Monday, 25 May 2015
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The Saudis simply don't trust President Obama. They don't trust Iran either, believes Nehad Ismail, as concerns over the Obamabomb grow. ( "If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it has my name on this" - Pres Obama 21st May 2015)

The recent Camp David summit was hailed as a success story in Washington. The strained relations between the Gulf Co-operation Council and the USA may have slightly warmed, but the mutual distrust remains. President Obama sought to reassure the region that the nuclear deal with Iran is in their interest and lifting of sanctions will improve the lives of the Iranian people. But the Saudis and their fellow GCC members didn't buy it. They believe Iran will use the flow of funds to prop up the Assad's regime in Syria, and other proxies in the region.

The general feeling in the Middle East and in particular in the Arab Sunni states is that President Obama is not trust-worthy. His numerous promises to be tough against President Assad of Syria who launched chemical weapon attacks on his own people proved to be hollow. Obama's focus is to appease the Mullahs of Iran who are the main backers of the Assad's regime.

Whilst Westminster and Whitehall have been preoccupied with the General Election and its aftermath, the world has continued to turn. The launch in London of the first Armed Conflict Survey by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) demonstrates what has been going on in the wider world. Nicj Watts reports first impressions.
The Survey notes that while in 2008 there were 63 active conflicts which resulted in 56,000 fatalities; in 2014 there were 42 active conflicts which resulted in 180,000 fatalities. The vast majority of the 2014 figure, some 70,000, occurred in Syria. The Survey characterises conflicts as civil wars, insurgencies and other forms of violent unrest. Allied to this is the evolving nature of conflict – as the Survey identifies both international Jihadism and Hybrid warfare as elements of armed conflict in the 21st century

Reappointed UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has set out key defence priorities. He said :

When the Prime Minister re-appointed me, he stressed just how important he believes our role is in Defence. We are here to deliver.

The incredible VE Day 70 celebrations recalled the triumph of the forces of freedom over the forces of fascism. We need no reminding that the world today remains an equally dangerous place. In the Middle East, ISIL barbarians perpetrate atrocity after atrocity while, on the fringes of Europe, an aggressive Russia agitates against the Ukraine and threatens NATO. Meanwhile, other disasters both natural and man-made continue to demand our response.

In just the last few weeks, our roster of activity has included:
• targeting terrorists in Iraq
• policing Baltic skies
• supplying equipment to Ukrainian forces
• taking part in the largest ever NATO anti-submarine exercise off Estonia
• assisting in the relief effort in Nepal
• and sending HMS Bulwark and three of our Merlin helicopters to the Mediterranean to alleviate the migrant crisis

It is critical for us to remain ready respond to concurrent crises on multiple fronts in the future. That's why I have identified three key priorities in the coming months.
First, to take a leading role in the Strategic Defence and Security Review. This will enable us to establish where, when and from whom future threats may come.

Second, to make sure we have the right capabilities to do the job. That means getting the right mix of manpower in our Armed Forces - whether Regulars, Reserves or civilians. That means making the most of our £163bn Equipment Plan to give our Armed Forces the high-end capability they need. And it means ensuring we maintain our Continuous-At-Sea Deterrence by building the next generation of Successor submarines.

Lastly, my third priority is to strengthen our international partnerships. Global problems require global solutions. We need to do everything we can to work bi-laterally with our partners such as the US and France – and I will be speaking to my counterparts in those countries this week. We also need to work multilaterally, with NATO – the cornerstone of our Defence, and with our other European partners.

Ultimately, success in all these areas depends on the quality of our people both military and civilian. That is why I am going out and about to meet our staff up and down the country. I've already spoken already to Defence colleagues in London, Andover and High Wycombe.

That is why we will be building on the success of our Armed Forces Covenant, ensuring Armed Forces personnel, veterans and their families continue to get the resources they need. And that is why we will be acting decisively to ensure our Armed Forces overseas are not subject to persistent human rights claims that undermine their ability to do their job.

So there's an enormous amount to be getting on with. But there's a mandate behind our momentum. And make no mistake, we will inject all our energy and enthusiasm into the task. Doing everything in our power to guarantee the safety, the security and the prosperity of citizens across the United Kingdom.

Marking the passing of those who have served this country. Contributions and comments from comrades and family always welcome

Germany's intelligence agency, the BND, spied on French officials and the EU's headquarters on behalf of US intelligence, German media reported Thursday (30 April). Asked to comment, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that it is very difficult to keep secret services under control.

The reports suggest that the US eavesdropping station at Bad Aibling spied on France's presidential palace and foreign ministry, and the European Commission. The US National Security Agency (NSA) is also reported to have spied on some European firms.

Ministry of Defence officials who have assessed the suitability of Gibralter estimate that relocation would cost Britain about £3 billion and take up to 10 years to complete, the Sunday Express has reported.

A senior academic said that the MoD was clearly "reading the writing on the wall" about the ­possibility of another Scottish referendum. SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie has threatened to hold Westminster to ­ransom over Trident if it gains enough seats after May to hold the balance of power.

A senior military source said : "A party was sent to Gibraltar in January to determine whether the option could work. One can only assume it's part of broader ­contingency planning."

Gibraltar has the ­capacity to accommodate ­submarines large enough for Trident. The move would prove more politically palatable than other UK mainland options such as Falmouth.

 Hawkish language was heard at a hearing organised by the centre-right EPP political group in the European Parliament on Tuesday 21st April, with lawmakers arguing that the best deterrence was to be ready for war.

MEP Tunne Kelam, who chaired the meeting, said that Russia had become the EU's adversary and that its next target would be the Baltic states. When this happens, the West's credibility would be put to the test, he warned.

Kelam appeared to echo remarks from Estonian President Toomas Ilves, who recently said that the lack of commitment from NATO to defend his country could mean the death of the alliance.

There are few weapons in war as nefarious as poison. One hundred years after the Germans first used chlorine gas during the Second Battle of Ypres, chemical weapons remain widely stigmatized and outlawed. Of all the technologies from World War I that went on to redefine combat in the 20th century, chemical weapons have the most sordid legacy, as is still seen in conflicts like Syria.

Ultimately, however, the use of lethal and incapacitating gasses proved largely ineffective in conventional warfare. They were comparatively easy to counter, difficult to use and rarely achieved the desired or planned result. The impact of chemical weapons is less practical than it is psychological, which partly justifies the reluctance to use such measures but also explains why many countries still have chemical stockpiles.

At 5 p.m. on April 22 , 1915, the Germans released around 168 tons of chlorine gas, using the prevailing wind to carry the toxic cloud toward the French 45th and 87th Divisions at Gravenstafel. The gas worked far better than anticipated, creating chaos among the French, Moroccan and Algerian troops and opening a 7-kilometer (4-mile) gap in the defensive line. The Germans failed to effectively capitalize on the break; surprised by the effectiveness of the gas, they were unprepared to exploit the situation. For military planners on all sides, however, the apparent usefulness of poison gas had been proved.

Marking the passing of those who served this country in its Armed Forces. Contributions from comrades and families welcome

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