NATO’s Trident Juncture 18 exercise to be biggest since Cold War

Equipment belonging to the Italian armored brigade Ariete arrives in Norway in preparation for NATO’s Trident Juncture 2018 exercise. (Courtesy NATO)
Updated 02 October 2018
0

NATO’s Trident Juncture 18 exercise to be biggest since Cold War

  • The exercise would simulate the defense of a member state from a ‘fictional” adversary’
  • The Western allies have stepped up their military posture, with rotating garrisons in eastern Europe and the Baltic States

BRUSSELS: NATO’s Trident Juncture 18 exercise will draw in 45,000 troops, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday, unveiling what officials confirmed would be the alliance’s biggest maneuvers since the Cold War.
Stoltenberg said the exercise would simulate the defense of a member state from a “fictional” adversary, but the troops, tanks, ships and planes are headed for Norway, the North Atlantic and the Baltic — opposite Russia.
It will be the biggest such movement of NATO personnel and vehicles since at least the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, although still smaller than the Vostok-18 exercise staged by Russia and China last month.
“The exercise is defensive, and it is transparent,” the NATO leader told reporters on the first day of a two-day meeting of the 29-member alliance’s defense ministers at its new Brussels headquarters.
“All members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including Russia, have been invited to send observers,” he said.
The operation will bring alliance troops — equipped with 150 aircraft, 70 vessels and around 10,000 land vehicles — from Britain, North America and continental Europe up through northern Europe and Scandinavia to NATO’s northeastern flank at the end of the month.
The Western allies have stepped up their military posture, with rotating garrisons in eastern Europe and the Baltic States, in the four years since Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
Exercises like Trident Juncture are designed to practice moving a larger force forward quickly in the event of any outside intervention against a NATO member.


New Chicago mayor gives Arabs hope

Updated 55 min 26 sec ago
0

New Chicago mayor gives Arabs hope

  • The election of Lori Lightfoot as mayor gives Chicago’s Arabs an opportunity to reverse the damage that Rahm Emanuel has caused
  • Emanuel’s first acts as mayor included blocking the annual Arabesque Festival, which Jewish groups complained against

Plagued by ongoing controversies and criticism that he tried to hide a video of Chicago police killing a black teenager in October 2014, Rahm Emanuel decided he had had enough as the city’s mayor and decided to retire.

Elected in 2011 with a big boost from his former boss, US President Barack Obama — also a Chicago native — Emanuel served two full terms.

But his hopes of reversing the city’s tumbling finances, improving its poorly performing schools, and reversing record gun-related violence and killings, all failed.

However, Emanuel did have one success. He managed to gut the involvement of Chicago’s Arab-American minority in city-sponsored events, responding favorably to its influential Jewish-American community leadership, which complained about Palestinian activists who advocated for statehood and challenged Israeli oppression.

Emanuel’s first acts as mayor included blocking the annual Arabesque Festival, which Jewish groups complained included photographs of Palestinians protesting against Israel. The festival had only been launched four years earlier by his predecessor in 2007.

Emanuel also disbanded the Advisory Commission on Arab Affairs, and ended Arab American Heritage Month, which had been held every November since it was recognized by Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor.

Emanuel refused to discuss his reasons for these decisions with leaders of Chicago’s Arab community.

He declined repeated requests by me to interview him, despite my having interviewed seven Chicago mayors. He declined similar requests from other Arab journalists.

While he hosted iftars for Muslims, he never hosted an Arab heritage celebration during his eight years in office.

His father was a leader of the Irgun, which was denounced as a terrorist organization in the 1940s by the British military.

The Irgun murdered British soldiers and thousands of Palestinian civilians, and orchestrated the bloody Deir Yassin massacre on April 9, 1948.

Before becoming mayor, Emanuel volunteered at an Israeli military base repairing damaged vehicles. His pro-Israel stance was never challenged by the mainstream US news media.

But with the election in February of Lori Lightfoot as mayor, Chicago’s Arabs have an opportunity to reverse the damage that Emanuel caused.

Lightfoot was sworn into office on Monday and serves for four years. She has already reached out to Arabs, appointing at least two Palestinians to her 400-person transition team, whose members often remain and assume government positions with new administrations.

The two Palestinians in her transition team are Rush Darwish and Rami Nashashibi. Darwish has organized several successful marathons in Chicago and Bethlehem to raise funds for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. Nashashibi is involved with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN).

As an African American, Lightfoot knows what it is like to be the victim of racism, stereotypes and discrimination. That makes her more sensitive to the concerns of Chicago’s Arabs.