Source:- Somalia Report : has learned that at least 10 skiffs have left from Qandala region in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, heading westward along the coast with the expected destination of an al-Qaeda held port in Yemen or to rendevous with Sheik Atam's group in southern Somaliland. Qandala is a popular transit point for human smugglers but a minor pirate base of operations.
The skiffs were reported to be have left from Marka and are being refueled in Hafun, after which they intend to continue north and westward along the tip of Somalia. The governor of Karkaar region, Abdi Qur'aan Mohamed Aden was contacted this evening and confirmed that the al Shabaab group arrived in Hafun on Friday. Puntland official have sent police to the coast. It is still not clear if the skiffs separated or if the entire group that left Marka are the terrorists currently in Hafun. "They are still in Hafun. They arrived there yesterday (Friday)," said the governor. The appearance of al Shabaab from the sea is not new but the number of fleeing jihadis is unusually large.
Dabayla Gor, the Governor of Sanaag region told Somalia Report, "We heard that a number of al-Shabaab fighters arrived in Puntland by speed boats. We believe that they are planning to arrive into the Al-Madow mountains and will hide in Galgala to join with militants led by Mohamed Said Atam. The Governor of was not sure of the number of insurgents but recalled a similar event. It should be noted that Puntland does not have air assets or maritime presence. Their security forces must travel by rudimentary roads taking over 20 hours to reach the coastal areas.
"Months before a group of al-Shabaab fighters passed through Hafun, Qandal and Bargaal to near Laqoraay district to joing Atom's group. It happens sometimes but we fight against them," said Dabayla Gor. He estimated that the latest influx was a large number based on the reports he was getting.
Elders in Qandala believe that approximately 80 fighters are enroute to Mulaax Beyle near Xiss in Sanaag, on the coast of the breakaway region of Somaliland. This would put the fleeing fighters close to their expected final destination of Zinjabar, Yemen, a port partially held by al-Qaeda militants. It is around 170 miles or or 275 kms across the Gulf of Aden, and ships must pass across the Transit Corridor which is occasionally manned by about half a dozen naval escorts.
Although it is yet unknown whether pirate networks in Qandala provided the militants with fuel or other supplies, it would be the first proven instance of a pirate organization giving direct support to terrorist elements. Preliminary phone calls to the pirate groups by Somalia Reportindicate that the skiffs contain only al-Shabaab elements and that no pirate or smuggling group is involved. There have been no independent confirmation of these statements.
Somalia Report received reports that al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda fighters had left the southern port of Marka earlier this week in 14 small speedboats heading northwards along the coast. Although local skiffs can easily be fueled to transit the Gulf of Aden, the voyage would necessitate stopping to purchase fuel from local communities, where it would be difficult to disguise the identities of the passengers. Al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda members have frequently travelled along with supplies, between Yemen and the Sanaag region.
[An Nahar] Egypt's interior minister denied on Tuesday that police had fired birdshot at protesters in deadly festivities last week between security and demonstrators, despite testimonies from medics and witnesses.
At least 15 people have been killed in Cairo and the canal city of Suez since violence erupted near the interior ministry on Thursday sparked by deadly football-related festivities, the health ministry said.
"We only used gas (tear gas) ... There was only gas fired," Mohammed Ibrahim told parliament.
"Our forces were hit by birdshot; one general lost an eye," Ibrahim said.
The minister's comments came after a fact-finding parliamentary commission called on the assembly to withdraw confidence from him.
The panel said Ibrahim bore "full responsibility" for the death of protesters, calling on demonstrators to express themselves peacefully, to withdraw from the outskirts of the interior ministry and return to Tahrir Square -- the epicenter of protests.
On Tuesday, ophthalmologists "Eye Doctors for the Revolution" said that between Thursday and Sunday hospitals in Cairo had received patients with eye injuries caused by birdshot of different types and different sizes."
"At least 50 of these cases caused permanent vision loss," a statement said.
On Monday, speaker Saad al-Katatni said the interior minister told him police had not used birdshot on protesters, prompting liberal MP Mohammed Abu Hamed to stand up and hold up a birdshot cartridge he says he had just picked up in the area.
By Tuesday, calm had returned to the interior ministry area, just blocks away from Tahrir Square.
The unrest erupted on Thursday in response to the deaths of 74 people in festivities after a football match in the northern city of Port Saeed.
Activists and commentators erupted into the streets to denounce what they said was the failure of authorities to prevent the violence.
New North Korean leader Suet Face Kim Jong-un visited seven military units over the past month, most of them of elite forces. A South Korean security official said Seoul is trying to find out why Kim is focusing on these elite units that have great strategic and symbolic significance.
Because if Pudgy doesn't have them on his side he'll be overthrown in a Pyongyang minute...
The state-run media reported Kim on Jan. 31 visited the 1,017th Air Force Unit, one of two MIG-29 fighter units in the North. The MIG-29 is the newest of the North's 800 fighter jets and was donated by the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.
So it's not really 'new'...
During his visit, Kim climbed into the cockpit of a MIG-29 standing on the tarmac and had his photo taken with the pilots.
Sorta like Dukakis in a tank, but no one dared to laugh...
Earlier, on Jan. 18, Kim visited the 169th Army Unit, an infiltration unit specializing in sending commandoes to South Korea.
The 105th Seoul Ryu Kyong-su Guards Division, which he visited on New Year's Day, is remembered as the unit that entered Seoul three days after the Korean War broke out in 1950 and hoisted the North Korean flag at the top of the main government building in Seoul. While still the heir, Kim accompanied his father Kim Jong-il on another visit to the unit in January 2010, where he drove a tank by himself.
Shin Beom-chul of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses said, "It seems Kim Jong-un is visiting elite units to demonstrate most effectively that his power base lies in the military."
"All this seems to be his warning to the South not to get carried away just because he is a green wet behind the ears snot nosed rookie leader," a researcher at another government-funded think tank said.
The Predators or Reapers fired a pair of missiles at a compound in the town of Tappi near Miramshah, Pakistani officials told AFP. The Taliban have cordoned off the site of the strike and are conducting recovery operations. This is often a sign that a senior operative or leader was present. Should we, or should we not, follow up the initial attack with one on the recovery operations? Seems 'uncivilized', but then, so does war, and it would probably take out some more enemy.
"Eight militants were killed and two wounded," the Pakistani official told AFP. "Militants have surrounded the compound and are removing the dead bodies."
[Dawn] Unidentified cycle of violence riders on Tuesday attacked an office of a political party in Krachi's Lyari neigbourhood, killing two and injuring five people, DawnNews reported.
The unknown myrmidons threw local made hand grenades at the office and decamped away from the site.
Injured were taken to Civil Hospital but two out of seven injured shuffled off the mortal coil during the treatment.
The attack spread chaos in the locality. Shops and businesses were being shut as the owners panicked amidst fear of further attacks.
A heavy contingent of police reached the site and started investigation after the incident.
Meanwhile, ...back at the buffalo wallow, Tex and his new-found Indian friend were preparing a little surprise for the bandidos... five more people were killed in different areas of the violence-ridden city on Tuesday.
[Dawn] A soldier was killed and 12 injured after snuffies attacked a vehicle of security forces in Shaheedano Dhand area of Lower Kurram Agency ...home of an intricately interconnected web of poverty, ignorance, and religious fanaticism, where the laws of cause and effect are assumed to be suspended, conveniently located adjacent to Tora Bora... near Pak-Afghan border on Monday.
Officials of local administration said snuffies first hurled explosives at the vehicle and then began firing gunshots at it leaving one soldier dead and 12 injured.
They said the injured were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital in Thall town of Hangu district. ... Hangu is famous for its greenery, hills, beauty and water. Most of the people of this area are Bangash & Orakzai Pashtuns. Part of the Bangash are Shia. The Orakzai and the Sunni Bangash are determined to kill them... Officials said the security personnel returned fire and forced snuffies into fleeing.
Two days ago, eight soldiers were killed and five kidnapped after snuffies attacked a convoy of security forces in the same area. The kidnapped soldiers are still missing.
In Charsadda district, snuffies blew up a government primary school for girls in a village in Shabqadar tehsil on Sunday night.
Villagers said the school building crumbled after explosives planted at night went kaboom!. Police and bomb disposal squad showed up shortly after the blast and collected evidence.
Officials said at least six kilograms of explosives were used in the attack. They said police had begun a hunt for the perpetrators of the blast in the area.
In Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency, two people were killed and one injured in two separate incidents over the last two days.
Among the dead is a Malakdinkhel resident, who was kidnapped by snuffies two days ago. His headless body was later dumped in Gud Malang area.
No group grabbed credit for the killing. Name of the dead couldn't be ascertained. In another incident, a youth, Bilal, died and his friend Adnan injured after a stray mortar shell fell on a house in Meri Khel area.
Meanwhile, ...back at the pound, Zebulon finally found just the friend he'd been looking for... families of five injured terror suspects from Bara have alleged that their members were denied proper treatment at Beautiful Downtown Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital.
According to officials of local political administration, these suspects, all workers of a local plastic factory, including Shabbir Khan, Naqeeb Khan, Niaz Mohammad, Said Alam and Alif Khan, were critically injured after security forces fired at their van near Alamgudar on January 29. The driver, Yousaf, who also suffered injures, went away.
They were shifted to ICRC Hospital in Peshawar by their relatives but were taken into custody two days later by personnel of an intelligence agency before being moved to Lady Reading Hospital, where they are kept under tight police security.
Officials said the van driver, who was also suspected of having contacts with a local banned Death Eater organization, was on the run. When contacted, parents of the captured workers denied that their sons had any links with a Death Eater organization.
Meanwhile, ...back at the precinct house, Sergeant Maloney wasn't buying it. It was just too pat. It smelled phony... Ghulam Farooq, political tehsildar of Bara, said his administration was trying to verify the identity of the intelligence agency that picked up factory workers from ICRC Hospital. "We have no knowledge of the incident whatsoever and are now investigating the matter," he told .Dawn
BAGHDAD -- Less than two months after American troops left, the State Department is preparing to slash by as much as half the enormous diplomatic presence it had planned for Iraq, a sharp sign of declining American influence in the country.
What did we expect?
Officials in Baghdad and Washington said that Ambassador James F. Jeffrey and other senior State Department officials were reconsidering the size and scope of the embassy, where the staff has swelled to nearly 16,000 people, mostly contractors.
The expansive diplomatic operation and the $750 million embassy building, the largest of its kind in the world, were billed as necessary to nurture a postwar Iraq on its shaky path to democracy and establish normal relations between two countries linked by blood and mutual suspicion. But the Americans have been frustrated by what they see as Iraqi obstructionism and are now largely confined to the embassy because of security concerns, unable to interact enough with ordinary Iraqis to justify the $6 billion annual price tag.
It's almost like we could use an Army or something...
The swift realization among some top officials that the diplomatic buildup may have been ill advised represents a remarkable pivot for the State Department, in that officials spent more than a year planning the expansion and that many of the thousands of additional personnel have only recently arrived.
Continued on Page 49
The bottom line was that when we went in, we assumed that Iraq would be the new Germany, and HQ for AFRICOM, from where we could police the whole region, working off the Cold War model with Iran taking the place of the Soviet Union.
That idea fizzled for any number of reasons, leaving us with a white elephant. While Obama is criticized for pulling out of Iraq, the bottom line is that there is not a heck of a lot we could do there anymore, it's expensive as hell, and we've given the Iraqis every chance, so they're on their own.
They have no excuse left when they foul up.
On the plus side, they are at least taking a law and order point of view, hanging a lot of deserving scoundrels they couldn't with the US there. That in itself shows a more realistic attitude.
Their military, while unfinished, is showing great signs of being able to function on its own, and it is based on the stable US model. So if Iran gets ambitious towards them it will have the pluperfect snot kicked out of them.
No, the Iraq army could not 'knock the snot out' of the Iranian army right now. The Iraqi military can handle day to day security, for the most part, and do relatively straight-forward security ops.
However, they do not have the strategic abilities, planning, logistics and combat support to sustain independent, division level ops in the field. From what I've read, I don't think they can do brigade ops.
If we had stayed in Iraq for twenty years the Iraqi army would have developed along the same lines as the ROK army and have become quite capable. But we aren't there and (I believe) the Iraqis won't develop their country to do this.
Posted by: Steve White ||
As a general principle, if you submit an article after about 3pm ET, please set the date to the next day and the time to 00:00. That way it will be included in the rollover, and get maximum reader exposure.
[Dawn] At least 15 civilians and four soldiers were killed on Tuesday in the besieged central Syrian city of Homs, which has been undergoing heavy shelling by government troops, activists said.
"At least nine civilians, including a woman, were killed by gunfire and shelling as (troops) attempt an assault on the Khaldiyeh neighbourhood of the city," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.
The Britannia-based group said four Syrian troops were killed in the assault while six other non-combatants were killed in shelling on the Baba Amr neighborhood.
[An Nahar] Russia's foreign minister said after Damascus ...Capital of the last remaining Baathist regime in the world... talks on Tuesday that Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Lord of the Baath... was "fully committed" to ending the bloodshed in Syria even as regime tanks pounded the central city of Homs for a fourth straight day.
Sergei Lavrov said he had had a "very useful" meeting with Assad and that Moscow was eager to work towards a solution based on an Arab League ...an organization of Arabic-speaking states with 22 member countries and four observers. The League tries to achieve Arab consensus on issues, which usually leaves them doing nothing but a bit of grimacing and mustache cursing... plan that it had previously criticized.
"We (Russia) confirmed our readiness to act for a rapid solution to the crisis based on the plan put forward by the vaporous Arab League," said Lavrov, adding that Syria was also ready see an enlarged Arab League mission in the country, Russian news agencies said.
The pan-Arab bloc deployed an observer mission to Syria in December to oversee a plan to end bloodshed that has now lasted almost 11 months but suspended it late January after the mission's chief said that the violence had reached a new pitch of intensity.
The 22-nation League has since put forward a plan for Assad to hand his powers to Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa and a national unity government to oversee the preparation of democratic elections.
Sharaa, a veteran regime diplomat with a career that stretches back to the rule of Assad's late father president Hafez al-Assad, attended Tuesday's talks with Lavrov, the official SANA news agency said.
Lavrov did not specify which of the two Arab plans he was referring to in his comments Tuesday, although SANA interpreted him as referring to the earlier one.
Moscow had previously criticized foreign calls for Assad to step down but in an interview with Australian television last week Lavrov insisted: "We never said that President Assad remaining in power is the solution to the crisis."
After Tuesday's talks, he said he believed Damascus had heard Moscow's message but did not go into details.
Lavrov said Assad was ready for dialogue with all parties.
"It's clear that efforts to stop violence should be accompanied by the start of dialogue between all the political forces."
"Today we've received confirmation of President Assad's readiness to facilitate this work."
Lavrov said Syria was also pressing ahead with the slow-moving reform program promised by Assad in a series of speeches last year and would soon announce the timetable for a referendum on a new constitution to replace the current one which enshrines the leading role of his Baath party.
"In particular, President Assad assured (us) that he is fully committed to the task of a cessation of violence, from whatever source it comes."
Moscow is assuming that "efforts to solve the Syria crisis should be continued", said Lavrov.
"The Russian side intends to be actively engaged in this, including in the continuing work with the Syrian side, with Syria's neighbors and the Arab League," he added.
Later on Tuesday, Syria's state news agency SANA quoted Assad as telling Lavrov that he remained committed to all efforts toward stability in his strife-torn country.
"The president reiterated Syria's willingness to cooperate with all efforts towards stability in Syria," SANA said.
It said that Assad in his meeting with Lavrov had thanked Moscow for its backing at the U.N. Security Council and for its keenness on dialogue to end the nearly 11-month crisis in Syria.
SANA said Assad and Lavrov had discussed the latest developments in Syria, reforms under way and what it said were attacks nationwide by "armed terrorist gangs" backed by outside forces.
"President Assad said that Syria from the start has welcomed any efforts toward a solution to the Syrian crisis and is committed to the Arab League plan that was decided on November 2, 2011," SANA said.
It added that Assad had fully cooperated with an Arab League observer mission to Syria last month despite what it called efforts at sabotage by certain Arab parties.
At the opening of the talks, Lavrov said he was confident that the Syrian leader knew what he had to do.
"Every leader in every country should be aware of his share of responsibility. You are aware of yours," the Russian minister said.
Syrian state news agency SANA said Lavrov arrived to a "huge popular reception in appreciation of Russia's support to Syria, people and its reform program."
State television aired footage of regime supporters waving Syrian and Russian flags as they lined the streets.
Many chanted: "Thank you Russia, thank you China," in reference to the two governments' use of their Security Council vetoes last week to block U.N. action against the Syrian regime.
The precise purpose of the Russian diplomatic mission has been kept tightly under wraps since it was first announced at the weekend.
Ahead of their arrival, reports had said Lavrov might try to persuade Assad to quit.
Human rights groups say more than 6,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of the revolt mid-March. The U.N. Children's Fund, UNICEF, said at least 400 children have been killed.
Moscow sparked Western fury last week by joining Beijing in using its veto at the Security Council to block U.N. action against the Damascus regime.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ... sometimes described as America's Blond Eminence and at other times as Mrs. Bill, never as Another Bainbridge Colby ... called it a "travesty."
Beijing expressed hope Lavrov's visit would succeed, and said it was considering sending its own envoys to help resolve the conflict.
Syria's main Middle East ally, Iran was also to dispatch a deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, to Damascus on Tuesday, its official IRNA news agency said.
Turkey, which shared Western anger over the Russian and Chinese vetoes, said it would launch a "new initiative" with like-minded countries which "stand by the Syrian people, not the regime."
A day after the United States closed its Damascus embassy, La Belle France, Italia, Spain and the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council joined Britannia and Belgium in recalling their ambassadors to Syria for consultations.
The GCC states also expelled the Syrian ambassadors from their capitals.
But the European Union ...the successor to the Holy Roman Empire, only without the Hapsburgs and the nifty uniforms and the dancing... stressed it had no plans to close its own mission in the Syrian capital.
* TOPIX > ARAB WORLD SINKING IN [universal] TRIBAL FEUD.
ARTIC > denotes that ...
> Arab States are unable to get united be it agz either Israel or Iran, or likely agz any other.
> THERE WILL SOON BE NO COPTS = CHRISTIANS IN EGYPT, as these will be persecuted + murdered or otherwise destroyed once the post-Mubarak Islamist factions decisively end their infighting = collective power struggles, LOSS OF HISTORICAL = MUBARAK-ERA LEGAL PROTECTIONS???
> THREAT, LEGACY OF OSAMA BIN LADEN TO CONTINUE LONG AFTER HIS DEATH, influencing new generations of pro-Radicalist Ideologues + Jihadists, etal. hence the likelihood of NEW, "ROUTINE/REGULAR REVOLUTIONS" [destabilizing?] THROUGHOUT THE ARAB-MUSLIM WORLD???
* WAFF > SYRIA'S CHRISTIANS STAND BY ASSAD [+ Russia], despite attempt at UN to condemn his policies + actions.
"ARAB SPRINGS" in Iraq + Egypt has been a disaster to CHristian andor non-Muslim communities, "WIDOUT RUSSIA SYRIA'S CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY IS DOOMED" [to be wiped out].
POSTERS > ...
> Claims it is well known locally that CHritians in LEBANON-SYRIA would favor a [neo-Ottoman]TURKISH OCCUPATION.
> ALways "Russia-is-for-Russia" RUSSIA fears once TURKEY is finished wid its Middle East affairs, IT WILL TURN ITS ATTENTION TO THE CAUCASUS, TRANSOXIANA + ATTEMPT TO SET UP LONG-DESIRED "TURKIC UNION" AMONG REGIONAL, TRANSREGIONAL TURKIC PEOPLES TO THE DETRIMENT OF MOSCOW???
[An Nahar] Syrian troops on Tuesday were seen planting more mines along the border with northern Leb, in an area close to the flashpoint central province of Homs, a Lebanese official said.
"Syrian army units for three days have been planting mines along the border area between the Syrian village of Bweet and the Lebanese village of Hnayder," the official from Hnayder said, requesting anonymity.
He said bulldozers were also reinforcing dirt mounds that separate the two borders.
Hnayder is located in the Lebanese northern region of Wadi Khaled where some 6,400 Syrians have sought refuge since the outbreak of the 11-month revolt against the regime of Bashir al-Assad.
Syria in past months has planted mines near the area to prevent refugees and opposition activists from streaming into Leb.
The Lebanese army deployed on Saturday in Wadi Khaled after media outlets reported that members of the rebel Free Syrian Army were present in the region.
"On Saturday morning the military carried out three airdrops in al-Rami village near Wadi Khaled and searched the area for hours," a military source told LBC.
MP Moein al-Merehbi confirmed the reports, slamming the deployment of the army as "Syrian orders to President Michel Suleiman ...before assuming office as President, he held the position of commander of the Leb Armed Forces. That was after the previous commander, the loathesome Emile Lahoud, took office as president in November of 1998. Likely the next president of Leb will be whoever's commander of the armed forces, too... , Prime Minister Najib Miqati, and Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji."
Al-Akhbar newspaper has reported that Wadi Khaled has become a military base for the Free Syrian Army.
According to the daily, FSA officers and fighters are moving freely along the illegal border crossings, smuggling weapons and transporting injured soldiers.
Thousands of Syrian refugees have decamped to Leb amid a deadly crackdown on a popular revolt against the Assad regime.
Syrian troops have also staged deadly incursions into border villages in neighboring Leb.
[An Nahar] Lebanese authorities jugged on Tuesday two Lebanese nationals on charges of smuggling weapons into Syria through the eastern border town of Arsal.
Military Examining Magistrate Imad al-Zain questioned Wael F. and Bahaa F., according to the National News Agency.
The examining magistrate issued arrest warrants against them on charges of smuggling weapons to Syria, the NNA reported.
Over the weekend, the army searched northern villages bordering Syria following information it received about the presence of gangs that allegedly belong to the Free Syrian Army.
According to An Nahar published on Monday the army jugged a number of suspects and is conducting investigations with them.
However, some people cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go... the March 14 Those are the good guys, insofar as Leb has good guys... -led opposition slammed the army's operations in Wadi Khaled, accusing it of "implementing Syrian orders."
A military source told the newspaper that the army already launched such operations in Brital and Beirut without announcing them.
The poorly-demarcated Syrian-Lebanese border has witnessed a number of violations since the revolt against Syrian Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Before going into the family business Pencilneck was an eye doctor... began in mid-March.
Mathilda May (France)aka Isabella Zanconia in "The Jackal (1997)" aka Space Girl in "Lifeforce (1985)" aka Alba / Stephanie in "Naked Tango (1990)" aka Capucine Jamet in "La fille coupée en deux (The Girl Cut in Two 2007)" (age 47)