Tag Archives: war

Russia launches war games in disputed Ukraine territories

Russia launches war games in disputed Ukraine territories

Russia has launched large-scale military exercises involving three disputed territories in a move likely to irk its neighbours and heighten concern in Nato about Moscow’s intentions.

The defence ministry on Thursday announced a drill including the federal districts of Southern Russia, the Northern Caucasus and the recently-annexed Crimea as well as Russian military bases in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Armenia. The exercises will run until April 10.

This adds to a string of manoeuvres conducted over the past few weeks in Crimea, Armenia, the Russian region of North Ossetia and three other areas in Southern Russia.

While the Russian armed forces regularly hold manoeuvres at their bases in Armenia and in the two disputed breakaway regions from Georgia — Abkhazia and South Ossetia — they have in the past shied away from giving them too high a profile.

Foreign military experts in Moscow said the overall level of drill activity since the beginning of the year was comparable to the same period last year. Yet the latest exercises were being viewed as a message. “That every exercise at the moment also carries a signal to the west regarding Russia’s readiness goes without saying,” said a European military official.

In September 2012, when the military conducted an annual exercise covering the Caucasus region, it said bases in Armenia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia were not participating and no foreign nationals were taking part “in order to avoid extra tension in the bilateral relations with several neighbours of the Russian Federation.”

But this time, the tone is set by a hardening stand-off between Russia and Nato over Moscow’s role in the war in eastern Ukraine.

Victoria Nuland, US assistant secretary of state, said on Wednesday that Russia had “thousands and thousands” of soldiers in Ukraine. Nato has been strengthening its presence in member states neighbouring Russia, and some members of the alliance are discussing whether to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons to defend itself. The UK is sending personnel to train Ukrainian soldiers.

Several Nato member states and other European countries also complain of increasingly aggressive military posturing by Russia, including repeated incursions by fighter aircraft.

Russia continues to angrily deny any formal involvement of its military in Ukraine and, in turn, has accused Nato of pressuring it. Anatoly Antonov, deputy defence minister, mockingly asked why Ms Nuland had not used even higher figures. “Why doesn’t she say 20,000?” he asked.

Mr Antonov claimed Nato was more active in the vicinity of Russia’s borders than Russia itself. He accused the alliance of using the Ukraine conflict as a pretext for moving closer to Russia’s borders.

The drills also come as Russia is integrating South Ossetia and Abkhazia closer into its security infrastructure through alliance treaties and the establishment of joint forces. Moscow went to war with Georgia in 2008 to support South Ossetia. It subsequently recognised the two breakaway territories as independent states and they have been highly dependent on Russia since.

The authorities in South Ossetia and Abkhazia say their motive for the closer security alliance with Russia — which was designed in Moscow — is the desire for protection as Georgia seeks to align itself with Nato more closely.

U.S., NATO officially end Afghan combat mission

U.S., NATO officially end Afghan combat mission

KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. and NATO have ceremonially ended their combat mission in Afghanistan, 13 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks sparked their invasion of the country to topple the Taliban-led government.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, which was in charge of combat operations, lowered its flag Monday, formally ending its deployment.

U.S. Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of NATO and U.S. forces, says the mission is transitioning to a training and support role. He says from Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak around 140,000 in 2011.

The mission ends as the Taliban is increasing its attacks. President Obama recently allowed U.S. forces to launch operations against both Taliban and al Qaeda militants amid the training mission.

And an augmentation of the U.S. role in that training mission was announced just days before Monday’s ceremony, with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel saying about 1,000 more American troops than initially planned were to remain in Afghanistan beyond the end of the year.

At a news conference with President Ashraf Ghani, Hagel said the original plan to cut U.S. troop levels to 9,800 by the end of 2014 had been abandoned, but not because of the recent surge in Taliban attacks.

Hagel said the U.S. will keep up to 10,800 troops for the first few months of 2015 and then restart the drawdown, which is scheduled to reach 5,500 troops by the end of next year.

The U.S. decided to keep additional forces in the country temporarily because planned troop commitments by U.S. allies for a NATO train-and-assist mission starting in January have been slow to materialize.

Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told reporters in an interview later Saturday that he is confident NATO members will furnish the necessary number of troops for the new training mission, which begins Jan. 1. It’s just going to take a few extra weeks or months to get them in Afghanistan, he said.

Campbell, who took over on Aug. 26 and has served two previous tours in Afghanistan, spoke glowingly of the new government led by Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

“It’s like night and day difference dealing with this government,” compared with the previous government led by Hamid Karzai, who was often publicly critical of U.S. military efforts against the Taliban insurgency, Campbell said.

US: Russia is Firing across Border into Ukraine

US: Russia is Firing across Border into Ukraine

Ukraine sailors prepare to protect their base against Russian intrusion at Novoozernaya, Crimea, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. (Sergei L. Loiko/Los Angeles Times)

Associated Press|by David McHugh

KIEV, Ukraine — Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.

Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports.

Russian Troops

Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said five salvos of heavy rockets were fired across the border near the town of Kolesnikov in the Luhansk region in the country’s east. A border crossing point near Marynovka was fired on twice with mortars, also from the Russian side, while Ukrainian forces shot down three Russian drones, Lysenko said.

If true, the allegations mean Moscow is playing a more direct role in the fighting than it has been accused of up to now – a dangerous turn in what is already the gravest crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.

In addition, Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the U.S. has seen powerful rocket systems moving closer to the Ukraine border and that they could be put into the hands of the Russian-backed separatists as soon as Friday.

It wasn’t clear what those developments mean for the international investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. U.S. authorities believe the separatists shot it down with a missile, perhaps in the mistaken belief it was a military plane.

Malaysia Airlines downed Ukraine Russia

See: Pro-Russian Group Shots Down Commercial Airplane, 295 killed

A small group of Dutch and Australian investigators combed the sprawling, unsecured field where the plane came down on July 17, taking notes and photos as their governments prepared police detachments they hope can protect the crash site and help bring the last of the 298 victims home.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the Security Council will likely endorse any agreement that Netherlands and Australia reach with Ukraine on deploying their police to the site. It is “quite likely that the Security Council will want to take note of that agreement, very possibly in a resolution,” Lyall Grant said, adding that he wouldn’t expect this to be controversial and it could happen very quickly.

U.S. officials said this week that they had new evidence that Russia intended to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatists. Warren said Friday that the delivery could happen at any time, adding “it’s that close” to the border.

Warren also corroborated Ukrainian reports of artillery fire from Russia. He said there was no indication Ukraine had shelled Russia.

“For the last several days Russian forces using Russian artillery from Russian soil have conducted attacks against Ukrainian military positions in Ukraine,” Warren said. “This is unquestionably an escalation from a military perspective.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry responded to U.S. allegations about cross-border shelling by saying: “Facts and details to confirm these lying contentions do not exist.”

The allegations come amid a Ukrainian government offensive against the separatists that has won back control of several important towns over the past few weeks.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in a telephone conversation Friday that Ukrainian troops are increasingly coming under direct fire from the Russian side of the border, according to a White House statement. Biden told Poroshenko that the U.S. “would continue to coordinate with the European Union and the G-7 about imposing further costs on Russia for its deeply destabilizing and irresponsible actions in Ukraine,” the statement said.

Douglas Lute, U.S. ambassador to NATO, accused Russia of waging “civil war by proxy” in Ukraine and said the Russians have about 15,000 troops massed near the border. He spoke at a security forum in Aspen, Colorado.

In another development, CNN said pro-Russian rebels abducted one of its local freelancers on Tuesday outside the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk and was still holding him on Friday.

Anton Skiba had worked for the network for only a day when he was seized as he and other members of a CNN crew returned to their hotel from the jetliner crash site.

CNN said the abductors first accused Skiba of “terrorism” and of using his Facebook page to post cash rewards for killing separatists. Later they dropped that accusation and said he was being questioned for using identification with different last names. Later they said he had confessed to being a Ukrainian “agent.”

The U.S. and human rights groups condemned Skiba’s abduction as an attempt by the rebels to sow fear, CNN reported.

“We chose not to report his abduction at the time while making efforts to obtain his release,” CNN spokeswoman Bridget Leininger told The Associated Press. “That has not happened to date, so we are now publicly asking those who are holding Skiba to release him immediately.”

Russia said a group of its investigators came under Ukrainian mortar fire Friday in the Russian village of Primiussky. They were investigating the reported shelling two days earlier of the village, which is about 2.5 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the border. No deaths were reported.

European Union ambassadors, meanwhile, reached a preliminary deal Friday on stepped-up sanctions against Russia for its involvement in Ukraine, targeting Moscow’s defense and technology sectors and its access to European capital.

Russian Pipeline
Russian Pipeline thru Ukraine leading to Europe

EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said EU member states must decide whether the measures need to be approved by a summit meeting of the trade bloc’s 28 member countries to go into effect.

The ambassadors also ordered asset freezes and travel bans against 15 more Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians accused of undermining Ukraine. Eighteen businesses or other entities will also be subject to sanctions.

Russia increased its economic pressure on Ukraine when its agency in charge of agricultural products announced that it is banning imports of Ukrainian dairy.

Russia is the biggest export market for Ukrainian milk and cheese.

Two Americans Killed in Fighting in Gaza

Two Americans Killed in Fighting in Gaza

by military.com

Max Steinberg
Max Steinberg, 24, killed in Israel/Hamas battle

Two Americans who were soldiers for the Israel Defense Forces were killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Stuart Steinberg confirmed the death of his son Max Steinberg, 24, to The Associated Press on Sunday. Steinberg, whose family lives in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, was a sharpshooter for the Golani Brigade. He was one of 13 Israeli soldiers and 65 Palestinians killed in fighting Sunday during the first major ground battle in two weeks of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Earlier Sunday, the IDF said in a statement that Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21, was killed in combat in the Gaza Strip. Carmeli was from South Padre Island, Texas, said Deputy Consul General of Israel to the Southwest Maya Kadosh. She said Carmeli moved to Israel four years ago and added that the consulate helped his family get a flight there Sunday.

Rabbi Asher Hecht of Chabad of the Rio Grande Valley, who is a longtime family friend, said Carmeli joined the Israeli army after finishing high school in Israel and was in the Golani Brigade. The IDF statement said Carmeli was from Ra’anana, Israel.

“He had great energy, yet had a kind and gentle soul,” Hecht said. “It’s been a very tough day for us,” he added. “We lost a gem.”

Carmeli was the youngest of three and has two sisters who currently live in Israel. He was “loved by his parents infinitely,” Hecht said.

Steinberg was living in Beersheba, Israel. He attended Pierce College and El Camino Real High School in Southern California.

He visited Israel for the first time on a Birthright Israel trip with his younger brother and sister in June 2012, his father said. When he returned, he made an announcement to his parents that he was planning to return and join the IDF, Steinberg said. He made good on that promise less than six months later, making the move in December.

Israel Gaza city

“He went back,” Steinberg said. “He was completely dedicated and committed to serving the country of Israel. He was focused, he was clear in what the mission was, and he was dedicated to the work he needed to be doing.”

On Sunday morning, the Steinbergs were visited by representatives from the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles. They broke the news of Max Steinberg’s death.

Stuart Steinberg last spoke to his son at 4 a.m. Saturday California time, hours before his death. Max Steinberg called his father to tell him that his group had been injured when two of their tanks collided. They had to return to Israel for treatment at the hospital. Some soldiers had broken bones, and Max Steinberg had sprained his back, his father said.

“He called me up at 4 a.m. that morning and said he’d be returning to Gaza, back to combat, to be with his friends,” Steinberg said.

Steinberg said the family is leaving on Monday for Israel, where their son will be buried. On Max Steinberg’s Facebook page, hundreds of people liked a profile photo that appeared to be a selfie of him in uniform, armed, with his helmet on. Dozens gave their condolences.

Jay Sanderson, who heads The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, said in an email message to the community that “our thoughts are with his family and our community is committed to support them in any way they need – and to honor Max’s memory.”

The Jewish Federations of North America said in a statement that its “deepest sympathies” were with the families of 18 Israeli soldiers killed over the last two days. “Along with all of Israel, and the entire Jewish People, we mourn their loss as if they were our own,” the statement said.

On Sunday night, the U.S. State Department confirmed the deaths of Steinberg and Carmeli. “We can confirm the deaths of U.S. citizens Max Steinberg and Sean Carmeli in Gaza. Out of respect for those affected by this, we have nothing further at this time,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

300 more U.S. troops headed to Iraq

300 more U.S. troops headed to Iraq

WASHINGTON – The U.S. is sending another 300 troops to Iraq to beef up security at the U.S. Embassy and elsewhere in the Baghdad area to protect U.S. citizens and property, officials said Monday.

The new injection of manpower brings the total number of U.S. personnel sent to Iraq to deal with the recent crisis to approximately 800.

The State Department, meanwhile, announced that it was temporarily moving an unspecified “small number” of embassy staff in Baghdad to U.S. consulates in the northern city of Irbil and the southern city of Basra. This is in addition to some embassy staff who were moved out of Baghdad earlier this month.

Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Baghdad embassy “will be fully equipped to carry out” its mission.

The White House announced that President Barack Obama, who has previously ruled out sending combat troops back into Iraq, had directed that 200 troops be sent to reinforce security at the embassy, its support facilities and Baghdad International Airport.

“This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat. This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed,” the president wrote in a letter to Congress.

CBS News’ Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett said White House officials insist the additional troops “are not a signal of mission creep in Iraq.”

“They do acknowledge more forces with combat capability will be in Baghdad but argue their only mission will be to protect U.S. Embassy personnel, secure Baghdad’s airport and, if necessary, beef up military escorts in the event the security situation in Baghdad worsens to the point where large-scale evacuations of U.S. personnel are required,” Garrett reported.

The Pentagon said the 200 arrived Sunday and Monday. Officials said the additional forces bring a detachment of helicopters and drone aircraft to improve airfield and travel route security in Baghdad.

Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said another 100 troops, who had been on standby in the Middle East since mid-June, also will move into Baghdad to provide security and logistics support.

That raises to about 470 the number of U.S. troops providing security in Baghdad.

Those forces are separate from the teams of up to 300 U.S. military advisers that Obama authorized for deployment to Iraq earlier in June. Of those 300, about 180 had arrived as of Monday, the Pentagon said. They are assessing the state of Iraqi security forces and coordinating with Iraqi authorities.

Prior to that, the president dispatched 275 military personnel to provide support and security to Americans at the U.S. Embassy.

The U.S. also has a permanent group of about 100 military personnel in the Office of Security Cooperation, at the U.S. Embassy, to coordinate U.S. military sales.

Garrett said that when the decision to send in 300 military advisers was made, there was some concern that Baghdad could fall to the insurgents, known as ISIS.

“That’s no longer the concern, but there is rising concern about the security of U.S. personnel,” Garrett said, adding that White House officials say “the president wants to be positioned to protect U.S. personnel in the embassy and, if necessary, if they’re moved outside of Baghdad or the country entirely because the situation has deteriorated rapidly.”

ISIS: “Obama, Did You Prepare Diapers For Your Soldiers?”

ISIS: “Obama, Did You Prepare Diapers For Your Soldiers?”

by JORDAN SCHACHTEL

The newly created Islamic Caliphate that spans Syria and Iraq, which is ruled under the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), has continued its provocation of the United States and President Barack Obama.

ISIS terrorist Iraq

In ISIS’s most recent high definition English-language video, produced by Al-Hayat media (ISIS’s jihadi media enterprise), an ISIS militant laughingly asked President Obama on a megaphone, “Obama, did you prepare diapers for your soldiers?” The jihadi was then seen driving around with his fellow ISIS comrades in an American-made Ford F-350, modified into a police truck.

Further provoking the U.S., an ISIS militant said in the video, “Look how much money America spends to fight Islam, and it just ends up in our pockets.”

The video ends with the text, “And then there will be khilafah (Caliphate) upon the prophetic methodology.”

The production was uploaded to YouTube under a series of videos, which were titled “ISIS: The end of Sykes-Picot.”

The Sykes-Picot agreement was a 1916 treaty between the UK and France, with the consent of Russia, to split up the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire in World War I. Britain was given control of the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, Jordan, and Southern Iraq.

France was allocated control over southern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Russia was to receive Istanbul, the Turkish Straits, and some provinces controlled by the Ottoman Empire. The following map shows how independent Middle Eastern states formed in the 20th century after breaking away from colonial rule post-Sykes-Picot:

North Korea Says Seth Rogen Film an “Act of War”

North Korea Says Seth Rogen Film an “Act of War”

Seth Rogen North Korea film The Interview retaliation
Seth Rogen poses during a photocall for his latest film ‘The Interview’ at the Hotel Mandarin on June 18, 2014

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea is warning that the release of a new American comedy about a plot to assassinate leader Kim Jong Un would be an “act of war.”

If the U.S. government doesn’t block the movie’s release, it will face “stern” and “merciless” retaliation, an unidentified spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in state media Wednesday.

He didn’t mention the movie by name but was clearly referring to “The Interview,” which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as a producer and talk-show host who land an exclusive interview with the North Korean dictator and are then asked by the CIA to assassinate him.

The “reckless U.S. provocative insanity” of mobilizing a “gangster filmmaker” to challenge the North’s leadership is triggering “a gust of hatred and rage” among North Korean people and soldiers, the spokesman said, in typically heated propaganda language.

The film’s release would be considered an “act of war that we will never tolerate,” he said.

With no independent press of its own, North Korea often holds foreign governments responsible for the content of their media. Pyongyang regularly warns Seoul to prevent its conservative press from mocking or criticizing its leadership, something banned within authoritarian North Korea, where the Kim family is revered.

Trailers have been released for the movie, which is set to hit U.S. theaters in October.

Kim_Jong-un
Kim Jong-un, N Korea Leader

The current leader’s late father, Kim Jong Il, was a noted movie buff, lauded in the North for writing a treatise on film. He also ordered the kidnapping of prolific South Korean director and producer Shin Sang-ok in 1978, who then spent years making movies for Kim before escaping, Shin said.

The Conflict in Iraq is directly Impacting your wallet: Oil

The Conflict in Iraq is Directly Impacting your Wallet: Oil

Militant of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holding the trademark Islamists flag next to a security forces vehicle during an operation to seize an Iraqi army checkpoint in the northern Iraqi province of Salahuddin. (AFP Photo / HO / Welayat Salahuddin)
Militant of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holding the trademark Islamists flag next to a security forces vehicle during an operation to seize an Iraqi army checkpoint in the northern Iraqi province of Salahuddin.

“If this conflict knocked out Iraq as an exporter, that would have significant impact on prices.” 

Iraq produces about 1/5th of the worlds oil.  So much so that when other countries have low output, Saudi Arabia will increase production to cover the shortage.  Not so if it’s Iraq that’s having the shortage as the Saudi’s can’t produce that much of a different.

That’s why we are seeing oil prices skyrocket.  This will send gas prices at the pumps soaring.

gas pricesCrude oil prices in Iraq have hit a nine-month high, according to Reuters, as ongoing violence and fears of instability have led to supply concerns and equities sales.

Crude prices went up after Sunni jihadists of the Al-Qaeda splinter group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) surrounded the nation’s largest refinery, located in the northern city of Baiji, leading to concerns of limited output from the second-largest OPEC producer.

Brent crude futures went up three percent to $113.27 a barrel, while US crude rose 2.2 percent, to $106.71 – the highest for both since September.

The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB index increased by 1.1 percent on Thursday, the most in two months.

“If this conflict knocked out Iraq as an exporter, that would have significant impact on prices,” said Christopher Bellew, a trader at Jefferies Bache.

In other words, if these terrorist attackers are not stopped, a huge portion of the oil we get will fall into the hands of terrorist who are backed by Iran.  They will be able to not only cut off a huge supply of oil, but these terrorist will have a HUGE source of income to fund future terrorist efforts.

This is why it’s extremely important the US and its Allies step back in and take-out this terrorist threat.  Instead, we are turning our back saying this is “your” problem.  It’s not:  its our problem.

Now, if the “anti-oil” Obama Administration wasn’t such a pain in the butt to the oil and gas industry, this situation in Iraq wouldn’t be our problem.  If we had the Keystone Pipeline from Canada, we would have an almost limitless supply of oil…from our own country, North Dakota, and from the Canadians.

Also, Obama has been extremely hard and unyielding with Shell in approving drilling at one of the largest oil reserves in the world…in our own back yard just north of Alaska.  The Obama Administration has done everything is can to stop this offshore gold mine (“black gold”)  for almost 6 years now…6 years!  Shell has spent $7  billion trying to get this oil but Obama keeps making up reasons to stop them.

These two oil fields, Alaska and North Dakota/Canada, would make us completely self-sufficient on oil…no more oil from Russia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia…you know: all the place where people want to kill us.

On Wall Street, energy shares went up in the wake of a spike in oil prices.  In a bit of an understatement:

“It’s a bit of a crisis mode here,” said Timothy Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management LLC in New York, according to Reuters. “Geopolitical concerns have definitely taken over. It’s a very fluid situation and things are happening very fast, it seems.”

Obama Replenishes the Taliban

Obama Replenishes the Taliban 

By Andrew C. McCarthy, The National Review

President Obama finally completed the prisoner swap he has been pleading with the Taliban for years to accept. While the president draws down American forces in Afghanistan and hamstrings our remaining troops with unconscionable combat rules of engagement that make both offensive operations and self-defense extremely difficult, the Taliban get back five of their most experienced, most virulently anti-American commanders.

The five Taliban released by Obama
The five Taliban released by Obama

In return, thanks to the president’s negotiations with the terrorists, we receive U.S. Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl — who, according to several of his fellow soldiers, walked off his post in 2009 before being captured by the Taliban. (For more on this, see Greg Pollowitz’s post at The Feed.)

This was shortly after Sergeant Bergdahl reportedly e-mailed his parents that “the US army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at,” that he was “ashamed to even be an American,” and that “the horror that is America is disgusting.”

Sergeant Bergdahl’s father, Robert, was by Mr. Obama’s side during Saturday’s Rose Garden press conference, at which the president announced Sergeant Bergdahl’s return but carefully avoiding mention of the jihadi-windfall the Taliban received in exchange.

Mr. Bergdahl is an anti-war activist campaigning for the release of all jihadists detained at Guantanamo Bay. His Twitter account, @bobbergdahl, has apparently now deleted a tweet from four days ago, in which he said, in echoes of Islamic supremacist rhetoric, “@ABalkhi I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners. God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen!”

We have been warning for years here that Obama was negotiating with the Taliban — even as he duplicitously bragged that the U.S. had “removed the Taliban government.”

The president and his minions reportedly even turned for mediation help to Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi — the top Muslim Brotherhood sharia jurist who issued a fatwa in 2003 calling for violent jihad against American troops and support personnel in Iraq. (Indeed, the administration has hosted Qaradawi’s sidekick, Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah — who also signed the fatwa — at the White House for consultations . . . and the State Department was embarrassed to be caught touting bin Bayyah just a week ago.)

Nearly two years ago, I noted that Obama had just sweetened the pot on a longstanding offer to release the five Taliban leaders — beseeching the Taliban just to agree to participate in Afghan peace talks, not to make any actual concessions (other than freeing Sergeant Bergdahl).

As Reuters reported at the time:

The revised proposal, a concession from an earlier U.S. offer, would alter the sequence of the move of five senior Taliban figures held for years at the U.S. military prison to the Gulf state of Qatar, sources familiar with the issue said. U.S. officials have hoped the prisoner exchange, proposed as a good-faith move in initial discussions between U.S. negotiators and Taliban officials, would open the door to peace talks between militants and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The revised proposal would send all five Taliban prisoners to Qatar first, said sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. Only then would the Taliban be required to release Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the only U.S. prisoner of war. Previously, U.S. officials had proposed dividing the Taliban prisoners into two groups, and requiring Bergdahl’s release as a good-faith gesture to come before the second group of prisoners would be moved out of Guantanamo.

The Obama administration has never designated the Afghan Taliban as a terrorist organization. (The Bush State Department similarly failed to designate the Taliban, although President Bush did designate the group as a terrorist organization in an executive order that, pursuant to a congressional statute, criminalized the conducting of various financial transactions with it.)

In 2012, the Obama White House made much of the fact that it had finally designated a close Taliban confederate, the Haqqani Network, as a terrorist organization. But as Eli Lake reported earlier this year, the administration refrained from using the designation to seize assets — which is the whole point.

Plain and simple, President Obama has never had any intention to confront and defeat the Taliban. As I observed back in 2009, General Stanley McChrystal, then the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, pronounced in a memo explaining U.S. strategy that the war in that country was the Afghans’ war, not ours.

In his estimation, our troops’ primary reason for being there was not to defeat America’s enemies but to enable the Afghans to build a better life, and therefore “our strategy cannot be focused on seizing terrain or destroying insurgent forces; our objective must be the population” — meaning, to protect Afghans.

Obama’s overriding goal has been to end the war, not to win it — as if it were possible, by walking away, to end a war that the enemy started and continues to fight. The president has thus announced that our forces — which aren’t being permitted to prosecute a war anyway — are being pulled out.

Less than 10,000 will remain as sitting ducks from an abandoned mission by the end of this year, and all of them will be withdrawn by the end of 2016. The president knows the Taliban are ascendant, aggressive, and biding their time until they can seize control again. He knows that the Taliban’s official return will be a boon to al-Qaeda, which Taliban leadership continues to support.

So Obama is trying to portray a humiliating American defeat as an Obama foreign-affairs triumph: The Taliban’s return will be made to look like a negotiated peace settlement instead of a surrender. The prisoner swap is just the latest accommodation of the Taliban on the road to this sorry outcome.

At The Weekly Standard, Tom Joscelyn profiles the five Taliban commanders Obama has released. They include Mullah Mohammed Fazl, perhaps the Taliban’s senior warrior (its “army chief of staff”) and a longtime al-Qaeda ally; Mullah Norullah Noori, a senior military commander who fought side-by-side with al-Qaeda; Abdul Haq Wasiq, a senior Taliban intelligence official who helped train al-Qaeda and fought with it against U.S. forces after 9/11; Khairullah Khairkhwa, a Taliban governor and al-Qaeda trainer who brokered an alliance with Iran to collaborate against American-led forces; and Mohammed Nabi, who worked with the Haqqani Nnetwork and al-Qaeda to coordinate attacks against American and coalition forces.

Meet the new Afghanistan, same as the old Afghanistan. In Obama’s America, This is how wars end in the 21st century.”