Tag Archives: Libya

US’ Main Target in Syria is Iran, ISIS Comes Second, by Melkulangara Bhadrakumar

The US foreign policy establishment may have dropped, or at least put on hold, its longstanding desire to depose Syrian leader Assad. However, that has not apparently made ridding Syria and Iraq of ISIS job one. The US emphasis has switched to ridding Syria and Iraq of Iran, which, incidentally, is fighting ISIS. From Melkulangara Bhadrakumar at strategic-culture.org:

The common thread running through the two major ‘hot spots’ in the Middle East today – the conflicts in Syria and Libya – is undoubtedly the threat to international security from the extremist groups operating in these theatres. Therefore, Syria and Libya become test cases of the efficacy of the international community – Russia and the United States in particular – working together to steer these conflicts toward a denouement that results in the elimination of the terrorist threat and the stabilization of the situation in the two countries.

There is a history of Russian-American engagement over Syria during the Barack Obama administration, which was surprisingly intense at times – and productive too occasionally, such as over the removal of chemical weapons from Syria or in the creation of the International Syria Support Group as a platform for a peace process.

In the final analysis, of course, the Russian-American engagement over Syria turned out to be sub-optimal in results, which is not surprising, given the steady erosion of mutual trust in the overall relationship as a result of the Obama administration’s containment strategies toward Russia through the last year or two of his presidency.

Plainly put, it will not be an exaggeration to say that Russia and the US are virtually in ground zero today in terms of their cooperation and coordination in meeting the terrorist challenges in Syria. The final months of the Barack Obama presidency witnessed even a calamitous decline in the US-Russia ties.

To continue reading: US’ Main Target in Syria is Iran, ISIS Comes Second

 

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The Most Dangerous Candidate, by Robert Gore

U.S. Conducts Airstrikes Against ISIS in Libya reads The New York Times’ August 1 headline, capturing virtually everything wrong with US foreign interventionism. Tracing the strands emanating from that headline regrettably requires a deep dive into an ideological and moral cesspool, on which Hillary Clinton luxuriates in a floating lounge chair, sunning herself and sipping a piña colada, evidently not put off by the stench.

What’s ISIS doing in Libya? It’s an offshoot of ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, which is an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq. That group was formed from an embittered core of Sunnis dispossessed of positions and property and jailed by the US government-installed majority Shiite government after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Al Qaeda’s family tree starts with the mujahideen in Afghanistan, who were backed by Presidents Carter and Reagan in their war against the Soviet Union. The goal was to draw the Soviet Union into a protracted and debilitating quagmire.

The strategy worked, but not without unfortunate consequences. Allies can turn into enemies. The leader of the mujahideen, Osama bin Laden, became the US’s implacable foe after the US set up permanent military bases in Saudi Arabia, home of sacred Islamic shrines Medina and Mecca, during the first invasion of Iraq in 1990. His anger was reportedly the impetus behind 9/11. The Afghanistan success also taught US policymakers a “lesson” they would have been better off not learning: supporting local groups in armed conflict could produce low-cost, desirable outcomes.

Clinton supported the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. She claims it was a mistake now, but the invasion was, in light of later events, fully consistent with her stance on US interventionism. In subsequent situations, she has repeated her Iraq “mistake.” Afghanistan and Iraq were the first neoconservative forays into regime change and replacement with US-compliant governments, securing oil supplies, and nation building on the way to an efflorescence of democracy and increased regional toleration of Israel.

That’s not the way things have worked out. After a financial tally in the trillions of dollars, thousands of military casualties, and a civilian death toll in the millions, Afghanistan and Iraq are sectarian hell holes, beset by ISIS; US military forces are still present in both nations (Afghanistan counts as the longest war in US history); US intervention has been a major spur for Islamic extremism and blowback terrorism, and Afghans and Iraqis are part of the refugee flood overwhelming Europe.

There is no darker stain on Clinton’s record than Libya. The brutal regime change that led to chaos in Iraq was repeated in Libya, except the death by sodomy of Muammar Gaddafi was more grisly than Saddam Hussein’s comparatively dignified hanging. She was the prime proponent within the Obama administration of the Libyan fiasco, remembering everything but learning nothing from Iraq. Donald Trump’s campaign would be well advised to show Clinton’s infamous, “We came, we saw, he died…cackle” video over and over, juxtaposed with scenes of the chaos that has engulfed Libya, where three rival “governments” contest for control of the country. And let’s not forget Benghazi.

Clinton, her neoconservative cohorts, and the US’s Sunni allies in the Middle East—Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey—have their hearts set on yet another regime change in Syria. (Many of these allies have made large donations to the Clinton foundation.) One shudders to think of the death they have envisioned for Shiite Bashar Assad if they’re successful. Clinton fully supports the US’s muddled policy of getting rid of Assad by using Islamic extremists pursuing the same goal. The US has quietly succored ISIS and affiliated jihadists while appearing to fight them, and has done nothing to stop its allies from doing the same.

However, they have been stymied by the Russia-Iranian-Hezbollah alliance, which has proven far more effective against ISIS and its affiliates than the US alliance. Clinton’s proposed response? Institute a no-fly zone over northern Syria, potentially risking a confrontation with the Russian air force and stifling its ability to fight ISIS.

Clinton continues to embrace neoconservative goals, presumably expecting different results than the chaos, instability, inability of the US to disengage, blowback terrorism, and refugee flows which mark their strategy as an abysmal failure. Per Einstein’s famous dictum, that’s insanity. Failed as it has in second-tier countries throughout the Middle East and northern Africa, the idea of directing it towards Russia, the world’s second strongest military power, is beyond insanity. Yet, there has been no more vociferous supporter of the US effort to stigmatize and replace Vladimir Putin, and isolate and provoke Russia, than Clinton.

Accept as gospel US government and media propaganda concerning Ukraine since 2014 and policy there still amounts to deranged. Even if the revolution in 2014 was spontaneous and had no US sponsorship, even if the duly elected and deposed president, Viktor Yanukovych, was corrupt, authoritarian, and a Russian pawn, even if the annexation of Crimea by Russia contravened international law, even if the rebellion in eastern Ukraine has been supported by Russia, so what? By what rational calculation does the US have an interest in Ukraine?

It’s been part of Russia for most of its history and was the doorway for Napoleon’s and Hitler’s invasions. The administration of Petro Poroshenko is stocked with neo-Nazis and is no less corrupt, incompetent, or repressive than the one it replaced. The country is bankrupt, dependent on IMF bailouts that break its own rules. Russia’s only port on the Black Sea, Sevastopol, is in Crimea and a substantial majority of its populace would rather align with Russia than hapless Ukraine. Belying US rhetoric about Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, Putin has not moved to take it over, although his forces could do so in a week or two.

If they did, it would take—judging from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—at least a century for the US to “liberate” it, absent resort to nuclear weaponry. Ukraine is as vital an interest to Russia as Canada and Mexico are to the US. Any Russian attempt to insert itself into Canadian or Mexican affairs to the same extent as the US has inserted itself into Ukraine’s would rightly be regarded as provocative, demanding a response that could escalate into war.

So far Russia has demonstrated restraint, although the government and media have tried to portray Russia military exercises within Russia as aggressive. Russia appears intent on securing its sphere of influence. The US has insisted on securing its sphere of influence since the promulgation of the Monroe doctrine in 1823. The Crimean annexation and aiding eastern Ukraine’s rebels fit Russian aims, but there is no evidence to support the endlessly repeated claim that Russia and Putin are bent on reconstituting the old USSR and eventual world domination. Attempting to dominate the world is a much more accurate description of US policy. The only purposes of US aggression towards Russia in Ukraine and eastern Europe has been to try to diminish Putin in Russia (which has failed) and to goad his government into a military response, which would provide cover for a US military response. Maybe Putin should make a large donation to the Clinton Foundation.

Fortunately the US effort, fully supported by Clinton but questioned by Donald Trump, has to date not worked. Both countries can inflict global nuclear devastation. Putting Russia’s safety in doubt, backing it into a corner from which it has no other choice but to fight, would be suicidal, beyond insane.

Yet that is the policy Clinton has pushed. Victoria Nuland, wife of neoconservative doyen Robert Kagan and a staunch neoconservative in her own right, stands accused of stage managing Ukraine’s 2014 “revolution” and is an ardent hardliner against Russia. She is a contender for Clinton’s Secretary of State. Clinton has likened Putin to Hitler and accused Russia of hacking DNC emails, a charge for which only the flimsiest of proof has been offered.

The Democrats, the mainstream media, and various “important people” within the intelligence community have spun tales of undue influence and a “bromance” between Trump and Vladimir Putin. For argument’s sake accept that as true. Wouldn’t a measure of amity between the Russian and US heads of state be vastly preferable to escalating tension? Negotiation or nuclear holocaust? Which is the most dangerous policy, and who is the most dangerous candidate?

COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

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AMAZON

KINDLE

NOOK

 

Stay Out of Libya, by Justin Raimondo

The money quote: “Terrorism is like scabies – the more you scratch it, the more it spreads.” From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

We’re back in Libya, with US warplanes bombing targets in the city of Sirte, on a mission that, according to the Pentagon, has “no endpoint at this particular moment.” And that statement sums up perfectly the Sisyphean task that presented itself to US policymakers when the Terrible Triumvirate – Hillary Clinton, national security honchette Susan Rice, and UN ambassadress Samantha Power – prevailed on President Obama to overthrow the regime of Libyan despot Moammar Ghaddafi.

Take a look at what we’re getting ourselves into: with no less than three governments, lawless Libya is a perfect example of Ronald Reagan’s famous dictum that “government is the problem, not the solution.” Yes, that’s right, the former domain of Ghaddafi has three rival “governments.” Go ahead and count ‘em:

  1. The General National Congress (GNC), headquartered in Tripoli, is controlled by Islamist militias and backed by Turkey, Qatar, and Sudan.
  2. The Council of Deputies, located in Tobruk, is basically the instrument of Gen. Khalifa Hiftar, a known CIA asset who used to live a few miles from the Agency’s headquarters.
    The UN-appointed “government of national unity,” which was never elected by anyone and had to be shipped into the country by boat because the Tripoli authorities wouldn’t let their plane land.
  3. The UN-appointed “government of national unity,” which was never elected by anyone and had to be shipped into the country by boat because the Tripoli authorities wouldn’t let their plane land

While the ostensible reason for the US air strikes is the elimination of ISIS from the country, there is no escaping the “nation-building” aspect of Washington’s mission. For the logic of the mission means ISIS must be replaced with something, and that something is bound to be the UN-approved “government.” Yet this is likely to provoke further conflict, as the Islamists in Tripoli and the followers of Gen. Hiftar in the east are not likely to be pushed aside so easily.

The divisions that ensure a future of perpetual conflict are rooted in the history of a country that isn’t really a country at all.

The fiction that is the nation-state of “Libya” was only maintained by the brute force of Ghaddafi’s military: when that was defeated and dissolved, the “Libyans” rallied around what have always been their authentic allegiances: tribe and faith. Indeed, “Libya” has only existed since the end of World War II, when the UN moved in and forcibly joined together three regions that had no common history or culture: Tripolitania in the west, Cyrenaica in the east, and the southern Fezzan area, a desert mostly inhabited by Tuareg and Tebu tribes. The UN was merely replicating the plan carried out by Mussolini, and his Italian predecessors, who colonized the region and sought to abolish tribal boundaries. When King Idris I, installed by the UN, protested that he didn’t want to rule over Tripolitania, and preferred to extend his domain only over Cyrenaica, he was ignored. With the fall of Ghaddafi, the country has reverted to its natural state – and now, once again, the UN is coming in the “fix” the ‘problem.”

The age-old scam of governments creating problems that they then use as an excuse to increase their powers so they can “solve” them is on full display in Libya – and Syria, and Iraq. All these countries had secular governments where not a trace of Islamist radicalism could be found. Their “liberation” by the Western powers, who launched regime change operations in the name of “democracy,” gave rise to ISIS – and created the rationale for yet more destructive intervention.

To continue reading: Stay Out of Libya

 

US Airstrikes Hit Libya To Bolster UN-Created Government, by Daniel McAdams

SLL IS ON VACATION 8/3-8/4, AND WILL RESUME POSTING 8/5.

Money quote: “The US is bombing Libya to consolidate the power of a non-elected government that the US installed because the previous government was not elected.” From Daniel McAdams at antiwar.com:

The Pentagon has announced today that the US has begun conducting military airstrikes against Libya with the stated intent of defeating ISIS in that country. According to the Pentagon spokesman, the Libyan “Government of National Accord” requested that the US begin airstrikes against what they claim is an ISIS stronghold in the Libyan town of Sirte, the birthplace of murdered Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Pentagon Spokesman Peter Cook has indicated that this is the beginning of a more sustained US air campaign against Libya and that each US airstrike is approved by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM).

Some observations:

1) No ISIS Before 2011 US “Liberation”

It goes without saying that before the US “liberation” of Libya in 2011, there were no ISIS forces in Sirte, or anywhere else in Libya. ISIS in Libya is a problem created by the US intervention in Libya in 2011.

2) Libyan Government Created by UN

The Pentagon cites the “Government of National Accord” as the legitimate Libyan government and its willingness to carry out airstrikes in favor of that government signifies US policy favors consolidation of power in the hands of this one of several factions competing for power in Libya. It should be noted that the “Government of National Accord” is a governing body that was not selected by the Libyan people, but rather created by the United Nations and sent into Libya on a ship from Tunisia.

At the time this government was imposed on the Libyan people by the UN, that body’s envoy for Libya, Martin Kobler told the Libyan people they should accept this new governing body even though they had not elected it He said:

I call on the Libyan people to extend to the Presidency Council and the Government of National Accord their full support and cooperation. The international community stands firmly behind them and is ready to provide the required support and assistance.

The US-led attack on Libya was supposed to give the Libyan people back their sovereign vote by deposing a leader not sufficiently democratic by US standards.

The US is bombing Libya to consolidate the power of a non-elected government that the US installed because the previous government was not elected.

3) US Claims 2001 Force Authorization as Authority

At the 28:04 minute mark of today’s briefing on the airstrikes, one journalist finally asked the Pentagon spokesman under what legal authority these strikes were being conducted. The Pentagon spokesman replied that they were authorized by the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

This Administration claim is an incredible stretch – beyond the breaking point. Libya was not involved in any way with the 9/11 attacks on the US and ISIS did not even exist at the time of the 9/11 attacks.

None of the journalists followed up on the Administration’s claim of authority to attack Libya based on legislation targeting those who attacked the US on 9/11.

4) Millions Spent on Strikes to Hit a Tank

According to Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook, this US airstrike resulted in the bombing of a tank and a few trucks. The cost of a round of airstrikes on Iraq or Syria is approximately $8.5 million.

5) No Media Interest in ISIS Appearance in Libya

Through the entire 37 minute Pentagon briefing, no one in the press corps asked why ISIS is in Libya where it had not been before the 2011 US attack. No one challenged the Administration narrative.

http://original.antiwar.com/daniel-mcadams/2016/08/01/us-airstrikes-hit-libya-bolster-un-created-government/

US Launches Air Strikes Against ISIS Targets In Libya, by Tyler Durden

SLL WILL BE ON VACATION 8/3-8/4 AND WILL RESUME POSTING 8/5.

Four years ago, ISIS didn’t exist. Now it’s in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Thank you US interventionism. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

In what comes as the most expected geopolitical development in recent years, moments ago the United States announced that it had launched multiple airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Libya on Monday, opening a new, more persistent front against the group at the request of the United Nations-backed government, Libyan and U.S. officials said.

The strikes, which allegedly targeted an Islamic State tank and vehicles, come amid growing concerns about the group’s increased threat to Europe and its ability to inspire attacks across the region. “The presidency council, as the general army commander, has made a request for direct U.S. support to carry out specific airstrikes,” Serraj said. “The first strikes started today in positions in Sirte, causing major casualties.”

As AP reports, the strikes mark the start of a more intense American role in the fight against IS in Libya, as the U.S. steps in to assist the fragile, U.N.-backed government there. Of course, the government is fragile only because of US involvement 5 years ago (thanks Hillary) to topple Muammar Gadaffi and unleash the political chaos that led to the Arab spring in, according to some, unleashed jihadist organizations such as ISIS. They were the first strikes by the U.S. on the group in Libya since February.

In a statement, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said President Barack Obama authorized the strikes following a recommendation from Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. To be sure, there was no formal authorization: this is merely the latest unilaterally-decided US attack on a sovereign. “They are consistent with our approach to combating ISIL by working with capable and motivated local forces,” said Cook, adding that “additional U.S. strikes will continue to target ISIL in Sirte.”

Cited by AP, Fayez Serraj, the head of the U.N.-brokered presidency council, said in a televised statement that American warplanes attacked the IS bastion of Sirte on the Mediterranean in northern Libya.

“The presidency council, as the general army commander, has made a request for direct US support to carry out specific airstrikes,” Fayez Serraj, the head of the Libyan presidency council, said in a televised statement broadcast on Monday afternoon. “The first strikes started today in positions in Sirte, causing major casualties.”

“No U.S. ground forces will be deployed,” he said.

Actually that is a lie, and furthermore, the reason why none of this is surprising is because as we reported back in May, the US was already in the process of sending troops and weapons to Libya to “Fight ISIS.” This is what we said:

Just two years after the US provided generous amounts of modern weapons to both the “moderate” Syrian rebels as well as the Iraq military, which then conveniently and almost immediately “fell into the wrong hands” and served to arm what was then a little known group of Muslim fundamentalists that went by the name of the Islamic State, the US is about to do it again.

* * *

Even more ironic is that there is an ongoing embargo to supply Libya with weapons, which however it about to be circumvented. As AP writes, “aiming at once to shore up the fragile government, and prevent Islamic State fighters and rival militias from further gains, the U.S., the four other permanent U.N. Security Council members and more than 15 other nations said they would approve exemptions to a United Nations arms embargo to allow military sales and aid to Libya’s so-called “Government of National Accord.”

The narrative is so worn out it can be seen from a mile away: “the step will boost the government’s efforts to consolidate power and regain control over Libyan state institutions like the central bank and national oil company.” As a reminder, this was the pretext used in virtually every failed US foreign intervention campaign. At least this time AP at least point out the obvious: the deployment of weapons “also comes with risks, not least of which is that the arms may be captured or otherwise taken by the Islamic State or other groups.”

To continue reading: US Launches Air Strikes Against ISIS Targets In Libya

Illegal War and Disguised Truth, by Andrew Napolitano

The Republicans are never going to get the bottom of Benghazi because too many of them knew what Hillary Clinton was doing and acquiesced to it. From Andrew Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

The 800-plus-page report of the House Select Committee on Benghazi was released earlier this week. It slams former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her willful indifference to her obligation to repel military-style attacks on American interests and personnel at the U.S. Consulate and a nearby CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya. She particularly failed to save the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his colleagues, all under her care and control while she was secretary of state.

The report also slams Clinton for her repeated lies about the cause of the attacks. After she told her daughter in an email that the Benghazi consulate had been attacked by an organized terrorist group using heavy military hardware, she told her colleagues at the State Department that the attacks were a spontaneous overreaction by locals to an American-made internet video about the Prophet Muhammad.

After telling that lie, she sent another email, this one to the Egyptian foreign minister, repeating what she had truthfully told her daughter.

The Obama administration then spread the “internet video-inspired” myth by dispatching Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., to repeat it to five Sunday morning American television talk shows. This was met with profound disbelief in the diplomatic and intelligence communities. Yet, still unwilling to acknowledge the truth publicly, Clinton then retold the myth to the families of the four dead Americans in the presence of their loved ones’ bodies as the bodies were being reverently removed from a U.S. transfer plane at Joint Base Andrews.

What does all this say about the character of Clinton? How cold and heartless is she? How can she expect voters to reward her with the presidency when she failed to lift a finger to save Americans and then she repeatedly lied in public about her failures — while being truthful about them in private?

Yet the committee’s report is incomplete and has aroused dissent from some Republican members of the committee. The essence of their dissent is that the unstated and unacknowledged but true mission of the committee was not to reveal facts but to conceal them. There is ample evidence to support their argument that Benghazi was the unintended consequence of Clinton’s private war against Libyan strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

Yet the report does not delve into that.

The war against Gadhafi was, of course, never declared by Congress. It was conceived by Clinton, approved by President Barack Obama and agreed to by leadership in both houses of Congress and from both major political parties. It was supposed to be the crown jewel of Clinton’s foreign policy stewardship — ousting the dictator, replacing him with a democracy, putting no American boots on the ground and avoiding American bloodshed.

To continue reading: Illegal War and Disguised Truth

 

Weapons Headed to Libya – Hillary Clinton’s Interventionist Disaster Continues to Spiral Out of Control, by Michael Krieger

SLL will be on vacation 5/17-5/21 and will resume posting 5/22.

The mess Hillary and Barack created in Libya just keeps getting worse. From Michael Krieger at liberty blitzkrieg.com:

In retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy; it has devolved into a failed state. Violent deaths and other human rights abuses have increased severalfold. Rather than helping the United States combat terrorism, as Qaddafi did during his last decade in power, Libya now serves as a safe haven for militias affiliated with both al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The Libya intervention has harmed other U.S. interests as well: undermining nuclear nonproliferation, chilling Russian cooperation at the UN, and fueling Syria’s civil war.


As bad as Libya’s human rights situation was under Qaddafi, it has gotten worse since NATO ousted him. Immediately after taking power, the rebels perpetrated scores of reprisal killings, in addition to torturing, beating, and arbitrarily detaining thousands of suspected Qaddafi supporters. The rebels also expelled 30,000 mostly black residents from the town of Tawergha and burned or looted their homes and shops, on the grounds that some of them supposedly had been mercenaries. Six months after the war, Human Rights Watch declared that the abuses “appear to be so widespread and systematic that they may amount to crimes against humanity.”


As a consequence of such pervasive violence, the UN estimates that roughly 400,000 Libyans have fled their homes, a quarter of whom have left the country altogether. 


– From the post: The Forgotten War – Understanding the Incredible Debacle Left Behind by NATO in Libya

Earlier today, The Guardian published an article detailing how foreign leaders were gathering in Vienna to discuss how to address the humanitarian disaster/ISIS haven they themselves created in Libya. As usual, the key agenda item revolved around whether the U.S. and its allies should ship weapons into the arena to inspire, you know, freedom and democracy.

Reading the piece leaves you with a clear sense of what a quagmire it really is. For example:

Leading foreign ministers from Europe and the Middle East are to meet in Vienna on Monday under the joint chairmanship of the US and Italy to discuss how to bolster support for the UN-backed Libyan government in the face of deepening splits in the country over political legitimacy, oil resources and Islamic State.

Special forces from the US, UK, France and Italy are operating in various parts of Libya, sometimes backing different military forces and hindering efforts to reunite Libyan politics behind the UN government of Fayez al-Sarraj.

Remember this paragraph for later.

Sarraj has been trying to broaden his authority in Tripoli since he and his political allies arrived in late March, taking over key institutions such as the central bank and the National Oil Corporation, but he still faces a rival administration, and military power, in the east. Disputes between the factions are such that bankers on one side are depriving the other access to the code to a bank vault containing badly needed cash to pay staff. Different groups are also trying to export oil.

Officials say that at the Vienna meeting on Monday, which will be held under the joint chairmanship of the US and Italy, the fledgling Tripoli administration is likely to submit a list of requests for western partners to assist its forces with arms, training and intelligence. The meeting will be chaired by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and the Italian foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni.

To continue reading: Weapons Headed to Libya – Hillary Clinton’s Interventionist Disaster Continues to Spiral Out of Control