US and NATO Security Interests Threatened as Russia, Iran, China and North Korea Continue to Act Out

US and NATO Security Interests Threatened as Russia, Iran, China and North Korea Continue to Act Out

At home on the domestic terror front, US President, Donald Trump, on Saturday, hours after the white supremacists and neo-Nazis had marched in Charlottesville, Virginia and assaulted non-violent protesters tweeted out that “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one!” President Trump went on to condemn what he deemed, “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” In a clear act of domestic terrorism, a white supremacist crashed a vehicle into a crowd of human rights and democracy protestors killing one young woman and injuring 19 others. James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio was charged with second-degree murder in Charlottesville, Virginia vehicle terror attack. A helicopter crashed during the incidents killing two others.

On the international terror front, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has detained Islamic State (ISIS)-linked terrorists who were reportedly planning suicide bomb attacks on the Moscow public transport system and other crowded places in Moscow. The FSB said that they recovered peroxide-based explosives, the hallmark of ISIS. The same explosives were used by ISIS terrorists in a series of attacks in Europe, including the Manchester suicide bombing in May, the Paris terrorist attack in November 2015, and the March 2016 attack in Brussels.

Al-Qaeda is urging “European and North American lone wolves” to target railways and derail trains in a shocking manual directing potential terrorists on how to cause terror in the West. The instructions, to be published in the next issue of al-Qaeda’s magazine Inspire entitled, “Train Derail Operations,” advises individuals to attack railroads in Western countries "using easily accessible materials.” Lone wolves can directly target the train from “either inside or from outside” or target “the rail itself to derail the train.”

A Turkish police officer was stabbed to death in Istanbul late Sunday by a suspected ISIS attacker who was taken into custody on route to a police station when the stabbing unfolded.

In Somalia, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) launched two “kinetic strikes” against al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab terrorists targeting the militants in three separate operations over the past two weeks. Today’s two strikes took place “near the Banadir region in southern Somalia.” Which is an administrative district that encompasses the capital of Mogadishu. A long on the run senior al-Shabab militant Mukhtar Robow Ali, also known as “Abu Mansour,” met with government representatives early Sunday morning at his hideout in Abal village in southwest Somalia, and was later taken to the main town of Huddur.

Elsewhere in Africa, suspected jihadists killed at least 17 people and wounded eight during a raid on a restaurant in Burkina Faso's capital, with people still trapped inside on Monday. Rumors are circulating that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has taken refuge in one of the UN-sponsored camps in Nigeria. Fighting flared this week in South Sudan's northeastern Upper Nile state indicating there was no end in sight to the four-year civil war. The most recent fighting took place over control of the town of Pagak on the Ethiopian border, which had served as the rebels' main base since early 2014. Government forces captured Pagak last week after launching a much internationally condemned offensive in early July.

In Syria, Officials from the US-backed Jaish Maghawir al-Thawra (MaT), were reported to be negotiating with the US-led coalition to transport members of the group to the northern Syrian town of al-Shaddadi, roughly 55 miles northeast of Deir ez-Zor. Syrian government forces backed by Iranian supported militia groups are also pushing to capture Deir ez-Zor from ISIS forces. US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) ringing the Islamic State (IS) bastion of Raqqa have converged, surrounding ISIS militants in their self-declared capital.

In Iraq, two US service members were killed and five others wounded on Sunday while conducting combat operations. An unidentified senior ISIS military leader has been arrested in Mosul.

A suicide bomber mounted on a motorbike attacked an Army vehicle in Quetta, Pakistan, killing eight soldiers and seven civilians.

In Afghanistan, al-Qaeda-linked Taliban forces retook control of the contested district of Jani Khel in Paktia from Afghan forces last night. A provincial leader of ISIS in Afghanistan, Emir Abdul Rahman, has been killed in a US air strike in eastern Kunar province along with three additional senior ISIS members on Thursday.

On the International security front, the European Geostrategy think tank recently examined military power and broke global powers down into four categories: Super Power, Global Power, Regional Power and Local Power. It defined Super Power as, “a country with systemic power within every continent, including a comprehensive global military footprint; a top-tier technological economy, massive diplomatic influence and enormous cultural pull.“ Global Powers were described as, “a country lacking the heft or comprehensive attributes of a superpower, but still with a wide international footprint and means to reach most geopolitical theatres, particularly the Middle East, South-East Asia, East Asia, Africa and South America.“ Regional Powers were assessed as, “a country lacking the comprehensive attributes of a superpower, or even the reach of a global power, but with a strong and highly concentrated regional footprint, perhaps extending to the nearest zones of adjacent continents.” While, Local Powers were defined as, “a country with significant influence in its local vicinage, perhaps courted by superior powers due to its regional importance or reputation. Not surprisingly, the US was assessed as the world’s only superpower, while the UK was assessed as the world’s sole Global Power. France, China, Russia, Japan, German, Australian, Canada and India were rated in order as Regional Powers. Italy, Spain, South Korea, Brazil and Turkey were assessed as Local powers.

NATO’s front-line member states are increasingly concerned about Russian aggression in Europe with the lead-up to its middle of September’s 100,000 man Zapad (“West”) exercise across Russia’s Western Military District and Belarus. By next week, most of the advance elements of the powerful reconstituted Russian First Guards Tank Army, will be in place for Zapad. Earlier this year, as part of its response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine, NATO deployed four battalion-sized battle-groups to Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to curb Russian intentions. Last month, a US-led NATO exercise called Sabre Guardian on NATO Southern Front saw 25,000 troops from more than 20 countries carrying out drills across Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. On a last point, Russia has just unveiled its new fleet of 'invisible' supersonic Sukhoi-57 fighter aircraft said to rival the US F-22 and China's Chengdu J-20 due to undergo another year of testing before it enters military service in 2019.

Iran's parliament has voted to boost defense spending on ballistic missiles and the armed forces in response to US sanctions. Meanwhile, western intelligence agencies have revealed that Iran sends weapons to Russia for maintenance via Syria, violating UN resolutions. Yossi Cohen, the head of the Israeli Mossad warned Sunday that as the Islamic State terrorist group is beaten back, Iran and its proxies are rushing in to take over its territory. Cohen further noted that in the two years since the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, Iran has not abandoned its desire to develop nuclear weapons, and that the agreement “only reinforced that trend and strengthened Iranian aggression in the region.” As a further illustration of Tehran’s increasingly aggressive stance, in the second incident in a week, an Iranian drone buzzed a US Navy aircraft carrier in Persian Gulf last night with "potential for collision" with US fighter aircraft.

Chinese and Indian troops are reportedly ready and inching toward war in their border dispute on the Doklam plateau in the Himalayas. Chinese military aircraft carried out two rounds of combat drills around Taiwan this weekend, on Sunday, two Chinese military transport aircraft flew through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines before going up near the Japanese island of Miyako, to Taiwan’s north, and then they were joined by two Chinese fighter aircraft. On Saturday, Chinese strategic bombers and transport aircraft flew the same route, while Chinese fighters and airborne early warning aircraft flew only through the Bashi Channel. China's Commerce Ministry issued a ban effective from Tuesday on several imports from North Korea, including coal, iron ore, lead concentrates and ore, lead and seafood in line with UN sanctions announced this month. China has warned North Korea that if it carries out any provocation that threatens the US, or its territory, that it is on its own, but warned the US not to take pre-emptive military action against the Hermit kingdom after US President Donald Trump warned that his military forces were “locked and loaded” for action against the North.

Recent satellite photograph suggests that North Korea is preparing for a new and expected Pukkuksong-1 or KN-11 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) test. US intelligence officials revealed last week that North Korea had miniaturized nuclear weapons for use in an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) that could reach the US. But experts are not convinced that the North Korean re-entry vehicle will survive hitting the atmosphere. South Korea’s Liberation Day is August 15th and Pyongyang’s Day of Songun is August 25th and both dates could see further North Korean provocations. According to a new study by Michael Elleman, a missile expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, North Korea likely obtained sophisticated ICBM rocket engines from a black-market purchase of Ukrainian origin with historical ties to Russia’s missile programs. A missile factory in Dnipro, Ukraine, that made the deadliest missiles in the Soviet arsenal, including the SS-18 ICBM, is the focus of investigations.

US National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Sunday that the US is "taking all possible actions" to resolve the nuclear threat from North Korea, but he declined to rule out responding to another threat from the country with force. US Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, and Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, have warned North Korea that, "any use of nuclear weapons will be met with an effective and overwhelming response." US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, told South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, that a "full range" of contingency plans have been drawn up in case diplomatic and economic sanctions did not deter North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. The South Korean President was briefed on the preparations during a 50-minute meeting on Monday. In related developments, it was reported that less than half of the US strategic bomber fleet is ready for war and action against North Korea. The readiness issue has been caused by the combined effects of aircraft age, the demand of 15 years of air war operations, and reduced budgets. Of the US 75 conventional and nuclear B-52s, only about 33 are ready to fly at any given time, of the 62 conventional B-1s only about 25 are ready for action, with the 20 nuclear B-2 stealth bombers, the number drops to seven or eight bombers available. Some experts have suggested that the US should shoot down the four Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs) North Korea has threatened to fire near the US Pacific island territory of Guam. Japan has started deploying land-based Patriot missile interceptors after North Korea threatened to send ballistic missiles flying over Japan into waters around Guam. The US and Japan held joint military exercises on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Monday.