Cruise Missiles

The Pronk Pops Show 939, August 2, 2017, Breaking News — Story 1: President Trump For National Unity Furiously Signs Flawed Russia, Iran, and North Korea Sanctions Bill — Videos — Story 2: Trump Announces New Immigration Policy — Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 939,  August 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 938,  August 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 937,  July 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 936,  July 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 935,  July 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 934,  July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 934,  July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 933,  July 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 932,  July 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 931,  July 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 930,  July 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 929,  July 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 928,  July 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 927,  July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926,  July 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 925,  July 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 924,  July 6, 2017

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

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Image result for RAISE ACT immigration

Image result for Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act. charts on numbers 

Breaking News — Story 1: President Trump For National Unity Furiously Signs Flawed Russia, Iran, and North Korea Sanctions Bill — Videos —

President Trump signs Russian sanctions bill Fox News Video

President Trump signs new Russia sanctions, questions whether bill interferes with foreign policy 

BREAKING NEWS 8/2/17 PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS NEW RUSSIA SANCTIONS BILL

January 3, 2017: Sen. Tom Cotton joined Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News

Trump Signs Sanctions Bill – Another Deep State Victory

Real Bipartisanship: Republicans And Democrats Unite For New Cold War

Germany growing sick of US sanctions on Russia

Russians See Sanctions Regime as a Blessing in Disguise

Trump signs Russia sanctions bill but blasts Congress

In a pair of statements, the president said parts of the law violate the Constitution.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a bipartisan bill placing new sanctions on Russia — but in a statement, he claimed multiple aspects of the legislation violate the Constitution.

The sanctions, aimed at punishing Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, limit the president’s power to lift the sanctions without congressional approval and were initially resisted by the administration.

In one of two statements released almost simultaneously Wednesday morning by the White House, Trump said he supports the law’s efforts to crack down on the actions of Iran, North Korea and Russia. But the White House protested what it sees as congressional encroachment on the president’s power in foreign affairs.

“In its haste to pass this legislation, the Congress included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions,” Trump said in one statement. “My Administration particularly expects the Congress to refrain from using this flawed bill to hinder our important work with European allies to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, and from using it to hinder our efforts to address any unintended consequences it may have for American businesses, our friends, or our allies.”

The president’s second statement included a stepped-up defense of his own administration’s foreign policy and input on the legislation. Trump said that “despite its problems,” he had signed the bill “for the sake of national unity.” The statement characterized the governments of Iran and North Korea as “rogue regimes,” a label he did not apply to the Russian government.

Even as he continues to label Russian interference in the election a “hoax,” the statement went further in acknowledging the intrusion than Trump has in the past.

“I also support making clear that America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and that we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization,” the statement said.

Still, Trump was quick to push back on what he views as congressional overreach.

“The bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate. Congress could not even negotiate a health care bill after seven years of talking,” Trump said, in reference to congressional Republicans’ latest failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected,” the president continued. “As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”

The statements drew mixed reaction on Capitol Hill.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, a leading architect of the sanctions bill, told reporters he was not concerned about Trump’s statement, though he said he had not yet seen it.

“Both countries talk privately in ways that are very different from how they talk publicly,” the Tennessee Republican said of U.S.-Russia relations. “But this was a necessary step that we took, and I’m glad we took it.”

In addition to allowing lawmakers to handcuff Trump on any future changes to Russia sanctions, the legislation converts some existing sanctions from executive orders into law, making them more difficult to roll back, and imposes new sanctions focused on Moscow’s reported cyber-meddling in the November election. The legislation’s Iran and North Korea sanctions were broadly popular in both parties and with the Trump administration.

Although White House officials asserted that some of the preferred changes to the legislation were included before its final passage last week, the administration had long underscored its opposition to provisions that will impede Trump’s ability to warm relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The action by the Congress to put these sanctions in place and the way that they did, neither the president nor I are very happy about that,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Tuesday. “We were clear that we didn’t think it was going to be helpful to our efforts.”

Still, Tillerson added, “we can’t let it take us off track of trying to restore the relationship” with Russia.

Even as Trump criticized the measure, he added that “I nevertheless expect to honor the bill’s waiting periods to ensure that Congress will have a full opportunity to avail itself of the bill’s review procedures.”

That apparent concession by Trump did not assuage Democratic concerns about his signing statement. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California warned in a statement that Trump’s interpretation of the sanctions bill “raises serious questions about whether his administration intends to follow the law, or whether he will continue to enable and reward Vladimir Putin’s aggression.”

And some Republicans who played a key role in the sanctions package raised their own alarms.

“Look, whether it was President Bush, President Obama, or President Trump, I’ve never been a fan of signing statements,” said Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. “I think they’re a way for any president to usurp the role of the legislative branch. And that’s why I’ve always been concerned, regardless of who issued them, on any matter.”

The bill enjoyed wide bipartisan support. The House passed the sanctions by a vote of 419-3, and the Senate cleared it 98-2 — making any presidential veto futile and sure to be overridden.

With multiple investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, a veto also would have been politically disastrous.

After weeks of waffling, the White House confirmed over the weekend that Trump would sign the bill.

The White House still sought to characterize the bill as a win, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying in a statement on Friday that Trump “negotiated regarding critical elements of it” and decided to sign it “based on its responsiveness to his negotiations.”

The statement Wednesday also contained a warning — not to Russia, but to Congress.

“The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President,” Trump said. “This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/02/trump-signs-bipartisan-russia-sanctions-bill-241242

 

Furious Trump signs Russian sanctions into law – then issues tirade against ‘unconstitutional’ bill and boasts his billions show why Congress shouldn’t stop him making deals with Putin

  • President Donald Trump signed legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, North Korea, and Iran
  • The White House did not organize a ceremony of any kind for it
  • Trump said in a statement he signed the bill for the sake of ‘national unity’ 
  • The White House lobbied to water down restrictions in the bill
  • It passed Congress overwhelmingly with veto-proof majorities
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he and the president were not ‘very happy’ about the sanctions bill 

President Donald Trump signed legislation Wednesday that slaps sanctions on Russia and limits his own ability to create waivers – but at the same time issued a furious statement calling it ‘flawed’.

He signed the bill, which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson publicly said he wasn’t happy about, in private.

Then the White House sent out statement by the president revealing the depths of his unhappiness and boasting that his billions showed he was far better at deal-making than Congress.

Trump said despite some changes, ‘the bill remains seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.’

He called parts of it ‘unconstitutional’ and signaled fresh tensions with Republicans by criticizing their failure to repeal and replace Obamacare.

President Donald Trump has signed legislation that slaps sanctions on Russia and limits his own ability to create waivers

‘Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking. By limiting the Executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together.

‘The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice,’ Trump said in a statement.

‘Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity. It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States. We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.’

In a message to Congress in response to the bill, Trump singled out provisions his lawyers considers in conflict with Supreme Court case law – and asserts his own latitude to carry out the law as he sees fit.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump wasn't happy with the bill

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump wasn’t happy with the bill

‘My Administration will give careful and respectful consideration to the preferences expressed by the Congress in these various provisions,’ the president said in one point – in language certain to irk lawmakers who consider the law much more than a preference.

‘My administration … expects the Congress to refrain from using this flawed bill to hinder our important work with European allies to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, and from using it to hinder our efforts to address any unintended consequences it may have for American businesses, our friends, or our allies,’ he said.

The president also complained about what he said were ‘clearly unconstitutional provisions’ in the legislation relating to presidential powers to shape foreign policy.

 White House counselor Kellyanne Conway confirmed the signing on Fox News.

The bill passed Congress by overwhelming margins sufficient to override a presidential veto. The White House lobbied to water down restrictions in the bill.

The bill contains language meant to prevent the president from lifting them without approval from Congress – provisions that got drafted amid concerns Trump would lift or limit sanctions amid his frequent praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and desire to improve ties between the two powers.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters he shared misgivings with the president, as they try to improve relations with Russia.

‘Neither the president nor I are very happy about that,’ Tillerson said. ‘We were clear that we didn’t think that was going to be helpful to our efforts, but that’s the decision they made.’

The FBI and congressional intelligence panels are probing Trump campaign connections to Russians during the election.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, July 8, 2017

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, July 8, 2017

Then-candidate Donald Trump holds up a signed pledge during a press availability at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York September 3, 2015

Then-candidate Donald Trump holds up a signed pledge during a press availability at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York September 3, 2015

Justice Department lawyers and security officials were reviewing Russia sanctions legislation Tuesday

Justice Department lawyers and security officials were reviewing Russia sanctions legislation Tuesday

Trump during the campaign repeatedly called for better relations with Russia. The U.S. intelligence community concluded that the Russian government backed a campaign to interfere in the presidential election.

Despite communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin capped off by two one-on-one meetings in Europe, Trump has struggled to meet his goal.

Putin said last weekend that Russia would expel more than 700 U.S. diplomats from Russia in retaliation for the sanctions legislation.

I’M WORTH BILLIONS – I CAN MAKE BETTER DEALS THAN CONGRESS

Today, I signed into law the ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,’ which enacts new sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. I favor tough measures to punish and deter bad behavior by the rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang. I also support making clear that America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and that we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization.

That is why, since taking office, I have enacted tough new sanctions on Iran and North Korea, and shored up existing sanctions on Russia.

Since this bill was first introduced, I have expressed my concerns to Congress about the many ways it improperly encroaches on Executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies.

My Administration has attempted to work with Congress to make this bill better. We have made progress and improved the language to give the Treasury Department greater flexibility in granting routine licenses to American businesses, people, and companies. The improved language also reflects feedback from our European allies – who have been steadfast partners on Russia sanctions – regarding the energy sanctions provided for in the legislation. The new language also ensures our agencies can delay sanctions on the intelligence and defense sectors, because those sanctions could negatively affect American companies and those of our allies.

Still, the bill remains seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate. Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking. By limiting the Executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together. The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.

Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity. It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States. We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.

Further, the bill sends a clear message to Iran and North Korea that the American people will not tolerate their dangerous and destabilizing behavior. America will continue to work closely with our friends and allies to check those countries’ malignant activities.

I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.

In his statement about the bill, Trump highlighted a series of concerns about the legislation. Had he vetoed it, Congress could have easily overridden him.

‘Since this bill was first introduced, I have expressed my concerns to Congress about the many ways it improperly encroaches on Executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies,’ Trump complained.

‘My Administration has attempted to work with Congress to make this bill better. We have made progress and improved the language to give the Treasury Department greater flexibility in granting routine licenses to American businesses, people, and companies. The improved language also reflects feedback from our European allies – who have been steadfast partners on Russia sanctions – regarding the energy sanctions provided for in the legislation. The new language also ensures our agencies can delay sanctions on the intelligence and defense sectors, because those sanctions could negatively affect American companies and those of our allies.’

 Russia hawk Sen. John McCain of Arizona responded in a statement: ‘I welcome President Trump’s decision to sign legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The enactment of this legislation, which enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, sends a strong message to friend and foe alike that the United States will hold nations accountable for aggressive and destabilizing behavior that threatens our national interests and those of our allies and partners.’

McCain also called out Trump’s signing statement. ‘The concerns expressed in the President’s signing statement are hardly surprising, though misplaced. The Framers of our Constitution made the Congress and the President coequal branches of government. This bill has already proven the wisdom of that choice,’ he wrote.

“While the American people surely hope for better relations with Russia, what this legislation truly represents is their insistence that Vladimir Putin and his regime must pay a real price for attacking our democracy, violating human rights, occupying Crimea, and destabilizing Ukraine.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4754014/President-Donald-Trump-signs-Russia-sanctions-bill.html#ixzz4ocylqTKe

 

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia met with President Trump for the first time during the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, this month. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

MOSCOW — The last time the Kremlin forced a sweeping reduction of local staff at the American Embassy in Moscow, a young diplomat named Steven Pifer found himself working four days a week on arms control, as usual. But on the fifth day, he navigated the capital in a big truck to move furniture or haul mammoth grocery loads.

The entire staff of the embassy, except the ambassador, was assigned one day each week to grunt work called All Purpose Duty, Mr. Pifer recalled in an interview on Monday, when they shed their dark suits and polished loafers to mow the lawns, fix the plumbing, cook in the cafeteria and even clean the toilets.

That was a last hurrah for the Cold War in 1986, and although the embassy now functions on a far more complex scale, many current and former diplomats expect a similar effort in the wake of President Vladimir V. Putin’s announcement on Sunday that the United States diplomatic mission in Russia must shed 755 employees by Sept. 1.

“The attitude in the embassy was if they think that they will shut us down, we will show them,” said Mr. Pifer, who went on to become an American ambassador to Ukraine and is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “I think the embassy will adapt this time, too.”

Russia demanded that the United States reduce its diplomatic staff to equal the 455 Russian diplomats working in the United States, including at the mission to the United Nations. That means cutting about 60 percent of a work force estimated at 1,200 to 1,300 people, the vast majority of whom are Russians.

Given the continuing deterioration in relations between the two countries, core functions like political and military analysis will be preserved, along with espionage, experts said, while programs that involve cooperation on everything from trade to culture to science are likely to be reduced or eliminated.

Besides the State Department, a dizzying array of American government agencies have employees at the embassy, including the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce as well as NASA and the Library of Congress.

The other area expected to take a heavy hit will be public services, like issuing visas to Russian travelers to the United States, which is likely to slow to a glacial pace.

The Russian staff can be broken down into two broad categories: specialists who help individual departments in the embassy like public relations, and basic service workers employed as security guards, drivers, janitors, electricians and a host of other maintenance functions.

As of 2013, the latest year for which public records are available, there were 1,279 staff members working in the American Embassy in Moscow and in consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, according to a report by the Inspector General’s Office. Of those, 934 were not Americans, including 652 basic service workers. The numbers are believed to have stayed roughly the same.

Russian staff members working in various departments like the political or economic section often provide the embassy’s institutional memory, because they stay on the job for years while American diplomats rotate every two or three years. (If the Russian employees stay for at least 15 years, they are eligible for special immigration visas to the United States and their salaries are high by Russian standards.)

It is the Russians who tend to notice nuances in domestic news coverage or in Mr. Putin’s speeches, or who direct diplomats toward public events or responsible journalists. The Russian employees provide continuity, an American diplomat who recently left Moscow said, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Gen. Bruce McClintock, the American Defense attaché from 2014 to 2016 and now a RAND Corporation analyst, said Russian employees were often more effective in organizing meetings with government officials, while experienced translators ensured that the positions of both sides were clear in often complex discussions.

Russia had already chipped away at embassy programs, anyway, he noted. In 2013, it shuttered USAID, for example, and in 2014, in response to the West’s cutting off military cooperation after the Ukraine crisis, it closed the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Although the work continued, it was much harder to coordinate because its 10 employees had departed, said General McClintock.

Russian nationals are not given the security clearances needed to work in the more clandestine branches of the embassy. Indeed, in the chancellery itself, no Russians worked above the fourth floor in the roughly 10-story building, former Russian employees said.

The American Embassy, which held a staff meeting on Monday to confirm the news to its employees, refused to comment on the events, while in Washington the State Department would say only that it was studying the Russian government’s request.

The general hostility toward the United States means Moscow was already considered a hardship post for American diplomats, and the new measures will lower morale further, diplomats said.

Russian employees are confused and do not yet understand how the changes will be carried out, a former Russian employee now working outside the country said, adding with dark humor that Stalin used to say there were no irreplaceable people.

Russian employees who worked for specialized departments feel especially vulnerable because they carry a certain stigma in Russia’s current nationalistic mood. Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor who was the American ambassador from 2012 to 2014, remembered trying to help find work for 70 Russians who were let go when the Kremlin closed the USAID office.

It was especially hard because “many Russian companies would not consider hiring these ‘tainted’ people,” he said in an email.

In recent years, local employees have come under increasing pressure from the Russian security service, the F.S.B., according to current and former employees. Russians escorting delegations of American musicians around the country were harassed, for example, or some in Moscow returned home from work to find agents sitting in their living rooms, demanding that they inform on their employers, they said.

Mr. Pifer said American diplomats who lived through the 1986 clampdown learned all kinds of things about Soviet life that they would not have otherwise.

One of his colleagues, who had to navigate customs, wrote a slightly tongue-in-cheek diplomatic cable titled “The 29 Steps Needed to Clear a Container of Furniture,” detailing every stamp issued on every piece of paper. The cable was a huge hit back in Washington, he said.

In previous spats with the United States or the West in general, Mr. Putin often chose measures that hurt Russians the most, not least because Russia’s limited economic reach globally means it does not have many options.

Angered over sanctions imposed by Congress under the Magnitsky Act in 2012, he banned Americans from adopting Russian children. When the West imposed economic and military sanctions after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, he barred a broad array of food imports, forcing up prices and limiting the options for Russian consumers.

This time, hundreds of Russians will lose their jobs and Russian travelers hoping to visit the United States are likely to wait months for visas. Some 50 Russians were employed in the consular section that processes visas, according to the inspector general’s report.

“I don’t think Mr. Putin is terribly worried about this,” Mr. Collins said, noting the presidential election looming in March. “As he is running for election, it is comfortable for him to show that he can stand up to the Americans and to protect Russian interests and that is what he is doing.”

Outside the embassy on Monday, many of those emerging from the visa section suggested the Russian measures could only make a bad situation worse. Anecdotal evidence suggested that on both sides, what used to take weeks had already slowed to months.

Shavkat Butaev, 50, who works for a company that helps Russians get visas, said rejections were way up, too. “It was never like this before. Fifty, 60 people get rejected every day,” he said.

Oleg Smirnov, an 18-year-old student studying in the United States to become a psychiatrist, said that he had hoped President Trump would improve relations and that he was worried about possible fallout on immigration policy.

“These mutual sanctions look like a game played with water guns,” he said

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/world/europe/russia-sanctions-embassy.html

Story 2: Trump Announces New Immigration Policy — Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act — Videos

Trump announces new immigration policy

Published on Aug 2, 2017

President Trump announced the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act on Aug. 2, which aims to cut immigration by half from the current level of more than 1 million green cards granted per year.

 

Pres Trump and Sens Cotton and Perdue Introduce “The Raise Act”. Excellent!

August 2, 2017: Sen. Cotton and Sen. Perdue Answer Questions about the RAISE Act at the White House

 

Jim Acosta vs Stephen Miller – Immigration – White House Press Briefing 8/2/17

Senator Tom Cotton, Immigration Reform, and the RAISE Act

Senators David Perdue and Tom Cotton RAISE Act Press Conference

Immigration by the Numbers — Off the Charts

Sen.Barbara Jordan Legal Immigration Recommendations

2015 Barbara Jordan TV ad

How Many Illegal Aliens Are in the US? – Walsh – 1

How Many Illegal Aliens Are in the US? – Walsh – 2

Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 1

Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 2

Why Free Markets Work: Milton Friedman on Political Economy (1996)

Obama’s Amnesty & How Illegal Immigration Affects Us

The Impact of Immigration on Jobs and Income

 

Trump, GOP senators unveil measure to cut legal immigration

Trump, GOP senators unveil measure to cut legal immigration

President Trump on Wednesday teamed up with two conservative Republican senators to roll out new legislation aimed at dramatically curbing legal immigration to the United States, a key Trump campaign promise.

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) have been working with White House officials to revise and expand a bill released earlier this year that would halve the number of people who receive legal permanent residence over a decade.

The senators joined Trump at a White House ceremony to announce the measure.

The president told reporters in the Roosevelt Room that the measure “would represent the most significant reform to our immigration system in a half a century.”
They say the legislation would move the United States to a “merit-based” immigration system and away from the current model, which is largely based on family ties.
The measure reflects Trump’s rhetoric during the 2016 campaign, when he argued that the spike in legal immigration over the past several decades has taken job opportunities away from American citizens and threatened national security.
“As a candidate, I campaigned on creating a merit-based immigration system that protects U.S. workers and taxpayers and that’s why we are here today,” he said, adding the measure would “reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.”
Trump met with Cotton and Perdue in March to discuss the legislation, known as the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act.
The bill would mark a dramatic change in U.S. immigration laws, and could open up a nasty internal fight among Republicans.

The legislation would eliminate immigration preferences currently given to extended family members and adult children of U.S. citizens seeking green cards, and it would cap the number of accepted refugees at 50,000 — half of the Obama administration’s target for 2017.

It would also end the State Department’s Diversity visa lottery, which the senators say is “plagued with fraud.” The program had been allotted 50,000 visas for the 2018 fiscal year.

About 1 million immigrants receive green cards per year.

Conservative outside groups immediately praised the legislation and called for the Senate to vote on the bill.

“The RAISE Act helps realize President Trump’s vision of making America great again by making immigration great again as well. It provides a pathway for a modern, smarter immigration system while protecting those Americans struggling to make ends meet,” said Dan Stein, president of Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, added that the Cotton-Perdue bill will “do more than any other action to fulfill” Trump’s campaign pledges on immigration.

The legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate, however, where it’s expected to get pushback from Democrats as well as GOP senators who oppose strict limits on legal immigration and want a broader reform effort that would address the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

If Cotton and Perdue can get GOP leadership to bring the legislation up for a vote, supporters will need to cobble together 60 senators, including at least eight Democrats or independents, to agree to start debate on the legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and a handful of Republicans — including GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Dean Heller (Nev.) — have been working on bills this year to allow undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children to, at least temporarily, remain in the country legally.

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been granted temporary reprieves from deportation under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But it does not confer legal status on immigrants.

Cotton and Perdue would need to win over their votes, as well as Sen. John McCain. The Arizona Republican, who is currently undergoing cancer treatment, was critical of their earlier bill.

The White House roll out could give the legislation a boost of momentum, but the earlier version of the Cotton-Perdue bill garnered zero cosponsors.

Critics of the measure say it would devastate families’ effort to reunite with their overseas relatives while providing few economic benefits.

“If this is an acknowledgement that our immigration system is broken, the Trump administration and these senators are right, but this is the wrong way to fix it,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “Cutting legal immigration for the sake of cutting immigration would cause irreparable harm to the American worker and their family.”

“Congress should focus on stopping illegal immigration – not on restricting the legal immigration that grows our economy,” said John Feinblatt, president of the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg-backed group New American Economy.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/344924-trump-gop-senators-unveil-measure-to-cut-legal-immigration

Sen. Cotton Officially Introduces RAISE Act

PUBLISHED:

Thu, FEB 16th 2017 @ 9:40am EST

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has officially introduced the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, S. 354, in the Senate. The bill would reduce legal immigration by up to 50% by ending future chain migration and the diversity visa lottery.

Roy Beck, President and Founder of NumbersUSA responded saying, “the RAISE Act has a number — S. 354 — and one that we will do all possible to ensure that lives on through history as one of the great achievements of this period of our country.”

The RAISE Act would:

  • End the Visa Lottery
  • Limit annual refugee admissions to 50,000
  • End chain migration
  • Reduce the worldwide level of family-sponsored immigrants from 480,000 to 88,000 by prioritizing nuclear family
  • Add a nonimmigrant visa for parents of adult U.S. citizens (W-Visa)
    • 5-year renewable visa
    • No work authorization or ability to receive public benefits

The RAISE Act would reduce legal immigration to the United States by 50% in an effort to diminish its impact on vulnerable American workers. First, it eliminates the visa lottery and limits refugee admissions to 50,000 per year, removing the ability of the President to unilaterally adjust upward refugee admissions. Further, it eliminates chain migration by limiting family-sponsored immigration to the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

While U.S. citizens maintain the ability to sponsor nuclear family members without numerical limitation, the worldwide level of family-sponsored immigration is reduced from 480,000 to 88,000 to account for the elimination of the extended-family categories. Finally, a new nonimmigrant visa category is created for parents of adult U.S. citizens. Under this new category, sponsored alien parents would receive a renewable 5-year visa, but must be financially independent or supported financially by the adult son or daughter, as the visa does not authorize the alien to work or receive any form of public benefit.

https://www.numbersusa.com/news/sen-cotton-officially-introduces-raise-act

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 938, August 1, 2017: Story 1: Vice-President On The Trump Doctrine In Speech Delivered From Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Will Sign Sanctions Bill For Russia, North Korea, and Islamic Republic of Iran — Videos — Story 3: Washington War Fever with Neocon Republicans and Progressive Democrats United Against Russia — Masking Incompetency — Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 938,  August 1, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 930,  July 18, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

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Vice President Pence Speaks to Troops from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Published on Jul 31, 2017

Vice President Pence Speaks to troops from Estonia, Latvia, USA and Lithuania during Visit to Eastern Europe, the Baltic’s…

How Trump Will Reshape Foreign Policy

Gen. Jack Keane on what the ‘Trump Doctrine’ might be

Experts Agree: Trump Is Planning Limited North Korean Strike Next Month

What Fake News Won’t Admit: Trump Is A Foreign Policy Genius and International Media Superstar

Lionel Nation Live Stream: The World Pivots Towards War and the Fake News MSM Go Full Mooch

Vice President Mike Pence Arrives in Montenegro as Part of Tour of Baltic States

 

The Trump Doctrine is easy to understand — Just look at his background

Foreign policy experts all over Washington seem completely stupefied when it comes to understanding President Trump’s national security goals. And for a long time, I was one of them.

In happy hours all over town where we love to gather, some experts would describe Trump’s approach as “uneducated,”“unsophisticated” or even “unprofessional.”

Rubbish. They just can’t get over the fact that he doesn’t share their often overly polished and overly sophisticated perspectives. I should know, it’s my profession.

The simple fact is this: you don’t need a Ph.D. from Yale or Cambridge to understand Trump’s vision for America’s place in the world—you just need to take the time to study his background.

He doesn’t care about your foreign policy schools of thoughts, deep historical perspective or game-theory workshops. He just wants the best “deals” for America. Period. End of story.

Washington’s foreign policy brain trust would be wise to take heed the words of a 900-year-old Jedi master named Yoda: “Unlearn what you have learned”.

Understanding the Trump Doctrine is child’s play—just don’t overthink it.

Put away your Hans Morgenthau, Kenneth Waltz or just war theory training because President Trump has his own ideas when it comes to global affairs.

Our new president is very different than almost any other we can remember in modern times.

He does not have the professorial pontification skills or deeply intellectual mindset of Barack Obama. Nor does he have the government experience of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald R. Ford, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson or JFK.

Trump is cut from a different cloth—he’s a street fighter and certainly not a slick, ivy league educated foreign policy expert.

The Donald is a rough and tumble, school of hard knocks, New York City businessman. He doesn’t care about your foreign policy schools of thoughts, deep historical perspective or game-theory workshops. He just wants the best “deals” for America. Period. End of story.

All of this is exactly what the American people voted for. Something different—with the old models of thinking being clearly rejected. And we need to make our peace with it.

But that doesn’t mean he isn’t sophisticated or doesn’t have a sense of vision when it comes to international affairs.

In fact, Trump has his own loosely crafted foreign policy playbook, based on his own success and failures as a New York City businessman, entrepreneur and branding genius.

Our new president is taking his business acumen and applying it on a global stage. He has, at least in my opinion, what can be best described as a foreign policy balance sheet in his head. Trump looks at where he thinks America is “winning,” code for where Washington’s interests are moving forward, and losing, where America’s interests are not being served. And he tackles the ‘losses’ on that balance sheet with ruthless efficiency.

And that all makes Trump’s global agenda, one in which he takes on the toughest of problems—problems that have been festering for decades—a very hard task, but one that is worth pursuing.

Taking on China over North Korea will be an immense challenge—creating tensions in a relationship with the two biggest global economies and militaries. Taking on trade deals that many times were not always in America’s best interests might be even harder. Asking our allies to spend more towards our common defense won’t be easy. But who said change ever was?

Making all of this even more difficult is when people misinterpret the president’s own words or cherry pick his ideas to change his message, all in an effort to take him down.

Will Trump abandon NATO, leave South Korea on its own to confront a nuclear North Korea and withdraw to some sort of fortress America? Never.

Again, his past clues you into his thinking. Like any CEO, our president is using his background in business to strike the best terms for the nation in its relationships. And just like any CEO, he is not going to break a signed deal, like alliances with key partners the world over – that’s bad for the business of the nation. But he will try to ask for a little more—just like many of us do in our own lives and business deals. Shocker.

What unnerves people is the patented Trump approach—blunt and straightforward—and almost never politically correct in how he sometimes goes about striking a deal. That will get smoothed out in the months and years to come, just like many other presidents in the past. The stature of the office, the highest in the land, has that impact on the occupant.

But Trump is not going to change his core thinking or personality—that much is clear.

World leaders at the G-20 should already understand by now who our president is and his approach.

Trump is not going to coddle you, make you feel all warm and fuzzy when you do something against America’s national interests—he is not Barack Obama. He’s going to tell you in his own Trumpian way he is not impressed—and press you to change your position. And he might even do it on Twitter. And the media will go crazy over it, only amplifying the power of his message.

In fact, there might be a foreign policy vision that personifies the Trump Doctrine after all: mega-realism on steroids—and it’s what the American people asked for. Trump has stayed true to what he said he would do in foreign affairs, and it’s simple to understand, you just have to see the world through his own training and life experience—not yours.

Let Yoda be your guide.

Harry J. Kazianis (@grecianformula) is director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, founded by former President Richard M. Nixon.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/07/07/trump-doctrine-is-easy-to-understand-just-look-at-his-background.html

VOICE

There Is No Trump Doctrine, and There Will Never Be One

There Is No Trump Doctrine, and There Will Never Be One

“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him,” Dwight D. Eisenhower observed in 1952. Managing the future’s course is no small task, but in foreign policy the development and execution of sound strategy are a leader’s best hope. In January, on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, we warned in Foreign Policy that Trump’s approach to foreign policy was dangerously nearsighted and posed unacceptable risks to national security. Absent a course correction, a trainwreck is all but assured.

Six months later, there is little indication that the president and his advisors have developed the kind of strategy — what academics call “grand strategy” and pundits refer to as “doctrine” — designed to impose America’s will on the world, rather than vice versa. Indeed, it seems there will never be a Trump doctrine. In resisting the careful patience required to develop and execute a purposive course of action over time, the administration’s method of policymaking is explicitly anti-strategic.

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During Whirlwind Week in Washington, VP Pence Comforts…

What White House infighting?

This deficiency results from three operational and philosophical principles that orient the president’s decision-making: a focus on short-term wins rather than longer-term strategic foresight; a “zero-sum” worldview where all gains are relative and reciprocity is absent; and a rejection of values-based policymaking. The shortcomings of this approach — which we dubbed “tactical transactionalism” — are already apparent in the Trump administration’s foreign-policy record to date.

First, Trump has made no secret of his desire to “win,” a worldview that privileges short-term, tactical triumphs.

Nowhere was this attitude more evident than in Trump’s decision to fire off 59 cruise missiles in retaliation for a Syrian government chemical weapons attack. Although administration officials herald this decision in public and private as a signal accomplishment of Trump’s foreign policy, the strike actually had little effect: The targeted airfield was operational again within days, and the attack’s muddled rationale obscured any intended signal to American adversaries. Nonetheless, the arresting images of U.S. Navy destroyers launching missiles remain the most vivid exemplar of the Trump administration’s foreign policy in its first six months.

This short-termism was also apparent in the initial enthusiastic response to the Gulf crisis that began on June 5, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and announced a blockade on the country. Trump, eager to claim a win from his trip to the Middle East, tweeted his support for the move. Even as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to take a more strategic view of the crisis — recognizing the centrality of the Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar to the U.S.-led counter-Islamic State campaign — Trump undermined his chief diplomat with bravado, doubling down on his criticism of Qatar and asserting, “If we ever needed another military base, you have other countries that would gladly build it.” Unsurprisingly, when the secretary of state attempted a well-publicized diplomatic effort to find a regional solution, U.S. partners refused to participate.

Though well suited to splashy successes — or at least the tweetable impression of them — a tactical-transactional approach blinds the president to the second- and third-order effects of his actions, making sound strategy nearly impossible.

Second, the Trump foreign policy is characterized by a zero-sum worldview: Every win for another country is a loss for the United States, and Washington’s best bet is to out-negotiate both allies and adversaries at every turn. Cooperation, according to the perspective explicitly articulated by top advisors H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, emerges only when narrow self-interests exactly align.

In an illustration of this principle, on his fourth day in office, Trump signed an executive order that withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. He did so after expressing a series of deep misunderstandings about the TPP’s likely impact on jobs and wages, its power over U.S. decision-making, and its inability to deal with Chinese and Japanese currency manipulation. In its place, Trump has promised to “fix” America’s trade relations with all of its trading partners through bilateral deals. “Wait till you see what we’re going to do on trade,” Trump boasted this week to the New York Times, without offering any supporting details (as always). Meanwhile, the TPP, the text of which overwhelmingly reflected American preferences, is now being redrafted without American participation; meanwhile, China is advancing its own trade agenda through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The zero-sum perspective even extends to U.S. allies, which the president views more as competitors than enduring strategic partners. Despite Seoul’s vital role in addressing the North Korean nuclear crisis — undoubtedly the national security issue atop Trump’s agenda — the president has threatened to terminate the American bilateral trade agreement with South Korea and tried to renege on the U.S. commitment to pay for the THAAD anti-missile defense system.

By ignoring the multidimensional nature of international politics and denying the value of reciprocity, this relentless unilateralism denies the United States critical cooperative tools in countering threats and seizing opportunities.

Finally, tactical transactionalism is devoid of moral or ethical considerations.

President Trump has demonstrated an intuitive adoration for authoritarian leaders.

President Trump has demonstrated an intuitive adoration for authoritarian leaders. In April, he praised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a habitual human rights abuser, for doing a “fantastic job in a very difficult situation.” Later in the month, he called Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to congratulate him, telling the man behind the deaths of thousands of his own citizens: “I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem.… Keep up good work. You are doing an amazing job.” Perhaps most dramatically, he called North Korea’s Kim Jong Un a “pretty smart cookie,” whom he would be “honored” to meet.Though it may enhance the unpredictability Trump prizes, a foreign policy unmoored from values results in a foreign policy oriented exclusively — and nihilistically — around pursuit of the “best deal.”

Over the past six months, in the wake of Trump’s cruise missile strikes in Syria and again with soaring speeches in Saudi Arabia and Poland, foreign-policy analysts have attempted to weave the administration’s actions into a coherent strategic doctrine. Senior administration officials are in on the game as well, with various factions vying to impose their strategic vision of “America First” in a bizarre, latter-day Kennan sweepstakes. But for all the op-ed ink that’s been spilled, these attempts are little more than a fool’s errand.

Even if analysts and advisors could impose intellectual coherence on Trump’s constellation of instincts and predilections, tactical transactionalism all but guarantees the inconsistent translation of those preferences into policy.

Even Trump’s well-documented antipathy toward American allies is not a reliable guide to his actual conduct of foreign relations: Despite decades of bashing both Japan and Germany, over the past six months, Trump has embraced Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — who cleverly came bearing golden golf clubs to Trump Tower in New York last November — while spurning German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Moreover, the administration lacks the capacity to implement any strategic vision — particularly one that requires the use of non-hard-power tools. Military officials have wisely emphasized that lasting solutions to the wars in Afghanistan, Syria, and even Yemen are primarily the responsibility and role of the State Department. But the State Department itself has been gutted and demoralized. The White House’s fiscal year 2018 budget request was a paltry $37.6 billion for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (a 33 percent decrease over the previous budget) and $639 billion for the Department of Defense (representing a 10 percent increase). Tillerson has also refused to fill an unprecedented number of senior diplomatic posts and ambassadorships, claiming that it would be pointless until the State Department had been fully reorganized.

To some extent, the inability of the Trump administration to develop and execute grand strategy has resulted in an astounding degree of continuity with Barack Obama-era foreign policies. Despite Trump’s pronouncement that Obama’s “strategic patience” with North Korea is over, the “peaceful pressure” policy is not discernibly distinct. Similarly, the administration’s still-secret strategy to defeat the Islamic State clearly entails tactical intensification but remains strategically similar to the Obama approach.

While surely desirable in some instances, stability is not necessarily the best response to a dynamic world.

While surely desirable in some instances, stability is not necessarily the best response to a dynamic world.Without a grand strategy, the United States cannot seize the initiative on the world stage and, simply by default, will cede ground to hostile powers, as the effects of a reactive foreign policy accrue exponentially over time. The unpredictability that Trump prizes has already injected uncertainty into America’s alliances, as international partners question whether Washington can be trusted to uphold its security commitments. Around the world, public opinion is turning against the United States, and foreign capitals can be expected to reorient their foreign policies accordingly.Come fall, the administration will likely release a wave of strategy documents, from the overarching National Security Strategy to more specific ones like the Nuclear Posture Review. These documents may provide the fleeting illusion of strategy, but they cannot elide a fundamental truth: So long as Trump’s tactical transactionalism governs the formation of U.S. foreign policy, the United States is condemned to be the object, rather than the agent, of history.

Rebecca Friedman Lissner is a Stanton nuclear security fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Micah Zenko is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

There Is No Trump Doctrine, and There Will Never Be One

Story 2: President Trump Will Sign Sanctions Bill For Russia, North Korea, and Islamic Republic of Iran — Videos

Congress and the Public

Image result for summary U. S. sanctions on iran, russia, north korea

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US Senate approves Iran, Russia, North Korea sanctions

Trump will sign bill imposing stiff sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea

President Donald Trump said he would sign a series of bills that will impose stiff financial sanctions on Russia.

The announcement comes after Congress this week overwhelmingly approved packages to punish Moscow for allegedly meddling in U.S. elections.

After Congress approved the sanctions, Moscow said it was reducing the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia in retaliation.

In a statement late Friday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had “reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it.”

The legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad. It also imposes financial sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

Before Trump’s decision to sign the bill into law, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the bill’s passage was long overdue, a jab at Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress. McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has called Putin a murderer and a thug.

“Over the last eight months what price has Russia paid for attacking our elections?” McCain asked. “Very little.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday said it is ordering the U.S. Embassy in Russia to reduce the number of its diplomats by Sept. 1. Russia will also close down the embassy’s recreational retreat on the outskirts of Moscow as well as warehouse facilities.

Meanwhile, some European countries expressed concerns that the measures targeting Russia’s energy sector would harm its businesses involved in piping Russian natural gas. Germany’s foreign minister said his country wouldn’t accept the U.S. sanctions against Russia being applied to European companies.

A spokesman for the European Commission said Friday that European officials will be watching the U.S. effort closely, vowing to “remain vigilant.”

The North Korea sanctions are intended to thwart Pyongyang’s ambition for nuclear weapons by cutting off access to the cash the reclusive nation needs to follow through with its plans. The bill prohibits ships owned by North Korea or by countries that refuse to comply with U.N. resolutions against it from operating in American waters or docking at U.S. ports.

Goods produced by North Korea’s forced labor would be prohibited from entering the United States, according to the bill.

The sanctions package imposes mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The measure would apply terrorism sanctions to the country’s Revolutionary Guards and enforce an arms embargo.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/07/28/trump-to-sign-bill-levying-sanctions-on-russia-iran-and-north-korea-white-house-says.html

How U.S. Sanctions Are Working (Or Not) in 5 Countries

Jul 31, 2017

Sanctions are back in the news — though if you’re President Donald Trump, that’s not a good thing. Here’s a look at the current state of U.S. sanctions on a few key countries and how they’re faring.

Russia

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a new round of sanctions against Russia, targeting its intelligence, energy, defense, mining and railway industries. The U.S. has had sanctions in place against Russia since the 2014 invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, but this latest round also hits Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Sanctions take years to have full effect—in the short term, they’re mainly a shot across the bow (and one to which Putin has already retaliated). But you don’t often see a Republican-led Congress using sanctions as a shot across the bow of a Republican president.

Near-universal support from Congress (the sanctions bill passed the Senate by a 98-2 margin; the House of Representatives went 419-3) undermines Trump’s ability to unilaterally lift sanctions against Russia—compromising the traditional power of the president to lead the country’s foreign policy (if Trump wants to try to lift these sanctions, Congress has 30 days to approve or reject this request). The bipartisan bill had been held up by ferocious White House lobbying, but the realization has since set in that the bill will pass, even if Congress has to override a presidential veto. Trump still says that accusations his campaign colluded with the Russian government are “fake news.” Fake or not, concerns about his relations with Russia are beginning to have real impact on policy.

North Korea

While the Russia component of the bill is receiving the lion’s share of media attention, it also ramps up penalties against North Korea (in addition to Iran—see below). The U.S. has kept sanctions on the North Koreans since the Korean War. Not that they’ve done much beyond adding to the misery inside a country where 41 percent of people are undernourished and more than 70 percent depend on food aid. The Kim dynasty remains in power and continues to develop the country’s nuclear program. In fact, U.S. intelligence revised estimates just this week to say that Pyongyang could develop the capability to deliver a nuclear weapon to the continental US within a year. Some experts believe an ICBM tested on Friday could already put U.S. cities at risk.

But recent North Korea sanctions have also ricocheted on China, North Korea’s primary benefactor and link to the outside world. More than 90 percent of North Korea’s trade volume comes from China, not to mention most of its food and energy. North Korea uses Chinese banks to fund transactions throughout the rest of the world, and recent rounds of sanctions have targeted those Chinese banks and companies. Trump continues to complain that Beijing should place more pressure on the Kim regime; this is one way to add more encouragement. It’s highly unlikely to be enough to change Beijing’s mind though, given Chinese fears of extreme instability on the Korean peninsula.

Iran

Sanctions on Iran, on the other hand, have shown some results, because unlike North Korea, Iran wants a deeper commercial and political engagement with the rest of the world. Cutting off access to global markets and investments, as well as freezing $56 billion in assets, hit the country hard. Iran had hoped that signing the 2015 nuclear deal would breathe new life into its economy by allowing it to return to oil markets, and it has—though not by as much as moderates like President Hassan Rouhani had hoped.

Iran is still being kept in the cold despite the nuclear deal because the U.S. has retained sanctions over Iran’s ballistic missiles program, human rights abuses, and state sponsorship of groups like Hezbollah that Washington considers terrorist organizations. The country’s also being held back by plummeting oil prices: when Iran first signed the 2013 interim deal that would ultimately become the nuclear deal we know today, oil was selling at $111 and Iran was producing about 2.8 million barrels a day. Today, it’s producing nearly 4 millionbarrels daily, but oil is only selling at just over $50. Sometimes, the free market can be crueler than sanctions.

Syria

U.S. sanctions against Syria have been in place since 2004, long before the country descended into civil war. The Bush and Obama administrations accused the Assad regime of supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction, and undermining the U.S. in neighboring Iraq.

But instituting country-wide sanctions gets harder when the country in question is falling apart. The latest round have been more precisely targeted: following Assad’s use of sarin gas against civilian populations, the U.S. government levied sanctions against 271 Syrian individuals who work for the government agency making chemical weapons in April 2017. Members of Assad’s family saw their U.S. assets frozen in May. A strength of sanctions is that they can be aimed directly at individual sectors and officials, limiting damage to ordinary citizens and creating incentives for more cooperative behavior. But that advantage isn’t worth much when the government in question is already fighting for its life.

Cuba

More than 80 percent of Americans (not to mention a majority of Republicans) supported lifting the Cuban travel embargo back in 2015; 58 percent of Americans favored reestablishing diplomatic relations. Despite that, Trump has rolled back some of those Obama provisions by limiting commerce with Cuban businesses affiliated with the military, which owns almost all of the island’s retail chains and hotels. Trump has also ordered that any American who wants to visit the island for “educational” purposes must do so through a licensed tour group. The embassies in Washington and Havana will remain open.

The U.S. has been sanctioning Cuba in one form or another since the Dwight Eisenhower administration in the late 1950s. John F. Kennedy expanded sanctions further, and they remained in place for more than 50 years until Obama eased many restrictions. Over the decades, Cuba estimates that the U.S. embargo has cost the country nearly $117 billion, yet the island is still governed by Raul Castro following his brother’s death in November.

The lesson of sanctions: context is everything. About 10 years ago, I wrote a book called The J-Curve, where I envisioned all the countries in the world plotted on an X-Y axis.

On the far left of the curve are countries like North Korea and Cuba, whose regimes are stable precisely because they’re closed off from the rest of the world. On the far right of the curve are open countries like Germany and the U.S., whose governments are stable precisely because they engage with the rest of the world. Sanctions generally shift countries further left along the curve; sometimes, if the sanctions are significant enough, they can shift the entire curve downwards for a single country.

Put another way: a government like Syria’s that is fighting for its life will always have bigger problems than sanctions guiding its choices. But when sanctions are imposed on governments that feel safer outside the international system like those in North Korea and Cuba (i.e. on the far left of the J-Curve), the penalties are unlikely to bring about change — especially when they can rely on a deep-pocketed patron. (Cuba has recently opened mainly because the friendly Chavista government in Venezuela seems fated to join the Soviet Union on the ash heap of history.)

A larger country on the left-hand side of the J-curve like Russia is more vulnerable to its own economic shortcomings than to Western sanctions. But pressure on a country like Iran (also on the left side of the J-Curve, but near the dip), one that wants to plug into international commerce but that remains small enough to isolate, has more potential for success.

http://time.com/4875370/sanctions-russia-north-korea-iran-donald-trump/

Russia sanctions bill heads to Trump after Senate approval

 July 27

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted decisively on Thursday to approve a new package of stiff financial sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, sending the popular bill to President Donald Trump for his signature after weeks of intense negotiations.Never in doubt, however, was a cornerstone of the legislation that bars Trump from easing or waiving the additional penalties on Russia unless Congress agrees. The provisions were included to assuage concerns among lawmakers that the president’s push for better relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin might lead him to relax the penalties without first securing concessions from the Kremlin.The Senate passed the bill, 98-2, two days after the House pushed the measure through by an overwhelming margin, 419-3. Both are veto proof numbers as the White House has wavered on whether the president would sign the measure into law.The legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the bill’s passage was long overdue, a jab at Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress. McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has called Putin a murderer and a thug.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 27, 2017. The Senate voted decisively to approve a new package of stiff financial sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, sending the popular bill to President Donald Trump for his signature after weeks of intense negotiations. The legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad. McCain said the bill’s passage was long overdue, a jab at Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress. McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has called Putin a murderer and a thug. (Cliff Owen/Associated Press)

“Over the last eight months what price has Russia paid for attacking our elections?” McCain asked. “Very little.”

Trump had privately expressed frustration over Congress’ ability to limit or override the power of the president on national security matters, according to Trump administration officials and advisers. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.

But faced with heavy bipartisan support for the bill in the House and Senate, the president has little choice but to sign the bill into law. Trump’s communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, suggested earlier Thursday on CNN’s New Day that Trump might veto the bill and “negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.”

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said that would be a serious mistake and called Scaramucci’s remark an “off-handed comment.” If Trump rejected the bill, Corker said, Congress would overrule him.

“I cannot imagine anybody is seriously thinking about vetoing this bill,” said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It’s not good for any president — and most governors don’t like to veto things that are going to be overridden. It shows a diminishment of their authority. I just don’t think that’s a good way to start off as president.”

Still, signing a bill that penalizes Russia’s election interference would mark a significant shift for Trump. He’s repeatedly cast doubt on the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia sought to tip the election in his favor. And he’s blasted as a “witch hunt” investigations into the extent of Russia’s interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.

The 184-page bill seeks to hit Putin and the oligarchs close to him by targeting Russian corruption, human rights abusers, and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports.

The bill underwent revisions to address concerns voiced by American oil and natural gas companies that sanctions specific to Russia’s energy sector could backfire on them to Moscow’s benefit. The bill raised the threshold for when U.S. firms would be prohibited from being part of energy projects that also included Russian businesses.

Lawmakers said they also made adjustments so the sanctions on Russia’s energy sector didn’t undercut the ability of U.S. allies in Europe to get access to oil and gas resources outside of Russia.

The North Korea sanctions are intended to thwart Pyongyang’s ambition for nuclear weapons by cutting off access to the cash the reclusive nation needs to follow through with its plans. The bill prohibits ships owned by North Korea or by countries that refuse to comply with U.N. resolutions against it from operating in American waters or docking at U.S. ports. Goods produced by North Korea’s forced labor would be prohibited from entering the United States, according to the bill.

The sanctions package imposes mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The measure would apply terrorism sanctions to the country’s Revolutionary Guards and enforce an arms embargo.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted against the sanctions bill.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/congress/russia-sanctions-bill-heads-to-trump-after-senate-approval/2017/07/27/21f0a93c-7324-11e7-8c17-533c52b2f014_story.html?utm_term=.d85fb5faaa55

Now I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society.

Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one — a great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little? Congress

 

Great deal Quite a lot Some Very little None (vol.) No opinion
% % % % % %
2017 Jun 7-11 6 6 39 44 3 1
2016 Jun 1-5 3 6 35 52 3 *
2015 Jun 2-7 4 4 37 48 5 1
2014 Jun 5-8 4 3 36 50 7 1
2013 Jun 1-4 5 5 37 47 5 1
2012 Jun 7-10 6 7 34 47 5 1
2011 Jun 9-12 6 6 40 44 4 1
2010 Jul 8-11 4 7 37 45 5 2
2009 Jun 14-17 6 11 45 34 4 1
2008 Jun 9-12 6 6 45 38 3 2
2007 Jun 11-14 4 10 46 36 3 1
2006 Jun 1-4 5 14 44 32 3 2
2005 May 23-26 8 14 51 25 1 1
2004 May 21-23 11 19 48 20 1 1
2003 Jun 9-10 10 19 50 19 1 1
2002 Jun 21-23 9 20 53 16 1 1
2001 Jun 8-10 10 16 49 20 2 3
2000 Jun 22-25 7 17 47 24 3 2
1999 Jun 25-27 9 17 51 21 1 1
1998 Jun 5-7 10 18 48 20 2 2
1997 Jul 25-27 9 13 50 24 3 1
1996 May 28-29 6 14 50 26 2 2
1995 Apr 21-24 9 12 48 28 2 1
1994 Mar 25-29 7 11 48 29 0 2
1993 Mar 22-24 8 10 40 35 4 2
1991 Oct 10-13 7 11 43 33 3 3
1991 Feb 28-Mar 3 11 19 44 21 2 3
1990 Aug 16-19 9 15 43 28 2 3
1989 Sep 7-10 13 19 42 21 3 2
1988 Sep 23-26 8 27 45 16 2 2
1987 Jul 10-13
1986 Jul 11-14 10 31 43 12 1 3
1985 May 17-20 9 30 42 15 2 3
1984 Oct 6-10 12 17 40 28 4
1983 Aug 5-8 6 22 42 23 2 5
1981 Nov 20-23 8 21 41 22 6 3
1979 Apr 6-9 11 23 39 23 1 3
1977 Jan 7-10 12 28 34 17 1 7
1975 May 30-Jun 2 14 26 38 18 1 3
1973 May 4-7 15 27 35 11 3 8
(vol.) = Volunteered response; * Less than 0.5%
GALLUP

http://www.gallup.com/poll/1600/congress-public.aspx

 

Story 3: Washington War Fever with Neocon Republicans and Progressive Democrats — Masking Incompetency — Videos

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Ron Paul: Dick Cheney Wants War With Russia – Deep State Desperate For WW3

Published on Mar 29, 2017

During a recent episode of The Ron Paul Liberty Report, Dr. Paul called out the recent statement from Dick Cheney that Russia meddling in the U.S. election is an “act of war.”
So the irresponsibly pro destruction viewpoint of warhawk globalists is once again on full display.

Ron Paul: Shadow Government Will Stage False Flags To Bring Trump Into War

Ron Paul – Neo-CONNED!

Elvis Presley Fever 1960

 

Is Donald Trump Morphing Into A Neocon Interventionist?

04/20/2017 07:45 am ET | Updated Apr 20, 2017

Candidate Donald Trump offered a sharp break from his predecessors. He was particularly critical of neoconservatives, who seemed to back war at every turn.

Indeed, he promised not to include in his administration “those who have perfect resumes but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war.” And he’s generally kept that commitment, for instance rejecting as deputy secretary of state Elliot Abrams, who said Trump was unfit to be president.

Substantively candidate Trump appeared to offer not so much a philosophy as an inclination. Practical if not exactly Realist, he cared more for consequences than his three immediate predecessors, who had treated wars as moral crusades in Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. In contrast, Trump promised: “unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct.”

Yet so far the Trump administration is shaping up as a disappointment for those who hoped for a break from the liberal interventionist/neoconservative synthesis.

The first problem is staffing. In Washington people are policy. The president can speak and tweet, but he needs others to turn ideas into reality and implement his directives. It doesn’t appear that he has any foreign policy realists around him, or anyone with a restrained view of America’s international responsibilities.

Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and Herbert McMaster are all serious and talented, and none are neocons. But all seem inclined toward traditional foreign policy approaches and committed to moderating their boss’s unconventional thoughts. Most of the names mentioned for deputy secretary of state have been reliably hawkish—Abrams, John Bolton, the rewired Jon Huntsman.

President Trump appears to be most concerned with issues that have direct domestic impacts, and especially with economic nostrums about which he is most obviously wrong. He’s long been a protectionist (his anti-immigration opinions are of more recent vintage). Yet his views have not changed even as circumstances have. The Chinese once artificially limited the value of the renminbi, but recently have taken the opposite approach. The U.S. is not alone in losing manufacturing jobs, which are disappearing around the world and won’t be coming back. Multilateral trade agreements are rarely perfect, but they are not zero sum games. They usually offer political as well as economic benefits.

The administration’s repudiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was particularly damaging. His decision embarrassed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who made important economic concessions to join. More important, Trump has abandoned the economic field to the People’s Republic of China, which is pushing two different accords. Australia, among other U.S. allies, has indicated that it now will deal with Beijing, which gets to set the Pacific trade agenda.

In contrast, on more abstract foreign policy issues President Trump seems ready to treat minor concessions as major victories and move on. For years he criticized America’s Asian and European allies for taking advantage of U.S. defense generosity. In his speech hosted by the Center for the National Interest he complained that “our allies are not paying their fair share.” During the campaign he suggested refusing to honor NATO’s Article 5 commitment and leave countries failing to make sufficient financial contributions to their fate.

Yet Secretaries Mattis and Tillerson have insisted that Washington remains committed to the same alliances incorporating dependence on America. Worse, in his speech to Congress the president took credit for the small uptick in military outlays by European NATO members which actually began in 2015: “based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning” to “meet their financial obligations.” Although he declared with predictable exaggeration that “the money is pouring in,” no one believes that Germany, which will go from 1.19 to 1.22 percent of GDP this year, will nearly double its outlays to hit even the NATO standard of two percent. Yet after recently meeting alliance officials he even repudiated his criticism of NATO as “obsolete.”

President Trump’s signature policy initiative, rapprochement with Russia, appears dead in the water. Unfortunately, the president’s strange personal enthusiasm for Vladimir Putin undercut his desire to accommodate a great power which has no fundamental, irresolvable conflicts with the America. Moreover, President Trump’s attempt to improve relations faces strong ideological opposition from neoconservatives determined to have a new enemy and partisan resistance from liberal Democrats committed to undermining the new administration.

President Trump also appears to have no appointees who share his commitment on this issue. At least Trump’s first National Security Adviser, Mike Flynn, wanted better relations with Russia, amid other, more dubious beliefs, but now the president seems alone. In fact, Secretary Tillerson sounded like he was representing the Obama administration when he demanded Moscow’s withdrawal from Crimea, a policy nonstarter. Ambassador-designate Huntsman’s views are unclear, but he will be constrained by the State Department bureaucracy.

The president is heading in an uncertain direction regarding China. How best to handle America’s one potential peer competitor is a matter of serious debate, but even before taking office President Trump launched what appeared to be confrontation on multiple fronts: Taiwan, trade, South China Sea, North Korea. Secretary Tillerson also took a highly adversarial position, suggesting in Senate testimony that the U.S. might blockade the PRC’s claimed Pacific possessions, a casus belli, and “compel,” whatever that means, compliance with sanctions against North Korea. Yet after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping President Trump appeared ready to take a more balanced approach to China. More seasoned Asia experts have yet to be appointed, however.

The Trump policy in the Middle East seems in confused flux. During the campaign he briefly pushed an “even-handed” approach to Israel and the Palestinians, before going all in backing the hardline Likud government’s practical repudiation of a two-state solution and expanded colonization of the West Bank. Since then, however, he, like other presidents before him, has backed away—though perhaps only temporarily—from the promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Moreover, President Trump has emphasized his desire to make a peace deal, which obviously would require concessions on both sides.

The president appears to be stepping into the Syrian and Iraq quagmires despite his election promises to the contrary. He sharply criticized previous policy in the Mideast: “Logic replaced with foolishness and arrogance, which led to one foreign policy disaster after another.” He explicitly denounced interventions in Iraq and Libya, promising to get out “of the nation-building business,” and emphasized the defeat of the Islamic State rather than overthrow of Bashar al-Assad.

Yet the administration launched missile strikes on Syria and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley loudly joined the “oust Assad” bandwagon. The president also proposed creating “safe zones” in Syria, which would require an extensive and potentially long-term U.S. military presence.

The Pentagon introduced a Marine Corps artillery battalion and other forces to assist in capturing the ISIS capital of Raqqa, Syria. Despite complaining about inadequate burden-sharing principle in the Middle East, President Trump risks encouraging the Gulf States and Turkey to reduce their efforts to defeat the Islamic State. There are reports that the administration is considering an extended military role in Iraq as well.

Finally, the president appears to have reversed himself on Afghanistan. Early in the campaign he said America should end its longest war, which has devolved into a forlorn attempt to create a centralized, liberal democratic state in Central Asia. More recently, however, he indicated he planned to keep U.S. forces there. In December he told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that he “would certainly continue to support Afghanistan security.” There may be no conflict which less advances serious American interests than attempting to sustain an incompetent, corrupt, and failing central government in Kabul.

Where the president stands on other issues is unclear. During the campaign he indicated a willingness to talk with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. But his secretary of state rejected that course, instead threatening military action—backed by an aircraft carrier battle group off of the North’s coast. President Trump’s support for Brexit has roiled relations with Europe, which also worries about his protectionist beliefs—highlighted by his attack on Germany’s alleged currency manipulation—and potentially softer approach to Russia.

Despite being highly critical of the Iran nuclear accord, he has not yet challenged the pact. He appears to be restoring Washington’s uncritical embrace of Saudi Arabia, which will undermine his expressed desire for greater burden-sharing by allies and yield long-term problems in Yemen. He has barely noticed Africa and South America.

It remains early for the Trump administration, and there’s no there there in much of the State and Defense departments, as well as other agencies. The president still could move in a more pragmatic, Realist direction. However, without allies in his administration that prospect seems small. Hopefully the American people, having voted against the promiscuous military intervention of his predecessors, will not end up with more of the same foreign policy.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/is-donald-trump-morphing-into-a-neocon-interventionist_us_58f898dae4b081380af51913

 

 

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio

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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

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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 —

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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.

 

 

 

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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

Bill Gates Admits Trump Is Right, Warns We Will Be Overrun With Migrants Unless… – Hot News

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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 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 820: January 19, 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

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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

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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