Trump Announces End of State Building and Start of ‘Strategic Plan’ to Destroy Terror in Afghanistan
Trump Announces End of State Building and Start of ‘Strategic Plan’ to Destroy Terror in Afghanistan as North Korea Renews Plans to Strike Guam
US President, Donald Trump, announced a new strategic plan for Afghanistan on Monday night featuring a call for additional US forces to the tune of 4000 soldiers, greater NATO participation, and regional pressure that includes Pakistan and India. The President announced the end of nation building, and stressed condition-based responses to the Taliban and ISIS aimed at their destruction. The Taliban now control or dominate 48 of the country’s roughly 400 administrative areas, the most they have held since the US-led Coalition ousted them from power in 2001, and Helmand is Afghanistan’s most critical battlefield, the capital of Afghanistan’s opium trade. Most of Helmand is now under Taliban control, and Khamab District was overrun by insurgents on Monday.
In Spain, the four remaining alleged members of the ISIS Moroccan terror cell that carried out twin attacks in Spain arrived in a Madrid court on Tuesday. The vehicle attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils left 15 dead and 120 injured. Spanish media have named the suspects as Driss Oukabir, Mohammed Aalla, Salh el Karib and Mohamed Houli Chemal. By all accounts the ISIS terror cell was plotting even bigger attacks. Houli Chemlal, 21, reportedly said they intended to target Barcelona monuments such as the Sagrada Familia church and said their Imam, Abdelbaki Es Satty, previously linked to al-Qaeda was the group leader. Satty was reportedly killed in the blast at the bomb-making factory in Alcazar.
In Africa, the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist groups, has reported that al-Shabab issued a statement Monday confirming the killing of a senior commander, Ali Muhammad Hussein, also known as Ali Jabal by a US airstrike. As well, Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, has said his government will step up its campaign against the Boko Haram terror group. UN officials have announced that nine peacekeepers have been wounded when their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb in northern Mali.
In the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, US Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, said that ISIS expelled from their main stronghold in northern Iraq, is now trapped in a ‘military vise’ that will squeeze them on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border. Turkey and Iran have discussed possible joint military action against Kurdish militant groups on Monday that are largely backed by the US and have proven reliable allies in fighting ISIS.
Iran warned the US on Tuesday it needs only five days to enrich its uranium to 20 percent, a level at which the material could be used for a nuclear weapon. Iran's atomic chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, made the comments on Iranian state television as the US the Trump Administration threatened to renegotiate or walk away from the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran gave up the majority, but no all of its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium as part of the nuclear deal with world powers. The accord, currently caps Iran’s uranium enrichment at 5 percent.
In Asia, China has blamed India for last week’s scuffle in a disputed border region in the western Himalayas that resulted in Chinese and Indian troops hurling rocks at one another. US Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, is reportedly planning to announce a fleet-wide navigation safety review after the destroyer USS John S. McCain’s at-sea collision Monday with an oil tanker near Singapore. There are concerns that the US Navy has fallen victim to cyberattacks affecting navigation. The USS John S. McCain sailed near Mischief Reef in a "freedom of navigation" operation heatedly protested by China in the disputed South China Sea. Russia and China are both known to have proven maritime cyberwarfare capabilities.
The US and South Korea are expected to feature offensive maneuvers and even decapitation strike scenarios against North Korea in their annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military drills that began Monday. August 25th is the north Korean Day of the Songun and is expected to be marked by more North Korean provocations including potential missile launches. Observers expect North Korea to test-fire a Pukkuksong-1 KN-11 Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) and potentially others in the next few days. North Korea on Tuesday threatened war with the US and South Korea at the start of the joint exercises vowing “merciless retaliation” for exercises Pyongyang claims are an invasion rehearsal. Furthermore, Pyongyang threatened to turn the US into “huge heaps of ashes” and warned that the current standoff could be resolved by “absolute force.” The North seems to have returned to its threat to fire Intermediate Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs) into the waters near Guam. The North Korean Embassy in Russia has confirmed that in the event of an ‘American provocation’ North Korea will carry out a strike on Guam.
The Trump administration on Tuesday imposed new sanctions on 16 Chinese, Russian, and Namibian companies for assisting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Among those sanctioned are six Chinese companies, including three coal companies; two Singapore-based oil companies, three Russian firms that work with them; a Russian company that deals in North Korean metals and its Russian director; a construction company based in Namibia; a second Namibia-based company, and its North Korean director. China urged the US to immediately reverse the ‘mistake.’ It was revealed that two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the country's chemical weapons program were intercepted in the past six months raising further fears that if Pyongyang perfects long range ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons that it will sell them to the highest bidder.