Events in Libya have escalated rapidly in recent days, accompanied by an information and propaganda war between the opposing sides.
A written statement published on 21 May by Saqr Al-Jaroushi, commander of the Air Force of the Libyan National Army (LNA), hints at a dangerous escalation of the situation in the African country, stating that “the largest aerial campaign in Libya’s history is about to begin. All Turkish positions and interests in all (Libyan) cities are now legitimate targets for LNA planes, and as such the civilian population is urged to stay away from them.”
Turkish media had several days earlier launched a mass information campaign in support of Operation Peace Storm in Libya, reporting how the Libyan army had dealt a “crushing blow to Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s military units” around Tripoli, Al-Watiya and Abu Grein, and on the destruction of LNA military equipment. In demonstration of these victories, GNA supporters triumphantly paraded a captured Russian-made Pantsir C1E, an air defense missile system, around the Libyan capital as a trophy. Admittedly, it must be noted that the Pantsir in question was unable to move on its own; the burnt-out trophy was towed by a tractor, having been heavily damaged during the fighting. Nevertheless, the Pantsir became a powerful propaganda tool for Haftar’s opponents. As for how the Pantsir ended up in Libya, it formed part of an arms shipment sent to Haftar by the UAE, one of the field marshal’s main sponsors. This is indicated by the fact that the missile system is built on the chassis of the German MAN-SX45 off-road truck, which was successfully used in this configuration during the Emirates’ military campaign in Yemen.
Turkish media has over the past few days put particular emphasis on how Haftar’s troops lost control over the Al-Watiya airbase south of Tripoli, “hastily fleeing under pressure from the forces of Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA), which receives robust military support from Turkey.” Turkey’s Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar recently told Turkish information agency Anadolu that the balance of power in Libya is changing and summarized Turkey’s involvement in the conflict, emphasizing that the GNA’s success was made possible by the support of Turkish military consultants and their work with the army in the organization of military training.
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Authored by Arkady Savitsky via The Strategic Culture Foundation,
Much has been said about the Trident Juncture 2018 NATO exercise being held in the immediate vicinity of Russia’s borders. This is the largest training event since the Cold War, but it’s only part of a broader picture, in which military war preparations targeting Russia are in full swing. Exercises are being coordinated, along with infrastructure facilities that are being built, expanded, and modernized. For instance, last week the construction of an aircraft maintenance hangar at Estonia’s Amari Air Base, the first military project fully funded by the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), was completed.
The event was celebrated by US and Estonian air force officials with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. More than $38 million in EDI funds are being invested in that base. Beyond the training, a joint maintenance facility will also support the NATO aircraft that are conducting air policing in Eastern Europe. The Air Force Times cited US Air Forces Europe Commander Gen. Tod Wolters, who promised that even more funding was coming down the pipe for other projects.
“Looking into fiscal year 2019, we are proposing a [European Defense Initiative] budget that demonstrates the US commitment to NATO,” he noted. According to him, “Our total [US European Command] request includes a significant funding increase from $4.7 billion to $6.5 billion.”
The NATO infrastructure modernization plans include upgrades to the Kecskemet Air Base in Hungary so that it can accommodate US F-15 fighters, A-10 attack planes, and C-5 transport aircraft, in addition to building a munitions storage facility at Malacky Air Base, Slovakia and a taxiway at Rygge, Norway. These steps are part of a larger effort to prepare for offensive operations against Russia.
The fiscal 2018 defense budget authorizes the US Air Force secretary to purchase land and build installations in other countries. There are plans to invest some $214 million into air bases in Europe, including a $13.9 million investment in Estonia’s preeminent military air base, Amari, plus the Lielvarde Air Base in Latvia is to receive a $3.85 million investment. The biggest chunk of the money,
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With the US president Donald Trump’s tweet of mass destruction and with Iran’s General Soleimani hitting back, the war of words has intensified in a big way between Iran and the US. Soleimani’s verbal attack symbolizes many things. Whereas it reflects the highly charged anti-US mood currently prevailing in Iran, it also signifies that the cold-war may actually turn into a hot-war in the wake of an all out US attack, military or economic, on Iran. And if the push comes to shove ever, Iran’s best weapon will be its control over the Strait of Hormuz and its ability to cripple the West with a simple blockade of the Strait. While we all know how crucial the Strait is in global supply of oil, the reason why this factor has re-surfaced as the deciding factor is the extremely anti-US mood in Iran, coupled with the fact Iran’s civilian government led by Rouhani is facing a political backlash for trusting the US, proving the Soleimani led revolutionary guards right in terms of not trusting the US for its pledges. It explains why it is Soleimani who is already at the forefront.
Surely, Iran’s threat to block the Strait would never have come if the US had not decided to tighten the screw on Iran’s oil with the ultimate intention/objective of blocking its supplies to absolutely cripple its economy and force a regime change from within through a sponsored uprising.
Since the purpose remains regime change in Iran and since the new US sanctions are going to be a lot or more extensive and harder, Iran, sensing the game, might be forced to take measures to match the US actions. Strait of Hormuz, therefore, becomes a viable, although dangerous, action point.
Iran, as such, is upping the ante to play a tit for tat game, and is perfectly poised to do so without having to face an international backlash and without violating any signed rules and laws even. With incoming vessels taking North and East routes to access the Persian Gulf, they will be navigating Iran’s territorial waters, which means that Iran, in theory, is safely positioned to block the use of the Strait. And while Iran is a signatory to the 1982 United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea,
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