|China’s latest move in the graveyard of empires|
|[ATimes]The latest plot twist in the endless historical saga of Afghanistan as a graveyard of empires has thrown up an intriguing new chapter. For the past two months, Beijing and Kabul have been discussing the possibility of setting up a military base alongside Afghanistan’s border with China.|
“We are going to build it [the base] and the Chinese government has committed to help financially, provide equipment and train Afghan soldiers,” Mohammad Radmanesh, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, admitted to the AFP.
On the record, the Chinese Foreign Ministry only admitted that Beijing was involved in “capacity-building” in Afghanistan, while NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, led by the United States, basically issued a “no comment.”
The military base will eventually be built in the mountainous Wakhan Corridor, a narrow strip of territory in northeastern Afghanistan that extends to China and separates Tajikistan from Pakistan.
It is one of the most spectacular, barren and remote stretches of Central Asia and according to local Kyrgyz nomads, joint Afghan-Chinese patrols are already active there. True to Sydney Wignall’s fabled Spy on the Roof of the World ethos, a great deal of shadow play is in effect. Apparently, this is basically about China’s own war on terror.
Beijing’s strategic priority is to prevent Uyghur fighters of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), who have been exiled in Afghanistan, crossing the Wakhan Corridor to carry out operations across Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China. There is also the fear that ISIS or Daesh jihadis from Syria and Iraq may also use Afghanistan as a springboard to reach the country.
Even though the jihad galaxy may be split, Beijing is concerned about ETIM. As early as September 2013, the capo of historic al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, supported jihad against China in Xinjiang.
Later, in July 2014, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh said: “Muslim rights [should be] forcibly seized in China, India and Palestine.” Then, on March 1, 2017, Daesh released a video announcing its presence in Afghanistan, with the terror group’s Uyghur jihadis vowing, on the record, to “shed blood like rivers” in Xinjiang.
At the heart of the matter is China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or the New Silk Road, which will connect China with Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
For Beijing, the stability of one of its links, the $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is seriously compromised if terror threats abound in Central and South Asia. It could also affect China’s sizable investments in Afghanistan’s mineral mining industry
|The Media has stopped Reporting the Russian Collusion Story|
After all, the release last week of a less-redacted version of Sens. Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham’s January 4 letter showed that the FBI secured a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to search the communications of a Trump campaign adviser based on a piece of opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The Fourth Amendment rights of an American citizen were violated to allow one political party to spy on another.
If the press did its job and reported the facts, the argument goes, then it wouldn’t just be Republicans and Trump supporters demanding accountability and justice. Americans across the political spectrum would understand the nature and extent of the abuses and crimes touching not just on one political party and its presidential candidate but the rights of every American.
That’s all true, but irrelevant. The reasons the press won’t cover the story are suggested in the Graham-Grassley letter itself.
|US forces in Afghanistan attack anti-China militants|
|[AlAhram] U.S. forces in Afghanistan have attacked networks of anti-China in an action that is likely to please Beijing, which had called for Western cooperation in its fight against a group it says wants to split off its Xinjiang region.|
The strikes in the northern province of Badakhshan destroyed training camps which support operations in Afghanistan as well as operations by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in the border region with China and Tajikistan, Afghanistan's -led mission said in a release on Thursday.
"The U.S. strikes support Afghanistan in reassuring its neighbours that it is not a safe sanctuary for who want to carry out cross-border operations," it said.
The force gave no more details about the attacks or any estimate of casualties but it said the ETIM was behind attacks both inside and outside China and two of its members had been involved in a 2002 plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan.
"They pose a threat to China and enjoy support from the Taliban in Badakhshan and throughout the border region," the force said.
The group is drawn from members of China's mostly Uighur minority, who speak a Turkic language and live in Xinjiang in China's far west.
In Beijing, a Chinese foreign ministry said he did not have information about the issue, but that fighting ETIM was a "core counter-terrorism concern" for China.
"Striking against terrorism is the responsibility of all countries in the world," Geng Shuang told a news briefing on Friday.
In 2016, Beijing was angered at a U.S. State Department report that said there was a lack of transparency or information from China about incidents it called terrorism, and that cooperation on the problem was limited.
The United States has since urged China to play a bigger role in combating global terrorism.
In the past, some Western countries have been reluctant to share intelligence with China on terrorism issues, citing concern about possible abuses in Xinjiang.
China has long been worried that instability in Afghanistan could spill over into Xinjiang.
Hundreds of people have been killed in violence in recent years in Xinjiang. Beijing blames the bloodshed on Islamist and separatists, though rights groups say the unrest is more a reaction to repressive Chinese policies.
The United States, and the have listed the ETIM as a terrorist group.
|US launches airstrikes on Taliban training camps|
|[LWJ] The US military launched a series of airstrikes on Taliban training camps located in Afghanistan’s remote northeastern province of Badakhshan, which borders Tajikistan. The camps were used by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and other terrorist groups.|
“Over the past 96 hours, US forces conducted air operations to strike Taliban training facilities in Badakhshan province, preventing the planning and rehearsal of terrorist acts near the border with China and Tajikistan by such organizations as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and others,” Resolute Support announced in a press release.
According to Resolute Support, the airstrikes also “destroyed stolen Afghan National Army vehicles that were in the process of being converted to vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.”
Badakhshan, once a peaceful province, has become a Taliban hotbed since the US withdrew the bulk of its forces after the troop surge ended in 2012. Of Badakhshan’s 28 districts, LWJ assesses three to be Taliban controlled and another nine to be contested.
ETIM’s emir has served on al Qaeda’s shura, and it has operated a training camp that was sponsored by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. After the Taliban lost control of Afghanistan in 2001, the ETIM established training camps in Pakistan.
ETIM fighters have fought alongside the Taliban and other jihadist groups against Coalition and Afghan forces since the US first invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
The US has previously targeted ETIM leaders inside Pakistan in its drone campaign. In Aug. 2010, the US thought it killed Abdul Haq al Turkistani, the emir of the ETIM, in a drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan. Turkistani later re-emerged in a video in 2015, and said he was severely wounded in the 2010 drone strike. Abdul Haq issued another in 2016 that took al Qaeda’s side in its dispute with the Islamic State.
The US was also thought to have killed Emeti Yakuf (a.k.a. Abdul Shakoor Turkistani), in a drone strike in Pakistan in Aug. 2012. Yakuf took control of the ETIM as Turkistani was recovering from his injuries, and also took control of al Qaeda’s network in Pakistan’s tribal areas in 2010.
|BRICS names Pak terror groups|
|[THEHANSINDIA] For the first time, Pakistain-based terror groups like the LeT and the JeM were named on Monday for causing violence in the region by the BRICS Summit that also asserted that those responsible for committing, organising or supporting terror acts must be held accountable. |
In a significant diplomatic win for India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was joined by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President , Brazilian President Michael Temer and South African President Jacob Zuma in strongly denouncing terror activities of such groups, as they expressed determination to collectively fight the scourge.
The 43-page 'Xiamen Declaration', adopted at the end of the five-nation BRICS plenary, stressed on the need for immediate cessation of violence in Afghanistan.
It expressed "concern" over the security situation in the region and the violence caused by the , ISIS, al-Qaeda and its affiliates, including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the , , , Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain (TTP) and . Significantly, the ETIM is active in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China and seeks to establish a separate "East Turkistan".
According to officials, Modi raised the issue of terrorism strongly at the BRICS Summit and was joined by other leaders, who expressed willingness to fight this menace. "For the first time, specific listing of terror organizations has been made (in the BRICS declaration)," Secretary (East) in the external affairs ministry Preeti Saran told s.
The inclusion of Pakistain-based terror groups in the declaration is also significant as it indicated a slight shift in the Chinese view towards terror groups operating out of Pakistain.
During the last BRICS Summit in Goa, China did not allow the inclusion of Pakistain-based terror groups in the declaration despite the fact that the Summit was taking place within weeks of the Uri terror strike carried out by a Pakistain-based group.
|-Land of the Free|
|Jesse Jackson back at Amazon stockholders’ meeting, crusading for workforce diversity|
|[SEATTLETIMES] It’s 2017, and much has changed since Jackson marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. But some old problems remain unresolved — like access to good jobs.|
...and Jesseh's hunger for cash he didn't earn. Give him a beer distributorship and he'll go away...
|-Lurid Crime Tales-|
|Fourth man accuses Seattle Mayor Ed Murray of paying him for sex|
|[SEATTLETIMES] In a handwritten declaration from jail, a fourth man has accused Seattle Mayor Ed Murray of paying him for sex. A Murray spokesman denied the latest allegations, calling them a “sensational media stunt.”|
|Why is China 'protecting' the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group?|
|[DeutscheWelle] China blocked a recent Indian move to blacklist Jaish-e-Mohammad's chief Masood Azhar at the UN. In a DW interview, Siegfried O Wolf, a South Asia expert at the University of Heidelberg, explains why China is protecting the Pakistain-based group's head.|
DW: China blocked a recent Indian move to blacklist chief Masood Azhar at the UN. In April, Beijing put a similar move on hold. Why is China protecting Azhar?
Siegfried O. Wolf: China's diplomatic support for Pakistain-based is multi-faceted. Therefore, one must look at Beijing's latest action at the UN in a larger context.
China's protection of Masood Azhar is only one component of the Chinese campaign to provide Pakistain its diplomatic support, which includes informal "lobbying work" to prevent Pakistain from being listed as a state that sponsors terrorism. The possible sanctions would not only have immense political and economic implications for Islamabad, they will also reflect poorly on Beijing as Pakistain is widely seen as a close China ally. Therefore, Chinese authorities try to undermine all Indian attempts to officially name Pakistain as a state-sponsor of terrorism on international platforms like BRICS or the Heart of Asia conference.
Beijing is now also drawing on Islamabad's improved relations with Moscow. China is increasingly involving Pakistain in multilateral dialogues on regional cooperation and security in relation to the Afghanistan-Pakistain region and Central Asia in an attempt to minimize Pakistain's international isolation.
Another dimension of China's move to block the Indian effort to designate Azhar as a terrorist is the threat that anti-Indian groups like the JeM could turn against the Pak state. This would have dangerous implications for China, especially for its massive investments and development initiatives in the South Asian country, including the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistain Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. We must not forget that international terror groups like al Qaeda, " " (IS) and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) oppose Beijing for its alleged anti- policies against the Uighurs in its western Xinjiang province. China doesn't want an additional confrontation with Islamist groups.
Finally, there is no doubt that the India-China rivalry might also be a factor in Beijing's support for Islamabad and Pakistain-based terrorists. In this context, China's major development projects like "One Belt, One Road" to link China with Europe and the Middle East, and several other infrastructure projects show that Beijing considers Afghanistan an important country for its economic, security and geopolitical interests.
|Home Front: Culture Wars|
|Air Force releases guidance on transgender airmen|
|[AIRFORCETIMES] The Air Force this week publicly released its guidance for how the service will incorporate transgender airmen into its ranks. |
"Transgender airmen serve alongside us with integrity, service and excellence," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a news release announcing the guidance. "This is another step in allowing transgender airmen to serve openly, receive medical care relating to gender transition and allow transgender individuals to join the Air Force. Our strengths as a military are the quality and character of our people, and those things that make us unique are the same things that make us strong."
The guidance, which was included in a memo dated Oct. 6, spells out how the Air Force will handle questions of which lodging, bathroom and shower facilities transgender airmen will use while they are transitioning. It also outlines plans for handling their fitness assessments and uniforms during the transition process.
And while it warns airmen and commanders that discrimination and bias against transgender airmen will not be tolerated, the guidance also said that handling such transitions could be tricky.
|Al-Qaeda, the Turkestan Islamic Party, and the Bishkek Chinese Embassy Bombing|
|[THEDIPLOMAT] The August 30 bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek was perpetrated by a member of the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), also known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The terrorist attack was directly related to a call to Uyghur by al-Qaeda’s on July 2, 2016.|
In his address, Zawahiri urged Uyghur Islamists to "have patience" in dealing with "atheist Chinese invaders" in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China, and "strengthen the fire of jihad" against the Beijing authorities in "Dar al-Kufr" (land of disbelief, a term for lands where Islamic law is not applied). Dar al-Kufr for Uyghur Islamists means not only the Chinese state and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, but also its neighboring Central Asian states, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
There are about 10 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang, 250,000 in Kazakhstan, and more than 50,000 in Kyrgyzstan. Chinese authorities have carried out a deliberate policy of Uyghur assimilation primarily through mass migration of ethnic Han Chinese to Xinjiang. Uyghur nationalists oppose the demographic, ethnic and religious policies of the Chinese government. Periodically jihadists of the Turkestan Islamic Party organize terrorist attacks in the region.
On August 30, 2016 a was carried out at the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek. The bomber rammed the gates of the embassy with a car, then detonated a bomb. The attack injured several members of the embassy staff and caused extensive damage to the embassy building and grounds. On September 7, 2016 the State Committee of National Security of Kyrgyzstan reported that some of the organizers of the attack while others were declared wanted.
According to intelligence agencies, members of Jabhat financed the attack on the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek through a local cell leader in Kyrgyzstan. The attacker, who carried a passport with the name Zoir Khalilov, was a 32-year-old ethnic Uyghur who was a member of the Turkestan Islamic Party.
Two weeks before the in Bishkek, The Diplomat published an article in which I discussed the revitalization of TIP’s propaganda schemes and terrorist activities. The Bishkek attack underscores these efforts. China and the governments of Central Asia should note that the TIP has become one of the key players in global Islamic jihad and can organize a terrorist act outside of China. In other words, the law enforcement agencies of Central Asia must keep their eyes open.
Kyrgyz authorities failed to prevent the attack, indicating a low level of intelligence work and lack of training. Instead of fighting the external enemy, jihadists in Central Asia and the Middle East, the Kyrgyz state is engaged in the persecution and repression of domestic political opposition. In May 2016 security forces leaders of the National Opposition Movement of Kyrgyzstan Bektur Asanov and Kubanych Kadyrov, as well as opposition People’s Parliament leaders Bekbolot Talgarbekova, Marat Sultanov, and Torobay Kolubayev, accusing them of attempting a coup d’etat. The arrested opposition politicians had harshly criticized the government and demanded the resignation of President Almazbek Atambayev. The trial of the opposition leaders were held behind closed doors and they are all now kept in detention centers without being given proper legal protection.
|Britain to block EU army|
|[THETIMES.CO.UK] will veto measures to build an EU army for as long as it remains a member of the union, the defence secretary has warned.|
Sir Michael Fallon’s comments came as it emerged that and Germany had drawn up a timetable to create a "common military force" that would rival in army capability.
According to a document discussed by EU leaders at a summit in Bratislava yesterday, the European Commission will put forward proposals in December for the common military force, with the aim of agreement by June next year.
|CRPF Company Cmdr among 28 injured;Kashmir stands still as restrictions continued|
|[NEWS.STATETIMES.IN] Normal life remained paralysed in for the 24th consecutive day on Monday as curfew continued in some parts while restrictions were in effect in rest of the Valley to maintain law and order.|
Curfew remained in force in five areas of the city and Anantnag town. Restrictions on assembly of four or more persons continued in entire , a police official said.
"Curfew is in place only in five areas of Srinagar city -- Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal and Maharajgunj," he said.
According to a police handout, the situation throughout remained ’under control’ although 15 incidents of stone pelting were reported across the Valley. These incidents were reported from Ganderbal, Kulgam, Anantnag, Shopian, Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora.
During law and order situations, three persons, 25 police and security force personnel including a CRPF Coy Commander . The CRPF Coy Commander suffered serious injury in his face.
As a precautionary measure curfew restrictions were put in place in s of North zone Srinagar and Anantnag town.
Normal life remained disrupted for the 24th consecutive day due to the strike call given by separatists against civilian deaths during the protests which erupted after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.
Shops, schools, colleges, business establishments and private offices remained closed while public transport remained off the roads in the Valley which is reeling under the violence that has left 49 persons dead and over 5,600 persons injured.
According to a Srinagar based news agency, scores of doctors and para-medical staff at SKIMS JVC Bemina took out a protest march from the hospital premises and raised pro-freedom slogans.
Syed Ali Geelani on Monday came out of his residence at Hyderpora and started painting walls with anti-India slogans.
Geelani, who is under continuous house detention, was accompanied by a few of his supporters and some locals of the area.
Notably, the separatists on July 30 issued a new protest calendar asking people, particularly youths, to express their sentiments by writing slogans on roads, Walls, Shop Shutters etc.
The separatist camp has extended the shutdown call in till August 5, calling for a march to Hazratbal shrine on Friday.