Saturday, 20 January 2018

Operation Featherweight: Month 43, Week 2, Day 5.

This should be read as a continuation of Wednesday's post;

If the southern Astana Zone along the Golan Heights was the easiest for the Astana Parties to agree upon then the northern zone centred around Idlib Province and designated; "The Sudetenland" has been the most controversial.

This is the zone that Turkish President/Prime Minister/Emperor Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been desperate to invade and annex as part of his new Ottoman Empire. That alone is a grotesque violation of international law of a scale not seen since, well, Adolf Hitler invaded and annexed Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland in 1938.

It is also the heartland and main base of operations for Al Qaeda in Syria.

Erdogan would very much like to send the Turkish military to protect and assist Al Qaeda within the Sudetenland. However that is not something that the other Astana Parties can agree to.

You would hope it is something that the NATO nations lead by the US would also strongly oppose.

As a result through the negotiation Erdogan has repeatedly been forced to review and scale back his plans.

Erdogan initially wanted to invade the Sudetenland immediately following the liberation of Aleppo City for the Army of Conquest in December 2016. However the formation of the Astana Process forced him to put his plans on hold.

The Astana Zones plan was agreed in theory at the fifth round of meetings in the Astana Process held in May 2017. However it wasn't until the sixth round of meetings in the Astana Process held in September 2017 (14/9/17) Erdogan received theoretical permission to send regular Turkish troops to the Sudetenland.

Despite that theoretical permission in mid-September 2017 it took until October 6th 2017 (6/10/17) for Erdogan to actually send in troops. By that time the nature of their mission had become seriously reduced.

Rather then sending troops into all of Idlib Province Erdogan's invasion force was limited to a small area that that has become known as the; "Atmeh-Salwa Access Area."

Approximately 400kmsq (240milesq) in area this stretches from the Turkey/Syria border in the west to roughly the town of Anadan in the east and from the Simeon Highlands in the north to the Al Kafr Mountain in the south.

Within this area regular Turkish forces have established 10 control points or small bases. Crucially these Turkish control points are at the very north of Idlib Province. They sit far closer to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF/QSD) controlled Afrin Canton directly to the north then they do to any areas under control of ISIL, Al Qaeda or even the Syrians themselves.

At the second round of meetings in the Astana Process held in July 2017 - prior to the Astana Zones Agreement - attempts were made to have the Army of Conquest included in the Astana Ceasefire.

This involved Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate The Support Front/Jabhat al-Nusra (ANF) rebrand themselves as; The Organisation for the Liberation of the Levant/Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The intention being to disguise the fact that they are part of Al Qaeda.

With no-one believing this name change it actually served to have the opposite effect.

Within the Army of Conquest all members of the coalition including various fragments of the long defunct Free Syrian Army (FSA) retained their own identity only agreeing to co-operate with each other. The formation of Tahrir al-Sham required all groups to formally pledge allegiance to Al Qaeda and take orders from the group.

Many of the extreme Islamist fragments of the FSA were only too happy to do this.

Probably the most high profile of these grouplets is the Movement of Nour al-Din al-Zenki/Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki. Under former US President Barack Obama they were trained and armed by the US and fled en mass to the Sudetenland following the liberation of Aleppo City.

Probably the most high profile members of Nour al-Zinki are Ghassan al-Abed and Fatemah al-Abed. They are the parents of Bana al-Abed - the 7 year old girl who supposedly live Tweeted the horrors of the siege of Aleppo City. Having signed a book deal the al-Abeds are now living in Turkey under Erdogan's protection.

Nour al-Zinki were also responsible for the photographs of  Omar Daqneesh which were widely circulated in particularly the western media in August 2016. What has been less well publicised is the video in which al-Zinki member Mahmoud Raslan - who took the Omar Daqneesh  photograph - beheading a 13 year old Shia Muslim child as an infidel.

As part of the negotiation between the Astana Zones Agreement in May 2017 and Turkish troops invading the Sudetenland in October 2017 Erdogan has been trying to separate these FSA fragments from Tahrir al-Sham by bringing them under the control of the United Turkmen Army (UTA).

Sometimes known as the Syrian Turkmen Brigades (STB) the UTA are the paramilitary wing of the fascist Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) known as the Grey Wolves. Within Syria they function as an irregular and therefore illegal branch of the Turkish military.

Nour al-Zinki led what Erdogan hoped would become a wave of defections when it publicly broke ties with Tahrir al-Sham in June 2017.

In July 2017 Islamic Movement of the Freemen of the Levant/Harakat Ahrar ash-Sham al-Islamiyya (Ahrar al-Sham) followed suit by publicly breaking off ties with Tahrir al-Sham. Ahrar al-Sham are closely linked to Erdogan in Turkey, Qatar and ISIL through the Muslim Brotherhood.

After defecting from Tahrir al-Sham Ahrar al-Sham then announced their intention to fighting the group. Ahrar al-Sham were quickly defeated by Tahrir al-Sham.

This type of shoving match between the two Sham groups is something we've become very familiar with. Particularly within the Garvaghy Road area.

To the north of the Sudetenland you have the SDF controlled Afrin Canton. Directly to the east of Afrin Canton you have Garvaghy Road.

Stretching or roughly 100km (60 miles) from Azaz/Kilis in the west and the Euphrates River in the east Garvaghy Road was invaded and annexed by regular Turkish forces in August 2016. Specifically to prevent the SDF cutting ISIL and Al Qaeda's supply lines with Turkey by linking Afrin Canton with the Shangri-La area under the SDF's control to the north-east of the Euphrates.

In the year prior to the formal Turkish invasion it was extremely common for the Army of Conquest and ISIL to swap control of towns in Garvaghy Road such as Azaz, Marea and Cobanbey. Thinking it would give Erdogan pretence to invade Al Qaeda would seize control of a town. When Erdogan realised it wouldn't Al Qaeda would simply return control of the town of ISIL and vice versa.

Over the course of several months the UTA established numerous new FSA grouplets to encourage defections from Tahrir al-Sham. The most notable of these being the Battalion of God/Faylaq al-Majid who emerged in September 2017.

On October 25th 2017 (25/10/17) Erdogan organised these Islamist defectors into the so-called; "Syrian National Army" which is supposedly the military wing of the; "Syrian Interim Government. With Syria already having a national army and a national government those names are only likely to spread confusion.

Tellingly the lead battalion in this so-called Syrian National Army is the Sultan Murad Battalion. Named after the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV they are one of the main divisions of the UTA or Turkish Grey Wolves.

However on November 17th 2017 (17/11/17) Nour al-Zinki forgot that they were supposedly no longer linked to Al Qaeda. They announced a joint offensive against the Syrians with Tahrir al-Sham.

At the same time as attempting to separate Islamist FSA fragments from Tahrir al-Sham Erdogan, Al Qaeda and Tahrir al-Sham themselves have been working hard to distance Tahrir al-Sham from Al Qaeda.

In mid-September 2017 Hamza bin Laden - son of Osama bin Laden, you may have heard of him - claimed to be in Syria's Sudetenland.

On behalf of Al Qaeda he condemned Tahrir al-Sham as traitors to Al Qaeda and called on Al Qaeda supporters to desert to Tahrir al-Sham to join a new true Al Qaeda group in Syria. Although much talked about and rumoured to have the name; Supporters of the Levant Group/Ansar Al-Furqan Fi Bilad al-Sham has yet to materialise.

On November 27th 2017 (27/11/17) Tahrir al-Sham arrested a number of senior figures in the group with very close links to Al Qaeda.

This prompted Al Qaeda's worldwide leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to release an audio message giving a stinging rebuke of Tahrir al-Sham's actions. The only problem was that it was recorded in late-September/early-October long before Tahrir al-Sham had made the arrests.

On December 1st 2017 (1/12/17) Al Qaeda used the messaging app Telegram to compare Tahrir al-Sham leader Abu Mohammed al-Jolani to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Then went on to call for Al Qaeda supporters to desert Tahrir al-Sham to join this new true Al Qaeda group in Syria. This Ansar al-Furqan group has still yet to materialise.

The fact I able to tell you what is being said in Al Qaeda message groups on Telegram should tell you all you need to know about how secure this Russian owned messaging app really is. It is a long established fact within intelligence circles that people are more inclined to believe information if they think they've been clever in stealing it.

These supposed splits between the UTA, Tahrir al-Sham have been accompanied by a large number of tit-for-tat bombings and assassinations. 

Assassinations supposedly carried out by Tahrir al-Sham but most likely really carried out by Turkish intelligence have particularly targeted the White Helmets group. This is a clear and deliberate effort to try and convince people that the White Helmets aren't part of Al Qaeda and their extremely untrustworthy claims can be trusted.

On December 18th 2017 (18/12/17) Al Qaeda, Tahrir al-Sham, the UTA, Ahrar al-Sham etc all forgot they're trying to convince us they're separate from each other. They announced a joint offensive to fight the Syrians.

In short they confirmed that the Army of Conquest never went away. It just tried to change its name a few times.

Directly to the south of the Sudetenland you have the Hama Astana Zone. Due to the way that Syria's provinces are arranged this not only includes all of Hama Province but also large parts of Homs and Aleppo Provinces.

The plan is that I will provide a more detailed update on recent developments in that zone possibly on Monday (22/1/18). However the abridged version is that it came into force on August 3rd 2017 (3/8/17).

It then ceased to exist on August 29th 2017 (29/8/17) when Army of Conquest forces based in the Sudetenland launched an offensive against Syrian forces. This prompted several months of offensives and counter-offensives between the Syrians and the Army of Conquest.

On October 25th 2017 (25/10/17) the Syrians launched a big offensive of their own with the ultimate objective of liberating the Abu al-Duhur Airbase. This sits deep inside Idlib Province around 45km (25 miles) south-west of Idlib City.

On December 20th (20/12/17) the Syrian Tiger Forces joined the offensive fresh from their victory against ISIL in the Euphrates River Basin. 

Since around January 4th (4/1/17) the Army of Conquest have been in full retreat arming local civilians and prisoners in an effort to hold off the Syrian advance. Today (20/1/17) the Syrians arrived at the airbase.

With Army of Conquest defences collapsing across Hama and the Sudetenland Erdogan has been threatening to send regular Turkish forces to attack the SDF within Afrin Canton.

In part this is to put pressure on Russia to put pressure on the Syrians to halt the Abu al-Duhur Airbase offence. Also if that doesn't work and it appears not to short of running home to daddy in Turkey the Army of Conquest are fast running out of places to retreat too.

The SDF are of course backed by the US-led coalition - Combined Joint Task Force: Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTFOIR). Not only with airpower but also American ground forces including Special Operations Forces (SOF's) and conventional forces.

As such a Turkish attack on the SDF in Afrin Canton can only be viewed as an attack on CJTFOIR and against the US' interests in Syria.

Unfortunately the US' response to Erdogan's aggression has been rather hampered.

Yesterday (19/1/18) the Democrat Party shutdown the US government including military funding. 

Today (20/1/18) the Democrat Party are staging anti-Trump "(Muslim) Sister Marches" in several US cities.

18:30 on 20/1/18 (UK date).


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Operation Featherweight: Month 43, Week 2, Day 2.

Since the spring of 2017 Syrian forces have been steadily liberating the centre of the country from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

In early June 2017 the Syrians liberated the town of al-Tanf. This is located directly on the Syria/Iraq border. Its liberation marked the completion of a 280km (170 mile) advance east from the Syrian capital Damascus across the centre of the country.

In August 2017 the Syrians northern and southern advances converged on the town of as-Suknah. This sits around 130km (75 miles) south of Raqqa, 65km (40 miles) north-east of Palmyra and around 200km (120 miles) west of Syria's border with Iraq.

From as-Suknah the Syrians proceeded to liberate all of the main population centres on the south bank of the Euphrates River. This included the cities of Deir-ez-Zour and Mayadin along with the towns of Madan and Abu Kamal/Al-Bukamal.

On December 5th (5/12/17) the Syrians liberated Qataa, Jalaa, Ramadi and Buqan. These all sit in an roughly 65kmsq (40 milesq) area between Mayadin and Abu Kamal. The liberation of this area allowed the Syrians to declare that the entire southern bank of the Euphrates had been liberated from ISIL.

What has made this Syrian anti-ISIL operation possible is what is known as the; "Astana Zones Agreement."

In December 2016 the Aleppo City - the capital of Aleppo Province was liberated by the Syrians. This led to the establishment of the Astana Process on Syria.

Taking its name from Astana - the capital city of Kazakhstan - where the majority of its meetings are held this process allows Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran to meet periodically to discuss the conflict.

At its first meeting held in Moscow, Russia on December 29th 2016 (29/12/16) the Astana Process drew up a ceasefire agreement which has gone on to be known as the Astana Ceasefire.

The Astana Ceasefire has always been clear that it does not apply to ISIL nor does it apply to Al Qaeda whatever name they happen to be using. At the insistence of Turkey the Astana Ceasefire also has never applied to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF/QSD).

The problem arises though that aside from ISIL the main militant force operating within Syria is the Army of Conquest/Jaish al-Fatah (JAF) coalition. This is made up a numerous factions;

One of the largest factions with the Army of Conquest is the Support Front/Jabhat al-Nusra (ANF). They are the Syrian wing of The Base/Al Qaeda (AQ).

The second largest faction within the Army of Conquest is the Islamic Movement of the Freemen of the Levant/Harakat Ahrar ash-Sham al-Islamiyya (Ahrar al-Sham). They are very closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and through the Brotherhood to Qatar and Turkey.

Another significant faction within the Army of Conquest is the United Turkmen Army (UTA) who are sometimes known as the Syrian Turkmen Brigades (STB). This is formed of the paramilitary wing of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) known as the Grey Wolves.

Another influential but fortunately small faction within the Army of Conquest is the Army of Islam/Jaish al-Islam (JAI). They are an extreme Islamist group which in the past has carried out genocide and executed members of ISIL for not being extreme enough in their pursuit of the extermination of racial and religious minorities.

Worryingly within the Astana Process the Army of Islam are recognised as the representative of the 'moderate' opposition to the Syrian government.

The Army of Conquest coalition also includes a large number of small fragments of the long defunct Free Syrian Army (FSA). They include a wide variety of ideologies ranging from the secular to the extreme Islamist.

Therefore it has long been subject to debate whether the Astana Ceasefire applies to all members of the Army of Conquest except for Al Qaeda or whether it doesn't apply to the Army of Conquest as a whole due to Al Qaeda's membership of the coalition.

Initially attempts were made to resolve this question by simply attempting to distance Jabhat al-Nusra and by extension the Army of Conquest from Al Qaeda. This led to Jabhat al-Nusra announcing it had broken ties with Al Qaeda and changing its name numerous times. In July 2017 they settled on the name; The Organisation for the Liberation of the Levant/Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

Fortunately nobody fell for these rebranding attempts. Whatever name they are using be it Jabhat al-Nusra or Hayat Tahrir al-Sham the group is recognised as Al Qaeda in Syria.

At the fifth round of meetings in the Astana Process on May 3rd (3/5/17) and May 5th (5/5/17) a new approach was taken. Rather than attempting to apply the Astana Ceasefire to specific groups it would be applied to geographic areas where ISIL are not considered active. This led to the creation of what are termed the; "Astana Zones."

Four of these what are termed "Astana Zones" were created.

One was in the north of the country in Idlib Province centred around Idlib City. This area had already being designated; "The Sudetenland." In reference to Turkish President/Prime Minister/Emperor Recep Tayyip Erdogan's desire to annex it as part of his new Ottoman Empire. Exactly like Adolf Hitler annexed Czechoslovakia in 1938.

Another two Astana Zones were created in central Syria. In and around Homs Province and in and around the capital Damascus. Particularly the East Ghouta suburb.

The fourth Astana Zone was created in southern Syria. In Deraa and Quneitra Provinces which border Jordan and Israel including the disputed Golan Heights.

As is often the case with this type agreement different parties have agreed from their own different reasons.

For example the Syrians and the Russians were keen to agree because it would free up resources to allow them to fight ISIL.

Turkey has agreed because they see it as an opportunity to invade and annex the Sudetenland. As with Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia the hope being this could be done under the pretence of a humanitarian intervention to enforce the ceasefire.

The one zone that everybody could agree upon is the southern zone close to the Golan Heights. Fighting in this area has periodically led to stray fire landing in Israel and Israel responding.

With all parties in the Syria conflict being anti-Semitic to varying degrees absolutely no-one wants Israel entering the conflict on their side. As a result they have all been happy to reduce the risk of this happening.

Since that fifth round of Astana meetings the Army of Conquest have grown increasingly frustrated by the process.

Things really boiled over at the seventh round of Astana meetings which took place on October 30th (30/10/17) and October 31st (31/10/17). This resulted in not a single one of the Army of Conquest's long list of demands being met.

Following that seventh round of Astana meetings Al Qaeda and the Army of Islam established the; "Army of Mohammad Operations Room" military force. Within the Astana Process the Army of Conquest are represented by the leader of the Army of Islam - Mohammad Alloush.

The Army of Mohammad then violated the Astana Zones agreement by attacking Syrian forces in two of the zones.

Within the southern zone they launched the; "Break the Chains of Harmon" operation on November 3rd 2017 (3/11/17). The objective of this operation was to advance from an area known as the; "Beit Jinn Pocket" to the nearby Druze town of Hadar.

The Beit Jinn Pocket sits around 30km (15 miles) south-west of the West Ghouta suburb of Damascus. The town of Hadar sits around 5km (3 miles) beyond the Beit Jinn Pocket.

Both of them sit in the Syrian Golan Heights. The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeeping zone actually runs through Hadar and parts of the Beit Jinn Pocket.

The Druze are followers of an ancient and complex religion. Rather like followers of the Yezidi religion groups such as ISIL, Al Qaeda and the Army of Islam view the Druze as devil worshippers. The lowest of the low, worse even than Jews, who must be exterminated.

As a religious rather than an ethnic group the Druze are not limited to any particular country. However the majority of them tend to live in Lebanon, Syria and Israel.

In 1967 Syria and Israel went to war resulting in Israel capturing the Golan Heights area which has a high Druze population. As a result there are extremely close family links between Syrian Druze and Israeli Druze.

Amongst the worst atrocities committed by the Army of Islam was a series of massacres in Druze areas - particularly the village of Qalb Lawza - in the summer of 2015. This genocide sent large numbers of Syrian Druze fleeing to safety in Israel and triggered large scale protest and social unrest amongst Israel's Druze population.

In response to the threat to the town of Hadar Israel took the rare step on November 4th 2017 (4/11/17) of saying that it would intervene directly to prevent the Army of Mohammad conducting genocide. 

Therefore the objectives of the Breaking the Chains of Harmon operation were threefold;

To exert pressure on the Astana Process by undermining the one Astana Zone that all parties agreed upon.

Force Israel to enter the conflict in opposition to the Army of Conquest. This would allow them to portray the Syrians as allies of the hated Jews boosting support for the Army of Conquest's cause.

Undermine the Syrians anti-ISIL operation by forcing them to fight multiple enemies on multiple fronts.

In the end Israel allowed Syrian Druze militias to transit through Israeli territory in order to out manoeuvre the Army of Mohammad. This resulted in the Breaking the Chains of Harmon to be completely halted by November 6th 2017 (6/11/17).

On November 16th 2017 (16/11/17) the Army of Mohammad launched a fresh offensive in the southern Astana Zone. This time targeting Syrian forces directly by shelling them at the town of Oum Bashar.

The Syrians immediately responded by shelling the Army of Mohammad at Kafr Hawr, Mazra at Beit Jinn and Beit Jinn itself. The three main towns within the Beit Jinn Pocket. As has become a pattern the Army of Mohammad responded to people standing up to them by falsely accusing the Syrians of using chemical weapons.

With the southern Astana Zone no longer being in place the Syrians pressed ahead with a counter offensive. On November 20th 2017 (20/11/17) they liberated Kafr Hawr and the strategically important surrounding hills.

On November 30th 2017 (30/11/17) the Syrians liberated the strategically important Bardiyah Hill just to the south of the Beit Jinn. On December 5th 2017 (5/12/17) they liberated Shibab Hill in the north-east of the Beit Jinn Pocket.

On December 11th 2017 (11/12/17) the Syrians liberated Maqtoul and Madiwar Hills. On December 15th (15/12/17) they liberated Bayda Hill giving them fire control over the town of Maghar al-Mir.

The Army of Mohammad's only response to this Syrian counter-offensive was an attempt to recapture Bardiyah Hill on December 8th 2017 (8/12/17). This failed the same day.

On December 27th 2017 (27/12/17) the Army of Mohammad offered the Syrians their surrender. On December 29th 2017 (29/12/17) that surrender was accepted.

A deal was agreed for Al Qaeda members of the Army of Mohammad to be transferred to the northern Astana Zone and for Army of Islam members to be transferred to Deraa City - the capital of Deraa Province.

As a result the Beit Jinn Pocket and much of the southern Astana Zone was completely liberated by the Syrians.

In preparation for the seventh round of meetings in the Astana Process the Army of Islam jacked up food prices in across the central Astana Zone. Particularly within the East Ghouta suburb where the Army of Islam are primarily based.

This meant that although there was ample food in the shops the poorer residents could not afford to buy it and a small number began to starve to death. The Army of Islam then took photographs of their victims - particularly the photogenic babies - and circulated them on the Internet.

The intention being to force international aid agencies such as the UN and the Red Cross/Crescent to deliver more food aid. Which the Army of Islam would then sell at a massively inflated price using the proceeds to fund more terror attacks.

Following the the seventh round of Astana meetings the newly formed Army of Mohammad launched an offensive against the Syrians in the central Astana Zone named; "They Were Wronged." On November 16th 2017 (16/11/17) Ahrar al-Sham and the Al-Rahman Legion/Faylaq al-Rahman joined the operation.

Primarily the They Were Wronged offensive has targeted on the Harasta Armoured Vehicle (HAV) Base. This is located within East Ghouta between the Harasta and Irbeen neighbourhoods.

However it has also featured shelling of areas of Damascus itself including Sabaa Bahrat and Abbasiyen Squares. On November 21st 2017 (21/11/17) the Fayhaa Sports Centre was particularly hard hit wounding 50 and killing two members of Syria's national Judo team.

As with the Breaking the Chains of Harmon offensive the They Were Wronged offensive was intended to exert pressure on the Astana Process by blowing apart the central Astana Zone. It was also intended to undermine the Syrians anti-ISIL operation and assist the offensive in the southern Astana Zone by forcing the Syrians to fight multiple enemies on multiple fronts.

Unlike in the southern Astana Zone the Army of Mohammad's They Were Wronged offensive has not triggered a fullscale Syrian counter-offensive.

Instead the Syrians have opted to merely suppress the Army of Mohammad through increase air and artillery strikes. They have though mounted limited ground incursions. Most notably into the Jobar neighbourhood on November 25th 2017 (25/11/17) and the Ayn Tarma district on December 5th 2017 (5/12/17).

As a result despite an marked increase in fighting there have been no real gains made by either side.

On November 17th 2017 (17/11/17) the Army of Mohammad claimed they'd captured part of the HAV Base. However by November 20th 2017 (20/11/17) the Syrians had regained full control of the base killing a senior Faylaq al-Rahman commander in the process.

Likewise on January 3rd 2018 (3/1/18) the Army of Mohammad claimed to have besieged and then captured the HAV Base. However on January 4th 2018 (4/1/18) the Syrians were able to move reinforcements to the base showing that it had neither been besieged nor captured.

On December 27th 2017 (27/12/17) a deal was reached to evacuate 500 civil ans from the fighting in East Ghouta. However on December 29th 2017 (29/12/17) the Army of Mohammad launched a fresh assault on the HAV Base ending the ceasefire with just 29 of the evacuations having taken place.

As the Breaking the Chains of Harmon offensive has been completely defeated and the They Were Wronged offensive has stalled the Army of Conquest have done what they always do when they're losing;

Accused the Syrians of committing atrocities and demand the United Nations (UN) and the Astana Parties stopped the Syrians shooting back at them.

17:10 on 17/1/18 (UK date).

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Operation Featherweight: Month 43, Week 1, Day 3.

This should be read as a direct continuation of yesterday's post;

I should start by correcting an omission from that post.

ISIL are allied with the Army of Khalid Ibrahim al-Walid/Jaish Khalid Ibn al-Walid group who operate in the Yarmouk River basin. ISIL themselves continue to maintain a presence on the border between Hama and Homs Provinces and the Euphrates River basin. They also maintain control over the Yarmouk Camp for Palestinian Refugees in the suburbs of the Syrian capital Damascus.

Apart from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF/QSD) the other main force which has been fighting to clear ISIL from the Euphrates River basin are the Syrians themselves. They are backed by longstanding allies Russia and Iran alongside the Lebanese group Hezbollah.

Since the late spring of 2017 the Syrians have been working to liberate central Syria from ISIL. Both in the north and south of the country.

In August 2017 the Syrians north and south advances converged on the town of as-Suknah. This around 130km (75 miles) south of Raqqa, 65km (40 miles) north-east of Palmyra and around 200km (120 miles) west of Syria's border with Iraq.

Having converged on as-Suknah Syrian forces then liberated the cities, towns, villages and other population centres along the south bank of the Euphrates River.

On September 24th 2017 (24/9/17) the Syrians liberated Madan. This sits around 55km (30 miles) south-east of Raqqa and around 65km (40 miles) north-west of Deir-ez-Zour City.

On October 14th 2017 (14/10/17) the Syrians liberated Mayadin. This sits around 60km (35 miles) south-east of Deir-ez-Zour and around 70km (40 miles) of the Syria/Iraq border.

On November 18th 2017 (18/11/17) the Syrians fully liberated Deir-ez-Zour City. The capital of Deir-ez-Zour Province this is the largest city on the Euphrates save for Raqqa.

On November 9th 2017 (9/11/17) the Syrians liberated Abu Kamal/Al-Bukamal. The last major population centre held by ISIL on the south bank of the Euphrates this sits around 80km (50 miles) south-east of Mayadin and just 8km (5 miles) from Syria's border with Iraq.

Following the liberation of Abu Kamal ISIL were able to re-group outside of the town. Along with sleeper cells remaining in the town they were able to launch a counter-offensive which had recaptured around 50-75% of the town by November 12th 2017 (12/11/17).

However bolstered by reinforcements from Mayadin the Syrians were able to launch a fresh attempt to liberate Abu Kamal on November 13th 2017 (13/11/17). By November 19th 2017 (19/11/17) had been once again liberated and remains under Syrian control.

Finally the Syrians set about liberating the areas between Mayadin and Abu Kamal. On December 5th (5/12/17) the Syrians liberated Qataa, Jalaa, Ramadi and Buqan. These all sit in an roughly 65kmsq (40 milesq) area.

The last area under ISIL control the liberation of the Qataa to Buqan area allowed to Syrians to declare that all the territory on the south bank of the Euphrates had been liberated from ISIL.

With the SDF liberating the northern bank of the Euphrates and the Syrians liberating the southern bank there has obviously been some tension between the two.

For example on December 2nd (2/12/17) the Syrians liberated al-Jadlah. This sits around 50km (30 miles) north-west of Abu Kamal and around 30km (20 miles) south-east of Mayadin.

Crucially al-Jadlah sits on the northern bank of the Euphrates which is generally considered to be the SDF's area of operations. It also sits within the area traditionally controlled by the Sheitat Tribe.

As such the Syrians move into al-Jadlah seemed to be an attempt to prevent the SDF from liberating the Sheitat Tribal area instead keeping it under Syrian government control. However the Syrians have not attempted to advance beyond al-Jadlah and although I've not had it confirmed may have withdrawn to their side of the Euphrates.

On December 22nd 2017 (22/12/17) the SDF and the Syrians exchanged fire at Busayrah and Khisham. Busayrah sits almost on an island where the Khobar and Euphrates Rivers meet. Khisham sits almost directly to the south-east of Busayrah.

This exchange of fire was initiated by the Syrians. It occurred during the eighth round of meetings in the Astana Process in Syria.

The main topic for discussion at that eighth round of meetings were efforts to arrange the Syrian National Congress. This provisionally scheduled to be held in Sochi, Russia on January 29th 2018 (29/1/18) and January 30th 2018 (30/1/18).

This was initially agreed upon at the seventh round of meetings in the Astana Process held on on October 30th 2017 (30/10/17) and October 31st 2017 (31/10/17). The congress was supposed to take place on November 18th 2017 (18/11/17). However Turkey backed out of the agreement due to plans to include Syria's Kurds in what is supposed to be a national dialogue of all Syrian people.

Turkish President/Prime Minister/Emperor Recep Tayyip Erdogan's objection seems to be to all Kurds wherever the may be in the World. However he specifically objects to the involvement of the SDF within the Syrian National Congress. Therefore there are certain advantages to the Syrians and the Russians showing they share Erdogan's hostility to the SDF.

The eighth round of meetings in the Astana Process concluded with a much firmer commitment to the Syrian National Congress being held in Sochi at the end of January. As a concession Erdogan has agreed to allow Syria's Kurds to be represented by the Kurdish National Coalition (ENKS).

However the ENKS have little influence amongst Syria's Kurds being an extension of the Iraqi Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP). Under the Barzanis the KDP has become little more than a puppet regime for Erdogan.

In their sweep across the south of the country the Syrians liberated the town of al-Tanf in early June 2017. This is located right on the Syria/Iraq border around 280km (170 miles) east of the Syrian capital Damascus.

In liberating al-Tanf the Syrians isolated the nearby military base designated; "Bobby Sands." This was being used by American and British Special Operations Forces (SOF's) to train fragments of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) known collectively as; "The Southern Front."

Following the Syrian liberation of al-Tanf the British SOF's - the Special Air Service (SAS) - pulled out of Bobby Sands.

However American SOF's have continued to operate the base in order to train the Revolutionary Commando Army/Maghawir al-Thawra group. With ISIL largely defeated and the group unaffiliated with the SDF it is unclear for what purpose Maghawir al-Thawra continue to be trained.

The presence of American SOF's at the Bobby Sands base prevent the Syrians and Russians conducting airstrikes in the area. Likewise the presence of Syrian and Russian forces prevent CJTFOIR from conducting airstrikes in the area. 

This has created an ungoverned corridor through which fleeing ISIL fighters seem able to move freely.

The Syrians and the Russians have made it quite clear that they think it's time for the US to abandon the Bobby Sands base so security can be restored to the area. The British have already left.

Despite the clashes a Busayrah and Khisham the Syrians seem to be happy to leave the SDF to their area of operations north of the Euphrates.

The Syrians most elite ground unit is the Tiger Forces. It was these forces that travelled from Mayadin on November 13th 2017 (13/11/17) to decisively win the second battle for Abu Kamal

Although they are very different in structure the Syrian Tiger Forces name seems to be inspired by the Tiger Force Battalion of the US 101st Airborne. During the Vietnam War the US Tiger Force were notorious for committing war crimes and human rights abuses. 

Something that people might need to be reminded off when the US pretends to be appalled by accusations of similar allegations being made against Syrian forces.

On or around December 13th 2017 (13/12/17) the Syrian Tiger Forces were redeployed away from the Euphrates River basin. They handed responsibility for security in the area to the Jerusalem Brigade/Liwa al-Quds and the Fatimiah (daughter of the Prophet) Brigade/Liwa al-Fatemiyoun militias.

These Sunni and Shia militias are clearly not as effective as the Tiger Forces. On December 18th (18/12/17) ISIL conducted a fresh offensive allowing them recapture the Buqan area including Ramadi and al-Hasrat.

Fortunately the militias in Syria received assistance from the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF). They crossed into Syria and the Buqan area was once again liberated on December 22nd 2017 (22/12/17).

Since then there have been no clashes reported between either the Syrians and ISIL or the Syrians and the SDF in the Euphrates basin area. 

17:45 on 11/1/18 (UK date).

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Operation Featherweight: Month 43, Week 1, Day 2.

In the summer of 2014 the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were at their most powerful.

They controlled large swathes of both Iraq and Syria. They'd declared themselves to be an Islamist Caliphate. Their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be it's Caliph and the Syrian city of Raqqa to be its capital.

Now as we stand at the start of 2018 ISIL find themselves in a much more sorry state.

On November 3rd 2017 (3/11/17) the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) liberated the town of al-Qaim. This sits in the western Anbar Province just on the Iraqi side of the Iraq/Syria border. The last population centre held by ISIL in Iraq the liberation of al-Qaim allowed the Iraqis to declare that all of Iraq had been liberated from ISIL.

Iraq is made up of two main regions. The Arab region which makes up the bulk of the country and the Kurdish region in the north-east of the country. Both of these regions have their own governments and security forces. The ISF and the Peshmerga. With the Kurdish region supposed to be subservient to the main Iraqi both these governments and security forces have worked together to liberate the nation.

In October 2017 the then President of the Kurdish region Masoud Barzani unilaterally and completely illegal declared independence from Iraq. This included in areas outside of the Kurdish region that the Peshmerga had seized militarily during the fight against ISIL.

This triggered a crisis which saw the ISF turn their attentions to gently squeezing the Peshmerga from the captured areas and restoring Iraqi control. This has created something of a power vacuum in the areas where the Kurdish region and the Arab region meet. Particularly around the areas of Hawija and Tuz Khurmatu.

This security vacuum has allowed ISIL to continue to maintain a presence in that area. However they are unable to control any cities, town, villages or other centre. Instead they are limited to isolated camps in the mountains and other rural areas.

Within Syria ISIL continue to maintain a significant presence in the north-west of the country along the border between Hama and Homs Provinces.

ISIL are also allied with the Army of Khalid Ibrahim al-Walid/Jaish Khalid Ibn al-Walid group. They operate in the south-western Daraa Province along the basin of the Yarmouk River close to the Golan Heights United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) zone.

The main focus of the last six months or so has been on ousting ISIL from their Syrian heartland in the north-west of the country. This is centred around the basin of the Euphrates River including the city of Raqqa.

One of the main forces fighting ISIL in that area is the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF/QSD). This is a coalition of forces that was created in October 2015.

The largest element of the SDF coalition is the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). They operate alongside Assyrian/Syriac Christian, Turkmen and Arab Muslim forces. The Arab element which makes up around 50% of the SDF is comprised of both elements of the long defunct Free Syrian Army and local tribes indigenous to north-eastern Syria.

The SDF is supported by the US-led coalition; Combined Joint Task Force: Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTFOIR) both with air power and Special Operations Forces (SOF's). The SDF also contains a small International Brigade made up of foreign volunteers.

Although the SDF did not formally come into being until October 2015 the YPG have been operating alongside fragments of the FSA since the Battle of Kobane in the winter of 2014/15.

In July 2015 this unnamed combined force liberated the town Tel Abyad/Gire Spi from ISIL. Tel Abyad sits right on the border between Syria and Turkey around 45km (25 miles) east of the Euphrates.

In August 2015 this precursor to the SDF liberated the city of Hasakah from both ISIL and Syrian forces. Hasakah sits around 60km (35 miles) west of the Syria/Iraq border and around 75km (45 miles) south of Syria's border with Turkey.

The liberations of Tal Abyad and Hasakah put what became the SDF in control of a vast area of north-eastern Syria from the Euphrates to Syria's borders with Turkey and Iraq. For operational reasons this area which cuts across parts of several of Syria's provinces has been designated; "Shangri-La."

In November 2016 the SDF launched an operation codenamed; "Wrath of Euphrates." It's ultimate objective was to liberate the city of Raqqa from ISIL. However before it could do that it had to expand Shangri-La to Raqqa City.

In late November 2016 the SDF took up positions around 25km (15 miles) north of Raqqa having liberated around 600kmsq (360 milesq) of territory.

In early January 2017 the SDF took up positions at Lake Assad around 55km (30 miles) west of Raqqa. In the process the SDF liberated around 3,200kmsq (1.920 milesq) of territory along the eastern bank of the Euphrates from where the river enters Syria from Turkey.

In March 2017 the SDF took up positions at Karamah around 30km (20 miles) east of Raqqa. In the process the SDF liberated around 1000kmsq (600 milesq) of territory.

In early May the SDF liberated the town of Tabqa and took control of the Tabqa Dam. This sits on the southern banks of the Euphrates around 50km (30 miles) west of Raqqa. Tabqa Dam forms Lake Assad out of the Euphrates.

On June 6th 2017 (6/6/17) the SDF launched an operation to liberate the city of Raqqa itself. After 133 days of intense urban fighting Raqqa was fully liberated on October 19th 2017 (19/10/17).

While the operation to liberate Raqqa City was ongoing the SDF were also advancing south-east along the north bank of the Euphrates from Karamah.

On September 9th 2017 (9/9/17) the SDF launched a second operation along the Euphrates basin. This was codenamed; "Cizre Storm."

At the time Cizre Storm was launched the only area of Syria north-east of the Euphrates River which did not fall under SDF control as part of Shangri-La is a roughly 1500kmsq (860 milesq) area stretching across the Khobar River.

Roughly in the shape of a triangle this area had as its tip the point where the Euphrates River enters Iraq. It's base is an imaginary line stretching between the towns of Madan and al-Shadaddi.

Madan sits on the Euphrates River roughly 70km (40 miles) south-east of Raqqa and 110km (70 miles) north-west of Mayadin. Al-Shadaddi sits on the Khobar River roughly 150km (90 miles) east of Raqqa and roughly 130km (75 miles) north of Mayadin.

The objective of the Cizre Storm operation is to advance from the Madan-Shadaddi Line, across the Khobar River to where the Euphrates River enters Iraq. This will liberate the area from ISIL and properly establish Shangri-La with the Euphrates River as its southern boundary.

Although the technical aspects of the operation are more complex put simply it has two phases; To advance from the Madan-Shadaddi Line to the Khobar River. Then cross the river and advance to the Syria/Iraq border.

Within both of those phases there are two strands; Liberating the largely unpopulated areas of desert north of the Euphrates. Liberating the population centres that sit directly on the north bank of the Euphrates.

On September 26th 2017 (26/9/17) the SDF reached and liberated the town of as-Suwar. This sits on the western bank of the Khobar roughly 95km (60 miles) south-east of the Madan-Shadaddi Line.

On October 4th 2017 (4/10/17) the SDF reached the town of Markadah. This sits on the western bank of the Khobar roughly 30km (20 miles) south-east of the Madan-Shadaddi Line and around 30km (20 miles) north-east of as-Suwar. Markadah went on to be liberated on October 20th 2017 (20/10/17).

On October 10th 2017 (10/10/17) the SDF reached and liberated the town of Zuwaymiah. This sits on the western bank of the Khobar right where it meets the Euphrates. It is around 100km (60 miles) south-east of the Madan-Shadaddi Line and around 40km (25 miles) south-west of as-Suwar.

The liberation of Zuwaymiah meant that the SDF had reached the Khobar River at three points and the first phase of the Cizre Storm operation had been completed.

On October 14th 2017 (14/10/17) the SDF advanced from Karamah arrived at the outskirts of Deir-ez-Zour City. This linked the Cizre Storm and Wrath of Euphrates operations.

On October 20th 2017 (20/10/17) the Cizre Storm operation crossed the Khobar.

The desert strand made rapid progress liberating the Omar Oil & Gas Field on October 21st 2017 (21/10/17). Being some 160kmsq (95 milesq) in area the liberation of the Omar Oil & Gas Field put the SDF within just 40km (25 miles) from Syria's border with Iraq.

On November 25th 2017 (25/11/17) the desert strand reached the Syria/Iraq border roughly at the village of Mallah and its associated Salt Pan. This sits roughly 45km (25 miles) north-east of where the Euphrates River enters Iraq from Syria.

The task of liberating the urban areas along the north bank of the Euphrates is more complicated than liberating the unpopulated desert areas. Therefore this river strand has understandably made slower progress.

However because the SDF control the area to the north of those urban areas they have been able to advance south to the Euphrates. This has allowed them to cut the urban areas off from each other and liberate them in what to the untrained eye seems a haphazard way.

The immediate focus was on liberating the town of Busayrah. This sits almost on an island where the Euphrates and Khobar Rivers meet. Busayrah was liberated by the SDF on November 11th 2017 (11/11/17).

Having liberated Busayrah the SDF then advanced south-east towards the town of Diban. This sits around 20km (10 miles) south-east of Busayrah and was liberated on November 17th 2017 (17/11/17). En route from Busayrah to Diban the SDF also liberated Shuhyal and al-Gharbi which sit between the two.

The SDF advance then leapfrogged to liberate the town of Abu Hamman on December 1st 2017 (1/12/17). This sits around 25km (15 miles) south-east of Diban.

The SDF advance leapfrogged again to liberate the town of Hajin and the nearby village of Grennig on December 7th 2017 (7/12/17) and December 8th 2017 (8/12/17). Hajin sits around 45km (30 miles) south-east of Diban. It is actually closer to the Syria/Iraq border which sits 30km (20 miles) south-east of Hajin.

On December 2nd (2/12/17) the SDF launched an operation to liberate the towns of Darnaj, Suwaydan Jazirah, al-Jurdi al-Gharbi and al-Jurdi ash-Sharqi. These all sit in the area between Diban and Abu Hamman.

Suwaydah was reported liberated on December 12th 2017 (12/12/17). Al-Jurdi al-Gharbi was reported liberated the following day on December 13th 2017 (13/12/17). On December 17th (17/12/17) al-Jurdi ash-Sharqi was reported liberated.

The roughly 225kmsq (135milesq) area between Abu Hamman and Hajin is traditionally controlled by the Sheitat Tribe. That tribe has traditionally been loyal to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. Following the liberation of Abu Hamman the SDF entered into negotiations with the Sheitat Tribe to enter the area to clear it of ISIL.

Those negotiations appear to have been successful. On December 15th 2017 (15/12/17) the SDF launched an operation to liberate areas within the Sheitat Tribal Area such as Marsama Gharbi, al-Khuskiyah and Garanij. Marsama Gharbi was reported liberated on December 30th 2017 (30/12/17).

On December 29th 2017 (29/12/17) the SDF reported the liberation of the villages of Jubb al-Bahrah, al-Qahawi, al-Jabal and Kashkiyan. These all sit around 5km (3 miles) north-west of Hajin. Jubba al-Bahrah sits directly south-east of the town of al-Bahrah which in turn borders the Sheitat Tribal Area to the south-east.

Amid all of the recent big battles such as for the cities of Raqqa and Mosul in Iraq ISIL have to some extent fled. They take their most precious resources such as their leader al-Baghdadi and move them to fallback positions. Amid the final stages of the Cizre Storm operation ISIL have now run out of fallback positions to flee too.

With ISIL being forced to make their last stand the fighting has intensified significantly. On a single day of fighting for Suwaydan on December 7th 2017 (7/12/17) the SDF killed 35 ISIL fighters. Across the course of the 10 day battle for the town 273 ISIL fighters were confirmed killed.

ISIL have also begun to widely adopt the tactics they used in Abu Kamal/Abu Bukamal against Syrian forces in early November 2017. That is they initially abandon the area in the face on an advancing enemy. They then re-group outside in order to launch a counter-attack alongside clandestine cells remaining in the area.

In the face of these tactics numerous locations have swung back-and-forth between ISIL and SDF control multiple times.

For example Abu Hardub a village adjacent to Abu Hamman was liberated on December 13th 2017 (13/12/17). It was then lost to ISIL before being liberated for a second time on December 25th 2017 (25/12/17). Likewise Hajin was liberated on December 7th 2017 (7/12/17) before being lost and liberated for a second time on December 28th (28/12/17).

Also ISIL have begun to rely more on insurgent tactics particularly targeting the local civilian population. On December 20th 2017 (20/12/17) ISIL fighters disguised as civilians infiltrated a newly liberated village near al-Gharbi. They murdered five people including the leader of the village before fleeing.

ISIL have also continued to use Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED's) against civilians. A December 17th 2017 (17/12/17) attack on the Tanak Oil & Gas Field wounded 20.

ISIL claim that a December 30th 2017 (30/12/17) VBIED attack on al-Bahra killed 20 and wounded 50. Curiously that attack was carried out by a German ISIL fighter who referred to the SDF as the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). There is currently a degree of tension between Turkey and Germany over Germany's support for the SDF which Turkey claims is nothing more than an extension of the PKK.

The SDF do seem well placed to combat this shift in ISIL tactics. They have already formed a specialised elite Anti-Terrorism Unit (YAT).

On January 3rd 2018 (3/1/18) the YAT conducted an intelligence-led operation against a clandestine ISIL cell that had been plotting to attack against the Mabrouka camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP's) close to Hasakah City.

The raid which took place in the SDF controlled village of Karamah around 30km (20 miles) east of Raqqa City resulted in the deaths of all 14 members of the terror cell.

17:45 on 10/1/18 (UK date).

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

New Year. Same Old Carnage.

2017 has given way to 2018. So if I remember nothing in this post I really have to remember to put the right date at the end.

December 2017 saw intense discussion over the popstar Rihanna's relationship with Saudi national Hassan Jameel. At the centre of this discussion is the fact that Jameel supplied the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with thousands of Toyota motor vehicles. It was being conducted by some of the major players in the war against ISIL.

So although it probably doesn't seem like it to people fighting on the front lines this discussion is sadly very relevant to the war against ISIL.

On December 26th (26/12/17) Rihanna's cousin Tavon Alleyne was killed in a targeted shooting. He was returning home from a party that Rihanna had hosted in their native Barbados.

I cannot yet confirm that the British intelligence services had Rihanna's cousin killed. However for several weeks before the killing Britain and other intelligence services had been discussing killing people close to Rihanna. Those conversations alone had a death toll of 36.

On December 31st (31/12/17) Australia made another large contribution to the discussion. A light aircraft crashed en route to the city of Sydney. The crash killed six people including a British family of five.

Obviously killing British citizens is a sign of hostility towards Britain. It tends not to be something you do when you are pleased about the way Britain is conducting itself. The crash also increased the pressure on Britain by including a large number of complex references.

For example the exact site of the crash was Jerusalem Bay. On December 6th (6/12/17) US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He then immediately signed a waiver suspending his decision. Just as every US President has done since 1995.

To say President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem was controversial is an understatement. Not least because violating international law it is not something he has the authority to do.

On December 19th (19/12/17) the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) met to vote on a motion condemning President Trump's decision. Of the UNSC's 15 members 14 voted in support of the motion with only the veto holding US voting against.

On December 21st (21/12/17) the defeated UNSC motion went to the UN General Assembly (UNGA). By a vote of 128 to 9 the US' UNSC veto was overturned and the motion was adopted. This is only the 11th time in history that a UNSC veto has been overturned by the UNGA.

Over the winter break the most reported upon development in the story is that the popstar Lorde cancelled a concert scheduled to be held in Israel's capital Tel Aviv. Rather than being a direct protest of President Trump's decision this was a more general response to pressure from the very aggressive Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Lorde is originally from Australia's neighbour New Zealand. Although a friendly rivalry does exist between the two Australia and New Zealand are culturally very similar. The flags of the two nations are almost identical.

Apart from New Zealanders being far more polite one of the main differences between the two nations is their attitude towards being part of the British Commonwealth Realm. Australia keeps threatening to do away with British Queen Elizabeth II as head of state while New Zealand are very pro-Monarchy.

Lorde's big break came in 2013 when she was just 15 years old. Her single; "Royals" was rushed out specifically to coincide with Rihanna's Diamonds World Tour (DWT). It was intended to increase the pressure on Rihanna by reminding her that no matter how many of her fans call her queen she will never be Royal.

So if you were looking to find the significance of the Jerusalem Bay crash feel free to take your pick from any and all of that.

The specific aircraft which crashed was a DHC-2 Beaver. With a name like that sexual innuendo is inevitable.

In production from 1947 to 1967 the DHC-2 Beaver has been a very widely used aircraft. It was used by the British Army Air Corp as a reconnaissance aircraft. Most notably in Aden in what is now Yemen during the 1963-1967 Aden Emergency.

The DHC-2 Beaver was also used during the Northern Irish Troubles which have been a major theme in the war against ISIL.

In one particular incident in November 1979 the aircraft was being used to surveil a checkpoint the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) had established on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. PIRA opened fire on the aircraft nearly shooting it down. As result that area of the border became known as; "Beaver Junction."

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has been a major sticking point in negotiations on Britain leaving the European Union (EU) - the "Brexit." A point driven home by the fact one of those killed in the crash - William Cousins - was the head of public relations for; "Open Britain" - a pressure group determined to keep Britain within the EU.

Beyond that the crash seemed to contain a large number of often obscure reference to my life.

One of the largest current operators of particularly the seaplane variant of the DHC-2 is a US company called; "Kenmore Air." This sounds very similar to; "Kenmore Square."

Kenmore Square is a famous area in the US city of Boston, Massachusetts. It sits close to the famous Fenway Park baseball stadium. It is very close to the Watertown area of the city where the March 2013 Boston Marathon bombers were chased. An event that coincided with Rihanna's DWT.

Kenmore Square used to sit in the town of Brookline. However in 1874 the town of Brookline merged with the town of Brighton forming the city of Boston. As such the crash focused on a period of my life when I was living in the British city of Brighton.

The head of the family killed was Richard Cousins Chairman of the Compass group - one of Britain's 100 largest companies.

In British airports and railway stations you often get miniature versions of everyday high street shops such as Marks & Spencers, Starbucks, McDonalds etc. However these shops are not actually operated by those companies. Instead they are run by Compass under complex franchise deals.

As such Compass is probably the largest British retailer that no-one has ever heard of.

I know this because when I was living in Brighton one of my housemates was a manager at one of Compass' outlets.

The killing of such a high powered businessman references the killing of Barry and Honey Sherman on December 15th (15/12/17) in the city of Toronto in that other part of the British Commonwealth Realm Canada. Apart from reminding Rihanna that people are being hung for what she is doing this referenced President Trump's Jerusalem announcement through the rival generic drug maker Teva.

Although it crashed in Jerusalem Bay the flight was en route between Cottage Point and Rose Bay.

Whilst living in Brighton I had a young woman called Rose in my social circle. That social circle also contained a younger gay man.

Within gay male culture there is a practice known as; "Cottaging." This is essentially meeting strangers in an open area like a park for anonymous sex. It recently seems to have been adopted in straight culture through a practice known as; "Dogging."

Having a constant rivalry with Manchester for the title of Britain's gay capital there are obviously quite a few cottaging sites or Cottage points in Brighton.

One night I was out with this social circle - lets say - drinking. The young gay guy decided he wanted to go cottaging. We decided we didn't want to break up the group. So although we had no intention of participating we all accompanied him to this cottage point. We sat at the entrance welcoming people as they came and went about their furtive and sleazy business.

Even as we were doing it we were thinking; "Even for Brighton this is a weird story."

Now I have left Brighton my social circle is much smaller. In fact it is now just me. So I for one am not happy about being forced to migrate from Brighton to London.

In much the same way many of my distant cousins are not happy about their ancestors being forced to migrate to Australia. In the late 19th century.

One of the elements of the December discussion about Rihanna was the crash of a private jet in Germany on December 14th (14/12/17).

Britain very quickly made the connection between a plane crash and a plane crash.

So on December 31st (31/12/17) it responded to the Australian contribution. This took the form of a massive fire at a parking structure in the UK city of Liverpool. Close to the Liverpool Echo Arena where the International Horse Show was taking place.

In 2011 Rihanna along with Jay Z and Kanye West released the song; "Run This Town." Using some highly specious reasoning this song was blamed for the rioting which gripped large parts of the US in 2011.

The British Labour Party used those riots as cover to burn down almost entire city blocks of the London borough of Croydon. Their objective was to clear away the privately owned low rise buildings to replace them with high rise rental properties that the Labour Party could profit from. With talk of a large shopping mall being built in the borough you would think those profits would be significant.

Having gone unpunished for the 2011 arson attacks the Labour Party attempted to repeat the trick by setting fire to the Grenfell Tower in the Kensington & Chelsea borough of London in June 2017. On this occasion they murdered 70 people in an effort to overthrow the democratically elected Conservative government.

So through no fault of her own Rihanna is sadly also linked to the Grenfell Tower fire. Whether Labour will be brought to justice over the attack looks likely to be one of the big stories in the UK throughout 2018.

On December 30th (30/12/17) the UK actually referenced this themselves with a fire at an apartment block in the city of Manchester. As in the Manchester Evening News Arena (MENA) which was bombed on May 22nd (22/5/17).

It is also worth noting that the wife and children of former Labour leader Tony Blair have all invested heavily in the Manchester rental market. Making large profits for themselves and contributing in no small part to the city's growing homelessness problem.

The Liverpool fire occurred at a parking structure serving the "International Horse Show." With a British accent "Horse" can be pronounced to sound like "Whores" as in prostitutes. "International Whore" is certainly one way to describe Rihanna at the moment.

I joke that Rihanna and I were forced into marriage at the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 Para-Olympic Games held in London to punish us both for the August 2011 riots.

Throughout 2013 the US were trying to force Rihanna into marriage to Chris Brown in an effort to make her weak and therefore easy to manipulate.

Saudi Arabia is currently trying to force Rihanna into marriage to Hassan Jameel in an effort to use her has a trophy to mock their regional rival Qatar.

This type of forced breeding is particularly common amongst people who raise horses. Particularly race horses.

Known as the Sport of Kings horse racing is very popular amongst the British Monarch and the Gulf Monarchies. Godolphin one of the World's largest horse racing stables is owned by Royal Family of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Britain actually made a bit of a joke along this theme over Christmas. December 27th is one of the busiest days in the British horse racing calender.

So on Christmas Day BBC News' big story focused on the grooms who help make the racing happen. We were told of the importance of being sympathetic to these people who work very hard, away from their families for very little money.

The subtext being that in Britain's eyes I am Rihanna's preferred groom. As in Bridegroom.

At around 18:50 on 2/1/18 (UK date) I'll have to pick this up later. Probably tomorrow.

Edited at around 16:00 on 3/1/18 (UK date) to add;

The killing of Rihanna's cousin may actually have been a clumsy attempt to force us together. After all a murder is the sort of thing that has people sending for their guard dogs.

The problem is that with Rihanna being on the other side of the Atlantic there's not really anyway for us to get in contact. This is the sort of thing I would hesitate to do over the phone rather than in person. It's certainly not something you deal with in public over Twitter.

With her resources it wouldn't actually be that difficult for Rihanna to get into contact with me. However its a bit much to expect her to do that just amid the family drama of her cousin being killed.

If the Australians were trying to get attention with their contribution they certainly succeeded

On December 31st (31/12/17) the US responded with the mass shooting of police officers responding to a domestic disturbance call in the Highland Ranch area of Colorado. Boston's Kenmore Square is named after the town of Kenmore in the Scottish Highlands.

The Colorado incident broke late on New Year's Eve evening. As a result for me at least many of the details got lost in the preparations for the big midnight celebration.

However I did pick up on the fact the shooter - Matthew Riehl  - was a US Army  combat veteran. He was honourably discharged in 2012. This was the same year that I was married off to Rihanna and the year before she embarked on her 2013 DWT.

Therefore it could be the US expressing their displeasure at by involvement in the DWT by claiming I'd been discharged from my duties the year before. However I remember the US being very keen for me to be included in the DWT. They just assumed I'd lose.

There was also something about Riehl sending letters to and generally being in dispute with his old university. The reason I originally moved to Brighton was to go to university. However not knowing the details of Riehl dispute I can't say if there are any parallels or not.

At roughly the same time the news was breaking from Colorado news of another plane crash was also starting to emerge. This time from Costa Rica.

Located in Central America Costa Rica sits on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. The killing of Rihanna's cousin in Barbados on the other side of the Caribbean is certainly in their neighborhood.

The Costa Rica plane crash killed 10 US citizens. As with the Australia plane crash this is not something you do as a gesture of friendship.

However unlike the Australia plane crash the Costa Ricans were not blaming the UK for killing Rihanna's cousin. Instead they seemed to be blaming the US for forcing Rihanna into a relationship with Hassan Jameel. Creating the conditions which forced the UK to kill her cousin.

With the exception of the crew all those killed in Costa Rica were members of two Jewish families from New York State. This referenced President Trump's Jerusalem announcement.

It also referenced the killing of Barry and Honey Sherman which itself was done in reference to President Trump's Jerusalem announcement. I'll need to check but I think both the Sherman's and the Steinberg family supported the same liberal Jewish causes.

Mainly though it seemed to be an inquiry about the fire which tore through an apartment building in the Bronx district if New York City (NYC), New York State on December (28/12/17). This killed 12 people.

In an effort to draw comparison's to the Grenfell Tower fire NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio declared it to be a historic tragedy, the likes of which the city had not seen in decades. In fact it struck me as something that was pretty typical for NYC.

Apart from the fire that had occurred in the same building a week before I pointed to a similar fire in the Brooklyn district on December 17th (17/12/17). This killed an entire family of Orthodox Jews.

It also reminded me of a March 2015 fire that killed a family of 9 Orthodox Jews also in Brooklyn. That fire was so shocking on hearing about it I assumed it must have some political dimension.

However after looking at it in detail it turns out it was just a fire. Orthodox Jews are forbidden from doing any work on their Sabbath. This includes flicking electrical switches.

So many of them leave electrical devices like lights and hotplates on throughout the Sabbath. This leads to a lot of accidental fires.

Edited again at around 18:30 on 3/1/18 (UK date) to to tidy the above and add;

Occurring almost directly across the road from Brooklyn Zoo the December 28th (28/12/17) fire was itself an enquiry. About the December 23rd (23/12/17) fire at London Zoo in the UK.

As I've mentioned that was the result of British concerns about how their relationship with Russia would be affected by the TV Show; "McMafia." Hence the reference to St Petersburg.

The December 28th (28/12/17) fire was caused by a child playing with a stove. This was in reference to the Roku box I received for Christmas 2016 but only activated on December 27th (27/12/17).

A Roku box is essentially a modem for your TV. It allows you to connect it to the Internet. The version I've got is supplied by the UK broadcaster Sky so allows you to stream their entertainment, movie and sport channels.

However rather than being received by a satellite dish or TV aerial this content comes via the Internet. So if you can hack someone's Internet connection you can watch what they're watching as they watch it.

I have been known to stream music videos on my computer. Even if I don't tell anyone I'm doing it this still has a way of provoking a reaction.

If I were to start streaming programs like the US TV Show; "False Flag" which is about Israeli spies and a plot to assassinate Iranian leaders that's likely to draw an even more complex reaction.

Also a Roku box is classed as communication technology which in the right hands can have military applications. So there are actually some strict rules about who can buy them and which countries they can be exported to.

The terms and conditions you have to agree to in order to activate the box expressly forbids export to Iraq, Syria, Libya and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK/North). This is due to US antiterrorism sanctions.

Needless to say I opted not to activate my Roku box during the early rounds of meetings in the Astana Process. Instead I waited for the stove to cool down a bit.

The main motivation in setting up the box on the 26th is I wanted to watch an English Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal the following evening.

Crystal Palace have a player named Fonsu-Mensah. One of the most high profile victims of the December 28th (28/1217) fire was Emmanuel Mensah.

Apparently this soldier died after repeatedly reentering the building to rescue others.

Following the Costa Rica plane crash there have been subsequent fires in both the Bronx and Brooklyn districts of NYC. These are the US checking the Costa Ricans meaning.

18:55 on 3/1/18 (UK date).

Friday, 29 December 2017

The Queen of Comedy.

Since 1932 the British Monarch has given a Christmas Day broadcast.

Initially this started out as a radio address. However in 1957 it also became a television broadcast. Traditionally the broadcast is recorded in early December in order to allow the tapes to be shipped out so the broadcast can be made to all the Monarch's subject's across the Commonwealth.

Although that tradition continues the Monarchy have progressed to using more modern forms of communication. As a result if you're so inclined you can watch the 2017 broadcast here;

It finds the current Monarch - Queen Elizabeth II - in something of a playful mood.

It began with her announcing that on this day 60 years ago a very important presenter made a very important broadcast.

It then cut to archive footage of Queen Elizabeth making the first televised Christmas Day broadcast.

Although it went unspoken you could almost hear the Queen saying in a silly voice; "And that important person is me b*tches!"

The main theme of the broadcast is; "Home." This is a solid Christmas theme.

Christmas is of course a holiday that sees people to return to their homes to spend the holiday with their families. The tradition began in the Bible with Joseph and Mary being forced to return to Joseph's ancestral home in Judea where Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ.

However it is also the title of the 2015 animated movie; "Home" featuring Rihanna. She voices a human girl; "Gratuity - Tip - Tucci" who befriends an alien of the "Boov" species named; "Oh." He is voiced by Jim Parsons who is probably most famous as; "Sheldon Cooper" from the US TV show; "The Big Bang Theory."

So in short it is Rihanna and Sheldon going on an adventure together.

This movie was broadcast on UK terrestrial television for the first time by the BBC the previous day. December 24th 2017 (24/12/17).

The Queen then went on to say how she marvelled that how 60 years on from the first televised broadcast many people would be watching the 2017 broadcast on tablets, smartphones and other handheld devices.

Aimed at children and clearly put together in a rush following Rihanna's 2013 Diamonds World Tour (DWT) Home is not overburdened with plot.

However the main story involves Oh using the handheld devices that all the Boov have to accidentally send their location to their enemies. There is then a race to recall the email/sms message before the Boov's enemy receives it. This forms the basis for lots of jokes about computers, cellphones, passwords etc.

Having established that main theme the Queen then went through the big events of the year. In such a way as to turn them into references to Rihanna.

The big event of 2017 in the UK was the terror attack on the Manchester Evening News Arena (MENA) in the British city of Manchester on May 22nd (22/5/17). That was carried out by Qatar as part of an ongoing feud it was having with Saudi Arabia over Rihanna's relationship with the Saudi national Hassan Jameel.

Although it happened in May the MENA bombing is actually a very Christmas story. In the UK as elsewhere it is a tradition that children get given gifts by Father Christmas or Santa Claus.

This involves them writing a letter to Santa in late-November telling him what gifts they would like. There is then an excited wait to see if Santa will bring them what they've asked for. To add to the excitement there are these advent calenders where children countdown the days from the start of December up until Christmas Day.

Many of those who went to the Ariana Grande concert at the MENA would have been given their tickets by Santa. So for them the excited wait from November to Christmas Day would have been followed by another excited wait between Santa bringing them their tickets and the concert taking place.

When the day of the concert finally arrived they were blown up. In a particularly cruel terror attack.

In the broadcast the Queen made specific reference to how those injured had simply gone to see their favourite singer. With that singer going unnamed you could have assumed it was a reference to Rihanna.

In almost the same breath the Queen went on to mention the June 3rd (3/6/17) terror attack in the London Bridge area of London. Again carried out by Qatar this occurred the day before a charity concert for the victims of the MENA bombing as punishment for that concert.

Next the Queen spoke about the hurricanes that ravaged the Commonwealth islands in the Caribbean. Rihanna is of course from the Commonwealth Caribbean island of Barbados which became the main aid distribution hub in response to the hurricanes.

Finally the Queen mentioned the UK Labour Party's arson attack on the Grenfell Tower apartment building in London on June 14th (14/6/17). However the Queen merely described this as; "Appalling."

Grenfell Tower of course was sadly not the UK Labour Party's first large scale arson attack. During the August 2011 riots they burned down large sections of the London borough of Croydon. The hope was they could build masses of rental housing so one of their financial backers could profit from plans to build a shopping mall in the area.

Through the song; "Run This Town" Rihanna along with Jay Z and Kanye West were blamed for the 2011 August riots. So I was 'married' off to Rihanna at the 2012 Para-Olympic Closing Ceremony. Where Rihanna and Jay Z performed "Run This Town" surrounded by just so much fire.

Unfortunately between the Queen's Christmas Day broadcast being recorded and it being, well, broadcast Britain received something of a fright.

On or around December 21st (21/12/17) Russia began sailing the Admiral Gorshkov warship through international waters between the UK and continental Europe. This is a standard navigation route for ships travelling between the Baltic Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and beyond.

However Britain panicked and dispatched the HMS Argus warship to shadow the Admiral Gorshkov as it made its journey.

The reason for this overreaction is that Britain has a dirty little secret planned for Russia.

With Christmas being a time for families to gather at home for the holiday it is a tradition that UK television networks debut their big new shows on New Year's Day.

The BBC's big New Year offering is; "McMafia." This is based on the non-fiction book by British Russian journalist Misha Glenny; "McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld" which examines organised crime and corruption in modern Russia.

The BBC's big New Year offering in 2017 was; "Sherlock." This was simultaneously broadcast within Russia.

The opening episode actually inspired the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to conduct twin terror attacks in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Samarra. The Russian broadcaster then leaked the final episode on the Internet a day early. I could not comment on whether that was done to troll people about the claims of "Russian Hacking!" which continue to be so fashionable in the US.

McMafia is set to be broadcast over 8 weeks which means it will reach its finale around the time of Russia's 2018 election in March. If it is to be broadcast in Russia it seems to be laying the groundwork for Alexey Navalney to stage a big, beautiful colour revolution. Similar to the one the UK attempted in Iran in 2009.

Worried that Russia had uncovered its plot Britain does what it always does when it's in panic, confused or just bored. It went on a killing spree.

On December 23rd (23/12/17) - the day HMS Argus began shadowing the Admiral Gorshkov - they set fire to part of London Zoo.

This reportedly killed an Aardvark named Misha - as in Misha Glenny - and several Meerkats. In the UK there is a long-running and much loved advertising campaign to the "Compare the Market" insurance broker that features Russian Meerkats.

Sadly I'm only about 60% joking when I say the deaths of the London Zoo Meerkats have been faked so they can be smuggled into Russia to lead the March 2018 revolution.

The following day (24/12/17) Britain murdered a Russian national - Iuliana Tudo - in the Finsbury Park area of London. A traditionally very Jewish part of London from a Russian perspective Finsbury Park is famous for being close to Highgate Cemetery - burial place of Karl Marx.

Ms Tudo whose body was discovered yesterday (28/12/17) worked at The World's End Pub in Camden. This seems to be a reference to the 2013 movie; "The World's End." Camden is a very trendy and media focused area of London.

In between Ms Tudo's murder and the discovery of her body Rihanna's cousin - Tavon Alleyne - was killed in a targeted shooting in Barbados on December 26th (26/12/17). He was returning from a party he'd attended with Rihanna.

This puts me in something of a difficult position. Despite our supposed marriage I know nothing more about this incident then what has been publicly reported. I am though close enough where I can cause upset and distress to the family.

In a situation like this you would first look to see whether the killing was the result of a robbery gone wrong.

You would then look for a possible financial motive. As Rihanna's cousin I suspect Tavon Alleyne had more spending money then an average 21 year old Bajan man. That extra money tends to attract unsavoury elements such as drug dealers and gamblers.

Fame and wealth also have a way for attracting jealously. Particularly if they're used to attract other people's wives and girlfriends.

Once those motives have been excluded you are left with the possibility that the UK carried the killing to send Rihanna a message.

For the past two weeks there has been intense discussion over how best to kill Rihanna's rumoured boyfriend Hassan Jameel. After all he is considered a high level supporter of ISIL and partly responsible for the murder of 22 British citizens in Manchester.

The question of whether it would be legally permissible to also kill Rihanna is more complicated. It really relates to the extent of her support for Jameel - the two are not married - and by extension her support for ISIL. Within the war against ISIL a certain amount of collateral damage is considered permissible. Even of people who have no such direct relationship to ISIL.

You would think that forcing Rihanna to attend the funeral of a loved one would really drive that point home to her.

After all I would have liked to have spent Remembrance Sunday (12/11/17) listing all those British citizens killed after volunteering to fight ISIL. Instead I spent the time trying to keep that list as short as possible.

18:25 on 29/12/17 (UK date).

Friday, 22 December 2017

Tis the Season to Spread Good Cheer.

Monday December 25th (25/12/17) will mark Christmas Day in the Gregorian calender.

For Christians this is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ who they consider to be the son of God. Muslims may also choose to mark the day as a celebration of the birth of Jesus - one of God's messengers.

Regardless of religion many people choose to mark the day by gathering together with family and loved ones. Together they eat a big meal, exchange gifts and the often watch a lot of television and movies.

For children the most important figure in this celebration is Santa Claus or Father Christmas. He is the jolly old man who breaks into their homes over Christmas Eve night and delivers them lots of presents.

For adults and particularly parents the even more important figures in the story are Santa's Little Helpers.

Although everyone enjoys the day and the short holiday after the day Christmas involves so much work that everyone dreams of magic little elves that come in and do the work for them.

As you may have noticed this week I have largely been preoccupied with all that extra work. What I would like to have been doing today is providing you with a quick update on the current fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated groups. Then move onto something more festive.

Unfortunately I am still stuck dealing with the fallout from the popstar Rihanna's decision to date a senior ISIL supporter. A Saudi by the name of Hassan Jameel.

You can read more about that in Monday's (18/12/17) post;

As I was writing that post there was a security incident at Royal Air Force (RAF) base Mildenhall in the British county of Suffolk. This military base is also used by the United States Air Force (USAF).

Apparently a man drove his vehicle through checkpoints onto the base and came within metres/yards of US V-22 Osprey aircraft before shots were fired and his Volvo estate car came to a halt. The man was arrested uninjured and detained under the Mental Health Act.

RAF Mildenhall had been the focus of a threat from Islamist terrorism back in May 2016. ISIL supporters Junead Khan and Shazib Khan were jailed for plotting to attack either that base or the nearby RAF Lakenhall.

Junead Khan had worked as a delivery driver for a pharmaceutical company. He may well have delivered products made by Israel's Teva or Barry Sherman's Apotex.

In discussing Rihanna's relationship with Hassan Jameel Germany referenced the US TV Show; "The Unit." This featured the actor John Hamm just before he became famous for his role in the US TV show; "Mad Men."

In The Unit John Hamm's character was an anti-war protester who was always demonstrating and trying to gain entry to the base. Although I will need to check the record I think he bonded with the wife of one of the unit members during a shooting incident at or near the base.

The fact that the incident at RAF Mildenhall resulted in a man being detained under the Mental Health Act really underlined John Hamm's role in The Unit. He is of course probably the world's most famous Mad Man.

The primary objective of Rihanna's 2013 Diamonds World Tour (DWT) was to force her into psychotic breakdown/mental health emergency while in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). As a result mental health issues have a been a constant theme in her story.

In the immediate aftermath of the RAF Mildenhall incident there was lots of discussion over whether it was a terrorist incident or not. That reflected the discussion over whether Hassan Jameel and by extension Rihanna are terrorists or not.

The RAF Mildenhall incident forced the US to announce that it did not consider the incident and by extension Hassan Jameel to be terrorist related. That was done both to make the US look like fools and to justify the UK's hosting of the Rihanna/Jameel relationship.

While the RAF Mildenhall incident was underway the US seemed to be realising its error in its own special way. A train derailed and crashed in the Du Pont Circle area of Portland in the US state of Washington.

When a plan or a person is starting to fall apart it is common to say that; "It is going off the rails." If it goes really badly it may be described as; "A Train Wreck." Amy Schumer's 2015 movie; "Trainwreck" was all about a woman's personal life becoming a disaster.

Obviously in the wake of Monday' (18/12/17) train wreck there has been lots of discussion about what caused things to go off the rails. The main explanation offered so far is that the train was moving quicker than the track could cope with.

This explanation rather confirms Britain's theory. The US is trying to flip the Rihanna/Jameel relationship so information about Saudi Arabia will flow to the US via Rihanna. They're obviously upset that the UK was so quick on the uptake about this they were able to put in place a plan to piggyback on the flow of information.

The Du Pont Circle derailment also seems similar to the plot of the 2010 movie; "Unstoppable." This revolves efforts to stop a runaway train before it derails and flies off the tracks. Again I'll need to check the record but I think in the movie they're particularly concerned about a bend in the track by a (Portland) cement factory.

Rihanna's 2013 Diamonds World Tour (DWT) was preceded by her mini "777 Tour" in late 2012.

This saw Rihanna, her entourage and specially selected music journalists packed aboard a Boeing 777. They all travelled together as Rihanna performed 7 concerts in 7 countries over 7 days.

This gruelling schedule left all involved overtired and angry. The journalists were particularly unhappy about being crammed into economy class and then being forced to wait on the tarmac for hours in London, UK because Rihanna and her entourage couldn't be bothered to get out of their beds in luxury hotels.

By the end of the 777 Tour all the journalists involved, the publications they worked for, all their friends and all the publications they worked for were pretty much ready to kill Rihanna. It took a major charm offensive from people like me to stop them taking their revenge on Rihanna's 2013 "Unapologetic" album and the DWT it supported.

In the movie Unstoppable the runaway train is designated by the callsign; "777." As a result it features lots of dialogue such as; "777 Must Be Stopped!" and; "If 777 isn't stopped it will be a disaster!"

Watching the movie right before the start of Rihanna's 777 Tour I found it to be a comedy classic. They should probably have shown it on the plane.

America's Washington state is home to State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. He rose to prominence early in 2017 by leading the opposition to US President Trump's restrictions on immigration. As with all others who followed AG Ferguson's objections have recently been ruled invalid by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

On December 11th (11/12/17) a Bangladeshi immigration tried and failed to carry out an Islamist terror attack in New York City, New York, US.

Supporters of AG Ferguson and opponents of President Trump leapt on this as evidence that Trump's so-called Muslim Ban was racist and did nothing to improve America's security. As with so much in their lives in doing this they really didn't think it through.

If Trump was trying to impose a Muslim ban you would think that he would start with Muslim majority nations. The fact that The People's Republic of Bangladesh and its near neighbour The Islamic Republic of Pakistan are not affected by the ban are actually evidence that Trump's immigration restrictions are not a Muslim ban.

Also if AG Ferguson and others had not acted unlawfully in attempting to block President Trump's immigration restrictions they would have gone into effect when they were announced in early 2017. By now they would have been refined so nations who've made changes would be removed from the ban while nations who are now providing cause for concern would be included.

On Tuesday (19/12/17) the US' neighbour to the south Mexico joined the discussion with a tour bus crash that killed 8 US citizens.

To my shame Latin American continues to represent something of a black hole in my knowledge. However I do know that the bus was being operated as an excursion by the Royal Caribbean cruise line.

Although she's often mistaken for an American Rihanna is actually from the Caribbean island of Barbados. This is part of the UK Commonwealth making it part of the, well, Royal Caribbean.

I've also just learnt that the state where the crash occurred is named after Andres Quintana Roo - a key figure in Mexico's 1821 War of Independence. Of all the Mexican states it is also the one which sounds the most like; "Quinta Brigada."

Spanish for; "15th Brigade" the term Quinta Brigada is often used to refer to the International Brigades who fought for anti-Fascist Republican forces during Spain's 1936-1939 Civil War.

There has been a renewed interest in this oft forgotten period of history due to the anti-ISIL Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF/QSD) forming their own, much smaller International Brigade. Apparently under the leadership of commander Wayne Rooney.

Several US citizens have fought for and died for the SDF's International Brigade. Rihanna is currently lining up on the opposing side to those volunteers.

Also on Tuesday (19/12/17) raids were carried out a several addresses in the UK to prevent an Islamist terror plot. Although its not been confirmed it is believed that the raids disrupted an advanced plot to bomb shoppers at Christmas markets in London tomorrow (23/12/17).

Sadly rather than being part of the Rihanna/Jameel discussion I think this was genuine. Rihanna's associates are actively plotting to kill British citizens. If they British security services find out about those plots they are under an obligation to stop them.

On Thursday (21/12/17) Australia joined in the discussion. A man deliberately drove a Suzuki 4x4 into pedestrians outside Flinders Street Railway station in the city of Melbourne. This injured 19 people.

The city of Melbourne has a special place in Rihanna's 2013 Diamonds World Tour.

Throughout the tour one of the key issues was when Rihanna would leave one country and travel to another. Different nations had different political themes and different threat profiles.

For example the UAE had the maximum threat profile. So much so that Israel actually delayed a municipal election in Tel Aviv so they could get Rihanna into the country immediately after she'd visited the UAE.

The intention was that if the worst should happen Tel Aviv could function as something of an aid station. It would allow Rihanna to be assessed and treatment options and medical evacuations decided upon. Even using private jets medically evacuating some in a psychological crisis across continents is extremely complicated.

Rather than being driven by any political motive this was simply Israel showing the humanity it seems unable to extend to Palestinians.

As always seems to be the case Rihanna was extremely hostile to those trying to help her. This meant that she often tried to keep her movements from one country to another secret.

Following her concerts in China on September 13th (13/9/13) and September 14th (14/9/13) Rihanna even made a completely unscheduled trip to Thailand. That resulted in such a backlash Thailand conducted a coup to overthrow the government that agreed to it.

After her concerts in Australia and New Zealand Rihanna was supposed to head to South Africa. The last stop before the UAE this occurred at the most tense time of the tour. However Rihanna didn't go straight to South Africa. Instead she holed up in a hotel right on the shoreline in Sydney Harbour.

At the time Sydney Harbour was being used to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Australian Navy. This meant that Sydney Harbour was filled with 20 warships from 17 nations all showing off their big guns and noisy aircraft. Hardly a restful place for Rihanna particularly as her fanbase; "The Navy" didn't exactly measure up.

So Melbourne suggested it was time for Rihanna to leave Australia. They did this by letting a Kangaroo loose at Melbourne Airport.

As with the RAF Mildenhall incident the Melbourne incident raised the question of whether Hassan Jameel and by extension Rihanna are considered a terrorists. Actually using a Toyota 4x4 like the ones Hassan Jameel has supplied to ISIL would have been too obvious. It also raised the question of mental health issues.

The driver of the vehicle in Melbourne was quickly identified as an immigrant from Afghanistan with a long history of mental health problems and drug addiction. Rather than ruling out terrorism this means that he very firmly fits the profile of a suicide attacker. Particularly one in his native Afghanistan where ISIL are on the rise.

Far from the heroic image they like to project suicide bombers are often mentally retarded, mentally ill, terminally ill or owe massive debts to drug dealers. They either don't understand they're about to blow themselves up or do it in return for money for their families.

Alongside the driver police in Melbourne also arrested a second Muslim man at the scene. He was filming the attack while in possession of a three large knives.

Again this is classic Islamist terrorist behaviour.

I don't think any terrorist group has embraced propaganda quite like ISIL. However even before ISIL is was extremely common for terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan to film their attacks. They would then release the footage on the Internet.

This practice actually formed the basis for a major plot point in the 2007 movie; "The Kingdom." An attack on a compound housing American oil workers in Saudi Arabia was filmed by a terrorist mastermind in a nearby apartment building who then put the footage on the Internet.

If the American oil workers in the movie could learn to hold their bats properly they could well be celebrating a traditional Australian Christmas.

You can watch the first four minutes of The Kingdom here;

The events at Flinders Street were accompanied by an explosion of gas used to power forklift trucks at the Bayside Shopping Centre in the Frankston area of the city. Sometimes known as; "Melbourne Market" this was in reference to the arrests made in the UK on Tuesday (19/12/17).

Rihanna has now returned to the US from the UK. However it's not so much her location that's the issue as the company she keeps.

17:20 on 22/12/17 (UK date).