February 6, 2022 Newsletter #12.0

Good morning everyone,

Apologies for not having a newsletter last Sunday. I was traveling and experiencing computer issues and I didn't want to put out something half complete. To make up for it, this News Letter will cover top stories from last week as well. 

So with that, let's dive in:



Thursday, February 3, 2022: United States President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that a special forces operation carried out in Atmeh, Syria, resulted in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the successor to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The pre-dawn raid, which had been planned for months, began with an airborne assault by about two dozen JSOC operators on al-Qurayshi’s house, using loudspeakers to call for nearby civilians to leave the area. At some point during the initial minutes, knowing he had been found, al-Qurayshi detonated a suicide vest killing his wife and two of his children, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby. When operators moved to clear the building, a top Islamic State lieutenant was killed alongside his wife and child during a firefight on the second floor.

The operation lasted nearly two hours as the operators, backed by attack helicopters, Reaper drones, and fighter jets, came under heavy fire from militant forces. Several combatants were said to be killed by air support, who were taking RPG fire. Meanwhile, American forces were able to safely evacuate 10 people, including 8 children, from the target house. At some point during the operation, a UH-60 Black Hawk experienced some form of mechanical malfunction and was landed. The helicopter was later destroyed in an airstrike, per standard procedure when a bird goes down to prevent capture. In all, no American casualties were reported.

Shortly after the raid, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the White Helmets reported that 13 people, including six children, were killed during the operation. SOHR did not specify if any of the seven adults were combatants. Kirby stated that an investigation will be conducted to see if American forces contributed to any collateral damage.

Kirby also explained that “Al-Qurayshi, also known as Hajji Abdallah, took over ISIS in October 2019 after years of serving as a senior leader in the terrorist organization. He was known for his brutal enforcement of ISIS’s vicious ideology and was a driving force behind ISIS’s violent campaigns to subjugate communities and oppress perceived enemies, including the Yazidis, a religious minority in Iraq. He coordinated the group’s global terror operations during a period in which ISIS expanded its geographic presence and attacks in Africa.”

Table of Contents


    • More North Korean Missile Tests

    • Battle for al-Hasakah Update

    • Coup in Burkina Faso


    • Russia to Strengthen Ties with China, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua

    • UK Accuses Russia of Plotting to Overthrow Ukraine Government

    • Russian State Duma Consider to Recognize DPR and LPR as independent from Ukraine

    • Update on Russian Troop Numbers

    • US Accuse Russia of Planning to Stage Ukraine Attack Video as Pretext for Invasion

    • US Deploys Forces to Eastern Europe

    • Belarus President Lukashenko Threatens War


    • The Transitioning Africa




North Korea has conducted seven missile test launches since the new year, which the UN noted as being a “marked acceleration” in their nuclear, ballistic, and hypersonic weapons programs. The latest launch took place on January 29, which involved the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, marking the first test firing since 2017. Japanese and South Korean military officials both stated that the missile reached a maximum ceiling altitude of 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) and traveled 800 kilometers (497 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan. North Korea started off the year with a hypersonic missile test on January 5. Six days later they claimed to have launched a missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), which has been disputed amongst Japanese and South Korean military officials. The past month has also seen the train-based launching of two KN-23 short-range missiles, truck-based launching of KN-23s, and two long-range cruise missiles.



Counter-ISIS operations have seemingly come to a close after over a week of intense urban fighting following a militant jailbreak at the al-Sina’a prison in al-Hasakah, Syria, on January 20. The jailbreak began when militants detonated car bombs and rushed the prison complex, simultaneously triggering a prison riot amongst the thousands of ISIS militants being held there, who quickly overpowered guards and armed themselves. Kurdish SDF forces were quick to respond, but the jailbreak resulted in hostages being taken inside the prison and hundreds of prisoners escaping into neighborhoods closest to the prison. The next week saw urban fighting as Kurdish SDF and YAT counter-terrorism forces, backed by American and British special forces and air power, attempted to regain control of the prison and clear out militants from the city.

Kurdish forces were able to regain full control of the prison by January 30, marking a tactical victory for the SDF, however, the whole incident proved to be a massive propaganda win for ISIS. SDF commander Nowruz Ahmad confirmed that 77 prison employees 40 Kurdish fighters were killed during fighting, with the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reporting that nearly 350 militants were killed with over 1,000 prisoners recaptured. It remains unclear how many prisoners successfully escaped. Dozens of civilians were also killed as tens of thousands of others were displaced due to the fighting.



Sunday, January 23, 2022: Burkina Faso President Roch Kabore was overthrown and detained during a military-led coup that saw uprisings at several bases around the country. The coup came as protests called for his resignation due to a failure to counter a growing jihadist presence in the country. Internet services were disrupted as masked soldiers surrounded state-run facilities across the capital. Burkina Faso’s Army announced on state television the following day Kabore has been overthrown and that the “Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration” was now in control of the country. They also stated that the country’s constitution has been suspended and borders will be closed until further notice. The Army further stated that Kabore was removed due to his inability to lead against a growing Jihadist insurgency that has been plaguing the country, backing the calls from earlier protests.



Friday, February 4, 2022: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Beijing on Friday, announcing a strategic partnership that has “no 'forbidden' areas of cooperation” while also jointly calling for an end to NATO expansion and opposition to the AUKUS alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Putin also voiced support for China and its stance on Taiwan and declared opposition to any independence movements from the Taiwanese government. Last Month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced that Putin has agreed with leaders from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua further “deepen" their “strategic partnership in all areas, with no exceptions, including military and military-technical.”

Meanwhile, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko addressed his country, threatening war in the face of any “aggression” against itself or Russia and that “we will return #Ukraine to the bosom of Slavs. We will definitely do it.” In his national address, Lukashenko said “If our country faces an aggression, there will be hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers here, who will defend this sacred land together with hundreds of thousands of Belarusians.” He also threatened to end Lithuanian and “other Baltic states” statehood should a conflict break out. The word “war” was used well over 30 times.



Sunday, January 23, 2022: The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office has accused Russia of plotting to overthrow Ukraine’s government and prop up a pro-Moscow leader, naming former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev as a potential candidate and accusing him of being in contact with Russian intelligence. The UK also accused former PM Mykola Azarov and former chief of staff Andriy Kluyev of having “contact with Russian intelligence officers currently involved in the planning for an attack on Ukraine.” Russia called the accusation “nonsense” and Murayev told AP it “looks ridiculous and funny.”



Russia’s State Duma is set to hold discussions on whether or not to recognize the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic from Ukraine. The draft was put forward by the Communist Party (KPRF). Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, told RFERL that “The possible recognition of Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics by the Russian Federation will be Russia's obvious and complete withdrawal from the Minsk agreements.” While the State Duma announced that a decision would be made at the end of January, nothing came of it, however, a decision is speculated to be made on the 14th of February now.



Friday, February 4, 2022: Fox News’ Jen Griffin reported, citing subject matter experts monitoring the situation, that 83 Russian battalion tactical groups (BTGs) are currently positioned along the border with Ukraine with another 14 in transit, which in total would be nearly 175,000 troops and the force needed to invade according to United States intelligence assessments. This assessment has been echoed by OSINT analysts and Russian military experts as well. As Russian military expert Rob Lee (RALee85 on Twitter) notes, 100 BTGs is nearly 60% of Russia’s armed forces total. There are also some 30,000 Russian troops in Belarus for ongoing joint military exercises, as well as thousands of support personnel along the border. It has been noted that peak ground freeze conditions will be about mid February. Meanwhile, Reuters, citing anonymous US defense officials, reported that Russia has begun sending large amounts of blood supplies to its border with Ukraine, signaling what NATO says it is continued preparations for an invasion of the country.



Monday, January 17, 2022: The United States has accused Russia of planning a pretext to invade Ukraine by fabricating a video of Ukrainian forces committing mass genocide against Russian-speaking people in Donbass or Russia. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that intelligence suggests that a false flag attack would be carried out and filmed using actors, Ukrainian military equipment, and even real dead bodies to create a “very graphic propaganda video.” State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to provide evidence of the plot when asked by reporters, stating that it’s in order to protect intelligence assets, but said that “this is derived from intelligence in which we have confidence … otherwise we would not be making it public in the way we are.”

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNBC that they had been briefed by the US State Department about the development. The Washington Post, citing anonymous government officials, reported that Russia has already begun recruiting actors, but American officials have said publicly that they are still unsure if Russia will use this tactic. Russia, as expected, dismissed all of the claims.



The United States Pentagon has announced that 2,000 troops will be deployed to Poland and Germany, with 1,000 troops already in Germany being deployed to Romania, to bolster NATO defenses in Eastern Europe. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby stated “These are not permanent moves. We respond to current conditions, we will adjust our posture as those conditions evolve” and emphasized that “This is not troops who will go to Ukraine, they are not fighting in Ukraine, this is the United States abiding by our commitments under Article 5 to support and reassure our partners in the region.”




By @Renegade.Journal

While Western states have remained fixated on the developments surrounding Ukraine, the past few months on the African continent have been marked by an increasingly fluid political and diplomatic environment. We observed the withdrawal of French personnel from Mali in December 2021, subsequent expulsion of Danish personnel last week, Russian-aligned military coup in Burkina Faso last month, and an African continent with a rapidly transitioning sphere of consensus. Particularly in the Sahel, Russian flags have been spotted flying far more frequently, both in states with new Wagner contracts and states with military blocs that want new Wagner contracts.

Outside of the Sahel, the Somali Armed Forces are now almost entirely dependent on Turkish backing. The Ethiopian National Defense Forces continue to enjoy new arms deals with Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey in their conflict against the Tigrayan people. The Nigerian state is now thoroughly flooded with Chinese corporations and its ruling class focused on arms deals with Putin. The known expansionist Paul Kagame of Rwanda is now diminishing his own economic power with Belt & Road. Nearly the entirety of Uganda’s energy sector is now run by Chinese corporations. Egypt is now stuck in a $20+ billion debt trap to Xi Jinping. Libya remains split between a Turkish-dependent western bloc and Russian/UAE-dependent eastern bloc. All of the above just a small selection of recent examples.

A new post-Fordist Scramble for Africa, complete with new actors and new modes of interference. NATO and AFRICOM are clearly failing to bolster their deteriorating influence against a crashing wave of Russian and Chinese state influence. Ardent pro-Western states like Morocco and Ivory Coast are becoming fewer in number. Coups and election cycles have yielded a swiftly increasing amount of ruling classes swayed by Russian arms deals, Wagner to take over the military plan, and an enticing Belt & Road to take over the economic plan. Former posts of the French Foreign Legion are soon to be inhabited by Wagner or paved over by Chinese corporations, US bases perhaps a similar fate. What is less discussed, however, is the role that semi-periphery states such as Turkey and the UAE play in this new Scramble for Africa.

The Turkish state, although officially a NATO power, often acts unilaterally against the interests of NATO as a separate actor with its own expansionist interests. To expand its political norms and cultural power, the Erdogan goverment of Turkey has implanted Turkish schools and cultural centers across the African continent, from Accra to Mogadishu. In Libya, Erdogan has signed internationally illegal agreements with the Government of National Unity bloc to seize economic sectors and extract oil from the Libyan Exclusive Economic Zone. Since May 2020, Turkey has delivered numerous installations of medical aid to 22 African states, pledging in December 2021 to send 15 million more vaccines to Africa. The Turkish state effectively controls the Somali military, and is attempting to grasp onto military power around the Horn by forging the Ethiopian state’s drone war. Its main lines of power in Africa are primarily western Libya, Somalia, and now Ethiopia.

The UAE’s Al Nahyan Dynasty is less normative and more opportunistic in its approach to Africa, spreading power largely through conflict diplomacy. For over a decade, the UAE has persistently ensured the longevity of the Haftar faction in Libya via military aid, keeping its North African power line healthy. In 2015, the Eritrean state agreed to a 30-year contract allowing the UAE to operate a large military base in Assab with the purpose of aiding its proxy faction across the Red Sea in Yemen. The UAE supplied 15 tons of medical equipment to the Ethiopian state in April 2020, six months after the Tigray War began, and sent 36 tons of medical and food supply to the Republic of Mozambique a year later in the midst of Daesh’s attack on Cabo Delgado. All of the above, again, just a small selection of recent Turkish and UAE examples of expanding imperialism in Africa.

Other prolific expansionist states like Saudi Arabia and Israel are more scarcely found in this new scramble, prompting their adversaries to fill potential vacuums. Saudi Arabia is busy sustaining its campaign in Yemen, Israel busy combatting the Iranian sphere in West Asia. The Iranian state is beginning to take advantage of this distraction. Accompanied by a sizable Iranian Red Crescent presence in West Africa, Khamenei recently supplied the Ethiopian state with drones, indicating an intention to increase Iranian influence in Africa.

One may observe the new Scramble for Africa in its hybrid and multifaceted nature, pulling from all components of smart power. The latest phase of hegemonic interference in Africa is distinct, as hard power is not its sole driver. Africa faces a mixed cocktail of smart power that continues to extract from its resources, civil society, and autonomy. Western military and economic interference is not yet gone by any means, but surely faltering to other powers. African states are separating themselves from their former colonizer states, but concurrently enabling new powers to impose their will upon African economies and civil societies.

As NATO sleeps, Wagner pushes NATO out of bed. As the West sleeps, the East eats. However, one must ask, is this truly a dichotomy at all? In the end, the West and the East are perhaps two wings of the nation-state system bird, slowly dying of Covid, dehydration, and cellular rebellion. The future of Africa rests not in the hands of its colonizers nor ruling classes, but in the consciousness of its people.


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