A new force constituted by Uganda to protect UN personnel and installations in Somalia will start arriving in Mogadishu on Thursday. The force, dubbed the UN Guard Unit, was flagged off by the deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Lt. Gen. Charles Angina, at the peace operations support centre in Singo in Nakaseke district yesterday, after undergoing a two months training.
Comprised of 410 UPDF soldiers, the force is the first of its kind to be deployed under UN in the war ravaged horn of Africa nation. UN has similar guard units in Libya and Central African Republic.
Uganda's military chiefs said there were high expectations in the UN circles in Mogadishu and among the Somali population about the new force Uganda has constituted to facilitate peace keeping operations in the country.
The force, the military chiefs said, will free the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops from guard duties and concentrate on pursuing the al Shabaab militants.
Angina engaged the force in singing to gauge their morale and preparedness for the deployment before he delivered his speech. "I have no doubt that your morale is high. You are really ready for the task," he said.
The deployment of UPDF soldiers under auspices of the UN, Angina said, was a historic development in the history of the Uganda's army. He cautioned the force against breaking their rules of engagement saying "No abating of crime will be tolerated in the mission area. If you want to break them, do it now so you can remain,"
Angina also advised the troops against reckless spending of the salaries and allowances while in the mission area. Each soldier will be paid $1028 per month by UN minus allowances.
Likely covered by Uncle Sugar...
Angina handed over a Ugandan flag to the Unit's commander, Lt. Col. Keita Wycliffe as a sign that he (Keita) had taken responsibility of the force in Somalia.
Keita was the commanding officer of the infantry battalion in the Special Forces Command before he undertook a one year European Union funded peace keeping mission training in preparation for his new assignment.
Uganda's military advisor to the UN, Maj. Gen. Silver Kayemba said "We got a request for this force from UN in February and in less than two months we are ready to deploy. This means we are ready to maintain peace in the region,"
The UN, Kayemba said, has already dispatched the equipment for the force in the mission area. "We are sending a force we vetted and anyone who messes up will be dealt with. We (Uganda) needs to increase her visibility in the UN," he added.
The land forces chief of staff, Brig. Leo Kyanda said, the force's tasks would also include; carrying out cordon and search, patrolling, providing reinforcement and relief services, command management, evacuation and joint operations among others.
"We take this new assignment under the UN seriously. Uganda's contribution to UN peace keeping efforts in Somalia cannot be underestimated because UPDF has participated in the most complex operations," Kyanda said.
[AnNahar] A court incarcerated Please don't kill me! a Salafist leader to seven years for fraud Wednesday for keeping his mother's U.S. citizenship secret when filing candidacy papers in Egypt's 2012 presidential election.
The country's electoral law stipulates that a candidate's parents must hold only Egyptian citizenship.
Judicial sources said Hazim Abu Ismail was sentenced for not revealing his mother's nationality when he filed to stand in the 2012 election that was won by the Islamist Mohammed Morsi ...the former president of Egypt. A proponent of the One Man, One Vote, One Time principle, Morsi won election after the deposal of Hosni Mubarak and jumped to the conclusion it was his turn to be dictator... Abu Ismail was jugged Please don't kill me! after the army ousted Morsi last July. He had denounced Morsi's removal as a "military coup."
Morsi -- Egypt's first democratically elected and civilian president -- was toppled after millions of demonstrators demanded his resignation after just one year in office.
Former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Morsi, and is now the frontrunner in next month's presidential election.
[AnNahar] Soddy Arabia ...a kingdom taking up the bulk of the Arabian peninsula. Its primary economic activity involves exporting oil and soaking Islamic rubes on the annual hajj pilgrimage. The country supports a large number of princes in whatcha might call princely splendor. When the oil runs out the rest of the world is going to kick sand in the Soddy national face... has replaced intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the kingdom's pointman on the Syrian conflict, "at his own request," official news agency SPA announced Tuesday.
In a royal decree, the powerful official was "exempted... from his position at his own request" and replaced by his deputy, Youssef al-Idrissi.
Bandar, a former ambassador to the United States, is widely regarded as among the most influential powerbrokers in the Middle East.
But the veteran intelligence supremo went abroad for several months for health reasons, with diplomats saying he had been sidelined in Saudi efforts to support rebels fighting Syrian Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Leveler of Latakia... 's regime.
They said the file has been transferred to the interior minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who cracked down on al-Qaeda following a wave of deadly attacks in the Gulf state between 2003 and 2006.
Bandar's management of the Syria file had triggered American criticism, diplomats said.
The prince himself reproached Washington for its decision not to intervene militarily in Syria, and for preventing its allies from providing rebels with much-needed weapons, according to diplomats.
Media run by the Syrian regime and its allies in Leb have repeatedly lashed out at Bandar, accusing him of supporting Sunni Islamist bully boyz in Syria.
"Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality," the flyer began, "due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported Bendery Junta," a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement which fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II (emphasis added UP), "and oppose the pro-Slavic People's Republic of Donetsk, (the interim government) has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent, over 16 years of age and residing within the republic's territory are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register." This Vlad guy is seriously looking over his (Left?) shoulder while making his plans. Says something about his decision-making process and desired outcomes.
[DAWN] Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ... served two non-consecutive terms as prime minister, heads the Pakistain Moslem League (Nawaz). Noted for his spectacular corruption, the 1998 Pak nuclear test, border war with India, and for being tossed by General Musharraf... has called an urgent meeting of the cabinet committee on national security on Thursday at PM House, official sources told Dawn.com on Wednesday.
Federal ministers for defence, interior, information and adviser on national security have been invited to attend the meeting.
Chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, three services chiefs, DG IB, DG ISI are also expected to attend the meeting.
"Latest developments with regard to government, Taliban peace talks would come under consideration," said a cabinet source.
Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan would brief the participants about the latest situation of the dialogue process between government and the Tehrik-e-Taliban including demands of the umbrella bully boy group.
[The Nation (Pak)] Taliban negotiator Professor Ibrahim Khan today asked Pakistain People's Party (PPP) patron in-chief Bilawal Baby Bhutto Zardari ...Pak dynastic politician, son of Benazir Bhutto and grandon of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. As far as is known, Bilawal has no particular talents other than being pretty and being able to memorize political slogans, but he had the good luck to be born into the right family and he hasn't been assassinated yet... to refrain from making harsh statements about the peace talks and Taliban. "On one hand, Bilawal Bhutto demands the release of Shehbaz Taseer and Haider Gilani, while on the other hand, he uses harsh language against the Taliban," Ibrahim said. A conducive atmosphere should be created so that negotiators could demand the release of abductees to Taliban, he added.
[Al Ahram] The Pak Taliban Wednesday said they would not extend a ceasefire called to help peace negotiations with the government, but insisted they were still committed to the talks process.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain (TTP) announced a one-month ceasefire at the start of March as the government sought a negotiated end to their bloody seven-year insurgency.
The TTP extended the ceasefire to 10 April, but complained there had been "complete silence" from the government since then and hinted that the military was trying to thwart talks.
"TTP's central shura (council) has unanimously agreed not to extend the ceasefire," the group said in a statement.
"However, there's more than one way to stuff a chicken... the talks process will continue with complete sincerity and seriousness, and whenever a clear development comes from the government side, the TTP will not hesitate to respond with a serious move."
The announcement comes three days after Pakistain's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the process was about to enter a "comprehensive" phase.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ... served two non-consecutive terms as prime minister, heads the Pakistain Moslem League (Nawaz). Noted for his spectacular corruption, the 1998 Pak nuclear test, border war with India, and for being tossed by General Musharraf... 's government began negotiations with the TTP through intermediaries in February to try to end the Islamists struggle.
[DAWN] US Air Force pilots, and not CIA operatives, carry out drone strikes in Pakistain, says a new documentary.
The documentary -- "Drone" -- confirms the claim made in an earlier documentary on the subject that despite all technological and human assets, there's a lot of room for error in the strikes.
Thousands of people have been killed in the drone strikes, including many children.
"This calls into question the credibility of the kill-list methodology" as the vast majority of strikes in Pakistain were "against people whose identities the government doesn't know", the documentary revealed.
The US media pointed out that "the revelation that US Air Force pilots were carrying out targeted drone strikes in Pakistain at the behest of the CIA, once again brought into question the legality of the largest assassination programme in history".
The documentary takes a critical look at the five-year drone programme and through interviews with drone operators, it reveals that US Air Force pilots at Creech air force base, around 75km from Las Vegas, are carrying out drone attacks for the CIA.
"The CIA might be the customer but the air force has always flown it," Brandon Bryant, one of the pilots who appears in "Drone", told British newspaper, The Guardian.
He identified the pilots of the drones as the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron.
Another former drone operator from the documentary film said the squadron is "obsessively secretive" and its members are treated like "crown jewels" at the base.
"They don't hang out with anyone else. Once they got into the 17th and got upgraded operationally, they pretty much stopped talking to us. They would only hang out among themselves like a high school clique, a gang or something."
The squadron itself is believed to have 300 pilots flying 35 Predator drones and is set apart from rest of the base.
[Ynet] Paleostinian President the ineffectual Mahmoud Abbas ... a graduate of the prestigious unaccredited Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow with a doctorate in Holocaust Denial... said Wednesday that he is committed to the continuation of the security coordination with Israel, regardless of whether the ongoing peace talks are extended or indeed successful.
Abbas was speaking during a meeting with Labor and Meretz MKs at his Muqata headquarters in Ramallah.
Hey, Mahmoud! Whatever happened to Arafat's red binder? We haven't seen hide nor hair of it since he died.
[Haaretz] Paleostinian Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud al-Habash told Haaretz that the idea of dismantling the Paleostinian Authority has come up yet again during internal discussions, and he estimates that the PA will be dismantled by the end of this year.
Talk is of 'handing Israel back the keys,' says Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud al-Habash.
[AnNahar] Syrian refugees in urban areas of Jordan are struggling to cope with inadequate housing, high debts, rising costs and educational challenges for their children, a global relief agency said Wednesday.
CARE International said a household assessment of more than 2,200 Syrian refugees showed 90 percent of them were living in debt to relatives, landlords, shopkeepers and neighbors.
The cost of rent for the refugees from the devastating three-year war in Syria had increased by almost a third in the past year, according to the CARE study.
"The insecurity to provide for their families causes increasing levels of stress and sets women at risk of sexual exploitation. In many cases, young sons become the family's breadwinner to make ends meet," the organization said.
The study showed that only 52 percent of Syrian refugee boys were attending school, compared with 62 percent of girls.
"Three years after the Syria crisis started, refugee families are becoming more and more destitute," said Salam Kanaan, CARE's director for Jordan.
"The longer they live in neighboring countries, the more financially vulnerable they become. Families have fled months or years ago, they do not have any savings anymore."
Jordan is home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees.
More than 80 percent of them live in poor urban areas or on the outskirts of cities, often in inadequate dwellings, informal tented settlements and makeshift shelters, CARE said.
The refugee families have to spend an average of $260 (188 euros) per month for rent.
CARE said 36 percent of the families registered with the organization were headed by women.
"They have fled without their husbands who are either still in Syria, injured or have been killed. They have to take care of their young children and older relatives, but have difficulties to generate income," it said.
CARE said the social and psychological impact of the war on families is increasingly worrying.
"Especially refugees who have been displaced for years and have no more assets worry about how they can cover their monthly expenses and deal with medical emergencies," said Kanaan.
[Ynet] Paleostinian Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habash condemned the terror attack that occurred near Hebron on Monday evening, saying he "condemns all murders and feels the pain of the families."
Al-Habash added that violence is strictly prohibited, and that he expects Israel to also condemn the killing of Paleostinians.
"There, that's done. Mahmoud, have you arranged the killer's pension be paid to his family yet? And don't forget the party on Friday. We've got a dead Israeli to celebrate -- and this one was in intelligence!
Thailand's Fourth Army Area commander, Lt-Gen. Walit Rojanaphakdee, has discussed possible solutions to the southern insurgency with the chairman of Yala's provincial Islamic Council after he was officially appointed as regional army chief. The Fourth Army commander on Wednesday met with Mr Sama-ae Hari, the Yala Islamic Council chairman, in Mueang district.
Lt-Gen. Walit asked the Islamic council chief for his suggestions on their cooperation in carrying out the work of the Internal Security Operations Command Fourth Region and local religious leaders.
Lt-Gen. Walit said after the meeting that everyone must work together to bring back peace to the region as soon as possible. He admitted that the far South's problems are sensitive issues and called for advice from religious leaders in the region.
[An Nahar] Foreign fighters in Syria are looking to Western-based spiritual authorities acting as "cheerleaders" on social media, a British-based research body said Wednesday.
A study of the social media activity of foreign jihadists showed many were following certain influential preachers -- one from the United States and another from Australia, said the International Center for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) at King's College London university.
Their 36-page research paper entitled "Greenbirds: Measuring Importance and Influence in Syrian Foreign Fighter Networks" examines how imported muscle in Syria receive information about the conflict and who inspires them.
Over the past 12 months, researchers studied the social media profiles of 190 Western fighters in Syria. More than two-thirds were affiliated with the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ... the current version of al-Qaeda in Iraq, just as blood-thirsty and well-beloved as the original... (ISIL) group or the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front.
The research found that for the fighters they followed, social media has become an essential facet of the conflict.
They found that a large number of imported muscle received their information from "disseminators" -- unaffiliated but broadly sympathetic individuals mostly based in the West.
The ICSR said they had found "new spiritual authorities" who imported muscle in Syria look to for inspiration and guidance.
"They are playing the role of cheerleaders," the report said.
"Their statements and interactions can be seen as providing encouragement, justification, and religious legitimacy for fighting in the Syrian conflict, and -- whether consciously or not -- play an important role in radicalizing some individuals."
It stressed there was no evidence to suggest those individuals were involved in facilitating imported muscle' entry into Syria or coordinating their activity with jihadist groups.
Based on quantitative analysis of their popularity within foreign fighter networks, the paper identified the two most prominent of these new spiritual authorities as U.S.-based Ahmad Musa Jibril and Musa Cerantonio, an Australian convert to Islam with Italian roots.
Jibril, who is in his early 40s, "does not explicitly call to violent jihad, but supports individual imported muscle and justifies the Syrian conflict in highly emotive terms," the report said.
"He is eloquent, charismatic, and -- most importantly -- fluent in English."
Cerantonio, 29, has become an "outspoken cheerleader" for ISIL.
"Jibril is a subtle, careful, and nuanced preacher, while Musa Cerantonio is much more explicit in his support for the jihadist opposition in Syria," the paper said.
"Foreign fighters who follow them both are exposed to the same essential message: fighting in Syria is legitimate and honorable."
Nearly 55 percent were identified as members of ISIL, while just under 14 percent were through to belong to al-Nusra.
Fighters that could not be clearly placed in one camp made up 29 percent.
The sample found 18 percent of the fighters came from Britannia, followed by La Belle France (12 percent), Germany (11 percent), Sweden (10 percent), Belgium (nine percent) and the Netherlands (six percent).
In December 2013, the ICSR estimated that up to 11,000 people from 74 nations, including 2,800 from European or Western countries, had gone to Syria to fight.
[AnNahar] Syrian rebels fighting to topple Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Lord of the Baath... for the first time received at least 20 U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles from a "Western source," a rebel official told Agence La Belle France Presse Tuesday.
"Moderate, well-organized fighters from the Hazm movement have for the first time received more than 20 TOW anti-tank missiles from a Western source," the source said on condition of anonymity, and without specifying who had supplied the rockets.
The Hazm movement, part of the opposition Free Syrian Army ... the more palatable version of the Syrian insurgency, heavily influenced by the Moslem Brüderbund... , brings together mainly ex-army officers and soldiers who defected from the military to join the revolt.
"More have been promised should it be proven that the missiles are being used in an effective way," the source said.
"Dozens of fighters have been trained with international assistance in the use of these missiles," the rebel said, adding that the weapons have been used in flashpoint areas of Idlib, Aleppo and Latakia provinces in the north.
Amateur video distributed by the opposition Masarat media network showed rebels unpacking, loading and firing several missiles at unnamed locations in the Syrian countryside.
"Most of the targets were tanks," said the rebel official, adding that "the 20 missiles have been used 100 percent effectively, always hitting their targets."
Vastly outgunned by the army, rebels have frequently called on the West to provide them with specialized weaponry.
"The international community needs to help stop Assad's army and Iran (a key backer of the Syrian government). We are calling for anti-aircraft weapons to be shipped over," opposition National Coalition member Louay Muqdad told AFP Tuesday.
Syria's uprising was initially peaceful but later escalated into a brutal insurgency after the regime launched a massive crackdown on dissent.
More than 150,000 people have been killed, and nearly half the population has been displaced since the revolt began in March 2011.
Western supporters of the revolt have hesitated to arm the rebels for fear that weapons may fall into the hands of powerful jihadist groups.
In January 2014, a broad coalition of moderate and Salafist tough guys launched an offensive against the hard boyIslamic State of Iraq and the Levant ... the current version of al-Qaeda in Iraq, just as blood-thirsty and well-beloved as the original... (ISIL), pushing its fighters out of several areas of northern Syria.
Government loyalists backed by Leb's Hizbullah ...Party of God, a Leb militia inspired, founded, funded and directed by Iran. Hizbullah refers to itself as The Resistance and purports to defend Leb against Israel, with whom it has started and lost one disastrous war to date, though it did claim victory... have meanwhile made a string of advances near Damascus and in central Syria.
[Ynet] Iran's defense minister says Tehran will not discuss its ballistic missiles as part of ongoing talks with world powers on a final agreement to curb the Iranian nuclear program.
Gen. Hossein Dehghan's remarks rebuffed recent comments by US State Department's nuclear negotiator, Wendy Sherman, who said Iran's ballistic capabilities should be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement with Iran.
The semiofficial Fars news agency on Wednesday quoted Dehghan as saying Iran's missile program has "nothing to do" with the nuclear negotiations.
[Ynet] Iran expects to get a fifth instalment this week of previously blocked overseas funds, a bigwig was quoted as saying, a payment that would confirm Iranian compliance with a landmark deal with world powers to curb its nuclear programme.
Under last year's interim agreement that took effect on Jan. 20, Iran will receive a total of $4.2 billion of such funds in eight payments over six months, if it lives up to its part of the accord aimed at allaying fears about its atomic aims.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.