Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Do You Find It Odd That The Pentagram Gaslights Congress About Drones?

wikipedia  |  Rep. André Carson (D-IN), chairman of the subcommittee, opened the hearing. He raised the concern that unexplained aerial phenomena posed a potential threat to national security and should be treated as such, and that the "stigma associated with UAPs has gotten in the way of good intelligence analysis." He criticized the Pentagon for failing to name a director to head the newly established Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group and for failing to provide any updates. Carson pledged to "bring the organization out of the shadows.”[5]

The hearings included testimony from Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald S. Moultrie, the Pentagon's top intelligence official, and Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray. Bray stated that the number of "frequent and continuing" reported sightings had grown to about 400 since last year's mandated report.[6][7][8] He cast out the notion that the UFOs had extraterrestrial origins, testifying that no organic/inorganic material or unexplainable wreckage indicated so.[5][9] Bray added that there had been no attempts at communication with the objects, and that despite at least 11 "near-misses", no collisions between unidentified aircraft and U.S. aircraft had been reported so far.[10][11]

It was revealed that other countries had similar reports on UFOs, and that a number of them communicated with U.S. intelligence agencies, although Moultrie told lawmakers that they did want "potential adversaries to know exactly what we see or understand."[5] He also mentioned the need for cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration as well as other government agencies.[8] Moultrie stated that most UFOs could be identified through "rigorous" analysis and investigation, but pointed out a number of incidents that defied explanation, such as a 2004 sighting where aircraft carrier pilots in the Pacific came across a hovering unidentified object that appeared to have descended tens of thousands of feet.[6][12][13]

Lawmakers were shown declassified images and footage of UFOs, including a video of a UFO observed by a Navy fighter-jet pilot in 2021, a "spherical object" that "quickly passes by the cockpit of the aircraft." Another video captured triangular objects (speculated to be drones) floating off the coast as seen through night-vision goggles.[5][6][14]

A number of lawmakers, including Rick Crawford (R-AR), expressed concerns about potential Russian or Chinese hypersonic weapons programs.[5][15] He warned that a failure to identify such threats was "tantamount to intelligence failure that we certainly want to avoid".[15]

The standardization of the civilian reporting process was also discussed, as the majority of reports in the military's database are from military officers.

The public portion of the hearing, held in the morning and lasting less than 90 minutes, was followed by private classified session in the afternoon.[15][5]

Commercial Drones Center Stage In U.S. vs China Infowar

bloomberg  |  In video reviews of the latest drone models to his 80,000 YouTube subscribers, Indiana college student Carson Miller doesn’t seem like an unwitting tool of Chinese spies. 

Yet that’s how the U.S. is increasingly viewing him and thousands of other Americans who purchase drones built by Shenzhen-based SZ DJI Technology Co., the world’s top producer of unmanned aerial vehicles. Miller, who bought his first DJI model in 2016 for $500 and now owns six of them, shows why the company controls more than half of the U.S. drone market. 

“If tomorrow DJI were completely banned,” the 21-year-old said, “I would be pretty frightened.” 

Critics of DJI warn the dronemaker may be channeling reams of sensitive data to Chinese intelligence agencies on everything from critical infrastructure like bridges and dams to personal information such as heart rates and facial recognition. But to Miller, consumers face plenty of bigger threats to the privacy of their data. “There are apps that track you on your smartphone 24/7,” he said.

That attitude is a problem for American officials who are seeking to end DJI’s dominance in the U.S. On Thursday, the Biden administration blocked American investment in the company, a year after President Donald Trump prohibited it from sourcing U.S. parts. Now, lawmakers from both parties are weighing a bill that would ban federal purchases of DJI drones, while a member of the Federal Communications Commission wants its products taken off the market in the U.S. altogether. 

In many ways, DJI has become the poster child of a much wider national security threat: The Chinese government’s ability to obtain sensitive data on millions of Americans. In recent weeks, former top officials in both the Obama and Trump administrations have warned that Beijing could be scooping up personal information on the citizens of rival nations, while walling off data on China’s 1.4 billion people. 

“Each new piece of information, by itself, is relatively unimportant,” Oona Hathaway, a professor at Yale Law School who served in the Pentagon under President Barack Obama, wrote in Foreign Affairs, referring to surveillance and monitoring technologies. “But combined, the pieces can give foreign adversaries unprecedented insight into the personal lives of most Americans.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been far ahead of the West in realizing the importance of data in gaining both an economic and military advantage, according to Matt Pottinger, a former deputy national security adviser in the Trump Administration. “If Washington and its allies don’t organize a strong response, Mr. Xi will succeed in commanding the heights of future global power,” he wrote in a co-authored New York Times op-ed last month.  

The data battle strikes at the heart of the U.S.-China strategic competition, and has the potential to reshape the world economy over the coming decades — particularly as everything from cars to yoga mats to toilets are now transmitting data. Harnessing that information is both key to dominating technologies like artificial intelligence that will drive the modern economy, and crucial for exploiting weaknesses in strategic foes.

Drone Swarms Have Been Probing The Military And The Pentagram Pretends It's UFO's

thedrive |  Earlier this year The War Zone exclusively reported about a series of 2019 incidents that involved unidentified drones stalking US Navy vessels over several nights in the waters off of Southern California. Our initial report also covered the Navy’s investigation into the incidents, which appeared to struggle to identify either the aircraft or their operators. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday later clarified that the aircraft were never identified, and that there have been similar incidents across the service branches and allied militaries.

Newly released documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that the full scope of these drone incursions was greater than it initially appeared, and they persisted well after the Navy’s investigation was launched. Deck logs indicate that drone sightings continued throughout the month of July 2019 and included events where drone countermeasure teams were called into action. One notable event involved at least three ships observing multiple drones. Uncharacteristically for unclassified deck logs, the details on this event are almost entirely redacted.

It is also noteworthy that these events occurred well after Navy investigators sought to “correlate or rule out operations” with Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility (FACSFAC) based in San Diego. Indeed, an investigation began immediately after the initial events on July 16th, with information on the incidents being routed to the Chief of Naval Operations as early as July 18th. Given the progress of the investigation, more prosaic causes like errant US aircraft or civilian activity had already been examined. Whatever the outcome of the July 30th event, it was likely closely scrutinized by Navy leadership.

The lack of concrete identification of the aircraft involved also led to widespread public speculation earlier this year. Leaked photos and videos said to pertain to the July 15th and 16th incident were released this summer by filmmaker Jeremy Corbell. The materials consisted of footage of radar screens showing multiple unknown contacts, video of an object apparently falling into the ocean, and a brief video of a triangular-shaped light flying over the deck of a ship. The apparent triangular shape of the object has been strongly debated, as many have posited it was the result of a common optical artifact. 

The Department of Defense was quick to partially authenticate the material, acknowledging that the videos were taken by Navy personnel. However, to date, the Pentagon has not provided any details that corroborate the location or timeframe of the footage or any clarification on what the objects were. Corbell maintains that the videos depict extraordinarily complex vehicles capable of “transmedium” travel, or the ability to traverse both water and the atmosphere with ease. Chief of Naval Operations Michael Gilday explained in a press briefing earlier this year that while the Navy had not positively identified the aircraft, there were no indications they were extraterrestrial in nature.

There has been significant overlap in the discussion of the mounting threat from lower-end drones and resurgent interest in UFOs in recent years. That overlap is conspicuous in the recent National Defense Authorization Act language, which authorizes an expansive approach to the Pentagon’s study of UFOs. The language, introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, creates a requirement for conducting “field investigations,” as well as new mandates to scientifically examine UFO reports. An amended version of Gillibrand's proposal was ultimately adopted in the NDAA and awaits President Biden's signature. While many have focused on otherworldly explanations for UFO sightings, Senator Gillibrand told Politico that the rationale for her interest encompassed conventional and emerging technology and not only the “unknown.” She explained, “you're talking about drone technology, you're talking about balloon technology, you're talking about other aerial phenomena, and then you're talking about the unknown.”

The urgency surrounding the drone issue has been a growing focus among defense policymakers as encounters with both civilian and military aircraft have become widespread. In the last five years the Federal Aviation Administration has gathered approximately ten thousand drone incident reports. We have made many of these reports available in an interactive tool that maps the location and descriptions of the incident. 

Far from being only a domestic issue, drones have also become a matter of grave concern for military leaders. Earlier this year Marine General Kenneth McKenzie Jr. said in a speech to the Middle East Institute that “the growing threat posed by these systems coupled with our lack of dependable, networked capabilities to counter them is the most concerning tactical development since the rise of the improvised explosive device in Iraq.” McKenzie also explained that drones “provide adversaries the operational ability to surveil and target U.S. and partner facilities while affording plausible deniability and a disproportionate return on the investment, all in our adversaries’ favor.” 

In the case of the 2019 Southern California incidents, several of these factors appear to be at work. The newly released map clarifies just how closely drones were shadowing Navy ships, likely affording opportunities to gather a variety of valuable intelligence. The lack of positive attribution of the aircraft even today speaks to McKenzie’s comments about plausible deniability and disproportionate return.

 

Monday, May 23, 2022

Why Would China Even Consider "Invading" Taiwan Rather Than Simply "Encircling" It?

warontherocks  |  If China really intends to invade Taiwan, it is going to have to make a massive investment in amphibious capability that dwarfs even its current buildup. While it is impossible to accurately assess the condition and organization of their logistics and support forces using open sources, it is entirely possible to look at their capacity instead of making assessments of capability. Using Operation Husky as a baseline to characterize the execution of a successful amphibious assault on an island, it is possible to make some degree of comparison that goes well beyond lists of fielded equipment.

All told, it’s entirely clear that China lacks the capacity to match the American assault wave against Sicily, to say nothing of the entire Allied effort that included British and Canadian forces. While an analysis of the carrying capacity of the commercial vessels belonging to China (and Hong Kong) is beyond the scope of this paper, these ships are next to useless in an assault phase and come into play only if adequate, intact port facilities are captured.

Furthermore, the degree of fire support required to deal with counterattacks against the beachhead is illustrated well by the successful American fire support off Gela, which today is impossible to replicate by any navy; even airpower lacks the capability to deliver the necessary volume of fire, particularly over time. And of course, the enemy gets a vote. The Americans landed among small towns manned by weak garrisons with a population that did not muster significant opposition and was unsympathetic to their own government. In Taiwan, as in Ukraine, invaders should realistically expect an aroused and angry population with a sizable and modern military willing to contest every inch of heavily urbanized territory. It’s here where the comparison to Sicily breaks down, and capacity questions aside, the idea of landing into an urban area and expecting any other result than an early and bloody defeat seems ludicrous. China would be lucky were it in a position akin to Allied forces when they assaulted Sicily.

This assessment is focused on the ability of the People’s Republic of China to execute a successful assault, but there is no question that they could launch an unsuccessful one. Absent the disaster at the French port of Dieppe in 1942, Western military forces have few examples of amphibious operations that failed at the shoreline; there is room for Beijing to create one. What one side views as military reality may not be perceived as such by the other side, a truism that we are seeing play out graphically in Ukraine right now. Chinese involvement in Korea and later in the Sino-Vietnamese war illustrates that Party political imperatives may well override sound military advice, at least until the level of military failure becomes too high to paper over. The Chinese Communist Party believes, as an article of faith, that the superior morale, commitment, and willingness to sacrifice that they expect in the PLA will carry the day against an adversary that might be more capable on paper. Given the differing assessments of the actual correlation of forces, the PRC may well assess that they could avoid Russia’s mistakes and carry out a successful assault.

The Republic of China has been planning to resist a PRC assault for more than 70 years. Jeff Hornung writes that in the same way that the United States and NATO bolstered Ukrainian defenses before the 2022 Russian invasion, it would be possible to bolster Taiwan’s defenses with a tailored mix of hardware and training, backed with a newly-discovered economic stick that might reasonably act as an additional, non-military deterrent. The defense of Taiwan is not a burden the Republic of China need shoulder alone, and an expanded, overt, American advisory effort might well provide both an improved deterrent and a much more lethal defense, should deterrence fail.

Armed Drones And Drone Surveillance Turned The Tide In The Ethiopian Civil War

al-jazeera |  As fighting drags on, the government, with its tiny air force of 22 combat-capable aircraft, seems to have also realised that air power and timely intelligence can make all the difference in a conflict – especially one fought over vast and often mountainous areas like in Ethiopia’s north. Although there has been no official confirmation, analysts have pointed to credible reports saying Ahmed’s government has reached out in recent months to manufacturers of cheap and efficient armed drones hoping that air power will turn the tide in its way.

Photographic evidence has pointed to the presence of Chinese Wing Loong 2 Unarmed Aerial Vehicles or UAVs at Ethiopian military bases, while a Bellingcat investigation in August found strong indications that Iranian armed drones, along with their ground control stations, had been spotted at Semera Airport. The government has also reportedly reached out to Turkey and requested a number of Bayraktar TB2 drones. These are relatively cheap and combat-proven and have been decisively used over several battlefields in recent years.

Drones, or UAVs, bring several desirable capabilities together in one neat package.

They are principally security cameras in the sky and are able to beam high-definition real-time imagery back to the headquarters. Once a target has been identified, it can be destroyed on the spot by the guided munitions carried by the drones.

This potent mix of intelligence gathering, reconnaissance and strike capability can be decisive in a conflict, if the drones are used properly.

The country with the most operational experience in using drones in conventional military conflicts is Turkey.

Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 armed UAV is the one drone that has stood out in recent conflicts. It does not carry many weapons, nor does it travel that fast or very far – but these can also be advantages.

The slow flight speed means the drones can loiter easily for hours, focusing on details reconnaissance jets would be hard-pressed to identify. Their short range means they can quickly return to base for refuelling and rearming, being back over the target area in just a matter of hours.

The TB2s’ low relative cost and reliability allow several to be flown at once and enables the maintenance of a near-constant presence over the battlespace, meaning that surprise tactics by one’s adversary will be spotted and much less likely to succeed. Turkish advisers and training staff bring a wealth of knowledge on how to successfully use these systems.

Turkey’s defence and aerospace exports to Ethiopia leapt in the first three months of 2021 to $51m, with further increases in August and September. The TB2s decisive use in three recent conflicts – western Libya, northern Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh – showcased their abilities and the move by drones from effective counterterrorism tools to potent weapons on the battlefield.

 

 

 

Quiet As It Was Kept Before Ukraine Took All The Oxygen In The Room, U.S. Got Handed Its Ass In Ethiopia

asiatimes  |  Just as Ethiopian government forces appear to have turned the tide in the country’s so-called civil war, the Biden administration is pushing for US citizens in Ethiopia to leave and is providing relocation assistance to those who can’t afford to buy a plane ticket.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has visited Addis Ababa and has made it clear that China backs Ethiopia’s government fully. This, in contrast to the United States which has imposed sanctions on Ethiopia, but not on the rebellious Tigray. 

As Bloomberg reports: The US last month suspended duty-free access to its exports “because of gross human rights violations,” which remain undocumented for the most part. 

The US has shown no interest in atrocities by Tigray forces, nor the theft of UN-sponsored relief supplies taken by the retreating Tigray army.

China is also supplying weapons to the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), including armed, medium-altitude, long-endurance Wing Loong drones.

Sensing the significant vacuum left in Ethiopia, Iran is also supplying its Muhajer-6 armed drones, the same weapons used by Iran’s proxy Hezbollah in Syria.  

The UAE had previously supplied drones and some Israeli weapons to Ethiopia, including Chinese-made Wing Loong’s.

China is clearly exploiting the opening created by the UAE and jumping in, along with Iran, to push out the UAE (seen incorrectly as a US proxy) and other Western suppliers and backers.

Ethiopia’s war has recently turned in favor of the government, which looked nearly defeated a few weeks ago when the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was about 209 kilometers from the capital Addis Ababa.

But in a short time, Ethiopia has rallied its army, received important political and weaponry support from China and Iran, and apparently changed the course of the war.

Meanwhile, thousands of Ethiopians in the United States, some protesting in front of the White House, are angry that the US has sided with the TPLF forces against the country’s legitimate government.

The US administration claims it has supported peace negotiations between the two sides in the conflict, working through African intermediaries.

But brokering a peace deal in the middle of an undecided conflict is unlikely to gain traction, not least because Addis Ababa sees talks as a way to force it to give up territory, even legitimacy, in exchange for ending the war. 

The US says it is neutral in the actual dispute, but American behavior, including Biden’s imposition of sanctions first on Ethiopia on September 17 and then on Eritrea on November 12 for assisting Ethiopia has made it clear whose side the US is on. 

In actual fact, the Biden administration opened the door to China and Iran by convincing Addis Ababa that there was no future with the US or its allies and partners.

The US has been speaking out of both sides of its mouth, a fact noted by Today News Africa journalist and commentator Simon Ateba. 

Ateba points out that Samantha Power, administrator of USAID, has been condemning Ethiopia in tweets while others, especially the US envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman, have been trying to talk to both sides – although unsuccessfully. 

 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Ethiopian Civil War Was A U.S. vs China Proxy War (And China Won)

omna tigray |  It has been over a month since the Ethiopian government declared what it claimed to be a “humanitarian truce,” promising to facilitate humanitarian access to Tigray. However, since this declaration, less than 4 percent of the trucks required to address the man-made famine in Tigray have been allowed to enter the region. The irregular and piecemeal humanitarian convoys that have been allowed into the region are severely inadequate in addressing the humanitarian catastrophe that has been caused by the Ethiopian government’s 10 months-long siege. Despite the Ethiopian government’s proclaimed commitment to facilitate humanitarian deliveries to Tigray, aid workers, including Michael Dunford of the World Food Programme (WFP), report negotiating with regional authorities for the safe passage of aid convoys. That humanitarian organizations have to negotiate access with regional leaders rather than the federal government indicates that the federal government is either unable or unwilling to exercise control over regional authorities.

While the federal government and regional authorities continue to obstruct aid delivery, the man-made famine in Tigray grows more severe. Previously, the number of trucks of food that needed to enter Tigray was around 600 a week. In April 2022, a United Nations (UN) official reported that about 2,000 trucks of food are needed every week to meet the region’s needs. Without consistent and unhindered humanitarian deliveries, the scale of the need will continue to increase. Additionally, farmers’ lack of access to essential agricultural supplies like seeds and fertilizers means that many will miss the planting season, leading to poor harvest and a food crisis that will affect the region for years to come.

The severe food shortage also affects the ability of healthcare professionals to assist patients in the region. Healthcare professionals at Ayder Referral Hospital reported in April 2022 that Ayder Hospital, one of the last functioning hospitals in Tigray, has begun discharging patients after its food supplies ran out. After completely depleting their food supplies, doctors revealed that they have had to send hundreds of patients home, including infants, children, and people waiting for cancer treatment. In addition to the severe food shortage, the Ethiopian government’s siege has also prevented medicine and medical supplies from reaching the region, leaving doctors unable to provide medical care.

As well as the brutal siege on Tigray, several areas in Tigray remain under the occupation of brutal invading Eritrean forces and Amhara regional forces, including Northern and Western Tigray. In these areas, these forces continue to commit atrocities, among them, forced displacement and weaponized starvation in Irob district in northeastern Tigray, and campaigns of ethnic cleansing in Western Tigray, which comprises of mass arrest, torture, extrajudicial killings, massacres, weaponized rape, and forced displacement. On April 6, 2022, a joint Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International report on atrocities committed in Western Tigray detailed the events that have taken place since November 2020 and labeled them as ethnic cleansing. The Amhara forces’ illegal occupation of Western Tigray is arguably the largest barrier to facilitating peace.

Furthermore, the federal government is engaged in or unable to reign in the numerous conflicts and unrest across the country that threaten to further destabilize Ethiopia and the broader East Africa region. The government is currently waging a military offensive against the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in Oromia, while clashes between the government and armed groups have been reported in the Benishangul Gumuz, Gambella, Somali, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Regions (SNNPR). The federal government and militias operating across regional borders have killed hundreds of people, destroyed entire villages, and deeply traumatized communities across the country. This growing political instability comes as swaths of Oromia and Somali regions face a severe drought that threatens hundreds of thousands of people’s lives.

Overall, Ethiopia’s political and humanitarian conditions are extremely fragile. With Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration unwilling and unable to address and willfully fueling the multitude of complex issues that plague the country, the situation is sure to deteriorate quickly, jeopardizing regional and global security.

Africom Did Not Have Good Relations With The Ethiopian Government

foreignpolicy |  The United States is pulling the plug on its drone operations in southern Ethiopia as demands on its fleet of unmanned aircraft expand elsewhere across the continent with the rise of the Islamic State in Libya, and extremist militants in Nigeria, Mali, Chad and Cameroon.

Since 2011, the U.S. had been using the air base in Arba Minch, 250 miles south of the capital, to launch surveillance drones aimed at groups in East Africa with links to al Qaeda. U.S. personnel primarily focused on al-Shabab, a Somali group which has waged deadly terrorist attacks across East Africa.

Pentagon officials remained tightlipped on Monday about the reasons behind the move. Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza, a Defense Department spokeswoman, said the U.S. and Ethiopia agreed that the continued presence of the drone base was “not required at this time.”

Some experts say the fight against Shabab was going well enough that the Pentagon’s Africa Command, or Africom, had the opportunity to redistribute its scarce resources elsewhere.  

“Shabab remains virulent, but as a significant terrorist threat with high profile leaders in range for drone attacks, much less so,” said Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.

Other groups, by contrast, are rapidly gaining strength — and presenting far more tempting targets for the Pentagon and its drone operators.

In recent months, the Islamic State has consolidated its power in Libya, allowing it to easily move into the port city of Surt, and now control an estimated 150 miles of territory along the country’s Mediterranean coast. Its presence has reportedly forced the U.S. to focus on gathering intelligence there in order to better monitor militant movements in North Africa.

The continued strength of Boko Haram — the extremist group terrorizing northeastern Nigeria and parts of Cameroon, Chad, and Niger — has also forced Washington to dedicate more resources in the Lake Chad region as well. Since 2009, Boko Haram has killed more than 10,000 people and by last year the group controlled an area the size of Belgium. After the militants were forced out of some of their Nigerian strongholds by a multinational African task force last spring, they switched to more asymmetrical tactics and increased suicide bombings and cross border raids. In September, President Barack Obama pledged $45 million to help countries in the Lake Chad region beat back the group. And in October, the U.S. sent a fleet of surveillance drones and 300 troops to Cameroon.

Those pressures have forced Africom to reevaluate where it allocates resources, say experts.

“Africom remains under-resourced and our entire drone program, although it’s grown tremendously over the years, is facing a wide array of demands,” said Pham.

Jennifer Cooke, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that the U.S. military is likely facing pressure to tackle other African threats, and is trying to consolidate its bases in the region.

“It may be that with a base in Djibouti there’s just not the need for as many positions in East Africa as before,” she said.

The Empire Backed Tigrayans In The Ethiopian Civil War (REDUX Originally Posted 11/27/21)

medium |  The West’s Horn of Africa experts have been meeting with a TPLF leader and TPLF/OLF supporters in secret, even as its governments claim to be impartial — TPLF’s Berhane Gebre-Christos speaks as TPLF member, proposed head of “transitional government” (limo/Uber drivers) and Washington-based Ethio-American diaspora.

Donald Yamamoto, recently the U.S. Ambassador to Somalia who just retired this year, to TPLF official Berhane Gebre-Christos:

“Abiy is not listening… Obasanjo has not been extraordinary helpful or very active, and so are there any other opportunities that you see?”

Vicki Huddleston, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs and US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa to Berhane Gebre-Christos:

“I couldn’t agree more that you know, Abiy should step down, there should be an all-inclusive transition government.”

Former ambassadors and current diplomats for the United States, Britain and EU had a Zoom meeting this past Sunday with an official for the TPLF in what amounts to a green light from the West for the terrorist group’s attempts to overthrow the democratically elected Ethiopian government. And there’s evidence to prove it: a phone-cam video of the two-hour meeting.

“I hope that you’ll have military success fairly soon, because it seems as if the situation is only becoming more drastic,” said Vicki Huddleston, who was Chargé d’Affairs ad interim in Ethiopia during years the TPLF were in power.

France’s retired diplomat and writer Stéphane Gompertz openly speculated on the potential for Abiy to be forced from power. “Even if Abiy sticks to his guns, which unfortunately he seems to be doing, you either hope that people around him either in government or in the military realize that this is going nowhere and might force him to, well, accept the cessation of hostilities or force him to step down?”

The Western powers — Britain, the EU and especially the United States — have been posturing for months that they have not taken sides in the conflict and are pushing negotiations only in the interests of peace. But the Zoom talk rips away the façade, revealing a chummy circle of foreign policy elite, both retired and still active who mostly know each other and are in sympathy with TPLF objectives. They include Donald Yamamoto, one of the U.S. government’s most senior Africa experts who just retired this year as the American ambassador to Somalia, and Spain’s diplomat Carmen de la Peña.

Former EU ambassador to Ethiopia Tim Clarke admitted that all of the attendants “maintain contacts with our former employees. Just the other day I was talking to the existing EU ambassador to Ethiopia.”

Tigrayans WERE The Most Formidable Fighters On The African Continent (REDUX Originally Posted 11/27/21)

NC |  There’s a simple lesson here: Tigrayans are the bulk of combat power in the Highlands of the Horn. You’d think that would lead to the conclusion that you shouldn’t mess with Tigray unless you’re ready to get in a long, nasty war, even when the conventional military wisdom is that the Tigrayans don’t have a chance. They weren’t supposed to have a chance against the Europeans in 1896, either–or the Ethiopian Derg in the 1980s. If you’re running a war-nerd bookmaking business, put a sign on the window: “No bets on wars in Tigray.”

One reason we all underestimated Tigray is that no one outside TPLF circles seems to have admitted to themselves how much of the combat power of both Eritrean and Ethiopian forces came from ethnic Tigrayans. Admitting that would be politically unwise, especially in Ethiopia. Officially, Ethiopia is a federal, multi-ethnic state in which all ethnic groups are equal. But that’s a polite fiction. The Ethiopian state is the product of 19th-c. conquests by the “Habesha,” which is what the Highland Orthodox peoples, Tigrayan and Amhara, call themselves. Ethiopia was created by Habesha armies pushing south and east, absorbing Somali, Afar, Oromo, Sidamo, and dozens of other peoples who became Ethiopian citizens, but had very little share in ruling the country.

The real struggle for power was always between the two Habesha peoples, Tigrayan and Amhara. Since Menelik II moved the capital southward to Shewa, the Amhara seemed like the stronger of the two groups. Amhara are a much bigger group, for starters. Tigrayans are only about 6% of the population, Amhara about 26%.

But after the Eritrean/Tigrayan insurgents destroyed the Derg in the late 20th c., it was the Tigrayans of the TPLF who really ruled Ethiopia. Their domination was so clear that the TPLF tried to minimize their power, dutifully talking about their multi-ethnic coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). No one was fooled; it was the TPLF who had the power in Ethiopia.

The TPLF leader Meles Zenawi was the ultimate power in the country all through the first two decades of this century. Zenawi knew that the TPLF was so much better organized than the other members of the EPRDF coalition that he and his fellow Tigrayans could let the EPRDF make a show of ethnic equality while keeping Tigrayan control. Henri IV went through the motions of converting to Catholicism in return for the throne with the line “Paris is worth a mass or two,” and Zenawi seems to have decided “Addis and the whole GDP is worth letting those weaker militias from other ethnic groups share the credit.”

Zenawi’s PR campaign worked so well that Ethiopians forgot the hard truth that it was the Tigrayans who had the real combat power.

The Tigrayans’ only rival in terms of military power was the Eritrean army (EDF.) The “Eritrean” label made people forget that the EDF is also dominated by ethnic Tigrayans. Tigrinya-speakers are the majority in Eritrea, not only the dominant but the biggest ethnic group.

That has never stopped Eritrean Tigrayans from killing other Tigrayans. That shouldn’t be a surprise — when have people of the same ethnic group ever fretted about killing each other? — but it does underline what seems like the dominant fact at the moment: The Tigrayans are the most formidable people in the Horn.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Marjorie Taylor Green Channeling Gil Scott-Heron REALLY Brings Home The Terror Of Our Situation

 

Valodya's Meeting With The Head of Rosatom State Corporation Alexei Likhachev

kremlin.ru  |  Vladimir Putin: Alexei Evgenievich, this year, in December, 15 years have passed since the law on the creation of the Rosatom Corporation was signed. During this time, a lot of work has been done.

Alexander Likhachev : Yes. We regard the date of the establishment of the state corporation as a very memorable one for us.

In general, the industry is in its 77th year, we are the same age as the Great Victory, but at the same time, the creation of the state corporation marked a completely new stage in the development of the industry. Indeed, a single management mechanism was created from a group of enterprises with common economic indicators, with a unique corporate culture. At the same time, nuclear competencies were combined - from uranium mining to the creation and operation of nuclear power plants. And of course, new divisions were created literally from scratch: machine-building, logistics, digital, and a number of others.

If we talk about performance indicators for 15 years, then you can’t call it anything other than a “quantum leap”: a 4.5-fold increase in revenue, a five-fold increase in labor productivity, investments are growing in a special way - a 15-fold increase in annual investments. Science and research are actively developing, we have 13 times the annual growth of patents.

Over the past five years, we have actively entered new products and the global market. Revenue for five years on new products has almost doubled, foreign revenue has grown by one and a half times.

Vladimir Putin: The most important thing is to increase labor productivity.

Alexander Likhachev: Labor productivity is growing at a faster rate, [faster] than wages, this is very important.

And digital revenue grew a hundredfold. This, of course, with a low base. We will continue to develop, of course.

In the past year, we have a number of regular record indicators. With the 100% fulfillment of the state defense order, the proceeds reached 1.5 trillion, and this is only in the open part, that is, naturally, we have much more. The record is 222 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. Commissioning of new blocks, the second Leningrad, the first Belarusian blocks. And the Northern Sea Route also set a record of transportation - almost 35 million tons.

We are implementing the decisions taken at your meeting on the Northern Sea Route. Under the leadership of the Government, we have already moved forward in the construction of nuclear-powered icebreakers, an ATO [nuclear technological service] vessel, and in the creation of a unified navigation management system on the Northern Sea Route. And I hope that in the shortest possible time we will put this work, as they say, on the usual track.

In the first quarter of this year, we have a serious increase: for the same electricity - plus two percent; first-quarter revenue for new products grew 26 percent and foreign products grew 13 percent.

On the other hand, we understand that we have been living and working under completely new conditions in recent months and will continue to work this way, so I would like to draw special attention to a few points.

Vladimir Putin: Please.

Alexander Likhachev: On international projects. We continue to implement all our international projects as long as they go according to plan. We see the risks with certain individual projects, develop appropriate compensatory measures. I hope that the vast majority of the projects will be successfully completed.

We have reached the second place in uranium mining in the world in recent years. We confidently hold the first place in terms of enrichment and conversion and are consistently among the top three in terms of fuel fabrication. In all areas there are groundwork aimed at further development.

We continue cooperation with the  IAEA , we participate in the international large thermonuclear project in France (ITER). And I want to say again that in this sense, the international nuclear community is not breaking ties yet, as long as this cooperation is developing.

According to the internal agenda. Our main service, apart from the state defense order, is nuclear energy. In ten years, we have built 11 units and achieved 20 percent of the electricity in the country. You gave us a plan to increase the share to 25 percent, and by increasing the share to 25 percent, we have to build another 16 innovation blocks in the horizon until 2035. The government approved the General Scheme, so we understand where and what to build.

I also want to thank you from the industry for adopting a decree on April 14 to extend our national project until 2030. This is indeed a very serious decision, it also creates a technological platform for the fourth generation of nuclear energy, and, most importantly, gives us the opportunity to build a specific object on earth. This is the Seversk project "Breakthrough", this is a multi-purpose fast research reactor, this is a tokamak fusion facility with reactor technologies, a prototype of tomorrow's fusion, this is a number of experimental reactors, and, of course, this is cooperation with Roskosmos, including on rocket engines for near space, for deep space. All this will be included in the extended national project.

What is important to emphasize: 95 percent of the Russian nuclear power plant, as they say, is made in Russia, and five percent are not critical. We see criticism at half a percent of our cost – electrical engineering, electronics, some types of diesel equipment, some types of pumping equipment, and in principle, we are already creating import substitution alliances with businesses.

First thought. Russian nuclear technologies are import-independent. And we don't see any limiting factors here.

Second thought. We will place at least a trillion rubles a year outside the industry as orders for the implementation of our national project. This, of course, is a very serious vector for the development of both engineering and the economy as a whole. And not only, as they say, in large orders, but also in innovation, the nuclear industry has always been famous for its advanced developments.

Vladimir Putin: Exactly.

A. Likhachev: I remember very well how in Soviet times, even under the conditions of the Iron Curtain, both mathematical modeling and work on security systems developed - all this gave impetus to the creation of a whole program of new products.

I myself was surprised to learn that over the past year we have satisfied the needs of more than 2600 Russian companies and enterprises in high-tech products, that is, the Russian industry is already returning a huge stock to us as new innovative orders and directions.

I would like to share the most important of them, in my opinion. At the same meeting on the Arctic, remember, NOVATEK management raised the issue of LNG equipment. We have built the first test stand in Europe at the Efremov NIIEFA in St. Petersburg, a solution has been prepared and implemented for cryogenic heat exchangers. This is the heart of all liquefaction technology. We have learned how to make medium-tonnage ones, and I think we will learn how to make large-tonnage ones as well.

We are actively receiving requests from the oil and gas industry both for specific equipment, and in general for new approaches to technologies, including in the production of hard-to-recover hydrocarbons. Such work is underway, and, for example, we have exemplary cooperation with Gazprom Neft.

We have completely closed the chain in composites and are moving on to the production of specific, quite modern medical equipment.

Vladimir Putin: We helped a lot of people with composites right away.

Alexander Likhachev: Yes.

We are moving forward in digital terms, creating alliances with enterprises, both small and private Russian companies, large companies, Rostec, and Russian Railways.

We ourselves will be two years ahead of your instructions: as early as 2023, one hundred percent of software purchases for critical infrastructure will be done, and we will generally transfer to Russian software at a faster pace.

Quantum progressed. We have been working on this topic for two years. According to experts, we have reduced the gap by about half from our foreign partners, competitors somewhere. But in general, in fact, for some technologies they entered the top three. There is an opinion that a separate type of quants, qudits, is the most promising for the corresponding processors, and now, along with the USA and Austria, we have achieved the corresponding prototype of a quantum processor. And by the way, they were the first to make a real program, that is, software for a quantum algorithm in the interests of the nuclear industry.

I cannot but say a few words about the environmental project, this is also a series of your instructions.

A system for controlling industrial waste of the first and second hazard class has been launched, more than 25 thousand users. Seven factories are being set up on the ground throughout the Russian Federation for processing, and I am sure that we will put things in order in this direction.

Plus work with heritage. We completed last September in Chelyabinsk the work on the landfill for household waste. We are going to Krasny Bor for practical work. And all the necessary priority work was carried out both in Usolye-Sibirsky and at the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill.

Vladimir Putin: And what did they do in Usolye-Sibirsky?

Alexei Likhachev: The mercury electrolysis shop has been completely dismantled there, and all the consequences have been eliminated. We started working with the oil lens, where there were dangers of waste going to the Angara. We have prepared all the design work in order to begin full-scale system liquidation this year. There were several dozen extremely dangerous wells, and, in fact, no one knows what was stored in them and in what volumes. Therefore, their neutralization and blocking were also among the priorities.

And in conclusion I would like to say a few words about the team. Indeed, we are not just a technological leader, not just one of the leaders in the global nuclear industry. This is a unique team with its own traditions. We consistently occupy the first places in the ratings of employers. A very important indicator is engagement, the readiness of people to give more every day to work, which is at a level that even exceeds the best world indicators (84 percent). I would like to say that this figure has increased in recent weeks. That is, there is a certain rallying of the team, and people, rolling up their sleeves, get to work, see this as their contribution to solving the problems, the tasks that the country is facing today.

Vladimir Putin: Rosatom is certainly one of our technology leaders. I hope this trend continues.

We talked about materials – we helped many industries at once, from aircraft manufacturing to medicine.

Alexei Likhachev: Mr Putin, we are now very focused on the machine-building sector, we have strengthened our machine-building assets, and there are many orders.

And one more thought. The more pressure is put on us, the more work we have, the more the team is mobilized.

Valodya's Meeting With The Head Of Rostec State Corporation Sergey Chemezov

kremlin.ru  |  Vladimir Putin:  Sergey Viktorovich, Rostec is our largest defense industry corporation. Do you have an annual performance report?

Sergei Chemezov :  Yes, here is our annual report.

The theme of our annual report is "Environment for the Development of the New". A lot has been done in 2021. Our consolidated revenue grew by almost 10 percent and amounted to two trillion 60 billion [roubles]. We have crossed an important psychological milestone of two trillion. We have been striving for this for a long time, and finally last year we overcame this barrier, this milestone.

Consolidated net profit increased by almost 47 percent and amounted to 163.5 billion rubles. EBITDA increased by 18 percent and reached 335 billion. The total market value of assets, a new indicator that we have introduced since last year, is 980.5 billion rubles, which is one and a half times higher than in 2020, that is, the value of our assets is constantly growing.

The share of civilian products in the consolidated revenue reached 45.5 percent.

Vladimir Putin:  Good.

Sergei Chemezov:  Yes. You set us the task of reaching 50 percent by 2030. We set ourselves the task of 2025, but last year the share of civilian products was 45.5 percent.

This, of course, thanks primarily to KamAZ. We have enterprises that produce a fairly large volume of civilian products, such as KamAZ and Russian Helicopters. The same UAC has begun to produce civilian aircraft in large quantities - not yet in large enough quantities, but we are striving for this.

Vladimir Putin:  Now there is a chance to occupy the domestic market.

Sergei Chemezov:  That is correct, of course.

Our pharmaceutical holding Nacimbio did a great job last year and the year before last. We have delivered more than 100 million sets of all kinds of vaccines to our consumers all over Russia: against covid, flu, and various other diseases. We manufacture most vaccines ourselves.

The achieved financial results have made it possible to increase the volume of investments by 18 percent, which already amounts to 242 billion rubles today. Thus, at the end of 2021, the corporation achieved all the goals that we set for ourselves.

I would like to dwell on some of the events that took place in the life of our corporation. 72 technological modernization projects were completed. First of all, this is the modernization of the aviation complex of enterprises producing helicopters and airplanes, as well as aircraft engines, because today this is the most important area in which we work.

We carried out the technical re-equipment of the enterprises of the optical industry at the Vologda and Novosibirsk optical plants. And the equipment has been replaced, and the technologies are modern.

Vladimir Putin:  Modernization.

Sergei Chemezov:  Yes. We carried out a deep modernization.

57 innovative technologies have been mastered and put into production, including technologies for manufacturing aircraft engine parts using direct laser growth, glazing technologies for the cabin of a new domestic cruise liner, which is currently under construction, called "Peter the Great", which will sail along the Volga and the sea, the river - sea.

Service for urban management.

We completed the development of 233 innovative products, including the MS-21-300 aircraft with a wing made of Russian composite, and the Okhotnik combat unmanned aerial vehicle. I will talk about these projects in more detail later.

A deep modernization of the Tu-160M ​​missile carrier with a new NK-32 engine has been completed. We have actually created a new machine. Only the former appearance remained, but, in fact, everything is new there: the engine is new, and the on-board equipment, all units have been replaced. All documentation was completely digitized, because the last car was produced at the Kazan plant somewhere in the 1980s.

Issued 834 patents and 474 know-hows. The total investment in research and development work has reached 170 billion rubles.

What products did we create last year? First of all, this is a Checkmate light tactical aircraft. Why is it named in English? Because it is mainly export-oriented. We are creating this aircraft at our own expense, without attracting budget money. We hope that, perhaps, the Ministry of Defense will mature and also acquire such an aircraft. I think that this plane will be very good. This is a fifth generation machine, a light aircraft. We first showed it at MAKS last year. This is a new generation multifunctional platform. It is capable of effectively countering fifth-generation aircraft in long-range and close combat.

Vladimir Putin:  Easy, right?

Sergei Chemezov:  Yes, it is light, it has one engine.

We took the basis of the onboard equipment, the engine, from the fifth-generation Su-57 aircraft, but slightly modified it. Now the design documentation is being developed, a new sample has been created.

Vladimir Putin:  I saw him.

Sergei Chemezov:  Yes, we did. We plan to start mass production in 2027.

PD-14 engine is already running.

Vladimir Putin:  Excellent.

Sergei Chemezov:  We have certified it. Serial production will begin in 2023. In 2023, certification tests will be carried out on our composite wing and on our engine.

Vladimir Putin:  On MS-21?

Sergei Chemezov:  MS-21. In 2024, we will produce the first six machines.

Drone "Hunter": its distinguishing feature is a flat engine nozzle. The new technical solution made the aviation complex less visible to radars. In addition, a new ground control post is being created for the drone. In 2021, the first flight model was rolled out. Already in 2023, we will start mass-producing it and supplying it to the Ministry of Defense.

The first offshore helicopter Mi-171A3. We also showed him for the first time at MAKS last year, he made his first flight. Designed for offshore operations and maintenance of offshore drilling platforms. There are already customers: our gas workers, oil companies. In 2023, we will start mass production. Certification tests are currently underway. The first deliveries are scheduled for early 2024.

Created a new marine diesel-gas turbine unit M55R. This is a new engine that is installed on our frigates. This is the first such Russian engine. We are already starting to mass-produce it.

In the field of healthcare, we have done a lot, and covid has spurred this on. In this regard, we have increased the share of civilian products. In particular, we have created the Diathera magnetotherapy device. It is intended for the treatment and prevention of eye diseases. It treats myopia, farsightedness and, in addition, computer vision syndrome - it has now become very common among young people, because they sit at the computer all day. This device does not require special medical training: treatment can be done at home or in any clinic. We started to produce it, it is already on sale. It is in the rating of the program "100 best goods of Russia" for the last year. A very interesting device.

The drug COVID-globulin is a drug created from the plasma [blood] of people who have recovered from covid and already have antibodies. Last year, it was actively used to treat patients. He is very helpful and in high demand.

Portable ventilator "Aventa-Vita": can be used in ambulances, and in ambulance helicopters, in ambulance aircraft, as well as at home. At the end of this year, we will start mass production and sale.

The neonatal ventilator SLE 6000 is a new version of the ventilator for supporting breathing in newborns. It differs from analogues in the function that eliminates air retention in the lungs, and the ability to automatically control saturation.

The Oxipolus oxygen concentrator is a very interesting device: it produces oxygen from the air. It produces, cleans, disinfects it, after which it delivers a sterile stream directly to the patient. In this regard, you can put a ventilator with this device anywhere, in any room, in any hospital, and it is not necessary that it be provided with special gases.

Vladimir Putin:  How long did it take to create all this?

Sergei Chemezov: About  one and a half to two years. As soon as covid started, we started working on it.

Vladimir Putin:  So, by and large, in a year and a half or two, it is possible to achieve import substitution for those products that are now difficult to import?

Sergei Chemezov:  Of course. In 2022, we will start mass-producing these devices, oxygen concentrators.

Vladimir Putin:  Good.