“The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and local NGO partners have started preparing, but things are going slowly amid worries about the lack of shelter and heating for the current 110,000 Syrian refugees (registered or waiting for registration) [in Lebanon], according UNHCR estimates.”
Villagers, who had been trapped by fighting between Israel and Hezbollah for weeks, flee during a lull in hostilities, in Aitaroun, Lebanon, August 2006. This image is part of Frontlines, an exhibition of photographs by award-winning photographer, Sean Smith.
This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
- Prominent Palestinian writer Salameh Kaileh spent three weeks in detention in various Syrian prisons over suspicion that he was handing out leaflets calling for Assad’s downfall. Kaileh described the prisons as a “human slaughterhouses” and “hell on earth.”
- UN Sec’y General Ban Ki-Moon told Christiane Amanpour that there is “no Plan B” for Syria at this moment.
- The violence in Syria spilled further over the border into Lebanon, igniting clashes throughout the week.
- Rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah have agreed to a deal that will lead to elections and a unity government in the West Bank and Gaza.
- A huge suicide bombing in Sana’a, Yemen, on Monday, killed more than 100 and was claimed by militants connected with Al Qaeda.
- The Lockerbie bomber died in Libya on Sunday.
- Pakistani Dr. Shakil Afridi, who assisted the CIA in ascertaining bin Laden’s whereabouts, has been sentenced in Pakistan to 33 years for treason.
- It’s been another very bloody week in Karachi.
- On Tuesday, the Senate appropriations subcommittee on foreign aid voted to cut aid to Pakistan by 58% and threatened further cuts if Pakistan doesn’t reopen supply lines.
- At the Chicago summit, NATO leaders decided on a permanent timetable in which Afghan forces will take over combat command in mid-2013 and NATO combat forces will leave by 2014.
- US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, will be leaving his post this summer.
- Five kidnapped aid workers are apparently being held for ransom in Shahr-e Bozorg, Afghanistan. Negotiations are ongoing.
- The State Dept. spent $1800 per student per day in 2010 for its Anti-Terrorism Training program in North Africa, the Middle East and South and Central Asia. The total money spent on programs like this since 9/11 is $1.4b. The State Dept’s Inspector General released a report on these programs for public consumption this week.
- Talks over the Iranian nuclear program resumed in Baghdad this week, hitting a snag on negotiations over sanctions.
- The military junta in Guinea-Bissau has handed over power to a civilian government.
- Dioncounda Traoré, the interim president of Mali, was beset by protesters on Monday, who stormed the presidential palace and beat him unconscious.
- A yearlong probe identified 1800 cases of fake parts in US military equipment. A suspected million such fake parts are out there, and 70% of these parts can be traced back to China.
- CNAS released a policy report outlining suggestions for reforming the structure and operation of the military.
- A 2011 Army memo obtained by Danger Room shows that the Army has had extensive concerns about the long-term health risks associated with the combat burn pit operated at Bagram Airfield. Service-members have been coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with puzzling health problems, most likely associated with exposure to these burn pits. A recent animal study also came to light showing that burn pits not only adversely affects lungs in the short term, but has serious long-term impacts on the immune system.
- Two female Army reservists have filed suit in district court to remove the restriction on combat service in the military based “solely on sex,” saying the restriction violates their 5th amendment right to due process.
- A new GAO report says that wounded service-members are now waiting an average of a year for their official disability evaluation. This is a big increase, and the wait time has been on the up for the last three years.
- Congressional investigators want an explanation within 10 days from the Defense Logistics Agency as to why the military was double-billed and excessively charged to the tune of $750m for food supplies.
- One of the owners of a firm involved in propaganda operations for the Pentagon has publicly admitted to creating a series of websites in a misinformation campaign attacking two USA Today journalists who had reported on the contracting company.
- The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the ACLU’s challenge to the 2008 FISA Amendments, the warrantless wiretapping legislation which grants the NSA the power to tap the international phone calls and emails made by US citizens. Just this Tuesday, a Senate panel voted to extend these provisions, which the White House hopes to extend beyond its year-end expiration date.Photo: Logar province, eastern Afghanistan. During a helicopter transport, US Army medic with the C Company 3/82 Dustoff medevac attends to an Afghan National Army soldier wounded by gunshot. Danish Siddiqui/Reuters.
Picture of the Day. Beirut, Lebanon. Lebanese civil defense members and Red Cross workers search for survivors amid the rubble of a collapsed building in the Ashrafleh neighborhood.
Photo Credit: Wael Hamzeh/EPA. Via.
This year, as protesters from Morocco to Saudi Arabia, Jordan to Kuwait were taking to the streets in the name of democracy, the security forces of those regimes struck back by threatening, jailing or attacking them. The Pentagon was there too — offering training in counterinsurgency, intelligence gathering and small unit tactics to those militaries and others around the Greater Middle East.
In “Making Repression Our Business, The Pentagon’s Secret Training Missions in the Middle East” at the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com, I pull back the curtain of Pentagon secrecy to reveal what Washington is really up to in the region and how it stands at odds with President Obama’s rhetoric.
Photo: Soldiers from the U.S. 1/118th Infantry Regiment clear a building with an “insurgent” hiding in it as part of “Friendship Two,” a joint training exercise between U.S. soldiers and Royal Saudi Land Forces in Saudi Arabia earlier this year. Credit: DoD
“As a women, I am not equal to my brother, husband or male friend,” Rita Chemaly, a researcher and women’s activist in Lebanon’s capital Beirut recently told the U.N. news agency, IRIN. “My state doesn’t guarantee my rights. The constitution says that all Lebanese are equal, yet the laws do not [guarantee this].”