Report: Russian Special Forces Deployed in West Egypt, Near Libya
Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, Mar 13 2017
Just a day after Pindo boxtops were grousing about Russia supporting Libyan National Army leader Gen Khalifa Hifter, the head of the army backing the Tobruk Parliament, reports from Reuters suggest Russia has deployed a handful of special forces into western Egypt, near the Libya border. Egyptian officials were cited as claiming there were 22 Russian special forces deployed, but declined to offer details on the mission, which makes exactly what they are there for, and the idea that they are planning to get involved in Libya, purely speculation. It is possible, however, as Gen Hifter, a long-time CIA asset, has sought “support” from Russia, and his forces have been recently struggling in fights against the Islamist Benghazi Defense Brigades over key oil export terminals around Ras Lanauf. Bizarrely, while Egyptian officials confirmed the deployment off the record, Army spokesmen denied that there were any foreign soldiers in Egypt at all, which is demonstrably false as Pindostan and other countries have had troops deployed around the country for years. While Pindostan is averse to the idea of Russia helping Gen Hifter retain the oil export terminals, it doesn’t appear that the Pindosi-backed “unity government” really has a dog in this fight anyhow, as they lost their territory around the terminals long ago, and aren’t on good terms with either of the forces fighting over them now.
Trump Gave CIA Secret New Authority to Launch Drone Strikes
Jason Ditz, Antiwar, Mar 13 2017
While Obama’s terms in office marked the beginning of widespread use of CIA drones for assassination campaigns, in his last couple of years in office, he dramatically shifted focus, aiming to limit CIA drone operations to intelligence gathering and confining the authority to carry out strikes to the Pentagon. Trump appears to have quietly reversed that limitation since coming into office, with reports in the WSJ quoting officials as saying the CIA once again has the authority to carry out such strikes, with Syria explicitly singled out as the main target for this authority, and officials saying that it would likely expand elsewhere around the region. It is particularly noteworthy that this change appears to have been made some time ago, and that the Trump Administration simply never told anyone about it. Even today, they have refused to comment on the matter. The Pentagon is required to report on its use of drone strikes, and to intermittently offer reports estimating the number of civilians killed. While the Pentagon’s reports often grossly underestimate the death toll, that they offer figures at all was a change from the early CIA-centric drone war. The CIA generally refuses to confirm or deny carrying out any drone strikes, and thus never accounts for who did or didn’t get killed. While the lack of even nominal disclosure makes it impossible to say how many drone strikes the CIA has launched under this new authority, it is noteworthy that the Pentagon has offered virtually no feedback on the flurry of drone strikes against Yemen in the past two weeks, which might suggest that they are part of a covert campaign.