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Showing posts from November 22, 2013

Undercover British Soldiers 'Killed Unarmed Civilians in Belfast'

BBC - Soldiers from an undercover unit used by the British army in Northern Ireland killed unarmed civilians, former members have told BBC One's Panorama.

Speaking publicly for the first time, the ex-members of the Military Reaction Force (MRF), which was disbanded in 1973, said they had been tasked with "hunting down" IRA members in Belfast.

The former soldiers said they believed the unit had saved many lives.

The Ministry of Defence said it had referred the disclosures to police.

'Surveillance from gutters'

The details have emerged a day after Northern Ireland's attorney general, John Larkin, suggested ending any prosecutions over Troubles-related killings that took place before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The proposal has been criticised by groups representing relatives of victims.

Panorama has been told the MRF consisted of about 40 men handpicked from across the British army.

Before it was disbanded 40 years ago, after 18 months, plain-cl…

Boat-borne IED attack on Yemeni LNG terminal signals intent but low capability to penetrate security


Yemeni naval forces fired upon and destroyed a suspicious boat that was approaching a Yemen liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Balhaf, Shabwah governorate, on 20 November 2013.

Military officials told local media sources that the boat had come from international waters, and was detected and intercepted as it passed through the maritime security perimeter around Balhaf. The vessel is likely to have been destroyed to guard against the risk of a boat-borne improvised explosive device (BBIED), a tactic previously used successfully by jihadists in Yemen in the early 2000s, most notably against the USS Cole in Aden in October 2000.

Balhaf has been repeatedly targeted in recent months by suspected Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants using IEDs and vehicle-borne VBIEDs. In June, a suicide bomber used a VBIED against the main gate of the facility, killing several soldiers but failing to penetrate the compound. More recently, on 23 September, AQAP militants wearing mili…

Iran developing 23 mm Gatling gun

Jeremy Binnie, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

Only the barrels of the Asefeh were seen in Iranian media coverage of the new weapon system. Source:

Iran is working on a three-barrelled 23 mm Gatling gun to defend against cruise missiles, it was revealed on 18 November.

The Asefeh was displayed to Major General Mohammed Ali Jafari, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), when he reviewed some of the latest innovations made by the IRGC's research and development department. The gun is reportedly capable of firing up to 900 rounds a minute.

Despite its requirement for a close in weapon system to protect its naval vessels and strategic assets from stand-off weapons, this appears to be Iran's first attempt to develop a Gatling-style rotary cannon.

Iran has instead developed an eight-barrelled version of the 23 mm Zu-23-2 light anti-aircraft gun called the Mesbah-1 to fill this role. Unveiled in May 2010, the Mesbah-1 should be able to fire more…

U.S. Naval Update Map: Nov. 21, 2013

The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups and Amphibious Ready Groups, based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance of the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier, which projects U.S. naval and air power and supports a Carrier Air Wing, or CVW. The CSG includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked. An MEU is built around a heavily reinforced and mobile battalion of Marines.

Carrier Strike Groups
The USS Harry S. Truman CSG with CVW 3 embarked is underway in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR supporting maritime security operations and conducting theater security cooperation efforts.
The USS Nimitz CSG with CVW 11 embarked is underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR.
The USS George Washington CSG with CVW 5 emb…

In Tunisia, Instability Continues

Tunisian demonstrators protest outside the Constituent Assembly headquarters in Tunis in August. (FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)


The Arab Spring may not have affected Tunisia as badly as it did Syria, Libya and Egypt, but it nonetheless left the North African nation with a challenging future. The country is beset by political infighting. On Nov. 18, negotiations resumed between Tunisia's two main political parties, the Islamist Ennahda party and the opposition Call for Tunis, but these talks do not necessarily mean the parties will settle their grievances anytime soon. The transitional government headed by Ennahda is also poised to step down in response to nationwide strikes, protests and uprisings that have marred Tunisia's transition to democracy.

More important, the country has struggled to maintain security in an increasingly unstable region. Militancy is a growing concern, as is the destabilization of neighboring Libya. Indeed, achieving political consensus in Tuni…

A Setback in Ukraine's Relations with the European Union

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich at a news conference in Vienna on Nov. 21. (ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/Getty Images)


In the wake of the Ukrainian parliament's decision not to allow prisoners to seek medical treatment abroad and the government's decision to put preparations for the signing of agreements with the European Union on hold, it is unlikely that the European Union and Ukraine will sign the proposed association and free trade agreement at the third Eastern Partnership summit Nov. 28-29.

Though a deal is unlikely, Ukraine will remain focused on the long-term goal of stronger ties with the European Union to balance against the influence of Russia. As the contest for influence in Ukraine continues, Slovakia will become more important for its potential ability to supply Ukraine with natural gas.


Kiev's decisions are related to Ukraine's historical efforts to maintain its independence by balancing between East and West. Although closer ties with the Eu…