U.S. Naval Update Map: June 9, 2016
Carrier Strike Groups
The USS Harry S. Truman CSG with CVW 7 embarked is underway for a deployment in the U.S. 6th Fleet AOR supporting maritime security operations and conducting theater security cooperation efforts.
The USS John C. Stennis with CVW 9 embarked is underway in the Pacific Ocean for a Western Pacific deployment.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG with CVW 3 embarked is underway in the Atlantic Ocean while on deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet AORs.
The USS Carl Vinson is underway in the Pacific Ocean conducting a Command Assessment of Readiness and Training (CART).
The USS Ronald Reagan CSG with CVW 5 embarked is underway in the Pacific Ocean for its summer patrol.
Amphibious Ready Groups/Marine Expeditionary Units
The USS Boxer ARG with the 13th MEU is in Mina Salman Port in Manama, Bahrain, for a two-week upkeep.
U.S. Naval Update Map: June 9, 2016 is republished with permission of Stratfor.
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
The Political Ebb and Flow of the Mekong River
n times of scarcity, nations compete more fiercely to meet their essential needs and defend precious commodities. Water is no exception, particularly the water of the Mekong River of mainland Southeast Asia. Mekong translates to "mother of rivers," and the river lives up to its name, providing water in six different countries for agriculture, trade and millions of people. Originating in the remote Tibetan Plateau, the river rolls 3,000 miles through China's Yunnan province, northeast Myanmar, and the lowlands of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia before spilling into the South China Sea in southern Vietnam. The river and its water are a vital resource that requires intense domestic and international coordination to manage…
Drought Gives China Options in Southeast Asia
In times of scarcity, nations compete more fiercely to meet their essential needs and defend precious commodities. Water is no exception, particularly that of the Mekong River of mainland Southeast Asia. Mekong translates to "mother of rivers," and the river lives up to its name, providing water to six different countries for agriculture, trade and millions of people. Originating in the remote Tibetan Plateau, the river runs 3,000 miles through China's Yunnan province, northeast Myanmar and the lowlands of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia before spilling into the South China Sea in southern Vietnam. The river and its water are a vital resource that requires intense domestic and international coordination to manage....
What Undermines Kazakh Stability
Kazakhstan is on high alert. Militants attacked two gun shops and subsequently stormed a military unit of the national guard in the western city of Aktobe on June 5. Kazakh security forces have since captured and killed many of the assailants, though authorities continue to seek several suspects still at large. But this is not the only crisis developing in the country. Protests across Kazakhstan on May 21 led to the detention of more than 1,000 people. Combined with growing economic difficulties and the looming issue of President Nursultan Nazarbayev's succession, the government's ability to manage multiple crises may soon come into question…
India: Mexico Will Support Bid To Join Nuclear Suppliers Group
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi secured the support of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto for India's bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an 48-country bloc comprised of member states allowed to trade and share nuclear technology, The Indian Express reported June 9. Modi stopped in Mexico on June 9 after a similar visit with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington. Members of the nuclear bloc started two days of meetings in Vienna on June 9 to discuss the possibility of India joining the group, but the actual vote over Indian membership will be held June 20 in South Korea. Though securing additional support is key for India's bid, a unanimous vote is required for a new country to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. And with China still opposed to India's membership, India's chances of winning approval remain in question.
Why Energy Will Determine India's Future
India is a country of Himalayan proportions. Its population of nearly 1.3 billion is larger than North America and Europe's combined population. When India held the Maha Kumbh Mela festival along the banks of the Ganges River in 2013, more than 30 million Hindu worshippers — greater than the entire population of Australia — attended, forming what many called the largest human gathering ever seen. And in last year's election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed victory after 550 million Indian citizens cast their votes in the biggest democratic election in history...
EU, Turkey: In Search of a Lasting Migrant Deal
As conflict throughout the Middle East and North Africa continues unabated, the influx of migrants from the war-torn region is putting more and more strain on Europe. Hoping to lighten its load, the European Union has turned to Turkey for help. According to the tentative deal struck between the two on March 18, Brussels will give Ankara an extra $3 billion in aid, accelerate its EU membership talks and ease visa restrictions for Turkish citizens by the end of June. In return, Ankara has agreed to keep migrants from passing through its borders and into the Continent and to take back any migrants who traveled to Europe after the deal's implementation March 20. Finally, to discourage illegal immigration from Syria, the parties have worked out a system whereby the European Union will resettle one legal Syrian refugee from Turkey for each Syrian non-refugee deported from Greece.
NATO: Canada May Be Needed For Eastern European Presence
The United States may look to Canada to provide troops to help build up the NATO presence in Eastern Europe as a deterrent against Russia's regional aggression, senior NATO and Polish diplomatic sources said, Reuters reported June 9. NATO is trying to establish a rotating force of 4,000 troops in Poland and the Baltic states, but alliance leaders have found it difficult to get member states to contribute. The United Kingdom and Germany have stepped forward and pledged battalions of around 1,000 troops each. The United States will contribute a third battalion, leaving leaders scrambling for a fourth. With European member states unable or unwilling to provide troops, the United States will likely ask Canada to provide the last battalion, according to a senior Polish diplomatic source. Sources also indicate that British troops are likely to deploy to Estonia, with German troops heading to Lithuania, and U.S. forces going to Latvia. This arrangement leaves out Poland, where Canada already has more than 200 military personnel. The planned deployment in Eastern Europe comes at a time of growing tension between NATO and Russia, with each side growing more wary of moves in the region by the other…
Europe&'s Chronic Jihadist ProblemAnalysis
Like the assaults in Paris last year, the March 22 terrorist attacks in Belgium prompted a wave of arrests and energized attempts by European authorities to disrupt the Islamic State and other jihadist operations. But arrests will not solve the intractable problem of radicalized Muslims bent on attacking Europe. Until the underlying issues that help drive radicalization on the Continent are addressed, authorities will be neutralizing only the immediate threat, not countering its root cause. In the meantime, jihadists will continue to pose a threat in Europe and elsewhere.
Police and security forces across Europe arrested dozens of purported Islamic State operatives in the wake of the Brussels bombings. The arrests have not been limited to Belgium and France; they have also taken place in Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Though these operations may help to identify and dismantle an Islamic State network (or a network of networks), Europe's problems run much deeper than this one layer of jihadists...
Reducing Europe's Migrant Burden
As conflict throughout the Middle East and North Africa continues unabated, the influx of migrants from the war-torn region is putting more and more strain on Europe. Hoping to lighten its load, the European Union has turned to Turkey for help. According to the tentative deal struck between the two on March 18, Brussels will give Ankara an extra $3 billion in aid, accelerate its EU membership talks and ease visa restrictions for Turkish citizens by the end of June. In return, Ankara has agreed to keep migrants from passing through its borders and into the Continent and to take back any migrants who traveled to Europe after the deal's implementation on March 20. Finally, to discourage illegal immigration from Syria, the parties have worked out a system whereby the European Union will resettle one legal Syrian refugee from Turkey for each Syrian non-refugee deported from Greece….
US activates $800m missile shield base in Romania
The US has activated a land-based missile defence station in Romania, which will form part of a larger and controversial European shield.
Senior US and Nato officials attended the ceremony in Deveselu, southern Romania.
The US says the Aegis system is a shield to protect Nato countries from short and medium-range missiles, particularly from the Middle East.
But Russia sees it as a security threat - a claim denied by Nato.
Relations between the West and Russia have deteriorated since Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's southern Crimea peninsula in 2014.
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and other senior officials from the military alliance attended the opening ceremony at an old Romanian air base in Deveselu., 180km (110 miles) south-west of Bucharest.
The site hosts radar and SM-3 missile interceptors, and will be integrated into Nato's missile shield when the bloc meets this summer…
Water-Rich Colombia Still Faces Water Stress
Colombia has made great strides in advancing peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), improving the prospect of peace with the guerrilla movement and finally settling the country's longtime security threat. But another crisis of sorts is seeping through the country, based this time on the vulnerability of a precious resource: water. With nearly 50,000 cubic meters of water available per person each year, Colombia is technically one of the most water-rich countries in the world. But pollution, inadequate infrastructure, unequal distribution and extreme variability in annual rainfall leave an otherwise abundant resource susceptible to water stress. A drought, influenced by the El Nino weather pattern, has only exacerbated the situation. Despite peace talks progressing and stabilizing the country, sustained low oil prices will limit Bogota's ability to invest in and expand water infrastructure. And without investment and greater enforcement of existing policies, access to Colombia's water resources will remain uncertain for many...
Surveying Colombia's Criminal Landscape
The Colombian government and the FARC are progressing toward a peace deal that is poised to end more than five decades of armed conflict. Over the next few months, the dialogue is expected to proceed to a final cease-fire and the demobilization of the militants. Though a peace agreement with the FARC would significantly reduce politically motivated violence in the country, criminal violence and illegal activities, including drug trafficking and extortion, will still pose isolated, localized risks to residents and foreign visitors in Colombia. Even as security improves in the country as a whole, areas of prevalent criminal activity will remain dangerous for the individuals and businesses operating there...
Afghanistan: U.S. Approves Expanded Airstrikes
The White House approved plans to give the U.S. military more authority to carry out airstrikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan, senior U.S. government and defense officials said, AP reported June 9. The decision came a few days ago following months of debate. U.S. commanders have called for more power to strike the Taliban and support Afghan forces during critical operations. The Taliban insurgency in the country has gained momentum under new leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada.
Use It or Lose It: China’s Grand Strategy
In 2010, Canada hosted the G7 finance ministers in Nunavut, the country's frigid Arctic province that is home to a mere 30,000 Inuit people. Canada's "Northern Strategy" for the Arctic was a centerpiece of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper's tenure, resulting in a larger coast guard, new icebreakers, military logistics centers across the Northwest Territories, regular drone surveillance flights and a fleet of stealth snowmobiles code-named Loki. When asked why Canada was placing such strategic emphasis on the Arctic, Harper responded with a simple phrase…
China Raises the Stakes in Japan's Backyard
Tokyo woke up Thursday to hints of a nightmare scenario in what it considers its backyard. Just after midnight, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sighted a Jiangkai I frigate from the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy within the 24-nautical mile contiguous zone of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The ships lingered for about two hours near the Senkakus, which Japan controls but China also claims (the Chinese know them as the Diaoyu Islands). A People's Liberation Army Navy ship has never been spotted so close to the Senkakus. To make matters worse for Tokyo, three Russian navy ships, including an Udaloy-class destroyer, passed through the contiguous waters during the same period...
Factoring U.S. Strategy Into China's Future
Stratfor recently wrote that China's economic rise has created for it an imperative to secure key trade routes and to protect its overseas resources and markets from foreign interdiction. This adds to the three imperatives that have historically defined the country's geopolitics: the maintenance of a united Han China, control of the country's buffer regions and the protection of its coastline. Although this new imperative does not dictate China's attitude toward its neighbors or the United States, it introduces an underlying compulsion that in the years to come will reshape the costs and benefits of different courses of action…
Iran: Russian, Syrian Ministers Visit Tehran For Terrorism Talks
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Syrian counterpart Fahd Jassem al-Freij are in Tehran for trilateral talks with Iran's defense minister over the fight against terrorism, Mehr News Agency reported June 9. The three ministers are expected to discuss terrorism in the Middle East and ways to counter it. In Syria, Iran and Russia have been propping up the government and assisting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al Assad in the country's five-year civil war.
Failing to Reform in Iraq
Iraq is no stranger to political instability or to general insecurity. But two developments bode particularly ill for the country: threats to the administration of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the progress of anti-Islamic State operations, which could lead to bouts of sectarian violence....
Tel Aviv shooting: Four killed in shopping centre attack
The attacks took place in two locations in Sarona Market, close to Israel's defence ministry and main army HQ.
Police said the gunmen were from Yatta, a Palestinian village near the West Bank town of Hebron.
Both are in custody. One is undergoing surgery in hospital, police added.
There has been a rise in Palestinian attacks on Israelis since last year, with a series of shootings, stabbings and car rammings, although the number of incidents had dropped in recent months.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited the scene of the attack late on Wednesday, called it "a savage crime of murder and terrorism”…
Israel: Entry Permits For 83,000 Palestinians Suspended
Israel suspended entry permits for around 83,000 Palestinians in response to an attack by two West Bank men on a Tel Aviv market place June 8, BBC reported June 9. During the attack, two gunmen opened fire in Sarona Market, killing four Israeli citizens and injuring more than a dozen others. Israel's move to suspend permits will affect Palestinians from both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip who had planned to enter Israel for a number of reasons — including visiting relatives, attending Ramadan prayers or traveling abroad via Israel's airport — but it will reportedly not impact those with work permits. Israel also deployed hundreds of extra troops to the West Bank, and surrounded the village of Yatta, where the attackers were from. Those within the village will only be allowed to leave for humanitarian or medical reasons. The army was also preparing to demolish the homes of the attackers, Israeli media reported. The two main Palestinian factions reacted differently to the attack, with Hamas praising the shooting and a spokesman for Fatah in the West Bank calling it an individual and natural response to violence from the Israeli state. The violence follows a wave of attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilians and soldiers over the past yea
For Russia, Natural Gas Is Losing Its Potency as a Political Weapon
There was a time when Russia could manipulate other countries with its natural gas supplies. It still can, but the threat is less effective than it once was. Ukraine's national natural gas company, Naftogaz, confirmed Wednesday that it will consider negotiating direct natural gas purchases with Russian natural gas giant Gazprom without mediation from the European Union. Ukraine's willingness to deal directly is a sign of growing assertiveness and also of how much Kiev — with help from Brussels — has been able to chip away at Moscow's ability to use gas supplies as a political weapon....
Russian Influence Fades in the Baltics
Competition between Russia and the West over the Baltic region is not new. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania occupy a strategic location in the flat borderlands of northeastern Europe, making them attractive to powers with regional ambitions. Attempts to control them began in the Middle Ages, with a period of Scandinavian domination in which Sweden and Denmark took prominent roles. By the end of the 18th century, the Baltic states were swept into the growing Russian Empire. Their subordination was briefly broken by a short period of independence in the early 20th century, before Nazi Germany invaded during World War II. Not long after, the region was annexed into the Soviet Union. After regaining independence in 1990 just prior to the Soviet Union's collapse, the three nations entered a new phase: integrating with the West. It culminated with each of the Baltic states joining the European Union and NATO in 2004....
Syria: France Building Military Base In Kurdish-Controlled Area
France is beginning to build a military base in a Kurdish-controlled area of northern Syria near Kobani, sources within the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said, Rojava News reported June 10. An official from the French Ministry of Defense confirmed June 9 that French special operations forces are assisting the Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against the Islamic State in northern Syria. According to the official, French forces are acting as advisers to fighters taking part in the offensive against the Islamic State in Manbij, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Syria-Turkey border. On June 10, fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces cut the main supply route to the town, trapping the remaining Islamic State militants inside and setting the stage for urban fighting.
Syria: U.S.-Backed Forces Cut Main Supply Route To Islamic State-Held Town
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces cut on June 10 the main supply route from Turkey to the Islamic State-held town of Manbij, effectively surrounding the town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a high-ranking U.S. military official said, Naharnet and AFP reported. Around 20,000 people of a pre-war population of about 120,000 still remain in the town, which has served a key point on the Islamic State's supply line from Turkey. Instead of retreating from the offensive, the Islamic State chose to bring reinforcements into Manbij. Now, with militants trapped in the town and exit routes closed off, the town will likely be the site of heavy urban fighting.
MIDDLE EAST GENERAL
A Shaken Calm in Jordan
In a tumultuous region, Jordan has managed to remain a bastion of stability, largely through the deft maneuvering of its leader, King Abdullah II. A longtime Western ally, the country has provided a haven for refugees from numerous regional conflicts. But a recent attack has shaken this calm. Early on the morning of June 6, an unspecified number of gunmen carrying semi-automatic weapons opened fire at a security office in the Baqaa refugee camp — located just 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Jordan's capital, Amman — killing five personnel from the Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate, including three noncommissioned officers....
Securing the Saudi Vote in Lebanon
Lebanon has been in a state of upheaval for years. Since former President Michel Suleiman left office in 2014, the country's two main political blocs have failed dozens of times to agree on a suitable successor. The Sunni-dominated March 14 Alliance, backed by Saudi Arabia, and the Shiite-dominated March 8 Alliance, backed by Iran, remain at loggerheads over the country's future leader. Throughout the negotiations, Hezbollah, a powerful force in the March 8 Alliance, has been a particular sticking point, renouncing any candidate but its own, Michel Aoun. Saudi Arabia and Iran, meanwhile, are using their influence to ensure that Lebanon's next president represents their interests. As increasingly hard-line leaders in the March 14 Alliance take a tough stance on Hezbollah, Lebanon's political scene is perhaps more polarized than ever....
Families as Soft Targets
Mahmuda Khanam left her apartment in Chittagong, Bangladesh, on June 5 to walk her 6-year-old son to a school bus stop. On the way, they were approached by three men who stabbed her repeatedly, then shot her point-blank in the head, leaving her dead on the pavement with the shocked child. The assailants sped away on a motorcycle…
Libya: Anti-Islamic State Forces Make Gains In Sirte
Forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord are continuing to advance into the Islamic State stronghold of Sirte, security sources said, Reuters reported June 9. Most of the militiamen taking part in the advance are fighters from the city of Misrata. According to sources, fighters captured the Taqrift military camp from the Islamic State, and militia statements released on social media detail a number of other gains, though these remain unconfirmed. Routing the Islamic State in Sirte, where it had been hoping to build up a power center in Libya, is key to significantly damaging its prospects in the country.
Except where noted courtesy STRATFOR.COM