U.S. Military Remains Vulnerable to Infiltration by Violent Extremists

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

Bottom Line Up Front

Federal prosecutors revealed earlier this week that a United States Army private, 22-year old Ethan Phelan Melzer, conspired to release classified information to a neo-Nazi group called Order of Nine Angles (O9A).

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Will Western Nations Ever Repatriate Their Citizens in Syria and Iraq?

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Bottom Line Up Front

Over the course of the past several weeks, more Western nations have taken steps to repatriate their citizens and children of Islamic State fighters or their family members who may have been born in the caliphate.

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The Challenges of Effective Counterterrorism Intelligence in the 2020s

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

The terrorist threat is vastly different today than it was on 9/11. Social media has empowered extremist movements and terrorist groups to network and organize online, making it far easier for them both to recruit newcomers and to direct or inspire attacks.

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U.S. State Department Country Reports on Terrorism 2019 Assesses Global Nature of the Threat

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

The U.S. State Department issued its annual report outlining country reports on terrorism to provide a global snapshot of the threat landscape, highlighting counterterrorism progress in several key areas while acknowledging that numerous challenges lie ahead.

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Renewed Iran-Backed Attacks in Iraq Ratchet Up the Pressure

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Iran, Middle Orient

Bottom Line Up Front

A new spate of Iran-backed attacks on key facilities in Iraq demonstrates that Iran remains undeterred by the potential for U.S. retaliation.

Iranian-backed strikes in Iraq suggest that Iraq’s new Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, is struggling in his efforts to rein in Iran-backed Shia militias under government control.

The timing of the new attacks to correspond with the start of a U.S.-Iraq ‘strategic dialogue’ indicates Tehran’s continued intent to drive U.S. forces out of Iraq and reduce Washington’s influence with Baghdad.

The Trump administration seeks to prevent further Iran-backed strikes by asserting that it is not affected by Iranian pressure and can escalate the use of force against Iran.

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Palestinians ‘Execute’ Unarmed Civilian, Condemn Israel For Killing Terrorist

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

The two fatal incidents — the killing of the terrorist by the IDF and the killing of the unarmed, handcuffed civilian by the Palestinian security forces — are a perfect demonstration of how the Palestinians twist truth until it is utterly unrecognizable to the international media while hiding their own crimes against their own people.

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Turkey arrests 42 over links to terror group PKK, including former HDP mayors

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient, Turkey

Forty-two people, including former mayors of the pro-PKK Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), were detained for their suspected links to the PKK, a designated terrorist group that has waged a decadeslong insurgency against Turkey.

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Powerful Islamist Group Intensifies Crackdown on Jihadists in Syria’s Idlib

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

A powerful Islamist militant group in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib has launched a military campaign against rival jihadist groups, local news reports and rights groups said Sunday.

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DOJ appeals court’s decision to release Hezbollah money man early

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Africa, Eurasia

The Justice Department argues Kassim Tajideen does not qualify to be freed on “compassionate grounds” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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UN envoy warns Israeli annexation may fuel extremism

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

The UN’s Middle East envoy warned Thursday that Israel’s aim to annex parts of the occupied West Bank may fuel extremism and ignite a regional conflict.

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Iraqi forces swoop on Iran-backed militiamen in Baghdad

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Iraqi security forces raided a stronghold of a powerful Iran-backed militia in southern Baghdad late on Thursday and detained more than a dozen members of the group, government officials and paramilitary sources said.

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China’s Undeclared War on India

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, South East Asia

China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea — equipped with military bases, naval ports and airfields — pose a strategic threat to neighboring countries. In 2018, China landed nuclear strike-capable bombers on these artificial islands, sending an alarming message to the U.S. and regional powers.

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Serbia and Kosovo

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Balkans, Eurasia

U.S.-mediated talks scheduled for Saturday between Serbian and Kosovo leaders aimed at normalising relations were cancelled after a special prosecutor indicted Kosovo’s President Thaçi on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to Kosovo’s 1998-9 conflict. Crisis Group expert Marko Prelec says the indictment could usher in seismic changes in Kosovo’s politics, which Thaçi has dominated for two decades. It has likely also set back efforts to reach a settlement with Serbia by months, or perhaps even years.

Iraq

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

U.S. and Kurdistan Regional Government officials discussed ways to increase coordination between Kurdish and federal military forces in the disputed territories of Ninewa, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din and Diyala. Crisis Group expert Lahib Higel says that the multiplicity of competing regular and irregular forces in these areas has fueled local tensions, while the exclusion of Kurdish regional guards from areas where they have experience and intelligence undermines the fight against ISIS remnants. Baghdad and Erbil should identify areas that would benefit from joint coordination and reduce the presence of non-local forces from population centres.

Iran’s influence in Afghanistan

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Afghanistan, Eurasia, Iran, Middle Orient

Despite strong religious and cultural ties and a long shared border, Iran has a somewhat complicated relationship with Afghanistan. Revolutionary Iran’s tumultuous birth coincided with the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan some four decades ago. Since then, Iran’s attempts to preserve its interests in conflict-ridden Afghanistan have not received much attention from the outside world, but it remains one of the most important neighboring countries for Tehran’s foreign policy.

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Is Ahmad al-Oda winning the “hearts and minds” of Daraa’s people?

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

On June 20 a bus carrying soldiers from the Eighth Brigade of the Fifth Corps, travelling from Latakia to Busra al-Sham, hit a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) near the town of Kahil in eastern Daraa. The IED, consisting of an estimated 700 kg of explosives, blew the bus up and flipped it over, leaving nine dead and 13 injured. Later that day, a protest erupted in the town of Busra al-Sham, the headquarters of the Eighth Brigade, against Hezbollah and Iran’s presence in Daraa. The following day, the funeral for the nine soldiers who died in the IED attack quickly turned into the largest protest Daraa has seen since 2018, including both Eighth Brigade fighters and hundreds of civilians from several nearby areas. The protesters marched into town, with a crowd stretching for several blocks, as they chanted anti-regime slogans and denounced the presence of Iran and Hezbollah in southern Syria.

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The East Fails Iran

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Iran, Middle Orient

Officials in Tehran have a lot to worry about. But they are particularly irked at the speed by which Asian states have dropped Iran as a trading partner. Iran had hoped that the East would save the country’s economy from the barrage of sanctions enacted by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. In early 2018, at a time when Trump and his team were about to unveil the most punishing sanctions regime ever imposed on a country, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei explicitly urged Tehran to look east for trading partners. Khamenei’s track record in vilifying the West is lengthy, with the ayatollah regularly scorning any official in Tehran who disagreed as a simpleton or “unreasonable.” But his alternative has so far proved to be nothing but a pipe dream. Even so, Khamenei maintains the charade of a promised bailout.

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Modern Slavery and Woke Hypocrisy

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

There are an estimated 136,000 people living in modern slavery just in Britain. Slavery in the UK takes the form of forced labor, and domestic and sexual exploitation. Albanians and Vietnamese are among the groups that constitute the majority of slaves. — Global Slavery Index, 2018.

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British aid worker kidnapped in Syria

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

A British aid worker has been kidnapped in Syria by members of a Sunni Islamist militant group in rebel-held Idlib, it emerged on Monday night. Tauqir Sharif, 31, from Walthamstow in East London lives and works in the north-west Syrian city, which has a large number of other British humanitarian workers who together are part of a coalition called The Unity Project.

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I am worried about Egypt

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Africa, Eurasia

I am worried about Egypt; really worried. The solution to its problems, though, is simple: talk to Turkey and Sudan and stay away from Israel, Saudi Arabi and the UAE.

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Annexation is still inadmissible, even by Israel

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Israel’s project to annex 40 per cent of the occupied West Bank is hanging in the balance. Without the long-awaited green light from the Trump administration, it will remain stalled. After his abysmal mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests, recent polls show the president is consistently trailing behind his democratic rival, Joe Biden. A foreign policy fiasco in Palestine could quickly end the incumbent’s dream of a second term in the White House. This explains why he has been dragging his feet on the planned annexation.

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Austrian MPs Vow to Ban Croats’ ‘Ultranationalist’ Bleiburg Events

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

The Austrian Green Party told BIRN why MPs backed a proposed ban on an annual commemoration in Austria of Croatian Nazi-allied troops and civilians killed in World War II which has become a get-together for nationalists.

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Asylum Outsourced: McKinsey’s Secret Role in Europe’s Refugee Crisis

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

In 2016 and 2017, US management consultancy giant McKinsey was at the heart of efforts in Europe to accelerate the processing of asylum applications on over-crowded Greek islands and salvage a controversial deal with Turkey, raising concerns over the outsourcing of public policy on refugees.

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Trust in Democracy Fragile in Central Europe, Balkans – Report

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Balkans, Eurasia

Corruption, populism, nationalism and disinformation have eroded faith in liberal democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, according to a new Globsec report – which says many people would trade in some of their freedoms for greater security and traditional values.

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Five Things Kosovo Must Know Before Doing a Deal with Serbia

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia News

Following the election of the new government in Kosovo, the US special presidential envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Richard Grenell, has taken a proactive and assertive approach to the talks, increasing the likelihood of a final deal in which the US plays a significant role.

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Palestinians: Is It Really about ‘Annexation’?

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

It is dead wrong to assume that if Israel abandons its plan, most Muslims would give up their desire to destroy Israel and replace it with an extremist Iran-style Islamic state.

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U.S. Used Missile With Long Blades to Kill Qaeda Leader in Syria

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Special Operations forces used a secret weapon designed to limit civilian casualties to strike the Qaeda veteran this month.

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How the US military has failed to address white supremacy in its ranks

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

A recently uncovered extremist plot has put fresh scrutiny on the relationship between US service members and white supremacist groups.

An alleged plot by a young solider to coordinate with a neo-Nazi group to attack and kill members of his own army unit has put new scrutiny on the US military’s failure to address violent white supremacy within its own ranks.

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Neo-Nazi Memoir Describes Terror Group’s Acid-Soaked Ram Sacrifice

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

January was a spectacularly bad month for The Base.

A nationwide FBI crackdown dismantled the neo-Nazi terror group, resulting in multiple arrests of its members for things as sinister as assassination plots and plans to shoot up a protest and as peculiar as animal sacrifice and the production of DMT. Then its leader was exposed by the Guardian as a 46-year-old New Jersey native and former private school kid named Rinaldo Nazzarro, who lives in Russia and is a possible Kremlin asset.

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US accuses Iran of sheltering Al Qaeda members

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

The US accused the Iranian government of sheltering members of Al Qaeda.

In its annual terrorism report issued on Wednesday, the US State Department said Iran remained unwilling to convict Al Qaeda members living in the country and refused to publicly identify members in its custody.

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Iraqis flee border areas as Turkey strikes Kurdish militants

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

Dozens of civilians fled villages in northern Iraq on Monday as Turkey stepped up a military campaign targeting Kurdish rebels that has drawn condemnation from Iraqi officials.

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Iraq launches third phase of anti-ISIS operations as coalition withdraws

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Iraq on Monday launched the third phase of a military operation in the north to combat ISIS sleeper cells as US-led coalition forces begin to withdraw.

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US State Department insists no ‘back-room deal’ behind release of Hezbollah financier

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

The US State Department is denying any deal-making or “good-will diplomacy” was behind the impending release of Kassim Tajideen, a Lebanese-Belgian businessman and convicted financier of the militant organisation Hezbollah.

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Al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria detains former commander who defected

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Jamal Zeina split from group once known as Nusra Front earlier this year to set up a new hardline organization.

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Judge warned Reading stabbing suspect Khairi Saadallah was falling through the cracks

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, June 27, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia

Extremist reporting in the UK prison system and the top security service, MI5, failed to assess the threat from Libyan asylum seeker Khairi Saadallah in the months before the terror incident that killed three people on Saturday.

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