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Member since: Thu Jan 12, 2012, 04:24 PM
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CDC: Ebola outbreak in Nigeria and Senegal may be over

The Ebola outbreak may be over in two countries -- Nigeria and Senegal -- even as it continues to spread rapidly elsewhere in West Africa, U.S. health officials said Tuesday.

No new Ebola cases have been diagnosed in Nigeria since Aug. 31, suggesting that the outbreak has been contained, according to a report Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The only case confirmed in Senegal was reported Aug. 28 in a man who survived.

Ebola has infected 6,553 people and has killed 3,083 in the three countries hit hardest by the epidemic — Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia — the World Health Organization says. The number of cases has been doubling every three weeks, and the CDC estimates that the disease could affect up to 1.4 million people by January if it's not quickly put under control.

The Ebola epidemic took a different course in Nigeria from the beginning, and it affected how the world responded to the outbreak.


The real concern with the strike on Khorasan is the policy, not some conspiracy.

The strikes on Khorasan were separate and distinct from the strikes on IS in Syria. The justification given for the strikes on IS are the tenuous "collective defense." The tortured logic is that Iraq asked us to help them fight IS because they are incapable. But, they are also incapable of crossing the border into Syria to attack them, so, what the hell, have the US do that too. With respect to the IS attacks in Syria, the US is a for-hire, for-profit air force.

The attacks on Khorasan are different. They had not attacked or threatened to attack Iraq. They are not part of IS, so cannot be targeted under that same rationale. Our bombing in Syria (a country which we did not ask for or receive permission from) of Khorasan is another animal. It is pre-emptive bombing of would-be terrorists. It is an act of war in a sovereign country without an immediate threat. And, it is now our policy. We will bomb anyone, anywhere. Not in response to an attack. Not to stop an attack. But to kill those who might be planning an attack, who may one day be able to attack us. And, there will be more countries where we do just that.

div class="excerpt"](I)n the Muslim world right now, there is a cancer that has grown for too long that suggests that it is acceptable to kill innocent people who worship a different God. And that kind of extremism, unfortunately, means that we're going to see for some time the possibility that in a whole bunch of different countries, radical groups may spring up, particularly in countries that are still relatively fragile, where you had sectarian tensions, where you don't have a strong state security apparatus.

* * *

(T)he beginning of a solution for the entire Middle East is going to be a transformation in how these countries teach their youth. What our military operations can do is to just check and roll back these networks as they appear and make sure that the time and space is provided for a new way of doing things to begin to take root. But it's going to take some time.


Obama makes clear regime change in Syria is a goal.

President Obama: Syria is more challenging, because the U.S. has few viable allies on the ground there. The regime of Bashir Assad is fighting ISIS but the U.S. wants Assad deposed for committing horrific crimes against his own people and other opposition groups like the al-Nusra Front and a terrorist cell called Khorasan, which was plotting attacks against Europe and the U.S., and are both affiliated with al Qaeda. The coalition is hoping to train 5,000 moderate Syrian fighters in Saudi Arabia.

Steve Kroft: Is there a moderate Syrian opposition?

President Obama: There is. But right now, it doesn't control much territory. It has been squeezed between ISIL on the one hand and the Assad regime on the other.

Steve Kroft: These are the people that you said, the farmers, the doctors, the pharmacists, who stood no chance of overthrowing' the government.

President Obama: Well keep in mind two years ago, that was absolutely true. This is in response to the mythology that's evolved that somehow if we had given those folks some guns two and a half years ago, that Syria would be fine. And the point that I made then, which is absolutely true, is that for us to just start arming inexperienced fighters who we hadn't vetted, so we didn't know and couldn't sort out very well who's potentially ISIL or al-Nusra member and who is somebody that we're going to work with. For us to just go blind on that would have been counterproductive and would not have helped the situation. But it also would have committed us to a much more significant role inside of Syria.

Steve Kroft: You've said, that we need to get rid of Assad.

President Obama: Yeah.

Steve Kroft: And while we're saying we have to get rid of Assad, we are also bombing and trying to take out some of his most threatening opponents and the...

President Obama: I recognize...

Steve Kroft: And the beneficiary of this is Assad.

President Obama: I recognize the contradiction in a contradictory land and a contradictory circumstance. We are not going to stabilize Syria under the rule of Assad, because the Sunni areas inside of Syria view Assad as having carried out terrible atrocities. The world has seen them. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. Millions have been displaced. So for a long-term political settlement, for Syria to remain unified, it is not possible that Assad presides over that entire process. On the other hand, in terms of immediate threats to the United States, ISIL, Khorasan group, those folks could kill Americans. And so...

Steve Kroft: They're more important than Assad at this point. That's what you're saying.

President Obama: What I'm saying is that they're all connected, but there's a more immediate concern that has to be dealt with.


Not that ever seriously was, but regime change in Syria is clearly a goal of this war. It remains a question only of when. We are going to train 5,000 moderate rebels, which will take a year plus. They will be trained to fight IS and Assad. Those are two of the primary objectives. The generals have said it will take 15,000 ground troops to fight IS in Syria.

Where are the other 10,000 coming from? And when?

When will the ground war in Syria start? Will we wage the air war for over a year before any combat troops enter Syria? And when will the immediacy shift to Assad? We all knew that toppling Assad was one of the primary goals, if not the primary goal. When do we shift to target him?

Airstrikes against Islamic State group kill civilians (destroys food supply) in Syria: Report

BEIRUT—U.S.-led coalition strikes targeted Islamic State group positions overnight across in northern and eastern Syria, including one that hit a grain silo and reportedly killed civilians, activists said Monday.

Washington and its Arab allies opened their air assault against the extremist group last week, going after its military facilities, training camps, heavy weapons and oil installations. The campaign expands upon the airstrikes the United States has been conducting against the militants in Iraq since early August.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition forces hit Islamic State group facilities overnight in Aleppo, Raqqa, Hassakeh and Deir el-Zour provinces. It said there were casualties, including civilians, but that it did not have concrete figures.

One of the strikes hit a grain silo in the extremist-held town of Manbij in Aleppo province, setting it ablaze, the Observatory and the Aleppo Media Center activist group said. Another activist collective, the Local Coordination Committees, also reported what it said were coalition air raids on Manbij.

Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman said the strike on the grain silo killed civilians, but he didn’t have an exact figure.

“They killed only civilians there, workers at the site. There was no ISIS inside,” he said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State group. The airstrikes “destroyed the food that was stored there.”


There is no debate that ground troops will be needed in Syria. Whose? When?

Officials at every relevant level of government in the US, and in each of the coalition members, agree that a ground force will be needed in Syria.

Dempsey are spoken on the order of around 15,000. The moderate Syrian rebels we are about to begin training in Saudi Arabia will not be battle ready until this time next year, optimistically. It is also unclear the rate at which the moderate rebels will be trained.

Turkey has now signaled a willingness to deploy ground troops to Syria, but only in a protector role, not primarily combative. Turkey troops would maintain a buffer along its border and guard an expected war refugee camp within Syria. (By the way, this is another indicator that this will be a years to decade length war).

The question is: how long will we continue with the air war alone? We will do solely airstrikes until 15,000 moderate rebels are on the ground? No other country has indicated a willingness to deploy the necessary ground troops into Syria.

When will the request/proposal be made? What nation's troops will be deployed?

And, that is only asking about Syria. In Iraq, the Iraqi Army and the Kurds haven't been able to do it. Even with our air war, they are not doing well. When and how many troops will go to Iraq? And whom?

POLL: 72% believe US will use ground forces against ISIS

Despite President Barack Obama’s assertion that combat troops won’t be sent to fight the Islamic State in Iraq or Syria, a recent survey shows a majority of U.S. voters think those military forces will end up over there.

This finding comes from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll, which also shows that Americans are divided over the merits of using U.S. combat troops – 45 percent are in favor of using them if military commanders think they’re the best way to defeat the ISIS army, while 37 percent are opposed. The answers from voters shows 72 percent of Americans believe the United States will use its ground troops anyway against ISIS, versus just 20 percent who think it won’t.


ISIL fight already near $1 billion as strategy shifts

The air war in Syria and Iraq has already cost nearly $1 billion and ultimately could cost as much as $22 billion per year if a large ground force is deployed to the region, according to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The study, due to be released Monday, shows a range of costs based on sustained but low-intensity combat up to a force of 25,000 U.S. troops on the ground.


Countdown to US combat troops in Iraq:

Rout raises questions about Iraqi military

(CNN) - This is what an ISIS rout looks like in Iraq:

Up to 300 troops killed. Others missing, possibly dead or having fled. Dozens of military vehicles, from tanks to ambulances, destroyed or seized. And the Iraqi military in disarray, so much so the country's Prime Minister has sent "anti-terrorism forces ... to hold the negligent (military) leaders responsible."

What happened Sunday east of Falluja, around military encampments in Saqlawiyah and Sejar, is bad enough for the Iraqi government. Yet what makes it worse is that it's happened before.

This latest incident was particularly galling because, according to surviving Iraqi soldiers, military commanders didn't follow up on troops' pleas for airstrikes or other help, and instead stranded them.

And the fact this isn't an isolated episode raises big questions about whether the Iraqi military is up to the fight against ISIS and whether other nations -- the United States being chief among them -- should devote manpower and air power to supporting them.


Obama's military advisor, Gen. Dempsey, say 15,000 troops needed in Syria.

For the moment he suggests that the 15,000 need not be American. But, with over a year before any "moderate rebels" will enter the battles field, who can say for sure?

It is also telling how big in scope and long in duration this war will be.


Army chief: Division headquarters heading to Iraq (100-500 more troops, 10-20 yrs)

An official announcement is expected in the coming days. But Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno recently confirmed the Army "will send another division headquarters to Iraq to control what we're doing there, a small headquarters."

It's unclear how many soldiers will be sent, or how long they will deploy. Division headquarters average between 100 and 500 soldiers and deploy for one year.

* * *

"The complexity of the environment that we have to operate in now, and probably the next 10 to 15 to 20 years, we need these headquarters," he said. "If you ask me one of the stress points in the Army, it's our headquarters."

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