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The Pronk Pops Show 900, May 25, 2017, Story 1: President Trump To 23 Members of NATO “Pay Your Fair Share” — How Much Does NATO Headquarters Building Cost? American Tax Payers Would Like To Know — About $1, 230,000,000 — Videos — Story 2: NSA Violate The Fourth Amendment Rights of American Citizens — Obama’s NSA conducted illegal searches — Nothing New — Congress Will Do Nothing As Usual — No Safeguards and No Privacy — Videos — Story 3: Montana Congressional Candidate Gianforte Will Win Despite Roughing up Aggressive Reporter — Setup of A Political Assassination by Big LIe Media — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump To 23 Members of NATO Pay Your Fair Share — Videos

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Trump’s full speech at NATO 9/11 memorial

Amb. Bolton: It would be a mistake for the U.S. to drop NATO

President Trump arrives at NATO summit in Brussels May 25, 2017.

FULL: President Donald Trump Speech NATO Unveiling Of The Article 5 Berlin Wall Memorials 2017 Trump

FULL Event: NATO meeting in Brussels. President Trump speech at NATO summit. May 25, 2017.

Can NATO Survive Without The U.S.?

Why Germany And Japan Are Expanding Their Militaries

Which Countries Spend The Most On Their Military?

What Are The World’s Most Powerful Militaries?

Which Countries Can Defend Against Nuclear Missiles?

New NATO Headquarters Cost $1.23 Billion

(Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)

BY: Daniel Halper
May 25, 2017 11:15 am

President Trump departed from prepared remarks Thursday to comment on the ostentatious new NATO headquarters in Brussels at a dedication ceremony with world leaders.

“I never asked once what the new NATO headquarters cost,” Trump said, bringing attention to the glass structure. “I refuse to do that, but it is beautiful.”

In fact, the building cost an astounding $1.23 billion, according to a budget released by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Architecture, design, and quality management cost the alliance $129 million alone. Audio visual installations ran $29 million, while construction ran $514 million, the document states.

  • 1,500 personnel from national delegations

  • 1,700 international military and civilian staff

  • 600 staff from NATO agencies

  • frequent visitors, currently some 500 per day

The alliance bragged that the structure is also a “green building for the future.”

“The environment and sustainability have played a major role in the design process. The new building’s energy consumption has been optimized through the use of geothermal and solar energy and advanced lighting systems. Thermal insulation, thermal inertia and solar protection have been incorporated in the design to reduce heating. Rainwater will be used for non-potable water use and the buildings short wings will have green roofs,” the document states.

In his remarks Thursday, Trump took NATO member states to task for not paying their fair share.

“Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” Trump told leaders of the alliance countries.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States — and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years and not paying in those past years. Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined. If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of their GDP on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion for our collective defense and for the financing of additional NATO reserves,” he added.

Trump said NATO would be “stronger” in fighting terrorism if member states paid their obligations.

http://freebeacon.com/politics/new-nato-headquarters-cost-1-23-billion/

NATO

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 50°52′34″N 4°25′19″E

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord
NATO OTAN landscape logo.svg

Logo
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (orthographic projection).svg

Member states of NATO
Abbreviation NATO, OTAN
Motto
Flag Flag of NATO.svg
Formation 4 April 1949; 68 years ago
Type Military alliance
Headquarters Brussels, Belgium
Membership
Official language
English
French[2]
Jens Stoltenberg
Petr Pavel
Curtis Scaparrotti
Denis Mercier
Expenses (2015) $866,971 million[3]
Website nato.int

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO/ˈnt/; French: Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord; OTAN), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmentalmilitary alliance between several North American and European states based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. Three NATO members (the United States, France and the United Kingdom) are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and are officially nuclear-weapon states. NATO’s headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons.

NATO is an Alliance that consists of 28 independent member countries across North America and Europe, the newest of which, Albania and Croatia, joined in April 2009. An additional 22 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programmes. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the global total.[4] Members’ defence spending is supposed to amount to at least 2% of GDP.[5]

NATO was little more than a political association until the Korean War galvanized the organization’s member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two US supreme commanders. The course of the Cold War led to a rivalry with nations of the Warsaw Pact, which formed in 1955. Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defence against a prospective Soviet invasion—doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of France from NATO’s military structure in 1966 for 30 years. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the organization became involved in the breakup of Yugoslavia, and conducted its first military interventions in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 and later Yugoslavia in 1999. Politically, the organization sought better relations with former Warsaw Pact countries, several of which joined the alliance in 1999 and 2004.

Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty, requiring member states to come to the aid of any member state subject to an armed attack, was invoked for the first and only time after the September 11 attacks,[6] after which troops were deployed to Afghanistan under the NATO-led ISAF. The organization has operated a range of additional roles since then, including sending trainers to Iraq, assisting in counter-piracy operations[7] and in 2011 enforcing a no-fly zoneover Libya in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. The less potent Article 4, which merely invokes consultation among NATO members, has been invoked five times: by Turkey in 2003 over the Iraq War; twice in 2012 by Turkey over the Syrian Civil War, after the downing of an unarmed Turkish F-4 reconnaissance jet, and after a mortar was fired at Turkey from Syria;[8] in 2014 by Poland, following the Russian intervention in Crimea;[9] and again by Turkey in 2015 after threats by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to its territorial integrity.[10]

History

Beginnings

Eleven men in suits stand around a large desk at which another man is signing a document.

The North Atlantic Treaty was signed by President Harry Truman in Washington, D.C., on 4 April 1949 and was ratified by the United States that August.

The Treaty of Brussels, signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom, is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. The treaty and the Soviet Berlin Blockade led to the creation of the Western European Union‘s Defence Organization in September 1948.[11] However, participation of the United States was thought necessary both to counter the military power of the USSR and to prevent the revival of nationalist militarism. In addition the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d’état by the Communists had overthrown a democratic government and British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin reiterated that the best way to prevent another Czechoslovakia was to evolve a joint Western military strategy. He got a receptive hearing, especially considering American anxiety over Italy (and the Italian Communist Party).[12] In 1948 European leaders met with U.S. defense, military and diplomatic officials at the Pentagon, under U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall‘s orders, exploring a framework for a new and unprecedented association.[13] Talks for a new military alliance resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed by U.S. President Harry Truman in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states plus the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.[14] The first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, stated in 1949 that the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”.[15] Popular support for the Treaty was not unanimous, and some Icelanders participated in a pro-neutrality, anti-membership riot in March 1949. The creation of NATO can be seen as the primary institutional consequence of a school of thought called Atlanticism which stressed the importance of trans-Atlantic cooperation.[16]

The members agreed that an armed attack against any one of them in Europe or North America would be considered an attack against them all. Consequently, they agreed that, if an armed attack occurred, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence, would assist the member being attacked, taking such action as it deemed necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. The treaty does not require members to respond with military action against an aggressor. Although obliged to respond, they maintain the freedom to choose the method by which they do so. This differs from Article IV of the Treaty of Brussels, which clearly states that the response will be military in nature. It is nonetheless assumed that NATO members will aid the attacked member militarily. The treaty was later clarified to include both the member’s territory and their “vessels, forces or aircraft” above the Tropic of Cancer, including some overseas departments of France.[17]

The creation of NATO brought about some standardization of allied military terminology, procedures, and technology, which in many cases meant European countries adopting US practices. The roughly 1300 Standardization Agreements (STANAG) codified many of the common practices that NATO has achieved. Hence, the 7.62×51mm NATO rifle cartridge was introduced in the 1950s as a standard firearm cartridge among many NATO countries.[18]Fabrique Nationale de Herstal‘s FAL, which used the 7.62mm NATO cartridge, was adopted by 75 countries, including many outside of NATO.[19] Also, aircraft marshalling signals were standardized, so that any NATO aircraft could land at any NATO base. Other standards such as the NATO phonetic alphabet have made their way beyond NATO into civilian use.[20]

Cold War

The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 was crucial for NATO as it raised the apparent threat of all Communist countries working together, and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans.[21]Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) was formed to direct forces in Europe, and began work under Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower in January 1951.[22] In September 1950, the NATO Military Committee called for an ambitious buildup of conventional forces to meet the Soviets, subsequently reaffirming this position at the February 1952 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Lisbon. The Lisbon conference, seeking to provide the forces necessary for NATO’s Long-Term Defence Plan, called for an expansion to ninety-six divisions. However this requirement was dropped the following year to roughly thirty-five divisions with heavier use to be made of nuclear weapons. At this time, NATO could call on about fifteen ready divisions in Central Europe, and another ten in Italy and Scandinavia.[23][24] Also at Lisbon, the post of Secretary General of NATO as the organization’s chief civilian was created, and Lord Ismay was eventually appointed to the post.[25]

Two soldiers crouch under a tree while a tank sits on a road in front of them.

The German Bundeswehr provided the largest element of the allied land forces guarding the frontier in Central Europe.

In September 1952, the first major NATO maritime exercises began; Exercise Mainbrace brought together 200 ships and over 50,000 personnel to practice the defence of Denmark and Norway.[26] Other major exercises that followed included Exercise Grand Slam and Exercise Longstep, naval and amphibious exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, Italic Weld, a combined air-naval-ground exercise in northern Italy, Grand Repulse, involving the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR), the Netherlands Corps and Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE), Monte Carlo, a simulated atomic air-ground exercise involving the Central Army Group, and Weldfast, a combined amphibious landing exercise in the Mediterranean Sea involving American, British, Greek, Italian and Turkish naval forces.[27]

Greece and Turkey also joined the alliance in 1952, forcing a series of controversial negotiations, in which the United States and Britain were the primary disputants, over how to bring the two countries into the military command structure.[22] While this overt military preparation was going on, covert stay-behind arrangements initially made by the Western European Union to continue resistance after a successful Soviet invasion, including Operation Gladio, were transferred to NATO control. Ultimately unofficial bonds began to grow between NATO’s armed forces, such as the NATO Tiger Association and competitions such as the Canadian Army Trophy for tank gunnery.[28][29]

In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested that it should join NATO to preserve peace in Europe.[30] The NATO countries, fearing that the Soviet Union’s motive was to weaken the alliance, ultimately rejected this proposal.

On 17 December 1954, the North Atlantic Council approved MC 48, a key document in the evolution of NATO nuclear thought. MC 48 emphasized that NATO would have to use atomic weapons from the outset of a war with the Soviet Union whether or not the Soviets chose to use them first. This gave SACEUR the same prerogatives for automatic use of nuclear weapons as existed for the commander-in-chief of the US Strategic Air Command.

The incorporation of West Germany into the organization on 9 May 1955 was described as “a decisive turning point in the history of our continent” by Halvard Lange, Foreign Affairs Minister of Norway at the time.[31] A major reason for Germany’s entry into the alliance was that without German manpower, it would have been impossible to field enough conventional forces to resist a Soviet invasion.[32] One of its immediate results was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, which was signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, as a formal response to this event, thereby delineating the two opposing sides of the Cold War.

Three major exercises were held concurrently in the northern autumn of 1957. Operation Counter Punch, Operation Strikeback, and Operation Deep Water were the most ambitious military undertaking for the alliance to date, involving more than 250,000 men, 300 ships, and 1,500 aircraft operating from Norway to Turkey.[33]

French withdrawal

A map of France with red and blue markings indicating air force bases as of 1966.

Map of the NATO air bases in France before Charles de Gaulle‘s 1966 withdrawal from NATO military integrated command

NATO’s unity was breached early in its history with a crisis occurring during Charles de Gaulle‘s presidency of France.[34] De Gaulle protested against the USA’s strong role in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship between it and the United Kingdom. In a memorandum sent to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on 17 September 1958, he argued for the creation of a tripartite directorate that would put France on an equal footing with the US and the UK.[35]

Considering the response to be unsatisfactory, de Gaulle began constructing an independent defence force for his country. He wanted to give France, in the event of an East German incursion into West Germany, the option of coming to a separate peace with the Eastern bloc instead of being drawn into a larger NATO–Warsaw Pact war.[36] In February 1959, France withdrew its Mediterranean Fleet from NATO command,[37] and later banned the stationing of foreign nuclear weapons on French soil. This caused the United States to transfer two hundred military aircraft out of France and return control of the air force bases that it had operated in France since 1950 to the French by 1967.

Though France showed solidarity with the rest of NATO during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, de Gaulle continued his pursuit of an independent defence by removing France’s Atlantic and Channel fleets from NATO command.[38] In 1966, all French armed forces were removed from NATO’s integrated military command, and all non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France. US Secretary of State Dean Rusk was later quoted as asking de Gaulle whether his order included “the bodies of American soldiers in France’s cemeteries?”[39] This withdrawal forced the relocation of SHAPE from Rocquencourt, near Paris, to Casteau, north of Mons, Belgium, by 16 October 1967.[40] France remained a member of the alliance, and committed to the defence of Europe from possible Warsaw Pact attack with its own forces stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany throughout the Cold War. A series of secret accords between US and French officials, the Lemnitzer–Ailleret Agreements, detailed how French forces would dovetail back into NATO’s command structure should East-West hostilities break out.[41]

France announced their return to full participation at the 2009 Strasbourg–Kehl summit.[42]

Détente and escalation

Two older men in suits sit next to each other, while a third stands behind leaning in to listen to the right man talk.

Détente led to many high level meetings between leaders from both NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

During most of the Cold War, NATO’s watch against the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact did not actually lead to direct military action. On 1 July 1968, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty opened for signature: NATO argued that its nuclear sharing arrangements did not breach the treaty as US forces controlled the weapons until a decision was made to go to war, at which point the treaty would no longer be controlling. Few states knew of the NATO nuclear sharing arrangements at that time, and they were not challenged. In May 1978, NATO countries officially defined two complementary aims of the Alliance, to maintain security and pursue détente. This was supposed to mean matching defences at the level rendered necessary by the Warsaw Pact’s offensive capabilities without spurring a further arms race.[43]

A map of Europe showing several countries on the left in blue, while ones on the right are in red. Other unaffiliated countries are in white.

During the Cold War, most of Europe was divided between two alliances. Members of NATO are shown in blue, with members of the Warsaw Pact in red, unaffiliated countries are in grey. Yugoslavia, although communist, had left the Soviet sphere in 1948, while Albania was only a Warsaw Pact member until 1968.

On 12 December 1979, in light of a build-up of Warsaw Pact nuclear capabilities in Europe, ministers approved the deployment of US GLCMcruise missiles and Pershing IItheatre nuclear weapons in Europe. The new warheads were also meant to strengthen the western negotiating position regarding nuclear disarmament. This policy was called the Dual Track policy.[44] Similarly, in 1983–84, responding to the stationing of Warsaw PactSS-20 medium-range missiles in Europe, NATO deployed modern Pershing II missiles tasked to hit military targets such as tank formations in the event of war.[45] This action led to peace movement protests throughout Western Europe, and support for the deployment wavered as many doubted whether the push for deployment could be sustained.

The membership of the organization at this time remained largely static. In 1974, as a consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Greece withdrew its forces from NATO’s military command structure but, with Turkish cooperation, were readmitted in 1980. The Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina did not result in NATO involvement because article 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty specifies that collective self-defence is only applicable to attacks on member state territories north of the Tropic of Cancer.[46] On 30 May 1982, NATO gained a new member when, following a referendum, the newly democratic Spain joined the alliance. At the peak of the Cold War, 16 member nations maintained an approximate strength of 5,252,800 active military, including as many as 435,000 forward deployed US forces, under a command structure that reached a peak of 78 headquarters, organized into four echelons.[47]

After the Cold War

The Revolutions of 1989 and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 removed the de facto main adversary of NATO and caused a strategic re-evaluation of NATO’s purpose, nature, tasks, and their focus on the continent of Europe. This shift started with the 1990 signing in Paris of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe between NATO and the Soviet Union, which mandated specific military reductions across the continent that continued after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.[48] At that time, European countries accounted for 34 percent of NATO’s military spending; by 2012, this had fallen to 21 percent.[49] NATO also began a gradual expansion to include newly autonomous Central and Eastern Europeannations, and extended its activities into political and humanitarian situations that had not formerly been NATO concerns.

Two men in suits sit signing documents at a large table in front of their country's flags. Two others stand outside watching them.

Reforms made under Mikhail Gorbachev led to the end of the Warsaw Pact.

The first post-Cold War expansion of NATO came with German reunification on 3 October 1990, when the former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance. This had been agreed in the Two Plus Four Treaty earlier in the year. To secure Soviet approval of a united Germany remaining in NATO, it was agreed that foreign troops and nuclear weapons would not be stationed in the east, and there are diverging views on whether negotiators gave commitments regarding further NATO expansion east.[50]Jack Matlock, American ambassador to the Soviet Union during its final years, said that the West gave a “clear commitment” not to expand, and declassified documents indicate that Soviet negotiators were given the impression that NATO membership was off the table for countries such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, or Poland.[51]Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the West German foreign minister at that time, said in a conversation with Eduard Shevardnadze that “[f]or us, however, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.”[51] In 1996, Gorbachev wrote in his Memoirs, that “during the negotiations on the unification of Germany they gave assurances that NATO would not extend its zone of operation to the east,”[52] and repeated this view in an interview in 2008.[53] According to Robert Zoellick, a State Department official involved in the Two Plus Four negotiating process, this appears to be a misperception, and no formal commitment regarding enlargement was made.[54]

As part of post-Cold War restructuring, NATO’s military structure was cut back and reorganized, with new forces such as the Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps established. The changes brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union on the military balance in Europe were recognized in the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which was signed in 1999. The policies of French President Nicolas Sarkozy resulted in a major reform of France’s military position, culminating with the return to full membership on 4 April 2009, which also included France rejoining the NATO Military Command Structure, while maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent.[41][55]

Enlargement and reform

A pale yellow building with square columns with three flags hanging in front and soldiers and dignitaries saluting them.

The NATO flag being raised in a ceremony marking Croatia‘s joining of the alliance in 2009.

Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbors were set up, like the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogueinitiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In 1998, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council was established. On 8 July 1997, three former communist countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO, which each did in 1999. Membership went on expanding with the accession of seven more Central and Eastern European countries to NATO: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. They were first invited to start talks of membership during the 2002 Prague summit, and joined NATO on 29 March 2004, shortly before the 2004 Istanbul summit. In Istanbul, NATO launched the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with four Persian Gulf nations.[56] At that time the decision was criticised in the US by many military, political and academic leaders as a “a policy error of historic proportions.”[57] According to George F. Kennan, an American diplomat and an advocate of the containment policy, this decision “may be expected to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”[58]

New NATO structures were also formed while old ones were abolished. In 1997, NATO reached agreement on a significant downsizing of its command structure from 65 headquarters to just 20.[59]The NATO Response Force (NRF) was launched at the 2002 Prague summit on 21 November, the first summit in a former Comecon country. On 19 June 2003, a further restructuring of the NATO military commands began as the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic were abolished and a new command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), was established in Norfolk, Virginia, United States, and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) became the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations (ACO). ACT is responsible for driving transformation (future capabilities) in NATO, whilst ACO is responsible for current operations.[60] In March 2004, NATO’s Baltic Air Policing began, which supported the sovereignty of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia by providing jet fighters to react to any unwanted aerial intrusions. Eight multinational jet fighters are based in Lithuania, the number of which was increased from four in 2014.[61]

Two older Caucasian men in black suits and red ties sit facing each other in a room with green, white, and gold trimmed walls.

Meetings between the government of Viktor Yushchenko and NATO leaders led to the Intensified Dialogue programme.

The 2006 Riga summit was held in Riga, Latvia, and highlighted the issue of energy security. It was the first NATO summit to be held in a country that had been part of the Soviet Union. At the April 2008 summit in Bucharest, Romania, NATO agreed to the accession of Croatia and Albania and both countries joined NATO in April 2009. Ukraine and Georgia were also told that they could eventually become members.[62] The issue of Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO prompted harsh criticism from Russia, as did NATO plans for a missile defence system. Studies for this system began in 2002, with negotiations centered on anti-ballistic missiles being stationed in Poland and the Czech Republic. Though NATO leaders gave assurances that the system was not targeting Russia, both presidents Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev criticized it as a threat.[63]

In 2009, US President Barack Obama proposed using the ship-based Aegis Combat System, though this plan still includes stations being built in Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Romania, and Poland.[64] NATO will also maintain the “status quo” in its nuclear deterrent in Europe by upgrading the targeting capabilities of the “tactical” B61 nuclear bombs stationed there and deploying them on the stealthier Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.[65][66] Following the 2014 Crimean crisis, NATO committed to forming a new “spearhead” force of 5,000 troops at bases in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria.[67][68] On June 15, 2016, NATO officially recognized cyberwarfare as an operational domain of war, just like land, sea and aerial warfare. This means that any cyber attack on NATO members can trigger Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.[69]

At the 2014 Wales summit, the leaders of NATO’s member states reaffirmed their pledge to spend the equivalent of at least 2% of their gross domestic products on defense.[70] In 2015, five of its 28 members met that goal.[71][72][73]

Military operations

Early operations

No military operations were conducted by NATO during the Cold War. Following the end of the Cold War, the first operations, Anchor Guard in 1990 and Ace Guard in 1991, were prompted by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Airborne early warning aircraft were sent to provide coverage of southeastern Turkey, and later a quick-reaction force was deployed to the area.[74]

Bosnia and Herzegovina intervention

A fighter jet with AV marked on its tail takes off from a mountain runway.

NATO planes engaged in aerial bombardments during Operation Deliberate Force after the Srebrenica massacre.

The Bosnian War began in 1992, as a result of the breakup of Yugoslavia. The deteriorating situation led to United Nations Security Council Resolution 816 on 9 October 1992, ordering a no-fly zone over central Bosnia and Herzegovina, which NATO began enforcing on 12 April 1993 with Operation Deny Flight. From June 1993 until October 1996, Operation Sharp Guard added maritime enforcement of the arms embargo and economic sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 28 February 1994, NATO took its first wartime action by shooting down four Bosnian Serb aircraft violating the no-fly zone.[75]

On 10 and 11 April 1994, during the Bosnian War, the United Nations Protection Force called in air strikes to protect the Goražde safe area, resulting in the bombing of a Bosnian Serb military command outpost near Goražde by two US F-16 jets acting under NATO direction.[76] This resulted in the taking of 150 U.N. personnel hostage on 14 April.[77][78] On 16 April a British Sea Harrier was shot down over Goražde by Serb forces.[79] A two-week NATO bombing campaign, Operation Deliberate Force, began in August 1995 against the Army of the Republika Srpska, after the Srebrenica massacre.[80]

NATO air strikes that year helped bring the Yugoslav wars to an end, resulting in the Dayton Agreement in November 1995.[80] As part of this agreement, NATO deployed a UN-mandated peacekeeping force, under Operation Joint Endeavor, named IFOR. Almost 60,000 NATO troops were joined by forces from non-NATO nations in this peacekeeping mission. This transitioned into the smaller SFOR, which started with 32,000 troops initially and ran from December 1996 until December 2004, when operations were then passed onto European Union Force Althea.[81] Following the lead of its member nations, NATO began to award a service medal, the NATO Medal, for these operations.[82]

Kosovo intervention

Three trucks of soldiers idle on a country road in front of trees and red roofed houses. The rear truck has KFOR painted on is back.

German KFOR soldiers patrol southern Kosovo in 1999

In an effort to stop Slobodan Milošević‘s Serbian-led crackdown on KLA separatists and Albanian civilians in Kosovo, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1199 on 23 September 1998 to demand a ceasefire. Negotiations under US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke broke down on 23 March 1999, and he handed the matter to NATO,[83] which started a 78-day bombing campaign on 24 March 1999.[84] Operation Allied Force targeted the military capabilities of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During the crisis, NATO also deployed one of its international reaction forces, the ACE Mobile Force (Land), to Albania as the Albania Force (AFOR), to deliver humanitarian aid to refugees from Kosovo.[85]

Though the campaign was criticized for high civilian casualties, including bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Milošević finally accepted the terms of an international peace plan on 3 June 1999, ending the Kosovo War. On 11 June, Milošević further accepted UN resolution 1244, under the mandate of which NATO then helped establish the KFOR peacekeeping force. Nearly one million refugees had fled Kosovo, and part of KFOR’s mandate was to protect the humanitarian missions, in addition to deterring violence.[85][86] In August–September 2001, the alliance also mounted Operation Essential Harvest, a mission disarming ethnic Albanian militias in the Republic of Macedonia.[87] As of 1 December 2013, 4,882 KFOR soldiers, representing 31 countries, continue to operate in the area.[88]

The US, the UK, and most other NATO countries opposed efforts to require the U.N. Security Council to approve NATO military strikes, such as the action against Serbia in 1999, while France and some others claimed that the alliance needed UN approval.[89] The US/UK side claimed that this would undermine the authority of the alliance, and they noted that Russia and China would have exercised their Security Council vetoes to block the strike on Yugoslavia, and could do the same in future conflicts where NATO intervention was required, thus nullifying the entire potency and purpose of the organization. Recognizing the post-Cold War military environment, NATO adopted the Alliance Strategic Concept during its Washington summit in April 1999 that emphasized conflict prevention and crisis management.[90]

War in Afghanistan

A monumental green copper statue of a woman with a torch stands on an island in front of a mainland where a massive plume of gray smoke billows amongst skyscrapers.

The September 11 attacks in the United States caused NATO to invoke its collective defence article for the first time.

The September 11 attacks in the United States caused NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter for the first time in the organization’s history. The Article says that an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack on all. The invocation was confirmed on 4 October 2001 when NATO determined that the attacks were indeed eligible under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty.[91] The eight official actions taken by NATO in response to the attacks included Operation Eagle Assist and Operation Active Endeavour, a naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea which is designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction, as well as enhancing the security of shipping in general which began on 4 October 2001.[92]

The alliance showed unity: On 16 April 2003, NATO agreed to take command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which includes troops from 42 countries. The decision came at the request of Germany and the Netherlands, the two nations leading ISAF at the time of the agreement, and all nineteen NATO ambassadors approved it unanimously. The handover of control to NATO took place on 11 August, and marked the first time in NATO’s history that it took charge of a mission outside the north Atlantic area.[93]

A general hands a NATO flag from a soldier on the left to one on the right.

ISAF General David M. Rodriguez at an Italian change of command in Herat.

ISAF was initially charged with securing Kabul and surrounding areas from the Taliban, al Qaeda and factional warlords, so as to allow for the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration headed by Hamid Karzai. In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorized the expansion of the ISAF mission throughout Afghanistan,[94] and ISAF subsequently expanded the mission in four main stages over the whole of the country.[95]

On 31 July 2006, the ISAF additionally took over military operations in the south of Afghanistan from a US-led anti-terrorism coalition.[96] Due to the intensity of the fighting in the south, in 2011 France allowed a squadron of Mirage 2000 fighter/attack aircraft to be moved into the area, to Kandahar, in order to reinforce the alliance’s efforts.[97] During its 2012 Chicago Summit, NATO endorsed a plan to end the Afghanistan war and to remove the NATO-led ISAF Forces by the end of December 2014.[98] ISAF was disestablished in December 2014 and replaced by the follow-on training Resolute Support Mission.

Iraq training mission

In August 2004, during the Iraq War, NATO formed the NATO Training Mission – Iraq, a training mission to assist the Iraqi security forces in conjunction with the US ledMNF-I.[99] The NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) was established at the request of the Iraqi Interim Government under the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546. The aim of NTM-I was to assist in the development of Iraqi security forces training structures and institutions so that Iraq can build an effective and sustainable capability that addresses the needs of the nation. NTM-I was not a combat mission but is a distinct mission, under the political control of NATO’s North Atlantic Council. Its operational emphasis was on training and mentoring. The activities of the mission were coordinated with Iraqi authorities and the US-led Deputy Commanding General Advising and Training, who was also dual-hatted as the Commander of NTM-I. The mission officially concluded on 17 December 2011.[100]

Gulf of Aden anti-piracy

A tall plume of black smoke rises from the blue ocean waters next to a large gray battleship and a small black inflatable boat.

USS Farragut destroying a Somali pirate skiff in March 2010

Beginning on 17 August 2009, NATO deployed warships in an operation to protect maritime traffic in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean from Somali pirates, and help strengthen the navies and coast guards of regional states. The operation was approved by the North Atlantic Council and involves warships primarily from the United States though vessels from many other nations are also included. Operation Ocean Shield focuses on protecting the ships of Operation Allied Provider which are distributing aid as part of the World Food Programme mission in Somalia. Russia, China and South Korea have sent warships to participate in the activities as well.[101][102] The operation seeks to dissuade and interrupt pirate attacks, protect vessels, and abetting to increase the general level of security in the region.[103]

Libya intervention

During the Libyan Civil War, violence between protestors and the Libyan government under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi escalated, and on 17 March 2011 led to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which called for a ceasefire, and authorized military action to protect civilians. A coalition that included several NATO members began enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya shortly afterwards. On 20 March 2011, NATO states agreed on enforcing an arms embargo against Libya with Operation Unified Protector using ships from NATO Standing Maritime Group 1 and Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1,[104] and additional ships and submarines from NATO members.[105] They would “monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries“.[104]

Pieces of a destroyed tank, notably the gun turret, lie on a sandy landscape.

Libyan Army Palmaria howitzers destroyed by the French Air Force near Benghazi in March 2011

On 24 March, NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone from the initial coalition, while command of targeting ground units remained with the coalition’s forces.[106][107] NATO began officially enforcing the UN resolution on 27 March 2011 with assistance from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.[108] By June, reports of divisions within the alliance surfaced as only eight of the 28 member nations were participating in combat operations,[109] resulting in a confrontation between US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and countries such as Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Germany to contribute more, the latter believing the organization has overstepped its mandate in the conflict.[110][111][112] In his final policy speech in Brussels on 10 June, Gates further criticized allied countries in suggesting their actions could cause the demise of NATO.[113] The German foreign ministry pointed to “a considerable [German] contribution to NATO and NATO-led operations” and to the fact that this engagement was highly valued by President Obama.[114]

While the mission was extended into September, Norway that day announced it would begin scaling down contributions and complete withdrawal by 1 August.[115] Earlier that week it was reported Danish air fighters were running out of bombs.[116][117] The following week, the head of the Royal Navy said the country’s operations in the conflict were not sustainable.[118] By the end of the mission in October 2011, after the death of Colonel Gaddafi, NATO planes had flown about 9,500 strike sorties against pro-Gaddafi targets.[119][120] A report from the organization Human Rights Watch in May 2012 identified at least 72 civilians killed in the campaign.[121] Following a coup d’état attempt in October 2013, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan requested technical advice and trainers from NATO to assist with ongoing security issues.[122]

Participating countries

Map of NATO affiliations in Europe Map of NATO partnerships globally
A map of Europe with countries in blue, cyan, orange, and yellow based on their NATO affiliation. A world map with countries in blue, cyan, orange, yellow, purple, and green, based on their NATO affiliation.

Members

Twelve men in black suits stand talking in small groups under a backdrop with the words Lisbonne and Lisboa.

NATO organizes regular summits for leaders of their members states and partnerships.

NATO has twenty-eight members, mainly in Europe and North America. Some of these countries also have territory on multiple continents, which can be covered only as far south as the Tropic of Cancer in the Atlantic Ocean, which defines NATO’s “area of responsibility” under Article 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty. During the original treaty negotiations, the United States insisted that colonies such as the Belgian Congo be excluded from the treaty.[123][124]French Algeria was however covered until their independence on 3 July 1962.[125] Twelve of these twenty-eight are original members who joined in 1949, while the other sixteen joined in one of seven enlargement rounds. Few members spend more than two percent of their gross domestic product on defence,[126] with the United States accounting for three quarters of NATO defense spending.[127]

From the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, France pursued a military strategy of independence from NATO under a policy dubbed “Gaullo-Mitterrandism”.[citation needed]Nicolas Sarkozy negotiated the return of France to the integrated military command and the Defence Planning Committee in 2009, the latter being disbanded the following year. France remains the only NATO member outside the Nuclear Planning Group and unlike the United States and the United Kingdom, will not commit its nuclear-armed submarines to the alliance.[41][55]

Enlargement

A map of Europe with countries labeled in shades of blue, green, and yellow based on when they joined NATO.

NATO has added 12 new members since the German reunification and the end of the Cold War.

New membership in the alliance has been largely from Central and Eastern Europe, including former members of the Warsaw Pact. Accession to the alliance is governed with individual Membership Action Plans, and requires approval by each current member. NATO currently has three candidate countries that are in the process of joining the alliance: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and the Republic of Macedonia. On 2 December 2015, NATO Foreign Ministers decided to invite Montenegro to start accession talks to become the 29th member of the Alliance.[128] On 28 April 2017 the Montenegro’s parliament ratified the accession treaty, and as of that date 27 of 28 NATO members had approved Montenegro’s accession, with Spain’s parliament expected to act in May 2017.[129] In NATO official statements, the Republic of Macedonia is always referred to as the “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, with a footnote stating that “Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name”. Though Macedonia completed its requirements for membership at the same time as Croatia and Albania, NATO’s most recent members, its accession was blocked by Greece pending a resolution of the Macedonia naming dispute.[130] In order to support each other in the process, new and potential members in the region formed the Adriatic Charter in 2003.[131]Georgia was also named as an aspiring member, and was promised “future membership” during the 2008 summit in Bucharest,[132] though in 2014, US President Barack Obama said the country was not “currently on a path” to membership.[133]

Russia continues to oppose further expansion, seeing it as inconsistent with understandings between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and European and American negotiators that allowed for a peaceful German reunification.[51] NATO’s expansion efforts are often seen by Moscow leaders as a continuation of a Cold War attempt to surround and isolate Russia,[134] though they have also been criticised in the West.[135]Ukraine‘s relationship with NATO and Europe has been politically divisive, and contributed to “Euromaidan” protests that saw the ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. In March 2014, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk reiterated the government’s stance that Ukraine is not seeking NATO membership.[136] Ukraine’s president subsequently signed a bill dropping his nation’s nonaligned status in order to pursue NATO membership, but signaled that it would hold a referendum before seeking to join.[137] Ukraine is one of eight countries in Eastern Europe with an Individual Partnership Action Plan. IPAPs began in 2002, and are open to countries that have the political will and ability to deepen their relationship with NATO.[138]

Partnerships

Hundreds of soldiers in military uniforms stand behind a line on a tarmac with 14 flags held by individuals at the front.

Partnership for Peace conducts multinational military exercises like Cooperative Archer, which took place in Tblisi in July 2007 with 500 servicemen from four NATO members, eight PfP members, and Jordan, a Mediterranean Dialogue participant.[139]

The Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme was established in 1994 and is based on individual bilateral relations between each partner country and NATO: each country may choose the extent of its participation.[140] Members include all current and former members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.[141] The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) was first established on 29 May 1997, and is a forum for regular coordination, consultation and dialogue between all fifty participants.[142] The PfP programme is considered the operational wing of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership.[140] Other third countries also have been contacted for participation in some activities of the PfP framework such as Afghanistan.[143]

The European Union (EU) signed a comprehensive package of arrangements with NATO under the Berlin Plus agreement on 16 December 2002. With this agreement, the EU was given the possibility to use NATO assets in case it wanted to act independently in an international crisis, on the condition that NATO itself did not want to act—the so-called “right of first refusal“.[144] For example, Article 42(7) of the 1982 Treaty of Lisbon specifies that “If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power”. The treaty applies globally to specified territories whereas NATO is restricted under its Article 6 to operations north of the Tropic of Cancer. It provides a “double framework” for the EU countries that are also linked with the PfP programme.

Additionally, NATO cooperates and discusses its activities with numerous other non-NATO members. The Mediterranean Dialogue was established in 1994 to coordinate in a similar way with Israel and countries in North Africa. The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was announced in 2004 as a dialog forum for the Middle East along the same lines as the Mediterranean Dialogue. The four participants are also linked through the Gulf Cooperation Council.[145]

Political dialogue with Japan began in 1990, and since then, the Alliance has gradually increased its contact with countries that do not form part of any of these cooperation initiatives.[146] In 1998, NATO established a set of general guidelines that do not allow for a formal institutionalisation of relations, but reflect the Allies’ desire to increase cooperation. Following extensive debate, the term “Contact Countries” was agreed by the Allies in 2000. By 2012, the Alliance had broadened this group, which meets to discuss issues such as counter-piracy and technology exchange, under the names “partners across the globe” or “global partners”.[147][148]Australia and New Zealand, both contact countries, are also members of the AUSCANNZUKUS strategic alliance, and similar regional or bilateral agreements between contact countries and NATO members also aid cooperation. Colombia is the NATO’s latest partner and Colombia has access to the full range of cooperative activities NATO offers to partners; Colombia became the first and only Latin American country to cooperate with NATO.[149]

Structures

Two gray haired older men talk with a soldier wearing camouflage and a green beret who is facing away.

Secretary General of NATOJens Stoltenberg (right) and his predecessor, Anders Fogh Rasmussen (left), talk with members of the Norwegian army’s Telemark Battalion in Oslo.

The main headquarters of NATO is located on Boulevard Léopold III/Leopold III-laan, B-1110 Brussels, which is in Haren, part of the City of Brussels municipality.[150] A new €750 million headquarters building began construction in 2010, was completed in summer 2016,[151] and was dedicated on 25 May 2017.[152] Problems in the original building stemmed from its hurried construction in 1967, when NATO was forced to move its headquarters from Porte Dauphine in Paris, France following the French withdrawal.[153][40]

The staff at the Headquarters is composed of national delegations of member countries and includes civilian and military liaison offices and officers or diplomatic missions and diplomats of partner countries, as well as the International Staff and International Military Staff filled from serving members of the armed forces of member states.[154] Non-governmental citizens’ groups have also grown up in support of NATO, broadly under the banner of the Atlantic Council/Atlantic Treaty Association movement.

NATO Council

Like any alliance, NATO is ultimately governed by its 28 member states. However, the North Atlantic Treaty and other agreements outline how decisions are to be made within NATO. Each of the 28 members sends a delegation or mission to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.[155] The senior permanent member of each delegation is known as the Permanent Representative and is generally a senior civil servant or an experienced ambassador (and holding that diplomatic rank). Several countries have diplomatic missions to NATO through embassies in Belgium.

Together, the Permanent Members form the North Atlantic Council (NAC), a body which meets together at least once a week and has effective governance authority and powers of decision in NATO. From time to time the Council also meets at higher level meetings involving foreign ministers, defence ministers or heads of state or government (HOSG) and it is at these meetings that major decisions regarding NATO’s policies are generally taken. However, it is worth noting that the Council has the same authority and powers of decision-making, and its decisions have the same status and validity, at whatever level it meets. France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States are together referred to as the Quint, which is an informal discussion group within NATO. NATO summits also form a further venue for decisions on complex issues, such as enlargement.[156]

The meetings of the North Atlantic Council are chaired by the Secretary General of NATO and, when decisions have to be made, action is agreed upon on the basis of unanimity and common accord. There is no voting or decision by majority. Each nation represented at the Council table or on any of its subordinate committees retains complete sovereignty and responsibility for its own decisions.

List of Secretaries General[157]
# Name Country Duration
1 Lord Ismay  United Kingdom 4 April 1952 – 16 May 1957
2 Paul-Henri Spaak  Belgium 16 May 1957 – 21 April 1961
3 Dirk Stikker  Netherlands 21 April 1961 – 1 August 1964
4 Manlio Brosio  Italy 1 August 1964 – 1 October 1971
5 Joseph Luns  Netherlands 1 October 1971 – 25 June 1984
6 Lord Carrington  United Kingdom 25 June 1984 – 1 July 1988
7 Manfred Wörner  Germany 1 July 1988 – 13 August 1994
Sergio Balanzino  Italy 13 August 1994 – 17 October 1994
8 Willy Claes  Belgium 17 October 1994 – 20 October 1995
Sergio Balanzino  Italy 20 October 1995 – 5 December 1995
9 Javier Solana  Spain 5 December 1995 – 6 October 1999
10 Lord Robertson  United Kingdom 14 October 1999 – 17 December 2003
Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo  Italy 17 December 2003 – 1 January 2004
11 Jaap de Hoop Scheffer  Netherlands 1 January 2004 – 1 August 2009
12 Anders Fogh Rasmussen  Denmark 1 August 2009 – 30 September 2014
13 Jens Stoltenberg  Norway 1 October 2014 – present
List of Deputy Secretaries General[158]
# Name Country Duration
1 Jonkheer van Vredenburch  Netherlands 1952–1956
2 Baron Adolph Bentinck  Netherlands 1956–1958
3 Alberico Casardi  Italy 1958–1962
4 Guido Colonna di Paliano  Italy 1962–1964
5 James A. Roberts  Canada 1964–1968
6 Osman Olcay  Turkey 1969–1971
7 Paolo Pansa Cedronio  Italy 1971–1978
8 Rinaldo Petrignani  Italy 1978–1981
9 Eric da Rin  Italy 1981–1985
10 Marcello Guidi  Italy 1985–1989
11 Amedeo de Franchis  Italy 1989–1994
12 Sergio Balanzino  Italy 1994–2001
13 Alessandro Minuto Rizzo  Italy 2001–2007
14 Claudio Bisogniero  Italy 2007–2012
15 Alexander Vershbow  United States 2012–2016
16 Rose Gottemoeller  United States 2016–present
Acting Secretary General

NATO Parliamentary Assembly

A large baroque yellow and gold room with a stage on the left and long tables filled with men and women in suits on the right.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly, an intergovernmental organization of NATO and associate countries’ elected representatives, meets in London prior to the start of the 2014 Newport summit.

The body that sets broad strategic goals for NATO is the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO-PA) which meets at the Annual Session, and one other during the year, and is the organ that directly interacts with the parliamentary structures of the national governments of the member states which appoint Permanent Members, or ambassadors to NATO. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is made up of legislators from the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance as well as thirteen associate members. Karl A. Lamers, German Deputy Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Bundestag and a member of the Christian Democratic Union, became president of the assembly in 2010.[159] It is however officially a different structure from NATO, and has as aim to join together deputies of NATO countries in order to discuss security policies on the NATO Council.

The Assembly is the political integration body of NATO that generates political policy agenda setting for the NATO Council via reports of its five committees:

  • Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security
  • Defence and Security Committee
  • Economics and Security Committee
  • Political Committee
  • Science and Technology Committee

These reports provide impetus and direction as agreed upon by the national governments of the member states through their own national political processes and influencers to the NATO administrative and executive organizational entities.

Military structures

An older man with a gray beard, red beret, and olive green military suit.

Petr Pavel (right), of the Czech Republic, has been Chairman of the NATO Military Committee since 2015

NATO’s military operations are directed by the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and split into two Strategic Commands commanded by a senior US officer and (currently) a senior French officer[160] assisted by a staff drawn from across NATO. The Strategic Commanders are responsible to the Military Committee for the overall direction and conduct of all Alliance military matters within their areas of command.[60]

Each country’s delegation includes a Military Representative, a senior officer from each country’s armed forces, supported by the International Military Staff. Together the Military Representatives form the Military Committee, a body responsible for recommending to NATO’s political authorities those measures considered necessary for the common defence of the NATO area. Its principal role is to provide direction and advice on military policy and strategy. It provides guidance on military matters to the NATO Strategic Commanders, whose representatives attend its meetings, and is responsible for the overall conduct of the military affairs of the Alliance under the authority of the Council.[161] The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee is Petr Pavel of the Czech Republic, since 2015.

Like the Council, from time to time the Military Committee also meets at a higher level, namely at the level of Chiefs of Defence, the most senior military officer in each nation’s armed forces. Until 2008 the Military Committee excluded France, due to that country’s 1966 decision to remove itself from the NATO Military Command Structure, which it rejoined in 1995. Until France rejoined NATO, it was not represented on the Defence Planning Committee, and this led to conflicts between it and NATO members.[162] Such was the case in the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom.[163] The operational work of the Committee is supported by the International Military Staff.

Three soldiers in camouflage stand in salute while a fourth raises a blue and white flag on a red and white striped flagpole.

NATO flag raising at opening of Exercise Steadfast Jazz at Drawsko Pomorskie in Poland in November 2013.

The structure of NATO evolved throughout the Cold War and its aftermath. An integrated military structure for NATO was first established in 1950 as it became clear that NATO would need to enhance its defences for the longer term against a potential Soviet attack. In April 1951, Allied Command Europe and its headquarters (SHAPE) were established; later, four subordinate headquarters were added in Northern and Central Europe, the Southern Region, and the Mediterranean.[164]

From the 1950s to 2003, the Strategic Commanders were the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT). The current arrangement is to separate responsibility between Allied Command Transformation (ACT), responsible for transformation and training of NATO forces, and Allied Command Operations (ACO), responsible for NATO operations worldwide.[165] Starting in late 2003 NATO has restructured how it commands and deploys its troops by creating several NATO Rapid Deployable Corps, including Eurocorps, I. German/Dutch Corps, Multinational Corps Northeast, and NATO Rapid Deployable Italian Corps among others, as well as naval High Readiness Forces (HRFs), which all report to Allied Command Operations.[166]

In early 2015, in the wake of the War in Donbass, meetings of NATO ministers decided that Multinational Corps Northeast would be augmented so as to develop greater capabilities, to, if thought necessary, prepare to defend the Baltic States, and that a new Multinational Division Southeast would be established in Romania. Six NATO Force Integration Units would also be established to coordinate preparations for defence of new Eastern members of NATO.[167]

Multinational Division Southeast was activated on December 1, 2015.[168]

During August 2016 it was announced that 650 soldiers of the British Army would be deployed on an enduring basis in Eastern Europe, mainly in Estonia with some also being deployed to Poland.[169] This British deployment forms part of a four-battle group (four-battalion) deployment by various allies, NATO Enhanced Forward Presence, one each spread from Poland (the Poland-deployed battle group mostly led by the U.S.) to Estonia.

Criticism and controversy

Goals

While the original goal of NATO was clear – to defend Western Europe from Soviet influence – its post-Soviet goals have long been debated. Members of all participating countries have often noted that the United States spends more on the organization than all other members combined. According to the Huffington Post in 2017: “… it can’t be argued that NATO has served American interests since 1991. For the last 15 years, the U.S. has been engaged in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other Muslim countries. … NATO is a military alliance and one of its members, the United States, has been involved in wars for 15 years.” However, not all US-led invasions have received automatic support. After Article 5 was invoked for the first and only time due to the September 11 attacks, the NATO members showed support for an invasion of Afghanistan but not for one of Iraq. While some countries independently aided the US in Iraq (such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands), others like France and Germany refused. Furthermore, countries had no obligation in terms of numbers and involvement regarding Afghanistan. As such, any country in the alliance was free to contribute whatever served their interests best. The Post article refers to the group as “a group of sovereign nations that will respond to American requests as they see fit”, as well as having “devolved into bilateral relations between the U.S. and each NATO member”.[170]

Opponents have described the organization as a “quasi-imperial, militaristic force” and fear that it’s likely to create problems rather than solve them. Pew Research Center‘s 2016 survey among its member states showed that while most countries viewed NATO positively, most NATO members preferred keeping their military spending the same. The response to whether their country should militarily aid another NATO country if it were to get into a serious military conflict with Russia was also mixed. Only in the US and Canada did more than 50% of the people answer that they should.[171]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO

Story 2: NSA Violate The Fourth Amendment Rights of American Citizens — Spying Without Warrants — Nothing New — Congress Will Do Nothing As Usual — Videos 

Image result for NSA buildingsImage result for NSA Spying on Americans without warrants

Image result for NSA buildings

New evidence Obama’s NSA conducted illegal searches

Fallout from NSA revelations

Networks Blackout Massive Constitutional Violations By Obama’s NSA

Judge Napolitano on a report that the NSA conducted illegal searches under Obama

Obama’s NSA rebuked for snooping on Americans; journo says it proves wide pattern

The secret court that oversees government snooping took the Obama administration to task late last year, suggesting it created “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue” by violating rules the government itself had implemented regarding the surveillance of Americans.

According to top-secret documents made public by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – often referred to as the FISA court – the government admitted that, just days before the 2016 election, NSA analysts were violating surveillance rules on a regular basis. This pattern of overreach, coupled with the timing of the government’s disclosure, resulted in an unusually harsh rebuke of the administration’s practices and principles.

A former CBS journalist suing the federal government for allegedly spying on her said the documents prove the illegal snooping was pervasive and widely abused.

POTENTIAL ‘SMOKING GUN’ SHOWING OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SPIED ON TRUMP TEAM, SOURCE SAYS

“Sources of mine have indicated that political players have increasingly devised premises to gather intel on political targets by wrapping them up in ‘incidental’ collection of foreigners, as if by accident,” Sharyl Attkisson, who is pursuing a federal lawsuit the Department of Justice has tried to dismiss, told the Fox News Investigative Unit.

According to the FISA Court opinion, it was on September 26, 2016 that the government submitted an undisclosed number of “certifications” for the court to review. The review process was supposed to be completed within 30 days, or by October 26, 2016.

Just two days before that review was to be completed – and less than two weeks before the 2016 election – the government informed the court that NSA analysts had been violating rules, established in 2011, designed to protect the internet communications of Americans.

The NSA has suggested these were “inadvertent compliance lapses,” and points out that the agency “self-reported” these problems, meaning they were the ones to bring this issue to the attention of the court.

There was just one problem.

The violations that the government disclosed on October 24, 2016, were based on a report from the NSA’s Inspector General that had been released 10 months earlier, in January 2016. This means that when the government submitted its certifications for review in September, they were likely aware of that IG report – but failed to mention the malpractice going on at the NSA.

The Court at the time blamed an institutional “lack of candor” for the government’s failure to disclose that information weeks earlier, and gave the government until April 28, 2017, to come up with a solution. After failing to come to an agreement, the NSA announced that it was stopping the type of surveillance in question.

The so-called “lapses” among NSA staffers had to do with Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the “upstream” surveillance of what the intelligence community refers to as “about” communications.

REPORT: OBAMA LIED AND OBAMA SPIED

According to the NSA, Section 702 “allows the intelligence community to conduct surveillance on only specific foreign targets located outside the United States to collect foreign intelligence, including intelligence needed in the fight against international terrorism and cyber threats.”

Upstream surveillance, according to the ACLU, was first disclosed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, and “involves the NSA’s bulk interception and searching of Americans’ international internet communications — including emails, chats, and web-browsing traffic.”

Until the NSA stopped it, the “upstream” snooping program notified them directly if someone inside the U.S. composed an email that contained the email address of a foreign intelligence agent who was being monitored. According to an NSA declaration reportedly made during the Bush administration, these communications did not have to be to or from the foreign agent, they simply had to mention the email address.

According to the FISA Court documents just made public, the notifications sent to the NSA often led to the unmasking of American citizens caught up in monitoring. And as the court pointed out, many of the requests being made to unmask the Americans taking part in these communications were in direct violation of safeguards established by the Obama administration.

According to the FISA Court documents, so-called “minimization procedures” adopted in 2011 to curb unlawful surveillance “have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collections under Section 702.”

And, according to the government’s October 26, 2016 admission, “NSA analysts had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed.”

The suspended surveillance program has been a target of fierce criticism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, as well as journalists and even Snowden.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, told Fox & Friends on Wednesday that the “terrible” program was basically “a back doorway to sort of get at Americans’ privacy without using a warrant.”

When the NSA announced it was stopping certain Section 702 activities, Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said he had raised concerns for years “that this amounted to an end run around the Fourth Amendment.”

Snowden tweeted that the NSA’s actions represented “the most substantive of the post-2013 NSA reforms, if the principle is applied to all other programs.”

Attkisson, who sued to determine who had access to a government IP address that she says was discovered on her CBS work computer during a forensics exam, said she’s concerned the truth will never come out.

“I’m told by sources that it should only take a day or a week, at most, for the intel community to provide [lawmakers with] the details of which Americans, journalists and public officials were ‘incidentally’ surveilled, which ones were unmasked, who requested the unmaskings, when, and for what supposed purpose,” Attkisson said. “Yet months have gone by. I’m afraid that as time passes, any evidence becomes less likely to persist.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/05/25/obama-s-nsa-rebuked-for-snooping-on-americans-journo-says-it-proves-wide-pattern.html

Release of 2015 Section 702 Minimization Procedures

August 11, 2016

Today the ODNI, in consultation with the Department of Justice, is releasing in redacted form the current Section 702 Minimization Procedures, as updated in 2015, in keeping with the Principles of Intelligence Transparency for the Intelligence Community.  These procedures are intended to protect the privacy and civil liberties of U.S. persons, as required by the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in connection with the foreign intelligence activities undertaken by the CIA, FBI, NSA and the National Counterterrorism Center.

Background

Section 702 was enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 , and it authorizes the Attorney General and the DNI to provide to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court annual certifications authorizing the Intelligence Community to target non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States to acquire certain categories of foreign intelligence information. The FAA is a carefully constructed framework that provides the government with the tools necessary to collect vital foreign intelligence information and includes a robust scheme for protecting the privacy and civil liberties of U.S. persons.  This framework is implemented in part through a detailed set of procedures designed to minimize the acquisition, retention, use and dissemination of U.S. person information acquired under Section 702.

Additional Section 702 certification information, including the 2014 minimization procedures and the FISC’s August 2014 Opinion, was released on IC on the Record Sept. 29, 2015.

The 2015 Minimization Procedures

The 2015 Section 702 Minimization Procedures were approved by the Attorney General and submitted to the FISC as part of the government’s July 15, 2015, submission of reauthorization certifications pursuant to Section 702.  After thorough consideration, the FISC approved these minimization procedures in its Nov. 6, 2015, Memorandum Opinion and Order (released, in redacted form, in April 2016 on IC on the Record), finding that the minimization procedures comport with the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the FAA.

The 2015 Section 702 minimization procedures incorporated certain modifications to the 2014 Section 702 minimization procedures, including changes made to implement recommendations the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board made in its 2014 report reviewing the Section 702 program.  Modifications made in the 2015 minimization procedures include:

  • Improvements to provisions in NSA’s and CIA’s minimization procedures that ensure the preservation of information related to criminal and civil litigation;
  • Enhancements to NSA’s, CIA’s and FBI’s protections for attorney-client communications;
  • Clarification of NSA’s, CIA’s and FBI’s 2015 documentation or other requirements with respect to the querying of Section 702 information.

These procedures identified below are released:

https://icontherecord.tumblr.com/post/148797010498/release-of-2015-section-702-minimization

Nets Blackout Massive Constitutional Violations by Obama’s NSA

All of the negative news about President Donald Trump provided a convenient smokescreen to obscure a story highly damaging to former President Barack Obama on Wednesday. As first reported by Circa News, “The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall.” As would be expected, the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) completely omitted from their evening broadcasts.

“More than one in 20 internet searches conducted by the National Security Agency, involving Americans, during the Obama administration violated constitutional privacy protections,” announced Fox News’ Bret Baier near the top of Special Report. “And that practice went on for years. Not only that. But the Obama administration was harshly rebuked by the FISA court for doing it.”

The report was handed off to Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen, who wasted no time in getting to the heart of the matter. “On the day President Obama visited Los Angeles last October to yuk it up with Jimmy Kimmel, lawyers for the National Security Agency were quietly informing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that NSA had systematically violated the rights of countless Americans,” he quipped.

“Declassified documents, first obtained by the news site Circa, show the FISA court sharply rebuked the administration,” Rosen noted as he began to read a passage from the FISA court’s opinion. “’With greater frequency than previously disclosed to the Court, NSA analysts had used U.S. person identifiers to query the results of internet ‘upstream’ collection, even though NSA’s Section 702 minimization procedures prohibited such queries.’”

The Fox News reporter was intrigued by the documents because: “These disclosers are timely though, as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act—one of the primary means by which U.S. citizens are caught up in incidental surveillance—is up for reauthorization, Bret, by the Congress at year’s end.”

John Soloman, one of the Circa reporters who broke the story, talked with Rosen and told him that “tonight, for the first time, we can say confidently that there’s been a finding that some of that espionage, that spying on Americans, actually violated the law.”

The condemning evidence seemed to have no end, as Rosen reported that:

The documents show it was back in 2011 that the FISA court first determined NSA’s procedures to be, quote, “statutorily and constitutionally deficient with respect to their protection of U.S. person information.” Five years later, two weeks before Election Day, the judges learned that NSA had never adequately enacted the changes it had promised to make. The NSA inspector general and its office of compliance for operations “have been conducting other reviews covering different time periods,” the judges noted, “with preliminary results suggesting that the problem is widespread during all periods of review.”

Rosen had also mentioned how “the judges blasted NSA’s ‘institutional ‘lack of candor’’ and added ‘This is a very serious fourth amendment issue.’”

The lack of coverage by the Big Three, and the liberal media in general shows their bias against Trump and their favoritism to Obama. They rather focus on alleged accusations that so far have bared little fruit, instead of the legal opinion of federal judges exposing the highly illegal actions of a segment of President Obama’s administration.

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/nicholas-fondacaro/2017/05/25/nets-blackout-massive-constitutional-violations-obamas-nsa

All of the negative news about President Donald Trump provided a convenient smokescreen to obscure a story highly damaging to former President Barack Obama on Wednesday. As first reported by Circa News, “The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall.” As would be expected, the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) completely omitted from their evening broadcasts.

“More than one in 20 internet searches conducted by the National Security Agency, involving Americans, during the Obama administration violated constitutional privacy protections,” announced Fox News’ Bret Baier near the top of Special Report. “And that practice went on for years. Not only that. But the Obama administration was harshly rebuked by the FISA court for doing it.”

The report was handed off to Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen, who wasted no time in getting to the heart of the matter. “On the day President Obama visited Los Angeles last October to yuk it up with Jimmy Kimmel, lawyers for the National Security Agency were quietly informing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that NSA had systematically violated the rights of countless Americans,” he quipped.

“Declassified documents, first obtained by the news site Circa, show the FISA court sharply rebuked the administration,” Rosen noted as he began to read a passage from the FISA court’s opinion. “’With greater frequency than previously disclosed to the Court, NSA analysts had used U.S. person identifiers to query the results of internet ‘upstream’ collection, even though NSA’s Section 702 minimization procedures prohibited such queries.’”

The Fox News reporter was intrigued by the documents because: “These disclosers are timely though, as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act—one of the primary means by which U.S. citizens are caught up in incidental surveillance—is up for reauthorization, Bret, by the Congress at year’s end.”

John Soloman, one of the Circa reporters who broke the story, talked with Rosen and told him that “tonight, for the first time, we can say confidently that there’s been a finding that some of that espionage, that spying on Americans, actually violated the law.”

The condemning evidence seemed to have no end, as Rosen reported that:

The documents show it was back in 2011 that the FISA court first determined NSA’s procedures to be, quote, “statutorily and constitutionally deficient with respect to their protection of U.S. person information.” Five years later, two weeks before Election Day, the judges learned that NSA had never adequately enacted the changes it had promised to make. The NSA inspector general and its office of compliance for operations “have been conducting other reviews covering different time periods,” the judges noted, “with preliminary results suggesting that the problem is widespread during all periods of review.”

Rosen had also mentioned how “the judges blasted NSA’s ‘institutional ‘lack of candor’’ and added ‘This is a very serious fourth amendment issue.’”

The lack of coverage by the Big Three, and the liberal media in general shows their bias against Trump and their favoritism to Obama. They rather focus on alleged accusations that so far have bared little fruit, instead of the legal opinion of federal judges exposing the highly illegal actions of a segment of President Obama’s administration.

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/nicholas-fondacaro/2017/05/25/nets-blackout-massive-constitutional-violations-obamas-nsa

Story 3: Montana Congressional Candidate Gianforte Will Win Despite Roughing up Aggressive Reporter — Setup of A Political Assassination by Big Lie Media — Videos

Montana GOP candidate Gianforte charged with assault

Guardian Reporter Ben Jacobs vs GOP Candidate Greg Gianforte, Montana, EYE WITNESS CHANGES STORY

Greg Gianforte body slams Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs in Montana Video

This is NOT the Actual VIDEO but is a representation of what could have happened.

Published on May 25, 2017

Greg Gianforte body slams Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs in Montana Republican candidate charged with assault after ‘body-slamming’ Guardian reporter
The is Audio of Greg Gianforte attacking Ben Jacobs corroborated by Fox News journalists in the room, who described candidate ‘slamming him to the ground’
Support the Guardian’s fearless journalism by making a contribution or becoming a member

The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he is alleged to have slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting, “Get the hell out of here.”

Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire endorsed by Donald Trump, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly “body-slammed” the reporter.

GOP candidate Greg Gianforte has financial ties to US-sanctioned Russian companies
Read more
“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambulance. “I think he wailed on me once or twice … He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”

Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey witnessed the incident at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Montana, according to an account published by foxnews.com. After Jacobs asked Gianforte his question, Acuna wrote: “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.

“Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’ … To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies.”

Jacobs subsequently reported the incident to the police. The Gallatin county sheriff’s office said on Wednesday night it had completed its investigation and that Gianforte had been issued with a charge of misdemeanour assault.

“Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin county sheriff’s office it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault,” sheriff Brian Gootkin said in a statement. “The nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault. Greg Gianforte received a citation on Wednesday night and is scheduled to appear in Gallatin county justice court between now and June 7, 2017.”

A statement by campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon blamed Jacobs for the altercation, saying that he “entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions”.

“Jacobs was asked to leave,” the statement reads. “After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground.

“It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

Scanlon’s account is contradicted by audio of the abortive interview recorded by Jacobs, as well as the Fox News account. The audio does not capture Jacobs being asked to leave or lower his recorder, but does contain an apparent reference to the Guardian’s previous attempts to report on Gianforte. “I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said. “The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?”

“Yes! You just broke my glasses,” Jacobs replied.

Ben Jacobs with his broken glasses being carted off in the ambulance.
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Ben Jacobs with his broken glasses being carted off in the ambulance. Photograph: Ben Jacobs for the Guardian
“The last guy did the same damn thing,” Gianforte said.

“You just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs said.

“Get the hell out of here,” Gianforte yelled.

At a press conference on Wednesday evening, sheriff Brian Gootkin said that there had been four witnesses to the altercation, in addition to Gianforte and Jacobs. Gianforte briefly spoke with sheriff’s deputies following the altercation but has not been interviewed. Gootkin said that he was not aware of any video of the incident. He also requested that reporters and members of the public stop calling Gallatin’s 911 dispatch.

According to campaign finance filings, Gootkin donated $250 to Gianforte’s campaign in March. Gootkin’s later statement acknowledged the contribution but said it had “nothing to do with our investigation which is now complete”.

This is NOT the Actual VIDEO but is a representation of what could have happened.

Montana GOP candidate Gianforte charged with assault

Reaction to Montana GOP candidate allegedly body-slamming reporter

GOP candidate in Montana charged with assault on reporter

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 899, May 24, 2017, Story 1: Trump Visits Pope and Exchange Gifts and Words of Wisdom — Climate Change Difference — Videos — Story 2: Trump To NATO Countries — Increase Your Military Spending — Videos

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Story 1: Trump Visits Pope and Exchange Gifts and Words of Wisdom  —  Climate Change Difference — Videos — 

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Trump meets Pope Francis and the media creates faux controversy?

Published on May 24, 2017

Catholic League President Bill Donohue on President Trump’s meeting with Pope Francis.

President Trump Meets Pope Francis at the Vatican 5/24/17

US President Donald Trump meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

Meeting of Pope Francis with President Donald Trump 24 May 2017 HD

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Published on Jun 22, 2015

Pope Francis released an encyclical, one of the highest Catholic teachings, on the environment.
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Pope Lends Weight to G-7 Push to Bind Trump to Climate Deal

May 24, 2017, 3:48 AM CDT May 24, 2017, 6:11 AM CDT
  • G-7 leaders await Trump decision on emission cuts this weekend
  • Francis has called for urgent action to protect environment

Pope Francis and President Trump met face to face at the Vatican for the first time, at Trump’s request. Bloomberg’s Kevin Cirilli and Alessandro Migliaccio report on ‘Bloomberg Markets.’ (Source: Bloomberg)

Pope Francis joined an international chorus urging Donald Trump to meet U.S. commitments on climate change in talks at the Vatican Wednesday.

Francis gave the U.S. president a copy of his 2015 encyclical calling for urgent, drastic cuts in fossil-fuel emissions after a half-hour meeting in his private study.

Francis’s choice of gift suggests he is adding his voice to those pressing Trump not to renege on the Paris accord, which is the cornerstone of global efforts to limit climate change. The Vatican said in a statement that the talks focused on international affairs and the promotion of peace, with particular emphasis on health care, education and immigration.

“Thank you, thank you,” Trump told Francis as they shook hands after the meeting. “I won’t forget what you said.” Trump has said climate change might be a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.

For his part, Trump gave Francis a special edition of the works of U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

Trump met with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni later on Wednesday before he travels to Brussels for a NATO meeting. He’ll be back in Italy again on Friday for talks with Group of Seven leaders in Taormina, Sicily. The world’s biggest developed economies are expecting Trump to say whether he’ll keep the U.S. in the Paris climate accord during the summit, Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks, said Monday.

French President Emmanuel Macron will push Trump over climate during the NATO meeting as part of a coordinated European effort to sway the president, a French government official said on Wednesday morning, adding that he had expected the pope and Gentiloni also to raise the issue. The official said that the questions over what the U.S. will decide have led to unprecedented uncertainty over what the G-7 will be able to say in its final communique.

Members of the Trump administration have been deadlocked over whether the U.S. should uphold the pact, brokered by nearly 200 nations in 2015. Leaders from Germany, China and other nations have pushed for America to stay.

Pressure has also come from business groups, including 280 investors representing more than $17 trillion in assets who released a statement Monday saying climate change must be an “urgent priority” for all G-20 nations. Executives have warned that Trump would put U.S. companies at a disadvantage if he pulled out of the pact.

As the richest nation and the second-largest polluter, U.S. efforts are central to keeping climate change from hitting an irreversible tipping point, unleashing catastrophic floods, droughts and storms, according to researchers. The U.S. has pledged to reduce its emissions by at least 26 percent from 2005 levels under the world’s broadest ever environmental agreement.

The meeting at the Vatican was the first between two leaders who have starkly differing views on a range of issues and was arranged at Trump’s request. Beyond their disagreements on the environment, Francis wants the world’s doors swung open to refugees, while Trump wants fewer of them in America. Income inequality is a serious concern for the pope — the billionaire president plans to rewrite the U.S. tax code to make the wealthy even richer.

Pope Francis Wrestles With Curia, Climate and Trump: QuickTake

For the president, it’s an encounter that may confer some legitimacy as he grapples with a political crisis back home. For Francis, it’s a chance to influence a leader who, for all his stumbles, remains the most powerful person in the world.

“There’s a whole range of issues on which the pope and Trump differ, but the point of their meeting isn’t to forge agreement on them or to change each other’s minds,” papal biographer Austen Ivereigh said in a telephone interview. “The point is to establish a bond of trust, which they can both call on in the future to further their agendas.”

Francis arrived at the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in a Ford Focus and entered the building through a side entrance. Ten minutes later, the president’s motorcade was greeted by Swiss Guards who stood to attention with their halberds and ostrich-plumed helmets. The pope welcomed Trump upstairs in the Sala del Tronetto before the two leaders retired to his private study for a half-hour conversation.

“It was an honor to be with the pope,” Trump told reporters later in the morning. “We had a fantastic meeting,” he added, without addressing a shouted question on whether they discussed climate change.

As well as the text on environmental protection, which Francis said he’s sent to all Roman Catholics, the pope also gave Trump books on family and the joy of the gospel.

“I’ll be reading them,” the president told him.

He also gave Trump a medal made by a Roman artist depicting an olive. The pope told Trump the olive is a symbol of peace.

“That’s so beautiful,” the president said. “We can use peace.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-24/pope-gives-trump-book-on-protecting-environment-at-vatican-talks

Why Melania and Ivanka Trump stuck to traditional Vatican dress codes when meeting Pope Francis today

The Trumps arrived in Rome last night, and their first engagement this morning was a headliner in the global tour which they are currently part way through; meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Both the First Lady, Melania Trump, and the First Daughter, Ivanka Trump, accompanied the President to the high-profile engagement, and both chose to honour the traditional Vatican dress codes by wearing black, long sleeved dresses and veils – the former even choosing to honour her host nation by wearing Italian label Dolce and Gabbana.

It was a somewhat unexpected move, especially given recent news that Pope Francis is keen to relax the strict dress codes to which women must conform to when attending private papal audiences.

Earlier in the week, Melania and Ivanka raised eyebrows when they met key figures in Saudi Arabia, without wearing headscarves, as Saudi women are required to do by law.  Although there is no such obligation for foreign women to do the same, Donald Trump criticised Michelle Obama when she didn’t cover her head visiting the country in 2015.

Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump with Pope Francis 
Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump with Pope Francis  CREDIT: AP POOL

Although the First Lady and First Daughter dressed modestly, they did it in their own way.  Largely, the duo has stuck with their signature takes on power-dressing throughout, wearing white sheath dresses and nipped skirt suits by American labels like Michael Kors and Oscar de la Renta, and, in Melania’s case giving a taste of her sense of glamour by stepping off the plane in a flashy gold belt and choosing a jewel-hued gown by Reem Acra for an evening dinner.

Only when Ivanka visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall did she cover her head as is custom for Jewish women when visiting the site- Trump converted to Judaism prior to her 2009 marriage to Jared Kushner.

So why the immaculate toeing of the line at the Vatican? As Pope Francis had been one of Donald Trump’s most vocal critics it was likely deemed to be in everyone’s best interests that today went smoothly – starting with the clothes.

Melania and Ivanka

Traditionally, under Pope Benedict XVI and all those before him, the rule was that women should wear black to meet his Holiness, covering up with full sleeves and a mantilla, the lace veil traditionally worn in the Roman Catholic Church.

Only a handful of Queens and Princesses from Catholic regions are permitted to wear white, according to the traditional “privilège du blanc” or “privilege of the white” rule. When Princess Charlene of Monaco met Pope Francis last January, for example, she exercised the privilege, wearing a chic crepe jacket and white driving gloves with her white mantilla and nude heels.

In the past, anyone who wore white was at risk of offending the privileged few – Cherie Blair did when she met Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, and subsequent headlines about the woman with a ‘grand idea of herself’ were beamed around the world the next day. It’s widely understood, however, that Pope Francis sees himself as a modern Pope, and has now eased the strict dress code once adhered to by The Queen and more.

The Duchess of Cornwall at the Vatican last month
The Duchess of Cornwall at the Vatican last month

When Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall met the Pope in April, she wore a champagne-hued dress by British label Anna Valentine and, despite defying all Vatican dress codes, it wasn’t a faux pas, as his Holiness had welcomed the look.

“Things have become more relaxed over the last few years there are no hard and fast rules,” a spokesperson for the Vatican explained.

Michelle Obama meets Pope Benedict XVI in July 2009
Michelle Obama meets Pope Benedict XVI in July 2009 CREDIT:REUTERS

That said, First Ladies, celebrities, and members of the public still tend to stick to the traditional codes, even if they aren’t officially required to.  Michelle Obama wore a black dress with a mantilla when she met Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, and Amal Clooney wore a sharp black skirt suit with a matching hat when she met Pope Francis in May 2016.

It’s no wonder, in that case, that Melania opted for a traditional lace mantilla, and Ivanka a slightly more modern net veil. If you’re erring on the side of caution, it is surely always the safest bet to stick with tradition.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/people/melania-ivanka-trump-stuck-traditional-vatican-dress-codes-meeting/

Story 2: Trump To NATO Countries — Increase Your Military Spending — Videos

Image result for trump at nato

Image result for trump at nato

Image result for NATO countries and percent in goverment spending

Image result for NATO countries and percent in goverment spending

President Trump & Melania Arrive in Brussels Ahead of NATO Summit 5/24/17

Raw: President Trump in Belgium for Meetings

NATO must ‘step up’ after Manchester attack: Stoltenberg

NATO rolls out the red carpet, buffs its image for Trump

 NATO is not only rolling out the red carpet for President Donald Trump in Brussels Thursday, the military alliance — which Trump once declared obsolete — has been busy repackaging its image and is ready to unveil a new headquarters worth more than 1 billion euros.

In recent months, member nations have strained to show they are ramping up defense spending as Trump has demanded, even though they have been doing so for a few years in response to an aggressive Russia. And while they agree with the chief of the alliance’s most powerful member that NATO can do more to fight terrorism, they say it can be achieved with more of the same; training and mentoring troops in Afghanistan, and equipping local forces in Iraq so they can better fight the Islamic State group themselves.

“They’ll only talk about what he cares about, so really he should come out of this meeting feeling as though NATO responds to him,” said Kristine Berzina, NATO analyst at the German Marshall Fund think tank. “At least that’s what they hope here.”

Indeed, the NATO leaders will agree to join the 68-nation international coalition fighting IS, after Germany and France were no longer raising any objections about announcing the decision on Thursday.

The move is symbolically important, especially since the group claimed responsibility Tuesday for a deadly explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.

An anti-terror coordinator may also be named, but most changes will be cosmetic, as NATO allies have no intention of going to war against IS.

“It’s totally out of the question for NATO to engage in any combat operations,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday, on the eve of the meeting.

The 28 member nations, plus soon-to-join Montenegro, will renew an old vow to move toward spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024. Still, many are skeptical about this arbitrary bottom line that takes no account of effective military spending where it’s needed most. Germany would have to virtually double its military budget and spend more than Russia.

Putting some meat on the pledge, the leaders will agree to prepare action plans by the end of the year, plotting how to reach 2 percent over the next seven years, and show how they will use the money and contribute troops to NATO operations.

Only five members currently meet the target: Britain, Estonia, debt-laden Greece, Poland and the United States, which spends more on defense than all the other allies combined.

“It’s not fair that we’re paying close to 4 percent and other countries that are more directly affected are paying 1 percent when they’re supposed to be paying 2 percent,” Trump told the Associated Press in an interview last month.

Tomas Valasek from the Carnegie Europe think tank says the president’s demands on overdue debts have shaken up the other allies.

“Trump has challenged the idea that active engagement in Europe is a core U.S. interest,” Valasek said. “He appears to regard all foreign relations as zero-sum transactions, in which each contribution to someone else’s security represents a net loss to the United States.”

The Europeans, Valasek said, should respond in two ways: “In the short term, focus on preventing the president from abandoning the alliance and, in the long term, prepare to assume a bigger role in defending the European continent.”

The short working-dinner meeting will be high on symbolism. At the entry to the new premises — a village-sized complex that should be in full use early next year — Trump and Stoltenberg will unveil a piece of the World Trade Center.

After the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, NATO activated its collective defense clause for the first and only time, with member nations pledging to help their beleaguered ally.

Stoltenberg and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will also unveil a part of the Berlin Wall that once divided East and West Germany.

But the ceremonies and symbolism will do little to hide the divisions running through NATO. Trump wants more from the alliance, while countries such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia want iron-clad assurances that they won’t be left alone should Russia cross their borders.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, has purged around 11,000 military personnel from its armed forces since last July’s thwarted coup. Hundreds of western-educated senior officers were removed from posts at NATO, severely weakening the army.

Yet it’s a subject that is almost taboo at NATO headquarters; a national affair to be dealt with internally.

Tensions have also mounted between Erdogan and Merkel since Germany offered asylum to some of the officers. Belgium has publicly warned against any pro-Erdogan rallies during his visit.

Outside the heavily guarded security perimeter near the city’s airport and in downtown Brussels, peace groups have planned rallies of their own.

But, as the Manchester bombing remains fresh in mind, Belgium will remain on security Level 3 — meaning that the threat of an extremist attack “is possible and likely” — as it has since the suicide-bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and subway killed 32 people last year.

https://apnews.com/1e412fe9983747a6a8f94a2356d31f96/NATO-rolls-out-the-red-carpet,-buffs-its-image-for-Trump

Trump’s Anti-Terrorism Call Resonates at NATO After Manchester Attack

May 24, 2017, 11:51 AM CDT May 24, 2017, 12:25 PM CDT
  • Terrorism, defense spending top agenda of Brussels summit
  • France led concerns of wider NATO role fighting Islamic State

U.S. President Donald Trump’s demands to step up the fight against terrorism is set to get a sympathetic hearing from NATO partners when he visits the alliance headquarters for the first time on Thursday.

A deadly bombing in the U.K. this week has given fresh resonance to his call for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to become more engaged in fighting global terrorism. France and Germany, which had resisted an upgrade of NATO’s role in the international coalition against Islamic State, accepted the move on the eve of the summit, according to two officials familiar with the preparations.

Trump’s meeting with fellow NATO leaders including Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels, a city he once called a “hellhole,” will go a long way to determining the future strength of the trans-Atlantic alliance. While facing resistance from countries including Italy and Germany to his calls to raise defense spending, he’s likely to find common ground on the shared threat posed by radical Islamist terrorism, and avert fresh tensions with partners already anxious about the Trump administration’s priorities.

The Manchester attack will play a “big role” in the meeting and “drives home the Trump administration’s message that more needs to be done to fight terrorism,” said Kristine Berzina, a Brussels-based fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Message of Unity

The forces tugging at NATO will be symbolized before the summit dinner when the leaders inaugurate a new headquarters. The steel-and-glass complex will feature pieces of the Berlin Wall, whose fall in 1989 marked the West’s victory in the Cold War against Russia, and of the World Trade Center, whose collapse in the 2001 terrorist attacks prompted the only occasion when the alliance has invoked its mutual-defense clause.

At issue for NATO in the Middle East is whether the alliance becomes a full member of the coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. NATO currently plays a supporting role through the use of Airborne Warning and Control System planes and the training of Iraqi soldiers.

Germany and France had expressed concerns that upgrading NATO’s involvement could skew the geographical balance among the existing 68 partners in the coalition and weaken it, according to European officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are confidential.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said broad support exists for making the organisation a full member of the coalition and doing so will offer political and practical benefits.

“Many allies would like to see NATO as a full member of the coalition for two reasons,” Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday. “It sends a strong and clear message of unity in the fight against terrorism” and “will provide a better platform for coordinating the activities of NATO, NATO allies and other partners in the coalition.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on the plane to Brussels from Rome that it would be an “important step.” NATO’s “been an observer. But they’ve become more and more engaged in the actual fight to defeat” Islamic State, he said.

Pope Meeting

The fight against Islamic State will also be at the forefront of the Group of Seven meeting later this week, with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni saying in a statement that leaders “will deliver the strongest possible message of extraordinary and common commitment against terrorism.” Trump even broached the topic with the Pope on his visit to the Vatican, discussing extremism and the radicalization of young people, Tillerson said.

Trump has leverage to gain concessions from Europe both over NATO’s anti-terrorism activities and over allies’ defense expenditure because European officials are genuinely worried about his commitment to the alliance, not least its mutual-defense provision, said Berzina. She said they are keen for Trump to show unequivocal support for collective defense at the summit.

“Because NATO is a consensus-based organization dominated by the U.S., the Europeans can’t just fire back the way they do when acting as European Union members,” Berzina said. “This could lead to concrete results in the near future on Trump’s demands regarding NATO.”

The timing of Thursday’s dinner, at what is for many Europeans the unthinkably early hour of 5:45 p.m., illustrates the American influence on the Alliance.

Brussels, which was targeted in a 2016 terror attack that left 32 dead, is the penultimate stop for Trump on a four-country tour that marks his first overseas trip as U.S. president and that has coincided with a growing political storm at home over possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. The controversy has sparked a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into whether anyone close to Trump colluded with Russia.

On defense expenditure, with the Trump administration pressing Europe to foot more of the common security bill, NATO members intend to draw up annual plans for increased spending. The U.S. accounts for about 70 percent of NATO’s overall defense outlays.

In 2014, NATO members set a goal of spending at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense within a decade and last year in Europe only Estonia, Greece, Poland and the U.K. met the target. The U.S. led in 2016 with defense expenditure of 3.61 percent of GDP.

In a concession to Germany, which has raised defense outlays while rejecting any rush to the 2 percent target and urging smarter spending in Europe, NATO allies aim to allow national plans to include non-military contributions such as development aid that help meet overall security goals.

Amid the pressure from Trump over defense budgets, the EU is drafting plans to spend more of its common budget on defense research, pool procurement and give the arms industry better access to finance.

“I think you can expect the president to be very tough on them,” said Tillerson, who reiterated U.S. support for NATO’s collective defense obligation. “The American people are doing a lot for your security, for our joint security. You need to make sure you’re doing your share for your own security as well.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-24/trump-s-anti-terror-call-to-resonate-with-nato-after-u-k-attack

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Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 848: February 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 847: February 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 845: February 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 844: February 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 843: February 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 842: February 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 840: February 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 832: February 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Image result for trump speach to 50 plus islamic countries in saudi arabiaImage result for trump speach to 50 plus islamic countries in saudi arabiaImage result for trump leaves saudi arabia may 22, 2017Image result for trump leaves saudi arabia for israel may 22, 2017 trump wife and king

Image result for explosion manchester arena

Story 1: President Trump’s Landmark Historic Speech To 50 majority-Muslim countries attending the Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh. —  President Trump:  “… A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.” — Videos —

It is a choice between two futures — and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.
A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.
DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship.
DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities.
DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and
DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.

Image result for trump arrives in saudi arabiaImage result for trump arrives in saudi arabiaImage result for trump arrives in saudi arabiaImage result for trump arrives in saudi arabiaImage result for trump arrives in saudi arabiaImage result for trump arrives in saudi arabiaImage result for trump arrives in saudi arabiaImage result for trump speach to 50 plus islamic countries in saudi arabiaImage result for trump speach to 50 plus islamic countries in saudi arabiaImage result for trump speach to 50 plus islamic countries in saudi arabiaImage result for trump speach to 50 plus islamic countries in saudi arabia

Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia, in 3 minutes

Published on May 22, 2017

President Trump spoke to leaders of countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council on May 21 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Here’s what he said, in three minutes.

Full Speech: President Trump’s Speech at Arab Islamic American Summit in Saudi Arabia – 5/21/17

Streamed live on May 21, 2017

LIVE Coverage of President Trump’s Islam Speech in Saudi Arabia at the Arab Islamic American Summit – 5/21/17

President Trump receives Saudi royal welcome

Keys to the Kingdom: Trump visits Saudi Arabia first, signs $380bn deal

WATCH: President Trump departs for Saudi Arabia – First Foreign Trip 5/19/2017

President Trump Lands in Saudi Arabia And Meets King Salman (FULL)

TRUMP ARRIVES TO ROYALTY IN SAUDI ARABIA

Trump arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for his first foreign trip as president

President Donald Trump Welcome Ceremony in Saudi Arabia at Al Yamamh Palace #2

President Trump Welcome Reception Ceremony in Saudi Arabia with King Salman

President Trump and Melania in Saudi Arabia Meet King Salman

President Trump & King Salman Dancing During Ceremony in Saudi Arabia (FULL)

President Trump Welcome Reception Ceremony in Saudi Arabia with King Salman

President Trump and Cabinet At meeting in Saudi Arabia

Who Are The Salafis and Wahhabis Yusuf Estes Islam?

What’s the Difference Between Sunni and Shiite Muslims?

What Does Jihad Actually Mean?

What Do ISIS & Saudi Arabia Have In Common?

How Saudi Arabia Exports Ultra-Conservative Islam

Why Do Saudi Arabia And Iran Hate Each Other?

Middle East Explained – The Religions, Languages, and Ethnic Groups

What a difference an election can make for the respect American leaders have for our country.

There were two very different outcomes when two American presidents greeted the king of Saudi Arabia.

All eyes were on President Trump today as he arrived in the country for his first foreign trip.

Video shows the president stepping off the plane and greeting King Salman:

Trump stood up straight as Salman appeared to bow slightly.

Trump’s posture stands in stark difference to President Obama’s in the early days of his presidency.

Cameras captured Obama bowing to King Abdullah, contorting nearly to a 90-degree angle in what many called a moment of American weakness:

Trump’s behavior was refreshingly noticeable, as several Twitter users contrasted the two reactions.

View image on Twitter

LOOK CAREFULLY at these two photos. The one on the RIGHT is a lesson in American exceptionalism: @FLOTUS no hijab, @POTUS no kowtow. 🇺🇸❤️-VJ

“Look carefully at these two photos,” recording artist Vinnie James wrote. “The one on the RIGHT is a lesson in American exceptionalism: @FLOTUS no hijab, @POTUS no kowtow.”

http://www.theamericanmirror.com/great-unlike-obama-trump-doesnt-bow-saudi-king/

#LionelNation YouTube Live Stream: Trump Mania Saudi Sword Dancing, Bibi Hobnobbing & Media Syncope

Trump Triumphant in Saudi Arabia, Mainstream Media Meltdown and Geopolitical Reconfiguring

Transcript of Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia

Trump’s visit to Saudi a ‘turning point’: King Salman

© Saudi Royal Palace/AFP | A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on May 22, 2017, shows US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump waving as they board Air Force One before leaving Riyadh for Israel

Saudi King Salman on Monday described US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Muslim kingdom in the Gulf as a “turning point” in relations between the two countries.Trump on Monday concluded his landmark visit to Saudi Arabia, which he chose for his first foreign trip since taking office in January, during which the allies announced arms deals and investments worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

“This is a turning point in relations between the two countries,” Salman told his council of ministers, according to state news agency SPA.

He said relations between the two countries will advance from a partnership to the “level of strengthening consultations, cooperation and coordination on all fronts”.

The king also praised an “historic agreement” between Gulf monarchies and Washington “to take firm measures to target the financing of terrorism” and the setting up of a Riyadh-based centre for this task, SPA said.

The ministers also hailed the launch of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh on Sunday.

Dubbed “Etital”, Arabic for moderation, the centre “embodies the kingdom’s great efforts and its ongoing fight against terrorism”, SPA reported.

In his first foreign speech, Trump on Sunday urged Muslim leaders to take a stand against violence committed in the name of religion, describing the struggle against extremism as a “battle between good and evil”.

http://www.france24.com/en/20170522-trumps-visit-saudi-turning-point-king-salman

‘A lot of money! Big dollars!’ and ‘Jobs, jobs, jobs!’ Trump team delivers $350 BILLION in new long-term business for U.S. companies as Saudis snap up defense equipment

  • Deals inked Saturday during signing ceremony will drive $110 billion in immediate new business for defense companies in the U.S. 
  • Longer-term value will be $350 billion over 10 years 
  • White House chief economic adviser said the Saudis are ‘going to hire US companies’ for ‘a bunch of infrastructure related things’
  • He boasted that the deal is worth ‘a lot of money. Big dollars. Big dollars’
  • Military hardware going to Saudi Arabia:  ‘aerostats, tanks, artillery, counter-mortar radars, armored personnel carriers [and] helicopters’
  • State Department also says the Saudis will acquire and missile-defense systems ‘such as Patriot and THAAD’ 

American military defense companies have agreed to immediately sell nearly $110 billion in equipment and services to the Saudi Arabian government as part of a long-term agreement inked Saturday by the Trump administration and the Arab kingdom.

The deal, formalized in a signing ceremony in the capital city of Riyadh, also calls for an expanded deal worth a total of $350 billion over ten years.

‘That was a tremendous day,’ President Donald Trump said at the top of a bilateral meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

‘Tremendous investments in the United States. Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs.’

The State Department released a fact sheet that described the military hardware Saudi Arabia will buy as ‘aerostats, tanks, artillery, counter-mortar radars, armored personnel carriers [and] helicopters.’

President Donald Trump (L) was welcomed Saturday by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R), the first stop of Trump’s first foreign trip since taking office in January

Trump and King Salman had a welcome ceremony inside the Royal Terminal of King Khalid International Airport after Air Force One landed

Trump and King Salman had a welcome ceremony inside the Royal Terminal of King Khalid International Airport after Air Force One landed

White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn (right) told reporters that a series of defense contracts inked Saturday would mean 'a lot of money, big dollars' for American companies

White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn (right) told reporters that a series of defense contracts inked Saturday would mean ‘a lot of money, big dollars’ for American companies

President Donald Trump and the Saudi King gesture during a signing ceremony at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh on May 20

President Donald Trump and the Saudi King gesture during a signing ceremony at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh on May 20

Separately, U.S. companies in the oil center stand to gain $22 billion in new deals with the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco. And pacts with other companies could balloon that number as high as $50 billion.

House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn told reporters that the kingdom is ‘going to hire US companies’ for ‘a bunch of infrastructure related things,’ boasting that the deal is worth ‘a lot of money. Big dollars. Big dollars.’

Saudi Arabia will ‘invest a lot of money in the U.S. and have a lot of U.S. companies invest and build things over here,’ Cohn said.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed on Twitter that the $110 billion in immediate defense contracts represents the ‘largest single arms deal in US history.’

Commerce Secretary Gary Cohn told reporters that U.S. companies would gain ’23 new licenses, and then all of these contracts.’

‘I can’t imagine another business day that’s been as good for the United States and the kingdom,’ he said.

Donald Trump is in Saudi Arabia on the first of five stops during his inaugural foreign trip as president, getting chummy with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and preparing to deliver a speech on Sunday that promises to frame his administration’s relationship with the Muslim world.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner arrive to attend the presentation of the Order of Abdulaziz al-Saud medal at the Saudi Royal Court

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner arrive to attend the presentation of the Order of Abdulaziz al-Saud medal at the Saudi Royal Court

US President Donald Trump receives the Order of Abdulaziz al-Saud medal at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh on May 20

US President Donald Trump receives the Order of Abdulaziz al-Saud medal at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh on May 20

US President Donald Trump receives the Order of Abdulaziz al-Saud medal at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh on May 20

Ivanka Trump participates in a presentation ceremony of the kingdom's top civilian honor, the gold King Abdulaziz medal, to President Donald Trump

Ivanka Trump participates in a presentation ceremony of the kingdom’s top civilian honor, the gold King Abdulaziz medal, to President Donald Trump

Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump make their way to a luncheon after Trump received the gold King Abdulaziz medal

Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump make their way to a luncheon after Trump received the gold King Abdulaziz medal

The new defense deals are part of Trump’s strategy to hold both the ISIS terror army and Iran’s nuclear ambitions in check through the intervention of Middle Eastern partners instead of expensive American military deployments.

A White House official said Saturday that the purchases are meant to accomplish just that, for the sake of Saudi and regional security.

The official also said a strengthened Saudi military will be better equipped to contribute to counterterrorism operations across the region.

Trump and Salman signed a joint vision statement, nine separate defense cooperation pacts – including eight that are finalized – and a separate set of ‘private sector agreements,’ according to White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed Saturday on Twitter that the agreements signed by the US. and Saudi Arabia constitute the 'largest single arms deal in US history'

White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed Saturday on Twitter that the agreements signed by the US. and Saudi Arabia constitute the ‘largest single arms deal in US history’

Saudi Aramco will be relying on U.S. companies to build new oil rigs like this one in the Persian Gulf

Saudi Aramco will be relying on U.S. companies to build new oil rigs like this one in the Persian Gulf

The White House said the military equipment and services contracts will support ‘tens of thousands of new jobs in the U.S. defense industrial base.’

Separately, a CEO forum being held on the margins of the Trump-Salman meeting resulted in $22 billion in new deals in the oil and gas sector, according to the event’s organizers.

Saudi Aramco announced agreements with U.S. companies including Weatherford, Jacobs, Honeywell, McDermott, and Nabors.

The agreements will result in an unspecified number of new offshore Persian Gulf drilling rigs, at a time when the kingdom is pumping less oil to stabilize global prices.

Aramco appears to be planning for a future that will require greater crude production by gearing up to produce materials and equipment that had previously been imported.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (right) welcomes DonaldTrump and first lady Melania Trump at the airport

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (right) welcomes DonaldTrump and first lady Melania Trump at the airport

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were both seen arriving in the Middle East on Trump's first foreign tour since taking office

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were both seen arriving in the Middle East on Trump’s first foreign tour since taking office

Donald Trump and wife Melania, dressed in a black jumpsuit with statement belt, sip a drink as they are welcomed by the Saudi king 

Donald Trump and wife Melania, dressed in a black jumpsuit with statement belt, sip a drink as they are welcomed by the Saudi king

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4525224/Trump-delivers-350B-new-biz-U-S-defense-companies.html#ixzz4hqYp7HAD

 

Story 2: President Trump Arrives In Israel — Videos

Image result for trump leaves saudi arabia for israel may 22, 2017 trump wife and kingImage result for trump leaves saudi arabia for israel may 22, 2017 trump wife and king

Trump to Israel: We are with you

Trump meets with Israeli PM Netanyahu (full speech)

President Trump and President Rivilin Joint Statements: Jerusalem

Donald Trump Lands In Israel – Complete [HD] 720p

TRUMP CEREMONY AT TEL AVIV AIRPORT IN ISRAEL (FULL)

Video Footage of Mr. and Mrs. Trump in Israel

President Trump in Israel with Sebastian Gorka Commentary

President Trump Arrives In Tel Aviv, Urges Peace In Middle East | TODAY

President Trump Arrives in Jerusalem as part of his Foreign Trip

President Trump Prays at the Western Wall in Jerusalem 5/22/17

Trump in Israel: US President visits Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Trump visits Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Isreal raises concerns about U.S. Saudi arms deal

FULL DAY COVERAGE: ALL President Donald Trump Speeches & Appearances in Israel 5/22/2017

Breaking — Story 3: Explosions in England’s Manchester Arena At Completion of Ariana Grande Concert With Several Killed and Injured — Videos

Image result for explosion manchester arena

Breaking News: Terror and Panic at Manchester Arena – Explosion After Ariana Grande Concert

BREAKING UK EXPLOSION!!! Deaths confirmed after Manchester Arena blast reports

 

 

BREAKING NEWS: Several people killed and many injured after two explosions in Manchester Arena at the end of Ariana Grande gig as bloodied concertgoers flee in terror

  • Several people killed after explosions rang out at the end of an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester Arena
  • Video footage showed people fleeing in tears from the venue after bangs ran out when the concert finished

Several people have been killed after two explosions inside Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande gig tonight.

Video footage showed people fleeing in tears from the venue after bangs rang out immediately after the concert finished.

Bloodied concertgoers were pictured being helped by emergency services outside the gig and armed police were seen patrolling the arena.

Evie Brewster, who attended the concert, told MailOnline: ‘Ariana Grange had just finished her last song and left the stage when a huge explosion sounded.

‘Suddenly everybody started screaming and running for the exit.

Bloodied concertgoers were pictured being helped by armed police outside the arena after explosions rang out at the gig

Bloodied concertgoers were pictured being helped by armed police outside the arena after explosions rang out at the gig

Concert-goers helped injured people make their way from the gig in Manchester tonight

Concert-goers helped injured people make their way from the gig in Manchester tonight

Video footage showed people fleeing in tears from the venue after reports of explosions at the end of an Ariana Grande concert (pictured tonight)

Video footage showed people fleeing in tears from the venue after reports of explosions at the end of an Ariana Grande concert (pictured tonight)

People attending the concert by Ariana Grande fled in panic on hearing the noises - some in tears

‘We could hear the police and ambulance sirens. It was terrifying.

‘There were thousands of people trying to get out at once. They were all screaming and crying. The whole place smelt smokey and burnt.

‘The explosion sounded like it was inside the building somewhere.’

Manchester Victoria train station, next door to the arena, is currently closed and trains are currently unable to run to or from the station.

Greater Manchester Police said emergency services had responded to a ‘serious incident’ at the arena.

 

Jonathan Yates, 24, from the Wirral, who attended the gig, told MailOnline: ‘The concert had finished and the lights came on almost instantly. There was a bang, a weird bang. There were lots of balloons but I thought to myself that can’t be a balloon, that’s not normal.

‘We were sat on the floor level and it came from the higher seats, people were running and screaming. Everyone stopped and I turned to my friend and said ‘we need to run’. Everyone was running and screaming and then when we got out it felt a bit more OK.

‘I heard five or six bangs that sounded like gunshots. When we got outside people were outside, crying and on their phones.

‘You don’t think it’s something that’s going to happen when you go…it was such a nice, fun concert.’

Nick Schurok, 28, from Manchester, told MailOnline: ‘Ariana Grande had just finished the concert and the lights came on. Everyone started leaving. I was on the floor and at the back of the arena people started exiting through the tunnels.

‘There was a bang in the left tunnel and everyone went to the middle tunnel. Then about two minutes later, there was another bang. The bang was so loud and crowds of people were running. There were lots of children and families there.’

Another witness Jenny Brewster told MailOnline: ‘We were exiting the building when it happened. We’d headed towards the main doors as Ariana was performing the last song because we wanted to beat the crowds, but – as we made our way there – a wall of security men blocked it and told us to go the other way.

‘Seconds later they shouted ‘RUN!’ and the explosion happened right behind them. Hundreds of people were running and screaming. Those men saved our lives.’

Catherine Macfarlane told Reuters: ‘We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming.

‘It was a huge explosion – you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out of the area.’

One witness wrote on Twitter: ‘Just ran from an explosion, genuinely thought we were gonna die.’

Another said: ‘Explosion at Manchester Arena, we were evacuated, a LOT of police here.’

Former Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand said: ‘Just heard the news what’s happening in Manchester.. hope everyone safe and sound!’

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: ‘Emergency services responding to serious incident at Manchester Arena. Avoid the area. More details will follow as soon as available.’

A British Transport Police spokesman said: ‘We are aware of an incident at Manchester Arena. We have officers at the scene and will provide further updates as soon as possible.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4531940/Emergency-services-rush-Manchester-Arena.html#ixzz4hqs2mmOV

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The Pronk Pops Show 874, April 16, 2017, Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government — Erdogan Expands Powers and Control — Moving Toward Dictatorship! — Videos — Story 2: Coalition Against Islamic State in Syria — What is Next: Wrath of Euphrates: The Battle for Raqqa: Isolate and Assault — Take No Prisoners — Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 820: January 19, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 818: January 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 817: January 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 816: January 12, 2017

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Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government —  Videos —

Image result for turkey referendum 2017 result 51.4%Image result for cartoons erdogan

Where’s Turkey headed after its referendum? – Inside Story

Turkey Referendum: Erdogan’s new grip on power

Dispute over Turkey’s referendum results continues

Is Turkey Becoming a Dictatorship?: Erdogan Claims Victory in Vote to Give President Sweeping Powers

Turkey’s Choice: Nation deciding on changing political system

The Truth about Turkeys failed Coup (CIA designed Civil War)

Lionel on the Alex Jones Show: Syria False Flags, North Korea Lies, French Elections & Media Lies

The Idiot’s Guide to Turkey, Erdogan and the Phony Coup

Turkish Referendum Erdogan Wins ! | The Millennial Revolt

Published on Apr 16, 2017

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in a referendum granting him sweeping new powers, hailing the result as an “historic decision”. The leader called on the international community to respect the result and discouraged his critics from “belittling” the outcome, saying they “shouldn’t try, it will be in vain”. The state-run Anadolu news agency claimed that 51 per cent per cent of voters had sided with the “Yes” campaign, ushering in the most radical change to the country’s political system in modern time.

But the main opposition the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said they would demand a recount of up to 40 per cent of the vote, saying that “illegal acts” occurred during the vote and that there were up to 2.5m “problematic ballots”. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) also claimed they had information that voter fraud was implicated in up to four per cent of the ballots. Both parties said they would appeal the results. CLICK LINKS FOR SOURCES

Story 2: Coalition Against Islamic State in Syria — What is Next: Wrath of Euphrates: The Battle for Raqqa: Isolate and Assault  — Take No Prisoners — Videos 

Image result for cartoons islamic state trump bomb the shit Image result for coalition to defeat isis list of 68 countries
Image result for coalition to defeat isis list of 68 countries
Image result for map of raqqaImage result for March 2017 map of syria kurds and islamic state controlledImage result for map of raqqa cityImage result for map of syria islamic state control 2017

Image result for 2017 map of syria kurds and islamic state controlled

Image result for map showing where there are kurds

Image result for map showing where there are kurds

Image result for map showing religous sect by area in syria, iraq, iran, turkey

Image result for map showing religous sect by area in syria, iraq, iran, turkey

Image result for coalition to defeat isis list of 68 countries

US eyes assault on ISIS stronghold

CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh talks to Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend near Mosul, Iraq, where coalition forces hope to make a push toward Raqqa, ISIS’ center of control in Syria.

U.S.-Led Coalition Has ‘Made Adjustments’ In Syria To Account For ‘Tensions’

Wrath of Euphrates Op: US troops spotted near Raqqa frontline (EXCLUSIVE)

400 US troops deployed outside ISIS capital Raqqa

Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS

Raqqa Battle Phase 3 outcome

Beginning of a new phase to free Raqqa

Battle for Raqqa. First phase of Wrath of Euphrates Initiative ends successfully.

Published on Nov 12, 2016

12 Nov 2016 Syria. Raqqa.
SDF, YPG, YPJ and International Brigade fighters had began to advance from Siluk and Eyn İsa southwards from two directions on November 5.

The Siluk branch has cleared an area of 30 kms and the Ayn İsa branch has cleared an area of 15 kms from ISIS gangs. Yesterday, the two branches united along the Beliz creek.

After the liberation of Xınıse and the unification of the two branches of fighters, the first phase of the initiative ended successfully.

Civilians flee Raqqa as Syrian forces advance

More U.S. Troops heading to Raqqa, Syria to fight ISIS

18 Allied Fighters Killed In US Led Syria Strike

100s killed following US-led airstrike in Syria

Assad: No one invited US to Manbij, all foreign troops in Syria without permission are ‘invaders’

U.S. military says misdirected airstrike in northern Syria killed 18 allied fighters

U.S.-led Coalition Accidentally Bomb Syrian Allies, Killing 18 | True News

Syria: Kurdish fighters make gains against IS behind enemy lines

Ross Kemp The Fight Against Isis

Turkey and Russia join forces against Islamic State

US Joins Ground Forces with Kurds, Syrian, & Russian Fighters Against ISIS in Syria

Targeting the High Value Terrorists

On The Road To Raqqa – Heavy Clashes Between Kurdish Forces And ISIS During The Battle Of Raqqa

US soldiers help Iraqi troops secure Mosul

Satellite Imagery: The Cutting of Mosul’s Bridges

Satellite Imagery: The Islamic State’s Mosul Defenses

Satellite Images: The Islamic State’s Scorched Earth Tactics

Why Did the Iraq War Start? The Untold Story – Seymour Hersh – Reasons, Justification (2005)

The Breathtaking Incoherence of American Foreign Policy as to North Korea and Syria

‘Defeating ISIS No.1 US goal’: Tillerson at coalition summit coinciding with London attack

Trump Gives Generals More Freedom on ISIS Fight

Pentagon brass take lead on decisions that were made by White House under Obama; ‘I authorize my military,’ Trump says

U.S. Army trainers watch as an Iraqi recruit fires at a military base in Iraq.
U.S. Army trainers watch as an Iraqi recruit fires at a military base in Iraq. PHOTO: JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES

U.S. military commanders are stepping up their fight against Islamist extremism as President Donald Trump’s administration urges them to make more battlefield decisions on their own.

As the White House works on a broad strategy, America’s top military commanders are implementing the vision articulated by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: Decimate Islamic State’s Middle East strongholds and ensure that the militants don’t establish new beachheads in places such as Afghanistan.

“There’s nothing formal, but it is beginning to take shape,” a senior U.S. defense official said Friday. “There is a sense among these commanders that they are able to do a bit more—and so they are.”

While military commanders complained about White House micromanagement under former President Barack Obama, they are now being told they have more freedom to make decisions without consulting Mr. Trump. Military commanders around the world are being encouraged to stretch the limits of their existing authorities when needed, but to think seriously about the consequences of their decisions.

The more muscular military approach is expanding as the Trump administration debates a comprehensive new strategy to defeat Islamic State. Mr. Mattis has sketched out such a global plan, but the administration has yet to agree on it. While the political debate continues, the military is being encouraged to take more aggressive steps against Islamic extremists around the world.

The firmer military stance has fueled growing concerns among State Department officials working on Middle East policy that the Trump administration is giving short shrift to the diplomatic tools the Obama administration favored. Removing the carrot from the traditional carrot-and-stick approach, some State Department officials warn, could hamper the pursuit of long-term strategies needed to prevent volatile conflicts from reigniting once the shooting stops.

The new approach was on display this week in Afghanistan, where Gen. John Nicholson, head of the U.S.-led coalition there, decided to use one of the military’s biggest nonnuclear bombs—a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB—to hit a remote Islamic State underground network of tunnels and caves.

Gen. Nicholson said Friday it was too early to say how many militants had been killed in the previous day’s bombing. The Afghan Defense Ministry retracted an earlier statement that the strike had killed 36 militants, saying it was unable to provide precise figures yet.

A military official for the coalition who viewed footage of the bombing said it was difficult to make out details of its effects beyond a “mushroom cloud” of smoke rising into the sky. He added that a second MOAB was available for use in the country, but no decision had been made on whether it should be deployed.

Islamic State’s Amaq news agency posted a statement on Friday saying none of its fighters were killed or wounded in the strike, which took place in Nangarhar province, along the country’s mountainous border with Pakistan.

Gen. Nicholson indicated that he—not the White House—decided to drop the bomb. “The ammunition we used last night is designed to destroy caves and tunnels. This was the right weapon against the right target,” he told reporters Friday. “I am fortunate that my chain of command allows me the latitude to make assessments on the ground.”

A senior administration official said Mr. Trump didn’t know about the weapon’s use until it had been dropped.

Mr. Mattis “is telling them, ‘It’s not the same as it was, you don’t have to ask us before you drop a MOAB,’” the senior defense official said. “Technically there’s no piece of paper that says you have to ask the president to drop a MOAB. But last year this time, the way [things were] meant, ‘I’m going to drop a MOAB, better let the White House know.’”

Indeed, on Thursday Mr. Trump himself emphasized the free rein he gives the Pentagon. “I authorize my military,” Mr. Trump said. “We have given them total authorization.”

On Friday, the U.S. military said it has sent dozens of soldiers to Somalia, where Mr. Trump recently gave the head of the U.S. Africa Command more leeway to carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate in the area.

The more aggressive military approach comes as the long slog against Islamic State is bearing fruit. The group is on the back foot in its Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, and is facing a hard battle to defend its de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa.

The U.S. has sent more forces into Iraq and Syria, stepped up support for Saudi Arabia’s fight against Houthi militants in Yemen, and dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula amid growing evidence that North Korea is preparing for a new nuclear test.

Loren DeJonge Schulman, who served as senior adviser to Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said a more assertive military campaign is destined to fail unless it is part of a broader strategy against Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.

“It’s crazy that the Trump administration thinks that ‘taking the gloves off’ is either a winning strategy against ISIL or a useful narrative for the White House or the military,” said Ms. Schulman, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Derek Chollet, a former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Obama administration, said giving the Pentagon more freedom is one of the most significant things Mr. Trump has done.

“It’s not clear to me that he’s making any tough decisions,” said Mr. Chollet, now executive vice president at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “All that he’s essentially done is ceded decision authority down to protect himself from making tough calls.”

The flip side of the Trump administration’s emphasis on a more-free-wheeling military approach to Islamic State is an apparent reduction of the use of soft-power tools—economic development, diplomacy and democracy-building—favored by the Obama White House.

Some State Department officials describe being cut out from the White House’s counterterrorism strategy in the Mideast, with efforts to nurture democratic governments and push for more secular education systems carrying less weight in the White House’s evolving approach.

“State is being systematically sidelined,” said a State Department official who has worked on counterterrorism issues in Washington and abroad.

The official said the White House strategy of prioritizing military might over diplomacy makes it hard to persuade Mideast allies to relax their grip on power. Many of Washington’s closest Arab allies are autocratic regimes guilty of human-rights abuses that critics say fuel terrorism.

“The problem there is that in many of the places where you need carrots, those carrots are often seen as threats to local governments,” the official said, referring to democracy and society-building programs the State Department funds across the Mideast.

Egypt offers a prime example of the Trump administration’s leanings. When Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, a military strongman, visited the White House earlier this month, Mr. Trump gave him a warm welcome. Mr. Obama had refused to meet him because of his regime’s alleged human-rights abuses.

U.S. officials in the Mideast say a counterterror approach that focuses solely on military might without programs to fight the causes that feed extremism could backfire, leading groups like Islamic State to go underground and wait for future opportunities to re-emerge. They are particularly concerned about Raqqa, where a U.S.-led military coalition is closing in around the city but post-liberation stabilization plans aren’t finalized as State Department officials wait for White House guidance.

Write to Dion Nissenbaum at dion.nissenbaum@wsj.com and Maria Abi-Habib at maria.habib@wsj.com

Appeared in the Apr. 15, 2017, print edition as ‘Military Takes Lead on ISIS.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-gives-generals-free-rein-on-isis-fight-1492218994

Raqqa campaign (2016–present)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Raqqa offensive (2016–present))
Raqqa campaign (2016–present)
Part of the Syrian Civil War,
the Syrian Kurdish–Islamist conflict (2013–present), and
the American-led intervention in Syria
Northern Raqqa Offensive (November 2016).svgBattle of Raqqa2.svg
Top: Map showing the SDF advances; Bottom: A map of the situation in Raqqa itself
Date 6 November 2016 – present
(5 months, 1 week and 4 days)
Location Raqqa Governorate, Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria
35.9500°N 39.0167°ECoordinates: 35.9500°N 39.0167°E
Status Ongoing

  • The SDF captures more than 236 villages, hamlets and strategic hills, two water and power stations,[10][11] Al-Tabqa Airbase,[12][13]and reportedly Tabqa Dam[14][15][16]
  • The SDF, after latest advances, are now at a distance of 5 km from the ISIL capital city of Ar-Raqqah[17]
  • The SDF and allies cut off all main roads out of Raqqa (minus Baath Dam)[18]
Territorial
changes
The SDF capture more than 7,400 square kilometres (2,900 sq mi) of territory from ISIL during the first, second and third phases of the campaign[19][20]
Belligerents
Syrian Democratic Forces
Self Defence Forces (HXP)[1]
Leftist/Anarchist volunteers[a]
CJTF–OIR

 Iraqi Kurdistan[8]


 Russia[9] Islamic State of Iraq and the LevantCommanders and leadersRojda Felat[21]
(leading YPJ commander)[22][23]
Kino Gabriel[24]
(MFS commander)
Syrian opposition Fayad Ghanim[25]
(Raqqa Hawks Brigade commander)
Abu Issa
(Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa chief commander)
Syrian oppositionMuhedi Jayila[26]
(Elite Forces commander)
Bandar al-Humaydi[24]
(Al-Sanadid Forces military chief commander)
Siyamend Welat[27]
(HXP chief commander)
United States Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend
(CJTF–OIR chief commander)

For other anti-ISIL commanders, see order of battleIslamic State of Iraq and the LevantAbu Bakr al-Baghdadi(WIA)[28][29]
(Leader of ISIL)
Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti[30]
(leading ISIL commander for Raqqa defenses, c. 11–26 December)[31]
Abu Saraqeb al-Maghribi[32]
(Head of security in Al-Thawrah)
Abu Jandal al-Masri[32]
(Chief of Information in Raqqa)
Abu Muhammad al-Jazrawi[32]
(Chief of Al-Hisba secret police)
Mahmoud al-Isawi[33]
(ISIL proganganda chief)
Abd al-Basit al-Iraqi [34]
(ISIL commander of Middle Eastexternal networks)
Zainuri Kamaruddin[35]
(Katibah Nusantara commander)
Abu Luqman[36]
(ISIL governor of Raqqa)

For other ISIL commanders, see order of battleUnits involvedSee anti-ISIL forces order of battleSee ISIL order of battleStrength

30,000–40,000 SDF fighters[37][38][39](70% Arab acc. to the SDF)[40]

500 HXP soldiers[1]
United States 900 American special forces,[51][52][53] 1 artillery battery[54]


Russia Several Tupolev Tu-95 bombers[9]

10,000–20,000+ fighters[55][56][57][58][59](estimate by Western SDF volunteers & some experts)

Unknown number of UAVs (drones)[64]

Casualties and losses

235+ killed[65][66][67][c]

1 killed[71]
United States 1 killed[72]


232+ killed, 30+ wounded, 15 armored vehicles lost (ISIL claim)[73][74][31]

2,098+ killed and 20 captured (SDF and US claim)[75]95 civilians killed[76][77]
14,000+ displaced[78][79][80]

The Raqqa campaign[81] (codenamed Operation Wrath of Euphrates), is an ongoing military operation launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Raqqa Governorate, with the goal of isolating and eventually capturing the Islamic State’s capital city, Raqqa. Another one of the main goals is to capture the Tabqa Dam, the nearby city of Al-Thawrah,[82] and the Baath Dam further downstream.[83] The offensive has also been dubbed the Battle to End All Battles in the War on ISIL.[84]

The offensive is concurrent with the Battle of al-Bab in the Aleppo governorate, the Battle of Mosul in Iraq, the Battle of Sirte (2016) in Libya, the Palmyra offensive (2017), and a reignition of fighting in Deir ez-Zor’s siege.

Background

In late October 2016, the United States Secretary of DefenseAsh Carter called for an offensive on Raqqa to take place concurrent with the Battle of Mosul in Iraq. He stated that the US was cooperating with its allies in order to launch an “isolation operation” around Raqqa. On 26 October, the President of TurkeyRecep Tayyip Erdoğan called the President of the United StatesBarack Obama and stated that he did not want the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to participate in the planned operation, and instead planned to involve the Turkish Armed Forces. The United Kingdom‘s Secretary of State for DefenceMichael Fallon rejected the idea of non-Arab forces taking part in the offensive and demanded a purely Arab force.[85]

On the same day, the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend stressed that the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces was the only armed group capable of capturing Raqqa in the near future. Fewer US-led coalition troops were to be involved than in the Battle of Mosul.[86] On 3 November, the commander of the Seljuk Brigade and SDF spokesman Col. Talal Silo rejected the participation of Turkey in the operation.[87]

After the start of the Battle of Mosul (2016–17) in Iraq, many of the 20,000 ISIL fighters estimated to be living in the city[88] fled to Raqqa, boosting the ISIL forces that were already present in their de facto capital city.[89]

Announcement

The SDF officially announced the start of the operation on 6 November in the village of Ayn Issa.[90] The intention was to proceed in two phases, first seizing areas around Raqqa and isolating the city, advancing from three fronts, then taking control of the city itself.[91] The SDF general command called for the international coalition against ISIL to support the operation.[92] In response, Ash Carter welcomed the announcement and emphasized the importance of capturing Raqqa and defeating ISIL, while cautioning that “there is hard work ahead”.[93]

The offensive

Phase One: Isolating Raqqa from its northern hinterland[edit]

Tal Saman, ISIL headquarters in the northern Raqqa countryside, after being captured by the SDF.

On 6 November, the SDF captured six small villages,[37] including the villages of Wahid, Umm Safa, Wasita, Haran, al-Adriyah and Jurah south and southeast of Ayn Issa.[94] The Islamic State detonated four car bombs on the first day of the offensive.[95]

On 8 November, the SDF reported that they had taken control of 11 villages near Ain Issa. The SDF also claimed that ISIL used several car bombs against their forces.[96] By 11 November, the SDF had captured over a dozen villages and the strategically significant town of Al-Hisbah, which had served as a local headquarters and command center for ISIL.[97] On the next day, the SDF continued to advance against ISIL in the area around Tal Saman and Khnez, bringing the number of captured farms and villages to 26.[98]

As of 14 November, the SDF reported the completion of the initial phase of the operations, stating that 500 km2has been captured: 34 villages, 31 hamlets and seven strategic hills, along with 167 Islamic State casualties.[24]The SDF had also begun to besiege Tal Saman, the largest village and ISIL headquarters north of Raqqa,[99] while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Salok in the eastern countryside of Raqqa Governorate in order to force the SDF to split its forces and open a new front.[100] On the next day, the SDF advanced into Tal Saman, resulting in a fierce battle with its ISIL defenders.[101] At the same time, the SDF also captured 10 more villages and farms.[102][103] By 19 November, the SDF had fully captured Tal Saman and had driven ISIL completely from the surrounding countryside.[104][105] With this, the first phase of the offensive was considered completed.[106]On 20 November 2016, 200 fighters completed training, joined the SDF, and were sent to participate in the offensive.[107]

Stalemate and preparation for the second phase

A United States Air Force airstrike on an ISIL position to the north of Raqqa

The second phase of the offensive aimed to enforce a full blockade of the city of Raqqa.[106] On 21 November, the SDF captured two more villages,[108] while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Tal Saman.[109] Over the next days, the SDF attempted to further advance, such as at al-Qalita,[110] but was unable to break through ISIL’s defense line south of Tal Saman.[111] On 24 November, a US serviceman died from wounds he suffered after stepping on an improvised explosive device near the town of Ayn Issa, to the north of Raqqa.[112]

On 25 November, ISIL received reinforcements from Iraq, among them explosive experts and defected Iraqi Army personnel.[113] On the next day, ISIL launched a counter-attack, retaking parts of Qaltah village and a nearby water pump station, while the SDF managed to advance in the village’s vicinity.[114][115] Boubaker Al-Hakim, an ISIL commander who was linked to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, was reported to have been killed in an American airstrike in Raqqa on 26 November.[116][117] Iraqi military however later stated in April 2017 that he might still be alive.[118]

On 27 November, the SDF announced the offensive’s second phase was due to start,[119] though this was then delayed. At least five SDF fighters were killed in renewed clashes north of Raqqa on 29 November.[120] Meanwhile, ISIL suffered from the defection of two senior commanders, who fled from Raqqa to join Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Idlib.[121] On 4 December, a coalition drone strike in Raqqa killed two ISIL leaders who had helped facilitate the November 2015 Paris attacks and another who was involved in a foiled suicide attack in Belgium in 2015.[116][122] Three days later, co-Chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim said that the first phase to surround Raqqa was almost over, while a new Arab brigade consisting of more than 1,000 men and women from the al-Raqqa area had joined the SDF as part of the second phase which was slated to be launched on 10 December.[123] More than 1,500 Arab fighters who were trained and equipped by the anti-ISIL coalition joined the SDF for the second phase on its launch day.[124]

Phase Two: Isolating Raqqa from its western countryside

Initial advances[edit]

SDF fighters advance northwest of Raqqa after the start of the offensive’s second phase.

The SDF launched the second phase on 10 December, with the aim of capturing the northwestern and western countrysides of al-Raqqa and ultimately reaching and securing the Tabqa Dam. The same day, it was announced that Arab SDF groups, consisting of the Elite Forces, Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa and the newly formed Deir Ezzor Military Council would be taking part. During the first day, the SDF began to advance south of the Tishrin Dam and captured al-Kiradi village.[125][126] The United States announced that it would send 200 more troops to assist the SDF.[51] The next day, the SDF captured seven more villages from ISIL.[127][128] On 12 December, the SDF captured four villages as well as many hamlets south of Tishrin Dam.[129][130][128] The SDF captured five villages during the next two days.[131][132][133] On 15 December, the SDF captured three villages, taking the total number of villages captured by them in the second phase to 20.[134]

Over the next four days, the SDF captured 20 more villages, while finally reaching Lake Assad‘s shore, thereby cutting off and besieging 54 ISIL-held villages to the west. In response to these territorial losses, ISIL began to carry out more suicide attacks against both the SDF as well as civilian targets within SDF-controlled areas in an attempt to hinder the offensive.[135][136][137][138][139] On 19 December, ISIL launched a counter-attack to regain four villages in the northwestern countryside,[140] but the attack was repelled after a few hours.[141] The following night, ISIL forces retreated largely unopposed from the besieged 54 villages, leaving them to be captured by the SDF.[142][143] The SDF declared that they had captured 97 villages overall during the second phase, and had begun to advance against Qal’at Ja’bar.[144]

Battle of Jabar

Killed ISIL fighters near Mahmudli.

On 21 December, the SDF seized five villages near Qal’at Ja’bar, including Jabar,[143] which served as the main weaponry storage and supply centre for ISIL in the northwestern countryside.[145] The coalition then began to move toward Suwaydiya Saghirah and Suwaydiya Kabir, the last villages before Tabqa Dam.[143][146][147] Even though an ISIL counter-attack managed to retake Jabar village soon after,[148] the SDF attacked again on 23 December, and once again took control of it, while also capturing another village.[149][150] This prompted ISIL to launch yet another counter-attack later that day, which was accompanied by several suicide car bombs.[151][152][153] As a result, heavy clashes took place between them and SDF fighters in several villages along the frontline that lasted until the early morning of 24 December. The ISIL forces were eventually forced to withdraw after the SDF first shelled and then stormed their positions, whereupon the latter took control of most of Jabar as well as two more villages,[154][155][156] though some ISIL holdouts persisted in Jabar.[145]

ISIL was pushed out of the neighboring, strategic village of Eastern Jabar on the next day, bringing SDF within 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) of Tabqa Dam,[157][158] and by 26 December, the SDF had finally fully secured the main Jabar village, with the last ISIL defenders being expelled after heavy fighting.[145] An ISIL counterattack on the village later that day failed,[31][159] with a US airstrike killing Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti as he commanded the assault. Al-Kuwaiti, also known as Abdulmuhsin al-Zaghelan al-Tarish, was a high-ranking ISIL commander leading the defense of the whole Raqqa region against the SDF.[31][30] Meanwhile, the Amaq News Agency declared that Iman Na’im Tandil (nom de guerre: Abu ‘Umar Al-Hindi), one of the few Indian ISIL fighters active in Syria, had also been killed during the fighting near Jabar. The Islamic State’s official media wing later also officially paid tribute to Iman.[160]

Battle for Jabar’s surroundings

A YPGBMP, loaded on a truck, being transported to the frontline near Mahmudli on 4 January.

On 27 December, ISIL launched an attack on the village of Secol in the northern countryside, reportedly breaching the local SDF defences.[161] On the next day, the SDF reportedly captured Hadaj village after two days of heavy fighting, while another ISIL counter-attack against Jabar was repelled.[162] Mahmud al-Isawi, a senior ISIL facilitator who was a manager of instructions and finances for the group’s leaders as well as a provider of propaganda and intelligence support, was killed on 31 December in a US-led coalition airstrike on Raqqa.[163] After three days of heavy fighting, the SDF captured all or most of Mahmudli, the largest town of the Al-Jarniyah Subdistrict, on 1 January 2017. ISIL counterattacked later in an attempt to regain the town.[164][165] The SDF leadership said that in the clashes since the launch of the second phase they had captured 110 villages, killed 277 ISIL fighters, and captured 13.[166]

Also on January 1, the SDF resumed its offensive on the northern front, reportedly advancing 6 km south of Tell Saman against ISIL positions.[11][167] The SDF reportedly captured nine more villages in this area, within the next three days.[168][169][170][171][172] Meanwhile, with the SDF edging closer to Raqqa, ISIL further restricted Internet access and increased surveillance over Internet users in Raqqa. There were harsh punishments for accessing anti-ISIL websites, with a new special unit within the ISIL’s security office searching for offenders. Several online activists in Raqqa were captured and tortured or executed.[173] Another two villages and hamlets were captured by the SDF on 5 January.[174]

SDF fighters examine Qal’at Ja’bar. ISIL had built tunnels and weapons depots into the medieval castle.[175]

The SDF captured Qal’at Ja’bar (Ja’bar Castle) from ISIL on 6 January.[176][177] The same day, ISIL was reported to have moved its 150 prisoners from Tabqa city due to the offensive.[178] The SDF later captured eight villages and five hamlets at the Ayn Issa front.[179] On 7 January, the SDF captured five villages including the strategic Suwaydiya Gharbi[180][181] and Suwaydiya Saghirah, reaching the outskirts of Tabqa Dam.[182] ISIL reportedly recaptured Suwaydiya Saghirah by the next day after a counterattack, while a local leader of the group was killed in clashes.[183] Meanwhile, ISIL was reported to have withdrawn 150 of its fighters towards Raqqa city.[184]

On 8 January 2017, US special forces raided the village of Al-Kubar, between Ar-Raqqah and Deir ez-Zor, killing at least 25 ISIL militants in the two-hour operation.[185] It was believed that the goal of the US may have been to rescue hostages from an ISIL secret prison in the village. After the raid, ISIL forces cut off access to the village.[185]

On 9 January, the SDF captured another village, along with three hamlets.[186]

On 10 January, ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack at the Jabar frontline and reportedly recaptured several sites;[187] with pro-Free Syrian Army sources claiming Qal’at Ja’bar and the village of Jabar were among these.[188] ISIL consequently released photos of dead SDF fighters, while claiming that over 70 of them had been killed in the counter-attack.[189] However, the SDF was reported to still be in control of Jabar village and Qalat Jabar a few days later.[190][191]

An ISIL attack on Jib Shair village, trying to resist SDF advances from the north, was repelled on the next day, after which the SDF advanced and captured six hamlets around it.[192] The SDF later announced that their forces advancing from the Ayn Issa front and on the Qadiriya front linked up in Kurmanju village after capturing several villages over the past few days,[193] besieging a large pocket of about 45 villages and 20 hamlets.[194] All of them were captured by the next day, resulting in the alliance gaining about 460 square kilometres (180 sq mi) of land.[195] Another village was captured by the SDF on 13 January.[196][197] On 15 January, the SDF progressed to Suwaydiya Kabir village,[198] while ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack against Mahmudli and a nearby village, resulting in clashes within these settlements.[199] The attack was repelled after several hours of fighting.[200] The SDF captured three villages during the day,[201] while Suwaydiya Saghirah was also reported to be under its control again.[202] On 17 January 2017, 28 Arab tribes from Raqqa announced their support for the offensive and encouraged locals to join the SDF.[203][204]

The SDF attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on the next day, leading to heavy clashes in the village.[205] Meanwhile, it was announced that about 2,500 local fighters had joined the offensive since it began.[206] On 19 January, ISIL launched a counter-attack against Suwaydiya Saghirah, supported by mortars and heavy machine guns, killing or wounding several YPG fighters.[207][208] Despite this, the SDF made further progress on the next day, capturing a village and advancing against many other ISIL-held villages.[209] The SDF again attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on 20 January, reaching the outskirts of the village, and captured it on 22 January after heavy clashes, with the support of U.S. special forces.[210][211]

Tabqa Dam raid and further SDF advances in the north

The Tabqa Dam in 2014.

In late January 2017, it was reported that a number of ISIL militants were hiding inside the structure of the Tabqa Dam, including senior militant leaders who used to be “very important prisoners” wanted by the US and several other countries, in order to deter a possible US-led coalition strike on them.[212]

On 23 January, the SDF began to advance on the Tabqa Dam, spurring ISIL to open its turbines to raise the Euphrates River’s water levels. This was seen as an attempt to hinder the progress of the Kurdish-led forces and a scare tactic,[213] and caused the water level of the Euphrates to rise to its highest level in 20 years, leading to record flooding downstream.[84] Coinciding with this, pro-SDF sources reported that US special forces and SDF units had launched a raid against Al-Thawrah across the river.[214] By 24 January, SDF forces had managed to capture parts of the town, and SDF forces on the dam began working towards the Tabqa Dam’s control rooms, at the southern part of the dam, in an attempt to stop the massive outflow of water released by ISIL. However, the entrance to the dam’s control rooms was too well defended, and with the continued threat of disastrous flooding downstream, SDF and the US forces withdrew from both the Tabqa Dam and the town of Al-Thawrah, after which ISIL closed the dam’s turbines again.[84]

Over the next three days, ISIL repeatedly launched fierce counter-attacks against SDF positions in the western and northern countryside.[215][216][217] ISIL managed to retake ground in the area around the dam,[218] but the attack was later repelled.[219]

Preparation for the third phase

An SDF IAG Guardian armoured personnel carrier in February 2017, one of several APCs that were supplied by the United States to the SDF.

On 31 January 2017, the SDF received a number of armoured personnel carriers supplied by the US. The SDF spokesman stated that preparations for a new phase of the operation were continuing and the operation would begin in “a few days”.[220] Meanwhile, the leader of the SDF-aligned Syria’s Tomorrow Movement and its paramilitary wing, Ahmad Jarba, announced that 3,000 Arab fighters under his command were training with US special forces to be deployed in the battle for Raqqa against ISIL.[45]

On the night of 2–3 February, intense CJTF–OIR airstrikes targeted several bridges in or near Raqqa city, destroying them as well as the local water pipelines, leaving the city without drinking water. Meanwhile, the SDF advanced against the village of Qaltah in the northern countryside,[221] which the coalition had already unsuccessfully attacked in November.[114] ISIL maintenance crews managed to fix the pipelines during 3 February, restoring Raqqa’s water supply.[222][223] On 3 February, 251 Arab fighters in Hasaka completed their training and joined the SDF.[224]

Phase Three: Isolating Raqqa from its eastern countryside

Pressing south[edit]

YPG and YPJ fighters in combat.

On 4 February, the SDF announced the offensive’s third phase, aiming at capturing Raqqa’s eastern countryside, and to separate Raqqa city from ISIL forces in Deir ez-Zor, though operations in the west and north would continue simultaneously.[225] The SDF captured a village and three hamlets to the northeast of Raqqa later that day, with clashes being reported at al-Qaltah and Bir Said, while 750 Arabs completed training and joined the SDF.[226][227] On the next day, the Kurdish-led forces captured another two villages along with a hamlet and two farms, and besieged Bir Said,[228][229] while especially intense airstrikes hit several ISIL targets in Al-Thawrah.[230] Bir Said, along with another village, was eventually captured by the SDF on 6 February.[231][232][233] In addition to these villages, the SDF also captured another five villages on two fronts.[234] The SDF made further progress, capturing three more villages on 7 February.[235] In early February 2017, US-led coalition airstrikes destroyed much of the Deir ez-Zor-Raqqa highway, reducing it to a single-file gravel road in some spots, with the SDF patrolling other areas with minefields, in order to prevent ISIL from reinforcing Raqqa city.[84] By this point, almost all of the five bridges leading to Raqqa had been destroyed either by the US-led coalition or by ISIL, with the only exceptions being the Tabqa Dam and the Baath Dam, both west of Raqqa city.[236]

As these advances continued, ISIL responded by launching several unsuccessful counter-attacks against Suwaydiya Kabir and other strategic territories captured by the SDF.[237][238] On 8 and 9 February, the SDF advanced at the northern and northeastern frontline, capturing several villages and besieging Mizella, a major strategic ISIL stronghold in the northern countryside. The advance put them within 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of Raqqa.[239][240][241][242][243] The SDF captured Mizella the next day.[40][244] The two fronts of the alliance converged on 11 February as it also captured two villages and wheat silos to the north of Raqqa during the day;[245][246] the next day, the SDF attempted to cross the Balikh River northeast of Raqqa, leading to heavy fighting with local ISIL defenders.[247] On 12 February, a large-scale counter-attack by ISIL reportedly succeeded in retaking Suwaydiya Kabir and four other nearby villages.[248][249] However, pro-YPG sources denied these reports.[250] Another counterattack was carried out by ISIL to the northeast of Raqqa where the SDF had advanced to, leading to heavy clashes between both sides.[251] Clashes continued over the next few days.[252] On 16 February, 165 more SDF fighters completed training and joined the offensive.[253]

Capturing the eastern countryside

A destroyed bridge over the Euphrates in Deir ez-Zor Governorate. As result of the CJTF–OIR bombing campaign, as well as ISIL detonations, most bridges across the river were destroyed.

On 17 February 2017, the SDF announced the launch of the second stage of the third phase, aimed at capturing the eastern countryside of Raqqa near Deir ez-Zor, with the Deir Ezzor Military Council leading the operation.[254] On the same day the SDF captured two villages from ISIL to the north of Deir ez-Zor and came within 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) of the northeast of Raqqa,[255] while the Russian Air Force conducted airstrikes on ISIL forces in Raqqa city for the second time since its entry into the war.[9] The next day, the SDF captured another village to the southwest of the Makman front (north of Deir ez-Zor) as well as another near Raqqa.[256][257] On 18 February, the SDF stormed a prison a few kilometres northeast of Raqqa, freeing some of the inmates.[258] They later captured three villages in Deir ez-Zor’s northern countryside.[259] On the next day, the SDF captured five villages to the east of Raqqa.[260] On 20 February, they captured four villages on the Makmen front, including the strategic village of Sebah al-Xêr as well as a base station of Syriatel, thus cutting off the road between Makman and Raqqa and besieging three ISIL-held villages. Furthermore, the SDF took control of a significant bridge over the Balikh River on the western front.[261][262][263][264][265][266]

On 21 February, the SDF captured two villages on the Makman front and another one near Raqqa.[267][268][269] ISIL later again assaulted Suwaydiya Kabir, attacking it from three fronts, leading to heavy fighting around it.[270] The SDF continued advancing in the eastern countryside of Raqqa on 22 February, capturing three villages, and merging the two fronts at Makman and Bir Hebe. A YPJ commander declared that the SDF had cut the road to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.[271][272][273] The SDF stated that it had entered Deir ez-Zor Governorate for the first time in the offensive.[274] On the next day, they captured six villages and sixteen hamlets.[275]

Opening of a new front

On 24 February, the SDF captured four villages in the Makman front and another three in a fourth front to the northeast of Deir ez-Zor.[276][277] They captured the strategic Abu Khashab village later that day.[278] On 25 February, they captured another three villages on the fourth front.[279][280]

On 26 February, a US airstrike near Tabqa Dam destroyed a former government facility which was being used as a headquarters by ISIL. The airstrike’s vicinity to the dam’s structure led to fears that the dam could potentially be destabilized or destroyed during the fighting.[280] Later that day, it was reported that the SDF had captured the village of Al-Kubar, on the northern bank of the Euphrates in the Deir ez-Zor countryside, further tightening the siege on Raqqa.[281] On 28 February, it was reported that the US-led coalition had completely destroyed the Tabqa Airbase in an airstrike.[282]

On 27 February, the plan that the Pentagon submitted to US President Trump to significantly speed up the fight against ISIL included a significant increase in US participation in the Raqqa campaign, with the possibility of the US increasing its ground presence on the Raqqa front to 4,000–5,000 troops.[283]

Advance to the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway

YPG/SDF fighters on the bank of the Euphrates east of Raqqa.

The offensive resumed on 5 March, with the SDF capturing at least seven villages and 15 hamlets to the northeast of the Euphrates River, east of Raqqa. The offensive had previously been paused due to bad weather, according to the SDF.[284][285][286] The area captured by SDF forces on that day was about 19 square kilometers, and about 32 ISIL militants were killed in the clashes.[287] After further advances on 6 March, the SDF cut the highway between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, which was the last road out of the city,[288][18] and reached the Euphrates River.[289] The SDF captured six villages, the Al-Kubar Military Base (a former nuclear facility), and the Zalabiye Bridge, during the day.[290][291] On 8 March, the SDF took control of the strategic West Menxer hill in the eastern countryside,[292] while elements of the US 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were deployed to northern Syria, bringing with them an artillery battery of M777 howitzers to support the attack on Raqqa.[54] Meanwhile, about 150 ISIL militants from Hama and Deir-ez Zor managed to reinforce Raqqa, by crossing the Euphrates, despite the partial siege that had been imposed by the SDF on the city.[293]

On 9 March, SDF captured the strategic East Menxer hill and captured three villages on two different fronts. Two villages, including Kubar, were captured on the front to the far east of Raqqa, and one near Raqqa.[294][295][296] 244 Arab fighters from the Raqqa countryside also joined the SDF during the day, for the protection of the people in the region.[297] On the next day, SDF forces advancing from the Abu Khashab front captured three villages, including two near Kubar.[298][299][299][300] On 12 March, the SDF captured Khas Ujayl village, to the southeast of Raqqa, on the Abu Khashab front,[301][302] while ISIL continued to launch repeated counterattacks in the area, in an attempt to check the SDF advances.[303] Meanwhile, 230 ISIL fighters entered Raqqa to reinforce the city.[303][304]

On 14 March, the SDF captured the Khass Hibal village, as well as the Al-Kulayb grain silos, along the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway.[305][306] An SDF spokeswoman stated that Raqqa had been isolated. The advance of the SDF put them in control of the land region used by ISIL to connect to their territories in the east, stretching from al-Kubar to the northern bank of the Euphrates and measuring 30 kilometres (19 mi).[307] The SDF captured the Hamad Asaf silos and the[308] Al Kulayb village the next day. Hamad Assaf was also reportedly captured.[309][310] On 17 March, a YPG commander stated that the SDF planned to storm Raqqa city in April 2017, and that the YPG would be participating in the attack, despite the fierce opposition from the Turkish government. However, Pentagon Spokesman Jeff Davis denied that any decision regarding when and how an assault on Raqqa city will be carried out.[311] Meanwhile, clashes continued to take place around Khas Ujayl.[312][313]

The town of al-Karama, after the SDF had captured it from ISIL.

Heavy clashes took place in the town of al-Karama, to the east of Raqqa, on 19 March.[314][315] On the next day, SDF captured al-Karama, along with Jarqa village as well as a train station and water pumping station nearby.[316][317][318][319][320] On 21 March, it was reported again that the SDF had captured Hamad Assaf in the eastern countryside from the Abu Khashab front.[321][322] Another village was captured on 22 March from the Abu Khashab front.[323][322] Meanwhile, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RIBSS) stated that coalition airstrikes hit a school being used as a shelter for displaced people in a village to the west of Raqqa on 20 March. SOHR stated that 33 civilians were killed in the airstrikes while RIBSS stated that it was unknown what happened to 50 families who were there.[324] The SDF continued advancing in the eastern Raqqa countryside on 23 March, capturing two more villages on the Abu Khashab front, allowing them to capture a small ISIL pocket.[325][326][327][328]On 24 March, the SDF took control of two more villages in the eastern countryside of Raqqa.[329][330][331]

Battle for al-Tabqa countryside and other advances

SDF fighters near Tabqa Dam on 27 March.

On 22 March, the SDF began an assault to capture the Tabqa Dam, al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, and its airbase. Five hundred SDF fighters and five hundred US Special Forces from CJTF–OIR were airlifted by helicopters of the United States military, across the Euphrates River and Lake Assad, and were dropped on the Shurfa Peninsula to the west of Al-Thawrah. The attack was supported by artillery support from United States Marines, as well as air support.[332][333][334][335] SDF and US forces also landed on the Jazirat al-‘Ayd Island (or Peninsula) to the west of Tabqa Dam, capturing it as well.[336] Four villages southwest of Tabqa were captured in the attack, including Abu Hurayrah, al-Mushayirafah, al-Krain, and al-Jameen. The SDF advanced towards the town of Al-Thawrah, where fliers were dropped, asking residents to stay indoors and avoid clashing against ISIL for now. These fliers were also dropped on Raqqa city.[337] An anti-ISIL coalition spokesman announced that the advance had cut off the highway linking the Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, and Raqqa Governorates. He added that around 75-80% of the attacking force consisted of Arab fighters, with the rest being Kurds. The SDF stated that the advance was also meant to block any advance on Raqqa by the Syrian Arab Army from the west.[338]

On the same day, SDF and US forces stormed the Tabqa Dam, triggering “intense” clashes with ISIL forces. US officials stated that it may take several weeks to capture Tabqa Dam, Al-Thawrah city, and the surrounding countryside from ISIL.[339][340] Airstrikes by the coalition on Tabqa city were reported to have killed about 25 civilians.[341] On 23 March, some early reports circulated that the SDF had captured Tabqa Dam from ISIL, after clashing with ISIL forces for a few hours.[342][343][8] However, these reports were unconfirmed by other sources, with neither the SDF or CENTCOM confirming the capture of Tabqa Dam, and Rudaw reported that the SDF was still preparing to capture it.[342][344][345] SDF spokesman Talal Silo stated during the day that they were still advancing on the dam and the city and expected to attack the dam soon.[346] Later on the same day, it was reported that ISIL was redeploying a large number of fighters from the Deir ez-Zor Province to Al-Thawrah and Raqqa city, in order to reinforce those fronts.[347] ISIL’s Amaq News Agency later denied later that the SDF had captured the dam.[348]

Refugees from al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, who have fled from the fighting between the SDF and ISIL.

On 24 March, SDF spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh Ahmed announced that they had reached the Tabqa Dam, and were fighting ISIL at its entrance.[349] The assault on the dam was spearheaded by SDF fighters who were backed by United States Special Operation Forces. According to early reports, the SDF and its allies had taken its outer perimeter, with the battle ongoing for its middle.[350] On the same day, it was also reported that the SDF had captured 8 villages to the southwest of Al-Thawrah.[351] On 25 March, pro-Kurdish news agency Kurdistan24 reported that the SDF had announced the capture of the Tabqa Dam.[352] On the same day, the SDF advanced on Al-Tabqa Airbase, setting off clashes in the vicinity.[353]Amaq meanwhile claimed SDF had withdrawn from the dam.[354]

On 26 March, the SDF captured 2 villages to the east of Al-Thawrah. It was also reported that ISIL was shelling the surroundings of Tabqa Dam with heavy weaponry.[355][356]On the same day, ISIL claimed that Tabqa Dam was on the verge of collapse and that all the floodgates were closed. The dam was reported to have become inoperable, which ISIL claimed was due to Coalition bombing and artillery strikes, though the SOHR stated that the actual reasons were unknown, adding that ISIL still held its main building and turbines.[357][358]SDF however denied that it had been hit, while RIBSS (Raqqa is Silently Being Slaughtered) stated that ISIL was informing fleeing civilians that the dam was safe.[359] Additionally, the US-led Coalition stated that the Tabqa Dam was structurally sound, and that the dam had not been targeted by any airstrikes. They also stated that the SDF controlled an emergency spillway at the northern part of the dam, which could be used in the event of an emergency.[360] On the same day, SDF spokesman Talal Silo announced that SDF had stormed the Tabqa military airport, and had taken sixty to seventy percent of it.[361] They later announced that they had completely captured the Al-Tabqa Airbase, following a 24-hour battle.[12][362][13]ISIL forces stationed at Al-Tabqa Airbase were reported to have withdrawn northward, to Al-Thawrah city. Additionally, SDF forces captured 2 villages near the airbase during the advance.[362][363]

SDF forces target ISIL positions near Tabqa Dam.

Late on 26 March, it was reported that the SDF had taken full control of Tabqa Dam, and that repairs on the dam by Coalition engineers had begun.[14][364] A day later however SDF announced they were temporarily pausing their offensive for the dam.[365][15][16] Later in the day, a spokeswoman of the SDF announced that engineers who had been permitted to check the dam and its operations did not find it was damaged or malfunctioning.[366] SDF also captured 2 villages to the west of Raqqa on the same day.[367][368][369] It resumed the offensive against ISIL at the Tabqa Dam on 28 March.[370] Syrian engineers worked on the dam during a pause in the fighting to open spillways and ease the pressure on the dam. Its southern reaches were reported to be under ISIL control. ISIL claimed that the maintenance team was killed in airstrikes by the anti-ISIL coalition while the SOHR stated that it had learned that the engineer administering the dam had been killed in airstrikes along with a technician. It also stated that the group had sent 900 fighters from Raqqa to fight against the SDF advance.[371]

On 29 March, the SDF cut the road between Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city and Raqqa. The SDF stated that ISIL had shelled the Tabqa Dam during the day, causing repair work to be temporarily paused.[372][373][374] On 31 March, SDF forces attacked the town of Al-Safsafah, to the east of Al-Thawrah, in an attempt to besiege the city.[375][376] On the same day, the Ajeel tribe of al-Raqqa announced its support for the SDF’s Raqqa campaign and sent 150 fighters. On 1 April 2017, 200 Arab youths completed training and joined the SDF, also for the Raqqa campaign.[377][378] The SDF announced during the day that over 220 new recruits had joined the offensive.[379] Meanwhile, leaflets were dropped on the city calling on ISIL to surrender.[380] Clashes continued in the countryside of Tabqa on next day as both sides attempted to advance.[381]

The SDF and some activists stated on 2 April that it had repelled a major ISIL counterattack to the northeast of Tabqa city, near the Tabqa Dam and near the Tabqa airbase. They also continued to advance in villages to the east of Tabqa city.[382] On the same day, it was reported that SDF had completely besieged Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, with Kurdish activists stating that 2 SDF units linked up to the east of the city.[383][384] SOHR, however, stated that they were still trying to besiege the city.[385] SDF fighters continued battling for Safsafah and Ibad, on the next day, to fully encircle Tabqa.[386][387] On 3 April, it was reported that ISIL was possibly in the process of moving its capital from Raqqa city to Mayadin, in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. This followed months of gradual relocation of resources and senior ISIL leaders from Raqqa to Mayadin.[388] SDF entered and besieged Safsafah on 5 April, thus also besieging Tabqa city while claiming that it had also taken control of a major part of Safsafah.[389][390] The village was captured by the next day, resulting in SDF completely encircling Tabqa city.[391][392]

The SDF captured Ibad village, to the east of Safsafah, on 9 April, further expanding their control in eastern countryside of Tabqa, while more than 25 ISIL fighters were killed in the clashes.[393][394] ISIL also launched unsuccessful counterattacks on Safsafah,[395] while also attacking Al-Tabqa Airbase.[396] The SDF captured another village near Tabqa on the next day.[397][398]

On 11 April, the US-led Coalition reported that the SDF had captured 60% of Tabqa Dam, and that they were “very close” to liberating the dam.[399][400] On 13 April, the United States military stated that CJTF-OIR had bombed a SDF fighting position near Tabqa as it was misidentified as belonging to ISIL. It added that the airstrikes resulted in deaths of 18 SDF fighters.[401]

Phase Four: Offensive directly north of and around Raqqa city; Assault on Tabqa city

On 13 April, the SDF announced the launch of the fourth phase of the campaign.[402] The new phase will involve capturing the entire area directly north of Raqqa city, including the Jalab valley, as well as completing the siege of Raqqa city.[403] The advancements may involve capturing the southern countryside of Raqqa as well, since the SDF stated that they plan to fully isolate the city before launching an attack on it.[404][403] A plan to attack Raqqa city itself was also scheduled to for April 2017, but it was postponed due to the Battle of Tabqa.[405] SDF was reported to have captured a village in the northern countryside of Raqqa on the same day.[406]

SOHR stated early on 15 April that the SDF had advanced to the edge of Tabqa, and was within hundreds of meters of the city.[407] Later, SDF captured the village of Ayad al-Saghir village near Tabqa and stormed the city itself, capturing the Alexandria suburb and bringing about 15% of the city under their control.[408][409][410] They also cleared the Mushayrifah village near Tabqa, killing 27 ISIL fighters.[411][412]

On 17 April, the SDF captured 3 villages in the northern countryside of Raqqa along with four hamlets.[413][414][415]

Civil administration of captured territory

Samer Kharkhi, one of the Raqqa Civil Council’s leading members.

On 14 November, the SDF’s civilian sister institution, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), started working on the establishment of a civilian administration to run the city of Raqqa after the expulsion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. SDC co-chair Îlham Ehmed said “such an administration could provide a good example for democratic change in Raqqa, especially that the city has been for years a de facto capital for the ISIS terrorist group. This accomplishment would be a major change in the overall situation in Syria, and would help the country move towards stability, democratic change. Raqqa will be an example for the whole country.”[416]

On 8 December, Col. John Dorrian, the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman, stated that “a governance structure representative of the local population” similar to that in Manbij is planned for Raqqa.[417] On 10 December, Cihan ShekhEhmed, the spokesman of the SDF-led operation, said that Raqqa would be run by a local elected civilian council after it was liberated.[124] On 27 March 2017, Salih Muslim Muhammad, co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), said that as soon as the SDF had captured the city, “the people of Raqqa are the ones who [will] take the decision on everything”. If they wanted to do so, Muslim said, they could choose to join the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria.[418] On the same day, the Raqqa Civil Council announced that it had taken over the administration of the eastern countryside.[419]

Gallery

Notes

  1. Jump up^ Most Leftist Western volunteers fight as part of the YPG,[2] though some have also formed an independent unit, the Antifascist International Tabur,[3] or joined the International Freedom Battalion. The latter is a larger unit, mostly composed of Kurdish and Turkish communists.[4]
  2. Jump up^ 1,500 volunteers from villages captured by the SDF during phase one;[49] 1,000 volunteers from villages captured during phase two,[19] 750 volunteers from villages captured during phase three,[27] 200 more joined in April[50]
  3. Jump up^ According to SOHR, 8 SDF casualties were Western volunteers; among these were 4 Americans (one of which fought for the MFS), 1 British, 1 Canadian, and 1 German.[68] ARA News, on the other side, reported that only 5 Western volunteers had been killed.[69]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raqqa_campaign_(2016%E2%80%93present)

Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Meeting

March 24, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with a delegate during the afternoon ministerial plenary for the Global Coalition working to Defeat ISIS at the State Department in Washington, March 22, 2017.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with a delegate during the afternoon ministerial plenary for the Global Coalition working to Defeat ISIS at the State Department in Washington, March 22, 2017.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presided over a meeting of the 68-member Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and emphasized that the Coalition is unified, remains committed to the military defeat of ISIS, and noted the significant progress that has been made.

On March 22, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presided over a meeting of the 68-member Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and emphasized that the Coalition is unified, remains committed to the military defeat of ISIS, and noted the significant progress that has been made.

On the battlefield, 23 coalition partners have over 9,000 troops in Iraq and Syria in support of the effort to defeat ISIS. The Coalition has made significant progress in denying ISIS safe haven and building the military capacity of those directly engaged in fighting ISIS.

Coalition operations have liberated 62 percent of the terrain ISIS once controlled in Iraq and 30 percent in Syria, including key cities in both countries. The number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria is down by more than half since its peak in 2014.

Coalition aircraft have conducted more than 19,000 strikes on ISIS targets, removing tens of thousands of ISIS fighters from the battlefield and killing over 180 senior to mid-level ISIS leaders, including nearly all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies, his so-called ministers of war, information, finance, oil and gas, and his chief of external operations.

The Coalition has supported its Iraqi partners to achieve significant progress in the fight to retake Mosul. Iraqi Security Forces officially liberated eastern Mosul on January 24, 2017, and now are making significant territorial gains in the western portion of the city.

To date, Coalition efforts have trained nearly 90,000 Iraqi Security Force members, including Iraqi Army soldiers, Counterterrorism Services soldiers, Kurdish Peshmerga, federal police and border security soldiers, and tribal volunteers.

With the support of the Coalition, Syrian partners have liberated over 14,000 square kilometers of terrain in Syria, including more than 7,400 square kilometers of territory since isolation operations around Raqqa began on November 5.

Coalition forces are now pressuring ISIS in Raqqa, its external operations headquarters, from where ISIS is plotting against Coalition member interests around the globe.

“Hard-fought victories in Iraq and Syria have swung the momentum in our coalition’s favor,” said Secretary Tillerson, “but we must increase the intensity of our efforts to solidify our gains in the next phase of the counter-ISIS fight. Degradation of ISIS is not the end goal, we must defeat ISIS.”

http://editorials.voa.gov/a/global-coalition-to-defeat-isis-meeting/3781086.html

The race for Raqqa: Major battle to liberate the ISIS stronghold looms after victory nears in Mosul and Palmyra… but who will lead the offensive?

  • Syrian soldiers, Turkish troops and US-backed Kurdish troops eyeing up Raqqa
  • Islamic State terrorists were driven out of Mosul and Palmyra in another victory
  • With liberation of the two cities drawing nearer, Raqqa will become top priority
  • The fall of the terror group’s de facto capital would be seen as ISIS’ biggest loss 

A major battle to liberate the Islamic State group’s stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria is looming after victories on the battlefields of Mosul and Palmyra.

The Pentagon has drawn up a secret plan which is likely to lean on local allies with stepped-up American support, but questions still remain as to who exactly will lead the operation to kick ISIS out of its de facto capital.

Syrian government forces, Turkish troops and their Syrian militia allies, and US-backed Kurdish forces all have their eye on Raqqa.

Each vehemently rejects letting the others capture the city and would likely react in anger should the United States support the others, and it is not clear that any has the resources to take the city on its own.

The fall of Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s de facto capital and largest remaining stronghold, would be the biggest defeat for the militants in Syria since they captured the northern city on the banks of the Euphrates River in January 2014.

A major part of the proposal would be to increase the number of US Special Operations trainers and advisers, which currently number around 500. Pictured: An Iraqi Army officer watches as a rocket launched towards Islamic State militants during a battle in Mosul, Iraq

An Iraqi Army officer (right) uses his mobile phone to film a rocket launched towards Islamic State militants during a battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul,Iraq

The proposal does not call for putting Americans on the front lines but does call for greater American decision-making powers. Pictured: A displaced Iraqi family in Hamam Ali town, southern Mosul

Iraqi family displaced due to fighting between the Iraqi army and ISIS, waiting at a temporary shelter to be sent to a refugee camp in Hamam Ali town, southern Mosul

Plan comes as major battle to liberate Raqqa looms after victories on the battlefields of Mosul and Palmyra. Questions remain as to who exactly will lead the operation to kick ISIS out of its de facto capital. Pictured: Iraqi soldiers

Iraqi soldiers fire a rocket toward Islamic State militants on the outskirt of the Makhmour south of Mosul, Iraq

Syrian government forces, Turkish troops and their Syrian militia allies, and US-backed Kurdish forces all have their eye on Raqqa. Pictured: Smoke billows as Iraqi forces hold a position on a street in Mosul on March 1

Smoke billows as Iraqi forces hold a position on a street in Mosul on March 1, 2017, during an offensive by security forces to retake the western parts of the city from Islamic State

Since October, US-backed coalition forces have been advancing on Mosul in an attempt to re-capture it from the terror group’s control.

Civilians have been evacuated and ISIS have been driven out of the city one village and area at a time.

This morning, an Iraqi military commander says forces have taken control of another neighborhood in western Mosul.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman of the Joint Military Operations Command said despite bad weather, Iraqi special operations forces have completely retaken the Wadi Hajjar area from militants.

However, commanders on the ground say that clearing operations are still continuing.

Wadi Hajjar lies just northwest of the city’s international airport.

Iraqi forces, including special operations forces and federal police units, launched an attack on the western part of Mosul nearly two weeks ago to dislodge the extremists.

Since the offensive began, more than 28,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN.

Across the border in Syria, army units were clearing land mines and explosives left behind by ISIS in the historic town of Palmyra on Friday, a day after government troops and allied militiamen recaptured it from the extremists.

The military expects the process to be long and difficult due to the large number of mines planted by the terror group.

Syrian troops fully recaptured Palmyra on Thursday after a push that saw the militants’ defenses crumble and ISIS fighters flee in the face of artillery fire and intense Russia-backed airstrikes.

Each vehemently rejects letting the others capture the city and would likely react in anger should the United States support the others, and it is not clear that any has the resources to take the city on its own. Pictured: Parts of the ancient city of Palmyra being blown up

The Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in the ancient city of Palmyra is blown up in conflict

Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State, now called the Islamic State group, marching in Raqqa, Syria, where attention will now turn

Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State, now called the Islamic State group, marching in Raqqa, Syria, where attention will now turn

Now, all eyes turn to Raqqa.

Faysal Itani, an analyst at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, said: ‘Raqqa is more of an abstract goal: everyone wants it in principle, but no one is willing to commit the resources and bear the risks necessary.’

Turkey rules out a US compromise in Syria

Turkey is ruling out compromise with the United States over the involvement of Kurdish militia fighters in an assault in Syria, an obstacle for Washington’s plan to deploy its strongest allies on the ground in a decisive showdown with Islamic State.

Donald Trump has made defeating ISIS one of the key goals of his presidency, and his new administration received a draft Pentagon plan on Monday to accelerate the campaign.

Raqqa in Syria, one of Islamic State’s two de facto capitals along with Mosul in Iraq, is expected to be the scene of the final battle to crush the jihadists’ self-proclaimed Caliphate sometime this year, after a US-backed Iraqi government assault on Mosul already under way since October.

But putting together a united ground force to take Raqqa has so far proven a confounding task in Syria, where the United States, Turkey, Russia, Iran and Arab states have all backed local forces in a multi-sided civil war since 2011. All the foreign powers oppose Islamic State, but their Syrian proxies have mainly fought against one another.

Turkey, with the second largest army in NATO, is adamant that Washington should switch support for the planned Raqqa offensive from the Kurdish YPG militia to Syrian rebels Turkey has trained and led against Islamic State for the past year.

 President Donald Trump has vowed to ‘obliterate’ the group.

‘We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet,’ he told Congress on Tuesday.

The top US commander in the campaign against IS, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, has said he believes Raqqa and Mosul will be taken within six months.

So far, the offensive on Mosul has been underway four months, with only half the city captured from the militants in ferocious street-to-street urban combat.

And that is using a relatively intensively trained and united military, backed by heavy U.S. firepower and commandos on the ground – a contrast to the comparatively undisciplined and fragmented forces the US has to choose from as allies in Syria.

Raqqa is a smaller city than Mosul, but the militants are believed to have dug in with powerful fortifications there.

In Syria, US-backed predominantly Kurdish fighters known as the Syria Democratic Forces, or SDF, remain Trump’s best bet.

Aided by US-led coalition airstrikes and some 500 US special forces troops deployed in an advisory role, the force has been marching toward Raqqa since November.

Closing in on the city from different directions, it is now stationed some eight kilometers (five miles) north of the city.

The US military recently provided a small number of armored vehicles to the US-backed force to give better protection from small arms fire and roadside bombs as they get closer to Raqqa.

Further aid to the rag-tag group, however, raises sensitive questions over how to deal with Turkey, a NATO ally with much at stake in Syria.

Turkey considers the main Kurdish militia in Syria – known as the YPG, and an affiliate of the US-backed SDF – a terrorist organization, and has vowed to work with Syrian opposition fighters known as the Free Syrian Army to liberate Raqqa.

In a dramatic reversal of years of the Obama administration’s calls for the ouster of President Bashar Assad, Trump has hinted he might be willing to work with Assad’s army and Russia, whose year-and-a-half military intervention has propped up Assad’s government.

Assad’s forces are preoccupied with other battles, however, and would likely need significant US military involvement to take on Raqqa.

On Wednesday, the Syrian military recaptured the central town of Palmyra, a city located in the desert south of Raqqa that has gone back and forth between control of the military and the extremists several times.

The government forces have also clashed with the Turkish-backed Syrian fighters, who block their path to Raqqa.

Iraqi security forces inspect a recently discovered tunnel that had been used by Islamic State militants as a training camp, in western Mosul, Iraq on Wednesday, March 1. 2017

Iraqi security forces inspect a recently discovered tunnel that had been used by Islamic State militants as a training camp, in western Mosul, Iraq on Wednesday, March 1. 2017

Syrians are sharply divided over who should enter Raqqa.

Many opposition supporters consider the SDF, which maintains a tacit non-aggression pact with Assad’s forces, to be a hostile group.

There are also fears of tensions if Raqqa, home to a nearly 200,000 mainly Arab population, is taken by the SDF, a coalition of Kurdish, Arab and Christian fighters.

‘Let us be frank that any force that will liberate Raqqa, other than the Free Syrian Army, is going to be a new occupation force with different flags and banners,’ said Mohammed Khodor of Sound and Picture Organization, which tracks atrocities by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was even more blunt, warning that if the SDF enters Raqqa, it will hurt relations between Ankara and Washington.

Since the Mosul offensive began, more than 28,000 people like these have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN

Since the Mosul offensive began, more than 28,000 people like these have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN

‘We have said that a terror organization cannot be used against another terror organization,’ the Turkish leader told the state-run Anadolu news agency.

The Kurds reject that notion and insist that only forces fighting under the SDF banner will liberate Raqqa.

‘Turkey is an occupation force and has no legitimate right to enter Raqqa,’ said SDF spokeswoman Cihan Sheikh Ehmed.

In a text message exchange from northern Syria, she said the SDF has the experience in fighting IS to finish the operation.

Battlefield victories by the SDF against the Islamic State group have brought growing Western support.

Asked if adding more US troops or better arming Syria’s Kurds were options, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he will ‘accommodate any request’ from his field commanders.

In Mosul, the US-led coalition is playing a greater role than ever before in the fight against IS and coalition forces have moved closer to front-line fighting.

U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian says the increased support is an effort to ‘accelerate the campaign’ against the Islamic State group, noting that launching simultaneous operations in both Mosul and Raqqa ‘puts further strain on the enemy’s command and control.’

‘It is a complicating factor when you don’t have a partner government to work with,’ conceded Dorrian, adding that whoever the coalition partners with in the fight for Raqqa is ‘a subject of ongoing discussions.’

Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a Middle East analyst at the Jamestown Foundation who closely follows Kurdish affairs, says the US-led coalition wants to have a quick end to IS in Raqqa, from which external operations against the West are planned.

That means it would prefer to work with the Kurdish-led SDF forces ‘since they are able to mobilize manpower unlike the Turks,’ he said.

An ISIS flag flies in the city of Palmyra - but not for long as victory nears in the city

An ISIS flag flies in the city of Palmyra – but not for long as victory nears in the city

Allied forces stand on the rubble of the Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in Palmyra

Allied forces stand on the rubble of the Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in Palmyra

An Iraqi soldier inspects a recently-discovered train tunnel, adorned with an Islamic State group flag

An Iraqi soldier inspects a recently-discovered train tunnel, adorned with an Islamic State group flag

In any case, the battle for Raqqa is sure to be a long and deadly one. It took the SDF nearly 10 weeks to capture the northern Syrian town of Manbij from IS last year.

It took Turkish forces and allied groups more than three months to retake the town of al-Bab, a costly battle that killed dozens of Turkish soldiers and many civilians.

Raqqa is much larger than either Manbij or al-Bab.

Some Syrian opposition activists say the extremists dug a trench around it to make it difficult for attackers to storm it.

‘It would be difficult for any troops,’ said Itani of the Atlantic Council.

‘Witness the slow and ugly progress in Mosul as well. Raqqa would be tough,’ he said.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4278252/The-race-Raqqa-Major-battle-liberate-ISIS-city.html#ixzz4eXuAmt6k

President Trump arriving at the White House on Sunday. CreditAl Drago/The New York Times

The Trump foreign policy team has been all over the map on what to do next in Syria — topple the regime, intensify aid to rebels, respond to any new attacks on innocent civilians. But when pressed, there is one idea everyone on the team seems to agree on: “The defeat of ISIS,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson put it.

Well, let me add to their confusion by asking just one question: Why?

Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria? Of course, ISIS is detestable and needs to be eradicated. But is it really in our interest to be focusing solely on defeating ISIS in Syria right now?

Let’s go through the logic: There are actually two ISIS manifestations.

One is “virtual ISIS.” It is satanic, cruel and amorphous; it disseminates its ideology through the internet. It has adherents across Europe and the Muslim world. In my opinion, that ISIS is the primary threat to us, because it has found ways to deftly pump out Sunni jihadist ideology that inspires and gives permission to those Muslims on the fringes of society who feel humiliated — from London to Paris to Cairo — to recover their dignity via headline-grabbing murders of innocents.

The other incarnation is “territorial ISIS.” It still controls pockets in western Iraq and larger sectors of Syria. Its goal is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria — plus its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies — and to defeat the pro-Iranian Shiite regime in Iraq, replacing both with a caliphate.

Challenge No. 1: Not only will virtual ISIS, which has nodes all over the world, not go away even if territorial ISIS is defeated, I believe virtual ISIS will become yet more virulent to disguise the fact that it has lost the territorial caliphate to its archenemies: Shiite Iran, Hezbollah, pro-Shiite militias in Iraq, the pro-Shiite Assad regime in Damascus and Russia, not to mention America.

Challenge No. 2: America’s goal in Syria is to create enough pressure on Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah so they will negotiate a power-sharing accord with moderate Sunni Muslims that would also ease Assad out of power. One way to do that would be for NATO to create a no-fly safe zone around Idlib Province, where many of the anti-Assad rebels have gathered and where Assad recently dropped his poison gas on civilians. But Congress and the U.S. public are clearly wary of that.

So what else could we do? We could dramatically increase our military aid to anti-Assad rebels, giving them sufficient anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles to threaten Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian helicopters and fighter jets and make them bleed, maybe enough to want to open negotiations. Fine with me.

What else? We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad. After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war — the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other. If we defeat territorial ISIS in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah and enable them to devote all their resources to crushing the last moderate rebels in Idlib, not sharing power with them.

I don’t get it. President Trump is offering to defeat ISIS in Syria for free — and then pivot to strengthening the moderate anti-Assad rebels. Why? When was the last time Trump did anything for free? When was the last real estate deal Trump did where he volunteered to clean up a toxic waste dump — for free — before he negotiated with the owner on the price of the golf course next door?

This is a time for Trump to be Trump — utterly cynical and unpredictable. ISIS right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias — because ISIS is a Sunni terrorist group that plays as dirty as Iran and Russia.

Trump should want to defeat ISIS in Iraq. But in Syria? Not for free, not now. In Syria, Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache — the same way we encouraged the mujahedeen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan.

Yes, in the long run we want to crush ISIS everywhere, but the only way to crush ISIS and keep it crushed on the ground is if we have moderate Sunnis in Syria and Iraq able and willing to replace it. And those will only emerge if there are real power-sharing deals in Syria and Iraq — and that will only happen if Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah feel pressured to share power.

And while I am at it, where is Trump’s Twitter feed when we need it? He should be tweeting every day this message: “Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have become the protectors of a Syrian regime that uses poison gas on babies! Babies! Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad — poison gas enablers. Sad.”

Do not let them off the hook! We need to make them own what they’ve become — enablers of a Syria that uses poison gas on children. Believe it or not, they won’t like being labeled that way. Trump needs to use his global Twitter feed strategically. Barack Obama never played this card. Trump needs to slam it down every day. It creates leverage.

Syria is not a knitting circle. Everyone there plays dirty, deviously and without mercy. Where’s that Trump when we need him?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/12/opinion/why-is-trump-fighting-isis-in-syria.html?_r=0

Kurdistan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Kurdistan (disambiguation).
Kurdistan
Flag of Kurdistan.svg
Flag
Kurdish-inhabited area by CIA (1992) box inset removed.jpg
Kurdish-inhabited areas
Language Kurdish
Location Upper Mesopotamia, and the Zagros Mountains, including parts of Eastern Anatolia Region (Armenian Highlands) and southeastern Anatolia, northern Syria, northern Iraq, and the northwestern Iranian Plateau.[1]
Countries Iraq Republic of Iraq
 Islamic Republic of Iran
 Republic of Turkey
 Syrian Arab Republic
Population 28 million (2014 estimate)[2]
Internet TLD .krd

Kurdistan (/ˌkɜːrdɪˈstæn/ or /ˌkɜːrdɪˈstɑːn/) (Kurdish: [ˌkurdɪˈstan]; “Homeland of the Kurds” or “Land of the Kurds”;[3] also formerly spelled Curdistan;[4][5] ancient name: Corduene[6][7]) or Greater Kurdistan, is a roughly defined geo-cultural region wherein the Kurdish people form a prominent majority population,[8] and Kurdish culture, languages, and national identity have historically been based.[9] Kurdistan roughly encompasses the northwestern Zagros and the eastern Taurus mountain ranges.[10]

Contemporary use of the term refers to four parts of Kurdistan, which include southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), and northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan).[11][12] Some Kurdish nationalist organizations seek to create an independent nation state consisting of some or all of these areas with a Kurdish majority, while others campaign for greater autonomy within the existing national boundaries.[13][14]

Iraqi Kurdistan first gained autonomous status in a 1970 agreement with the Iraqi government, and its status was re-confirmed as an autonomous entity within the federal Iraqi republic in 2005.[15] There is a province by the name Kurdistan in Iran; it is not self-ruled. Kurds fighting in the Syrian Civil War were able to take control of large sections of northern Syria as government forces, loyal to Bashar al-Assad, withdrew to fight elsewhere. Having established their own government, they called for autonomy in a federal Syria after the war.[16]

History

Main article: History of the Kurds

Ancient history

Various groups, among them the Guti, Hurrians, Mannai (Mannaeans), and Armenians, lived in this region in antiquity.[17] The original Mannaean homeland was situated east and south of the Lake Urmia, roughly centered around modern-day Mahabad.[18] The region came under Persian rule during the reign of Cyrus the Great and Darius I.

The Kingdom of Corduene, which emerged from the declining Seleucid Empire, was located to the south and south-east of Lake Van between Persia and Mesopotamia and ruled northern Mesopotamia and southeastern Anatolia from 189 BC to AD 384 as vassals of the vying Parthian and Roman Empire. At its zenith, the Roman Empire ruled large Kurdish-inhabited areas, particularly the western and northern Kurdish areas in the Middle East. Corduene became a vassal state of the Roman Republic in 66 BC and remained allied with the Romans until AD 384. After 66 BC, it passed another 5 times between Rome and Persia. Corduene was situated to the east of Tigranocerta, that is, to the east and south of present-day Diyarbakır in south-eastern Turkey.

Ancient Kurdistan as Kard-uchi, during Alexander the Great‘s Empire, 4th century BC

Some historians have correlated a connection between Corduene with the modern names of Kurds and Kurdistan;[7][19][20] T. A. Sinclair dismissed this identification as false,[21] while a common association is asserted in the Columbia Encyclopedia.[22]

Some of the ancient districts of Kurdistan and their corresponding modern names:[23]

  1. Corduene or Gordyene (Siirt, Bitlis and Şırnak)
  2. Sophene (Diyarbakır)
  3. Zabdicene or Bezabde (Gozarto d’Qardu or Jazirat Ibn or Cizre)
  4. Basenia (Bayazid)
  5. Moxoene (Muş)
  6. Nephercerta (Miyafarkin)
  7. Artemita (Van)

19th-century map showing the location of the Kingdom of Corduene in 60 B.C

One of the earliest records of the phrase land of the Kurds is found in an Assyrian Christian document of late antiquity, describing the stories of Assyrian saints of the Middle East, such as Abdisho. When the Sasanian Marzban asked Mar Abdisho about his place of origin, he replied that according to his parents, they were originally from Hazza, a village in Assyria. However they were later driven out of Hazza by pagans, and settled in Tamanon, which according to Abdisho was in the land of the Kurds. Tamanon lies just north of the modern Iraq-Turkey border, while Hazza is 12 km southwest of modern Erbil. In another passage in the same document, the region of the Khabur River is also identified as land of the Kurds.[24] According to Al-Muqaddasi and Yaqut al-Hamawi, Tamanon was located on the south-western or southern slopes of Mount Judi and south of Cizre.[25]

Post-classical history

Map of Jibal (mountains of northeastern Mesopotamia), highlighting “Summer and winter resorts of the Kurds”, the Kurdish lands. Redrawn from Ibn Hawqal, 977 CE.

In the tenth and eleventh centuries, several Kurdish principalities emerged in the region: in the north the Shaddadids (951–1174) (in east Transcaucasia between the Kur and Araxes rivers) and the Rawadids (955–1221) (centered on Tabriz and which controlled all of Azarbaijan), in the east the Hasanwayhids (959–1015) (in Zagros between Shahrizor and Khuzistan) and the Annazids (990–1116) (centered in Hulwan) and in the west the Marwanids (990–1096) to the south of Diyarbakır and north of Jazira.[26][27]

Map by Mahmud al-Kashgari (1074), showing Arḍ al-Akrād Arabic for land of Kurds located between Arḍ al-Šām (Syria), and Arḍ al-ʿIrāqayn (Iraq Arabi and Iraq Ajami).

Kurdistan in the Middle Ages was a collection of semi-independent and independent states called emirates. It was nominally under indirect political or religious influence of Khalifs or Shahs. A comprehensive history of these states and their relationship with their neighbors is given in the text of Sharafnama, written by Prince Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi in 1597.[28][29] The emirates included Baban, Soran, Badinan and Garmiyan in the south; Bakran, Bohtan (or Botan) and Badlis in the north, and Mukriyan and Ardalan in the east.

The earliest medieval attestation of the toponym Kurdistan is found in a 12th-century Armenian historical text by Matteos Urhayeci. He described a battle near Amid and Siverek in 1062 as to have taken place in Kurdistan.[30][31] The second record occurs in the prayer from the colophon of an Armenian manuscript of the Gospels, written in 1200.[32][33]

A later use of the term Kurdistan is found in Empire of Trebizond documents in 1336[34] and in Nuzhat-al-Qulub, written by Hamdollah Mostowfi in 1340.[35]

Modern history

1803 Cedid Atlas showing Kurdistan in blue

Kurdish independent kingdoms and autonomous principalities circa 1835

According to Sharafkhan Bitlisi in his Sharafnama, the boundaries of the Kurdish land begin at the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and stretch on an even line to the end of Malatya and Marash.[36] Evliya Çelebi, who traveled in Kurdistan between 1640 and 1655, mentioned different districts of Kurdistan including Erzurum, Van, Hakkari, Cizre, Imaddiya, Mosul, Shahrizor, Harir, Ardalan, Baghdad, Derne, Derteng, until Basra.[37]

In the 16th century, after prolonged wars, Kurdish-inhabited areas were split between the Safavid and Ottoman empires. A major division of Kurdistan occurred in the aftermath of the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514, and was formalized in the 1639 Treaty of Zuhab.[38] From then until the aftermath of World War I, Kurdish areas (including most of Mesopotamia, eastern Anatolia, and traditionally Kurdish northeastern Syria) were generally under Ottoman rule, apart from the century-long, intermittent Iranian occupation in the early modern to modern period, and the later reconquest and vast expansion by the Iranian military leader Nader Shah in the first half of the 18th century. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Allies contrived to split Kurdistan (as detailed in the ultimately unratified Treaty of Sèvres) among several countries, including Kurdistan, Armenia and others. However, the reconquest of these areas by the forces of Kemal Atatürk (and other pressing issues) caused the Allies to accept the renegotiated Treaty of Lausanne and the borders of the modern Republic of Turkey, leaving the Kurds without a self-ruled region. Other Kurdish areas were assigned to the new British and French mandated states of Iraq and Syria.

Kurdistan (shaded area) as suggested by the Treaty of Sèvres

At the San Francisco Peace Conference of 1945, the Kurdish delegation proposed consideration of territory claimed by the Kurds, which encompassed an area extending from the Mediterranean shores near Adana to the shores of the Persian Gulf near Bushehr, and included the Lur inhabited areas of southern Zagros.[39][40]

At the end of the First Gulf War, the Allies established a safe haven in northern Iraq. Amid the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from three northern provinces, Iraqi Kurdistan emerged in 1992 as an autonomous entity inside Iraq with its own local government and parliament.

A 2010 US report, written before the instability in Syria and Iraq that exists as of 2014, attested that “Kurdistan may exist by 2030”.[41] The weakening of the Iraqi state following the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has also presented an opportunity for independence for Iraqi Kurdistan,[42] augmented by Turkey’s move towards acceptance of such a state although it opposes moves toward Kurdish autonomy in Turkey and Syria.[43]

Turkey

The incorporation into Turkey of the Kurdish-inhabited regions of eastern Anatolia was opposed by many Kurds, and has resulted in a long-running separatist conflict in which thousands of lives have been lost. The region saw several major Kurdish rebellions, including the Koçgiri rebellion of 1920 under the Ottomans, then successive insurrection under the Turkish state – including the 1924 Sheikh Said rebellion, the Republic of Ararat in 1927, and the 1937 Dersim rebellion. All were forcefully put down by the authorities. The region was declared a closed military area from which foreigners were banned between 1925 and 1965.[44][45][46]

In an attempt to deny their existence, the Turkish government categorized Kurds as “Mountain Turks” until 1991.[47][48][49] The words “Kurds”, “Kurdistan”, or “Kurdish” were officially banned by the Turkish government.[50] Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life.[51] Many people who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned.[52] Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, political parties that represented Kurdish interests were banned.[50]

In 1983, the Kurdish provinces were placed under martial law in response to the activities of the militant separatist organization, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).[53][54] A guerrilla war took place through the 1980s and 1990s in which much of the countryside was evacuated, thousands of Kurdish-populated villages were destroyed, and numerous extrajudicial summary executions were carried out by both sides.[55] Many villages were reportedly set on fire or destroyed.[56][57] Food embargoes were placed on Kurdish populated villages and towns.[58][59] More than 20,000 Kurds were killed in the violence and hundreds of thousands more were forced to leave their homes.[60]

Turkey has historically feared that a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq would encourage and support Kurdish separatists in the adjacent Turkish provinces, and have therefore historically strongly opposed Kurdish independence in Iraq. However, following the chaos in Iraq after the US invasion, Turkey has increasingly worked with the de facto autonomous Kurds in Iraq.[61]

Syrian Civil War

Military situation on March 10, 2017:

  Controlled by Syrian Kurds
  Controlled by Iraqi Kurds
  Controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIL, ISIS, IS)

The successful 2014 Northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, with the resultant weakening of the ability of the Iraqi state to project power, also presented a “golden opportunity” for the Kurds to increase their independence and possibly declare an independent Kurdish state.[42] The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, who took more than 80 Turkish persons captive in Mosul during their offensive, is an enemy of Turkey, making Kurdistan useful for Turkey as a buffer state. On 28 June 2014 Hüseyin Çelik, a spokesman for the ruling AK party, made comments to the Financial Times indicating Turkey’s readiness to accept an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq.[43] Various sources have reported that Al-Nusra has issued a fatwā calling for Kurdish women and children in Syria to be killed,[62] and the fighting in Syria has led tens of thousands of refugees to flee to Iraq’s Kurdistan region.[63][64][65] As of 2015, Turkey is actively supporting the Al-Nusra.[66]

People

Main article: Kurds

The Kurds are a people of Indo-European origin. They speak an Iranian language known as Kurdish, and comprise the majority of the population of the region – however, included therein are Arab, Armenian, Assyrian/Aramean/Syriac,[67] Azerbaijani, Jewish, Ossetian, Persian, and Turkish communities. Most inhabitants are Muslim, but adherents to other religions are present as well – including Yarsanism, which is an ethnically Kurdish religion, Yazidis, Alevis, Christians,[68] and in the past, Jews most of whom immigrated to Israel.[69]

Geography

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Kurdistan covers about 190,000 km², and its chief towns are Diyarbakır (Amed), Bitlis (Bedlîs) and Van (Wan) in Turkey, Erbil (Hewlêr) and Slemani in Iraq, and Kermanshah (Kirmanşan), Sanandaj (Sine), Ilam and Mahabad (Mehabad) in Iran.[70] According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Kurdistan covers around 190,000 km² in Turkey, 125,000 km² in Iran, 65,000 km² in Iraq, and 12,000 km² in Syria, with a total area of approximately 392,000 km².[71]

Historic map from 1721, showing borders of Curdistan provinces in Persia.

Iraqi Kurdistan is divided into six governorates, three of which (and parts of others) are under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Iranian Kurdistan encompasses Kurdistan Province and the greater parts of West Azerbaijan, Kermanshah, and Īlām provinces. Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdish: Rojavayê Kurdistanê) is located primarily in northern Syria, and covers the province of Al Hasakah and northern Raqqa Governorate, northern Aleppo Governorate and also Jabal al-Akrad (Mountain of the Kurds) region. The major cities in this region are Qamishli (Kurdish: Qamişlo) and Al Hasakah (Kurdish: Hasakah).

Turkish Kurdistan encompasses a large area of Eastern Anatolia Region and southeastern Anatolia of Turkey and it is home to an estimated 15 to 20 million Kurds.[72]

Subdivisions (Upper and Lower Kurdistan)

In A Dictionary of Scripture Geography (published 1846), John Miles describes Upper and Lower Kurdistan as following:

Modern Curdistan is of much greater extent than the ancient Assyria, and is composed of two parts the Upper and Lower. In the former is the province of Ardelan, the ancient Arropachatis, now nominally a part of Irak Ajami, and belonging to the north west division called Al Jobal. It contains five others namely, Betlis, the ancient Carduchia, lying to the south and south west of the lake Van. East and south east of Betlis is the principality of Julamerick, south west of it is the principality of Amadia. the fourth is Jeezera ul Omar, a city on an island in the Tigris, and corresponding to the ancient Bezabde. the fifth and largest is Kara Djiolan, with a capital of the same name. The pashalics of Kirkook and Solimania also comprise part of Upper Curdistan. Lower Curdistan comprises all the level tract to the east of the Tigris, and the minor ranges immediately bounding the plains and reaching thence to the foot of the great range, which may justly be denominated the Alps of western Asia.[73]

A typical Kurdish village in Hawraman, Kurdistan

The northern, northwestern and northeastern parts of Kurdistan are referred to as upper Kurdistan, and includes the areas from west of Amed to lake Urmia.

The lowlands of southern Kurdistan are called lower Kurdistan. The main cities in this area are Kirkuk and Arbil.

Climate

Much of the region is typified by an extreme continental climate – hot in the summer, bitterly cold in the winter. Despite this, much of the region is fertile and has historically exported grain and livestock. Precipitation varies between 200 and 400 mm a year in the plains, and between 700 and 3,000 mm a year on the high plateau between mountain chains.[71] The climate is dominated by mountains in the zone along the border with Iran and Turkey, with dry summers and cold, snowy winters or wet springs, while to the south, it progressively transitions towards semi-arid and desert zones. The northern mountainous regions along the border with Iran and Turkey receive heavy snowfall.

Forests

Kurdistan is one of the most mountainous regions in the world with a cold climate receiving annual precipitation adequate to sustain temperate forests and shrubs. Mountain chains harbor pastures and forested valleys, totaling approximately 16 million hectares (160,000 km²), including firs and countryside is mostly oaks, conifers, platanus, willow, poplar and olive.[71] Also the Mediterranean region known as west Kurdistan has olive trees. Kurdistan’s climatic conditions are due to the northern mountainous topography producing the steppe and forest vegetation in the area. The region north of the mountainous region on the border with Iran and Turkey features meadow grasses and such wild trees as poplar, willow and oak, hawthorn, Cherry plum, rose hips, mountain apple, pear, mountain ash, and olive. The desert in the south, by contrast, has such species as palm trees and date palm.

Mountains

Canyon in Rawanduz in northern Iraqi Kurdistan

Mountains are important geographical and symbolic features of Kurdish life, as evidenced by the saying “Kurds have no friends but the mountains.”[74] Mountains are regarded as sacred by the Kurds.[75] Included in the region are Mount Judi and Ararat (both prominent in Kurdish folklore), Zagros, Qandil, Shingal, Mount Abdulaziz, Kurd Mountains, Jabal al-Akrad, Shaho, Gabar, Hamrin, and Nisir.

Rivers

Zê river in Zebari region, Iraqi Kurdistan.

The plateaus and mountains of Kurdistan, which are characterized by heavy rain and snow fall, act as a water reservoir for the Near and Middle East, forming the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as well as other numerous smaller rivers, such as the Little Khabur, Khabur, Tharthar, Ceyhan, Araxes, Kura, Sefidrud, Karkha, and Hezil. Among rivers of historical importance to Kurds are the Murat (Arasān) and Buhtān rivers in Turkey; the Peshkhābur, the Little Zab, the Great Zab, and the Diyala in Iraq; and the Jaghatu (Zarrinarud), the Tātā’u (Siminarud), the Zohāb (Zahāb), and the Gāmāsiyāb in Iran.

These rivers, which flow from heights of three to four thousand meters above sea level, are significant both as water sources and for the production of energy. Iraq and Syria dammed many of these rivers and their tributaries, and Turkey has an extensive dam system under construction as part of the GAP (Southeast Anatolia Project); though incomplete, the GAP already supplies a significant proportion of Turkey’s electrical energy needs. Due to the extraordinary archaeological richness of the region, almost any dam impacts historic sites.[76]

Lakes

The city of Piranshahr, center of Mokrian district, northwestern Iran

Kurdistan extends to Lake Urmia in Iran on the east. The region includes Lake Van, the largest body of water in Turkey; the only lake in the Middle East with a larger surface is Lake Urmia – though not nearly as deep as Lake Van, which has a much larger volume. Urmia, Van, as well as Zarivar Lake west of Marivan, and Lake Dukan near the city of Sulaymaniyah, are frequented by tourists.[76]

The city of Batman, eastern Turkey

Petroleum and mineral resources

KRG-controlled parts of Iraqi Kurdistan are estimated to contain around 45 billion barrels (7.2×109 m3) of oil, making it the sixth largest reserve in the world. Extraction of these reserves began in 2007.

Al-Hasakah province, also known as Jazira region, has geopolitical importance of oil and is suitable for agricultural lands.

In November 2011, Exxon challenged the Iraqi central government’s authority with the signing of oil and gas contracts for exploration rights to six parcels of land in Kurdistan, including one contract in the disputed territories, just east of the Kirkuk mega-field.[77] This act caused Baghdad to threaten to revoke Exxon’s contract in its southern fields, most notably the West-Qurna Phase 1 project.[78] Exxon responded by announcing its intention to leave the West-Qurna project.[79]

As of July 2007, the Kurdish government solicited foreign companies to invest in 40 new oil sites, with the hope of increasing regional oil production over the following 5 years by a factor of five, to about 1 million barrels per day (160,000 m3/d).[80] Gas and associated gas reserves are in excess of 2,800 km3 (100×1012 cu ft). Notable companies active in Kurdistan include Exxon, Total, Chevron, Talisman Energy, Genel Energy, Hunt Oil, Gulf Keystone Petroleum, and Marathon Oil.[81]

Other mineral resources that exist in significant quantities in the region include coal, copper, gold, iron, limestone (which is used to produce cement), marble, and zinc. The world’s largest deposit of rock sulfur is located just southwest of Erbil (Hewlêr).[82]

In July 2012, Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government signed an agreement by which Turkey will supply the KRG with refined petroleum products in exchange for crude oil. Crude deliveries are expected to occur on a regular basis.[83]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurdistan

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The Pronk Pops Show 868, April 6, 2017, Story 1: Neoconservatives and Progressive Global Interventionists Elite Banging The War Drums For American Empire Warfare and Welfare State vs. We The People America First Non-interventionists For American Republic Peace and Prosperity Economy — American People Not Readily Accepting Big Lie Media Propaganda on Syria Chemical Gas Air Attack — Another False Flag — Sunni and Shia Have Being Killing Each Other For Hundreds of Years — Stop Being Imperial Umpire For A Religious Sectarian Civil War and Proxy War — National Interest — Oil and Gas — Videos

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Updated

Breaking News

Undeclared War!

President Trump Launches 59 Cruise Missile Attack From Two U.S. Destroyers Against Syrian Air Base 

President Trump Neoconned!

Trump Orders ATTACK on Syria – April 6, 2017 – FULL Press Conference

RAW USA launches cruise missile strike on Syria Regime Breaking News April 6 2017 

RAW USA launches cruise missiles strike on Syria RUSSIA IRAN backed ASSAD Regime after chemical Warfare weapons attack Breaking News April 6 2017

Neo-CONNED speech by Ron Paul

U.S. Launches Missiles at Syrian Base After Chemical Weapons Attack

The United States launched dozens of cruise missiles Thursday night at a Syrian airfield in response to what it believes was Syria’s use of banned chemical weapons that killed at least 100 people, U.S. military officials told NBC News.

Two U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles intended for a single target — Ash Sha’irat in Homs province in western Syria, the officials said. That’s the airfield from which the United States believes the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fired the banned weapons.

There was no immediate word on casualties. U.S. officials told NBC News that people were not targeted and that aircraft and infrastructure at the site were hit, including the runway and gas fuel pumps.y

Trump Speaks on Missile Strike in Syria 2:48

“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” President Donald Trump said in remarks from Mar-a-Lago, his family compound in Palm Beach, Florida.

“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” said Trump, who called on other countries to end the bloodshed in Syria.

Related: Trump: Why I Launched a Missile Attack on Syria

Trump is in Florida for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinpeng. Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster traveled to Florida with him.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster traveled to Florida with Trump. In Washington, Vice President Mike Pence returned to the White House after having gone home for dinner Thursday evening.

Syrian television characterized the missile strike “as American aggression” Friday morning. But Ahrar Al Sham, the largest Syrian armed rebel group, told NBC News it “welcomes any U.S. intervention through surgical strikes that would deter the Assad regime capabilities to kill civilians and shorten the suffering of our people.”

Syria Crisis: Trump Given Military Options After Chemical Attack 2:25

Tillerson and Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, have bluntly blamed Syria for the chemical weapons attack, whose victims included at least 25 children.

Tillerson told reporters on Thursday that “there is no doubt in our minds” that the Syrian regime was responsible for the attack. And in a combative speech at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, Haley warned: “When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action.”y

Tillerson on Assad Regime: He Has ‘No Role’ to Govern Syria0:58

NBC News reported Thursday that Defense Secretary James Mattis briefed President Donald Trump on U.S. military options, which included carrying out targeted strikes against those responsible for Tuesday’s attack.

There was no immediate reaction from Russia, which Tillerson and Haley have accused of turning a blind eye to Syria’s transgressions.

“Russia cannot escape responsibility for this,” Haley said at the United Nations. “They chose to close their eyes to the barbarity. They defied the conscience of the world.”

Thursday, Tillerson urged Russia to “consider carefully their continued support of the Assad regime.”

Story 1: Progressive Global Interventionists Elite Banging The War Drums For American Empire Warfare and Welfare State vs. We The People America First Non-interventionists For American Republic Peace and Prosperity Economy — American People Not Readily Accepting Big Lie Media Propaganda on Syria Chemical Gas Air Attack — Another False Flag — Sunni and Shia Have Being Killing Each Other For Hundreds of Years — Stop Being Imperial Umpire For A Religious Sectarian Civil War — National Interest — Oil and Gas — Videos

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Image result for map syria turkey jordan air base attacked by united statesImage result for map syria turkey jordan air base attacked by united states

Image result for map syria turkey jordan air base attacked by united states

Image result for map syria turkey jordan air base attacked by united states

President Trump may be considering military action in Syria

Gen. Keane on the possibility of US military action in Syria

Trump Orders Attack On Syria! Will Russia Respond? Is Trump Wrong?

Syria Gas Attack: Assad’s Doing…Or False Flag?

Streamed live on Apr 5, 2017

Just days after the US Administration changed course on Syrian President Assad, saying he could stay, an alleged chemical weapon attack that killed dozens of civilians has been blamed on the Syrian government. Did Assad sign his own death warrant with such an attack…or does some other entity benefit?

[youytube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LULzvg1gA5U]

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Published on Apr 5, 2017

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On Tuesday in Idlib, a province in the Northwest of Syria, at least seventy people were killed, 20 of them children, in what appears to have been a chemical weapon attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Initial reports point to the nerve agent Sarin gas. Our panel of experts asks who was behind this attack. What explanations are being given, and do they stack up?
Click here for PART TWO.

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Published on Apr 5, 2017

The UN Security Council has held an emergency session to discuss the suspected gas attack on a rebel-held town in Syria. The attack is believed to have killed more than 70 people, including children. The Syrian government has denied responsibility, while its ally Russia says the gas came from rebel weapons on the ground. But those claims have been widely rejected by western governments, as our Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet reports.

Syria conflict: ‘Chemical attack’ in Idlib kills 58 – BBC News

Published on Apr 4, 2017

At least 58 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held town in north-western Syria, a monitoring group says. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that strikes on Khan Sheikhoun by Syrian government or Russian jets had caused many people to choke. Later, aircraft fired rockets at local clinics treating some of the survivors, medics and opposition activists said. The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons.

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Published on Aug 10, 2016

Tariq Ali talks to investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, about his revelations concerning the chemical attack at Ghouta, Syria in August 2013.

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Published on Apr 8, 2014

The US author reveals secret US reports warning that Al-Nusrah terrorist group affiliated with Qatar and Turkey, posses a chemical weapons cell. Worst threat since 9/11.

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Published on Aug 10, 2016

Tariq Ali talks to investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, about the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011 and describes what the Americans and Pakistanis knew about his whereabouts.

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Seymour Hersh: Obama “Cherry-Picked” Intelligence on Syrian Chemical Attack to Justify U.S. Strike

Published on Dec 9, 2013

Writing in the London Review of Books, Hersh argues that the Obama administration “cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.” The administration failed to disclose it knew Syrian rebels in the al-Nusra Front had the ability to produce chemical weapons. Evidence obtained in the days after the attack was also allegedly distorted to make it appear it was gathered in real time.

Whose sarin? Seymour M. Hersh
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded — without assessing responsibility — had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order — a planning document that precedes a ground invasion — citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.

In his nationally televised speech about Syria on 10 September, Obama laid the blame for the nerve gas attack on the rebel-held suburb of Eastern Ghouta firmly on Assad’s government, and made it clear he was prepared to back up his earlier public warnings that any use of chemical weapons would cross a ‘red line’: ‘Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people,’ he said. ‘We know the Assad regime was responsible … And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.’ Obama was going to war to back up a public threat, but he was doing so without knowing for sure who did what in the early morning of 21 August.

He cited a list of what appeared to be hard-won evidence of Assad’s culpability: ‘In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighbourhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.’ Obama’s certainty was echoed at the time by Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, who told the New York Times: ‘No one with whom I’ve spoken doubts the intelligence’ directly linking Assad and his regime to the sarin attacks.

But in recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence. One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote. A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information — in terms of its timing and sequence — to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analyzed in real time, as the attack was happening. The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy: ‘The guys are throwing their hands in the air and saying, “How can we help this guy” — Obama — “when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?”‘…()

Obama Was Lying!

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Seymour Hersh’s Latest Bombshell: U.S. Military Undermined Obama on Syria with Tacit Help to Assad

Published on Dec 22, 2015

A new report by the Pulitzer-winning veteran journalist Seymour Hersh says the Joints Chiefs of Staff has indirectly supported Bashar al-Assad in an effort to help him defeat jihadist groups. Hersh reports the Joint Chiefs sent intelligence via Russia, Germany and Israel on the understanding it would be transmitted to help Assad push back Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State. Hersh also claims the military even undermined a U.S. effort to arm Syrian rebels in a bid to prove it was serious about helping Assad fight their common enemies. Hersh says the Joints Chiefs’ maneuvering was rooted in several concerns, including the U.S. arming of unvetted Syrian rebels with jihadist ties, a belief the administration was overly focused on confronting Assad’s ally in Moscow, and anger the White House was unwilling to challenge Turkey and Saudi Arabia over their support of extremist groups in Syria. Hersh joins us to detail his claims and respond to his critics.

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MV Cape Ray FDHS

Published on Jul 2, 2014

As part of the U.N. Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Joint Mission to eliminate chemical materials from the Syrian Arab Republic, the U.S. will destroy approximately 700 metric tons of chemicals aboard the MV Cape Ray. Danish and Norwegian vessels will transport the chemicals to a yet-unnamed Italian port for transfer to the MV Cape Ray. The MV Cape Ray, part of the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Fleet, has been retrofitted with two field-deployable hydrolysis systems designed to neutralize the dangerous chemicals before disposal at a commercial facility.

MV Cape Ray’s Bridge

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False flag

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“False colors” redirects here. For the imaging technique, see False-color.

This US Douglas A-26 C Invader was painted in fake Cuban Air Force colors for the military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the CIA-sponsored paramilitary group Brigade 2506 in April 1961.

The contemporary term false flag describes covert operations that are designed to deceive in such a way that activities appear as though they are being carried out by entities, groups, or nations other than those who actually planned and executed them.[1]

Historically, the term “false flag” has its origins in naval warfare where the use of a flag other than the belligerent’s true battle flag before (but not while) engaging the enemy has long been accepted as a permissible ruse de guerre; by contrast, flying a false flag while engaging the enemy constitutes perfidy.[1]

Operations carried out during peace-time by civilian organizations, as well as covert government agencies, can (by extension) also be called false flag operations if they seek to hide the real organization behind an operation.[citation needed]

Use in warfare

In land warfare such operations are generally deemed acceptable in certain circumstances, such as to deceive enemies providing that the deception is not perfidious and all such deceptions are discarded before opening fire upon the enemy. Similarly in naval warfare such a deception is considered permissible provided the false flag is lowered and the true flag raised before engaging in battle:[2]auxiliary cruisers operated in such a fashion in both World Wars, as did Q-ships, while merchant vessels were encouraged to use false flags for protection.

Such masquerades promoted confusion not just of the enemy but of historical accounts: in 1914 the Battle of Trindade was fought between the British auxiliary cruiser RMS Carmania and the German auxiliary cruiser SMS Cap Trafalgar which had been altered to look like Carmania. (Contrary to some possibly mendacious accounts, the RMS Carmania had not been altered to resemble the Cap Trafalgar.)

Another notable example was the World War II German commerce raider Kormoran which surprised and sank the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney in 1941 while disguised as a Dutch merchant ship, causing the greatest recorded loss of life on an Australian warship. While Kormoran was fatally damaged in the engagement and its crew captured the outcome represented a considerable psychological victory for the Germans.[3]

Other examples from WWII included a Kriegsmarineensign in the St Nazaire Raid and captured a German code book: the old destroyer Campbeltown, which the British planned to sacrifice in the operation, was provided with cosmetic modifications that involved cutting the ship’s funnels and chamfering the edges to resemble a German Type 23torpedo boat.

By this ruse the British were able to get within two miles (3 km) of the harbour before the defences responded, where the explosive-rigged Campbeltown and commandos successfully disabled or destroyed the key dock structures of the port.[4][5]

Air warfare

In December 1922–February 1923, Rules concerning the Control of Wireless Telegraphy in Time of War and Air Warfare, drafted by a commission of jurists at the Hague regulates:[6]

Art. 3. A military aircraft must carry an exterior mark indicating its nationality and its military character.
Art. 19. The use of false exterior marks is forbidden.

This draft was never adopted as a legally binding treaty, but the ICRC states in its introduction on the draft that ‘To a great extent, [the draft rules] correspond to the customary rules and general principles underlying treaties on the law of war on land and at sea’,[7] and as such these two non–controversial articles were already part of customary law.[8]

Land warfare

In land warfare, the use of a false flag is similar to that of naval warfare: the trial of Otto Skorzeny, who planned and commanded Operation Greif, by a U.S. military tribunal at the Dachau Trials included a finding that Skorzeny was not guilty of a crime by ordering his men into action in American uniforms. He had relayed to his men the warning of German legal experts: that if they fought in American uniforms, they would be breaking the laws of war; however, they probably were not doing so simply by wearing the American uniforms. During the trial, a number of arguments were advanced to substantiate this position and the German and U.S. military seem to have been in agreement.

In the transcript of the trial,[9] it is mentioned that Paragraph 43 of the Field Manual published by the War Department, United States Army, on 1 October 1940, under the entry Rules of Land Warfare states “National flags, insignias and uniforms as a ruse – in practice it has been authorized to make use of these as a ruse. The foregoing rule (Article 23 of the Annex of the IVth Hague Convention), does not prohibit such use, but does prohibit their improper use. It is certainly forbidden to make use of them during a combat. Before opening fire upon the enemy, they must be discarded’.”

The American Soldiers’ Handbook was also quoted by Defense Counsel: “The use of the enemy flag, insignia, and uniform is permitted under some circumstances. They are not to be used during actual fighting, and if used in order to approach the enemy without drawing fire, should be thrown away or removed as soon as fighting begins.” Subsequently, the outcome of the trial has been codified in the 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (Protocol I):

Article 37. – Prohibition of perfidy

1. It is prohibited to kill, injure, or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy. The following acts are examples of perfidy:
(a) The feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender;
(b) The feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness;
(c) The feigning of civilian, non-combatant status; and
(d) The feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations or of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.
2. Ruses of war are not prohibited. Such ruses are acts which are intended to mislead an adversary or to induce him to act recklessly but which infringe no rule of international law applicable in armed conflict and which are not perfidious because they do not invite the confidence of an adversary with respect to protection under that law. The following are examples of such ruses: the use of camouflage, decoys, mock operations and disinformation.

Article 38. – Recognized emblems

1. It is prohibited to make improper use of the distinctive emblem of the Red Cross, Red Crescent or Red Lion and Sun or of other emblems, signs or signals provided for by the Conventions or by this Protocol. It is also prohibited to misuse deliberately in an armed conflict other internationally recognized protective emblems, signs or signals, including the flag of truce, and the protective emblem of cultural property.
2. It is prohibited to make use of the distinctive emblem of the United Nations, except as authorized by that Organization.

Article 39. – Emblems of nationality

1. It is prohibited to make use in an armed conflict of the flags or military emblems, insignia or uniforms of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.
2. It is prohibited to make use of the flags or military emblems, insignia or uniforms of adverse Parties while engaging in attacks or in order to shield, favour, protect or impede military operations.
3. Nothing in this Article or in Article 37, paragraph 1 ( d ), shall affect the existing generally recognized rules of international law applicable to espionage or to the use of flags in the conduct of armed conflict at sea.

Cyber warfare

A false flag in the cyber domain is slightly different and easier to perpetrate than in other physical theaters of war. Cyber false flags refer to tactics used in covert cyber attacks by a perpetrator to deceive or misguide attribution attempts including the attacker’s origin, identity, movement, and/or code/exploitation. This misdirection tactic can cause misattribution (permitting response and/or counterattack as a condiciosine qua non under international law) or misperception which can lead to retaliation against the wrong adversary.

Cyber false flags can exist in the cyber domain when:

  1. Weaponized cyber exploits use recycled code/variants from previous attacks;
  2. Exploits are developed to mimic the scope and complexity of other malware;
  3. Exploits are procured rather than developed;
  4. Exploits are executed from new/unknown operator command servers;
  5. Malware calls out to or connects to known operator command servers;
  6. The action or attack is outsourced;
  7. The compromise is socially engineered to misguide investigations towards other operators;
  8. The audit trail or lack thereof conceals actual intent or actions with other exploits designed to mislead investigators.

As pretexts for war

Russo-Swedish War

In 1788, the head tailor at the Royal Swedish Opera received an order to sew a number of Russian military uniforms. These were then used by the Swedes to stage an attack on Puumala, a Swedish outpost on the Russo-Swedish border, on 27 June 1788. This caused an outrage in Stockholm and impressed the Riksdag of the Estates, the Swedish national assembly, who until then had refused to agree to an offensive war against Russia. The Puumala incident allowed King Gustav III of Sweden, who lacked the constitutional authority to initiate unprovoked hostilities without the Estates’ consent, to launch the Russo-Swedish War (1788–1790).[10]

Second Sino-Japanese War

Japanese experts inspect the scene of the ‘railway sabotage’ on South Manchurian Railway

In September 1931, Japanese officers fabricated a pretext for invading Manchuria by blowing up a section of railway. Though the explosion was too weak to disrupt operations on the rail line, the Japanese nevertheless used this Mukden incident to seize Manchuria and create a puppet government for what they termed the “independent” state of Manchukuo.[11]

World War II

Gleiwitz incident

Alfred Naujocks

The Gleiwitz incident in 1939 involved Reinhard Heydrich fabricating evidence of a Polish attack against Germany to mobilize German public opinion for war and to justify the war with Poland. Alfred Naujocks was a key organiser of the operation under orders from Heydrich. It led to the deaths of Nazi concentration camp victims who were dressed as German soldiers and then shot by the Gestapo to make it seem that they had been shot by Polish soldiers. This, along with other false flag operations in Operation Himmler, would be used to mobilize support from the German population for the start of World War II in Europe.[12]

The operation failed to convince international public opinion of the German claims, and both Britain and France—Poland’s allies—declared war two days after Germany invaded Poland.[13]

Winter War

On November 26, 1939, the Soviet armyshelled Mainila, a Russian village near the Finnish border. Soviet authorities blamed Finland for the attack and used the incident as a pretext to invade Finland, starting the Winter War, four days later.[14]

Cuban Revolution

Operation Northwoods

Operation Northwoods memorandum (13 March 1962)[15]

The proposed, but never executed, 1962 Operation Northwoods plot by the U.S. Department of Defense for a war with Cuba involved scenarios such as fabricating the hijacking or shooting down of passenger and military planes, sinking a U.S. ship in the vicinity of Cuba, burning crops, sinking a boat filled with Cuban refugees, attacks by alleged Cuban infiltrators inside the United States, and harassment of U.S. aircraft and shipping and the destruction of aerial drones by aircraft disguised as Cuban MiGs.[16] These actions would be blamed on Cuba, and would be a pretext for an invasion of Cuba and the overthrow of Fidel Castro‘s communist government. It was authored by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but then rejected by President John F. Kennedy. The surprise discovery of the documents relating to Operation Northwoods was a result of the comprehensive search for records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by the Assassination Records Review Board in the mid-1990s.[17] Information about Operation Northwoods was later publicized by James Bamford.[18]

As a tactic to undermine political opponents

Reichstag fire

Main article: Reichstag fire

The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on 27 February 1933. The fire started in the Session Chamber,[19] and, by the time the police and firemen arrived, the main Chamber of Deputies was engulfed in flames. Police searched the building and found Marinus van der Lubbe, a young Dutchcouncil communist and unemployed bricklayer, who had recently arrived in Germany to carry out political activities.[citation needed]

The fire was used as evidence by the Nazis that the Communists were beginning a plot against the German government. Van der Lubbe and four Communist leaders were subsequently arrested. Adolf Hitler, who was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany four weeks before, on 30 January, urged President Paul von Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree to counter the “ruthless confrontation of the Communist Party of Germany“.[20] With civil liberties suspended, the government instituted mass arrests of Communists, including all of the Communist parliamentary delegates. With their bitter rival Communists gone and their seats empty, the National Socialist German Workers Party went from being a plurality party to the majority; subsequent elections confirmed this position and thus allowed Hitler to consolidate his power.[citation needed]

Historians disagree as to whether Van der Lubbe acted alone, as he said, to protest the condition of the German working class, or whether the arson was planned and ordered by the Nazis, then dominant in the government themselves, as a false flag operation.[21][22]

Project TP-Ajax

On 4 April 1953, the CIA was ordered to undermine the government of Iran over a four-month period, as a precursor to overthrowing Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.[23] One tactic used to undermine Mosaddegh was to carry out false flag attacks “on mosques and key public figures”, to be blamed on Iranian communists loyal to the government.[23]

The CIA project was code-named TP-Ajax, and the tactic of a “directed campaign of bombings by Iranians posing as members of the Communist party”,[24] involved the bombing of “at least” one well known Muslim’s house by CIA agents posing as Communists.[24] The CIA determined that the tactic of false flag attacks added to the “positive outcome” of Project TPAJAX.[23]

However, as “the C.I.A. burned nearly all of its files on its role in the 1953 coup in Iran”, the true extent of the tactic has been difficult for historians to discern.[25]

Pseudo-operations

Pseudo-operations are those in which forces of one power disguise themselves as enemy forces. For example, a state power may disguise teams of operatives as insurgents and, with the aid of defectors, infiltrate insurgent areas.[26] The aim of such pseudo-operations may be to gather short or long-term intelligence or to engage in active operations, in particularassassinations of important enemies. However, they usually involve both, as the risks of exposure rapidly increase with time and intelligence gathering eventually leads to violent confrontation. Pseudo-operations may be directed by military or police forces, or both. Police forces are usually best suited to intelligence tasks; however, military provide the structure needed to back up such pseudo-ops with military response forces. According to US military expert Lawrence Cline (2005), “the teams typically have been controlled by police services, but this largely was due to the weaknesses in the respective military intelligence systems.”[citation needed]

Charlemagne Péralte of Haiti was assassinated in 1919, after checkpoints were passed by military disguised as guerrilla fighters.

The State Political Directorate (OGPU) of the Soviet Union set up such an operation from 1921 to 1926. During Operation Trust, they used loose networks of White Army supporters and extended them, creating the pseudo-“Monarchist Union of Central Russia” (MUCR) in order to help the OGPU identify real monarchists and anti-Bolsheviks.[citation needed]

An example of a successful assassination was United States MarineSergeantHerman H. Hanneken leading a patrol of his HaitianGendarmerie disguised as enemy guerrillas in 1919. The Patrol successfully passed several enemy checkpoints in order to assassinate the guerilla leader Charlemagne Péralte near Grande-Rivière-du-Nord. Hanneken was awarded the Medal of Honor and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant for his deed.[citation needed]

During the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s, captured Mau Mau members who switched sides and specially trained British troops initiated the pseudo-gang concept to successfully counter Mau Mau. In 1960 Frank Kitson, (who was later involved in the Northern Irish conflict and is now a retired British General), published Gangs and Counter-gangs, an account of his experiences with the technique in Kenya; information included how to counter gangs and measures of deception, including the use of defectors, which brought the issue a wider audience.[citation needed]

Another example of combined police and military oversight of pseudo-operations include the Selous Scouts in the former country Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), governed by white minority rule until 1980. The Selous Scouts were formed at the beginning of Operation Hurricane, in November 1973, by Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Ronald Reid-Daly. As with all Special Forces in Rhodesia, by 1977 they were controlled by COMOPS (Commander, Combined Operations) Commander Lieutenant General Peter Walls. The Selous Scouts were originally composed of 120 members, with all officers being white and the highest rank initially available for black soldiers being colour sergeant. They succeeded in turning approximately 800 insurgents who were then paid by Special Branch, ultimately reaching the number of 1,500 members. Engaging mainly in long-range reconnaissance and surveillance missions, they increasingly turned to offensive actions, including the attempted assassination of Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army leader Joshua Nkomo in Zambia. This mission was finally aborted by the Selous Scouts, and attempted again, unsuccessfully, by the Rhodesian Special Air Service.[27]

Some offensive operations attracted international condemnation, in particular the Selous Scouts’ raid on a Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) camp at Nyadzonya Pungwe, Mozambique in August 1976. ZANLA was then led by Josiah Tongogara. Using Rhodesian trucks and armored cars disguised as Mozambique military vehicles, 84 scouts killed 1,284 people in the camp-the camp was registered as a refugee camp by the United Nations (UN). Even according to Reid-Daly, most of those killed were unarmed guerrillas standing in formation for a parade. The camp hospital was also set ablaze by the rounds fired by the Scouts, killing all patients.[28] According to David Martin and Phyllis Johnson, who visited the camp shortly before the raid, it was only a refugee camp that did not host any guerrillas. It was staged for UN approval.[29]

According to a 1978 study by the Directorate of Military Intelligence, 68% of all insurgent deaths inside Rhodesia could be attributed to the Selous Scouts, who were disbanded in 1980.[30]

If the action is a police action, then these tactics would fall within the laws of the state initiating the pseudo, but if such actions are taken in a civil war or during a belligerent military occupation then those who participate in such actions would not be