Wednesday, 23 August 2017
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Joseph E. Fallon reports

While there have been some positive developments, over all the military and political situation in Libya continues to deteriorate. The victories that have been achieved against Islamic Extremism in Libya have been more tactical then strategic, more temporary then permanent.

For instance, the main al-Qaeda affiliate in Libya, Ansar al Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), which at the height of its power in 2012, was "viewed as the most disciplined and feared" with an estimated 4,500-5,000 fighters , formally disbanded in May after suffering military defeats and decimation of its leadership.

However, the end of Ansar al Shariah is not the end of al-Qaeda's presence in Libya. Libya is a conservative country and the most tribal in the Middle East. "The problem with connecting too many "dots," however, is that virtually everyone in Libyan politics is just three or four degrees of separation from al-Qaeda."

We mark the passing of those who have served this country in conflicts. Contributions fro comrades and families welcome.


Russia is currently mixing threatening language designed to intimidate the West with another, contradictory message: that those who fear a Russian military threat are 'hysterical' and hankering for the Cold War, writes Kier Giles.

In Russia and neighbouring Belarus, preparations are underway for Zapad - a major military exercise to be held in September. The two countries' Western neighbours are worried. Zapad is Russian for 'West', and of all the different major exercises in the Russian military calendar, it causes the most excitement and concern because it is the one that most closely resembles practice for invading those neighbours.

We mark the passing of those who have served this country. Contributions form comrades and families welcome

Can the demise of Belize be averted? Its continued existence -- politically, culturally, demographically, linguistically, and ecologically -- is in jeopardy, threatened from without and from within, writesJoseph E. Fallon, who explores existential threats in this article.
 
Belize, which achieved its independence from the U.K. in 1981, is the only English-speaking country in Central America. With a population of 468,310 (2015 estimate), the country is a multi-racial society characterized by political stability and racial tolerance. Conditions historically lacking in the neighboring states. Belize is a parliamentary democracy; a member of the Commonwealth with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. Located on the eastern side of the Yucatan peninsula; washed by the waters of the Caribbean Sea, Belize is bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the south and west. Encompassing 8,867 square miles, and extending 174 miles from north to south and expanding 68 miles from east to west, Belize is roughly the size of the State of Massachusetts and larger than El Salvador, Israel, or Slovenia. Add to this its offshore territorial waters extending 12 miles and the size of the country more than doubles to 18,000 square miles. Because of the natural beauty of its territory, both on land and sea, tourism is a major part of the Belizean economy.

(The most watched TV Channel in the Arab world is being targeted by the Anti-Qatar Block)

The thirteen demands placed by the Saudi coalition to Qatar via Kuwait, included the closure of Al Jazeera and publications and websites "directly or indirectly supported by Qatar". Saudi Arabia and its partners demanded that Qatar must shut down the Doha-based al Jazeera channel and the London-based The New Arab Satellite TV Channel "Alaraby Television Network" which broadcast from London.


According to recent media reports; Press freedom and human rights advocates, journalists and social media users have condemned the outrageous demand by the anti-Qatar alliance to shut Al Jazeera network and other media outlets in Qatar and in London.


Even the UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has called the demand by a Saudi-led bloc to close Al Jazeera an "unacceptable attack on the right to freedom of expression and opinion".

113 Service personnel have been granted state honours, and 50 civilians have also been honoured either for work in the Ministry of Defence or in other aspects of UK Defence. They are listed in full on the next page

Major General Mungo Melvin has managed to produce a very readable history of the Crimea and Sevastopol. This book serves to burnish his credentials as a military historian, following as it does his other work on the life and campaigns of Hitler’s great commander Manstein.  The book is very timely given recent and on-going events in the region. At just over 600 pages, Melvin takes the reader from the earliest references to settlement in the region of Crimea up to 2014; a tour de force.

The history of Sevastopol is closely tied to the history of Russia. In a year which marks the centenary of the Russian revolution, this book has the added merit of filling in the ‘back story’ of Russia for those unfamiliar with the way in which it pursued its own version of the ‘manifest destiny’ of expansion adopted by the US in the 19th century.

British readers will be familiar with Sevastopol from the Crimean War of 1854-55. The strategic significance of the port was the reason for the siege undertaken by the British and their French allies. The city was besieged again in 1941-42 by the Nazis, who largely destroyed it. The transfer of the Crimea to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954 was little noticed by western commentators in the middle of the Cold War. Melvin’s book reminds us that when politicians swap territory over the heads of the population, they store up trouble for future generations.

The author takes considerable pains to spell out the history of this strategic territory. It repays reading, as the tendency among commentators and policy makers is to listen to those who scream loudest. The history of this region, like most of Europe, did not begin in 1945 and cultural and folk memories are often shaped by a sense of grievance. This book helps the reader to make up their own mind about recent events. The author does well to maintain a neutral stance throughout.

As befits a book written by a military historian, Sevastopol’s Wars is well equipped with reference material. An extensive bibliography is complemented by a useful selection of maps (the author is a Royal Engineer, which has been the provider of military maps), and the book is well foot noted. The reader will be richly rewarded by this book, both in the reading and for future reference.

Reviewed by Nick Watts, Deputy Director, U K Defence Forum

Sevastopol's Wars is published by Osprey

Secretary of State - Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP

Minister of State - Rt Hon Earl Howe

Minister of State - Mark Lancaster TD MP

Minister for Defence Procurement - Harriet Baldwin MP

Minister for People and Veterans - Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP

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