Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Friday, May 2, 2014
War watch May 2 , 2014 - Syria ships out or has destroyed 92.5 percent of its chemical weapon arsenal , US makes nonsensical complaint that Syria is " stalling " by not getting the rest out of Latakia port ( said port located in Rebel controlled territory ) ........... 33 Killed, Scores Wounded in North Syria Barrel Bomb Strike Barrel Bomb Hit Marketplace, Started Fires ......... Afghanistan has another bloody day as a bomb explodes at a checkpoint killing at least 11 ( spring time means fighting season has begun in earnest )
The Obama Administration continues to rail at what has by all other accounts been a very successful chemical weapons disarmament in Syria, accusing the nation of “stalling” because they fell slightly short of a self-imposed deadline to have all the chemicals out of the country by last Friday. Syria got only 92.5% out by then.
Syria has struggled to get those shipments out of the country through Latakia port, as the city lies in a rebel-dominated region, and many shipments have come under attack. US officials not only claimed this was proof of “stalling,” but claimed Syria intended to keep that 7.5% as “leverage.”
Yet what possible leverage this would give them is totally unclear, as the remaining chemicals are not in a usable form and are essentially just in the way. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), overseeing the dismantlement, confirmed that Syria’s program is effectively already gone, and they would have no practical way to use the chemicals they haven’t gotten rid of.
If anything, Syria has been scrambling to meet or exceed deadlines as a way of thumbing their nose at US claims the disarmament would never happen. When compared to other major chemical weapons nations, like the United States, Syria’s disarmament in a few short months is remarkable.
Another report of major civilian casualties has emerged from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo today, where a barrel bomb attack wound up hitting a crowded marketplace,killing 33 and wounding scores of others.
As munitions have been in short supply, Syria’s military is increasingly relying on makeshift barrel bombs, essentially oil drums packed with explosives and shrapnel, rolled out of the back of helicopters, as their bomb of choice. Such a primitive design is extremely powerful, but also very inaccurate, and often careens far off course.
Today’s strike on the marketplace was doubly problematic, as not only were there a lot of civilians around, but some of the shops in the area were selling cans of diesel fuel for use in generators, and the bomb hit started a lot of fires.
It was the second barrel bomb hit in as many days in Aleppo. The previous strike was no more accurate, smashing into an elementary school and killing dozens of school-children.
Deadly bomb explodes at Afghan checkpoint
A suicide attack in Panjshir province has killed at least 11 people, including six police officers, officials say.
Last updated: 01 May 2014 21:39
Attacks in the region have increased as international forces prepare to leave [Reuters]
A suicide car bomb has killed at least 11 people, including six policemen, in Afghanistan’s usually peaceful Panjshir province, officials say.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack through a text message sent by the group’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, who said that one of the fighters had exploded a car bomb in the northern area.
"Six police were killed and seven civilians," Abdul Aziz Ghairat, police chief of Panjshir province, told AFP news agency. A number of other civilians and security forces were wounded."
The explosion occurred at the entry gate into the region. Most of the civilians killed were in a bus waiting to be searched at a checkpoint marking the entrance into Panjshir from Parwan province.
The attacker is said to have been waiting on the narrow mountain road until police approached his vehicle to search it when he detonated the explosives, Khan said.
The ministry of interior confirmed the incident. "Around 5pm, a suicide bomber in a Toyota Sedan detonated his explosives-loaded vehicle," it said in a statement.
The mountainous Northern Province was an important rallying area for the anti-Taliban forces that helped topple the group’s government in late 2001.
Attacks have been more frequent in recent months, with the Taliban vowing to disrupt presidential elections but it failed to carry out major attacks and the vote went ahead mostly peacefully.
The attacks come as international forces prepare to withdraw and hand security to the Afghan authorities by the end of the year.
NATO support called in to foil Afghan attack
Attack by hundreds of fighters on army posts in Zirok district of Paktika province is intercepted, killing scores.
Last updated: 30 Apr 2014 17:23
Afghan forces have repulsed an assault by hundreds of fighters, many from across the border in Pakistan, in the biggest clash since the presidential election about four weeks ago. NATO air support was called in on Wednesday to help beat back the attack that left 60 fighters and at least five Afghan soldiers dead at an army base near the porous border on Monday night. "A group of terrorists and foreign fighters numbering about 500 launched a big operation targeting army posts in Zirok district of Paktika province," the Afghan defence ministry said in a statement, according to the AFP news agency.
Haqqani and foreign fighters along with suicide attackers carried out an assault on the night of April 28 to capture a military base in Zirok district
statement, Afghan National Directorate of Security
It said the fighters were trying to score a high-profile victory after failing to mount a significant attack on polling day despite threatening to target voters, election officials and security forces. The Afghan National Directorate of Security, the country's intelligence agency, said 300 fighters from the Haqqani network, which is allied to the Taliban, and other fighters were involved. "Haqqani and foreign fighters along with suicide attackers carried out an assault on the night of April 28 to capture a military base in Zirok district," it said. "As a result of a counterattack by government forces backed by [the] coalition air force, 60 members of Haqqani and other foreign fighters were killed and a large number injured." The Haqqani network is blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan, including bombings of the US and Indian embassies in Kabul. A Haqqani source in Pakistan confirmed Monday's incident to AFP. "Allied forces and the Afghan army retaliated to the assault and killed 60 fighters," he said. "The fighters left and took with them 40 bodies of their colleagues and 12 Afghan soldiers who were alive." The Haqqani source said the bodies of 20 fighters were with the Afghans and a message had been sent offering to exchange the captured soldiers for them. Afghan officials said only one soldier had been taken hostage. US officials have in the past accused Pakistani intelligence agencies of links to the Haqqani network, which has bases in Pakistan's tribal districts. Washington put the network on its terror blacklist in September 2012, and the Pentagon said the group represented a "significant threat" to national security. Afghanistan's election is heading for a run-off on June 7 after former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani failed to secure the 50 percent vote needed for first-round victory. A second election in June - at the height of the traditional "fighting season" - will present another major challenge for Afghanistan's stretched security forces.