Friday, March 27, 2015

Nigerians Go To The Polls On Saturday For Presidential And Parliamentary Elections



BBC: Nigeria elections: Nation split in Jonathan-Buhari contest

In Nigerian elections, the incumbent always wins. But so far this campaign has been different from all others and this Saturday's poll is a real contest.

Not only has President Goodluck Jonathan haemorrhaged support since he comfortably won in 2011, the "change" chanting opposition has thrown its combined weight behind one candidate - former military ruler, Muhammadu Buhari.

In a country where opinion polls can be trusted about as much as a politician's promise, it is hard, even foolish, to predict the outcome.



More News On Nigeria's Presidential And Parliamentary Elections

Nigeria wraps up presidential election campaign -- AFP
Nigeria presidential candidates pledge peaceful polls -- Al Jazeera
Nigeria election: Jonathan and Buhari sign peace deal -- BBC
Nigeria president warns against bloodshed ahead of Saturday poll -- reuters
Nigeria Election Violence 2015: Dozens Killed As Attacks On Opposing Candidates, Supporters Increase -- IBTimes
Citing security concerns, Nigeria closes border ahead of election -- Al Jazeera
Nigerian Election: Goodluck Jonathan Banks on Fervent Support From Christian Homeland -- WSJ
Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears -- VOA
Nigeria election: Northern voters place hopes on native son -- CSM
Why Nigeria’s Elections Could Trigger Renewed Violence -- Aryn Baker, Time
Nigeria Chooses President Amid Bombings, Currency Crash: Factbox -- Bloomberg
4 reasons you should care about Nigeria’s election -- Kevin Sieff, Washington Post
Nigeria Election 2015: Guide To Presidential Candidates, Key Issues, Voting Process, Voter Security And When To Expect Results -- IBTimes
Nigeria election: What you need to know -- CNN

Nigeria Claims To Have Destroyed Boko Haram's Headquarters



VOA: Nigerian Military Says Boko Haram 'Headquarters' Taken

The Nigerian military says soldiers have retaken the town of Gwoza, one of the last areas in northeastern Nigeria controlled by militant group Boko Haram.

The military says on Twitter that troops captured the Borno state town on Friday morning and destroyed the headquarters of Boko Haram's self-declared caliphate. It said more details would follow.

The unconfirmed report came out 24 hours before Nigerians go to the polls for presidential and parliamentary elections.

WNU Editor: The Nigerians have their presidential and parliamentary elections tomorrow .... but it is today that the Nigerian military has decided to make this unconfirmed announcement. For some reason I am very skeptical of this report.

Update: I have more confidence in this report .... Chad Strongman Says Nigeria Is Absent in Fight Against Boko Haram (New York Times).

More News On Nigeria Claiming To Have Destroyed Boko Haram's Headquarters

Nigerian Military Claim to Destroy Boko Haram Headquarters -- AP
Nigeria’s Army Says Northeast Gwoza Retaken From Boko Haram -- Bloomberg
Nigerian Military Destroy Boko Haram Headquarters in Border Town -- Sputnik
Nigeria claims to destroy Boko Haram headquarters -- Al Jazeera

Former Taliban Prisoner U.S. Army Soldier Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl Outlines His Defense



Josh Rogin, Bloomberg: Bergdahl's Defense Is He Was Planning to Come Back

Former Taliban prisoner and U.S. Army soldier Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl told military investigators that he left his base in June 2009 to report on misconduct in his unit and always intended to come right back. That will also be his defense if and when he faces a court martial for desertion, according to his lawyer.

“He had concerns about certain conditions in the unit and things that happened in the unit and he figured that the only way to get any attention to them would be to get that information to a general officer,” Bergdahl’s lawyer, Eugene Fidell, told me Thursday. Fidell plans to argue that Bergdahl was thus technically "absent without official leave" (AWOL), rather than a deserter. The distinction could mean the difference between one month of confinement or life in prison for his client.

WNU Editor: So .... he left the camp to report on misconduct in his unit but he always intended to come right back .... but he was captured and as a result he had to endure years of torture. He even tried to escape 12 times .... but always failed. This is going to be an interesting case.

The Middle East Is In Chaos


Michael Crowley, Politico: Obama's Mideast 'free fall'

Mounting chaos in the region puts the administration on the defensive.

Barack Obama faces a slew of Middle East crises that some call the worst in a generation, as new chaos from Yemen to Iraq — along with deteriorating U.S.-Israeli relations — is confounding the president’s efforts to stabilize the region and strike a nuclear deal with Iran.

The meltdown has Obama officials defending their management of a region that some call impossible to control, even as critics say U.S. policies there are partly to blame for the spreading anarchy.

“If there’s one lesson this administration has learned, from President Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech through the Arab Spring, it’s that when it comes to this region, nothing happens in a linear way — and precious little is actually about us, which is a hard reality to accept,” said a senior State Department official.

WNU Editor: When the staunchly pro-Obama Politico sees a problem for the administration ... you know that there is a problem. And the scary part of this story is the realization that the situation in the Middle East is not going to get any better .... in fact .... it is descending into even greater chaos. As for the Iranian nuclear deal that will probably be announced in the few days .... the Politico still believes that it will be game-changer in the region .... my take is that it will now all but guarantee a nuclear arms race with all of the dangers that are inherent in such a push. Any bets on who is going to be right?

Update: This is hilarious .... The New York Times sees the entire situation as puzzling .... A Policy Puzzle of US Goals and Alliances in the Middle East (New York Times)

Understanding Iran


Why Is Russia Building Bomb Shelters Throughout The Country?



Zero Hedge: Why Is Russia Building Massive Underground Bomb Shelters?

Did you know that the Russians have a massive underground complex in the Ural mountains that has been estimated to be approximately 400 square miles in size? In other words, it is roughly as big as the area inside the Washington D.C. beltway. Back in the 1990s, the Clinton administration was deeply concerned about the construction of this enormous complex deep inside Yamantau mountain, but they could never seem to get any straight answers from the Russians. The command center for this complex is rumored to be 3,000 feet directly straight down from the summit of this giant rock quartz mountain. And of course U.S. military officials will admit that there are dozens of other similar sites throughout Russia, although most of them are thought to be quite a bit smaller. But that is not all that the Russians have been up to.

WNU Editor: Regular readers of this blog know that I have a condo in Moscow .... and yes .... there is a massive bomb shelter in the basement that is stocked for an emergency.

Drug Cartel Money Funded DEA Sex Parties In Colombia



Politico: DEA agents had 'sex parties' with prostitutes, watchdog says

Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by drug cartels in Colombia, according to a new inspector general report released by the Justice Department on Thursday.

In addition, Colombian police officers allegedly provided “protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties,” the report states. Ten DEA agents later admitted attending the parties, and some of the agents received suspensions of two to 10 days.

The stunning allegations are part of an investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general into claims of sexual harassment and misconduct within DEA; FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the U.S. Marshals Service. The IG’s office found that DEA did not fully cooperate with its probe.

WNU Editor: I guess the "war on drugs" was not their priority.

More News On Drug Cartel Money Funded DEA Sex Parties In Colombia

U.S. drug agents had sex parties funded by drug cartels: watchdog -- Reuters
Report: DEA agents had ‘sex parties’ with prostitutes hired by drug cartels -- Washington Post
DEA Agents Took Part in Colombia Sex Parties, Watchdog Says -- Bloomberg
DEA agents sex party: Agents behaving badly overseas -- CNN
Watchdog: DEA agents attended cartel-funded 'sex parties' -- FOX News
DEA 'Sex Parties' Funded by Drug Cartels, IG Report Says -- ABC News
Government report: DEA agents had sex parties with prostitutes -- CBS
Review: Cartel funded sex parties of DEA agents -- USA Today
Sex parties, cartels and 'significant' risks: DEA agents stung by damning report -- The Guardian

The Electromagnetic Catapult On The U.S. Navy's Newest Aircraft Carrrier Cannot Be Used On Jets Carrying Extra Fuel Tanks



Bloomberg: Navy Jets With Extra Fuel Can’t Be Launched Off New U.S. Carrier

The previously undisclosed troubles with the catapult system from General Atomics add to shortcomings for the first in a new class of aircraft carriers being built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc.

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Navy’s top warplanes can’t be launched off its newest aircraft carrier if they’re carrying fuel tanks needed to extend their flight range because the ship’s high-tech catapults cause too much wear.

Military weapons testers view this as a deficiency that would “preclude the Navy from conducting normal operations” on the USS Gerald R. Ford until it’s corrected, said Air Force Major Eric Badger, spokesman for the Pentagon’s testing office, in an e-mail.


WNU Editor: This is unexpected .... and a potentially huge problem.

Amnesty International: Hamas Committed War Crimes



BBC: Amnesty: Hamas rocket attacks amounted to war crimes

Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian militant groups during last summer's conflict in Gaza amounted to war crimes, Amnesty International says.

Militants displayed a "flagrant disregard" for the lives of civilians during the 50-day war, a report found.

Six civilians in Israel and 13 Palestinians are believed to have been killed as a result of such attacks.

Hamas, which dominates Gaza, said Amnesty's report contained many inaccuracies and false allegations.


More News On Amnesty International Accusing Hamas Of Committing War Crimes

Palestinian armed groups killed civilians on both sides in attacks amounting to war crimes -- Amnesty International
Amnesty International says Hamas committed war crimes, too -- Washington Post
Amnesty International Sees Evidence of Palestinian War Crimes in 2014 Gaza Conflict -- NYT
Amnesty International accuses militants in Gaza of war crimes in 2014 conflict -- The Guardian
Amnesty's other verdict on Gaza war: Hamas committed war crimes as well -- The Independent
Palestine Militants Committed War Crimes During Gaza Conflict: Amnesty -- IBTimes
Hamas guilty of war crimes in Gaza clash, Amnesty Internat'l charges -- FOX News
Amnesty International: Hamas, other Palestinian groups committed war crimes during Gaza conflict -- YNet news
Hamas slams Amnesty International report on Israel's war on Gaza -- Xinhuanet

Moscow Accuses Western Intelligence Agencies Of Trying To Destabilize Russia

President Putin addressing the FSB on Thursday. He vowed Russia would stand firm in its relations with the West. Kremlin.ru

VOA: Putin: Western Intel Services Aiming to Destabilize Russia

President Vladimir Putin said Western intelligence services have set it as their goal to destabilize Russia especially during upcoming elections, according to the Kremlin’s website.

In a speech Thursday in Moscow before top officials of the Federal Security Service, he said non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and politicized groups will take the lead in this effort.

“[We are seeing that] to attain their goals, Western intelligence services are unceasingly using civic non-governmental organizations and politicized associations, above all to discredit the government and destabilize the domestic situation in Russia, whereby operations are already planned for the upcoming 2016-12018 election campaigns,” Putin told officials of the KGB successor agency, according to a transcript of his speech posted by the Kremlin.

More News On Moscow Accusing Western Intelligence Agencies Of Trying To Destabilize Russia

Putin says Russia will stand firm in standoff with West -- AP
Putin says Western spies plot against Russia before polls -- Reuters
Putin Accuses West Of Anti-Russian Plots -- Radio Free Europe
Western spies are undermining my rule, says Putin: Russian president accuses security services of deliberately trying to destabilise the country before elections -- Daily Mail/Reuters
West's 'Arm-Twisting' Will Not Isolate Russia - Putin -- Sputnik
Putin Urges FSB: Harder, Faster, Stronger -- Moscow Times
To change the situation for the better we must make Russia stronger – Putin to FSB -- RT
Moscow says new U.S. national security strategy is anti-Russian -- Reuters
Russian Security Council Warns US Seeks 'Color Revolution' Against Kremlin -- IBTimes
Russia to take into account threats resulting from new U.S. security strategy -- RBTH

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why Ukraine Is Divided



Amanda Taub, VOX: The real roots of the war in eastern Ukraine

We tend to talk about the conflict in eastern Ukraine as a tale of Russian aggression. That's not inaccurate — but it isn't the full story, either.

It's true Russia took advantage of Ukraine's weakness after massive protests forced former President Viktor Yanukovych out of office a year ago, first by invading and occupying Crimea, and then by backing a violent separatist movement in eastern Ukraine. Putin's aggression helped spark the war, and it has helped prolong it.

But as this video explains, Ukraine was already deeply divided long before the current conflict broke out in the country's east. Those divisions laid the groundwork for the war and have fueled it ever since. It's those divisions that lie at the root of the separatist conflict, and they mean that any solution to the war will need to be political as well as military.

WNU Editor: A few errors in the above video .... namely .... the Russian speaking populations in eastern Ukraine have been there for almost 1,000 years .... they were not resettled in the past hundred or few hundred years. Stalin's orchestrated Ukraine famine targeted everyone .... the Communists did not care if you were Ukrainian or Russian. Otherwise .... the above video gives a good summary on what divides in Ukraine .... namely that it involves more than just interference from Moscow, and that to achieve a lasting peace the leaders of Ukraine will need to address Ukraine's deep linguistic and cultural differences.

The Ukraine Crisis Continues



Steven Erlanger, New York Times: No One Sees Easy Way Out on Ukraine

BRUSSELS — Hardly anyone expects Ukraine to get better before it gets worse, or for the latest set of commitments in last month’s cease-fire agreement to be kept.

Instead, senior Western diplomats and analysts are predicting a further escalation of tensions, including the placing of Russian nuclear weapons in newly annexed Crimea; more unrest in cities like Mariupol and even Odessa; more advances by Russian-supported rebels against an under-gunned and dispirited Ukrainian Army; and attempts to destabilize the Western-leaning government in Kiev, beginning with President Petro O. Poroshenko.

Mr. Poroshenko, weakened by the loss of Crimea and a large, contiguous chunk of eastern Ukraine, faces Western demands for economic overhauls, increased energy prices and a crackdown on corruption to justify billions in loans and aid. He also confronts new challenges from oligarchs like Igor V. Kolomoisky over control of energy companies and private militias with flexible loyalties to the state, or what’s left of it.

The Crisis In Ukraine Continues

Heavy battles erupt in village of Pisky outside Donetsk -- Ukraine Today
East Ukraine militia report Kiev’s heavy weapons within 30-kilometer buffer zone -- ITAR-TASS
Moscow could reignite Ukraine fighting -- AFP
NATO secretary general: Ukraine cease-fire fragile but ‘largely holding’ -- Washington Post
US Senator Supports Arms Shipments to Ukraine -- VOA
Russia accuses Ukraine of causing starvation in eastern Ukraine war zone -- Press TV
Ukraine's whole banking system is falling apart -- Business Insider
Exclusive: West holds off on Ukraine aid pledges, seeking reforms -- Reuters
The Clock is Ticking for Ukraine Reforms – European MP -- Sputnik
Poll finds Ukrainian audiences in Odesa and Kharkiv give most credence to Russian media -- Ukraine Today
Ukraine’s future: President v oligarch. Building a nation means putting plutocrats in their place -- The Economist

What Is The U.S. Military And Political Role In The Yemen War


Dan Lamonthe, Washington Post: How U.S. weapons will play a huge role in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen

Yemen spiraled further into chaos on Wednesday night, with a Saudi Arabia-led Arab coalition launching a military intervention marked by airstrikes by dozens of fighter jets and the deployment of thousands of ground troops and tanks on its Yemeni border. U.S. officials said they will offer intelligence and logistical support to the Saudis, but that’s really only a piece of it: The Saudi military is equipped with billions of dollars in advanced American-made weapons.

Between October 2010 and October 2014, Washington and Riyadh reached more than $90 billion in weapons deals, according to a report published in January by the Congressional Research Service. The sales have included everything from war planes to armored vehicles, along with powerful missiles and bombs.

More News On The U.S. Military And Political Role In The Yemen War

Officials: Saudi-led action in Yemen relied heavily on U.S. intelligence -- Washington Post
US Warships in Red Sea Ready to Respond in Yemen - CENTCOM -- Sputnik
US Weighs Tanker, Radar Planes for Saudi Yemen Op -- Defense News/AFP
US offering logistical, intel support to Saudi airstrikes in Yemen -- The Hill
U.S. Backs Saudi-Led Yemeni Bombing With Logistics, Spying -- Bloomberg
U.S. Confirms It Is Supporting Saudi Military Operations In Yemen -- NPR
US Seeking Political Solution in Yemen, Despite Unrest -- VOA
U.S. Role in Middle East Revamped as Chaos Engulfs Yemen -- WSJ
What just happened in Yemen is 'a nightmare' for the US military -- Armin Rosen, Business Insider

The Next Middle East Wars Are Beginning


Christopher Dickey, Daily Beast: America Loses No Matter Who Wins the Next Great Middle East War

It’s a potentially apocalyptic fight between some of the closest U.S. allies and the country America is desperately trying to court. Will Washington really join in?

A cataclysmic war is taking shape in Yemen, one that pits nearly all of Washington’s key allies in the Middle East against Iran and its proxies in a fight that could quickly spin out of control.

A Saudi-led bombing campaign already has begun and troops from Egypt and some other countries may soon intervene on the ground.

All of this was done, according to a Saudi source who is part of the inner circle in Riyadh, without significant American involvement. “We have done this on our own,” this source told The Daily Beast. While the U.S. has a handful of people in a Saudi operations center, the source noted, that this coalition was pulled together and went into action without the U.S. leadership that characterized, for instance, the Desert Shield/Desert Storm operations of 1990 and 1991. The Saudis have dubbed this operation “Decisive Storm.”


WNU Editor: Bottom line .... everyone is going to be a loser in this war .... including the U.S..

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 26, 2015



Meredith Buel, VOA: Analysts: Iran’s Supreme Leader Has Ultimate Say on Nuclear Deal

WASHINGTON - Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is likely to have the final say on whether or not the country accepts a nuclear deal, if one is reached by month's end, Middle East analysts say.

As negotiations continue into the weekend between Iran and world powers, analysts say Khamenei, 75, is the most powerful political authority in the Islamic Republic because he controls the main levers of power. He commands the armed forces and the judicial system, along with state radio and television. Additionally, Khamenei also leads Iran’s foreign policy.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- March 26, 2015

Arab coalition fights Yemen rebels, but the real battle is against Iran -- Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz

WHY IT MATTERS: The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen -- AP

What Does Obama Want From Netanyahu? -- William Saletan, Slate

The Islamic State's Backdoor Financing -- Matthew Levitt, Real Clear World

Caliphate Under Pressure: Is Islamic State in Trouble in Iraq? -- Susanne Koelbl and Christoph Reuter, Spiegel Online

Why Terrorists Attacked Tunisia’s Museum -- Yassine Brahim, WSJ

Nigeria's New President May Be Its Old Dictator -- Eli Lake, Bloomberg

Locked and Loaded: North Korea's Scary Chemical-Weapons Arsenal -- Kyle Mizokami, National Interest

What's the Afghanistan endgame? -- L.A. Times editorial

Help Ukraine to Arm Itself -- Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

No One Sees Easy Way Out on Ukraine -- Steven Erlanger, NYT

Britain mourns a monster – because he was a king. Richard III’s burial was absurd -- Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

Everything The White House Told You About Bowe Bergdahl Was Wrong -- Nancy A. Youssef, Daily Beast

Goldilocks zone for oil prices is gone for good -- Richard Heinberg, Reuters

UN: Global Asylum Claims at Highest Number in 22 Years -- AP

World News Briefs -- March 26, 2015 (Evening Edition)

Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman coordinated the strikes at the Royal Saudi Air Force operations centre near Riyadh [SPAnews]

Al Jazeera: Saudi and Arab allies bomb Houthi positions in Yemen

At least 18 people reported killed in Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa, as Iran denounces operation as "US-led aggression".

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of regional allies have launched a military operation in Yemen against the Houthi rebels, who deposed the US-backed Yemeni president last month.

Adel al-Jubair, Saudi ambassador to the US, said on Wednesday that a coalition consisting of 10 countries, including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), had begun airstrikes at 7pm Eastern time.

"The operation is to defend and support the legitimate government of Yemen and prevent the radical Houthi movement from taking over the country," Jubair told reporters in Washington.

MIDDLE EAST

President Hadi leaves Yemen as Saudis bomb rebels.

Saudi leads ten-nation Sunni coalition in bombing Yemen's Shia rebels. Saudi airstrikes target rebel bases in Yemen.

22 killed, 30 wounded amid anti-Houthi airstrikes in Sanaa - Sources.

Turkey supports Saudi-led attack on Houthis in Yemen.

Iran warns of bloodshed as Saudi-led forces bomb Yemen.

US jets pound Isil in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's home town. US-led coalition pounds ISIL targets in Tikrit.

Iraq crisis: Tikrit push 'no longer led by Shia militias'. Iraqi security forces storm ISIL-controlled city of Tikrit - reports. Iraq official: Troops launch final phase of Tikrit offensive.

Syrian Islamist insurgents advance around Idlib city: monitor.

440,000 Syrians besieged in 'savagery' of war: UN.

UN says 2014 Palestinian death toll highest since 1967.

Amnesty International accuses militants in Gaza of war crimes in 2014 conflict.

Turkey's Erdogan says can't tolerate Iran bid to dominate Middle East.

Iran's Rouhani intervenes as deadline for nuclear deal approaches.

US, Iran nuke talks enter critical round ahead of deadline. Iran nuclear deal in sight, State Dept. official says. U.S., Iran resume talks on preliminary nuclear deal as deadline looms.

AP Exclusive: Iran may run centrifuges at fortified site.

ASIA

Japan PM Abe to address joint session of U.S. Congress.

Pakistani Army begins offensive to drive militants from Tirah Valley.

North Korea's neighbors push to resume six-party talks.

Philippines says China rushing construction in disputed sea.

Philippines Aquino takes responsibility for bungled mission.

China says probing if more Myanmar bombs strayed over border.

China's Xi vows legal reforms to end 'injustice'.

China says will likely invite Western Allies to WW2 parade.

Business, military, government seize land for rubber in Myanmar: rights group.

Cambodian prime minister criticizes Michelle Obama visit.

AFRICA

UN cuts DR Congo peacekeeping force by 2,000.

Sudan says will take part in Yemen campaign with ground, air forces.

Four Egyptian naval vessels en route to secure Gulf of Aden: sources. Egyptian naval, air forces joined in Yemen campaign against Houthis: source.

Nigeria's presidential candidates sign new peace appeal.

Niger, Chad troops pursue Boko Haram in Nigerian border area.

UN refugee chief: Nigeria crisis similar to Syria's.

Tunisia arrests 23 over museum attack. Tunisia arrests 23 in 'terrorist cell' over museum attack.

No U.N. troop cut in Congo until progress against Rwandan rebels.

Uganda ups security, says al Shabaab group behind U.S. warning.

EUROPE

Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz 'suffered from depression' before he deliberately destroyed plane: latest.

Disbelief, shock worldwide at co-pilot's role in Alps crash.

Germanwings co-pilot 'wanted to destroy' plane. French prosecutor: Co-pilot took doomed flight on ‘deliberate’ dive.

Moscow could reignite Ukraine fighting, US diplomat fears.

NATO secretary general: Ukraine cease-fire fragile but ‘largely holding’.

Putin says Russia will stand firm in standoff with West. Putin says Western spies plot against Russia before polls.

Greece 'in a corner' as Europe blocks payment. Bank deposits drain adds pressure on Greece.

Germany bans extremist Islamist group 'Tauhid Germany'.

Asylum seekers in the West highest since Bosnia war: UNHCR.

Pope to White House. Pope Francis to visit Obama at White House on Sept 23.

AMERICAS

Injuries in blast, building collapse in New York's East Village.

US defends Bowe Bergdahl swap amid desertion charges.

Farc guerrillas and Colombian troops to work together to tackle landmine legacy.

Costa Rica fires ambassador in Venezuela after vocal support of Maduro.

Four dead in Chile floods, military rescues stranded residents.

US, Cuba teams discuss telecommunications issues.

DEA agents had 'sex parties' with prostitutes, watchdog says.

Indiana Governor declares public health emergency to battle worst HIV outbreak in state history.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Intel community wary of Islamic State influence on U.S. citizens.

‘Islamist extremists,’ phrase rejected by Obama, embraced by allies.

CIA’s ‘Capt. Ahab’ leaves post; Osama bin Laden tracker led counterterrorism center.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Airlines across the world to change safety policies.

Lufthansa to review pilot training: CEO.

Oil prices rise 6% as Saudi Arabia bombs Yemen rebels.

Christie's aims for auction record book with $140 million Picasso.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials On The War In Yemen



Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post: What Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen means for the Middle East

In the early hours of Thursday morning, Saudi Arabia bombed positions in Yemen held by Houthi militias, a rebel force that had already thrown out sitting President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi from the capital, Sanaa, and was on the verge of ousting him from his last redoubt in the key southern port city of Aden.

"We will do whatever it takes in order to protect the legitimate government of Yemen from falling," said Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi ambassador to the United States, at a media briefing on Wednesday night.

Saudi media reported that the campaign, dubbed Operation Decisive Storm, was coordinated with a coalition of other Arab countries — primarily Sunni Gulf states already closely allied with Riyadh.

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials On The War In Yemen

Analysis: Can GCC military intervention save Yemen? -- Al Jazeera
Iran, Saudi Arabia fighting bloody proxy wars across region -- AP
Yemen crisis: An Iranian-Saudi battleground? -- Frank Gardner, BBC
Iran-Saudi proxy war in Yemen explodes into region-wide crisis -- Simon Tisdall, The Guardian
Will Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bombing of Yemen Draw in Iran? (Video) -- WSJ
Saudi intervention adds heat to regional cold war -- Simeon Kerr, Financial Times
War in Yemen: What it means—and doesn't mean -- Everett Rosenfeld, CNBC
Decades of deadly conflict will spread across the Middle East -- Richard Haass, Financial Times
The new war in Yemen has already shifted the tide in the Middle East -- Armin Rosen, Business Insider
Strange Alliances Lead U.S. to Support and Sabotage Iranian Proxies on Same Day -- Jack Moore, Newsweek
Why the U.S. Is Fighting Besides Iran in Iraq and Against It in Yemen -- Karl Vick, Time
Why ‘Operation Decisive Resolve’ is the ultimate setback for Iran -- David Andrew Weinberg, Al Arabiya News
US defends strategy in Yemen and Iraq but diplomats admit: it's a mess -- Dan Roberts in Washington and Sabrina Siddiqui in New York, The Guardian
White House defends Yemen strategy as Iran-backed rebels surge -- Politico
As Yemen Fractures, al Qaeda Looks to Gain -- Maria Abi-Habib, WSJ
Yemen’s rapidly escalating war: a simple explanation -- Zack Beauchamp, VOX
Saudi Arabia-led Airstrikes in Yemen May Inadvertently Be Bringing Sympathy for Houthi Rebels -- Tom Dale, VICE
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait to strengthen oil security after Yemen strikes -- Reuters
Don't worry too much about Yemen conflict: Oil analyst -- Fred Imbert, CNBC
Oil Markets Blow Yemen Crisis Out of Proportion -- Nick Cunningham, Time/Oilprice.com
The Crisis in Yemen: What You Need to Know -- Jake Doherty, NYT
Behind the 10-Year Houthi Conflict in Yemen (Video) -- Bloomberg
Timeline: The rise of Yemen's Houthi rebels -- Al Jazeera

Reactions To The War In Yemen

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Reuters: Arab foreign ministers agree on unified military force

CAIRO (Reuters) - Arab foreign ministers meeting in Egypt agreed a draft resolution on Thursday to form a unified military force, in a move aimed at countering growing regional security threats.

The agreement came after warplanes from Saudi Arabia and Arab allies struck Shi'ite Muslim rebels in Yemen on Thursday, in an effort to check Iranian influence in their backyard without direct military backing from Washington.

Reactions To The War In Yemen

Arab FMs agree to form Arab united force -- Xinhua
Saudi coalition’s air strikes in Yemen condemned by Iran/Iraq, praised by U.S./UK/Turkey -- World Tribune

Iran Condemns Saudi Arabia’s Military Intervention in Yemen -- WSJ
Saudi Strikes Yemen Rebels as Iran Warns of 'Dangerous Step' -- Defense News
Saudis' Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen a 'dangerous step,' Iran warns -- AP
Iran president condemns military intervention in Yemen -- AFP
Iran, Russia demand immediate halt to Saudi-led intervention in Yemen -- RT

Putin stresses that hostilities in Yemen should be immediately stopped - Kremlin -- ITAR-TASS
Kremlin seriously concerned over situation in Yemen — Putin’s spokesman -- ITAR-TASS

Egypt said set to join Saudis in Yemen ground offensive -- Times of Israel
Egypt Says It May Send Troops to Yemen to Fight Houthis -- New York Times
Egypt says air force, Navy joins in Yemen intervention -- Daily Star
Yemen conflict poised to escalate as Egypt prepares to send in troops -- The Guardian

Turkey, Egypt join military operation against Houthis in Yemen -- Deutsche Welle
Turkey supports Saudi mission in Yemen, says Iran must withdraw -- France 24
Turkey's Erdogan says Iran and "terrorist groups" must leave Yemen - France 24 -- Reuters

Israel fears for safety of Yemen's remaining few Jews -- YNet News
Yemen's Jews seek way to escape quickly deteriorating conflict -- Israel Hayom

Iraq Opposes Gulf Coalition’s Military Operation in Yemen -- Sputnik
Iraq rejects military intervention in Yemen: Foreign Ministry -- Reuters
Iraq urges dialogue instead of force to end Yemen chaos -- Business Standard

Hezbollah condemns military intervention in Yemen -- Business Standard

Morocco Expresses Solidarity With Saudi Arabia’s Military Action Against Houtis -- Morocco World News

China says deeply concerned about Yemen situation -- Reuters
China calls for political solution to Yemeni crisis -- Global Times

US Warships in Red Sea Ready to Respond in Yemen - CENTCOM -- Sputnik
US Weighs Tanker, Radar Planes for Saudi Yemen Op -- Defense News/AFP

Pakistan says it will respond to any threat to Saudi Arabia -- Reuters
Pakistan To Join Saudi Arabia In Yemen Conflict? -- Brendan Byrne, Value Walk

Yemen War News Updates -- March 26, 2015



Reuters: Yemeni leader Hadi leaves country as Saudi Arabia keeps up air strikes on Houthi rebels

(Reuters) - Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi left his refuge in Aden under Saudi protection on Thursday and arrived in Saudi Arabia as Houthi rebels battled with forces still loyal to him on the outskirts of the southern port city.

Throughout the day, warplanes from Saudi Arabia and Arab allies struck at Houthi forces, who have taken over much of the country in their campaign to oust Hadi.

The Saudi-led military intervention marked a major escalation of the Yemen crisis, in which Iran supports the Shi'ite Muslim Houthis, and Sunni Muslim monarchies in the Gulf back Hadi and his fellow Sunni loyalists in Yemen's south.

Yemen War News Updates -- March 26, 2015

Saudi Arabia launches air strikes in Yemen -- BBC
Yemen crisis: Saudi Arabia launches airstrikes to halt Houthi rebels -- CSM
Saudi Arabia threatens ground invasion of Yemen -- The Telegraph
Gulf states consider Yemen ground offensive to halt Houthi rebel advance -- The Guardian
Saudi ambassador: Iran is advising Yemen rebels -- AP
Saudi Arabia, With U.S. Support, Joins Fight Against Rebels In Yemen -- NPR
Gulf coalition launches airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen LIVE UPDATES -- RT
Turmoil in Yemen Escalates as Saudi Arabia Bombs Rebels -- AP
Egypt, Saudi Arabia to lead ground operation against Yemen rebels, officials say -- Haaretz/Reuters
Saudi Arabia bombs Yemen as fears grow of a land invasion -- Washington Post
Saudi Arabia Yemen Military Intervention Update: Airstrikes Continue Against Houthi Rebels, Global Leaders React -- IBTimes
Saudi coalition strikes Yemen rebels -- SKY News
18 Dead As Rebels Clash With Pro-Government Forces Near Yemen's Aden -- AFP
Yemen's Hadi leaves Yemen amid air strikes on Houthis -- Al Jazeera
Yemeni president heads to Egypt for Arab summit -al-Arabiya TV -- Reuters
Yemen's president flees abroad as country teeters on brink of collapse -- Mashable
Yemen Rebels Protest Saudi-led Airstrikes -- VOA

What Will This Iran Nuclear Deal Look Like?

Key nuclear facilities in Iran, most of which are impacted by the ongoing nuclear deal with the six superpowers of the P5+1 Group – the United States, Great Britain, France, China and Russia, plus Germany. After the International Institute of Strategic Studies (http://www.iiss.org/).

AFP: What an Iran nuclear deal could look like

US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart meet in Switzerland on Thursday for a final round of talks before a March 31 deadline to agree the outlines of an elusive nuclear deal.

This "framework" accord -- no one knows how detailed it will be -- is meant to be fleshed out into a comprehensive agreement by July 1 that severely restricts Iran's ability to obtain nuclear weapons.

Here are the possible contours of such an agreement, which Iran and the US, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany (the P5+1) have been negotiating since late 2013.

WNU Editor: It is hard to speculate on the details of a nuclear deal when much of it is still shrouded in secrecy .... but these reports are troubling .... AP Exclusive: Iran may run centrifuges at fortified site (AP).

Update: US proposes to let Iran operate fortified nuclear site - reports -- RT

Report: Iran Nuclear Deal To Be Reached This Weekend



Bloomberg: Negotiators at Iran Talks Said to Aim for Weekend Agreement

(Bloomberg) -- Negotiators aim to conclude a framework agreement over Iran’s nuclear program by March 29, diplomats said, as envoys reported progress after talks resumed in Switzerland.

Reaching an understanding by Sunday is a best-case scenario and the sides may be forced to go until March 31, according to three European and U.S. officials, who asked not to be named in line with diplomatic rules. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is provisionally scheduled to attend an event with President Barack Obama and Senate leaders on March 30.

Kerry resumed talks on Thursday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Beau Rivage Palace on the shores of Lake Geneva in Lausanne. If an agreement is reached, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and top diplomats from China, France, Germany, and the U.K. will join them to formalize the pact, a spokesman for Russia’s foreign ministry told reporters.

More News On Reports That An Iranian Nuclear Deal Could Be Reached This Weekend

Diplomats voice optimism on reaching Iran deal by Tuesday deadline -- CNN
Good prospects for Iran nuclear deal, but obstacles remain -- Deutsche Welle
Iran upbeat about reaching ground-breaking nuclear deal as talks hit final stretch -- Sydney Morning Herald
Iran's Rouhani in diplomatic drive to push nuclear deal -- AFP
Putin, Rouhani express 'hope for success' at Iran talks: Kremlin -- Daily Star/AFP
Rouhani speaks with French, British, Russian leaders as nuclear talks resume -- Reuters
Iran President Speaks With French, British, Russian Leaders -- Radio Free Europe
UK and Iran agree framework Iran nuclear deal possible by month-end -- Reuters

Update: It appears that the U.S. has made major concessions .... U.S. Caves to Key Iranian Demands as Nuke Deal Comes Together (Washington Free Beacon).

Three Major Iraqi Shiite Militia Groups Have Pulled Out Of The Fight For Tikrit In Protest Of U.S. Air Strikes



New York Times: 3 Shiite Militias Quit Iraqi Siege of ISIS Over U.S. Air Role

AL RASHID AIR BASE, Iraq — Three major Shiite militia groups pulled out of the fight for Tikrit on Thursday, immediately depriving the Iraqi government of thousands of their fighters on the ground even as American warplanes readied for an expected second day of airstrikes against the Islamic State there.

The militia groups, some of which until recently had Iranian advisers with them, pulled out of the Tikrit fight in protest of the American military airstrikes, which began late Wednesday night, insisting that the Americans were not needed to defeat the extremists in Tikrit.

Together the three groups represent as much as a third of the 30,000 fighters on the government side in the offensive against the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL, analysts said.

Update: Iraqi militia leader rejects calls for further US air strikes on Tikrit -- The Guardian

WNU Editor: David Ignatius believes that this is a significant shift in Iraq's relationship with Iran .... Stalled Tikrit offensive hurts Iran, helps U.S. (David Ignatius, Washington Post) .... but I have my doubts. This is a temporary shift done out of convenience ..... once Tikrit has fallen I expect everyone in Iraq will claim victory .... the Iranian backed Shiite militias included .... and the march towards Mosul will then begin.