Wednesday, 30 July 2014
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Sinai DSC 0708Elayne Jude reports for Great North News Service

At a press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukri in Cairo, US Secretary of State John Kerry said: "I am confident...that the Apaches will come and that they will come very, very soon." 23 June 2014. At the time of writing, those Apaches, instead of patrolling the skies over the insurgent Sinai peninsula, remain parked at Fort Hood.

Since the 2011 toppling of President Hosni Mubarak, the Sinai Peninsula has been used as a base for operations by al-Qaeda affiliates and other Islamic jihadist factions. As of early July 2014, according to the Egyptian military, nearly five hundred security officials have been killed by Sinai-based rebels. Al Jazeera quotes a figure of 1,400 killed in the security crackdown that began in September 2013, mostly Islamist protesters

Egypt possessed the capability to deal with extremism but lacked the political will to do so under President Muhammad Morsi, according to Michael Morell, former deputy director of central intelligence, now senior security correspondent for CBS. Since September 2013 the Egyptian military has been actively fighting peninsula jihadists, with repeated incursions into the strongholds of the North Sinai.

"INSIDE THE ARAB REVOLUTION" by Koert Debeuf from Lannoo Campus Publishers, April 2014, in paperback

Koert Debeuf bookUnlike most of us, Koert Debeuf is no desk researcher. He is a courageous and committed political blogger, opinion maker and Middle East expert, who travelled extensively in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, Palestine and Turkey. A representative of the European Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament (ALDE), Debeuf was physically present at the Arab Spring; in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Taksim Square in Istanbul, Azaz refugee camp in northern Syria. He walked through bombed-out markets and bakeries, and visited the rebels in Aleppo. In September 2011 he moved to Cairo, to observe firsthand the unfolding events. The result of his odyssey is this meticulously detailed account of a period of big historical change in the Middle East.

"Inside the Arab Revolution" is a definitive account of the Arab revolutions, highly informative, passionately written, and full of fact-based anecdotes highlighting, amongst other things, the suffering of Syrian children, inside Syria and in refugee camps. It is no exaggeration to describe the book as a landmark in the literature of the political Tsunami that swept the region. Its impact is all the more extraordinary given that its author is a non-Arab, writes Nehad Ismail.



by Elayne Jude for Great North News Service analyses the aftermath of the May 2014 against extremist Islamist militants
As the war against Gaddafi was concentrated in western and central Libya, fallout among the tribes loyal to the old regime and those who fought against it lingers on in that location. Eg, Zawara and Jamil, near the Tunisian border; Zawara’s people, mostly Berbers, fought Jamil, a largely pro-Gadhafi Arab town in western Libya’s Nafusa Mountains. West of Tripoli, tribal tensions flow from old revolutionary alliances. The Warshfana tribes, at the gates of Western Tripoli, supported Gadhafi regime while nearby towns, such as Zawiya, sided with the opposition. These divisions have not been reconciled.
In east Tripoli the Misrata rebels, who sustained prolonged and savage offensives by Gadhafi’s forces, are taking revenge on the villages and towns whose inhabitants attacked them. The Misrata rebels, who emerged the victors, retaliated in peacetime, evicting their former enemies from their lands, as in the town of Tawergha. Bani Walid, occupied by the Warfalla tribe, fought until Gadhafi’s death, and resisted submission to the rebels for years after. It is said that Gadhafi supporters remain in power in Bani Walid. In Sirte, Gaddafi's birthplace and the stronghold of his Qazazifa tribe, the story is similar. In the south, the Tabu tribe and the Arab tribes that were once part of the former regime  quarrel there is over the control of the towns of Sabha and Kufra, key to the smuggling operations through the Sahel areas.

Elayne Jude's analysis for Great North News Service

Libyan analyst Mohamed Eljarh : "Islamists are determined to remain major players on the political scene after their defeat in the elections and the growing threat of the operation against Islamists in eastern Libya." The government has said it will examine "the possibility of resorting to international forces on the ground to restore security and help it impose its authority."

On July 13, Libya made the headlines as Tripoli international airport was rocket-attacked by Islamist militias. Since 2011 the airport has been controlled by anti-Islamic brigades from the city of Zintan, effectively the military force of the liberals. Islamists militias have tried many times to oust them. The present attacks are an escalation in weaponry and intent. A truce brokered on 18 July was almost immediately breached by fresh fighting at the airport. At the time of writing, the violence at and around the airport continues. All hospitals and clinics are on emergency alert, and casualties, many of them civilian, mount.

Promotions, new jobs and retirements in the UK Armed Forces. One stars on next page

It is our intention to publish brief biographies of all officers serving at three and four star levels

lorimer 10552811523 a0185c021d zLieutenant-General John Gordon Lorimer, DSO MBE is about to leave the post of Deputy Commander, ISAF. Born 1962, he read Arabic and Islamic Studies at Cambridge. Commissioned into the Parachute Regiment 1982, his early service included commanding at platoon, company and battalion levels, including in Belize, Norway, Northern Ireland and Iraq.

Promoted to lieutenant 1984, to captain 1988 and to major 1994. Served in the Ministry of Defence from 1998-2000. Promoted to lieutenant-colonel 1999 and to colonel on 2003. Appointed Commander of 12th Mechanised Brigade in June 2005. Deployed to Iraq and then Afghanistan. Promoted to brigadier 2005, to major general 2010. Appointed as the Chief of the Defence Staff's Strategic Communications Officer. Appointed General Officer Commanding 3rd (UK) Mechanised Division 2011. Promoted to lieutenant general 2013, appointed Deputy Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). In February 2014, it was announced that Lorimer would become Chief of Joint Operations from January 2015.

16AABimagesThe 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review stipulated that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) would suffer a 7.7% reduction in its budget in real terms over four years; resulting in the loss of 7,000 Army, 5,000 RAF and 5,000 Royal Navy personnel by 2015. These savings will be reinforced with myriad cuts to defence procurement projects, in an attempt to ensure that British forces are organised both efficiently and cost effectively to meet the future security challenges of the United Kingdom. Combined with the Army 2020 programme of cutbacks, the SDSR has reduced the requirement of high readiness forces that can conduct airborne operations by parachute, or assault operations by aircraft, at short notice. Due to this, the 16th Air Assault Brigade, the UK's elite rapid reaction force will be hit particularly hard by the cuts, losing an estimated 3,000 of its 8,000 troops by the end of the year.

The newly reduced and restructured force will have the Parachute Regiment at its core, supported by two regular Army Air Corps regiments and some supporting units, and be focused on providing one Air Assault Task Force (AATF) that can be mobilised within 72 hours. Only one battalion will make up the AATF at a time. The other two will provide the role on rotation for twelve-month periods, with only one company-sized group of troops providing the parachute role at any time. The cuts will also result in the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment being transferred to a lower-readiness force, and 5 SCOTS of the Royal Regiment of Scotland disbanded, bar one company placed on ceremonial duties and located in Scotland.

Standing on top of the Roman citadel in the heart of Amman, the muezzin flowed round me like water, bathing the hectic city in a sense of preternatural calm. The city seemed to slow down, be-quieting itself to midday rest as the call to prayer vaunted high above its landscape. It was a rare moment of calm in this wonderfully busy city, cloaking the normal cacophony of voices and horns in a spiritual balm. Moments later, the microphones stopped broadcasting, and the chaos of the city resumed. writes Charlie Pratt.

Situated in the heart of Jordan, Amman is megalopolis summoned out of the deserts and built amidst the ruins of great civilizations. Today, it is nothing if not a city of immigrants, and a fitting tribute to the social mosaic of the Levant. Amidst the Palestinians and Iraqis, Lebanese and Syrians, the city is calm and close, the tensions of the Syrian and Iraq crises absent here. But outside of Amman, in the dusty refugee camps, and on its long, striated borders, the crisis seems omnipresent. Amman may be insulated from them, but for how much longer?


Thinking the Unthinkable: ISIS, Iran, Al Qaeda & Syria. by Nehad Ismail (See also Axis of Opportinity Part 3 published by Defence Viewpoints on 25th June 2014)

Part Two

That leading members of al Qaeda were based in Iran from 2002 onward was known to the U.S. government at the time. In a letter that bin Laden wrote just five days before he died, he described a document from his son Saad, who had lived in Iran for years. The document exposes the truth of the Iranian regime's relations with al-Qaeda.

A letter to bin Laden from his chief of staff, dated 11 June 2009, contains a detailed account of a group of "mid-level" al Qaeda members recently released by Iran, including three Egyptians, a Yemeni, an Iraqi and a Libyan. In Feb 2014, the Lebanese Daily Star reported that the Obama administration accused Tehran of assisting al-Qaeda operatives based in Iran to transfer Sunni fighters to Syria.

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