Thursday, July 21, 2016
July 21, 2016. Chaos and violence continue, meet-ups to 'help' Iraqis
continue, talk of five US bases being built in the KRG circulates, and
The never-ending Iraq War continues with the US Defense Dept announcing today:
Strikes in Iraq
Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 11 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Qaim, a strike produced inconclusive results.
-- Near Haditha, a strike destroyed an ISIL command-and-control node.
-- Near Hit, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Mosul, two strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit,
an ISIL headquarters and an ISIL financial headquarters and destroyed
seven ISIL assembly areas, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL artillery piece.
-- Near Qayyarah, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical
units and destroyed five ISIL boats, an ISIL mortar system and an ISIL
-- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical
units and destroyed an ISIL recoilless rifle, an ISIL fighting position
and an ISIL weapons cache.
-- Near Sinjar, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic
events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a
single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a
single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle
is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons
against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for
example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or
impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not
report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number
of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual
munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in
counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a
Wait, two strikes near Ramadi?
Thought that was one of the 'liberated' cities.
Don't wait for the press to ask.
And none of these bombings helps the Iraqi people in need, does it?
At today's State Dept press briefing, spokesperson John Kirby declared,
"Yesterday, also I think as you know, the Secretary [of State John
Kerry] hosted the Pledging
Conference for Iraq, which raised over $2.1 billion from the
international community, to include $316 million from the United States –
funds that will provide Iraq with critical stabilization and
What's he talking about?
He was too busy playing Secretary of Defense to explain.
But President Barack Obama's Special Envoy to Iraq, Brett McGurk, explained it July 19th in a press briefing:
But very importantly, there’s much more than just the military campaign.
We’re very focused on what comes after ISIL in these areas. So as a
coalition we’ve established two stabilization funding facilities, one a
funding facility for immediate stabilization. This is kind of to get the
lights on, to get police trained, to get them back in the streets, to
allow people to return to their homes. And this has actually been quite
successful. We have about $100 million in the fund at any given time.
And in the city of Tikrit, for example, nearly the entire population has
returned to the city of Tikrit. And overall in Iraq, we’ve liberated
about 50 percent of the territory from ISIL and more than 700,000 Iraqis
have returned to their homes in areas that ISIL used to control.
So we've used Brett McGurk to rescue floundering John Kerry's Wednesday remarks.
Wednesday, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter spoke about the military aspects:
As I said earlier today, our coalition's military
campaign plan has three objectives. First, to destroy the ISIL parent
tumor in Iraq and Syria. That's necessary, but it's not sufficient. As
recent attacks remind us, ISIL safe havens threaten not only the lives
of Iraqi and Syrian people, but also the security of our own citizens.
And the sooner we defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, the safer our countries will be.
So our second objective is to
combat ISIL's metastasizes everywhere they emerge around the world. And
third, and most important, to help protect our homelands.
In January this year, we updated
our comprehensive coalition military campaign plan to accomplish the
military aspects of these three objectives. And we've pursued a number
of deliberate decisions and actions to accelerate this plan and hasten
ISIL's lasting defeat.
And since then, in play after play,
town after town, from every direction and in every domain, our campaign
has accelerated further, squeezing ISIL and rolling it back towards
Raqqah and Mosul. By isolating these two cities, we're effectively
setting the stage to collapse ISIL's control over them.
Thanks to the hard work and
sacrifice of our local partners and our service members, and more
contributions from the nations that met here today, we seized
opportunities, reinforced success, and taken the fight to the enemy.
But we're not going to rest.
Today, we reviewed and agreed on the next plays in our campaign, which
of course we won't discuss publicly yet, but let me be clear, they
culminate in the collapse of ISIL's control over the cities of Mosul and
Now, before I continue, I want to
say that we're aware of reports of civilian casualties that may be
related to recent coalition airstrikes near Manbij city in Syria, which
is one of the last junctions connecting Raqqah to the outside world.
We'll investigate these reports and continue to do all we can to
protect civilians from harm.
Being scrupulously careful to avoid
civilian casualties and being transparent about this issue is a
reflection of the civilized nature of this coalition.
Getting back to the future campaign
and the next plays, after detailing those next plays, we identified the
capabilities and the support required to execute those plays. Since
our first full defense ministerial in Brussels in February, our nations,
including the United States, have provided even more support to
accelerate the campaign, as our local partners have made advances.
But we're all going to need to do
more. For the United States' part, President Obama decided to deploy an
additional 560 troops to support the Iraqi security forces in their
offensive to retake Mosul. And on my visit to Iraq last week, where I
met with Prime Minister Abadi and Defense Minister Obaidi, who by the
way is here today and I was pleased to speak with him and he spoke to
the other ministers several times -- I offered to share some of our
hard-earned expertise in countering improvised explosive devices with
the Iraqi security forces.
In fact, the director of our joint
improvised threat defeat agency, Lieutenant General Mike Shields, is in
Baghdad today meeting with Iraqi officials to discuss this topic, a
pledge I made to Prime Minister Abadi last week.
Meanwhile, away from the meet-ups, a document the US government signed is in the news. Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) reports
The military protocol agreement signed
July 12 between the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government and the United
States might create controversy in Iraq’s public and political circles,
especially those that do not have good relations with the United
States and are preparing to fight US forces if they step on Iraqi soil. According to officials in Kurdistan,
the agreement states that five US bases should be built in the Iraqi
Kurdistan Region areas of Erbil, Atrush, Harir, Dahuk and Sinjar.
Moreover, the United States vowed to pay the salaries of the Kurdish
peshmerga for 10 years, although this has not been confirmed by any US
Perhaps this agreement will give the peshmerga more autonomy and
international legitimacy, but at the same time it might create problems
with its counterparts in Iraq such as the predominately Shiite Popular Mobilization Units
(PMU) and the Sunni tribal forces. The agreement will allow the
peshmerga to equal the Iraqi army in strength and might provide it with
more arms and develop it further in the future. During the liberation of
Iraqi areas, clashes broke out between the peshmerga and forces from
the Iraqi army and the PMU, the last of which was in April in Tuz Khormato.
The PMU that are
close to Iran have increased in number and become better equipped, and
they are almost on par with the Iraqi army. They enjoy huge influence in
Iraq that might be greater than that of the Iraqi army. However, the tribal forces that constitute the Sunni version of the PMU do not have the same impact.
that US Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones told the network today that
Baghdad is fully aware of the agreement the US signed with the KRG. ALL IRAQ NEWS notes
that Jones has stated that the US has "no intention to set up bases" in the KRG. NATIONAL IRAQI NEWS explains
that the party of Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr is
calling for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to nominate ministers to
The agreement was signed 10 days after the KRG became the target of threats.
July 2nd, Adil Alsalmi and Dalshad Abdullah (ASHARQ AL-AWSAT) reported
Tension prevailed at the Kurdish frontier between Iran and Kurdistan
following the threat of General Hossein Salami, deputy chief of the
Revolutionary Guards Corps, to launch an attack on a wide scale.
Salami explicitly said that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
(IRGC) will not hesitate to strike and destroy any region that threatens
the Iranian regime and hosts rebels.
Salami addressed top officials at Iraqi Kurdistan saying that
Kurdistan should abide by its pledges or else the military response will
be decisive. The General accused some of the countries in the region of
supporting Kurdish opposition parties and playing with fire.
Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran official Khalid Wanawsha told Asharq
Al-Awsat newspaper that the purpose of these threats is to exert
pressure on Iraqi Kurdistan but this will not falter the party’s strive
to gain the legitimate rights they are demanding.
Massoud Barzani is the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
That is what he Tweeted. Here is what was posted on his official website regarding the agreement:
Salahadin, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, (Krp.org)- President Masoud Barzani
received a United States military delegation headed by Ms. Elissa
Slotkin, the acting assistant Secretary of Defense for International
Security Affairs. This meeting was followed after a telephone
conversation between President Barzani and Mr. Ashton Carter, the U.S.
Secretary of Defense.
President Barzani and Ms. Slotkin discussed
the liberation of Mosul and the status of the preparations and
readiness from the U.S., Iraqi and Kurdistan Region perspectives.
President Barzani focused on the importance and urgency of the
liberation of Mosul and used the opportunity to reiterated his position
of the extreme importance of planning for post liberation Mosul.
Slotkin stated that the Peshmerga forces will play an essential role in
the Mosul operation just as they have played similar roles in other
operations against the terrorists of the Islamic State.
Barzani expressed his gratitude to the people and government of the
United States for their support to the Kurdistan Region and for leading
the collective effort to exterminate the terrorists of the Islamic
The meeting was attended by a number of military officials
from both the United States and the Kurdistan Region and a memorandum
of understanding on the military coordination between the Kurdistan
Region and the United States was signed. The acting Minister of
Peshmerga Affairs, Mr. Karim Sinjari and the the acting Assistant
Secretary of Defense of International Security Affairs were the two
signatories of the MoU.
The memorandum makes references to
military and financial support to the Peshmerga forces and also to some
of the details of the Mosul operation.
That makes no mention of bases -- which doesn't mean they're not in the agreement.
Nor does Jones' denial mean that the bases aren't in the agreement.
Meanwhile, WORLD BULLETIN reports
Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Thursday welcomed this week’s resignation
of seven government ministers, urging remaining cabinet members to
On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi accepted the
resignation of six members of his government, including the ministers of
interior, industry, petroleum, transportation, housing and construction
and water resources.
The following day, Hussein al-Shahristani, minister of higher
education and scientific research, also resigned, leaving a total of
seven ministerial portfolios vacant.
In the United States, the Republican Party wrapped up their political
convention tonight with the party's nominee Donald Trump delivering a
speech -- a speech Stephen Collinson (CNN) notes
lasted "one hour and 15 minutes."
Gary Johnson is the presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party and this is from his Twitter feed: