China Carries Out Live-Fire Drills in the Mediterranean As It Starts Deployment to Its New Base In S
The fight against Islamic extremism continues as Amber Rudd, the British Home Secretary, has reportedly said the “most common source of support for Islamist extremist organizations in the UK is from small, anonymous public donations, with the majority of these donations most likely coming from UK-based individuals.” The May government has refused to release the report on terrorist funding which is rumored to cite Saudi Arabia and other Middle East allies as sources of financial support to jihadis.
It was reported that the number of terrorist attacks resulting in fatalities in Western Europe has seen a huge increase in the last four years. In 2014 there were just two attacks, in 2015 there were 23 fatal attacks, in 2016 the number hit 30 fatal terrorist attacks. The terrorist attacks have become more lethal with 26.5 people on average being killed in 2015 and 2016, up from an average of four a year in the preceding three years. ISIS is believed responsible for seven of the ten deadliest attacks since 2012.
US Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend told Pentagon reporters that he has not seen evidence that ISIS Supreme Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still around. Townsend said, "I really don't know. ... I don't have reason to believe that he's alive. I don't have proof of life." Unconfirmed reports from Iraqi, Syrian, and Russian sources have said that al-Baghdadi was killed in a Russian airstrike in May.
US troops have entered Raqqa for the final push to take ISIS self-proclaimed capital. ISIS militants, armed with machine guns and mortars, have seized more than 75 percent of Imam Gharbi, a village on the western bank of the Tigris river some 70 kilometers south of Mosul.
Although Mosul is in the hands of the Iraqi Army, there are still scatter reports of street fighting with isolated pockets of ISIS fighters.
It was reported that 10 Malian soldiers were missing following an ambush by suspected al-Qaeda linked Islamist militants in Mali’s desert north.
At least six Kenyan police officers were killed, and four others wounded after being ambushed by Islamic militants in the country’s North West.
On the international security front, Russia has scrambled its military forces in the Crimea and its Black Sea Fleet in a readiness exercise geared to counter NATO. Sadly, an estimated 80,000 people have fled fighting between the Democratic Republic of Congo Army and a new rebel coalition, National Coalition of the People for the Sovereignty of Congo (CNPSC), in South Kivu province's Fizi territory.
US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, met on Wednesday in Jeddah with the Saudi Arabian King, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and discussed the Qatar crisis to find a solution to the regional crisis. Tillerson also met with the Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain. This follows yesterday’s meeting in Qatar in which the Qataris and US signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining Qatar’s commitment to stop supporting Islamic Terror.
A Chinese naval force comprising warships that are “the best class of their category” has conducted live-fire drills in the Mediterranean on their way to Russia’s Baltic coast for the ‘Joint Sea 2017’ exercises. The Chinese flotilla includes the Hefei missile-destroyer, the Yuncheng guided-missile frigate, and the Luomahu replenishment ship. The first stage of the naval war games is set to take place in the Baltic Sea off the Russian cities of St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad in late July. China has dispatched ships and troops to its first overseas naval logistics base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. The new Chinese facility will be within miles of the US Special Forces base and will be host to as many as 10,000 troops until 2026 when the lease agreement expires. China already has demonstrated interest and increased involvement in Pakistan’s Gwadar port facilities. As a sign of China’s growing interest in the Indian Ocean area and Africa, Beijing has been deploying warships to the Gulf of Aden to conduct anti-pirate escorting missions since 2008. In 2015, Chinese President, Xi Jinping, committed 8,000 troops to the UN peacekeeping standby force for the Sudan.
China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has said about its stand-off with India that the Sikkim section of the China-India border was officially defined by the Convention Between Great Britain and China Relating to Sikkim and Tibet in 1890, and the Indian government has confirmed in writing that there is no objection to that agreement. Observers are now cautioning that once perfected that North Korea’s Hwasong-14 Inter-continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) is “likely” able to deliver a 500kilogram nuclear warhead to San Diego within two years. The Hwasong-14 ICBM is now estimated to have a range of 9700 kilometers.