Friday, 18 September 2020
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Since the 12th April the United States has carried out seven unmanned airstrikes. The targets were:

April 14th: Unmanned predators or reapers fired two Hellfire missiles at a car in the village of Ambor Shagha, Miramshah, North Waziristan. According to Pakistani intelligence sources four militants were killed in the strike and an additional three were wounded. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban figures have been reported killed in the strike.

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26th March: The Cheonan, a Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) corvette sailing close to the disputed inter-Korean maritime border, sank after an explosion split the vessel in two. Fifty-eight sailors manage to escape but another forty-six were killed.

27th March: As the ROKN continued its search for survivors, South Korea's president, Lee Myung-bak, calls emergency security meetings and orders an investigation into the sinking. With speculation mounting of a possible North Korean torpedo attack, South Korea's Defence Minister indicated to Parliament that the authorities would undertake a full investigation. It was also emphasised that it was still too early to connect the sinking of the ship to North Korea.

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Since the 11th May the United States has carried out three unmanned airstrikes:

15th May: US Predators fired missiles at a Taliban compound and "two truckloads of militants" in the first recorded airstrike with Pakistan's Khyber tribal agency. Between 5 and 15 Taliban fighters were killed in the attack, but none were reported to be senior figures. The location of the attack also remains unclear.

21st May: Unmanned aircraft fired four missiles at a Taliban compound in the village of Mohammed Khel, North Waziristan. Reports suggest that between 6 and 10 'terrorists' were killed in the attack. Initially it remained unclear if the casualties were al Qaida, Taliban or other Jihadists operating in the area. No senior figures were reported killed at the time. However on the 31st May As Sahab, al Qaida's propaganda arm, released statement confirming that its chief finance official Mustafa Abu Yazid was killed in the strike. Yazid is considered one of al Qaida's most senior figures. He served as al Qaida's leader in Afghanistan and was identified by the 9/11 Commission as its "chief financial manager." This would have made him responsible for the distribution of funds from al Qaida's treasury.

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Since the 28th May the United States has carried out seven unmanned airstrikes:

June 10th: U.S. unmanned aircraft targeted a 'sprawling compound' in the village of Norak, North Waziristan, killing three suspected terrorists. Whilst the compound was known to be used by the Taliban no senior figures were reported killed. However on June 17th the Long War Journal reported that two al Qaeda commanders and a Turkish fighter were killed in this attack. The al Qaida casualties were confirmed as Sheikh Inshanullah, an 'Arab al Qaeda commander' and Ibrahim, commander of the Fursan-i-Mohammed Group. All three deaths were confirmed in a statement from Taifatul Mansura Group, a Turkish jihadist organisation operating along the Af-Pak border.

June 11th: Unmanned aircraft attacked two villages in North Waziristan. The airstrike targeted targeted Taliban safe houses in the villages of Bahader Khel and Khaddi, killing eleven and four terrorists respectively. Three 'foreigners' were reported killed in Bahader Khel, and two in Khaddi. The term 'foreigner' is used by Pakistani security forces to describe Arab or Central Asian al Qaida operatives. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban figures were reported killed at this time.

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28th May: South Korea sends the findings of the international inquiry into the sinking of the Cheonan to China. Defence Minister Kim Tae-young also commented on conflicting government statements about the disappearance of two North Korean submarines from the South's radars around the time of the attack. At first the government said there was no connection with the sinking, but a later statement indicated that those were the submarines responsible for the attack on the Cheonan. Initially South Korea made a judgement based on its own intelligence data. However additional information was eventually obtained from the international investigation team.

1st June:North Korea's National Defence Commission held a press conference to discredit evidence that it was responsible for the attack on the Cheonan. For the South, the press conference confirmed that the members of the National Defence Commission had in the past been involved in previous inter-Korean meetings.

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By Juan Camilo Castillo

A new type of insurgency

Since the end of the Cold War, the notions of low intensity conflicts, armed non-state actors and unconventional warfare have gained a significant attention from the media, policy-makers and the academic world alike. In the post 9/11 strategic environment, these concepts have gained an overarching significance when thinking about international security and stability, especially, when placed in the context of ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Certainly, when we revise the idea of an insurgency carrying out an active campaign where guerrilla tactics and terrorism are the tools of choice, it is difficult to separate the notion of violence as a core vehicle for political outcomes. As noted by journalist Robert Taber (in reference to Clausewitz's famous line) "guerrilla warfare" becomes politics through other means. Therefore, normally speaking an insurgency has always been associated with a political cause. For example, the Taliban and Al-Qaida in Iraq want to set up Islamist emirates in their areas of operations, the Tamil Tigers seek the creation of a Tamil Homeland, Shining Path in Peru and FARC in Colombia seek to establish a Maoist and Communist regimes respectively, and so the list goes on.

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By Peter Zeihan

In recent weeks, STRATFOR has explored how the U.S. government has been seeing its interests in the Middle East and South Asia shift. When it comes down to it, the United States is interested in stability at the highest level a sort of cold equilibrium among the region's major players that prevents any one of them, or a coalition of them from overpowering the others and projecting power outward.

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By Andrew Mok

When a little-known logistics officer emerged as leader of Guinea's 2008 coup, some were hopeful that his clique of military officers would finally bring democratic governance to Conakry. Dadis Camara's bloody suppression of opposition protests last September dimmed those hopes, but not the international and domestic calls for immediate transition to civilian government via democratic elections.

This democratic zeitgeist has bred a new intolerance for extra-legal military coups from Madagascar to Mauritania. However, it places an ill-conceived faith in the miraculous power of a quick transition to procedural elections and civilian rule. Such transitions have not prevented further instability and coups in West Africa.

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By George Friedman

Arizona's new law on illegal immigration went into effect last week, albeit severely limited by a federal court ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court undoubtedly will settle the matter, which may also trigger federal regulations. However that turns out, the entire issue cannot simply be seen as an internal American legal matter. More broadly, it forms part of the relations between the United States and Mexico, two sovereign nation-states whose internal dynamics and interests are leading them into an era of increasing tension. Arizona and the entire immigration issue have to be viewed in this broader context.

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By Scott Stewart

This week's Stratfor's Geopolitical Intelligence Report provided a high-level assessment of the economic forces that affect how the Mexican people and the Mexican government view the flow of narcotics through that country. Certainly at that macro level, there is a lot of money flowing into Mexico and a lot of people, from bankers and businessmen to political parties and politicians, are benefiting from the massive influx of cash. The lure of this lucre shapes how many Mexicans (particularly many of the Mexican elite) view narcotics trafficking. It is, frankly, a good time to be a banker, a real estate developer or a Rolex dealer in Mexico.

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