Eye on Extremism: September 7

CNN: Russia Warns US Of Pending Attack In Syrian Area With US Troops

“Russia has warned the US military twice in the last week that its forces, along with Syrian regime units, are prepared to attack in an area where dozens of US troops are located, according to several US defense officials. Russia claims that there are militants in the area protected by US troops. Moscow's declaration has sharply raised US commanders' concerns that American forces would be at risk if a Russian attack goes forward, CNN has learned. And it has sparked US warnings to Moscow not to challenge the US military presence. Several US defense officials have told CNN that concerns center on a US-led anti-ISIS coalition base at At Tanf. US troops help monitor a 55-kilometer (34-mile) exclusion zone around At Tanf. Given its location near the borders of Syria, Jordan and Iraq, the At Tanf garrison is seen as a key strategic location as the US, Iran and Russia compete for influence in the region.”

Reuters: U.S. Has Seen Evidence Of Syria Preparing Chemical Weapons In Idlib: Envoy

“There is “lots of evidence” that chemical weapons are being prepared by Syrian government forces in Idlib in northwest Syria, the new U.S. adviser for Syria said on Thursday, as he warned of the risks of an offensive on the country’s last big rebel enclave. “I am very sure that we have very, very good grounds to be making these warnings,” said Jim Jeffrey, who was named on Aug. 17 as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s special adviser on Syria overseeing talks on a political transition in that country. “Any offensive is to us objectionable as a reckless escalation,” Jeffrey told a few reporters in his first interview on the situation in Syria since his appointment. “There is lots of evidence that chemical weapons are being prepared.” The White House has warned that the United States and its allies would respond “swiftly and vigorously” if government forces used chemical weapons in the widely expected offensive. Jeffrey said an attack by Russian and Syrian forces, and the use of chemical weapons, would force huge refugee flows into southeastern Turkey or areas in Syria under Turkish control.”

The National: US Sanctions Syrian And Lebanese Nationals Supporting Assad

“Donald Trump's administration announced on Thursday it would impose sanctions on four individuals and five entities — two of which are based in the UAE — for supplying weapons and fuel to Assad's regime in Syria. The State Department said it had sanctioned Syrian nationals Yasir ‘Abas, Adnan Al-Ali and Muhammad al-Qatirji, as well as Lebanese national Fadi Nasser, for facilitating the transfers. Sanctions were also imposed on the following entities: 1. Al Qatirji Company, based in Syria 2. Nasco Polymers and Chemicals, based in Lebanon 3. Abar Petroleum Service SAL, based in Lebanon 4. International Pipeline Construction FZE, based in the United Arab Emirates 5. Sonex Investments Ltd., based in the United Arab Emirates. “As a result of today’s announcement, all of these individuals’ and entities’ assets within US jurisdiction are blocked, and US individuals and entities are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.”

The Washington Post: Trump Agrees To An Indefinite Military Effort And New Diplomatic Push In Syria, U.S. Officials Say

“President Trump, who just five months ago said he wanted “to get out” of Syria and bring U.S. troops home soon, has agreed to a new strategy that indefinitely extends the military effort there and launches a major diplomatic push to achieve American objectives, according to senior State Department officials. Although the military campaign against the Islamic State has been nearly completed, the administration has redefined its goals to include the exit of all Iranian military and proxy forces from Syria, and establishment of a stable, nonthreatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the international community. Much of the motivation for the change, officials said, stems from growing doubts about whether Russia, which Trump has said could be a partner, is able and willing to help eject Iran. Russia and Iran have together been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s principal allies in obliterating a years-long effort by domestic rebels to oust the Syrian leader. “The new policy is we’re no longer pulling out by the end of the year,” said James Jeffrey, a retired senior Foreign Service officer who last month was named Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “representative for Syria engagement.” About 2,200 U.S. troops are serving in Syria, virtually all of them devoted to the war against the Islamic State in the eastern third of the country.”

Arab News: Houthi No-Show Leaves Geneva Talks In Doubt

“Houthi militia have been accused of setting out to thwart United Nations-sponsored peace talks on Yemen following the failure of a rebel delegation to appear at the Geneva negotiations. Discussions aimed at ending the three-year conflict were expected to begin on Thursday, but the Houthi team’s no-show left the talks in doubt, sparking frustration among negotiators. The Houthi delegation failed to arrive following a series of last-minute demands and a claim that it lacked the necessary flight authorization to leave Sanaa in Yemen. However, high-level anonymous sources in the Yemeni Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority later revealed a copy of a flight permit showing the Houthi delegation had permission to take off from Sanaa airport bound for Geneva. The copy of the permit was obtained by the Yemeni online newspaper Al-Mashhad Al-Yemeni.”

United States

CNN: US Envoy To Syria Says US Will Stay Until There Is An 'Enduring Defeat' Of ISIS

“The Trump administration is walking back the notion of an imminent pullout of US forces from Syria, promising to remain until there is an "enduring defeat" of ISIS. "This means we are not in a hurry to pull out," said Ambassador Jim Jeffrey, the newly appointed US special representative, noting that creating conditions in Syria where ISIS or another terrorist group can't return may take a while. Jeffrey, a former US ambassador to Turkey, said the US was "shifting its position" to remain active in the country and to push for a complete withdrawal of all Iranian forces from Syrian territory. Though President Donald Trump has previously expressed a desire to pull US forces out of Syria, Jeffrey said the President "is on board" with the new approach. Jeffrey spoke to reporters as Russian forces prepare for an all-out assault on Syria's Idlib province, the last rebel stronghold. Trump and his top officials have called attention to the impending Syrian government offensive in recent days, warning the Syrian regime and its backers Russia and Iran not to use chemical weapons or recklessly cause civilian deaths.”

Syria

Reuters: Kurdish-Led Council Deepens Authority Across Syrian North And East

“The political wing of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces has started forming a unified administration for its territory, a move that would consolidate its authority in northern and eastern Syria. The SDF controls around a quarter of the country, much of it captured from Islamic State with U.S. military help. It is the largest chunk of Syria outside the hands of President Bashar al-Assad’s state. The SDF wants the seven-year war to end with a federal system that secures minority rights, including for Kurds. Kurdish leaders say they do not seek an independent state. They have mostly avoided conflict with Assad, as his army defeated rebel factions in western Syria fighting to topple him. Bringing together SDF territory under a single administration signals they are looking at their potential future role, and comes as they seek to open new channels to Assad’s government.”

France 24: Fate Of Syria's Idlib In Balance At Tehran Summit

“The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet Friday in Tehran for a summit set to decide the future of Idlib province amid fears of a humanitarian disaster in Syria's last major rebel bastion. Hundreds of civilians fled the northwestern province Thursday as government forces and their allies readied for what could be the last -- and bloodiest -- major battle of Syria's devastating seven-year civil war. Seized from government forces in 2015, Idlib and adjacent areas form the final major chunk of Syrian territory still under opposition control, home to some three million people -- around half of them displaced from other parts of the country, according to the United Nations. Neighbouring Turkey, which has long backed Syrian rebels, fears the assault could prompt an influx of desperate Syrians attempting to find safety on its territory. But regime backers Russia and Iran have sworn to wipe out "terrorists" and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has declared his determination to retake control of the entire country. Ankara, Moscow and Tehran are also guarantors of the Astana process, a track of negotiations that has eclipsed the UN-led Geneva process and helped Assad re-assert his authority over the country. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani will host his Russian and Turkish counterparts Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday afternoon. Iranian television reported that the three leaders would each have "bilateral meetings" on the sidelines of the main summit. Just hours later, the UN Security Council will also meet at Washington's request, also to discuss Idlib.”

BBC News: Is Idlib Set To End Syrian War?

“The war in Syria could be about to enter its final stage, as Syria and its ally Russia gear up for an all-out assault on the rebel-held province of Idlib. Rebels in the province are preparing to defend their last bastion, as the UN warns this could be a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not yet seen in Syria's seven-year-old war.”

The Guardian: From Darkness To The Light: Syrian Families Find Peace In Rural England

“The eccentrically named Bunch of Carrots pub in the heart of Herefordshire oozes English rural charm, with its hanging flower baskets, picnic benches and carvery fare. Located three miles south-east of Hereford in the picturesque village of Hampton Bishop on the edge of the River Wye, the inn is emblematic of its countryside setting – friendly, peaceful, far from the noise of distant towns and cities. A short stroll from the pub, past large red-brick houses patriotically displaying St George’s flags, lives a family that has experienced more than a lifetime’s share of noise and conflict – nine Syrian refugees brought here under the government’s flagship resettlement scheme. Sitting in the lounge of their bungalow, looking out over a green garden peppered with children’s toys, the family reflect on how life in the village of around 500 residents compares to their time in the war-torn Syrian city of Homs. “Being in the UK brought us back to being in the same life we lived before the war,” says Samer Awad.”

The Times Of Israel: US Sanctions Target Assad Trading Link To Islamic State

“The US Treasury announced sanctions Thursday targeting a network of business groups that supplies fuel to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, along with one that handles regime trade with the Islamic State group, The Treasury said the four individuals and five companies added to its financial blacklist were important to helping Assad’s regime obtain much-needed crude oil and fuels despite sanctions on Syria.  It named Muhammad al-Qatirji and his Qatirji Company as a key broker of fuel trade between the Assad regime and the Islamic State group, despite the two sides fighting each other on the battlefield. Qatirji provides oil products to the jihadist group but also ships weapons and food for the regime, according to the Treasury. In a 2016 deal, it said, Qatirji was named the “exclusive agent” for providing suppliers to IS areas, according to the Treasury. Also identified for sanctions was a Lebanon-United Arab Emirates network for fuel shipments to Syria involving Lebanon-based Abar Petroleum and company “adviser” Adnan al-Ali, and Lebanon-based Nasco Polymers and its owner Fadi Nasser. Another group placed on the blacklist is UAE-based Hesco Engineering, which the Treasury said facilitates payments that originate in Syria.”

The Sun: Fears Radicalised Brits Could Return To Syria And Iraq As ‘ISIS Terrorism Expands Like McDonald’s’

“And he fears the radicalised Brits will then return to the UK. He said: “Isis version two is coming. Two or three years ago we saw British and European jihadis returning to Syria and Iraq in droves because Isis was collapsing. “Now they’ll be heading back because they will see that Isis is re-taking territory.” Mr Guitta, boss of consultancy GlobalStrat, said Isis still has around 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria — and he said its success was down to its unique “business model”. He added: “Isis is the McDonald’s of terrorism. They say ‘we don’t care who you are, as long as you come and buy our product’. They will take anyone and everyone.” Al-Qaeda was a much more elitist terrorist group. Members had to jump through hoops and be vetted.”

Iran

The Wall Street Journal: Iran Defies U.S. Bid To Curb Its Middle East Influence

“Iran is signaling that it will buck U.S. efforts to roll back its military presence in the Middle East, moving to cement foreign alliances and continuing to project power abroad despite sanctions that have helped put intense pressure on its economy. Tehran signed a long-term security pact with Syria in August, and has kept up the flow of arms and financial support to proxy forces around the region, according to U.S. officials and a person close to Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. On Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a meeting with air force commanders that Iran needed to boost its personnel and buy more equipment, though he said a war was unlikely. He didn’t elaborate.”

The Washington Post: Iran Summit Holds Key To Looming Battle In Syria’s Idlib

“The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey met Friday to discuss the future of Syria as a bloody military operation looms in the last rebel-held area of the war-ravaged nation, urging militants to lay down their weapons. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a cease-fire and an end to airstrikes in the northwestern province of Idlib, something that wasn’t immediately accepted by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Instead, Putin warned militants in Idlib planned “provocations,” possibly including chemical weapons. The Syrian government has been repeatedly accused of using chemical weapons in the long conflict. For his part, Rouhani demanded an immediate withdrawal by American forces in the country. The U.S. has some 2,000 troops in Syria. He added that “we have to force the United States to leave,” without elaborating. “The fires of war and bloodshed in Syria are reaching their end,” Rouhani said, while adding that terrorism must “be uprooted in Syria, particularly in Idlib.”

Iraq

The Weekly Standard: Iraqi Militant Qayis Khazali Warned Us About Iran. We Ignored Him

“Iran has its tentacles all over Iraq, and the United States has no one to blame but itself. It is a bipartisan failure dating back to the March 2003 invasion. Even after the Bush administration adjusted its course in Iraq, waging a large counterinsurgency campaign, the United States was so eager to wash its hands of a messy insurgency that it did little to roll back Iran’s gains. Nearly seven years after President Obama’s disastrous withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011, Iran and its Shia militias wield an enormous amount of power, and the militias’ political arms are set to play a major role in Iraq’s next government. The seeds of this failure can be seen in the interrogation transcripts of Qais Khazali, the leader of an Iranian-backed militia, one of what the U.S. military used to call the “Special Groups.” Khazali’s interrogation logs were declassified by U.S. Central Command and released via the American Enterprise Institute on August 30. The hundreds of pages of files are part of the U.S. government’s push to designate Khazali, a militant with American blood on his hands, a terrorist. Khazali is now a politician, and his group, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, holds 15 seats in the Iraqi parliament. His rise was no accident. Khazali, who was in U.S. custody from 2007 to the end of 2009, told his interrogators then that Iran had long-term plans to infiltrate Iraqi society at all levels. And the Iranians have done just that.”

Iraqi News: 90 People Killed, 117 Others Injured Due To Violence, Terrorism In August: United Nations

“A total of 90 Iraqi civilians were killed, while 117 others were injured due to acts of violence and terrorism during the month of August, according to the monthly count by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). “Of the overall figures recorded by UNAMI for the month of August, the number of civilians killed (not including police) was 82, while the number of injured (not including police) was 113,” the statement read. The worst affected province, according to the statement, was Baghdad with 77 civilian casualties (24 killed and 53 injured.) Then comes Nineveh with 39 casualties (29 killed and 10 injured). Anbar came in the third place with 32 casualties (6 killed and 26 injured). Last month, UNAMI said a total of 79 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 99 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in July 2018. Violence in the country has surged further with the emergence of Islamic State extremist militants who proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014. Thousands of Islamic State militants as well as Iraqi civilians were killed since the government campaign, backed by paramilitary troops and the coalition was launched in October 2016. Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks across Iraq against troops. Security reports indicate that the militant group still poses threat against stability in the country. The group still has dormant cells, through which it carries out attacks, across Iraq like it used to do before 2014.”

Turkey

Stockholm Center For Sweden: Turkey Charges 5 Students With Terrorism For Following Pro-Kurdish HDP’s Former Leader On Twitter

“Five students from Turkey’s Amasya University face up to five years in prison on terrorism charges stemming from their social media activities, according to a report by online news outlet Artı Gerçek on Thursday. As part of an investigation police searched the houses of the students but found no solid evidence. Rather, the cases against the students rely on their use of social media platforms. Evidence of the students’ alleged terrorist links includes following the Twitter account of Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Demirtaş is in jail pending trial for alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The indictment claimed the students had “shared posts and comments on Facebook and Twitter to legitimize or encourage violent methods of armed terrorist organizations.” The evidence for terrorism charges includes social media activities such as sharing Kurdish music videos, following the Facebook pages of the shuttered İMC television station and pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper, and following the Twitter accounts of former HDP deputies Demirtaş, Ferhat Encü, Faysal Sarıyıldız and İdris Baluken. The next hearing will be held in the northern Turkish city of Amasya in November 2018. (SCF with Ahval)”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: US Defense Secretary Makes Surprise Visit To War-Weary Kabul

“Defense Secretary James Mattis made a surprise visit to Afghanistan’s war-shattered capital on Friday, the U.S. command in Afghanistan said, just days after a suicide bomber killed 21 people in the city and wounded 90 others. Accompanied by Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Mattis met with senior government officials, including President Ashraf Ghani and his leadership partner in the often fractious Unity Government, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Security featured prominently in their discussions, as did government attempts to put the brakes on runaway government corruption, said a presidential statement following the meetings. Mattis also assured the Afghan leadership that the United States was committed to stay the course in Afghanistan until the country is secure and stable, the statement said. There was no indication either from the Afghan government or the U.S. military command of a change in strategy that might bring about greater security or how the existing strategy might bring about results.”

NPR: Pentagon Chief Mattis Makes Unannounced Trip To Afghanistan

“Defense Secretary James Mattis has arrived in the Afghan capital Kabul on an unannounced visit to the country. Mattis was expected to meet with Afghan, U.S. and NATO military commanders and others.”

CNN: The Future For Peace In Afghanistan Is Much Brighter

“Afghanistan, a nation that has seen so much, has borne a great deal in recent months. Pilots assassinated. Midwives attacked. Journalists blown up. Young people murdered while trying to study. And today, more tears, as 20 people were killed in a suicide attack. They were murdered while watching a wrestling match. And, not long afterward, journalists reporting on the incident were killed in a second, back-to-back attack. The senseless carnage comes as leaders from the United States and Afghanistan say enough is enough. They are pointing toward those they claim are backing the Taliban as they seek to bring an end to three decades of fighting in Afghanistan. "It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end," said US Gen. John Nicholson in his last speech as commander of US military in Afghanistan this past week. "President [Ashraf] Ghani's courageous decision to announce a ceasefire [between the Afghan government and the Taliban] over Eid al-Fitr unleashed a strong call in the Afghan people for peace.”

The New York Times: ‘We Live Death’: A Chronicler Of Afghan Loss Is Killed On Live TV

“As he reported for years on the killing of civilians around him, the Afghan reporter Samim Faramarz grappled with the idea of mortality in a country where violent deaths are the overwhelming daily reality. “We live death,” Mr. Faramarz, a 28-year-old reporter for the Afghan channel ToloNews, wrote on Facebook in September 2016 after a double bombing in Kabul. “Has anyone asked who are the luckier ones: those who die in terrorist attacks and leave this world, or those who are left living to see this oppression with their own eyes,” he wrote in June 2017 after a suicide bombing inside a mosque where the poor were being fed. This week his own death came, live on national television — the latest journalist to be killed while working to highlight the human toll of the war in Afghanistan, a 17-year conflict whose fighting is intensifying.”

CBS News: Student Shot In 2016 Attack In Afghanistan Fears For Her Life More Than Ever

“Relentless violence in Afghanistan has surged in recent days, with four attacks in 24 hours leaving at least 40 people dead. There are endless checkpoints in the capital Kabul, and blast walls have turned parts of the city into a fortress. The American University of Afghanistan looks more like a maximum security prison, with good reason. The school came under attack in August of 2016. Taliban suspects went on a 10-hour rampage, killing 16 students, faculty and police. "I heard them yelling at other students and throwing grenades in the building," said student Breshna Musazai, who watched them blast their way onto the compound. She couldn't run from the gunman because of a limp from childhood polio. "When he shot me I started to pretend to (be) dead because I thought this is the only thing I can do to save myself. After that he shot me again to make sure I'm dead," Musazai said. A university trustee sponsored a trip for medical treatment in Dallas. She returned to school last year and graduated in May with honors.”

Radio Free Europe: Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Deadly Kabul Bomb Attack

“The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has claimed responsibility for a twin bomb attack in Kabul on September 5 that killed more than 20 people. IS made the claim on September 6 through their Amaq news agency, saying the bombers had targeted "a gathering of apostates" in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of the Afghan capital. The same day, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) issued a statement condemning the attack as "a cynical act of terror targeting ordinary citizens of Kabul, along with first responders and journalists.”

Pakistan

The Deccan Chronicle: India, US Ask Pakistan To Act Against Terrorism Emanating From Its Soil

“Ahead of the 10th anniversary of the 2008 Mumbai attack, they also called on Pakistan to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot (2016), Uri (2016), and other cross-border terrorist attacks, the statement said. Addressing a joint press conference, Swaraj said the Indo-US counter-terrorism cooperation has acquired a new "qualitative edge and purpose". "We welcomed the recent designations of Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists by the United States. They underscore the international community's scrutiny over the threat of terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which has affected India and the United States alike. In the 10th anniversary of the 26/11 attacks, we recognised the importance of justice and retribution for the masterminds behind this terrorist attack," she said. Sitharaman, in her remarks, said India and the US were committed to work together to combat the "persistent threat of terrorism" and other shared security challenges. The ministers committed to enhance their ongoing cooperation in multilateral fora such as the UN and Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and reaffirmed their support for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that will advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism, the joint statement said.”

Yemen

Reuters: Yemen Peace Talks On Hold As U.N. Mediator Awaits Houthi Team

“U.N.-mediated Yemen peace talks hung in the balance as the government delegation warned that it would leave on Friday if representatives of the Houthi movement had not shown up. The United Nations announced on Thursday night that U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths was not expected to hold any talks at its Geneva offices on Friday. Two sources in the government delegation told Reuters that they had given the international envoy additional time to noon on Friday to persuade the Houthis to come to the Swiss city. By 12 pm if the Houthis don’t leave Sanaa, I think the government delegation will decide to leave (Geneva),” said one. A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s war against the Iranian-allied Houthis in 2015 to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognized government. Subsequent peace talks flopped. Since then the humanitarian situation has worsened sharply, putting 8.4 million people on the brink of starvation and ruining the already weak economy. U.N. Special Envoy Griffiths said in an earlier statement that he had discussed confidence-building measures with Yemen’s foreign minister Khaled al-Yamani. The government delegation later met with Arab ambassadors who urged patience, a delegation source said.”

Lebanon

Lebanese Examiner: U.S. Urges Citizens To ‘Reconsider Travel’ To Lebanon Due To Security

“The U.S. government is urging its citizens to “reconsider travel” to Lebanon due to the risk of crime and terrorism in the country, according to a renewed travel advisory. Reconsider travel Lebanon due to crime,terrorism, and armed conflict. U.S. citizens should reconsider or avoid travel to certain areas in Lebanon because of the threats of terrorism, armed clashes, kidnapping, and outbreaks of violence, especially near Lebanon’s borders with Syria and Israel. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should be aware of the risks of remaining in the country and should carefully consider those risks. U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Lebanon should be aware that consular officers from the U.S. Embassy are not always able to travel to assist them. The Department of State considers the threat to U.S. government personnel in Beirut sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions. The internal security policies of the U.S. Embassy may be adjusted at any time and without advance notice. Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Lebanon. The potential exists for death or injury in Lebanon because of the attacks and bombings perpetrated by terrorist groups.”

Israel

Haaretz: Israel Secretly Armed And Funded 12 Syrian Rebel Groups, Report Says

“Israel discreetly funded and armed at least 12 rebel groups in southern Syria in order to keep Iranian-backed militias and Islamic State fighters away from Israel's border, Foreign Policy magazine reported on Thursday. Foreign Policy's Elizabeth Tsurkov interviewed more than two dozen members of the rebel groups, who reported that Israel's support took place in recent years and ended last month. The weapons transfer, according to the report, included assault rifles, machine guns, mortar launchers and transport vehicles, all delivered through three border crossings – gates that connect the Golan Heights and Syria. These crossings are the same ones through which Israel transferred humanitarian aid to Syria. According to Tsurkov, Israel paid each rebel approximately 75 dollars per month, with additional money transfers for the groups to purchase weapons on Syria's black market.”

Qatar

Arab News: Storm Clouds Gather Over Qatar’s $7 Billion Typhoon Deal

“Qatar could saddle British taxpayers with a bill for billions of pounds by defaulting on payments for military equipment ordered from the UK. According to one expert, while it was not unusual for buyers to miss payments for various reasons, it was hardly likely to be necessary for Qatar, one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Jeremy Binnie, Middle East specialist on the publication Jane’s Defense Weekly, questioned whether Qatar needed the 24 Typhoon supersonic fighter jets it has ordered from British Aerospace as part of a £6 billion ($7.7 billion) package, including weapons, pilot training and maintenance. “The Qataris are also buying from the French and the Americans. Do they need three types of fighter jets? The Ministry of Defense dismisses the suggestion that they don’t,” he said. Andrew Smith, of the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said the concept of the government underwriting a contract such as the Typhoon deal with Qatar was not unusual.”

Egypt

The Washington Post: Egypt, US Special Forces Hold Drills On Combating Terrorism

“Egypt’s military says its special forces have held drills with special forces from the United States to exchange expertise on combating terrorism. The announcement was made in a Thursday statement by Egypt’s armed forces. The anti-terrorism drills come ahead of the “Bright Star” exercise on Sept. 8-20, which will involve additional countries including Greece, Jordan, Britain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Italy and France. The first “Bright Star” exercise took place in 1980, but the Obama administration postponed them in 2011 following the uprising that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak, and scrapped them in 2013 after Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of protesters while breaking up a mass sit-in. Last September, Egypt held the war games with U.S. troops for the first time in eight years.”

Libya

The Defense Post: Escalating Libya Conflict Fueled By International Inaction

“The fighting in Libya’s capital over the past week marks an amplification rather than a continuation of the chaos that has characterized the conflict for seven years. The Seventh Brigade – loyal to the Islamist-leaning coalition of armed groups, “Libya Dawn” – attacked neighborhoods in southern Tripoli on August 26 in an attempt to penetrate the capital, which is now protected by a militia bloc loyal to the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord. Militias loyal to Libya Dawn have been on the back foot since mid- to late-2017 after being pushed to the outskirts of the capital by GNA-aligned groups in a series of disconnected clashes starting in early 2016. Evidently upset with their fall, militias loyal to the Libya Dawn have been teasing the outskirts of the capital with occasional offensives but never with apparent steadfastness, until now. There can be informed conjecture but little guarantee regarding the motive and backing of the Seventh Brigade. Whereas the peak in fighting in 2014 was more a manifestation of an ideological split, today’s is a power and resource grab. It is true that ideological components remain – the strongest being the Madkhali Salafi militias’ dominance in the city – but by and large, group loyalty is becoming increasingly purchasable and opportunistic. The clashes caused at least 47 deaths with about 100 injured; relatively high given Libya’s small population of six million and sporadic fighting that usually sees fewer deaths than other conflicts in the region.”

Nigeria

Agence France Presse: Boko Haram Kill Two, Abduct 25 In Bus Attack: Security, Local Sources

“Two people were killed and 25 others kidnapped in a Boko Haram ambush on a civilian convoy in remote northeast Nigeria, security sources and a local resident said on Thursday. The attack on vehicles under military escort happened at around 15:00 on Tuesday near the town of Gwoza, in Borno state, and led to a brief shoot-out. "A soldier and a civilian were killed in the ambush and a bus carrying around 25 people was taken away," civilian militia leader Ibrahim Liman told AFP. The attack was believed to have been carried out by fighters from the Boko Haram faction led by Abubakar Shekau, which is based in and around the Sambisa Forest enclave near Gwoza. In August 2014, the jihadists proclaimed Gwoza as the headquarters of its self-styled caliphate. The convoy was heading from the town to the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, at the time. A military source in the city confirmed the incident.”

Africa

Voice Of America: Cameroon Reopens Schools Threatened By Boko Haram

“Children at the Government Primary School Limani dance with joy as they meet each other in class for the first time in several years. Cameroon has re-opened 40 schools on its northern border with Nigeria that were sealed four years ago because of threats from Boko Haram insurgents. But while students are happy returning, many of their teachers are absent and have been replaced by troops from the Multinational Joint Task Force still fighting the Islamist group. The children’s school in Limani is one of the forty near northern Cameroon’s border with Nigeria that authorities reopened this week, citing improved security. Cameroon closed around sixty schools in the area beginning in December 2014 because of the threat from Boko Haram. The Islamist militant group, whose name roughly translates as “non-Islamic education is a sin,” had launched an all-out assault on villages near the Lake Chad area. Cameroon says hundreds of Boko Haram fighters attacked and torched schools, including the Limani primary school.  Ibrahim Nassourou was nine years old when the school was shut. He and his parents fled to a neighboring village where Nassourou was unable to attend school. He says when he was told that their school in Limani had been reopened he shouted with joy because he can now again persue an education. Cameroon authorities are touting the absense of a major Boko Haram attack for the past year and are urging parents to return their children to the re-opened schools. Troops are protecting the schools, they say.”

Philippines

Philstar Global: Philippines, Jordan Unite In Fight Against Terrorism

“The Philippines and Jordan have vowed to unite in the fight against terrorism as they admitted that the threat posed by extremists may not be quelled anytime soon. President Rodrigo Duterte and Jordanian King Abdullah II stressed that terrorism is a "scourge" and an "evil" that is threatening their countries' security and causing suffering to people in their regions.  "I think one of the main things that bind us together is the scourge of terrorism which is a challenge for our region and your region, for your country and my country....the international cooperation and coordination...is now becoming much more apparent because this is an issue that’s going to last with us not only for the next five to ten, 15 years," King ABdullah said during his bilateral meeting with Duterte. "It’s going to take us a while to overcome the...mentalities that these very horrible evil people perpetrated in your region and in mine," he added. Duterte, the first sitting Philippine president to visit Jordan, agreed that terrorism cannot be defeated easily but expressed hope that the next generation would be able to "live comfortably.”

United Kingdom

The Independent: Government Plans To Jail Britons Entering 'Designated Areas' Abroad For 10 Years Under New Terror Laws

“A new law that could see people imprisoned for up to 10 years if they enter “designated areas” abroad is being proposed by the government.  Without announcing the plan, it has introduced a completely new clause to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill, which MPs and peers have already expressed human rights concerns about.  “Entering or remaining in an area” designated as a terror risk by the home secretary would become a criminal offence under the Terrorism Act 2000. “In making such regulations the Secretary of State would need to be satisfied that it is necessary to restrict UK nationals and residents from entering or remaining in the area for the purpose of protecting the public from a risk of terrorism,” a government document says. The draft law, which could be applied to Isis strongholds in Syria and Iraq, says the government would review if and when designations should be lifted. The human rights group Liberty called the proposals “deeply concerning”. Gracie Bradley, its policy and campaigns manager, said: “Keeping the public safe from terrorism is an important and difficult task. But making travel a crime is the wrong approach. "People visiting family members, helping others through humanitarian relief or travelling for work could face up to 10 years in prison. Academic inquiry, investigative journalism, family relationships and acts of solidarity will all suffer.”

France

The Defense Post: French General Predicts End Of ISIS ‘Physical Caliphate’ By End Of Year

“Islamic State will have been driven from all the territory it once controlled as a self-declared “caliphate” before the end of the year, French military chief Francois Lecointre said Thursday, September 6. The jihadists, who conquered vast stretches of Iraq and Syria in 2014, have lost all but a pocket of land in Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor province between the Euphrates river and Iraqi border, though they remain present in the Syrian desert. Using an Arabic acronym for ISIS, Lecointre, who is the Chief of the Defence Staff, predicted “the end of the physical caliphate of Daesh before the end of the year, probably late autumn.” France is part of the U.S.-led Coalition that has been fighting ISIS since 2014 and is now supporting Kurdish and Arab fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces as they battle to oust the jihadists from their last holdouts around Hajin in Deir Ezzor. “Once the physical caliphate has fallen … we will pose the question of how to reconfigure Operation Inherent Resolve,” Lecointre said of the Coalition.”

Technology

The Washington Post: Fake News Is About To Get So Much More Dangerous

“The most powerful false-news weapon in history is around the corner. The media industry has only a short time to get ahead of it. If technology continues its current advance, we may soon face totally convincing videos showing events that never happened — created so effectively that even experts will have trouble proving they’re fakes. “Deep fake” video will be able to show people saying, with the authentic ring of their own voices, things they never said. It will show them doing things they never did, by melding their images with other video or creating new images of them from scratch. At a political level, deftly constructed video could show a political leader advocating for the reverse of what she stands for, or portray bloody events that never happened. It could trigger riots, swing elections, and sow panic and despair. At a business and personal level, it could be equally dangerous. Fake statements by chief executives or banking officials could throw financial markets into turmoil. False videos could be created about anyone’s private life, with devastating effects.”

The New Yorker: Facebook And Twitter’s Rehearsed Dance On Capitol Hill

On Wednesday, top executives from Facebook and Twitter testified on Capitol Hill about their efforts to protect the next election—now sixty days away—from being hacked as aggressively as the last one was. Considering how many unanswered questions remain regarding Russian election interference in 2016, and the dire warnings from Facebook’s recently retired chief security officer about the lack of progress in securing American elections since then, one might have expected the proceedings to have a sense of urgency. But in the past two years Congress and Big Tech have settled into something of a routine. The testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee from Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s C.E.O., and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s C.O.O., sounded much like what was offered by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, during his two days testifying on the Hill back in April. Dorsey and Sandberg acknowledged problems, promised improvements, and avoided committing to anything specific. The hardest questions were kicked down the road for their teams to answer in follow-up Questions for the Record, or Q.F.R.s.”