Bombs

The Pronk Pops Show 923, July 5, 2017, Story 1: Chinese Communists Need To Replace North Korean Kim Jung Eng To Stop Nuclear Proliferation Or Face Embargo On All Chinese Goods Going To North America and European Union –Neither Diplomatic Nor Military Options Are Viable — Conventional and Nuclear War Are Not Viable Options — Videos — Story 2: Microsoft’s Founder Bill Gates Finally Gets A Clue — Open Borders Mass Migration Is Not In The Interest of Neither The American People Nor The People of Europe — Bad Ideas Have Negative Consequences — What Is Bill Gates Afraid of? — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 923,  July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922,  July 3, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

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

Image result for cartoons communist china and north koreaImage result for cartoons communist china and north koreaImage result for cartoons open borders and mass migration into europeImage result for cartoons bill gates on mass migrationImage result for cartoons bill gates open borders

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 Story 1: Chinese Communists Need To Replace North Korean Kim Jung Eng To Stop Nuclear Proliferation In Asia and Middle East Or Face Embargo On All Chinese Goods Going To North America and European Union –Neither Diplomatic Nor Military Options Are Viable — Conventional and Nuclear War Are Not Viable Options — Videos —

Image result for north korea icbmImage result for north korea icbm

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Image result for u.s. trade imbalance with china

 

U.N. Security Council holds emergency meeting after North Korea missile test

How North Korea’s ICBM test has “changed the game”

John Bolton calls for ‘sweeping’ set of sanctions on China

Dr. Sebastian Gorka talks US response to North Korea

A military attack would need to be severe to stop North Korea: Rep. Rooney

US vows to use “military force” against North Korea if needed

Heavy move: US threatens China for trading with North Korea after missile test

THE DEBATE – North Korea Missile Threat: Old problems, new solutions?

U.S. and S. Korea respond to N. Korea’s ICBM test with missiles

North Korea tests ICBM

North Korea launches first successful intercontinental ballistic missile test

  • he current population of China is 1,388,284,755 as of Wednesday, July 5, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • China population is equivalent to 18.47% of the total world population.
  • China ranks number 1 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in China is 148 per Km2 (383 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 9,390,784 Km2 (3,625,800 sq. miles)
  • 59.1 % of the population is urban (819,767,019 people in 2017)
  • The median age in China is 37.3 years.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/china-population/

  • The current population of the Russian Federation is 143,374,281 as of Wednesday, July 5, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • Russia population is equivalent to 1.91% of the total world population.
  • Russia ranks number 9 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in Russia is 9 per Km2 (23 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 16,299,981 Km2 (6,293,455 sq. miles)
  • 73.2 % of the population is urban (104,883,814 people in 2017)
  • The median age in Russia is 38.9 years.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/russia-population/

 

  • The current population of North Korea is 25,406,349 as of Wednesday, July 5, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • North Korea population is equivalent to 0.34% of the total world population.
  • North Korea ranks number 52 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in North Korea is 211 per Km2 (546 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 120,387 Km2 (46,482 sq. miles)
  • 61.2 % of the population is urban (15,557,359 people in 2017)
  • The median age in North Korea is 34.1 years.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/north-korea-population/

  • The current population of the Republic of Korea is 50,706,772 as of Wednesday, July 5, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • South Korea population is equivalent to 0.67% of the total world population.
  • South Korea ranks number 27 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in South Korea is 522 per Km2 (1,351 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 97,235 Km2 (37,543 sq. miles)
  • 81.9 % of the population is urban (41,511,797 people in 2017)
  • The median age in South Korea is 41.1 years.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/south-korea-population/

  • The current population of Japan is 126,041,849 as of Wednesday, July 5, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • Japan population is equivalent to 1.68% of the total world population.
  • Japan ranks number 11 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in Japan is 346 per Km2 (896 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 364,571 Km2 (140,761 sq. miles)
  • 94.5 % of the population is urban (119,160,931 people in 2017)
  • The median age in Japan is 46.9 years.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/japan-population/

  • The current population of the United States of America is 326,491,238 as of Wednesday, July 5, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • The United States population is equivalent to 4.34% of the total world population.
  • The U.S.A. ranks number 3 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in the United States is 36 per Km2 (92 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 9,155,898 Km2 (3,535,111 sq. miles)
  • 82.9 % of the population is urban (270,683,202 people in 2017)
  • The median age in the United States is 38.1 years.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/us-population/

 

Countries in the world by population (2017)

This list includes both countries and dependent territories. Data based on the latest United Nations Population Division estimates.
Click on the name of the country or dependency for current estimates (live population clock), historical data, and projected figures.
See also: World Population 

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/

 

The world’s 10 biggest economies in 2017

Kayakers take in the last of the day's light as they paddle past a ship anchored off Cape Town, May 1, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: IMAGES OF THE DAY SOCIETY) - RTR2LVIK

The US dominates, but other economies are catching up
Image: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

The economy of the United States is the largest in the world. At $18 trillion, it represents a quarter share of the global economy (24.3%), according to the latest World Bank figures.

Image: World Bank

China follows, with $11 trillion, or 14.8% of the world economy. Japan is in third place with an economy of $4.4 trillion, which represents almost 6% of the world economy.

European countries take the next three places on the list: Germany in fourth position, with a $3.3 trillion economy; the United Kingdom in fifth with $2.9 trillion; and France in sixth with $2.4 trillion.

India is in seventh place with $2 trillion, and Italy in eighth with an economy of over $1.8 trillion.

Ninth place goes to Brazil, with an almost $1.8 trillion economy.

And in 10th is Canada, with an economy of over $1.5 trillion.

The economy of the United States is larger than the combined economies of numbers three to 10 on the list.

 The world's biggest economies

Fastest-growing economy

The US may not dominate for much longer, however.

Although China trails the US by $7 trillion, it’s catching up. China’s economy grew by 6.7% in 2016, compared with America’s 1.6%, according to the IMF.

China has also overtaken India as the fastest-growing large economy. The IMF’s World Economic Outlook estimated China’s economy grew at 6.7% in 2016, compared with India’s 6.6%.

Brazil’s economy has contracted in the last year by 3.5%, the only one in the top 10 to do so.

The chart above shows the world’s 40 biggest economies individually, but grouped by colour into continents.

The Asian bloc clearly has a larger share than anywhere else, representing just over a third (33.84%) of global GDP. That’s compared to North America, which represents just over a quarter, at 27.95%.

Europe comes third with just over one-fifth of global GDP (21.37%).

Together, these three blocs generate more than four-fifths (83.16%) of the world’s total output.

The biggest economies in 2050

new study by PricewaterhouseCooper says that China will be in first place by 2050, because emerging economies will continue to grow faster than advanced ones.

India will rank second, the US will be third, and fourth place is expected to go to Indonesia.

The UK could be down to 10th place by 2050, while France could be out of the top 10 and Italy out of the top 20 as they are overtaken by faster-growing emerging economies such as Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam.

The report also says that the world economy could more than double in size by 2050, far outstripping population growth, due to technology-driven productivity.

 

 

 

Image result for u.s. trade imbalance with china

Image result for u.s. trade imbalance with china

Image result for u.s. trade imbalance with china

 

Demographics

North Korea South Korea
Population 24,851,627 (July 2014 est.) 49,039,986 (July 2014 est.)
Age structure 0-14 years: 21.5% (male 2,709,580/female 2,628,456)
15-24 years: 16.3% (male 2,041,861/female 1,997,413)
25-54 years: 44% (male 5,465,889/female 5,456,850)
55-64 years: 8.6% (male 1,007,667/female 1,127,455)
65 years and over: 9.7% (male 826,175/female 1,590,281) (2014 est.)
0-14 years: 14.1% (male 3,603,943/female 3,328,634)
15-24 years: 13.5% (male 3,515,271/female 3,113,257)
25-54 years: 47.3% (male 11,814,872/female 11,360,962)
55-64 years: 12.4% (male 3,012,051/female 3,081,480)
65 years and over: 12.7% (male 2,570,433/female 3,639,083) (2014 est.)
Median age total: 33.4 years
male: 31.8 years
female: 35 years (2014 est.)
total: 40.2 years
male: 38.7 years
female: 41.6 years (2014 est.)
Population growth rate 0.53% (2014 est.) 0.16% (2014 est.)
Birth rate 14.51 births/1,000 population (2014 est.) 8.26 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Death rate 9.18 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.) 6.63 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Net migration rate -0.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.) 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Sex ratio at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.51 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
Infant mortality rate total: 24.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 27.18 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
total: 3.93 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.13 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
Life expectancy at birth total population: 69.81 years
male: 65.96 years
female: 73.86 years (2014 est.)
total population: 79.8 years
male: 76.67 years
female: 83.13 years (2014 est.)
Total fertility rate 1.98 children born/woman (2014 est.) 1.25 children born/woman (2014 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate NA less than 0.1% (2009 est.)
Nationality noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS NA 9,500 (2009 est.)
Religions traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way)
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom
Christian 31.6% (Protestant 24%, Roman Catholic 7.6%), Buddhist 24.2%, other or unknown 0.9%, none 43.3% (2010 survey)
HIV/AIDS – deaths NA fewer than 500 (2009 est.)
Languages Korean Korean, English (widely taught in junior high and high school)
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2008 est.)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 99.2%
female: 96.6% (2002)
Education expenditures NA 5% of GDP (2009)
Urbanization urban population: 60.3% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 0.63% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
urban population: 83.2% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 0.71% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Drinking water source improved:
urban: 98.9% of population
rural: 96.9% of population
total: 98.1% of population
unimproved:
urban: 1.1% of population
rural: 3.1% of population
total: 1.9% of population (2012 est.)
improved:
urban: 99.7% of population
rural: 87.9% of population
total: 97.8% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0.3% of population
rural: 12.1% of population
total: 2.2% of population (2012 est.)
Sanitation facility access improved:
urban: 87.9% of population
rural: 72.5% of population
total: 81.8% of population
unimproved:
urban: 12.1% of population
rural: 27.5% of population
total: 18.2% of population (2012 est.)
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population0% of population
0% of population
0% of population (2012 est.)
Major cities – population PYONGYANG (capital) 2.843 million (2011) SEOUL (capital) 9.736 million; Busan (Pusan) 3.372 million; Incheon (Inch’on) 2.622 million; Daegu (Taegu) 2.447 million; Daejon (Taejon) 1.538 million; Gwangju (Kwangju) 1.503 million (2011)
Maternal mortality rate 81 deaths/100,000 live births (2010) 16 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
Physicians density 3.29 physicians/1,000 population (2003) 2.02 physicians/1,000 population (2010)
Hospital bed density 13.2 beds/1,000 population (2002) 10.3 beds/1,000 population (2009)
Obesity – adult prevalence rate 3.9% (2008) 7.7% (2008)
Contraceptive prevalence rate 68.6% (2002) 80%
note: percent of women aged 15-44 (2009)
Dependency ratios total dependency ratio: 44.9 %
youth dependency ratio: 31.1 %
elderly dependency ratio: 13.8 %
potential support ratio: 7.2 (2014 est.)
total dependency ratio: 37.1 %
youth dependency ratio: 19.9 %
elderly dependency ratio: 17.2 %
potential support ratio: 5.8 (2014 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook

http://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/compare/north-korea.south-korea/demographics

 

 

Story 2: Microsoft’s Founder Bill Gates Finally Gets A Clue — Open Borders Mass Migration Is Not In The Interest of Neither The American People Nor The People of Europe — Bad Ideas Have Negative Consequences — What Is Bill Gates Afraid of? — Videos

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Bill Gates in HUGE borders U-turn: ‘Brussels must make it HARDER for migrants to reach EU’

BILL GATES has made a massive open-borders U-turn and urged Brussels to make it more “difficult” for migrants to reach Europe.

By JOEY MILLAR

He had previously called on countries to take in more migrants but now appears to have completely reversed his view.The Microsoft chief said instead of opening the  borders, Brussels should fix the push-factors at the source by sending more foreign aid.He said: “On the one hand you want to demonstrate generosity and take in refugees, but the more generous you are, the more word gets around about this – which in turn motivates more people to leave Africa.
“[ cannot] take in the huge, massive number of people who are wanting to make their way to Europe.”He said instead the EU must make it “more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via the current transit routes” while also relieving “enormous pressure” by sending foreign aid.
The 61-year-old said it was “phenomenal” German Chancellor  is currently spending 0.7 per cent of the country’s GDP on foreign aid and urged others to follow its example.Last year Mr Gates, who is worth an estimated 60 billion pounds, called on America to open its doors to Syrian migrants.
And he said Germany and Sweden were “to be congratulated” for opening its doors during the migrant crisis.He said the USA “had the capacity” to follow suit, claiming: “The total number of refugees is not a world record.”

Bill Gates migrantsGETTY

Bill Gates called on Europe to open its borders to migrants last year

Bill Gates migrantsGETTY

Last year Bill Gates praised Germany and Sweden’s approach to the migrant crisis

Mr Gates’ warnings came days after Italian interior minister Marco Minniti held emergency talks with his French and German counterparts regarding the migrant crisis.More than 80,000 migrants have already arrived in Italy this year, a rise of nearly one-fifth on the same period last year.

 

 

Bill Gates warns that Germany’s open door policy to migrants will overwhelm Europe and urges leaders to ‘make it more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via current routes’

  • Bill Gates warned of ‘huge’ number of migrants waiting to come to Europe 
  • He said generosity of European leaders will only encourage more to come 
  • 61-year-old said Europe must make it more difficult for people to cross border
  • Instead he suggested spending more money on foreign aid to treat the problem

Bill Gates has warned that European leaders risk deepening the migrant crisis by being too generous to those arriving on the continent.

The Microsoft founder said countries such as Germany will not be able to handle the ‘huge’ numbers of migrants waiting to leave Africa and find a better life overseas.

Instead, the 61-year-old suggested spending more on foreign aid to treat the root causes of migration, while making it more difficult for people to reach the continent.

Bill Gates warned European leaders they will worsen the migrant crisis by being over-generous to those arriving on the continent, and suggested spending more on foreign aid instead

Bill Gates warned European leaders they will worsen the migrant crisis by being over-generous to those arriving on the continent, and suggested spending more on foreign aid instead

Mr Gates said countries such as Germany cannot handle the 'huge' numbers of people wanting to travel to Europe (pictured, migrants arrive in Munich)

Mr Gates said countries such as Germany cannot handle the ‘huge’ numbers of people wanting to travel to Europe (pictured, migrants arrive in Munich)

Speaking in an interview with the German Welt am Sonntag newspaper, with a translation published by Breitbart, he said: ‘On the one hand you want to demonstrate generosity and take in refugees.

‘But the more generous you are, the more word gets around about this — which in turn motivates more people to leave Africa.

‘Germany cannot possibly take in the huge number of people who are wanting to make their way to Europe.’

Mr Gates praised Chancellor Merkel’s commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid as ‘phenomenal’, and asked other European leaders to follow suit.

But he added: ‘Europe must make it more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via the current transit routes.’

His own foundation has spent years and invested hundreds of millions of dollars to fight poverty and disease in Africa.

Mail Online contacted the foundation for comment, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

Mrs Merkel has been heavily criticised for her previous policy of open-door migration which saw 1million people arrive in Germany in a single year.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has been criticised for her previous policy of open-door migration. Italian interior minister Marco Minniti raised the prospect of closing ports to private ships helping migrants ashore earlier this week

It is thought that 82,000 migrants, largely from North Africa, have arrived in Italy since the start of the year, with 2,000 drowning in their efforts to cross

It is thought that 82,000 migrants, largely from North Africa, have arrived in Italy since the start of the year, with 2,000 drowning in their efforts to cross

Video playing bottom right…

At the time conservative European politicians warned that providing migrants with an open door into Europe would make the problem worse.

Mr Gates’ comments came as Italian interior minister Marco Minniti held emergency talks with his French and German counterparts over the migrant crisis.

Mr Minniti has threatened to close Italian ports to privately-funded vessels helping to rescue migrants from ships in the Mediterranean.

He said that other European nations must agree to shoulder some of the burden, or Italy will cut funding to those refusing to help.

An estimated 82,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, up 19 per cent on previous year, The Telegraph reports.

A German government report which leaked to the Bild newspaper suggests there could be up to 6.6million people trying to get into Europe, including 2.5million waiting to cross from North Africa.

It is thought that 2,000 people have lost their lives making the crossing since the start of the year.

Mr Gates’ comments also came after the G20 Africa Conference which took place in Berlin last month.

The summit aimed to discuss ways to improve economic growth, develop infrastructure, and strengthen private investment across the continent.

Austrian troops lock down border

Austria is sending 750 soldiers to its border with Italy in order to head off and expected influx of migrants.

The troops will join four armoured personnel carriers already stationed at the Alpine Brenner Pass to impose checks on those trying to cross.

The move comes after 82,000 migrants landed on Italian shores in the first six months of this year, and the country’s government demanded that other EU nations share the burden.

Austria is sending 750 troops to its southern border with Italy in order to head off an expected influx of migrants (pictured, riot police face off against protesters over the last time border checks were imposed)

Austria is sending 750 troops to its southern border with Italy in order to head off an expected influx of migrants (pictured, riot police face off against protesters over the last time border checks were imposed)

‘I expect border controls will be introduced very soon,’ Defence Minister Peter Doskozil said on Tuesday.

Both Italy and Austria are members of the European Union’s Schengen open-border zone, but free movement has been jeopardised by the reimposition of controls at many crossings across the bloc since the surge in migrants seen in 2015 and 2016.

There was no immediate comment from Italy or EU officials, but Doskozil’s spokesman said there was no concrete timetable for the new controls.

The spokesman added: ‘We’ll see how the situation in Italy is becoming more acute and we have to be prepared to avoid a situation comparable to summer 2015.’

Armoured vehicles were used by Austrian authorities during the migrant influx of 2015 to block roads and stem the flow, and would be used in a similar way this time around, authorities said.

Meanwhile the 750 troops would be able to descend on the region within 72 hours should the need arise.

The troops will join four armoured vehicles in the areas around Brenner Pass (pictured) and would be used to block roads and impose checks on arrivals

The troops will join four armoured vehicles in the areas around Brenner Pass (pictured) and would be used to block roads and impose checks on arrivals

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4665198/Bill-Gates-warns-open-door-migration-overwhelm-Europe.html#ixzz4lzmvTBwo

 

Bill Gates: Europe Will Be Overwhelmed Unless It Stems Flow of Migrants

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned that Africa’s population explosion will overwhelm Europe unless the continent makes it more difficult for migrants to reach its shores.

The American billionaire’s comments come as European leaders discuss what to do about the surging number of Africans arriving in Italy each week, with Rome calling for other European Union (EU) nations to open their ports to docking migrants so as to ease pressure on the Mediterranean nation.

In an interview with the German Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Gates said massive population growth in Africa will result in “enormous [migratory] pressure” on Europe unless countries increase overseas development aid payments.

Praising Germany having achieved its commitment to devote 0.7 per cent of GDP to foreign aid as “phenomenal”, the 61-year-old called on “other European nations to follow its example”.

But Gates also spoke of a dilemma caused by ‘the German attitude to refugees’, referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to open Europe’s borders to illegal migrants arriving from the third world.

“On the one hand you want to demonstrate generosity and take in refugees, but the more generous you are, the more word gets around about this  — which in turn motivates more people to leave Africa,” Gates told the Sunday newspaper.

“Germany cannot possibly take in the huge, massive number of people who are wanting to make their way to Europe.”

Because of this, Gates stressed that “Europe must make it more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via the current transit routes”.

Italy is demanding that other EU nations open their ports to migrants ferried from Libya as the country struggles to cope with having already received over 80,000 people this year.

Calling for African newcomers to be spread throughout Europe, the Mediterranean nation’s globalist centre-left government insisted that the EU migrant relocation programme  — which is largely limited to people from Eritrea and Syria  — should be expanded to include other nationalities, such as Nigerians.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, on Saturday decried an “unfolding tragedy” in Italy.

“Without a swift collective action, we can only expect more tragedies at sea,” he declared, noting that around 2,000 migrants have lost their lives on the sea route from Libya to Italy this year.

The Italian diplomat repeated calls for an “urgent distribution system” for incoming migrants and asylum seekers, and “additional legal pathways to admission”.

 

05 July 2017 – 05H40

Bye-bye locals: Europe’s city centres sound alarm

 © AFP / by Daniel Bosque and Michaela Cancela-Kieffer | Barcelona’s picturesque Gothic Quarter has gone from residential district to tourist magnet, as deserted buildings full of history make way for quaint hotels

BARCELONA (AFP) – Memories of the past come flooding back as Manuel Mourelo strolls through Barcelona’s picturesque Gothic Quarter: children playing, fun with the neighbours, traditional bars… But now, “all of that has disappeared.”

Hordes of tourists fill the narrow, winding alleys on guided tours, bike and Segway rides, while residents have deserted buildings full of history to make way for quaint hotels and tourist rentals — an issue that affects popular spots Europe-wide.

Last year, Mourelo himself joined the exodus out of a district he had lived in since 1962 when he came to the Spanish seaside city from Galicia in the northwest.

The flat he had been renting for 25 years was sold to an investor and he was evicted. Having paid 500 euros ($560) a month in rent, he was unable to find anything else affordable in the area.

“They were asking for 1,000, 1,200, 1,500 euros,” says the 76-year-old, his face framed by thick glasses and a bushy moustache.

“This was my village. I had it all here, my friends, my shops, I got married here, my children were born here, and I thought I would die here.

“I feel displaced,” he adds, his eyes welling up.

– ‘Emptying out’ –

According to the city hall, the fixed population in the Gothic district so loved by tourists has dropped from 27,470 residents in 2006 to just 15,624 at the end of 2015.

Now, 63 percent are “floating” residents — tourists or people in short-term lets.

At the same time, according to real-estate website Idealista, rental prices in Ciutat Vella, where the Gothic Quarter is located, have gone from 14.4 to 19 euros per square metre in just two years.

Rising rental prices, noise and crowds jostling for space in the streets and the disappearance of traditional, everyday stores have all contributed to forcing people out for economic reasons… or due to sheer frustration.

The arrival of Airbnb and other such home-renting platforms has only aggravated the problem, locals say.

“We’re not talking about gentrification, about substituting the original population by another more wealthy one,” says Gala Pin, a councillor in Ciutat Vella.

“We’re talking about the historic centre emptying out.”

For sociologist Daniel Sorando, co-author of “First We Take Manhattan,” an essay that analyses the phenomenon in various cities, the trend is towards “urban centres conceived as machines to make money while the working classes are displaced outside.”

– Paris, Amsterdam, London –

The problem also affects cities further afield.

In Paris, concerned residents of the 4th district, where Notre-Dame Cathedral is located, organised a symposium on the “invisible desertification” of city centres in March.

The city hall in the French capital said earlier this year that it had lost 20,000 housing units in five years, partly to tourist rentals.

This contributes to a “rise in prices” and a “drop in the population,” Ian Brossat, in charge of housing for Paris’ city hall, told AFP.

In Amsterdam, meanwhile, the ING bank found that owners could earn 350 euros more per month with seasonal rentals, pushing the prices up, Senne Janssen, author of the study, told AFP.

To try and remedy the situation, Paris, London and Amsterdam want to regulate the duration of rentals and register all flats and houses being used for short-term lets in order to better control them.

In Berlin, people are only allowed to rent out one room in their home since last year, and the whole flat or house if it is a secondary or occasional use pied-a-terre.

– ‘Too few to impact’ –

Barcelona, whose mayor Ada Colau is a former anti-eviction housing activist, has chosen to be even more strict.

The city hall last year imposed a 600,000-euro fine on home rental platforms Airbnb and HomeAway for marketing lodgings that lacked permits to host tourists.

But Airbnb Spain says housing problems existed before.

In Ciutat Vella, for instance, “there is three times more empty accommodation (that is not being rented out) than accommodation ads on Airbnb,” says Spain spokesman Andreu Castellano.

And research in cities like Berlin, Los Angeles, London and Barcelona into occupancy shows that “the amount of accommodation put online for purely professional use (rented out more than 120 days a year) is too low to have an impact,” Airbnb adds.

– ‘Tourism fast food’ –

Hard data on the impact of seasonal rentals on accommodation prices are few and far between, but all experts questioned by AFP said these could worsen the situation in already saturated areas.

Barcelona has been particularly hard hit by a rise in prices as investors are attracted by the profitability of a city that sees some 30 million visitors annually.

Sergi Leiva, of real-estate firm MK Premium, says half of his clients are foreigners, who are looking for a second home or a good investment.

And for those who hold on tight despite the prices, life is far from peaceful with the crowds, noise and lack of convenience stores.

“If the prices don’t throw you out, daily pressure does,” says Marti Cuso, a 27-year-old local activist in Barcelona.

Raised in the district, he is the only one among his friends to still live there.

For Socorro Perez, an expert in human geography, the outcome is “cities without residents, dead districts.”

“Cities transform into ‘clusters’ of entertainment and consumption, into tourism fast food.”

by Daniel Bosque and Michaela Cancela-Kieffer

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 898, May 23, 2017, Story 1: Suicide Bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, Killed 22 and Wounded 119 In Radical Islamic Terrorist Attack in Manchester, England — Islamic State Claims Responsibility — President Trump Calls Them “Evil Losers” — Videos — Story 2: Budget Director Mulvaney Presents President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 U.S. Federal Budget — Dead On Arrival — Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) Rampant in Congress — $500-$600 Billion Deficit in Fiscal Year 2018! — Videos — Story 3: Where is The Evidence of Collusion, Conspiracy, or Coordination Between Russians and Trump Campaign? and Where is The Evidence of Collusion, Conspiracy, or Coordination Between Foreign Governments and Clinton Campaign and Clinton Foundation? — Videos

Posted on May 23, 2017. Filed under: American History, Bombs, Breaking News, Congress, Countries, Crime, Culture, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Elections, Employment, European History, Federal Government, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Great Britain, Hate Speech, History, Homicide, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Independence, Islamic State, Language, Law, Life, Media, Medicare, Music, News, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Second Amendment, Senate, Social Security, Spying, Success, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, United Kingdom, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, War, Wealth, Weapons, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Image result for manchester england suicide bomber Suicide Bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi

This graphic shows where the explosion took place, in the foyer area, leading towards Victoria railway station Image result for trump budget proposal

Story 1:  Suicide Bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi,  Killed 22 and  Wounded 119 In Radical Islamic Terrorist Attack in Manchester, England — Islamic State Claims Responsibility — President Trump Calls Them “Evil Losers” — Videos

Image result for manchester england suicide bomberImage result for manchester england suicide bomber Suicide Bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi

Trump calls Manchester masterminds ‘evil losers’

U.K.’s Theresa May on Manchester Terror Attack

Lt. Col. Shaffer: Manchester terror attack is symbolic

Trump reacts to Manchester attack

Manchester police confirm identity of concert bomber

Published on May 23, 2017

The suicide bomber at an Ariana Grande concert has been identified as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, Manchester Police confirmed at a news conference Tuesday. Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins also said a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the attack. See the full news conference.

Who was behind the Manchester terror attack?

Manchester remains on edge following terror attack.

 

Manchester bomber identified: Latest in terror investigation

Last Updated May 23, 2017 3:03 PM EDT

LONDON — Police on Tuesday identified the man who blew himself up the previous night at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, as 22-year-old Salman Abedi. CBS News confirmed Abedi was known to British authorities prior to the attack.

In a generic statement posted online, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for Abedi’s suicide bomb attack, which left 22 people dead, including children, at one of the entrances to the Manchester Arena.

Officials said one man was arrested Tuesday in southern Manchester in connection with the attack, and urged people to avoid the center of the city as raids continued at addresses around the city.

Police and British Prime Minister Theresa May made it clear the focus of the investigation was to determine whether the bomber “was acting alone, or was part of a wider group.”

ISIS issued its claim of responsibility in a brief, generic statement that did not identify the bomber and appeared to get some of the facts of the attack wrong. It claimed a “caliphate soldier managed to place a number of devices among a gathering of crusaders in Manchester, and detonated them.”

Officials say there was only one explosion, and there have been no indications that other devices were discovered at or near the arena.

U.S. intelligence sources told CBS News they were exercising caution on the early claim of responsibility from ISIS. Authorities are still looking into whether it was a killer who acted alone or who might have had some level of support from the terror network. U.S. intelligence officials were offering assistance in the investigation, as is standard practice in any case involving a close ally.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, noted in Congress on Tuesday that ISIS frequently claims responsibility for terror attacks, and their claim has yet to be verified by U.S. officials.

Testifying in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Coats said the Manchester attack should serve as a reminder that the terrorist threat is “not going away and it needs significant attention.”

ISIS has repeatedly called for its supporters in the West to attack “soft targets” like sports events and concerts in any way possible.

Previous attacks in Europe and the U.S. have been claimed by individuals who support ISIS and have made contact with its members, but who were not directly supported or guided by the terror network.

Manchester police confirmed the arrest of a 23-year-old man in the southern Chorlton neighborhood of the city on Tuesday morning. The suspect taken into custody was not identified, but police said the arrest was linked to the bombing. Witnesses said the man was smiling as he was apprehended.

Police also confirmed that officers had conducted a controlled explosion at the scene of a separate raid connected to the arena attack in the Fallowfield neighborhood, in south Manchester.

According to British election rolls, Abedi was listed as living at the modest red brick semi-detached house in Fallowfield where police performed the controlled explosion.

Theo Brown, who lives near the Fallowfield address, told CBS News he heard a loud explosion and then saw about 50 law enforcement officers in the street.

The bomb wielded by Abedi was designed to kill and maim as many people as possible; many of the survivors suffered shrapnel wounds and ball bearings were found at the scene.

There was security at the concert, but the bomber apparently didn’t try to get into the venue, instead blowing himself up in an entrance foyer area as concert-goers flooded out of the arena. Prime Minister May said the attacker had deliberately chosen “his time and place to cause maximum carnage” in the young crowd.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ariana-grande-concert-manchester-arena-bombing-suspect-salman-abedi-isis-claim/

‘He was chanting Islamic prayers loudly in the street’: Neighbours of British-born suicide bomber – a keen Manchester United fan and son of airport security worker – tell of his ‘strange behaviour’ in the weeks before deadly attack

  • Manchester Arena concert suicide bomber has been named as Salman Abedi 
  • Terrorist was killed in the blast as he murdered 22 after Ariana Grande concert
  • Raids on address believed to be Abedi’s, where controlled explosion took place, and his brother Ismail’s address, where police arrested a 23-year-old man
  • Neighbours described Abedi as an abrasive, tall, skinny young man who was little known in the neighbourhood, and often seen in traditional Islamic clothing 
  • ISIS claimed today that one of its fanatics was responsible for the massacre
  • The ranting message threatened further attacks on ‘worshippers of the Cross’ 

The imam of the Mosque attended by Manchester Salman Abedi has revealed the suicide bomber looked at him ‘with hate’ when he gave a sermon criticising ISIS.

It comes as neighbours of the British-born Manchester United fan described his ‘strange behaviour’ in the weeks before he slaughtered 22 people.

The 22-year-old attacker, described as an abrasive, tall, skinny young man who was often seen in traditional Islamic clothing, was heard ‘chanting prayers loudly in the street’ outside his home in the south of the city.

Abedi is the third of four children by Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime.  They are believed to have lived in the Fallowfield area of south Manchester for at least ten years.

Last night, Abedi murdered and maimed concert goers as they left Manchester Arena after an Ariana Grande concert.

Armed police prepare to raid ‘home of Manchester suicide bomber’

This is the moment anti-terror police swooped to arrest a man over last night’s ISIS suicide bomb atrocity at Manchester Arena

Neighbours of British-born Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi have revealed his 'strange behaviour' in the weeks before he slaughtered 22 people

Neighbours of British-born Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi have revealed his ‘strange behaviour’ in the weeks before he slaughtered 22 people

A forensic investigator emerged from the house carrying a booklet called 'Know Your Chemicals'

A forensic investigator emerged from the house carrying a booklet called ‘Know Your Chemicals’

Mohammed Saeed, the imam of Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre (pictured), said Abedi had looked at him 'with hate' after he gave a sermon criticising ISIS

Mohammed Saeed, the imam of Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre (pictured), said Abedi had looked at him ‘with hate’ after he gave a sermon criticising ISIS

ISIS this morning claimed responsibility and threatened further attacks, saying ‘one of the caliphate’s soldiers placed bombs within a gathering of the Crusaders’.

Mohammed Saeed, the imam of Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre, said Abedi had looked at him ‘with hate’ after he gave a sermon criticising ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya in 2015.

He said the vast majority of people at the mosque were with him but a few signed a petition against him, reports the Guardian.

Mr Saeed said: ‘Salman showed me a face of hate after that sermon. He was showing me hatred.’

Forensic officers raid ‘home of Manchester suicide bomber’

Police were seen clutching a 'know your chemicals' manual as they carried out a raid at the property

Police were seen clutching a ‘know your chemicals’ manual as they carried out a raid at the property

He added that a friend was so worried for his safety that he got his adult children to sit beside Amedi in case he attacked the imam.

Police are trying to determine whether Abedi, a former Burnage Boys Academy pupil who appears to have been radicalised within the last couple of years, acted alone or was part of a wider terror cell.

There were unconfirmed reports that the whole family, apart from the two elder sons, recently returned to their native Libya.

It comes as dramatic pictures emerged showing anti-terror police swooping to arrest a 23-year-old man in Manchester over last night’s atrocity.

Abedi grew up in the Whalley Range area of the city, just yards from the school which hit the headlines in 2015 when twins and aspiring medical students, Zahra and Salma Halane, fled their homes and moved to Syria.

He is registered as having lived with his mother Samia Tabbal, father Ramadan, a former airport security worker, and a brother, Ismail, who was born in Westminster in 1993.

Separate pictures show raids at what is believed to have been Abedi’s home in Fallowfield, where a controlled explosion took place, and his brother Ismail’s address, where a 23-year-old man was arrested.

One neighbour claimed they heard Abedi chanting Islamic prayers at the home just weeks before the concert hall atrocity.

Police are urgently trying to work out whether Salman Abedi, who killed 22 last night as thousands of young people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert, was acting alone or whether he was 'part of a network'

Police are urgently trying to work out whether Salman Abedi, who killed 22 last night as thousands of young people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert, was acting alone or whether he was ‘part of a network’

A father carries away his daughter away following the suspected terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert 

A father carries away his daughter away following the suspected terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert

This was the scene inside the Manchester Arena last night after the suspected terror attack at the teen concert

This was the scene inside the Manchester Arena last night after the suspected terror attack at the teen concert

A major police operation is underway this morning to determine whether the suicide attacker who detonated a nail bomb at Manchester Arena last night was part of a terror cell

A major police operation is underway this morning to determine whether the suicide attacker who detonated a nail bomb at Manchester Arena last night was part of a terror cell

Forensic officers were seen emerging from the property carrying a police-issue booklet called ‘Know Your Chemicals’.

Lina Ahmed, 21, told MailOnline: ‘They are a Libyan family and they have been acting strangely.

‘A couple of months ago he [Salman] was chanting the first kalma [Islamic prayer] really loudly in the street. He was chanting in Arabic.

‘He was saying ‘There is only one God and the prophet Mohammed is his messenger’.’

Abedi’s former school friend Leon Hall told MailOnline he saw the killer last year and said he had grown a beard.

He also said the jihadist was a keen Manchester United fan.

Hall, 26, and Abedi lived close to each other in a row of run down terraced houses in the Moss Side area of Manchester.

They later ended up living next door to each other in a nearby street and went to the same school.

Hall said: ‘I saw him last year and he had a beard thing going on. We didn’t speak but just nodded to each other. I don’t remember seeing him with beard before.’

Hall said they grew up playing together on the street around their home.

‘He and I had a tussle many years ago when we were kids. It was over nothing, but he always had a bit of an attitude problem. I can’t say I really liked the man.’

A large police presence, including armed officers, was seen outside an address about a mile from the scene of the arrest

A large police presence, including armed officers, was seen outside an address about a mile from the scene of the arrest

Forensics wearing white suits were called to an address in Greater Manchester after a police operation

Forensics wearing white suits were called to an address in Greater Manchester after a police operation

Hall, who was sat outside his home with his sister, said Abedi was a Muslim.

Other family members at the house, who asked not to be named, confirmed that Abedi was a Muslim.

Hall said:’ I remember that he was a big Man Utd fan. I don’t think he went to the games but would follow them.’

Aerial shots showed police descending on a house in Fallowfield, Manchester as part of the investigation into the bombing massacre last night

Aerial shots showed police descending on a house in Fallowfield, Manchester as part of the investigation into the bombing massacre last night

Abedi, who lived in a housing association owned home about two miles from the scene of Monday night’s terror attack.

He later moved 400 yards away to another terraced home. The area is predominantly occupied by immigrants with many of the terraced homes housing newly arrived immigrants.

The current occupiers of the three-bedroom home where Abedi lived more than a decade ago said they had never met him or his family.

‘They were already gone when we moved in,’ said a woman clutching a small baby.

‘We do not know them and have never spoken to them.’

Abedi is understood to have attended Claremont Primary School a short distance from his home.

Officers are combing CCTV to determine whether the attacker carried out a ‘recce’ of the arena before detonating a nail bomb as thousands were leaving the concert.

The suicide attacker is said to have been ‘known’ to the authorities and anti-terrorist officers are going through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage trying to ‘pick him up’ during his journey to the arena.

Officers also believe that he will have carried out a ‘recce’ to the giant venue in recent days and a separate team are studying footage going back into the past week.

Footage shows officers arresting a 23-year-old man outside a Morrisons supermarket in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, south Manchester this morning

Footage shows officers arresting a 23-year-old man outside a Morrisons supermarket in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, south Manchester this morning

Police probing last night's terror attack said a 23-year-old man has been arrested outside a supermarket in south Manchester in connection with the arena massacre

Police probing last night’s terror attack said a 23-year-old man has been arrested outside a supermarket in south Manchester in connection with the arena massacre

Non-uniform anti-terror officers wearing masks to conceal their faces were seen emerging from a Black Mercedes before arresting a man outside a Morrison's in Chorlton

Non-uniform anti-terror officers wearing masks to conceal their faces were seen emerging from a Black Mercedes before arresting a man outside a Morrison’s in Chorlton

Forensic and bomb squad officers are studying the remains of the device recovered so far but initial indications are that the bombmaker had used a ‘level of sophistication’ suggesting he had received training and not made it from ‘a terror recipe’ on the Internet.

One security source told MailOnline: ‘It is unlikely that if the device was sophisticated that the suicide bomber made it – experience shows that organisations are reluctant to ‘waste’ the expertise of a bombmaker in an attack, preferring to keep him or her for another attack.

ISIS WARNS OF MORE ATTACKS

ISIS this morning claimed responsibility for the atrocity in a ranting statement that threatened further attacks on ‘worshippers of the Cross.

‘With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of the Khilafah managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders in the British city of Manchester,’ the statement said.

It added that the massacre was ‘revenge for Allah’s religion… in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims.

‘The explosive devices were detonated in the shameless concert arena.

‘What comes next will be more severe on the worshipers of the Cross and their allies.’

‘It is therefore highly likely that this terrorist is part of a cell or had a support network and they are the priority.

‘Are there other devices, other terrorists out there and you can expect to see raids carried out in the next 48 hours linked to this.’

Detectives are also studying the bomber’s links to Syria or other jihadi hotbeds amid intelligence that he may have travelled abroad to the region.

At least 16 convicted or dead jihadi terrorists are known to have come from a small area of Manchester and several surveillance operations on suspects from the region have been on-going.

Possible links to ISIS-inspired cells involved in the Belgium, Paris and Stockholm attacks are also being examined.

Less than 24 hours after the atrocity ISIS claimed responsibility for the murders.

The extremists were quick to call the killer one of their soldiers, as has become the trend in the wake of many recent attacks in Europe.

According to the SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadist groups, the ISIS statement described the explosion as having taken place at a ‘shameless concert arena’.

Casualties are stretchered out of the concert on Monday evening after a terror attack in the Ariana Grande concert

Casualties are stretchered out of the concert on Monday evening after a terror attack in the Ariana Grande concert

Police confirm 22 people are now confirmed dead after Manchester attack

They appeared to wrongly state that a number of explosive devices had been detonated, when police have said the attacker was carrying one bomb.

Part of the investigation into what happened is probing whether the killer was acting alone or as part of a network. ISIS has previously encouraged lone wolf attacks against Westerners.

Monday night’s carnage came as a result of a method described by some terror experts as more ‘sophisticated’ than other recent attacks in Europe.

The apparent suicide bombing tactic is markedly different from lone wolf Khalid Masood’s car and knife rampage in Westminster earlier this year.

Theresa May this morning said that police believe they know the identity of the attacker.

Children were among the 22 people killed as the explosion tore through fans leaving the pop concert at about 10.30pm last night.

Some 119 people were also injured in the blast caused by an improvised explosive device carried by the attacker, who was also killed.

Experts say the bomber employed a ‘sophisticated’ method of attack using a a device packed with nuts and bolts, so-called ‘dockyard confetti’, to cause maximum damage.

Former police officer and counter-terrorism expert Chris Phillips described the latest attack to hit the UK as ‘a step up’.

This distressing picture purportedly shows the inside of the arena after the suicide attack at the Ariana Grande concert - its veracity has been confirmed by the two witnesses

This distressing picture purportedly shows the inside of the arena after the suicide attack at the Ariana Grande concert – its veracity has been confirmed by the two witnesses

The identity of the attacker, who was also killed, is not yet known and the deadly blast is being treated as an act of terrorism

The identity of the attacker, who was also killed, is not yet known and the deadly blast is being treated as an act of terrorism

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, from Preston, was killed when a suicide bomber let off a nail bomb at a packed pop concert last night

Another victim of the terror attack has been named locally as 18-year-old Georgina Callander. It is feared many children are among those killed, as well as parents who had accompanied their youngsters to the concert or were picking them up

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos (left), from Preston, and 18-year-old Georgina Callander (right) have been named as victims. It is feared many children are among those killed, as well as parents who had accompanied their youngsters to the concert or were picking them up

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think the point is that this was obviously a planned attack and that will involve people looking at the venue and seeing how the venue operates.

‘And also the fact that it sounds like this was a strapped on suicide belt and also from what we just heard, perhaps, with what we call dockyard confetti which is the little bits of nuts and bolts that are attached to the vest.

‘And those unfortunately are there deliberately to kill people and that’s the whole purpose of them. This does look like a step up and my worry, and I think the police’s worry now, is that this person probably wasn’t acting alone and there are other people that to be captured.’

Britain’s terrorist threat level stands at ‘severe,’ the second-highest rung on a five-point scale, meaning an attack is highly likely. Counter-terrorism police have said they are making on average an arrest every day in connection with suspected terrorism.

For the second time in two months, police and security services are embarking on a major terror investigation.

A Twitter account - which was unverified - posted this hours before the attack, warning of a terror attack 
The Twitter account also posted this picture of the ISIS flag with the hashtag 'Manchester Arena' 

A Twitter account – which was unverified – posted this four hours before the attack

Several ISIS-friendly accounts posted the hashtag #ManchesteArena and #ArianaGrande

Several ISIS-friendly accounts posted the hashtag #ManchesteArena and #ArianaGrande

None of the ISIS fan pages have claimed responsibility for last night's terror attack 

None of the ISIS fan pages have claimed responsibility for last night’s terror attack

The bomber is believed to have entered a foyer area of the venue through doors opened to allow young music fans to leave

The bomber is believed to have entered a foyer area of the venue through doors opened to allow young music fans to leave

As with the Westminster atrocity in March, in which five were killed, the most pressing question is whether the individual behind the Manchester blast was a so-called ‘lone wolf’ or part of a wider terror cell.

The working theory is that the perpetrator triggered the blast alone but the national police counter-terror network, assisted by MI5, are urgently piecing together his background to see whether he had any help in planning the outrage.

They will be looking to build a picture of the attacker’s movements both in recent weeks and months as well as immediately before the strike.

Another priority will be to establish whether any further linked attacks or copycat incidents are planned.

It is likely that the bomber’s communications will form a significant part of the inquiry, while investigators will also be checking if he was known to authorities in any way.

One area of focus will be examining the remnants of the device used in the attack as officers work to establish whether the perpetrator built it himself or had help.

As well as seeking to identify any potential accomplices in Britain, authorities will also be looking into the possibility of any link to international groups.

HOW BRITAIN HAS SUFFERED AT THE HANDS OF EXTREMISTS

After Britain as struck by terror again, here are some of the terrible events suffered by the country at the hands of extremists in recent years:

May 22, 2017: Twenty-two people – including children – are killed and around 59 injured during a terrorist bombing at a pop concert in Manchester.

It is thought a lone suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device as crowds of music fans, many of them youngsters, left the Manchester Arena following a performance by US artist Ariana Grande.

Concert-goers and witnesses have described the chaos after 'huge bomb-like bangs' went off in Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande gig

Concert-goers and witnesses have described the chaos after ‘huge bomb-like bangs’ went off in Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande gig

March 22, 2017: Five people are killed when an Islamist extremist launched a car and knife attack in central London.

Khalid Masood drove a hired car over Westminster Bridge, near the Houses of Parliament, mounted the pavement and hit pedestrians before crashing into railings outside the Palace of Westminster.

He stabbed Pc Keith Palmer, 48, to death and also killed US tourist Kurt Cochran, Romanian tourist Andreea Cristea, 31, plus Britons Aysha Frade, 44, and 75-year-old Leslie Rhodes. Masood was shot dead by police.

June 16, 2016: Labour MP Jo Cox is murdered outside her constituency office in Batley, West Yorkshire.

The mother-of-two, 41, was shot and stabbed multiple times by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair. He was later handed a whole-life prison sentence for her murder.

Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered by Islamic extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale

Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered by Islamic extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale

December 5, 2015: A lone attacker attempts to behead a passenger during an ISIS-inspired rampage in the ticket hall of Leytonstone Underground station in east London.

Somali-born Muhiddin Mire targeted strangers at random during the attack on December 5 2015 before slashing fellow passenger Lyle Zimmerman, 56, with a knife.

The schizophrenic was sent to Broadmoor Hospital after being given a life sentence with a minimum term of eight years for attempted murder.

May 22, 2013: Fusilier Lee Rigby is murdered by Islamic extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale.

The 25-year-old serviceman was walking near his barracks in Woolwich, south-eastLondon, when the pair rammed him with his car before attempting to hack off his head with knives.

The killers were jailed for life at the Old Bailey in February 2014.

June 30, 2007: Two men inspired by Islamist extremism ram a 4×4 laden with petrol and propane tanks into the main terminal of Glasgow Airport. One of the attackers died in the incident and five people were injured.

July 7, 2005: Four suicide bombers kill 52 and injure hundreds of others in blasts on the London Underground network and a bus.

Twenty-six died in the bombing at Russell Square on the Piccadilly line, six in the bombing at Edgware Road on the Circle line, seven in the bombing at Aldgate on the Circle line, and 13 in the bombing on a bus at Tavistock Square.

In the first hours after an attack on this scale investigators will be sifting through a number of theories as they work to settle on the most likely lines of inquiry.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Supporters of the ISIS, which holds territory in Iraq’s Mosul and around its de facto capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa, celebrated the blast online.

One wrote: ‘May they taste what the weak people in Mosul and (Raqqa) experience from their being bombed and burned,’ according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group.

Focus will now turn on why Manchester was selected as a target.

It comes two months after a 35-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman were arrested at an address in West Didsbury, Manchester on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts.

The raids were linked to the Westminster attack that month in which Khalid Masood killed five and injured more than 50 by driving through crowds of tourists.

Earlier this year, Manchester-born jihadi Jamal Al-Harith was killed carrying out an ISIS suicide car bomb attack in Iraq.

Shortly after detonating the explosive-laden car near an army base, ISIS released a statement revealing al-Harith had been fighting for them under the name Abu Zakariya al-Britani.

Leaked ISIS documents later claimed he was recommended to the terror group by Raphael Hostey, a 24-year-old jihadi based in the northern city.

This graphic shows where the explosion took place, in the foyer area, leading towards Victoria railway station 

This graphic shows where the explosion took place, in the foyer area, leading towards Victoria railway station

Hostey is thought to have encouraged dozens of British Muslims to travel to Syria – including close friends Mohammad Azzam Javeed and Anil Khalil Raoufi – before being killed in a drone strike last May.

Last year, two British brothers from Manchester were killed fighting for ISIS in Syria.

Khalif Shariff, 21, and 18-year-old Abdulrahman are understood to have left their home in the city and travelled to the war-torn country in November 2014.

In 2015, Pakistani student Abid Naseer was convicted in a U.S. court of conspiring with al Qaeda to blow up the Arndale shopping centre in the centre of Manchester in April 2009.

In September, a Manchester florist was stunned after his image was used in an ISIS magazine.

Stephen Leyland, 64, was interviewed by counter-terrorism police after a photograph of him standing next to flowers was used in the Rumiyah publication.

The ranting 38-page magazine was one of many pieces of propaganda aimed at encouraging violence in the West.

It called for attacks on Britons and urged supporters of the terror group to take ‘even the blood of a merry Crusader citizen selling flowers to passersby’.

Two months later, fanatics urged lone-wolf attackers to ‘open the door to jihad’ in a video showing how to make a bomb and decapitate people.

Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins revealed the suicide bomber 'was carrying an improvised explosive device'

Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins revealed the suicide bomber ‘was carrying an improvised explosive device’

Forensics have been called in to examine the scene as police attempt to identify the attacker

Forensics have been called in to examine the scene as police attempt to identify the attacker

The instructional video, called ‘Explanation of How to Slaughter Disbelievers’, featured a balaclava-wearing terrorist in a kitchen explaining how to make bombs.

According to the terror monitoring group SITE, the bomb expert took viewers on a step-by-step guide on how to make deadly explosives.

Approximately 850 people from the UK have travelled to support or fight for jihadist organisations in Syria and Iraq, according to British authorities.

About half have since returned to the UK, with more than 100 people having been convicted foroffences relating to the conflict.

Former global terrorism operations director at MI6, Richard Barrett, said, while the attack was more sophisticated than recent ones, it does not automatically mean the person responsible was trained abroad to carry out the massacre.

He told Today: ‘I think people can build bombs, we have seen that in the past that it may be not that complicated to build a bomb which has an effect on the people immediately around you as this one certainly did.

‘Yeah, sure that’s a bit more sophisticated clearly than driving a car into people or stabbing them with a knife but I’m not sure that it requires somebody to go to Syria for example, to have training there to get that sort of expertise so I’m sure the police will be very interested indeed to look at whoever is responsible, what he has been doing over the last months.’

Witnesses reported hearing a 'huge bang' at the venue shortly after US singer Ariana Grande's gig finished

Witnesses reported hearing a ‘huge bang’ at the venue shortly after US singer Ariana Grande’s gig finished

A child was spotted clutching a balloon while wrapped in a foil wrap following the terror attack at the Manchester Arena

A child was spotted clutching a balloon while wrapped in a foil wrap following the terror attack at the Manchester Arena

Concert-goers helped injured people away from the gig last night. Witnesses describe the scene as 'like a warzone'

Concert-goers helped injured people away from the gig last night. Witnesses describe the scene as ‘like a warzone’

This photo shows the aftermath of the suicide bomb which ripped through the foyer of the venue killing parents and children

This photo shows the aftermath of the suicide bomb which ripped through the foyer of the venue killing parents and children

He said the security services face a ‘real challenge’ in monitoring potential threats and said investigations must involve ‘engagement’ with communities.

He said: ‘I think in terms of additional security it’s much more on that intelligence side, on engagement with the community, on trying to understand better why people do this sort of thing than it is on putting up more bollards or, as you say, moving the choke point of security just a bit further away.’

He described the attack, targeted at concert-goers including children, as ‘very, very cynical’.

He added: ‘That is why it is so important to understand, I think, whether this person was connected with other people, whether it was in some way directed by an organised group.

‘What was the intention behind it, in the broader strategic sense?’

The Manchester attack was the deadliest in Britain since four suicide bombers killed 52 London commuters on three subway trains and a bus in July 2005.

Pop concerts and nightclubs have been a terrorism target before. Almost 90 people were killed by gunmen inspired by ISIS at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris during a performance by Eagles of Death Metal in November 2015.

In Turkey, 39 people died when a gunman attacked New Year’s revelers at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul.

Manchester was hit by a huge Irish Republican Army bomb in 1996 that leveled a swath of the city center. More than 200 people were injured, though no one was killed.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4534224/Security-agents-know-Ariana-Grande-concert-bomber-s-name.html#ixzz4hwHwxSJE

Story 2: Budget Director Mulvaney Presents President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 U.S. Federal Budget —  Taxpayers First Budget — Videos

Image result for trump budget proposalImage result for Tax Payer first budgetImage result for Tax Payer first budgetImage result for Tax Payer first budgetImage result for trump budget proposal

Image result for trump budget proposal

Mulvaney: Trump’s Budget Puts Taxpayers First

Mulvaney Explains Trump Budget—Cuts For Poor, More For Military – Full Event

Trump’s new budget proposal: What’s in and what’s out

BREAKING Trump Just Cut Off Food Stamps For 2 MASSIVE Groups…Americans Are CHEERING! – News

Chuck Todd DESTROYS OMB DIR. MICK MULVANEY FOR TRUMP’S UNBALANCED BUDGET

Heritage Experts Analyze Trump’s Budget

May 23rd, 2017

Today, the Trump administration officially unveiled their first complete budget proposal called “A New Foundation for American Greatness.” Below is reaction from Heritage experts on the president’s plans:

Balancing the Budget

The president’s budget seeks to balance in no more than 10 years. This is a laudable and important goal that fiscal conservatives should keep their eye on. The budget does this in part with sensible mandatory spending reforms to Medicaid, welfare and disability programs. This budget proposal also follows the right approach on discretionary spending, by prioritizing national defense in a fiscally responsible way, with offsetting cuts to domestic programs that are redundant, improper, or otherwise wasteful. As is so often the case, however, the devil is in the details. Long-term budget solvency must include reforms to the largest entitlement programs: Medicare and Social Security. These programs alone consume 4 of every 10 federal dollars, and they are expanding. Moreover, this budget would rely on $2 trillion in economic feedback effects for deficit reduction, a figure that is highly uncertain. Greater spending cuts would have lent more fiscal credibility. Overall, this budget takes important strides toward cutting the federal government down to size.” —Romina Boccia, Deputy Director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies and the Grover M. Hermann fellow in federal budgetary affairs

Defense

“Though the White House is right to call for more, much-needed defense funding, $603 billion represents only a $16.8-billion increase from the Obama administration’s meager planned defense spending for 2018. A $603 billion budget for 2018 might be enough to stop the immediate deterioration and cuts in forces, but it will certainly not be enough to reverse the ravages already experienced. Perhaps the most heartening thing about this request is the administration’s follow-through on its expressed intent to repeal the defense budget caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which have been both disruptive and destructive to military readiness.

The U.S. military—in both size and readiness—has shrunk to historically low levels, all while its budget has been held hostage to domestic policy whims.  Naysayers downplay the poor state of the military. But those who deny the existence of readiness problems are contradicted by the repeated testimony of dozens of senior uniformed and civilian military leaders. Those leaders uniformly agree that today’s military is desperately overtaxed and under-resourced. As the Heritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength reports, today our armed forces would be severely challenged to execute our defense strategy with the current force.

The Heritage Foundation has proposed a 2018 funding level of $632 billion. It includes proposals for defense reform and savings to help restore our military’s strength and punch. Lawmakers finally need to demonstrate that they take the duty to provide for the common defense quite seriously. Lip service is not enough. We must begin to provide our men and women in uniform the equipment and resources they need to defend our country. Congress must hear and heed the Pentagon’s candid voice in the upcoming budget debates. And lawmakers must then act to begin rebuilding our depleted military now.” —Thomas Spoehr, Director of Heritage’s Center for National Defense

Transportation and Infrastructure

“The administration’s budget contains a number of laudable transportation and infrastructure proposals that reform wasteful or improper programs while empowering states and the private sector to meet the nation’s burgeoning transportation needs. Many of the reforms were recommended by the Heritage Foundation in its roadmap for $1.1 trillion in infrastructure investment and Blueprint for Balance, including: structural reform of our outdated Air Traffic Control system; reforming the wasteful Essential Air Service program; and auctioning off valuable spectrum for private use. Also encouraging is the proposal to reform the financing of the nation’s inland waterways infrastructure, which has long required modernization.

“However, many questions about the Administration’s signature infrastructure proposal remain. Worrisomely, the budget includes an additional $200 billion in spending as a placeholder for ‘private/public infrastructure investment’ with few details as to how the funds will be allocated. Details regarding the plan and whether they will be offset with meaningful cuts elsewhere will be crucial in evaluating the plan and ensuring a repeat of the 2009 stimulus boondoggle is avoided. In addition, the Budget includes a proposal to assume Highway Trust Fund spending levels fall to revenue levels—a savings of $15 billion to $20 billion per year. While limiting trust fund spending to revenues would be excellent policy, it is highly unlikely Congress will decide to rein in its overspending out of the Highway Trust Fund, which it has carried on for nearly 10 years. Simply assuming these savings will accrue without putting forward a substantive proposal to ensure that Congress stops its mismanagement of the trust fund would represent a nearly $100 billion budget gimmick and cannot be considered to have a real budgetary impact.

“While the Budget contains many worthwhile reforms, more details regarding the administration’s infrastructure proposal are required in order to form a comprehensive evaluation of the administration’s infrastructure agenda.” —Michael Sargent, Policy Analyst in Heritage’s Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity

Education

“The Trump administration’s full budget for education for FY 2018 would make some long-overdue cuts at the Department of Education, eyeing reductions in spending totaling $9.2 billion – a 13.6 percent cut in the agency’s current $68 billion annual budget. That type of reduction signals a serious commitment to reducing federal intervention in education – a necessary condition to make space for a restoration of state and local control.” —Lindsey Burke, Director of Heritage’s Center for Education Policy

Healthcare

“If enacted, the President’s budget would be a major down payment on federal entitlement reform. It cannot be overemphasized that analysts and economists, often of very different political persuasions, are united in their conviction that policymakers must take decisive steps to slow the growth of federal entitlement spending. By putting Medicaid on a budget—either through a fixed allotment to the states in the form of a block grant or a per capita cap—the Trump budget would give state officials much needed flexibility in managing the program and better target services to the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens.” —Robert Moffit, Senior Fellow in Heritage’s Center for Health Policy Studies.

Tax Reform

“A month ago President Trump proposed a true tax cut for the American people. The President’s Budget assumes economic growth will make up the lost revenue, after including revenue reductions from Obamacare repeal. The budget proposal does not spell out exactly how the new tax code would accomplish this. The feasibility of the assumed three percent annual growth rate is highly dependent on the ultimate design of tax, regulatory, and other reforms – but we should continue to be optimistic that the economy is indeed able to sustain such growth. Regardless, updating the tax code while lowering tax rates for all Americans does not need to rely so heavily on economic growth. In combination with spending cuts, President Trump and Congress can provide tax and spending relief for the American people.” —Adam Michel, Policy Analyst in Heritage’s Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

Border Security 

“Given the intentional neglect towards border security that was a hallmark of the Obama administration, this additional funding that will improve physical security, as well as increase the technology, agents, officers, and equipment needed to actually enforce our immigration laws and secure the border, should be rapidly approved by Congress.”  —Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow in Heritage’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

GDP Projections

“The president’s budget includes very optimistic economic growth projections, which are a key ingredient in getting the debt under control and reaching budget balance by 2027. The growth projections have two flaws and one strength.

“The first flaw is that the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline—the rate of growth expected with no change to policy—is probably too optimistic to begin with. CBO has been forced to lower its future growth forecast every year since 2009. The second flaw is that the plan expects the president’s policies to sustain growth rates at the outer limit of pro-market optimism despite unfavorable demographics.

“The president’s economic projections do have a major data point in their favor: they represent a return toward the long-run trend in per capita GDP. That deviation from trend is partly to blame on the stultifying economic policies of the previous decade. Removing those constraints will be the first step in restoring the income growth to which Americans are long accustomed. With the right policies, 3 percent real GDP growth could be within the realm of the feasible. It would certainly be desirable.

“A restoration of growth will not, however, follow automatically from enacting the president’s agenda. A lot of other things have to go right as well as policy. So the president’s plan to eliminate the deficit and control the debt should not depend so much on things outside his control. Limiting the growth of entitlement spending would be a more certain path to balance than relying on historical forces.” —Salim Furth, Research Fellow in macroeconomics in Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis

http://www.heritage.org/budget-and-spending/commentary/heritage-experts-analyze-trumps-budget

Trump 2018 Budget Puts Tax Reform In Jeopardy

Federal taxes, spending, deficits, debt and politics.

The Trump fiscal 2018 budget that was released last night was a huge missed opportunity by the administration to switch from campaigning to governing. The Trump budget has next-to-no chance of being adopted or implemented by Congress, makes a government shutdown this fall far more likely and puts tax reform in serious jeopardy.

The Trump 2018 budget clearly is designed to appeal to no one but the Trump base. Not only does it make no effort to broaden interest in and support for the president’s program, but the budget’s extremely harsh spending cuts are almost certain to make opposition from both Democrats and moderate Republicans much, much easier.

This enhanced, enthusiastic and self-assured Democratic and Republican resistance to the Trump budget will greatly complicate congressional efforts to pass a fiscal 2018 budget resolution that were problematic even before the president submitted his plan.

Yes, the Trump budget will appeal to the House Freedom Caucus. Indeed, rather than having the work done in house, the White House seems to have outsourced its budget to the HFC and it’s budget philosophy.

But the HFC-preferred spending proposals that on the surface so appeal to the Trump base (let’s see how these voters feel when they realize how many of these cuts will affect them personally) will be eagerly opposed en masse by House Democrats. That will once again put GOP moderates — who after repeal and replace, the Comey firing and the president’s dwindling approval numbers are increasingly nervous about their reelection — in the position to determine whether the House can pass a budget resolution.

But if the Trump budget is any indication, it’s not clear that the White House or HFC will be willing to deal to comply with what the moderates will want.

Even if the House did manage to adopt a budget resolution with the extreme proposals in the Trump budget, that is almost certain to be opposed by enough Senate Republicans and all Senate Democrats to make passage in that house impossible. The Senate leadership then would have to choose between no budget resolution this year or developing a more restrained budget that its members could support.

No budget resolution would be a huge problem because it would prevent the use of the no filibuster reconciliation rules for tax reform (Reconciliation can only happen if a Congress adopts a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions). That may make a much more moderate budget resolution with far fewer (as in almost none) spending cuts the only way to move tax reform forward.

But that type of budget resolution would be a total repudiation of the Trump 2018 budget and yet another huge defeat for the White House. Although he won’t be able to veto the budget resolution to stop the legislative rout, Trump could retaliate by vetoing any fiscal 2018 appropriations that reflect Congress’s rejection of his spending priorities. Given that there’s not likely to be enough votes to override those vetoes, one, several or all federal agencies and departments could be forced to shut down this fall.

This situation would have been completely different had Trump chosen to govern rather than campaign and submitted a 2018 budget that reflected political realities instead of political arrogance. Had that happened, the budget would have been hailed as the start of a cooperative effort between the White House and Congress that showed Trump as a political and legislative force.

Instead, by the end of this week, the Trump 2018 budget is very likely to be nothing more than a political artifact that will have accomplished nothing.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stancollender/2017/05/23/trump-2018-budget-puts-tax-reform-in-jeopardy/#5c49685e4e29

Story 3: Where is The Evidence of Collusion, Conspiracy, or Coordination Between Russians and Trump Campaign? and Where is The Evidence of Collusion, Conspiracy, or Coordination Between Foreign Governments and Clinton Campaign and Clinton Foundation? — Videos

Trey Gowdy Questions Former CIA Director John Brennan!

EVERY Trey Gowdy Question To John Brennan During Russia Interference Hearing 5/23/17

Brennan stopped short of describing Russia collusion

“Russians Have Purchased Influence from Democrats” – Newt Gingrich on Russian Democrat Connection

The Clinton Foundation Scandal Explained

Gingrich: Hillary Clinton can’t come to grips with reality

FOX’s James Rosen: FBI Sources Confirm ‘Public Corruption Case’ Against Clinton Foundation

Fox: FBI “Actively And Aggressively” Probing Clinton Foundation Corruption, “A Lot” Of Evidence

Woodward On Clinton Foundation “It’s Corrupt”

Clinton Foundation Scandal – Hillary Clinton Public Corruption – Andrew Napolitano – Stuart Varney

Published on Aug 10, 2016

Clinton Foundation Scandal – Hillary Clinton Public Corruption – Judge Andrew Napolitano – Stuart Varney

Foreign Donors Buying Political Influence Through The Clinton Global Initiative?

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The Pronk Pops Show 882, April 27, 2017, Story 1: Senators Briefed At White House — Trump Administration Seeks To Stop North Korea Nuclear and Missile Testing But Not Regime Change — Land War Would Result in Millions of Causalties On Both Sides — Strategic Patience 2.0 — “tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners” — Videos — Story 2: Trump Accomplishments: One Supreme Court Justice and Canceling Obama Executive Orders — Issuing Executive Orders Are Not Results — Grade: Good Start But Incomplete — Videos

Posted on April 28, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Empires, Employment, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, History, House of Representatives, Human, Japan, Life, Media, MIssiles, National Interest, Nerve Gas, News, North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, President Trump, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Senate, South Korea, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Weather, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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Image result for 26 april senators briefed at executive office building on north korea

Image result for president trump cartoons north korea

Image result for president trump cartoons north korea

Story 1: Senators Briefed At White House — Trump Administration Seeks To Stop North Korea Nuclear and ICBM Testing But Not Regime Change — Land War Would Result in Millions of Casualties On Both Sides — Strategic Patience 2.0 — “tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners” — Videos —

Image result for cartoons branco trump north korea

Senators gather at Entire U.S. Senate attends White House meeting on North Korea

White House for North Korea briefing

TRUMP WARNS OF ‘MAJOR, MAJOR CONFLICT’ WITH NORTH KOREA ⚠

4/27/17, Interview with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson | Trump show

Bret Baier Rare Must-See Interview with Rex Tillerson – Special Report April 27, 2017

President Trump’s North Korea strategy

US prepared to take action against North Korea

What are President Trump’s options to take on North Korea?

President Donald Trump: North Korea Has ‘Gotta Behave’ | NBC Nightly News

Why tension between the US and N. Korea will only get worse

Who Are North Korea’s Allies?

How Does North Korea Have Nuclear Weapons?

The past 48 hours in Trump’s bizarre, ever-changing North Korea policy, explained

White House’s 14-page ‘100 Days of Accomplishments’ memo is leaked after Trump calls 100-day standard for achievement ‘ridiculous’

  • The list goes into detail about everything Trump plans to take credit for by the end of next weekend
  • The administration publicly bristles at the idea of being judged on just 100 days of work
  • ‘I think it’s got to be kept in context,’ White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday, calling it a ‘sort of artificial number’

Donald Trump‘s administration is preparing for a 100th-day victory lap, even as the White House emphasizes the arbitrary nature of evaluating the president’s performance on the basis of the idea of such a short period of time.

‘I think it’s got to be kept in context,’ White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday. ‘There is this sort of artificial number that gets thrown out.’

‘The context is – it’s 100 days. You have four years in your first term and eight years for two terms.’

Yet a 14-page draft titled ‘100 Days Of Accomplishments’ lists in detail everything the administration plans to take credit for by the end of next weekend.

WHAT 'HUNDRED DAYS'? Donald Trump has tried to downplay the significance of the 'First 100 Days' performance metric usually applied to new presidents, but his administration already has a 14-page-long list of accomplishments

WHAT ‘HUNDRED DAYS’? Donald Trump has tried to downplay the significance of the ‘First 100 Days’ performance metric usually applied to new presidents, but his administration already has a 14-page-long list of accomplishments

NOT SO MUCH: The document includes examples of accomplishments like the Syria airstrikes, but also the travel ban that has been held up in federal courts

NOT SO MUCH: The document includes examples of accomplishments like the Syria airstrikes, but also the travel ban that has been held up in federal courts

The document, first published by CNN, reads like the opposition research memos produced by the Republican National Committee’s research department, with each item followed by a citation in parentheses – and a link to an online document backing it up.

But instead of being a hit-piece meant to tear an opponent down, the list is intended to give administration officials a list of talking points to emphasize in Trump’s defense.

It runs the gamut from trade and job creation to immigration and national security, and ends with a reference to the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Also included is ‘Travel Restrictions On Select Countries,’ the president’s travel-ban order that was quickly put on hold in federal court.

Of the 37 items overall, 23 of them were the result of executive orders or memoranda, directing federal agencies to take the kinds of action that don’t require buy-in from Congress.

WHO WROTE IT? The White House memo is formatted like opposition research papers produced at the Republican Party's headquarters

WHO WROTE IT? The White House memo is formatted like opposition research papers produced at the Republican Party’s headquarters

'RIDICULOUS': On Friday Trump used that word to describe the idea of measuring his performance based on less than 15 weeks of work

‘RIDICULOUS’: On Friday Trump used that word to describe the idea of measuring his performance based on less than 15 weeks of work

White House press secretary Sean Spicer pooh-poohed the 'first 100 days' standard on Monday, but then rattled off a list of the president's 'unbelievable' accomplishments

White House press secretary Sean Spicer pooh-poohed the ‘first 100 days’ standard on Monday, but then rattled off a list of the president’s ‘unbelievable’ accomplishments

Trump signs executive orders on financial services

President Trump was openly critical of President Barack Obama during his campaign for relying on unilateral executive orders to accomplish his agenda, instead of going through the legislative process.

Despite downplaying the significance of an arbitrary 100-day evaluation benchmark, Spicer leapt to defend the administration’s record – saying of the president that ‘it is unbelievable what he has been able to do.’

‘When you look at the number of pieces of legislation, the executive orders, business confidence, the place – the U.S.’s role in the world, there’s a lot that we feel, accomplishments that have occurred,’ he said.

‘And we feel very good about what we’ve done as we head up to this first 100 days. But I think you’re going to continue to see a lot of action and a lot of results going into the second 100 days, the third 100 days, all the way through.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4441558/Trump-100-Days-Accomplishments-memo-leaked.html#ixzz4fbNUpI3i
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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The Pronk Pops Show 877, April 20, 2017, Story 1: Ashes to Ashes Dust to Dust Bomb North Korea If You Must — Videos — Story 2: Obama’s Iran Nuclear Agreement Legacy Heading Towards The Wastebasket? No. Certification Granted and Sanctions Suspended — All Talk–No Action — Bad Appeasement Deal Stands — Videos– Story 3: Radical Islamic Terrorist Attack In Paris, France Target Police One Officer Killed and One Wounded and One Shooter Killed and One Escaped — Videos — Story 4 Republicans Return Repeal Replace Obamacare — Compromise Should Pass House by April 28, 2017 Videos —

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Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 821: January 20, 2017

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Story 1: Ashes to Ashes Dust to Dust Bomb North Korea If You Must — Videos —

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Iran could be the next North Korea

Tillerson Threatens Iran: ‘The Great Destabilizer’?

Trump Shies Away From Striking Down Obama Era Iran Deal: Why It Doesn’t Matter

What’s In The Iran Nuclear Deal?

Implementation of the JCPOA: Is It Working?

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson described a landmark Iran nuclear deal as a failure on Wednesday, only hours after the State Department said Tehran was complying with its terms. But the top United States diplomat stopped short of threatening to jettison the 2015 agreement that was brokered by world powers, or saying whether the Trump administration would punish Iran with new sanctions.

The whiplash left Republicans on Capitol Hill, who had universally excoriated the agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program and voted against its implementation, uncertain of how to respond. Its architects, however, said they were cautiously optimistic that the deal would stay in place.

The nuclear deal “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran,” Mr. Tillerson said. “It only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state.”

He said that Iran continued to threaten the United States and the rest of the world, and he announced that the Trump administration was reviewing ways to counter challenges posed by Tehran.

It was an attempt to clarify a State Department certification, issued shortly before a midnight deadline on Tuesday, that said Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement that also eased crippling international sanctions against the Islamic republic’s economy. During the 2016 campaign, President Trump denounced the agreement as “the worst deal ever,” and Vice President Pence promised to rip it up.

In a hastily called news conference at the State Department on Wednesday, Mr. Tillerson likened Iran to North Korea, whose nuclear weaponry and burgeoning missile technology is what the administration now believes is the gravest risk to world peace and security. Mr. Pence visited Seoul, South Korea, this week to declare that the United States was united with its allies to stem North Korea’s threat.

The Iran deal “represents the same failed approach to the past that brought us to the current imminent threat that we face from North Korea,” Mr. Tillerson told reporters. “The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran. The evidence is clear: Iran’s provocative actions threaten the United States, the region and the world.”

Once the National Security Council completes a review of the nuclear deal, Mr. Tillerson said, “we will meet the challenges Iran poses with clarity and conviction.”

Hours earlier, late on Tuesday night, Mr. Tillerson sent a terse letter to Speaker Paul D. Ryan pledging to evaluate whether earlier suspension of sanctions against Iran, as required under the terms of the nuclear agreement, “is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

A man of few words, Mr. Tillerson has sometimes found that his cryptic remarks create more confusion than clarity among allies, friends and even adversaries. Earlier on Wednesday, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, offered little additional information about the Iran certification. He refused to say whether the Trump administration would add the Iran deal to a series of other stunning foreign policy reversals it has made by deciding to retain it instead of ripping it up or renegotiating the agreement as promised.

“I think part of the review, the interagency process, is to determine where Iran is in compliance with the deal and to make recommendations to the president on the path forward,” Mr. Spicer said.

The enigmatic remarks left top Republicans on Capitol Hill nonplused. Senator Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican who led congressional opposition to the Iran deal, said in a statement that the administration’s “certification is shaky, and it doesn’t mean that the intentions behind Iran’s nuclear program are benign.”

Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the Trump administration appeared to be preparing a tougher line against Iran.

“Secretary Tillerson made clear that regardless of Iran’s technical compliance with the nuclear deal, the administration is under no illusion about the continued threat from Tehran and is prepared to work closely with Congress to push back,” Mr. Corker said in a statement on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s certification extends sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for continued constraints on its nuclear program. American sanctions, as approved by Congress, were suspended instead of revoked; they can be reimposed with the stroke of a presidential pen.

The Trump administration has given itself 90 days to complete its review, but it will need to make a series of decisions in coming weeks about whether to continue its support of the deal, which was also brokered with Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. Those governments, along with representatives of the United States and Iran, will meet next week in Vienna to review the pact’s progress.

Mr. Trump faces a mid-May deadline, as imposed by Congress, to decide whether to continue the suspension of sanctions.

Backing away from the agreement would spur enormous consternation across Europe and in Moscow.

In their first congratulatory phone calls to Mr. Trump after his electoral victory, both President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany emphasized the need to keep the Iran deal in place. And after her first meeting with Mr. Tillerson in February, Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign minister, said the Trump administration pledged “to stick to the full strict implementation of the agreement in all its parts.”

Analysts and former government officials said it was unlikely the Trump administration would renounce the Iran agreement.

“I’m glad this deal has held up to this point, and I hope it continues to hold up,” said Wendy Sherman, a former under secretary of state who was deeply involved in negotiating terms of the deal during the Obama administration.

Robert Einhorn, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who was involved in Iran policy under President Barack Obama, said it was “pretty much a foregone conclusion” that Mr. Trump would keep the nuclear agreement in place.

Still, the administration has sought since its first days in office to ratchet up pressure on Iran. In January, before he resigned, Michael T. Flynn, then the national security adviser, walked into the White House briefing room and declared that the administration was “officially putting Iran on notice” after it launched a ballistic missile.

The Trump administration has returned the United States to closer ties with its traditional Arab friends in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Part of those ties means supporting those nations, which are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, in their intense rivalry with Iran, a Shiite power.

By contrast, by the end of his second term, Mr. Obama had begun to view those sectarian tensions with a jaundiced eye, believing the United States should not intervene in a millennium-old religious struggle.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Tillerson attended a United States-Saudi Arabia chief executive summit meeting where he declared that he was “pleased to be here today to reaffirm the very strong partnership that exists between the United States and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a group that sought to defeat the Iran deal, said the administration may still walk away from the agreement or renegotiate it. He contended that the administration “should not be bound by arms control agreements that are deeply flawed.”

And even Ms. Sherman shied away from predicting it will remain in place. “I’m taking this one day at a time,” she said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/19/world/middleeast/trump-administration-grudgingly-confirms-irans-compliance-with-nuclear-deal.html?_r=0

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
Iran Talks Vienna 14 July 2015 (19067069963).jpg

Officials announcing the agreement.
Created 14 July 2015
Ratified N/A (ratification not required)
Date effective
  • 18 October 2015 (Adoption)[1]
  • 16 January 2016 (Implementation)[2]
Location Vienna, Austria
Signatories Iran, P5+1, European Union
Purpose Nuclear non-proliferation

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA; Persian: برنامه جامع اقدام مشترک‎, translit. barnāme jāme‘ eqdām moshtarak‎, acronym: برجامBARJAM),[3][4] known commonly as the Iran deal or Iran nuclear deal, is an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security CouncilChina, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany),[a] and the European Union.

Formal negotiations toward the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program began with the adoption of the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in November 2013. For the next twenty months, Iran and the P5+1 countries engaged in negotiations, and in April 2015 agreed on an Iran nuclear deal framework for the final agreement and in July 2015, Iran and the P5+1 agreed on the plan.

Under the agreement, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years. For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%. Iran also agreed not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time. Uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years. Other facilities will be converted to avoid proliferation risks. To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities. The agreement provides that in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council nuclear-related economic sanctions.

Background

A nuclear weapon uses a fissile material to cause a nuclear chain reaction. The most commonly used materials have been uranium 235 (U-235) and plutonium 239 (P-239). Both uranium 233 (U-233) and reactor-grade plutonium have also been used.[7][8][9] The amount of uranium or plutonium needed depends on the sophistication of the design, with a simple design requiring approximately 15 kg of uranium or 6 kg of plutonium and a sophisticated design requiring as little as 9 kg of uranium or 2 kg of plutonium.[10] Plutonium is almost nonexistent in nature, and natural uranium is about 99.3% uranium 238 (U-238) and 0.7% U-235. Therefore, to make a weapon, either uranium must be enriched, or plutonium must be produced. Uranium enrichment is also frequently necessary fornuclear power. For this reason, uranium enrichment is a dual-use technology, a technology which “can be used both for civilian and for military purposes”.[11] Key strategies to prevent proliferation of nuclear arms include limiting the number of operating uranium enrichment plants and controlling the export of nuclear technology and fissile material.[9][11]

Iranian development of nuclear technology began in the 1970s, when the U.S. Atoms for Peace program began providing assistance to Iran, which was then led by the Shah.[12] Iran signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1968 as a non-nuclear weapons state and ratified the NPT in 1970.[12]

In 1979, the Iranian Revolution took place, and Iran’s nuclear program, which had developed some baseline capacity, fell to disarray as “much of Iran’s nuclear talent fled the country in the wake of the Revolution.”[12] Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was initially opposed to nuclear technology; and Iran engaged in a costly war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988.[12]

Starting in the later 1980s, Iran restarted its nuclear program, with assistance from Pakistan (which entered into a bilateral agreement with Iran in 1992), China (which did the same in 1990), and Russia (which did the same in 1992 and 1995), and from the A.Q. Khan network.[12] Iran “began pursuing an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle capability by developing a uranium mining infrastructure and experimenting with uranium conversion and enrichment.”[12] According to the nonpartisan Nuclear Threat Initiative, “U.S. intelligence agencies have long suspected Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover for clandestine weapons development.”[12] Iran, in contrast, “has always insisted that its nuclear work is peaceful”.[13]

In August 2002, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian dissident group, publicly revealed the existence of two undeclared nuclear facilities, the Arak heavy-water production facility and the Natanz enrichment facility.[12][14] In February 2003, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami acknowledged the existence of the facilities and asserted that Iran had undertaken “small-scale enrichment experiments” to produce low-enriched uranium for nuclear power plants.[12] In late February, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors visited Natanz.[14] In May 2003, Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the Kalaye Electric Company, but refused to allow them to take samples, and an IAEA report the following month concluded that Iran had failed to meet its obligations under the previous agreement.[14]

In June 2003, Iran—faced with the prospect of being referred to the UN Security Council—entered into diplomatic negotiations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the EU 3).[12][14] The United States refused to be involved in these negotiations.[14] In October 2003, the Tehran Declaration was reached between Iran and the EU 3; under this declaration Iran agreed to cooperate fully with the IAEA, sign the Additional Protocol, and temporarily suspend all uranium enrichment.[12][14] In September and October 2003, the IAEA conducted several facility inspections.[12] This was followed by the Paris Agreement in November 2004, in which Iran agreed to temporarily suspend enrichment and conversion activities, “including the manufacture, installation, testing, and operation of centrifuges, and committed to working with the EU-3 to find a mutually beneficial long-term diplomatic solution”.[12]

In August 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-liner, was elected president of Iran. He accused Iranian negotiators who had negotiated the Paris Accords of treason.[14][15] Over the next two months, the EU 3 agreement fell apart as talks over the EU 3’s proposed Long Term Agreement broke down; the Iranian government “felt that the proposal was heavy on demands, light on incentives, did not incorporate Iran’s proposals, and violated the Paris Agreement”.[12][14] Iran notified the IAEA that it would resume uranium conversion at Esfahan.[12][14]

In February 2006, Iran ended its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol and resumed enrichment at Natanz, prompting the IAEA Board of Governors to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.[12][14] After the vote, Iran announced it would resume enrichment of uranium.[14] In April 2006, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had nuclear technology, but stated that it was purely for power generation and not for producing weapons.[14] In June 2006, the EU 3 joined China, Russia, and the United States, to form the P5+1.[14] The following month, July 2006, the UN Security Council passed its first resolution demanding Iran stop uranium enrichment and processing.[14]Altogether, from 2006 to 2010, the UN Security Council subsequently adopted six resolutions concerning Iran’s nuclear program: 1696 (July 2006), 1737 (December 2006), 1747 (March 2007), 1803 (March 2008), 1835 (September 2008), and 1929 (June 2010).[16] The legal authority for the IAEA Board of Governors referral and the Security Council resolutions was derived from the IAEA Statute and the United Nations Charter.[16] The resolutions demanded that Iran cease enrichment activities and imposed sanctions on Iran, including bans on the transfer of nuclear and missile technology to the country and freezes on the assets of certain Iranian individuals and entities, in order to pressure the country.[12][14] However, in Resolution 1803 and elsewhere the Security Council also acknowledged Iran’s rights under Article IV of the NPT, which provides for “the inalienable right … to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”.[16][b]

In July 2006, Iran opened the Arak heavy water production plant, which led to one of the Security Council resolutions.[12] In September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, revealed the existence of an underground enrichment facility in Fordow, near Qom saying, “Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime.”[22] Israel threatened to take military action against Iran.[14]

In a February 2007 interview with the Financial Times, IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei said that military action against Iran “would be catastrophic, counterproductive” and called for negotiations between the international community and Iran over the Iranian nuclear program.[23] ElBaradei specifically proposed a “double, simultaneous suspension, a time out” as “a confidence-building measure”, under which the international sanctions would be suspended and Iran would suspend enrichment.[23] ElBaradei also said, “if I look at it from a weapons perspective there are much more important issues to me than the suspension of [enrichment],” naming his top priorities as preventing Iran from “go[ing] to industrial capacity until the issues are settled”; building confidence, with “full inspection” involving Iranian adoption of the Additional Protocol; and “at all costs” preventing Iran from “moving out of the [treaty-based non-proliferation] system”.[23]

A November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate assessed that Iran “halted its nuclear weapons program” in 2003; that estimate and subsequent U.S. Intelligence Community statements also assessed that the Iranian government at the time had was “keeping open the ‘option’ to develop nuclear weapons” in the future.[24] A July 2015 Congressional Research Service report said, “statements from the U.S. intelligence community indicate that Iran has the technological and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons at some point, but the U.S. government assesses that Tehran has not mastered all of the necessary technologies for building a nuclear weapon.”[24]

In March 2013, the United States began a series of secret bilateral talks with Iranian officials in Oman, led by William Joseph Burns and Jake Sullivan on the American side and Ali Asghar Khaji on the Iranian side.[14][25] In June 2013, Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran.[14][26] Rouhani has been described as “more moderate, pragmatic and willing to negotiate than Ahmadinejad”. However, in a 2006 nuclear negotiation with European powers, Rouhani said that Iran had used the negotiations to dupe the Europeans, saying that during the negotiations, Iran managed to master the conversion of uranium yellowcake at Isfahan. The conversion of yellowcake is an important step in the nuclear fuel process.[27] In August 2013, three days after his inauguration, Rouhani called for a resumption of serious negotiations with the P5+1 on the Iranian nuclear program.[28] In September 2013, Obama and Rouhani had a telephone conversation, the first high-level contact between U.S. and Iranian leaders since 1979, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had a meeting with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, signaling that the two countries had an opening to cooperation.[14][28]

After several rounds of negotiations, on 24 November 2013, the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, was signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in Geneva, Switzerland. It consisted of a short-term freeze of portions of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions on Iran, as the countries work towards a long-term agreement.[29] The IAEA began “more intrusive and frequent inspections” under this interim agreement.[28] The agreement was formally activated on 20 January 2014.[30] On that day, the IAEA issued a report stating that Iran was adhering to the terms of the interim agreement, including stopping enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, beginning the dilution process (to reduce half of the stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to 3.5 percent), and halting work on the Arak heavy-water reactor.[28][30]

A major focus on the negotiations was limitations on Iran’s key nuclear facilities: the ArakIR-40heavy water reactor and production plant (which was under construction, but never became operational, as Iran agreed as part of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action (interim agreement) not to commission or fuel the reactor); the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant; the Gachin uranium mine; the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant; the Isfahan uranium-conversion plant; the Natanz uranium enrichment plant; and the Parchin military research and development complex.[31]

Negotiations

The agreement between the P5+1+EU and Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the culmination of 20 months of “arduous” negotiations.[32][33]

The agreement followed the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), an interim agreement between the P5+1 powers and Iran that was agreed to on 24 November 2013 at Geneva. The Geneva agreement was an interim deal,[34] in which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some sanctions. This went into effect on 20 January 2014.[35] The parties agreed to extend their talks with a first extension deadline on 24 November 2014[36] and a second extension deadline set to 1 July 2015.[37]

An Iran nuclear deal framework was reached on 2 April 2015. Under this framework Iran agreed tentatively to accept restrictions on its nuclear program, all of which would last for at least a decade and some longer, and to submit to an increased intensity of international inspections under a framework deal. These details were to be negotiated by the end of June 2015. The negotiations toward a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action were extended several times until the final agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was finally reached on 14 July 2015.[38][39] The JCPOA is based on the framework agreement from three months earlier.

Subsequently the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 continued. In April 2014, a framework deal was reached at Lausanne. Intense marathon negotiations then continued, with the last session in Vienna at the Palais Coburg lasting for seventeen days.[40] At several points, negotiations appeared to be at risk of breaking down, but negotiators managed to come to agreement.[40] As the negotiators neared a deal, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry directly asked Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to confirm that he was “authorized to actually make a deal, not just by the [Iranian] president, but by the supreme leader?”[40] Zarif gave assurances that he was.[40]

Ultimately, on 14 July 2015, all parties agreed to a landmark comprehensive nuclear agreement.[41] At the time of the announcement, shortly before 11:00 GMT, the agreement was released to the public.[42]

The final agreement’s complexity shows the impact of a public letter written by a bipartisan group of 19 U.S. diplomats, experts, and others in June 2015, written when negotiations were still going on.[43][44] That letter outlined concerns about the several provisions in the then-unfinished agreement and called for a number of improvements to strengthen the prospective agreement and win their support for it.[43] After the final agreement was reached, one of the signatories, Robert J. Einhorn, a former U.S. Department of State official now at the Brookings Institution, said of the agreement: “Analysts will be pleasantly surprised. The more things are agreed to, the less opportunity there is for implementation difficulties later on.”[43]

The final agreement is based upon (and buttresses) “the rules-based nonproliferation regime created by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and including especially the IAEA safeguards system.”[45]

Souvenir signatures of lead negotiators on the cover page of the JCPOA document. The Persian handwriting on top left side is a homage by Javad Zarif to his counterparts’ efforts in the negotiations: “[I am] Sincere to Mr. Abbas [Araghchi] and Mr. Majid [Takht-Ravanchi].”[46]

Signatories

Summary of provisions

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) runs to 109 pages, including five annexes.[33] Major provisions of the final accord include the following:[33][47][48]

Nuclear

JCPOA summary of enrichment-related provisions
(sources: The Economist[49]Belfer Center[50]:29)
Capability Before JCPOA After JCPOA
(for 10-year period)
After 15 years
First-generation
centrifuges installed
19,138 capped at 6,104 Unconstrained
Advanced centrifuges installed 1,008 0 Unconstrained
Centrifuge R&D Unconstrained Constrained Unconstrained
Stockpile of
low-enriched uranium
7,154 kg 300 kg Unconstrained
Stockpile of
medium-enriched uranium
196 kg 0 kg Unconstrained
  • Iran’s current stockpile of low-enriched uranium will be reduced by 98 percent, from 10,000 kg to 300 kg. This reduction will be maintained for fifteen years.[33][51][52][53] For the same fifteen-year period, Iran will be limited to enriching uranium to 3.67%, a percentage sufficient for civilian nuclear power and research, but not for building a nuclear weapon.[51][52][54]However, the number of centrifuges is sufficient for a nuclear weapon, but not for nuclear power.[55] This is a “major decline” in Iran’s previous nuclear activity; prior to watering down its stockpile pursuant to the Joint Plan of Action interim agreement, Iran had enriched uranium to near 20% (medium-enriched uranium).[51][52][53] These enriched uranium in excess of 300 kg of up to 3.67% will be down blended to natural uranium level or be sold in return for natural uranium, and the uranium enriched to between 5% and 20% will be fabricated into fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor or sold or diluted to an enrichment level of 3.67%. The implementation of the commercial contracts will be facilitated by P5+1. After fifteen years, all physical limits on enrichment will be removed, including limits on the type and number of centrifuges, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium, and where Iran may have enrichment facilities. According to Belfer, at this point Iran could “expand its nuclear program to create more practical overt and covert nuclear weapons options”.[50][56]
  • For ten years, Iran will place over two-thirds of its centrifuges in storage, from its current stockpile of 19,000 centrifuges (of which 10,000 were operational) to no more than 6,104 operational centrifuges, with only 5,060 allowed to enrich uranium,[33][51] with the enrichment capacity being limited to the Natanz plant. The centrifuges there must be IR-1 centrifuges, the first-generation centrifuge type which is Iran’s oldest and least efficient; Iran will give up its advanced IR-2M centrifuges in this period.[31][52][53] The non-operating centrifuges will be stored in Natanz and monitored by IAEA, but may be used to replace failed centrifuges.[57][58] Iran will not build any new uranium-enrichment facilities for fifteen years.[51]
  • Iran may continue research and development work on enrichment, but that work will take place only at the Natanz facility and include certain limitations for the first eight years.[31] This is intended to keep the country to a breakout time of one year.[51]
  • Iran, with cooperation from the “Working Group” (the P5+1 and possibly other countries), will modernise and rebuild the Arak heavy water research reactor based on an agreed design to support its peaceful nuclear research and production needs and purposes, but in such a way to minimise the production of plutonium and not to produce weapons-grade plutonium. The power of the redesigned reactor will not exceed 20 MWth. The P5+1 parties will support and facilitate the timely and safe construction of the Arak complex.[59] All spent fuel will be sent out of the country.[31] All excess heavy water which is beyond Iran’s needs for the redesigned reactor will be made available for export to the international market based on international prices. In exchange, Iran received 130 tons of uranium in 2015 and in late 2016 was approved to receive 130 tons in 2017.[60] For 15 years, Iran will not engage in, or research on, spent fuel reprocessing.[61] Iran will also not build any additional heavy-water reactors or accumulate heavy water for fifteen years.[31]
  • Iran’s Fordow facility will stop enriching uranium and researching uranium enrichment for at least fifteen years; the facility will be converted into a nuclear physics and technology center. For 15 years, Fordow will maintain no more than 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges in six cascades in one wing of Fordow. “Two of those six cascades will spin without uranium and will be transitioned, including through appropriate infrastructure modification,” for stable radioisotope production for medical, agricultural, industrial, and scientific use. “The other four cascades with all associated infrastructure will remain idle.” Iran will not be permitted to have any fissile material in Fordow.[31][51][53]
  • Iran will implement an Additional Protocol agreement which will continue in perpetuity for as long as Iran remains a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The signing of the Additional Protocol represents a continuation of the monitoring and verification provisions “long after the comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is implemented”.[62]
  • A comprehensive inspections regime will be implemented in order to monitor and confirm that Iran is complying with its obligations and is not diverting any fissile material.[51][52][c]
    • The IAEA will have multilayered[73] oversight “over Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, from uranium mills to its procurement of nuclear-related technologies“.[74] For declared nuclear sites such as Fordow and Natanz, the IAEA will have “round-the-clock access” to nuclear facilities and will be entitled to maintain continuous monitoring (including via surveillance equipment) at such sites.[74][75] The agreement authorizes the IAEA to make use of sophisticated monitoring technology, such as fiber-optic seals on equipment that can electronically send information to the IAEA; infrared satellite imagery to detect covert sites, “environmental sensors that can detect minute signs of nuclear particles”; tamper-resistant, radiation-resistant cameras.[43][76] Other tools include computerized accounting programs to gather information and detect anomalies, and big data sets on Iranian imports, to monitor dual-use items.[73]
    • The number of IAEA inspectors assigned to Iran will triple, from 50 to 150 inspectors.[43]
    • If IAEA inspectors have concerns that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities at any non-declared sites, they may request access “to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with” the agreement, informing Iran of the basis for their concerns.[75] The inspectors would only come from countries with which Iran has diplomatic relations.[77] Iran may admit the inspectors to such site or propose alternatives to inspection that might satisfy the IAEA’s concerns.[75] If such an agreement cannot be reached, a process running to a maximum of 24 days is triggered.[75] Under this process, Iran and the IAEA have 14 days to resolve disagreements among themselves.[75] If they fail to, the Joint Commission (including all eight parties) would have one week in which to consider the intelligence which initiated the IAEA request. A majority of the Commission (at least five of the eight members) could then inform Iran of the action that it would be required to take within three more days.[78][79] The majority rule provision “means the United States and its European allies—Britain, France, Germany and the EU—could insist on access or any other steps and that Iran, Russia or China could not veto them”.[78] If Iran did not comply with the decision within three days, sanctions would be automatically reimposed under the snapback provision (see below).[79]

As a result of the above, the “breakout time”—the time in which it would be possible for Iran to make enough material for a single nuclear weapon—will increase from two to three months to one year, according to U.S. officials and U.S. intelligence.[33][51][80][d] An August 2015 report published by a group of experts at Harvard University‘s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs concurs in these estimates, writing that under the JCPOA, “over the next decade would be extended to roughly a year, from the current estimated breakout time of 2 to 3 months”.[50] The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation also accepts these estimates.[82][83] By contrast, Alan J. Kuperman, coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin, disputed the one-year assessment, arguing that under the agreement, Iran’s breakout time “would be only about three months, not much longer than it is today”.[84]

The longer breakout time would be in place for at least ten years; after that point, the breakout time would gradually decrease.[33][80] By the fifteenth year, U.S. officials state that the breakout time would return to the pre-JCPOA status quo of a few months.[33][80] The Belfer Center report states: “Some contributors to this report believe that breakout time by year 15 could be comparable to what it is today—a few months—while others believe it could be reduced to a few weeks.”[50]

Exemptions

Reuters reported that exemptions were granted to Iran prior to January 16, 2016. The reported purpose of the exemptions was so that sanctions relief and other benefits could start by that date, instead of Iran being in violation. The exemptions included: (a) Iran able to exceed the 300 Kg of 3.5% LEU limit in the agreement; (b) Iran able to exceed the zero Kg of 20% LEU limit in the agreement; (c) Iran to keep operating 19 “hot cells” that exceed the size limit in the agreement; (d) Iran to maintain control of 50 tonnes of heavy water that exceed the 130 tonne limit in the agreement by storing the excess at an Iran-controlled facility in Oman.[85] In December 2016, the IAEA published decisions of the Joint Commission that spell out these clarifications of the JCPOA.[86]

Sanctions

Further information: Sanctions against Iran

The following provisions regarding sanctions are written into the JCPOA:

  • Following the issuance of a IAEA report verifying implementation by Iran of the nuclear-related measures, the UN sanctions against Iran and some EU sanctions will terminate and some will be suspended. Once sanctions are lifted, Iran will recover approximately $100 billion of its assets (U.S. Treasury Department estimate) frozen in overseas banks.[87]
    • Eight years into the agreement, EU sanctions against a number of Iranian companies, individuals and institutions (such as the Revolutionary Guards) will be lifted.[88]
  • The United States will “cease” application of its nuclear-related secondary sanctions[89] by presidential action or executive waiver.[90]Secondary sanctions are those that sanction other countries for doing business with Iran. Primary U.S. sanctions, which prohibit U.S. firms from conducting commercial transactions with few exceptions, are not altered by the JCPOA.[91]
    • This step is not tied to any specific date, but is expected to occur “roughly in the first half of 2016”.[89][92][93]
    • Sanctions relating to ballistic missile technologies would remain for eight years; similar sanctions on conventional weapon sales to Iran would remain for five years.[33][94]
    • However, all U.S. sanctions against Iran related to alleged human rights abuses, missiles, and support for terrorism are not affected by the agreement and will remain in place.[53][95] U.S. sanctions are viewed as more stringent, since many have extraterritorial effect (i.e., they apply worldwide). EU sanctions, by contrast, apply only in Europe.[88]
  • No new UN or EU nuclear-related sanctions or restrictive measures will be imposed.[96]
  • If Iran violates the agreement, any of the P5+1 can invoke a “snap back” provision, under which the sanctions “snap back” into place (i.e., are reimplemented).[51][52][96]
    • Specifically, the JCPOA establishes the following dispute resolution process: if a party to the JCPOA has reason to believe that another party is not upholding its commitments under the agreement, then the complaining party may refer its complaint to the Joint Commission, a body created under the JCPOA to monitor implementation.[53][97] If a complaint made by a non-Iran party is not resolved to the satisfaction of the complaining party within thirty-five days of referral, then that party could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under the JCPOA, notify the United Nations Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance, or both.[97] The Security Council would then have thirty days to adopt a resolution to continue the lifting of sanctions. If such a resolution is not adopted within those thirty days, then the sanctions of all of the pre-JCPOA nuclear-related UN Security Council resolutions would automatically be re-imposed. Iran has stated that in such a case, it would cease performing its nuclear obligations under the deal.[42][97] The effect of this rule is that any permanent member of the Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia and France) can veto any ongoing sanctions relief, but no member can veto the re-imposition of sanctions.
    • Snapback sanctions “would not apply with retroactive effect to contracts signed between any party and Iran or Iranian individuals and entities prior to the date of application, provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with this JCPOA and the previous and current UN Security Council resolutions”.[57]

Ankit Panda of The Diplomat states that this will make impossible any scenario where Iran is non-compliant with the JCPOA yet escapes re-imposition of sanctions.[97] Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (which opposes the agreement) argues, however, that because the JCPOA provides that Iran could treat reinstatement of sanctions (in part or entirely) as grounds for leaving the agreement, the United States would be reluctant to impose a “snapback” for smaller violations: “The only thing you’ll take to the Security Council are massive Iranian violations, because you’re certainly not going to risk the Iranians walking away from the deal and engaging in nuclear escalation over smaller violations.”[98]

Records

According to several commentators, JCPOA is the first of its kind in the annals of non-proliferation and is in many aspects unique.[99][100][101][102][103]

The 159-page JCPOA document and its five appendices, is the most spacious text of a multinational treaty since World War II.[104] Throughout the history of international law, this is the first and only time that a country subject to Chapter VII of the United Nations CharterIran – has managed to end its case and stop being subject to this chapter through diplomacy.[104][105][106] All other cases have ended through either regime change, war or full implementation of the Security Council’s decisions by the country.[107]

This is the first time that the United Nations Security Council has recognized the nuclear enrichment program of a developing countryIran[104][108] and backs an agreement (JCPOA) signed by several countries within the framework of a resolution (United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231).[104][109] For the first time in the history of the United Nations, a country –Iran– was able to abolish 6 UN resolutions against it –1696, 1737, 1747, 1803, 1835, 1929– without even one day of implementating them.[104]Sanctions against Iran was also lifted for the first time.[104]

In the 47-year history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), no country other than Iran has ever voluntarily agreed to put extraordinary restrictions on its nuclear activities.[110]

During the final negotiations, U.S. Secretary of StateJohn Kerry stayed in Vienna for 17 days, making him the top American official devoting time to a single international negotiation in more than four decades.[111]Mohammad Javad Zarif broke the record of an Iranian Foreign Minister being far from home with 18-days stay in Vienna,[104] and set the record of 106 days of negotiations in 687 days, a number higher than any other chief nuclear negotiator in 12 years.[112] The negotiations became the longest continuous negotiations with the presence of all foreign ministers of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.[104]

Pictured here, Iranian foreign affairs minister and U.S. secretary of state shaking hands at the end of negotiations on 14 July 2015, Vienna. They shook hands on 26 September 2013 in the United Nations Headquarters for the first time.[113]

The negotiations included ‘rare events’ in Iran–United States relations not only since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, but also in the history of the bilateral relations. The U.S. Secretary of State and Iranian Foreign Minister met on 18 different dates –sometimes multiple occasions a day– and in 11 different cities, unprecedented since the beginning of the relations.[114] On 27 April 2015, John Kerry visited the official residence of the Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations –which counts as Iranian soil– to meet his counterpart. The encounter was the first of its kind since the Iran hostage crisis.[114][115] On the sidelines of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, U.S. PresidentBarack Obama shook hands with the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, marking the first such event in history. The event was also noted in form of diplomatic ranks, as a head of state shook hands with a minister.[116] Obama is reported to have said in the meeting: “Too much effort has been put into the JCPOA and we all should be diligent to implement it.”[117]

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

Story 3: Radical Islamic Terrorist Attack In Paris, France Target Police One Officer Killed and One Wounded and One Shooter Killed and One Escaped — Videos — 

Image result for paris france shootings april 20, 2017 Image result for paris france shootings april 20, 2017

One Officer Killed, One Wounded In Paris Shooting | NBC News

Trump Says Paris Shooting Looks Like Terror Attack

BREAKING Paris ISLAMIC Terrorist with Machine Gun kills police officer 2nd hurt April 20 2017 News

BREAKING!!! TERROR ATTACK IN PARIS!!!

Paris shooting ‘looks like another terrorist attack’ Trump says: ‘It just never ends’

  • The U.S. president addressed the assault on two police officers at a news conference Thursday afternoon in the White House’s East Room
  • French police say the incident involving at least two gunman was probably a ‘terrorist act’ 
  • ‘We have to be strong, and we have to be vigilant, and I’ve been saying it for a long time,’ Trump said 

President Donald Trump says a shooting in Paris today ‘looks like another terrorist attack.’

The U.S. president addressed the assault on two police officers at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

‘It just never ends,’ he said of the terror threat from the White House’s East Room.

French police say the incident involving at least two gunman was probably a ‘terrorist act.’

President Donald Trump says a shooting in Paris today 'looks like another terrorist attack.'

President Donald Trump says a shooting in Paris today ‘looks like another terrorist attack.’

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said just before the news conference began that Trump had been briefed on the shooting that happened while he was meeting with the Italian prime minister.

‘Condolences from our country to the people for France again. It’s happening it seems,’ Trump said from the podium. ‘I just saw it as I was walking in, so it’s a terrible thing and it’s a very, very terrible thing that’s going on in the world today.’

Trump did not comment on the assault at the top of his remarks but said after he was asked for a reaction, ‘It looks like another terrorist attack, and what can you say? It just never ends.

‘We have to be strong, and we have to be vigilant, and I’ve been saying it for a long time,’ Trump told Fox News’ John Roberts.

France is in the process of holding a national election. The first round of voting begins on April 23.

A gunman wielding an AK-47 killed one police officer and wounded another today on the Champs-Elysees. The assailant was killed in the showdown with police, Paris police have said. Another suspect is believed to have been involved, as well.

Police just two days ago arrested two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the first-round of the presidential election on Sunday.

France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015 and have killed over 230 people.

Thousands of troops and armed police have been deployed to guard tourist hotspots such as the Champs Elysees or other potential targets like government buildings and religious sites.

‘Stay back, stay back!’ Police warn after shooting in Paris

Police closed off the popular avenue (pictured) after a policeman was killed during a shooting incident in the French capital

Police closed off the popular avenue (pictured) after a policeman was killed during a shooting incident in the French capital

A French police officer was tonight shot dead on the Champs Elysees in Paris (pictured) - just as presidential candidates took part in a TV debate nearby

A French police officer was tonight shot dead on the Champs Elysees in Paris (pictured) – just as presidential candidates took part in a TV debate nearby

Up until now, polls showed voters more concerned about unemployment and their spending power than terrorism or security, though analysts warned this would change in the event of further bloodshed.

For weeks, centrist Emanuel Macron and National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen have been out in front.

Scandal-plagued conservative Francois Fillon and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon have closed the gap substantially in the last two weeks.

Opinion polls now show there is a chance that any of the four leading candidates could reach the second-round run-off on May 7 if none of them reach a majority in this weekend’s election.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4430264/Paris-shooting-looks-like-terror-Trump-says.html

PARIS SHOOTING

Paris shooting leaves one policeman dead and ‘two seriously injured’ as ‘ISIS terrorists armed with AK47s’ open fire on the Champs-Élysée in Paris

The officers were gunned down in the central boulevard of the famous street at around 9pm local time

A POLICEMAN has died and two are seriously injured after at least one gunman opened fire “with an AK47” in central Paris this evening.

A 39-year-old gunman was killed by police following the “terror attack” at the central boulevard of the Champs-Élysé, which ISIS have claimed responsibility for.

Paris

REUTERS
Three policemen have been shot – one dead – in Paris

Paris

GETTY IMAGES
A man raises his arms in front of police officers close to the scene in Paris

Paris

REUTERS
Forensics search a car thought to have been driven by the attacker

Arc De Triomph

EPA
Emergency services guard the Arc De Triomph
 

Footage potentially show s the moments after the Paris shootingPolice say the suspect was from an eastern Paris in suburb, despite ISIS naming him as a Belgian national on their Amaq news agency.

He is thought to have been known to security services for “extremist links”.

The shooter’s house in an eastern Paris suburb and other addresses are being searched by officers, a source told Reuters.

Cops have said they are hunting a second suspect who may or may not be involved in the incident.

Local police advised people to avoid the area after shots were fired at around 9pm local time.

Witnesses said the attacker pulled up beside a stationery police car and fired through the window.

“He parked just behind the van and he got out with a Kalashnikov and I heard six gunshots,” a witness named Chelloug said.

“I thought they were firecrackers, because we all looked around the road and there was no one.

“In fact, he was hidden behind the van and shooting at the police.

Champs-Élysée

TWITTER
The officers were gunned down at around 9pm local time

police

REUTERS
A police van at the scene in Paris, where a policeman has been shot
 

Eyewitness of the Paris shooting says he heard six gun shots between police and the gunman

 

Two French police officers killed by gunman in Paris ‘terror’ attack”I think he hit a policeman. As soon as the policeman opened the door of the van, he fell, I think.

“As soon as we saw that, we all ran back inside (a building). We hid and I went up to the first floor and we saw them (the policeman) shoot him (the perpetrator).”

He added: ” I was afraid. I have a two year-old girl and I thought I was going to die… He shot straight at the police officer.”

President Francois Hollande said officials are “convinced” the incident is a terror attack.

Paris Prosecutor’s anti-terror office has opened an inquiry.

Champs-Elysees boulevard

GETTY IMAGES
The shooting took place at the iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard

as-map-paris-shooting

The policeman was shot dead on the central boulevard of the Champs-Elysees

Paris

Police on high alert after three officers were shot in Paris

Paris shooting leaves one policeman dead and 'two seriously injured' as 'ISIS terrorists armed with AK47s' open fire on the Champs-Élysée in Paris

Women raise their arms as they head towards armed police

Eyewitness of the Paris shooting says he heard six gun shots between police and the gunman

 

ISIS claims it was behind Paris police shootingYvan Assioma of the police union Alliance said: “The exact circumstances are still unclear but I can confirm the tragic death of one of our colleagues. Our thoughts are very much with the family.

“One or several attackers have been shot dead by the police. Some officers were hit but the bullets were stopped by their bulletproof vests, but two were hit.

“Nothing is being ruled out for the time being, terrorism or a criminal act.”

Eiffel tower

The Eiffel Tower is seen behind police cars

Paris

TWITTER/JAMES MATE
As police car at the scene in Paris, where a police officer has reportedly been killed

Paris shooting leaves one policeman dead and 'two seriously injured' as 'ISIS terrorists armed with AK47s' open fire on the Champs-Élysée in Paris

A soldier stands guard in front of the illuminated Arc De Triomphe
 

Champs-Elysees in Paris evacuated after two police officers shot dead

 

French police closes traffic on Champs Elysees after shootingA Government spokesperson said: “An automatic weapon was used against police, a weapon of war.

“The shooting started shortly after 9pm, when a car stopped alongside a stationary police car.

“A man immediately got out and opened fire on the police car, fatally wounding a police officer. He also wounded a second one, it would seem very seriously.”

The shooting happened near the Métro station Franklin D Roosevelt and the Marks and Spencer store on the Champs-Elysées.

It is one of the most famous streets in the world and a busy tourist hub.

Armed police and emergency services have been spotted at the scene.

Paris

Passersby raise their arms as they pass the scene

Police

An armed policeman stands guard with the Arc de Triomphe in the background

Police

Emergency services at the scene of a fatal shooting in Paris

Paris

Members of the public have been advised to steer clear of the area

police

A police cordon is in place around the scene
 

Armed officers tak e position behind a kiosk on the Champs ElyséesFrance’s President Francois Hollande has scheduled an emergency meeting following the shootings.

French Presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Francois Fill0n have cancelled their trips tomorrow.

The shooting comes just just days ahead of France’s presidential election.

On Tuesday, days after police arrested two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the first-round of the presidential election on Sunday.

PAris

A soldier guides people away from the scene in Paris

PAris

AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS
A police officer close to the Arc De Triomphe in Paris

Paris

Armed police at the scene in Paris

Paris

Emergency services rushed to the scene in Paris
 

Policeman shot dead and ‘two seriously injured’ on Champs-Élysé, Paris

 

Police officers evacuate people off the Champs Elysees after ‘terror attack’France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, which have killed over 230 people.

The UK Foreign Office said: “The British Embassy is in contact with local authorities and urgently seeking further information following reports of a shooting incident on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

“You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local security authorities and/or your tour operator.

“If you’re in the area and it is safe to do so, contact your friends and family to tell them you are safe.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3376910/paris-shooting-terror-attack-champs-elysees/

Story 4: Republicans Return Repeal Replace Obamacare — Compromise Should Pass House by April 28, 2017 Videos —

House Republicans Close To Obamacare Repeal

Published on Apr 20, 2017

House Freedom Caucus and moderate Republicans are edging closer to a deal on repealing Obamacare. The agreement, brokered by House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Tuesday Group co-chairman Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), would allow states to eliminate Obamacare’s community rating system, a rule that prohibits health insurers from pricing health care plans based on age, gender, or health status. States that repeal Obamacare’s community rating rules would have to join a federal high-risk pool or establish a local high-risk pool to obtain the waiver.

Ryan Claims GOP Healthcare Bill Still Alive

Reviving Obamacare repeal and replace efforts an uphill battle for GOP?

Andy Puzder on Trump’s renewed push to repeal, replace ObamaCare

It’s going to be nearly impossible for Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare next week

Paul Ryan donald trump

The developing plan from House Republicans to push forward their overhaul of the US healthcare system has one big problem: timing.

According to reports, the White House is pushing to get a deal done on the American Health Care Act by April 28 to show progress on their pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare during President Donald Trump’s first 100 days.

A new amendment leaked Wednesday night appears to be a compromise between the leaders of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and moderate Tuesday Group that could produce some movement on the bill in that timeframe.

But Congress faces another looming deadline by April 28: funding the federal government. If no new funding bill is passed by next Friday, parts of the federal government will shut down.

Washington is not known for multitasking, and it could be difficult to get a funding bill passed as the White House and lawmakers push to add policy proposals to the funding bill. Given the political ramifications of the issue, the shutdown fight could consume the calendar.

According to Politico, the White House and Congress are considering passage of a one-week extension on funding in order to hash out a more considered funding bill and possibly give the House time to take up the AHCA, which became colloquially known as “Trumpcare.”

Barring such an extension, however, it would be highly unlikely that the American Health Care Act moves forward before Trump’s 100th day in the Oval Office.

http://www.businessinsider.com/trumpcare-ahca-house-gop-government-shutdown-problem-2017-4

Here’s the plan that some Republican leaders think will get their Obamacare repeal bill to pass

Paul Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican, said on Wednesday that the GOP was putting the “finishing touches” on an Obamacare deal. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Republicans are closing in on a deal to try — again — to push their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare through the House.

The compromise, first reported by Matt Fuller and Jonathan Cohn at The Huffington Post, would allow states to obtain a waiver from the federal government to do away with certain protections from the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

According to The Huffington Post, the deal would initially keep two provisions — essential health benefits and community rating — favored by moderate GOP lawmakers but allow states to waive these protections. In order to waive the protections, states would have to fulfill two provisions: prove that the waiver would bring down costs and either join a federal high-risk pool or establish their own.

The full text of the proposed amendment, obtained by Politico’s Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, states that the waiver would be granted by the federal government if the state can prove that it has an alternative to “reduce premium costs, increase the number of persons with healthcare coverage, or advance another benefit to the public interest in the state.”

Essential health benefits require insurers to cover a baseline of health procedures such as prenatal care and emergency room visits. Community rating means that insurers must charge people living in the same area the same price for insurance regardless of things such as age, gender, or preexisting conditions.

“The gist of this is that federal protections for pre-existing conditions and required benefits remain…unless a state doesn’t want them to,” tweeted Larry Levitt, senior vice president at health policy think thank The Kaiser Family Foundation on Thursday.

Without the community rating, insurers could charge people with preexisting conditions higher premiums and some policy experts fear this could price sick people out of the market.

However, this means that the Trump administration, most likely Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, would have final say on whether or not a waiver is granted.

While the deal was reportedly reached by conservative House Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows and moderate Tuesday Group chair Rep. Tom MacArthur, it also bears similarities to a previous deal that drew the ire of moderates for going too far in pulling back protections.

Additionally, it does not address the concerns of moderates such as the defunding of Medicaid expansion or the estimates that the Affordable Health Care Act could leave up to 24 million fewer people without health coverage over the next 10 years.

The Washington Post’s Robert Costa reported after the amendment’s outline was leaked that the GOP leadership is planning to release the exact language for the amendment later on Thursday and are targeting Wednesday for a vote on the revised bill, but that could change.

According to CNBC, a Freedom Caucus source said the changes would bring 18 to 20 members of the group who were originally against the AHCA over to a “yes” vote on the bill. It is unclear how many moderate Republicans would shift to a “no.” By most accounts the House GOP was as many as 33 votes short of the needed number when the AHCA went to the House floor on March 24.

The amendment comes the day after reports that the White House was pushing for a deal to be completed by the end of next week in order to show progress during Trump’s first 100 days as president. Additionally, House Speaker Paul Ryan said in London on Wednesday that the GOP was putting the “finishing touches” on an Obamacare deal.

Passing the AHCA, even with the proposed changes, would be difficult in the short-term as Congress must also pass a bill to fund the federal government before parts of it shut down on April 28.

Read the full summary of the amendment, via Politico (PDF) »

Treasury’s Mnuchin: We’re ‘pretty close’ to bringing forward ‘major tax reform’

Jacob Pramuk |

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at 2017 Institute of International Finance (IIF) policy summit in Washington, U.S., April 20, 2017.

Mnuchin: Most significant tax code change since Reagan  9 Hours Ago | 01:19

The Trump administration is close to bringing forward “major tax reform,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday, days after he tempered expectations for how quickly it will pass.

Mnuchin, who this week backed off of his earlier goal of passing tax reform by August, said the White House will unveil a plan “very soon.” However, the Trump administration previously missed several of its deadlines for releasing its tax plan.

In terms of timing, he said he hoped passing a tax overhaul will not “take till the end of the year.”

Mnuchin spoke at the Institute of International Finance Washington Policy Summit, where White House chief economic advisor Gary Cohn was set to appear later Thursday.

In a Financial Times interview published Monday, Mnuchin said getting a bill to President Donald Trump‘s desk before August is “highly aggressive to not realistic at this point.” He said in February that he wanted to see “very significant” tax reform passed by Congress’ August recess.

The business community has hoped Republicans can move quickly on overhauling the American tax system, a prospect that partly fueled stock market gains in the months following Trump’s election. However, political realities have tempered expectations for changes to the tax system.

Republicans attempted to pass legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act before moving to a tax reform bill. That effort failed late last month, and Mnuchin said the setback contributed to his assessment that passing a tax overhaul by August could be difficult.

Trump put the pressure back on Tuesday after Mnuchin and Cohn appeared to walk back expectations for how quickly tax reform will happen. He called out Mnuchin by name during a speech at Snap-on headquarters in Wisconsin.

“So we’re in very good shape on tax reform. We have the concept of the plan. We’re going to be announcing it very soon,” Trump said at that time. “But health care, we have to get the health care taken care of, and as soon as health care takes care of we are going to march very quickly. You’re going to watch. We’re going to surprise you. Right, Steve Mnuchin? Right?”

Even though the president sounded optimistic Tuesday, the Trump administration has set deadlines for tax policy before that have not come to pass. In late February, Trump said the tax plan was “very well finalized,” only a day after press secretary Sean Spicer said it would be released “in the next couple weeks.

Republicans have refocused on resurrecting the effort to repeal the ACA, better known as Obamacare, as they get set to return from a recess next week. House GOP leaders are trying to balance the concerns of the both the party’s conservative and moderate wings as they try to follow through on a major campaign pledge.

Mnuchin said Thursday that “whether health care gets done or health care doesn’t get done, we’re going to get tax reform done.”

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/20/treasurys-mnuchin-were-pretty-close-to-bringing-forward-major-tax-reform.html

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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

Posted on April 17, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Communications, Constitutional Law, Countries, Cruise Missiles, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Economics, Education, Egypt, Empires, Energy, European History, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, France, Germany, Government, Government Spending, Great Britain, History, Human, Iraq, Islam, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic State, Law, Libya, Life, Media, Middle East, MIssiles, National Interest, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Networking, News, Obama, Oil, Oil, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Resources, Rifles, Rule of Law, Russia, Scandals, Syria, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weather, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 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