Trump Administration and Saudi Arabia Sign the Largest Arms Sale in History

The president announced the package Saturday, but a legal analysis prompted by congressional inquiries warns against it.-Akbar Shahid Ahmed,

Akbar Shahid Ahmed–A $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia that President Donald Trump announced Saturday would be illegal because of the Saudis’ role in the ongoing conflict in Yemen, according to a legal analysis the Senate received Friday.

The U.S. “cannot continue to rely on Saudi assurances that it will comply with international law and agreements concerning the use of U.S.-origin equipment,” Michael Newton, a prominent Vanderbilt University law professor and former military judge advocate general, said in an opinion sent to the full Senate by the human rights arm of the American Bar Association. He cited “multiple credible reports of recurring and highly questionable [air]strikes’’ by the Saudi military that have killed civilians.

In a 23-page assessment, Newton said the strikes have continued “even after Saudi units received training and equipment to reduce civilian casualties.”

“Continued sale of arms to Saudi Arabia ― and specifically of arms used in airstrikes ― should not be presumed to be permissible” under the two statutes covering most sales of military equipment by the U.S government to foreign nations, he said.

The State Department said Saturday in a statement that the sales would occur under the foreign military sales process. Newton told senators that should not be available to Saudi Arabia until the Saudi and U.S. governments offer new certifications to prove that the Saudis are following the law on using U.S. weaponry. The arms package includes tanks, artillery, ships, helicopters, missile defense systems and cybersecurity technology worth “almost $110 billion,” according to the statement.

The Obama administration committed to many elements of the package, but the Trump administration is presenting it as a major accomplishment. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a White House aide, has built a rapport with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and personally intervened with weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin to get the Saudis a better deal, The New York Times reported.

The bar association’s Center for Human Rights requested the assessment after receiving several congressional inquiries about the legality of continued sales to the Saudis. Senators skeptical of the Saudi campaign in Yemen unsuccessfully tried to block a $1.15 billion arms transfer last fall. The legal analysis suggests that they should try again.

There’s already an apparent appetite for such a move: Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), an architect of last year’s effort, blasted the deal in a HuffPost blog post on Saturday. “Saudi Arabia is an important friend and partner for the United States,” Murphy wrote. “But they are still a deeply imperfect friend. $110 billion in weapons will exacerbate, not ameliorate, those imperfections.”

A U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition of countries has been at war in Yemen for over two years, fighting Iran-backed militants who have taken over much of the country. The coalition has been repeatedly accused of war-crime violations for its role in the deaths of thousands of civilians in the Arab world’s poorest country.

The United Nations has reported nearly 5,000 deaths have occurred, and said the actual toll is likely far higher. U.N. experts have repeatedly singled out coalition airstrikes, which are supported by American aerial refueling, as the single largest cause of civilian casualties during various periods in the conflict. Meanwhile, naval blockades by the coalition and interference in aid deliveries by the pro-Iran militants have caused a major humanitarian crisis: 19 million Yemenis are in need of aid, according to the U.N., and a famine may soon be declared.

Extremist groups, notably al Qaeda, have taken advantage of the chaos to expand their power.

Then-President Barack Obama authorized U.S. assistance to the coalition in March 2015. His administration halted some arms transfers last December after a major Saudi-led attack on a funeral, but it kept up the majority of U.S. support.

Obama approved a record-breaking $115 billion in arms sales to the Saudis during his time in office, but the country’s leaders frequently claimed he abandoned them because of his nuclear diplomacy with Iran and reluctance to strongly intervene in Syria. Trump’s team is speaking of the deal as a sign of a renewed commitment to the longtime U.S. partner ― even though he often criticized the Saudis on the campaign trail.

Newton, in his analysis, charged that Saudi military strikes have deliberately targeted markets and hospitals where few, if any, enemy combatants were located.  He also cited Saudi Arabia’s domestic human rights abuses, its failure to hold military officers accountable and its illegal use of cluster munitions as justifying an immediate end of U.S. military support.

U.S. personnel or contractors could be vulnerable under international humanitarian law if the military sales continue, Newton added ― especially because the armaments could be used in an anticipated Saudi assault on the Yemani port of Hodeidah, which would have a devastating impact on millions. One-time military lawyer Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) has suggested that such prosecution is possible.

Despite failed private efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in Yemen, the Trump administration has not expressed much public concern about the Saudis’ conduct in the conflict. It’s instead loudly cheered the kingdom ― and chosen it as the site for Trump’s first foreign visit, which the Saudis are promoting as an epoch-defining moment.

“This package demonstrates the United States’ commitment to our partnership with Saudi Arabia, while also expanding opportunities for American companies in the region, potentially supporting tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States,” the State Department said Saturday in its release.

The statement did not mention the U.S. and Saudi role in the controversial Yemen war.

Speaking Saturday in the Saudi capital, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said continued U.S. arms transfers were meant to help Saudi actions in Yemen.

The Saudi side suggested total coherence on the issue, despite the war crimes allegations and lawmakers’ vocal complaints.

“There are many who try to find gaps between the policy of the United States and that of Saudi Arabia, but they will never succeed,” Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said in a statement issued Friday by the Saudi Embassy in Washington. “The position of President Trump, and that of Congress, is completely aligned with that of Saudi Arabia. We agree on Iraq, Iran, Syria and Yemen. Our relationship is on an upward trajectory.”

READ FULL DOCUMENT ABA-CHR-Assessment-of-Arms-Sales-to-Saudi-Arabia

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QALAMOUN SHIELD FORCES. WHAT IS IT?

In early April 2017, a new pro-government group appeared in the Syrian-Lebanese border area, “The Homeland Shield Forces – Special Tasks”. The force consists of 400 fighters from 14 Lebanese villages from the Al-Beka’a area on the Syrian-Lebanese border. It is led by al-Haj Muhammad Jaafar and was founded with the direct support of the Russian military to secure the Al-Beka’a area.

Source: QALAMOUN SHIELD FORCES. WHAT IS IT?

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QALAMOUN SHIELD FORCES. WHAT IS IT?

South.Front–The Qalamoun Shield Forces (QSF) appeared as a noticeable auxiliary force of the Syrian military in the first half of 2016, with the goal of protecting the Al-Qalamoun areas from terrorist threats and securing the Syrian-Lebanese border.

The group includes approximately 2800 fighters, most of whom are volunteers from the eastern towns of Al-Qalamoun, along with a few hundred former fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA). A number of FSA fighters had joined the QSF after a reconciliation agreement with the Syrian government.

Qalamoun Shield Forces. What Is It?

The QSF is linked to the Third Armored Division of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), and works with both the Syrian Republican Guard and Lebanese Hezbollah.

The QSF has several bases in Yabroud and Al-Nabak. It’s led by Lieutenant Firas Khaza’a, and mainly funded by the Syrian Ministry of Defense. The QSF is one the groups supported by the Russian military, which armed and trained all of its fighters in the early 2017.

At least a part of the training took place in the Damascus countryside:

Qalamoun Shield Forces. What Is It?

Qalamoun Shield Forces. What Is It?

The QSF controls a number of important border points in eastern Qalamoun, especially the area of Flitah, near the Lebanese area of Jurod Arsal, the stronghold of ISIS militants. It has managed along with the Syrian Republican Guard and Hezbollah to repel several attacks of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the vicinity of Flitah.

The QSF has also foiled several infiltration attempts between Lebanon and Syria, as well as prevented several drug smuggling operations, which are often considered means of financing terrorist groups in the Lebanese area of Jurod Arsal.

In 2017, the QSF participated in its first battle outside eastern Al-Qalamoun area. In the middle of March 2017, QSF units deployed to the Hama front, where QSF participated in repelling the second joint attack of HTS, Jaish al-Izza and other militant groups on the strategic town of Qomhana in the northern Hama countryside.

The QSF continued its operations alongside the SAA’s Tiger Forces, the National Defense Forces and other pro-government groups and took part in restoring control of Khattab village on March 31, Mahardeh village on April 11, Souran on April 16, the towns of Taibat al-Imam and Halfaya on April 22 and 23. Then the QSF took part in capturing the Al-Zalaqiat village and hill. In case of continuation of clashes in northern Hama, the QSF will likely participate in future government attacks aimed at capturing Morek and Lataminah.

Qalamoun Shield Forces. What Is It?

In May 2017, a part of QSF fighters were redeployed from northern Hama to the province of Homs in order to participate in a widely-expected government advane on the city of Deir Ezzor besieged by ISIS.

In early April 2017, a new pro-government group appeared in the Syrian-Lebanese border area, “The Homeland Shield Forces – Special Tasks”. The force consists of 400 fighters from 14 Lebanese villages from the Al-Beka’a area on the Syrian-Lebanese border. It is led by al-Haj Muhammad Jaafar and was founded with the direct support of the Russian military to secure the Al-Beka’a area.

The force may work in the future with the QSF in an expected operation to secure the Syrian side of Jurod Arsal in order to prevent any terrorists infiltrating the Syrian territory in case the Lebanese Army launches an operation against ISIS and HTS militants in the region.

The QSF is armed with medium weapons, such as vehicles armed with 23/14.5 guns; it is also armed with Konkurs ATGM. The forces also use heavy Syrian Bourkan(Volcano)-type rockets.

The QSF is a successful example of a rapid reaction force protecting the Syrian border and has proven that it can support the SAA in any area when necessary. The forces have carried out offensive and defensive missions in the northern Hama countryside very successfully. It could be expected that its financing and fighter numbers will be expanded if the joint Syrian, Iranian, Russian and Turkish efforts aimed at imposing ‘de-escalation zones’ will not been able to launch a successful peace process in Syria.

Qalamoun Shield Forces. What Is It?

The further expansion of the QSF and other QSF-style groups, that would include former “moderate rebels”, will be clearly linked to a possibility of the Syrian government and its allies to implement their reconciliation agreements strategy in the countryside of Damascus and across Syria.

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RUSSIA’S STATE ARMAMENTS PROGRAM FOR 2018-2025

The political instability of the European Union, the rise of nationalists in Ukraine, the Baltics, and NATO’s overt hostility toward Russia, and the erratic foreign policy pursued by the Trump Administration compelled to take heed of the globalist faction of the US elite, all point to the need to bolster Russia’s ability to fight a large-scale land war in the foreseeable future.

Source: RUSSIA’S STATE ARMAMENTS PROGRAM FOR 2018-2025

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RUSSIA’S STATE ARMAMENTS PROGRAM FOR 2018-2025

J.Hawk–While Russia’s next State Armaments Program (GPV) will be officially revealed only in early July, its general outline is already known on the future direction of the Russian Armed Forces.  GPV’s priorities are a reflection of the perceived threat array facing the Russian Federation, and this GPV is clearly prioritizing the Ground Forces, which will sustain a rapid pace of modernization in spite of the recent economic crisis that has not yet been fully overcome. The political instability of the European Union, the rise of nationalists in Ukraine, the Baltics, and NATO’s overt hostility toward Russia, and the erratic foreign policy pursued by the Trump Administration compelled to take heed of the globalist faction of the US elite, all point to the need to bolster Russia’s ability to fight a large-scale land war in the foreseeable future. The other priority evident in the available information on the GPV is the desire to have “good enough” materiel in service now rather than “perfect” materiel later, as manifested by the deferred procurement of a number of systems currently under development.

The Ground Forces will not only expand in size but will also continue to modernize and upgrade its equipment fleet. While by 2025 the most numerous main battle tank in regular service will be the T-72B3 or its upgraded version, Russian sources believe the T-14 MBT of the Armata family will be procured at the rate of 20-30 vehicles per year, with the initial order for 100 vehicles already in.

https://southfront.org/wp-content/plugins/fwduvp/content/video.php?path=https%3A%2F%2Fsouthfront.org%2Fthe-west-plays-catch-up-to-counter-the-armata%2F&pid=583

The development of the Kurganets and Bumerang infantry fighting vehicles, on the other hand, has hit a few snags, so that they will not enter service before 2019 at the earliest. As a stop-gap measure, the Russian military will continue procuring Berezhok upgrade kits for the BMP-2 IFV, procure several hundred new BMP-3 IFVs, and overhaul the existing fleet. Land-based air and ballistic missile defense will also be a key priority, with the armed forces receiving Buk-M3, Tor-M2, and S-300V4 and S-400 missile systems. The prospective S-500, still in the development phase, will likely not be procured during the next GPV term.

The biggest predicted change in the new GPV concerning the Aerospace Forces will be the postponement of the PAK-DA strategic bomber program which is seen as redundant in the foreseeable future due to the ongoing efforts to resume the Tu-160 bomber production with the aim of procuring 50-60 of the bombers, and the modernization of the existing fleet to the Tu-160M2 standard. The PAK-FA development will continue as before, and the aircraft will enter series production in the upcoming years. However, most of the aircraft procured under the new GPV will be the already existing tried and true designs seen in the skies over Syria, namely Su-35, Su-34, and Su-30, as well as a number of MiG-35 “lightweight” fighters, and of course the Ka-52 and Mi-28N attack helicopters.

What the GPV will not skimp on is munitions procurement, and the recent statements by senior officials predicting that Russian military’s stock of precision-guided munitions will double in the upcoming years is a reflection of yet another lesson learned in Syria.

Naval Forces, by contrast, have a relatively modest role in the new GPV. Neither the Shtorm aircraft carrier nor the Lider nuclear-powered destroyer are likely to appear “in metal” within the next GPV term. Instead the existing ships, including the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier and the heavy missile cruisers, will undergo major refits to include the fitting of new missile systems, and the role of an oceanic escort will be provided by an enlarged variant of the Admiral Gorshkov-class frigate optimized to provide area air defense, a solution adopted by many European navies which found destroyers too expensive for their budgets. The construction of missile corvettes and light frigates, ships which more than proved their worth in the context of the Syria conflict, will continue unabated, as will the procurement of both conventional and nuclear submarines. There will be no change to Arctic-specific naval procurement.

The new GPV, in addition to being a response to Western actions and a reflection of lessons from recent conflicts, is also a tacit confirmation of the sad fact that Russia is perceived as a worthy partner for negotiations in the West only because it is relatively immune to political and military pressure. As before, these weapons are intended to be used only as a last resort.

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The Barry Silbert Accord….

Source: The Barry Silbert Accord….

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The Barry Silbert Accord….

An agreement for an immediate support the following parallel upgrades to the bitcoin protocol, which will be deployed simultaneously and based on the original Segwit2Mb proposal:

· Activate Segregated Witness at an 80% threshold, signaling at bit 4

· Activate a 2 MB hard fork on September 21, 2017

The following companies have committed to provide technical and engineering support to test and support the upgrade software, as well as to assist companies with preparing for the upgrades:

· Bitcoin.com

· BitFury

· BitGo

· Bitmain

· BitPay

· Blockchain

· Bloq

· RSK Labs

· Xapo

Full comittement  to the research and development of technical mechanisms to improve signaling in the bitcoin community, as well as to put in place communication tools, in order to more closely coordinate with ecosystem participants in the design, integration and deployment of safe solutions that increase bitcoin capacity

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“KABBA” ANONYMOUS: CYBER HIT TURKISH TVs…..

Source: “KABBA” ANONYMOUS: CYBER HIT TURKISH TVs…..

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“KABBA” ANONYMOUS: CYBER HIT TURKISH TVs…..

The Hacktivist group Anonymous and the hacking team called Kba Squad take the responsibility for cyber attacks today on .24 Turkish Channel (  www.yirmidort.tv ). Anonymous said the .24 TV was offline for 6 hours. They also claims to take down the CNN TURK website and network ( www.cnnturk.com )

There are some screenshots from website

 

When the .24 TV was Live, Anonymous spam their chat with a lot of messages


Anonymous showing the pastebin text



Anonymous also claims: “We will attack CNN TURK after .24 Turkish Channel”


Kba Squad was also share a post on their FanPage about the cyber attacks

 

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Feds use anti-terror tool to hunt the undocumented

The cell-site simulator device, known as a Hailstorm or Stingray, tricks nearby phones into providing location data and can interrupt cellular service of all devices within the targeted location. Federal investigators are required to obtain a judge’s approval to use the device.

Source: Feds use anti-terror tool to hunt the undocumented

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