US general’s ‘gut’ feeling of war with China sparks alarm over predictions

Leaked memo forecasting Taiwan strait conflict in 2025 triggers debate about ‘undisciplined’ comments

A leaked memo from a US four-star general saying his “gut” told him the US would be at war with China in 2025 has prompted warnings about the danger of “undisciplined” predictions of a Taiwan strait conflict.

The memo, by the head of the US Air Mobility Command (AMC), Gen Mike Minihan, was the latest prediction of a Chinese military invasion of Taiwan, which have ranged from 2022 to 2049. It has triggered a debate about US readiness, accusations of warmongering, and concerns about desensitising people to the real risk of invasion.

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US seals crucial military deal with the Philippines close to China ‘flashpoints’

Deal expands Washington’s access to military bases close to Taiwan and the South China Sea

The Philippines has granted the United States expanded access to its military bases, greatly enhancing Washington’s presence in the region at a time of growing concern about Chinese aggression.

Washington would be given access to four additional military bases in “strategic areas of the country”, without specifying the locations, the Philippines’ Department of National Defence said on Thursday in a statement.

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Chinese navy jet flies within 10ft of US air force plane over South China Sea

US aircraft forced to take evasive maneuvers during latest incident over contested shipping, fishing and gas field-rich region

A Chinese military plane came within 10ft (three meters) of a US air force aircraft over the contested South China Sea last week and forced it to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision in international airspace, the US military said.

The close encounter followed what the US called a recent trend of increasingly dangerous behavior by Chinese military aircraft.

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Oldest Guantánamo prisoner released after 17 years

Saifullah Paracha, 75, returns to Pakistan after being held, but never charged, over suspected al-Qaida ties

A 75-year-old Pakistani man who was the oldest prisoner at the Guantánamo Bay detention centre, has been released and returned home, the foreign ministry in Islamabad said.

Saifullah Paracha was reunited with his family after more than 17 years in custody at the US base in Cuba, it said.

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‘These people had our backs’: US veterans lobby to rescue allies trapped in Afghanistan

The Afghan Adjustment Act would offer permanent resident status to Afghans who fled the Taliban but Congress has not taken action

​​A group of 12 people sit in camp chairs – chatting, smoking, listening – in the dark. Behind them, the Capitol building in Washington DC is luminescent, bringing into focus the Afghan flag. Well, the version of the flag before the Taliban changed it. It flies above their heads, catching the yellowy light of dusk.

Since Kabul fell to the Taliban in August last year, military veterans and organizations have been lobbying Congress to offer Afghan evacuees long-term visas to stay in the US. Now, with no action taken and thousands coming to the end of their temporary stays, a different route is being taken to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act. This bipartisan bill would grant thousands of Afghans permanent status in the US.

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‘Fat Leonard’, fugitive contractor in US navy’s worst corruption scandal, arrested in Venezuela

Malaysian defence contractor fled before sentencing in US over bribery scheme that lasted more than a decade and involved dozens of US navy officers

A Malaysian defence contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who orchestrated one of the largest bribery scandals in US military history has been arrested in Venezuela after fleeing before his sentencing, authorities say.

The international manhunt for Leonard Glenn Francis ended with his arrest by Venezuelan authorities on Tuesday morning at the Caracas airport as he was about to board an airplane for another country, the US Marshals Service said on Wednesday.

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Taliban release American engineer Mark Frerichs in prisoner swap

Navy veteran exchanged for Bashir Noorzai, who had been held in US since 2005 on drugs charges

The Taliban have freed an American engineer in exchange for an Afghan tribal leader linked to the group whom the US had held on drugs charges since 2005.

Mark Frerichs was exchanged at Kabul airport for Bashir Noorzai, the acting Taliban foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, told a news conference in the Afghan capital.

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US Marshals Services face questions after ‘Fat Leonard’ flees house arrest

Leonard Francis, contractor in US navy’s biggest scandal, was able not only to escape but also rented vans to load up his possessions

The US Marshals Service and other law enforcement agencies are facing questions over their competence after the central figure in the biggest scandal in US naval history was able not only to escape house arrest but also rented vans to load up his possessions.

When marshals arrived at Leonard Francis’s home in San Diego on Sunday, they found he had cut off his GPS ankle bracelet and fled, two weeks before his sentencing hearing. The whereabouts of the Malaysian contractor’s three sons, who had been living with him, was unclear.

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Leon Panetta on the Afghanistan withdrawal, a year on: Politics Weekly America podcast

A year ago, American troops withdrew from Afghanistan after a 20-year war. The Taliban quickly returned to power and the country has since experienced famine, economic collapse and a widespread erosion of women’s rights.

This week, Jonathan Freedland speaks to the former US defense secretary Leon Panetta, who was at the heart of the Obama administration’s Afghanistan policy, about what he thinks of the Afghan withdrawal and what the future holds for Joe Biden and the Democrats

Archives: MSNBC, CNN, the Guardian

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US and South Korea begin largest military drills for years as North ramps up tensions

The show of force is expected to prompt an angry response from Pyongyang and follows failure of Trump-era policy of engagement

The US and South Korea have begun their biggest joint military drills in years – a show of force that is expected to raise tensions with an increasingly hostile North Korea.

The exercises, known as Ulchi Freedom Shield, are being seen as a sign of the allies’ determination to restore large-scale training after they cancelled some regular drills and scaled down others to facilitate nuclear talks, and because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Smoke rises above Kabul after US strike that killed al-Qaida’s Ayman al-Zawahiri – video report

A US drone strike in Afghanistan has killed the top al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Joe Biden announced on Monday. The US president described the death of Zawahiri, who was Osama bin Laden’s deputy and successor, as a major blow to the terrorist network behind the September 11 attacks in 2001

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China says anti-missile test not ‘aimed at any country’ despite rising tensions

Ballistic missile interception system trial follows North Korean tests and deployment of US THAAD system in South Korea

China has claimed a successful test of a land-based ballistic missile interception system amid heightened tensions in Asia, in a move its defence ministry described as “defensive and not aimed at any country”.

Beijing has in recent years been ramping up research into all sorts of missiles, from those that can destroy satellites in space to advanced nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, as part of a modernisation overseen by President Xi Jinping. It came after North Korea conducted a series of missile tests, which prompted South Korea and the US to warn that Pyongyang could conduct a nuclear test at any time.

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South Korea and US fire eight missiles into sea in show of force to North Korea

Monday morning launches demonstrate ‘capability and readiness to carry out precision strikes’ on regime, a day after it carried out its own launches

South Korea and the US have fired eight surface-to-surface missiles into the sea in response to North Korea’s launch of a similar number of ballistic missiles the previous day, a South Korea defence ministry official said.

South Korea said Monday’s tit-for-tat launch off its east coast was a demonstration of Seoul’s “capability and readiness to carry out precision strikes” against the source of North Korea’s missile launches or the command and support centres, the Yonhap news agency cited the South Korean military as saying.

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North Korea fires ballistic missiles a day after US-South Korean naval drills

Pyongyang’s 18th round of missile tests this year comes after US aircraft carrier leads exercises in the Philippine Sea

North Korea has fired eight short-range ballistic missiles towards the sea off its east coast, a day after South Korea and the US wrapped up military exercises involving an American aircraft carrier.

Possibly setting a single-day record for North Korean ballistic launches, the missiles were fired in succession over 35 minutes on Sunday from at least four different locations, including from western and eastern coastal areas and two inland areas north of and near the capital, Pyongyang, South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said.

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The Japanese hunger striker demanding an end to US bases in Okinawa

As island prepares to mark 50 years since Okinawa was returned to Japanese sovereignty, Jinshiro Motoyama is in no mood to celebrate

Earlier this week, Jinshiro Motoyama placed a banner outside the office of Japan’s prime minister, sat on a folding chair, and stopped eating. It was a dramatic gesture, but the 30-year-old activist believes desperate measures are needed to end the long US military presence in his birthplace, Okinawa.

Located roughly 1,000 miles south of Tokyo in the East China Sea, Okinawa is a speck in the ocean that comprises 0.6% of Japan’s total land area but hosts about 70% of the US’s military bases in Japan and more than half of its 47,000 troops.

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