern pieces of equipment that NATO holds. In the past, Romania has also hosted a CIA black site where Al-Qaeda operatives were interrogated and detained.
The rumor could also be a black swan thrown into the internet by a Russian disinformation campaign to damage the image of the Deveselu Air Base, which even so has retained a lot of negative and threatening reactions from Moscow when it was opened or during its construction.
However, if proven true, this move transforms Romania from a stable regional partner with Eastern European security ramifications, into an international strategic ally. Poland and Romania were considered by the Pentagon as being America’s greatest security allies in Eastern Europe, but under this circumstances, the later gets a bigger boost. Romania became a nuclear host country which indeed makes it a double target for Russia in case of a war, but then again, why wouldn’t it be a target for Moscow? Romania is one of the hardest accessible countries for Russia; Hungary is in good relations, especially economical, with Russia, Bulgarian institutions are compromised as showed when Sofia vetoed the Romanian-initiative NATO fleet in the Black Sea; while Moldova is rotten by Russian influence, even if recently it began shifting away from it under Romanian patronage.

Technicalities

The US nuclear arsenal based in Europe is mostly comprised of B61 warheads, also referred to it as “silver bullet”. It is an intermediate-yield strategic and tactical nuclear weapon featuring a two-stage radiation implosion design. However these bombs are designed to be drooped by bombers and fighter jets (aerial assets), not launched from silos. The Deveselu Aegis Ashore System from Romania doesn’t have any  runways for air assets to land or take-off. The system was designed to work in co-op with an installation in Poland, a US Navy ship in the Mediterranean and an Early Warning System in Turkey, in order to intercept hostile threats. The system from its making is purely defensive and has no offensive capacity. So if the nukes are to be stationed in Deveselu, Romania, then the purpose is to deposite (no data on nuclear security capacity in Deveselu) them for a short term. The missiles could never be launched from that base.

End Notes

  • Be advised, this report/ rumor should be taken with a grain of salt as Romanian officials denies it and it’s reported just by one source (although trustworthy) that is quoting anonymous sources.
  • However, even if it’s actually true, it should also be expected that the location of nukes will never ever be confirmed or revealed. It will be total deniability.
  • Russia will begin it’s informational attack on Romania in the following days; internet trolls, fake accounts and huge amount of spam will invade Romanian online pages with anti-US/ anti-NATO messages. It is expected that the Russians will have a very aggressive and flooding approach as this is a majorly important issue for them.
  • While the US lost a great geo-strategic placement moving it out of Incirlik, the new host country, Romania, is not only close to Ukraine where Russia annexed Crimea and invaded Donbas, but also to Transdnister, where Russian troops with a de facto separatists Government also operates. Another Kremlin-response could come from these parts.
  • More US-investments in Romanian defense infrastructure are expected in order to enhance every details for securing nuclear assets. However, if this placement is temporarily or on long term, it remains to be seen.

UPDATE #1: It seems that there is another confirmation. Israeli Private Intelligence and Security News Service “DEBKA File” also confirms that the US has began moving its nukes to Romania after the Turks requested to take control of the arsenal. They also inform that Russian jets could also use the Incirlik Air Base.

UPDATE #2: There are currently 3 hypothesis: a Russian disinformation campaign (they’ve been trying to discredit the defense-only Deveselu base for years), a true report but just a temporary storage, or a total-complete lie.

UPDATE #3: Romanian officials continue to firmly deny this story. NATO said however that US allies must ensure that “all components of NATO’s nuclear deterrent remain safe, secure, and effective”. While the Pentagon stated that the US policy is to not infirm or confirm any news of its nuclear weapons.

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