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Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

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Image result for senate committee questions former fbi director james comey june 8, 2017

Image result for senate committee questions former fbi director james comey june 8, 2017

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Image result for cartoons james comey

Story 1: Former FBI Director James Comey Answers Some Senator Questions And President Trump’s Lawyer Responds To Comey Testimony — Videos —

 

Full hearing: James Comey testifies to Senate intel committee regarding Russia-Trump

James Comey Hearing on Trump/Russia: Opening Remarks and Questioning

FBI Director James Comey EMOTIONAL Opening Statement in Testimony at Senate Hearing 6/8/2017

Sen. Risch to Comey: Trump’s exact words didn’t direct or order you to let go of Flynn probe

WATCH LIVE: James Comey Testifies on President Trump & Russia Investigation at Senate Hearing

Trump Attorney Responds To Testimony By James Comey

Comey: Trump Did Not Ask To Stop Russia Investigation

COMEY HEARING: COMEY FINALLY ANSWERS – “Do You Believe Donald Trump Colluded With Russia?”

Comey: “I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in”

COMEY HEARING: On CLINTON EMAILS – “Brutally Unfair” To Call For Special Counsel. “No Case There!”

Marco Rubio Crushes Democrat Media ‘Collusion’ Narrative at Comey Hearing

James Comey Admits Loretta Lynch Tried To Cover Up Hillary Clinton Investigation

James Comey Admits He Leaked Trump Memo To Reporters

FULL TESTIMONY: Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before Senate Intelligence Committee

Many news stories about Russia probe are dead wrong, Comey tells Sen. Lankford

Rubio questions former FBI Director James Comey

Comey ‘never initiated a communication with the president,’ he tells Sen. King

Comey to Sen. Cornyn: FBI agents have duty to report crime

Sen. Harris asks Comey if it was appropriate for Sessions to be involved in firing after recusal

Heinrich Questions Former FBI Director James Comey In Senate Intel Committee Hearing

Comey: ‘I’m A Little Confused Senator’

Former FBI director James Comey full testimony on Donald Trump at Senate hearing

Comey’s testimony makes things better for Trump: Fmr. DOJ official

 

The ‘Independent’ Mr. Comey

His prepared testimony shows why he deserved to be fired.

The desk in the Hart Senate Office Building from which former FBI director James Comey will testify, June 7.

The desk in the Hart Senate Office Building from which former FBI director James Comey will testify, June 7. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The Senate Intelligence Committee released James Comey’s prepared testimony a day early on Wednesday, and it looks like a test of whether Washington can apprehend reality except as another Watergate. Perhaps the defrocked FBI director has a bombshell still to drop. But far from documenting an abuse of power by President Trump, his prepared statement reveals Mr. Comey’s misunderstanding of law enforcement in a democracy.

Mr. Comey’s seven-page narrative recounts his nine encounters with the President-elect and then President, including an appearance at Trump Tower, a one-on-one White House dinner and phone calls. He describes how he briefed Mr. Trump on the Russia counterintelligence investigation and what he calls multiple attempts to “create some sort of patronage relationship.”

But at worst Mr. Comey’s account of Mr. Trump reveals a willful and naive narcissist who believes he can charm or subtly intimidate the FBI director but has no idea how Washington works. This is not new information.

When you’re dining alone in the Green Room with an operator like Mr. Comey—calculating, self-protective, one of the more skilled political knife-fighters of modern times—there are better approaches than asserting “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Of course the righteous director was going to “memorialize” (his word) these conversations as political insurance.

Mr. Trump’s ham-handed demand for loyalty doesn’t seem to extend beyond the events of 2016, however. In Mr. Comey’s telling, the President is preoccupied with getting credit for the election results and resentful that the political class is delegitimizing his victory with “the cloud” of Russian interference when he believes he did nothing wrong.

Mr. Comey also confirms that on at least three occasions he told Mr. Trump that he was not a personal target of the Russia probe. But Mr. Comey wouldn’t make a public statement to the same effect, “most importantly because it would create a duty to correct” if Mr. Trump were implicated. This is odd because the real obligation is to keep quiet until an investigation is complete.

More interesting is that Mr. Trump’s frustration at Mr. Comey’s refusal raises the possibility that the source of Mr. Trump’s self-destructive behavior isn’t a coverup or a bid to obstruct the investigation. The source could simply be Mr. Trump’s wounded pride.

The most troubling part of Mr. Comey’s statement is his belief in what he calls “the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch,” which he invokes more than once. Independent? This is a false and dangerous view of law enforcement in the American system.

Mr. Comey is describing an FBI director who essentially answers to no one. But the police powers of the government are awesome and often abused, and the only way to prevent or correct abuses is to report to elected officials who are accountable to voters. A director must resist intervention to obstruct an investigation, but he and the agency must be politically accountable or risk becoming the FBI of J. Edgar Hoover.

Mr. Comey says Mr. Trump strongly suggested in February that he close the Michael Flynn file, but after conferring with his “FBI senior leadership” he decided not to relay the conversation to Attorney General Jeff Sessions or any other Justice Department superior. If he thought he was being unduly pressured he had a legal obligation to report, and in our view to resign, but he says he didn’t because “we expected” that Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from Russia involvement.

Well, how did he know? Mr. Sessions didn’t recuse himself until two weeks later. Mr. Comey also didn’t tell the acting Deputy AG, who at the time was a U.S. attorney whom Mr. Comey dismisses as someone “who would also not be long in the role.”

This remarkable presumptuousness is the Comey mindset that was on display last year. He broke Justice Department protocol to absolve Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified material, without the involvement of Justice prosecutors or even telling then Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Mr. Comey’s disregard for the chain of legal command is why Mr. Trump was right to fire him, whatever his reasons.

Also on Wednesday two leaders of the intelligence community told the Senate Wednesday that they had not been pressured to cover up anything. “I have never been pressured—I have never felt pressured—to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relation to an ongoing investigation,” said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers added that he never been asked “to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump announced that he is nominating respected Justice Department veteran Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. Let’s hope Mr. Wray has a better understanding of the FBI’s role under the Constitution than Mr. Comey does.

Appeared in the June 8, 2017, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-independent-mr-comey-1496878266

Comey: ‘Lordy, I Hope There are Tapes’
AP

COMEY SAYS HE WAS FIRED BECAUSE OF RUSSIA INVESTIGATION


AP Photo
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former FBI Director James Comey asserted Thursday that President Donald Trump fired him to interfere with his investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and its ties to the Trump campaign.

“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey told the Senate intelligence committee in explosive testimony that threatened to undermine Trump’s presidency.

“I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted,” Comey testified under oath. “That is a very big deal, and not just because it involves me.”

Comey also accused the Trump administration of spreading “lies, plain and simple” about him and the FBI in the aftermath of his abrupt firing last month, declaring that the administration then “chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI” by claiming the bureau was in disorder under his leadership. And in testimony that exposed deep distrust between the president and the veteran lawman, Comey described intense discomfort about their one-on-one conversations, saying he decided he immediately needed to document the discussions in memos.

“I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, so I thought it really important to document,” Comey said. “I knew there might come a day when I might need a record of what happened not only to defend myself but to protect the FBI.”

The revelations came as Comey delivered his much anticipated first public telling of his relationship with Trump, speaking at a packed Senate intelligence committee hearing that brought Washington and parts of the country to a standstill as all eyes were glued to screens showing the testimony. The former director immediately dove into the heart of the fraught political controversy around his firing and whether Trump interfered in the bureau’s Russia investigation, as he elaborated on written testimony delivered Wednesday. In that testimony he had already disclosed that Trump demanded his “loyalty” and directly pushed him to “lift the cloud” of investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the FBI probe into his campaign’s Russia ties.

Comey said that he declined to do so in large part because of the “duty to correct” that would be created if that situation changed. Comey also said in his written testimony that Trump, in a strange private encounter near the grandfather clock in the Oval Office, pushed him to end his investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia asked Comey the key question: “Do you believe this rises to obstruction of justice?”

“I don’t know. That’s Bob Mueller’s job to sort that out,” Comey responded, referring to the newly appointed special counsel who has taken over the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

In a startling disclosure, Comey revealed that after his firing he actually tried to spur the special counsel’s appointment by giving one of his memos about Trump to a friend of his to release to the press.

“My judgment was I need to get that out into the public square,” Comey said.

Trump’s private attorney, Marc Kasowitz, seized on Comey’s affirmation that he told Trump he was not personally under investigation. Though Comey said he interpreted Trump’s comments as a directive to shut down the Flynn investigation, Kasowitz also maintained in his written statement that Comey’s testimony showed that the president “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that that Mr. Comey ‘let Flynn go.'”

The Republican National Committee and other White House allies worked feverishly to lessen any damage from the hearing, trying to undermine Comey’s credibility by issuing press releases and even ads pointing to a past instance where the FBI had had to clean up the director’s testimony to Congress. Republicans and Trump’s own lawyer seized on Comey’s confirmation, in his written testimony, of Trump’s claim that Comey had told him three times the president was not directly under investigation.

Trump himself was expected to dispute Comey’s claims that the president demanded loyalty and asked the FBI director to drop the investigation into Flynn, according to a person close to the president’s legal team who demanded anonymity because of not being authorized to discuss legal strategy. The president has not yet publicly denied the specifics of Comey’s accounts but has broadly challenged his credibility, tweeting last month Comey “better hope there are no ‘tapes'” of the conversations.

“Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey remarked at one point Thursday, suggesting such evidence would back up his account over any claims from the president.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California asked the question that many Republicans have raised in the weeks since Comey’s firing as one media leak followed another revealing Comey’s claims about Trump’s inappropriate interactions with him.

Discussing the Oval Office meeting where Comey says Trump asked him to back off Flynn, Feinstein asked: “Why didn’t you stop and say, ‘Mr. President, this is wrong,’?”

“That’s a great question,” Comey said. “Maybe if I were stronger I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation I just took it in.”

The hearing unfolded amid intense political interest, and within a remarkable political context as Comey delivered detrimental testimony about the president who fired him, a president who won election only after Comey damaged his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the final days of the campaign. Clinton has blamed her defeat on Comey’s Oct. 28 announcement that he was re-opening the investigation of her email practices. “If the election were on Oct. 27, I would be your president,” Clinton said last month.

Thursday’s hearing included discussion of that email investigation, as Comey disclosed that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch instructed him to refer to the issue as a “matter,” not an “investigation.”

“That concerned me because that language tracked how the campaign was talking about the FBI’s work and that’s concerning,” Comey said. “We had an investigation open at the time so that gave me a queasy feeling.”

Many Democrats still blame Comey for Clinton’s loss, leading Trump to apparently believe they would applaud him for firing Comey last month. The opposite was the case as the firing created an enormous political firestorm that has stalled Trump’s legislative agenda on Capitol Hill and taken over Washington.

Under questioning Thursday, Comey strongly asserted the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia did indeed meddle in the 2016 election.

“There should be no fuzz on this. The Russians interfered,” Comey stated firmly. “That happened. It’s about as unfake as you can possibly get.”

Trump has begrudgingly accepted the U.S. intelligence assessment that Russia interfered with the election. But he has also suggested he doesn’t believe it, saying Russia is a “ruse” and calling the investigation into the matter a “witch hunt.”


http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_COMEY?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2017-06-08-12-37-50

Former FBI Director James Comey’s planned testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday will provide President Trump’s opponents with plenty of opportunities to attack his conduct, while also giving his supporters the context they need to defend his actions.The seven-page opening statement Comey provided to the committee this week sheds new light on a series of private conversations and meetings between the president and the former FBI director that had previously been described only through anonymous leaks to the press.However, the statement contained few new revelations, and GOP allies — including the Republican National Committee quickly seized on the document to argue Trump had done nothing wrong.Here are seven takeaways from Comey’s opening statement, which he is slated to deliver before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning.

Comey really did tell Trump he was not under investigation three times.

In his letter last month asking Comey to resign, Trump thanked the former FBI director for telling him, on three occasions, that he was not personally the subject of an FBI probe.

On Jan. 6, according to Comey’s statement, the former FBI director sought permission from the bureau’s “leadership team” to inform the president-elect that he was not under investigation.

“That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him,” Comey wrote. He noted the team concluded that he should indeed tell Trump he was not under investigation “if circumstances warranted” during a “sensitive” conversation at Trump Tower about an unverified dossier of salacious allegations against the president-elect.

“During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance,” Comey wrote.

Then, during a Jan. 27 dinner at the White House, Comey cautioned Trump against calling publicly for an investigation of the salacious dossier by warning him that doing so “might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t.”

Finally, during a March 30 phone call, Comey again told the president he was not the subject of an investigation.

“I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that,” Comey noted.

The former FBI director noted, however, that counter-intelligence investigations and criminal investigations differ in their scope and methods.

Comey had far more contact with Trump than with Obama.

The former FBI director noted that he decided to document his conversations with Trump shortly after their first meeting on Jan. 6 at Trump Tower.

“Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward,” Comey wrote in the statement. “This had not been my practice in the past.”

Comey said he had spoken with former President Obama alone just two times throughout his presidency, and said he did not feel compelled to take notes about either encounter.

“I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months – three in person and six on the phone,” Comey wrote.

Comey did not perceive any interference on the Russia front.

After a Feb. 14 conversation with Trump in the Oval Office, Comey said he felt uncomfortable with comments the president made about his former national security adviser, Gen. Mike Flynn.

Trump asked Comey to “let this go,” referring to an investigation into whether Flynn made misleading statements to FBI agents about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, Comey said.

But the former FBI director clarified that he did not believe the president was asking him to abandon the bureau’s probe of Russian meddling in the presidential race.

“I did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign,” Comey noted.

Comey never told Sessions about his concerns.

The former FBI director defended his decision not to alert the attorney general to his concerns in February about Trump by arguing that he did not expect Attorney General Jeff Sessions or the acting deputy attorney general beneath him to remain involved in the Russia investigation for much longer.

“We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.),” Comey noted.

However, Sessions did not recuse himself until his campaign-era contact with the Russian ambassador surfaced in news reports.

Trump told Comey “it would be good” to find out whether his associates “did something wrong.”

Rather than press Comey to close an investigation of his more distant associates, Trump told the former FBI director he would prefer to learn whether any had committed a crime.

“The president went on to say that if there were some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him,” Comey wrote in his opening statement.

Several of Trump’s former campaign advisers — such as Carter Page, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort — have come under scrutiny for their activities during the presidential race. All three were dismissed from the campaign long before Trump won the White House in November 2016.

Yet one former campaign hand, Flynn, joined Trump in the administration and has since emerged as a top target of investigative focus. And the president did suggest Comey end his efforts to probe Flynn, although the former FBI director suggested the request fell short of obstruction.

Comey does not describe nearly half of his interactions with Trump.

Although the former FBI director claims he interacted one-on-one with Trump on nine separate occasions, his opening statement describes only five of those conversations.

Comey described all three in-person encounters in the statement he provided to the Senate. However, he described just two of the six phone calls he says he had with Trump between Jan. 6 and April 11, the day Comey said he last spoke with the president.

Comey feared Trump wanted a “patronage relationship.”

Comey said Trump’s unexpected move to host him for a private dinner at the White House on Jan. 27 “was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship.”

The former FBI director based that assessment on “[m]y instincts.”

Comey went on to describe an “awkward” moment that occurred when the president described his desire for “loyalty.”

“[T]he president said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’ I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner,” Comey noted.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/7-takeaways-from-comeys-opening-statement/article/2625257

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The Pronk Pops Show 905, June 6, 2017, Story 1: Seven Countries Break Off Diplomatic Ties With Qatar’s For Support of Radical Islamic Terrorists — Will Saudi Arabia Invade and Annex Qatar? — No — Videos –Story 2: President Trump Meets With Republican Congressional Leaders About Passing Tax Reform and Repealing and Replacing Obamacare By Labor Day — Videos — Story 3: NSA Contractor Reality Leigh Winner Leaked NSA Top Secret Document To Intercept — Videos — Story 4: Wikileaks Julian Assange Critical Of Intercept and Reporter That Lead To Arrest of NSA Contractor Leaker Reality Winner –Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

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Story 1: Seven Countries Break Off Diplomatic Ties With Qatar’s For Support of Radical Islamic Terrorists Including Islamic State, al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood — Will Saudi Arabia Invade and Annex Qatar? — No — Videos —

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Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have said they are withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar because Doha had not implemented an agreement among Gulf Arab countries not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs.The three countries said the move was necessary “to protect their security and stability”. But Qatar called the move a “big mistake”.Al Jazeera speaks with Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the former Qatar ambassador to the UN and US.

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CNN Exclusive: US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis

Washington (CNN)US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, Qatari and US government officials say.
Intelligence gathered by the US security agencies indicates that Russian hackers were behind the intrusion first reported by the Qatari government two weeks ago, US officials say. Qatar hosts one of the largest US military bases in the region.
The alleged involvement of Russian hackers intensifies concerns by US intelligence and law enforcement agencies that Russia continues to try some of the same cyber-hacking measures on US allies that intelligence agencies believe it used to meddle in the 2016 elections.
US officials say the Russian goal appears to be to cause rifts among the US and its allies. In recent months, suspected Russian cyber activities, including the use of fake news stories, have turned up amid elections in France, Germany and other countries.
It’s not yet clear whether the US has tracked the hackers in the Qatar incident to Russian criminal organizations or to the Russian security services blamed for the US election hacks. One official noted that based on past intelligence, “not much happens in that country without the blessing of the government.”
The FBI and CIA declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Qatari embassy in Washington said the investigation is ongoing and its results would be released publicly soon.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed what he called CNN’s “fake” reporting Wednesday.
“It’s another lie that was published,” he told reporters. “Unfortunately, our colleagues from CNN again and again publish references to unnamed sources in unnamed agencies, etc, etc. These streams of information have no connection with the reality. It’s so far away from the reality. Fake is a fake.”
The Qatari government has said a May 23 news report on its Qatar News Agency attributed false remarks to the nation’s ruler that appeared friendly to Iran and Israel and questioned whether President Donald Trump would last in office.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told CNN the FBI has confirmed the hack and the planting of fake news.
“Whatever has been thrown as an accusation is all based on misinformation and we think that the entire crisis being based on misinformation,” the foreign minister told CNN’s Becky Anderson. “Because it was started based on fabricated news, being wedged and being inserted in our national news agency which was hacked and proved by the FBI.”
Sheikh Saif Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, director of the Qatari Government Communications Office, confirmed that Qatar’s Ministry of Interior is working with the FBI and the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency on the ongoing hacking investigation of the Qatar News Agency.
“The Ministry of Interior will reveal the findings of the investigation when completed,” he told CNN.
Partly in reaction to the false news report, Qatar’s neighbors, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have cut off economic and political ties, causing a broader crisis.
The report came at a time of escalating tension over accusations Qatar was financing terrorism.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted criticism of Qatar that mirrors that of the Saudis and others in the region who have long objected to Qatar’s foreign policy. He did not address the false news report.
“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”
In his tweet, Trump voiced support for the regional blockade of Qatar and cited Qatar’s funding of terrorist groups. The Qataris have rejected the terror-funding accusations.
Hours after Trump’s tweets, the US State Department said Qatar had made progress on stemming the funding of terrorists but that there was more work to be done.
US and European authorities have complained for years about funding for extremists from Saudi Arabia and other nations in the Gulf region. Fifteen of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens.
Last year, during a visit to Saudi Arabia, Obama administration officials raised the issue of Saudi funding to build mosques in Europe and Africa that are helping to spread an ultra-conservative strain of Islam.
US intelligence has long been concerned with what they say is the Russian government’s ability to plant fake news in otherwise credible streams, according to US officials.
That concern has surfaced in recent months in congressional briefings by former FBI Director James Comey.
Comey told lawmakers that one reason he decided to bypass his Justice Department bosses in announcing no charges in the probe of Hillary Clinton’s private email server was the concern about an apparent fake piece of Russian intelligence. The intelligence suggested the Russians had an email that indicated former Attorney General Loretta Lynch had assured Democrats she wouldn’t let the Clinton probe lead to charges.
The FBI came to believe the email was fake, but still feared the Russians could release it to undermine the Justice Department’s role in the probe.

Gulf plunged into diplomatic crisis as countries cut ties with Qatar

Qatari diplomats ejected and land, air and sea traffic routes cut off in row over terror and regional stability

Saudi Arabia TV reports on cutting of ties with Qatar

The Gulf has been hit by its biggest diplomatic crisis in years after Arab nations including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilising the region with its support for Islamist groups.

The countries said they would halt all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, eject its diplomats and order Qatari citizens to leave the Gulf states within 14 days. Shoppers in the Qatari capital, Doha, meanwhile packed supermarkets amid fears the country, which relies on imports from its neighbours, would face food shortages after Saudi Arabia closed its sole land border.

Social media reports from Doha showed supermarket shelves empty as nervous consumers began to worry that stocks of food and water would run out. As much as 40% of Qatar’s food comes over the Saudi border.

The small but very wealthy nation, the richest in the world per capita, was also expelled from a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/2016/08/explainer-interactive/embed/embed.html?id=40daeb83-4c13-4fe9-a592-473d1f7eb53e

The coordinated move dramatically escalates a dispute over Qatar’s support of Islamist movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and its perceived tolerance of Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival, Iran. The dispute is the worst to hit the Gulf since the formation of the Gulf Co-operation Council in 1981.

Qatar’s foreign affairs ministry said the measures were unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions. As the Qatari stock market tumbled and oil prices rose, it accused its fellow Gulf states of violating its sovereignty.

“The state of Qatar has been subjected to a campaign of lies that have reached the point of complete fabrication,” a statement said. “It reveals a hidden plan to undermine the state of Qatar.”

Saudi Arabia said it took the decision to cut diplomatic ties owing to Qatar’s “embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilising the region”, including the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, Islamic State and groups supported by Iran in Saudi Arabia’s restive eastern province of Qatif.

Egypt’s foreign ministry accused Qatar of taking an “antagonist approach” towards the country and said “all attempts to stop it from supporting terrorist groups failed”. It gave the Qatari ambassador 48 hours to leave Egypt, and ordered its own chargé d’affaires in Qatar to return to Cairo within 48 hours.

The tiny island nation of Bahrain blamed its decision on Qatar’s “media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities, and funding linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos in Bahrain”.

In a sign of Qatar’s growing isolation, Yemen’s internationally backed government – which no longer holds its capital and large portions of the country – joined the move to break relations, as did the Maldives and the government based in eastern Libya

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2017/06/qatar-zip/giv-3902pAcwKt0BiU60/

There effect on air travel in the region was immediate. Qatar Airways, one of the region’s major long-haul carriers, said it was suspending all flights to Saudi Arabia. Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier, said it would suspend flights to Qatar “until further notice”. Emirates, the Dubai-based carrier, announced it would suspend Qatar flights starting on Tuesday, and Dubai-based budget carrier flydubai said it would suspend flights to and from Doha from Tuesday.

Egypt announced its airspace will be closed to all Qatari airplanes from Tuesday.

Monday’s diplomatic moves came two weeks after four Arab countries blocked Qatar-based media over the appearance of comments attributed to the Qatari emir that praised Iran. Qatar said hackers had taken over the website of its state-run news agency and faked the comments.

A senior Iranian official said the decision to sever ties with Qatar would not help end the crisis in the Middle East. Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff for Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, tweeted: “The era of cutting diplomatic ties and closing borders is over … it is not a way to resolve crisis. These countries have no other option but to start regional dialogue.”

The US military said it had “no plans to change our posture in Qatar” amid the diplomatic crisis. Qatar is home to the sprawling al-Udeid airbase, which houses the US military’s central command and 10,000 American troops.

Qatar has long faced criticism from its Arab neighbours over its support of Islamists and Doha has long welcomed senior figures from Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Saudi’s chief worry is the Muslim Brotherhood, the transnational Sunni Islamist political movement outlawed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which regards it as posing a threat to their system of hereditary rule.

Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia fell out with Qatar over its backing of the former Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood member, and in March 2014, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar over the rift.

Diplomatic relations resumed eight months later when Qatar forced some Brotherhood members to leave the country and quieted others but the 2014 crisis did not involve a land and sea blockade, as is threatened now.

The Qatar Council issued a fresh statement on Monday afternoon seeking to reassure its citizens that it had taken the necessary steps to ensure normal life continued, including by keeping sea ports open for trade and making sure that air space with countries not involved in the boycott remained open. It said it would not expel the 300,000 Egyptians working in Qatar as a reprisal.

Saudi Arabia however kept up the pressure on Qatar by saying it was withdrawing al-Jazeera’s media licence and closing its Saudi office, saying the Qatar-funded broadcaster had promoted terrorist plots and supported the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

It also banned all Qatar flagged vessels from is ports and lorries due to enter Qatar over the Saudi border were blocked from doing so.

The Saudi aim is to apply pressure to make Qatar change its foreign policy, but questioning the legitimacy of a fellow monarch could prove to be a double edged sword for any Gulf ruler.

Since 2014, Qatar has repeatedly and strongly denied that it funds extremist groups. However, it remains a key financial patron of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and has been the home of the exiled Hamas official Khaled Mashaal since 2012. One of the first signs of any compromise will be the withdrawal of Hamas leaders from Doha.

Western officials have also accused Qatar of allowing or even encouraging funding of Sunni extremists such as al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, once known as the Nusra Front.

The row comes only two weeks after the US president, Donald Trump, visited the Middle East to seal major defence contracts with Saudi Arabia worth $110bn, set up an anti-extremist institute in Riyadh and urge the Gulf states to build an alliance against Iran.

The Saudis are in part countering the allegation of funding extremism, frequently made in Washington and in the past by Trump himself, by pointing the finger at Qatar for backing terrorism.

Speaking in Australia, the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, played down the seriousness of the diplomatic dispute and said it would not affect counter-terrorism efforts.

“I think what we’re witnessing is a growing list of irritants in the region that have been there for some time, and they’ve bubbled up so that countries have taken action in order to have those differences addressed,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/05/saudi-arabia-and-bahrain-break-diplomatic-ties-with-qatar-over-terrorism

 

7 Countries Break Off Ties With Qatar, Accuse It Of Funding ISIS & Al Qaeda

The Logical Indian Crew

June 5th, 2017

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Courtesy: BBC | Image Credit: 1tv

In an unprecedented and major diplomatic rift, six Arab countries (and seven countries overall) have broken ties with Qatar, accusing it of sponsoring terror groups and trying to destablise the Middle-east. Qatar has hit back at the allegations, calling them “unjustified” and having “no basis in fact”.

The development happened in Monday, 5 June, when Bahrain announced diplomatic withdrawal from Qatar. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Maldives swiftly followed suit.

Saudi state news agency SPA stated that the move was to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.

The six Arab countries have accused Qatar of channeling funds to the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda, something Qatar repeatedly denied. The Qatari foreign minister said, “The measures are unjustified and are based on claims and allegations that have no basis in fact … not affect the normal lives of citizens and residents.”

Qatar has a history of sympathy towards extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and its state-owned media outlet, Al Jazeera, has been accused of furthering Islamist ideologies. Additionally, Qatar has always been seen with suspicion with its Sunni peers in the Middle-east because of its close ties with Iran.

While hostility between the Gulf countries is not a new concept, this sudden outburst of diplomatic breakdown was largely unforeseen. However, it must be noted that this happened only two weeks after US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and two weeks after several Gulf nations blocked Qatari news sites.

Saudi Arabia has removed Qatar from the coalition fighting rebels in Yemen due to “practices that strengthen terrorism” and its support of extremist groups. The countries said that they have closed their airspace to Qatar Airways. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have given Qatari visitors two weeks’ time to leave their countries.

Meanwhile, the Qatari stock market has plunged. The situation is highly nuclear and unpredictable, with the Qatari government becoming increasingly isolated and the already low oil prices expected to be negatively affected further. There are also humanitarian concerns, especially with food supply as Qatar received 40% of its food supplies by truck from Saudi Arabia.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is currently in Australia, called for the parties involved to solve their disputes through constructive dialogue. Turkey reportedly conveyed that it was ready to mediate between Qatar and the Gulf states.

However, with borders closed and ties existent only with Oman and Kuwait in the region, Qatar struggles to make sense of recent events even as it economy is in freefall.

Qatar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 25°30′N 51°15′E

State of Qatar

دولة قطر (Arabic)
Dawlat Qatar
Flag of Qatar
Emblem of Qatar
Flag Emblem
Anthem: السلام الأميري
As Salam al Amiri  (transliteration)
Amiri Salute

MENU
0:00
Location and extent of Qatar (dark green) on the Arabian Peninsula.

Location and extent of Qatar (dark green) on the Arabian Peninsula.
Capital
and largest city
Doha
25°18′N 51°31′E
Official languages Arabic
Ethnic groups(2010[1])
Religion Islam
Demonym Qatari
Government Unitary constitutionalmonarchy
• Emir
Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
• Deputy Emir
Abdullah bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani
Legislature Consultative Assembly
Establishment
18 December 1878
• Declared independence
1 September 1971
• Independence from the United Kingdom
3 September 1971
Area
• Total
11,586 km2(4,473 sq mi) (164th)
• Water (%)
0.8
Population
• 2016 estimate
2,675,522[a][2](142nd)
• 2010 census
1,699,435[3] (148th)
• Density
176/km2 (455.8/sq mi) (76th)
GDP (PPP) 2017 estimate
• Total
$353.143 billion[4](49th)
• Per capita
$145,894[4] (1st)
GDP (nominal) 2015 estimate
• Total
$185.395 billion[4]
• Per capita
$68,940[5] (4th)
Gini (2007) 41.1[6]
medium
HDI (2014) Increase 0.850[7]
very high · 32nd
Currency Riyal (QAR)
Time zone AST (UTC+3)
Drives on the right[8]
Calling code +974
ISO 3166 code QA
Internet TLD

Qatar (/ˈkætɑːr/,[9] Listeni/ˈkɑːtɑːr/, /ˈkɑːtər/ or Listeni/kəˈtɑːr/;[10] Arabic: قطر‎‎ Qatar [ˈqɑtˤɑr]; local vernacular pronunciation: [ˈɡɪtˤɑr]),[11][12] officially the State of Qatar (Arabic: دولة قطر‎‎ Dawlat Qatar), is a sovereign country located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. An arm of the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island country of Bahrain.

Following Ottoman rule, Qatar became a British protectorate in the early 20th century until gaining independence in 1971. Qatar has been ruled by the House of Thani since the early 19th century. Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani was the founder of the State of Qatar. Qatar is a hereditary monarchy and its head of state is Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Whether it should be regarded as a constitutional[13][14] or an absolute monarchy[15][16][17][18] is a matter of opinion. In 2003, the constitution was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum, with almost 98% in favour.[19][20] In early 2017, Qatar’s total population was 2.6 million: 313,000 Qatari citizens and 2.3 million expatriates.[21]

Qatar is a high income economy, backed by the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves.[22] The country has the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar is classified by the UN as a country of very high human development and is the most advanced Arab state for human development.[23] Qatar is a significant power in the Arab world, supporting several rebel groups during the Arab Spring both financially and through its globally expanding media group, Al Jazeera Media Network.[24][25][26] For its size, Qatar wields disproportionate influence in the world, and has been identified as a middle power.[27][28] Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to do so.[29]

In 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, among other Gulf states, cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar and labeled the country a terrorist state, causing the 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis.

Etymology

Pliny the Elder, a Roman writer, documented the earliest account pertaining to the inhabitants of the Peninsula around the mid-first century AD, referring to them as the Catharrei, a designation which may have derived from the name of a prominent local settlement.[30][31] A century later, Ptolemy produced the first known map to depict the peninsula, referring to it as Catara.[31][32] The map also referenced a town named “Cadara” to the east of the peninsula.[33] The term ‘Catara’ (or, alternatively, Cataraei)[34] was exclusively used until the 18th century, after which ‘Katara’ emerged as the most commonly recognised spelling.[33] Eventually, the modern derivative Qatar was adopted as the country’s name.[33]

In Standard Arabic, the name is pronounced [ˈqɑtˤɑr], while in the local dialect it is [ˈɡitˤar].[11]

History

Antiquity

Dot carvings at Jebel Jassassiyeh, dating to c. 4000 BC.

Human habitation of Qatar dates back to 50,000 years ago.[35] Settlements and tools dating back to the Stone Age have been unearthed in the peninsula.[35] Mesopotamian artefacts originating from the Ubaid period (ca. 6500–3800 BC) have been discovered in abandoned coastal settlements.[36] Al Da’asa, a settlement located on the western coast of Qatar, is the most important Ubaid site in the country and is believed to have accommodated a small seasonal encampment.[37][38]

Kassite Babylonian material dating back to the second millennium BC found in Al Khor Islands attests to trade relations between the inhabitants of Qatar and the Kassites in modern-day Bahrain.[39] Among the findings were 3,000,000 crushed snail shells and Kassite potsherds.[37] It has been suggested that Qatar is the earliest known site of shellfish dye production, owing to a Kassite purple dye industry which existed on the coast.[36][40]

In 224 AD, the Sasanian Empire gained control over the territories surrounding the Persian Gulf.[41] Qatar played a role in the commercial activity of the Sasanids, contributing at least two commodities: precious pearls and purple dye.[42] Under the Sasanid reign, many of the inhabitants in Eastern Arabia were introduced to Christianity following the eastward dispersal of the religion by Mesopotamian Christians.[43] Monasteries were constructed and further settlements were founded during this era.[44][45] During the latter part of the Christian era, Qatar comprised a region known as ‘Beth Qatraye’ (Syriac for “region of the Qataris”).[46] The region was not limited to Qatar; it also included Bahrain, Tarout Island, Al-Khatt, and Al-Hasa.[47]

In 628, Muhammad sent a Muslim envoy to a ruler in Eastern Arabia named Munzir ibn Sawa Al Tamimi and requested that he and his subjects accept Islam. Munzir obliged his request, and accordingly, most of the Arab tribes in the region converted to Islam.[48] After the adoption of Islam, the Arabs led the Muslim conquest of Persia which resulted in the fall of the Sasanian Empire.[49]

Early and late Islamic period (661–1783)

Abbasid Caliphate at its greatest extent, c. 850.

Qatar was described as a famous horse and camel breeding centre during the Umayyad period.[50] In the 8th century, it started benefiting from its commercially strategic position in the Persian Gulf and went on to become a centre of pearl trading.[51][52]

Substantial development in the pearling industry around the Qatari Peninsula occurred during the Abbasid era.[50] Ships voyaging from Basra to India and China would make stops in Qatar’s ports during this period. Chinese porcelain, West African coins and artefacts from Thailand have been discovered in Qatar.[49] Archaeological remains from the 9th century suggest that Qatar’s inhabitants used greater wealth to construct higher quality homes and public buildings. Over 100 stone-built houses, two mosques, and an Abbasid fort were constructed in Murwab during this period.[53][54] However, when the caliphate’s prosperity declined in Iraq, so too did it in Qatar.[55]Qatar is mentioned in 13th-century Muslim scholar Yaqut al-Hamawi‘s book, Mu’jam Al-Buldan, which alludes to the Qataris’ fine striped woven cloaks and their skills in improvement and finishing of spears.[56]

Much of Eastern Arabia was controlled by the Usfurids in 1253, but control of the region was seized by the prince of Ormus in 1320.[57] Qatar’s pearls provided the kingdom with one of its main sources of income.[58] In 1515, Manuel I of Portugal vassalised the Kingdom of Ormus. Portugal went on to seize a significant portion of Eastern Arabia in 1521.[58][59] In 1550, the inhabitants of Al-Hasa voluntarily submitted to the rule of the Ottomans, preferring them to the Portuguese.[60] Having retained a negligible military presence in the area, the Ottomans were expelled by the Bani Khalid tribe in 1670.[61]

Bahraini and Saudi rule (1783–1868)

A map of East Arabia in 1794.

In 1766, the Utub tribe of Al Khalifa migrated from Kuwait to Zubarah in Qatar.[62][63] By the time of their arrival, the Bani Khalid exercised weak authority over the peninsula, not withholding that the largest village was ruled by a distant kin of the Bani Khalid.[64] In 1783, Qatar-based Bani Utbah clans and allied Arab tribes invaded and annexed Bahrain from the Persians. The Al Khalifa imposed their authority over Bahrain and extended their area of jurisdiction to Qatar.[62]

A partially restored section of the ruined town of Zubarah.

Following the swearing in of Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz as crown prince of the Wahhabi in 1788, he moved to expand his empire eastward towards the Persian Gulf and Qatar. After defeating the Bani Khalid in 1795, the Wahhabi were attacked on two fronts. The Ottomans and Egyptians assaulted the western front, while the Al Khalifa in Bahrain and the Omanis launched an attack against the eastern front.[65][66] Upon being made aware of advancements by the Egyptians on the western frontier in 1811, the Wahhabi amir reduced his garrisons in Bahrain and Zubarah in order to re-position his troops. Said bin Sultan of Muscat capitalised on this opportunity and raided the Wahhabi garrisons on the eastern coast, setting fire to the fort in Zubarah. The Al Khalifa were effectively returned to power thereafter.[66]

As punishment for piracy, an East India Company vessel bombarded Doha in 1821, destroying the town and forcing hundreds of residents to flee. In 1825, the House of Thani was established with Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani as the first leader.[67]

Although Qatar had the legal status of a dependency, there was a popular sentiment of resentment against the Al Khalifa. In 1867, the Al Khalifa, along with the ruler of Abu Dhabi, sent a massive naval force to Al Wakrah in an effort to crush the Qatari rebels. This resulted in the maritime Qatari–Bahraini War of 1867–1868, in which Bahraini and Abu Dhabi forces sacked and looted Doha and Al Wakrah.[68] However, the Bahraini hostilities were in violation of the 1820 Anglo-Bahraini Treaty. The joint incursion, in addition to the Qatari counterattack, prompted British political agent Lewis Pelly to impose a settlement in 1868. His mission to Bahrain and Qatar and the resulting peace treaty were milestones because they implicitly recognised the distinctness of Qatar from Bahrain and explicitly acknowledged the position of Mohammed bin Thani. In addition to censuring Bahrain for its breach of agreement, the British protectorate asked to negotiate with a representative from Qatar, a role which Mohammed bin Thani was selected to fulfil. The results of the negotiations left the nation with a new-found sense of political identity, although it did not gain an official standing as a protectorate until 1916.

Ottoman rule (1871–1915)

Qatar in an 1891 Adolf Stieler map

Old city of Doha, January 1904.

Under military and political pressure from the governor of the Ottoman Vilayet of Baghdad, Midhat Pasha, the ruling Al Thani tribe submitted to Ottoman rule in 1871.[69] The Ottoman government imposed reformist (Tanzimat) measures concerning taxation and land registration to fully integrate these areas into the empire.[69] Despite the disapproval of local tribes, Al Thani continued supporting Ottoman rule. However, Qatari-Ottoman relations soon stagnated, and in 1882 they suffered further setbacks when the Ottomans refused to aid Al Thani in his expedition of Abu Dhabi-occupied Al Khor. In addition, the Ottomans supported the Ottoman subject Mohammed bin Abdul Wahab who attempted to supplant Al Thani as kaymakam of Qatar in 1888.[70] This eventually led Al Thani to rebel against the Ottomans, whom he believed were seeking to usurp control of the peninsula. He resigned as kaymakam and stopped paying taxes in August 1892.[71]

In February 1893, Mehmed Hafiz Pasha arrived in Qatar in the interests of seeking unpaid taxes and accosting Jassim bin Mohammed’s opposition to proposed Ottoman administrative reforms. Fearing that he would face death or imprisonment, Jassim retreated to Al Wajbah (10 miles west of Doha), accompanied by several tribe members. Mehmed’s demand that Jassim disband his troops and pledge his loyalty to the Ottomans was met with refusal. In March, Mehmed imprisoned Jassim’s brother and 13 prominent Qatari tribal leaders on the Ottoman corvette Merrikh as punishment for his insubordination. After Mehmed declined an offer to release the captives for a fee of 10,000 liras, he ordered a column of approximately 200 troops to advance towards Jassim’s Al Wajbah Fort under the command of Yusuf Effendi, thus signalling the start of the Battle of Al Wajbah.[49]

Effendi’s troops came under heavy gunfire by a sizable troop of Qatari infantry and cavalry shortly after arriving to Al Wajbah. They retreated to Shebaka fortress, where they were again forced to draw back from a Qatari incursion. After they withdrew to Al Bidda fortress, Jassim’s advancing column besieged the fortress, resulting in the Ottomans’ concession of defeat and agreement to relinquish their captives in return for the safe passage of Mehmed Pasha’s cavalry to Hofuf by land.[72] Although Qatar did not gain full independence from the Ottoman Empire, the result of the battle forced a treaty that would later form the basis of Qatar’s emerging as an autonomous country within the empire.[73]

British rule (1916–1971)

Zubarah Fort built in 1938.

The Ottoman Empire fell into disorder after losing battles in different fronts in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. Qatar took part in the Arab revolt against the Ottomans. The revolt was successful and Ottoman rule in the country further declined. The United Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire accorded their recognition to Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani and his successors’ right to rule over the whole of the Qatari Peninsula. The Ottomans renounced all their rights to Qatar and, following the outbreak of the First World War, Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani (who was pro-British) forced them to abandon Doha in 1915.[74]

As a result of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, Qatar became a British protectorate on 3 November 1916. On that day, the United Kingdom signed a treaty with Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani to bring Qatar under its Trucial System of Administration. While Abdullah agreed not to enter into any relations with any other power without prior consent of the British government, the British guaranteed the protection of Qatar from all aggression by sea.[74] On 5 May 1935, Abdullah signed another treaty with the British government which granted Qatar protection against internal and external threats.[74] Oil reserves were first discovered in 1939. However, exploitation was delayed by World War II.

The sphere of influence of the British Empire started diminishing after World War II, particularly after the Independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. In the 1950s, oil began replacing pearling and fishing as Qatar’s main sources of revenue. Oil earnings began to fund the expansion and modernisation of Qatar’s infrastructure. Pressure for a British withdrawal from the Arab emirates in the Persian Gulf increased during the 1950s. When Britain officially announced in 1968 that it would politically disengage from the Persian Gulf in three years’ time, Qatar joined Bahrain and seven other Trucial States in a federation. Regional disputes, however, quickly compelled Qatar to resign and declare independence from the coalition which would eventually evolve into the United Arab Emirates.

Independence and aftermath (1971–present)

Traditional dhows in front of the West Bay skyline as seen from the Doha Corniche.

The State of Qatar entered into a general maritime truce with the United Kingdom in 1868. A General Treaty was concluded between the two on 3 November 1916. The General Treaty reserved foreign affairs and defence to the United Kingdom but allowed internal autonomy. On 3 September 1971, those “special treaty arrangements” that were “inconsistent with full international responsibility as a sovereign and independent state” were terminated.[75] This was done under an agreement reached between the Ruler of Qatar and the Government of the United Kingdom.[76][75]

In 1991, Qatar played a significant role in the Gulf War, particularly during the Battle of Khafji in which Qatari tanks rolled through the streets of the town and provided fire support for Saudi Arabian National Guard units that were engaging Iraqi Army troops. Qatar allowed coalition troops from Canada to use the country as an airbase to launch aircraft on CAP duty and also permitted air forces from the United States and France to operate in its territories.[35]

In 1995, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani seized control of the country from his father Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, with the support of the armed forces and cabinet, as well as neighbouring states[77] and France.[78] Under Emir Hamad, Qatar has experienced a moderate degree of liberalisation, including the launch of the Al Jazeera television station (1996), the endorsement of women’s suffrage or right to vote in municipal elections (1999), drafting its first written constitution (2005) and inauguration of a Roman Catholic church (2008). In 2010, Qatar won the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, making it the first country in the Middle East to be selected to host the tournament. The Emir announced Qatar’s plans to hold its first national legislative elections in 2013. They were scheduled to be held in the second half of 2013, but were postponed in June 2013 and may be delayed until 2019.

In 2003, Qatar served as the US Central Command headquarters and one of the main launching sites of the invasion of Iraq.[79] In March 2005, a suicide bombing killed a British teacher at the Doha Players Theatre, shocking the country, which had not previously experienced acts of terrorism. The bombing was carried out by Omar Ahmed Abdullah Ali, an Egyptian resident in Qatar who had suspected ties to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.[80][81] In 2011, Qatar joined NATO operations in Libya and reportedly armed Libyan opposition groups.[82] It is also currently a major funder of weapons for rebel groups in the Syrian civil war.[83] Qatar is pursuing an Afghan peace deal and in January 2012 the Afghan Taliban said they were setting up a political office in Qatar to facilitate talks.

In June 2013, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani became the Emir of Qatar after his father handed over power in a televised speech.[84] Sheikh Tamim has prioritised improving the domestic welfare of citizens, which includes establishing advanced healthcare and education systems, and expanding the country’s infrastructure in preparation for the hosting of the 2022 World Cup.[85]

Qatar participated in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen against the Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was deposed in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.[86]

In June 2017, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar, citing the country’s support of groups they considered to be extremist. [87]

Politics

Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani with U.S. President Donald Trump in May 2017

Qatar is either a constitutional[13][14] or an absolute monarchy[16][18] ruled by the Al Thani family.[88][89] The Al Thani dynasty has been ruling Qatar since the family house was established in 1825.[1] In 2003, Qatar adopted a constitution that provided for the direct election of 30 of the 45 members of the Legislative Council.[1][90][91] The constitution was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum, with almost 98% in favour.[19][20]

The eighth Emir of Qatar is Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, whose father Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani handed power to him on 25 June 2013.[92] The supreme chancellor has the exclusive power to appoint and remove the prime minister and cabinet ministers who, together, constitute the Council of Ministers, which is the supreme executive authority in the country.[93] The Council of Ministers also initiates legislation. Laws and decrees proposed by the Council of Ministers are referred to the Advisory Council (Majilis Al Shura) for discussion after which they are submitted to the Emir for ratification.[93] A Consultative Assembly has limited legislative authority to draft and approve laws, but the Emir has final say on all matters.[1] The current Council is composed entirely of members appointed by the Emir,[1] as no legislative elections have been held since 1970 when there were partial elections to the body.[1] Legislative elections have been postponed until at least 2019.[94]

Qatari law does not permit the establishment of political bodies or trade unions.[95]

Sharia law

According to Qatar’s Constitution, Sharia law is the main source of Qatari legislation.[96][97] In practice, Qatar’s legal system is a mixture of civil law and Sharia law.[98][99] Sharia law is applied to family law, inheritance, and several criminal acts (including adultery, robbery and murder). In some cases, Sharia-based family courts treat a female’s testimony as being worth half that of a man.[100] Codified family law was introduced in 2006. Islamic polygyny is permitted.[78]

Judicial corporal punishment is common in Qatar due to the Hanbali interpretation of Sharia Law. Flogging is employed as a punishment for alcohol consumption or illicit sexual relations.[101] Article 88 of Qatar’s criminal code declares that the penalty for adultery is 100 lashes,[102] and in 2006, a Filipino woman received that punishment.[102] In 2010, at least 18 people (mostly foreign nationals) were sentenced to receive between 40 and 100 lashes for offences involving “illicit sexual relations” or alcohol consumption.[103] In 2011, at least 21 people (mostly foreign nationals) were sentenced to between 30 and 100 lashes for the same reasons,[104] and in 2012, six expatriates were sentenced to either 40 or 100 lashes.[101] Only Muslims considered medically fit are liable to have such sentences carried out. It is unknown if the sentences were implemented.[105] In April 2013, a Muslim expatriate was sentenced to 40 lashes for alcohol consumption,[106][107][108] and in June 2014, a Muslim expatriate was sentenced to 40 lashes for consuming alcohol and driving under the influence.[109] Stoning is a legal punishment in Qatar,[110] and apostasy and homosexuality are crimes punishable by the death penalty.[111][112] Blasphemy can result in up to seven years in prison, while proselytising can incur a 10-year sentence.[111] Homosexuality is a crime punishable by the death penalty.

Alcohol consumption is partially legal in Qatar; some five-star luxury hotels are allowed to sell alcohol to their non-Muslim customers.[113][114] Muslims are not allowed to consume alcohol, and those caught consuming it are liable to flogging or deportation. Non-Muslim expatriates can obtain a permit to purchase alcohol for personal consumption. The Qatar Distribution Company (a subsidiary of Qatar Airways) is permitted to import alcohol and pork; it operates the one and only liquor store in the country, which also sells pork to holders of liquor licences.[115][116] Qatari officials have also indicated a willingness to allow alcohol in “fan zones” at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.[117]

Until 2011, restaurants on the Pearl-Qatar (a man-made island near Doha) were allowed to serve alcoholic drinks.[113][114] In December of that year, however, restaurants there were told to stop selling liquor.[113][118] No explanation was given for the ban,[113][114] but it was speculated that the government wanted to project a more pious image in advance of the country’s first election of a royal advisory body, and there were rumours of a financial dispute between the government and the resort’s developers.[118]

In 2014, a modesty campaign was launched to remind tourists of the country’s restrictive dress code.[119] Female tourists were advised not to wear leggings, miniskirts, sleeveless dresses, or short or tight clothing in public. Men were warned against wearing only shorts and singlets.[120]

Human rights

According to the U.S. State Department, expatriate workers from nations throughout Asia and parts of Africa voluntarily migrate to Qatar as low-skilled labourers or domestic servants, but some subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude. Some of the more common labour rights violations include beatings, withholding of payment, charging workers for benefits for which the employer is responsible, restrictions on freedom of movement (such as the confiscation of passports, travel documents, or exit permits), arbitrary detention, threats of legal action, and sexual assault.[121] Many migrant workers arriving for work in Qatar have paid exorbitant fees to recruiters in their home countries.[121]

As of 2014, certain provisions of the Qatari Criminal Code allows punishments such as flogging and stoning to be imposed as criminal sanctions. The UN Committee Against Torture found that these practices constituted a breach of the obligations imposed by the UN Convention Against Torture.[122][123] Qatar retains the death penalty, mainly for threats against national security. Use of the death penalty is rare and no state executions have taken place in Qatar since 2003.[124] In Qatar, homosexual acts are illegal and can be punished by death.[125]

Under the provisions of Qatar’s sponsorship law, sponsors have the unilateral power to cancel workers’ residency permits, deny workers’ ability to change employers, report a worker as “absconded” to police authorities, and deny permission to leave the country.[121]As a result, sponsors may restrict workers’ movements and workers may be afraid to report abuses or claim their rights.[121] According to the ITUC, the visa sponsorship system allows the exaction of forced labour by making it difficult for a migrant worker to leave an abusive employer or travel overseas without permission.[126] Qatar also does not maintain wage standards for its immigrant labourers. Qatar commissioned international law firm DLA Piper to produce a report investigating the immigrant labour system. In May 2014 DLA Piper released over 60 recommendations for reforming the kafala system including the abolition of exit visas and the introduction of a minimum wage which Qatar has pledged to implement.[127]

In May 2012, Qatari officials declared their intention to allow the establishment of an independent trade union.[128] Qatar also announced it will scrap its sponsor system for foreign labour, which requires that all foreign workers be sponsored by local employers.[128]Additional changes to labour laws include a provision guaranteeing that all workers’ salaries are paid directly into their bank accounts and new restrictions on working outdoors in the hottest hours during the summer.[129] New draft legislation announced in early 2015 mandates that companies that fail to pay workers’ wages on time could temporarily lose their ability to hire more employees.[130]

In October 2015 Qatar’s Emir signed into law new reforms to the country’s sponsorship system, with the new law taking effect within one year.[131] Critics claim that the changes could fail to address some labour rights issues.[132][133][134]

The country enfranchised women at the same time as men in connection with the 1999 elections for a Central Municipal Council.[90][135] These elections—the first ever in Qatar—were deliberately held on 8 March 1999, International Women’s Day.[90]

Foreign relations

Former Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013.

As a small country with larger neighbours, Qatar seeks to project influence and protect its state and ruling dynasty.[136] The history of Qatar’s alliances provides insight into the basis of their policy. Between 1760 and 1971, Qatar sought formal protection from the high transitory powers of the Ottomans, British, the Al-Khalifa’s from Bahrain, the Arabians, and the Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia.[137][page needed] Qatar’s rising international profile and active role in international affairs has led some analysts to identify it as a middle power. Qatar was an early member of OPEC and a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It is a member of the Arab League. The country has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction.[1]

Qatar also has bilateral relationships with a variety of foreign powers. Qatar hosts the Al Udeid Air Base, a joint U.S.-British base, which acts as the hub for all American and British air operations in the Persian Gulf.[138] It has allowed American and British forces to use an air base to send supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan.[139] Despite hosting this strategic military installation, Qatar is not always a strong Western ally. Qatar has allowed the Afghan Taliban to set up a political office inside the country and has close ties to Iran, including a shared natural gas field.[140] According to leaked documents published in The New York Times, Qatar’s record of counter-terrorism efforts was the “worst in the region”.[141] The cable suggested that Qatar’s security service was “hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals”.[141]

Qatar has mixed relations with its neighbours in the Persian Gulf region. Qatar signed a defence co-operation agreement with Iran,[142] with whom it shares the largest single non-associated gas field in the world. It was the second nation, the first being France, to have publicly announced its recognition of the Libyan opposition‘s National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya amidst the 2011 Libyan civil war.[143]

Qatar’s flag in Libya after the Libyan Civil War; Qatar played an influential role during the Arab Spring.

In 2014, Qatar’s relations with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates came to a boiling point over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood[77] and extremist groups in Syria.[144] This culminated in the three aforementioned countries withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar in March 2014.[145] When the ambassadors withdrew, the GCC was reportedly on the verge of a crisis linked to the emergence of distinct political blocs with conflicting interests. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain were engaged in a political struggle with Qatar, while Oman and Kuwait represent a non-aligned bloc within the GCC.[145] Relations between the countries improved after the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE returned their diplomats to Qatar.[146] Islam Hassan, a researcher in Persian Gulf Studies at Qatar University, claims that, with the resolution of the GCC crisis, Qatar reached a new level of political maturity. He goes on to assert that Qatar managed to bring an end to the crisis without changing any of its foreign policy principles or abandoning its allies.[145]

According to the Al Jazeera America, “Numerous reports suggest that the Saudi-led coalition against opposition groups in Yemen has indiscriminately attacked civilians and used cluster bombs in civilian-populated areas, in violation of international law.”[147]

In recent years, Qatar has been using Islamist militants in a number of countries including Egypt, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Mali to further its foreign policy. Courting Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood to Salafist groups has served as a power amplifier for the country, as it believes since the beginning of the Arab Spring that these groups represented the wave of the future.[141][136][148] David Cohen, the Under Secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury, said that Qatar is a “permissive jurisdiction for terrorist financing.”[149]There is evidence that these groups supported by Qatar include the hard-line Islamic militant groups active in northern Syria.[141] As of 2015, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are openly backing the Army of Conquest,[150][151] an umbrella group of anti-government forces fighting in the Syrian Civil War that reportedly includes an al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front and another Salafi coalition known as Ahrar ash-Sham.[149][152]

Qatar supported the democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi with diplomatic support and the state-owned Al Jazeera network before he was deposed in a military coup.[153][154] Qatar offered Egypt a $7.5 billion loan during the year he was in power.[155]

Qatar’s alignment with Hamas, first reported in early 2012,[156] has drawn criticism from Israel, the United States, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, “who accuse Qatar of undermining regional stability by supporting Hamas.”[157]However, the Foreign Minister of Qatar has denied supporting Hamas, stating “We do not support Hamas but we support the Palestinians.”[158] Following a peace agreement, Qatar pledged $1 billion in humanitarian aid to Gaza.[159]

Qatar has hosted academic, religious, political, and economic conferences. The 11th annual Doha Forum recently brought in key thinkers, professionals of various backgrounds, and political figures from all over the world to discuss democracy, media and information technology, free trade, and water security issues. In addition, the forum has featured the Middle East Economic Future conference since 2006.[160] In more recent times, Qatar has hosted peace talks between rival factions across the globe. Notable among these include the Darfur Agreement. The Doha Declaration is the basis of the peace process in Darfur and it has achieved significant gains on the ground for the African region. Notable achievements included the restoration of security and stability, progress made in construction and reconstruction processes, return of displaced residents and uniting of Darfur people to face challenges and push forward the peace process.[161] Qatar donated £88.5million in funds to finance recovery and reconstruction in Darfur.[162]

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen broke diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing Qatar of supporting Islamist extremism and terrorism,[163] escalating a dispute over Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest Islamist movement.[164] Saudi Arabia explained the move to be a necessary measure in protecting the kingdom’s security. Qatari troops were also removed from the military coalition in Yemen. Egypt closed its airspace and seaports to all Qatari transportation.[164][165]

Military

Qatar’s Dassault Mirage 2000 flying over Libya.

The Qatar Armed Forces are the military forces of Qatar. The country maintains a modest military force of approximately 11,800 men, including an army (8,500), navy (1,800) and air force (1,500). Qatar’s defence expenditures accounted for approximately 4.2% of gross national product in 1993. Qatar has recently signed defence pacts with the United States and United Kingdom, as well as with France earlier in 1994. Qatar plays an active role in the collective defence efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council; the other five members are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, and Oman. The presence of a large Qatari Air Base, operated by the United States and several other UN nations, provides a guaranteed source of defence and national security. In 2008 Qatar spent US$2.355 billion on military expenditures, 2.3% of the gross domestic product.[166] Qatari special forces have been trained by France and other Western countries, and are believed to possess considerable skill.[167] They also helped the Libyan rebels during the 2011 Battle of Tripoli.[167]

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found that in 2010–14 Qatar was the 46th largest arms importer in the world. However, SIPRI writes, Qatar’s plans to transform and significantly enlarge its armed forces have accelerated. Orders in 2013 for 62 tanks and 24 self-propelled guns from Germany were followed in 2014 by a number of other contracts, including 24 combat helicopters and 3 AEW aircraft from the USA, and 2 tanker aircraft from Spain.[168]

Qatar’s military participated in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis. In 2015, Al Jazeera America reported: “Numerous reports suggest that the Saudi-led coalition against opposition groups in Yemen has indiscriminately attacked civilians and used cluster bombs in civilian-populated areas, in violation of international law.”[169] Many civilians have been killed and the large parts of the infrastructure in this region is now destroyed.[170] Hospitals have also been bombed by the Saudis and those operating with them.[171][172]

Administrative divisions

Municipalities of Qatar since 2004

Since 2004, Qatar has been divided into seven municipalities (Arabic: baladiyah).[173]

  1. Madinat ash Shamal
  2. Al Khor
  3. Umm Salal
  4. Al Daayen
  5. Al Rayyan
  6. Doha
  7. Al Wakrah

For statistical purposes, the municipalities are further subdivided into 98 zones (as of 2010),[174] which are in turn subdivided into blocks.[175]

Geography

Desert Coast
Desert landscape in Qatar

The Qatari peninsula 160 kilometres (100 mi) protrudes into the Persian Gulf north of Saudi Arabia. It lies between latitudes 24° and 27° N, and longitudes 50° and 52° E. Most of the country consists of a low, barren plain, covered with sand. To the southeast lies the Khor al Adaid (“Inland Sea“), an area of rolling sand dunes surrounding an inlet of the Persian Gulf. There are mild winters and very hot, humid summers.

The highest point in Qatar is Qurayn Abu al Bawl at 103 metres (338 ft)[1] in the Jebel Dukhan to the west, a range of low limestone outcroppings running north-south from Zikrit through Umm Bab to the southern border. The Jebel Dukhan area also contains Qatar’s main onshore oil deposits, while the natural gas fields lie offshore, to the northwest of the peninsula.

Biodiversity and environment

Qatari Ostriches

Qatar signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 11 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 21 August 1996.[176] It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was received by the convention on 18 May 2005.[177] A total of 142 fungal species have been recorded from Qatar.[178] A book recently produced by the Ministry of Environment documents the lizards known or believed to occur in Qatar, based on surveys conducted by an international team of scientists and other collaborators.[179]

For two decades, Qatar has had the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions in the world, at 49.1 metric tons per person in 2008.[180] Qataris are also some of the highest consumers of water per capita per day, using around 400 litres.[181]

In 2008 Qatar launched its National Vision 2030 which highlights environmental development as one of the four main goals for Qatar over the next two decades. The National Vision pledges to develop sustainable alternatives to oil-based energy to preserve the local and global environment.[182]

Climate

[hide]Climate data for Qatar
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 22
(72)
23
(73)
27
(81)
33
(91)
39
(102)
42
(108)
42
(108)
42
(108)
39
(102)
35
(95)
30
(86)
25
(77)
33.3
(91.9)
Average low °C (°F) 14
(57)
15
(59)
17
(63)
21
(70)
27
(81)
29
(84)
31
(88)
31
(88)
29
(84)
25
(77)
21
(70)
16
(61)
23
(73.5)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 12.7
(0.5)
17.8
(0.701)
15.2
(0.598)
7.6
(0.299)
2.5
(0.098)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
2.5
(0.098)
12.7
(0.5)
71
(2.794)
Source: http://us.worldweatheronline.com/doha-weather-averages/ad-dawhah/qa.aspx

Economy

Graphical depiction of Qatar’s product exports in 28 color-coded categories (2011).

Commercial district in Doha.

Before the discovery of oil, the economy of the Qatari region focused on fishing and pearl hunting. Report prepared by local governors of Ottoman Empire in 1892 states that total income from pearl hunting in 1892 is 2,450,000 kran.[68] After the introduction of the Japanese cultured pearl onto the world market in the 1920s and 1930s, Qatar’s pearling industry crashed. Oil was discovered in Qatar in 1940, in Dukhan Field.[183] The discovery transformed the state’s economy. Now, the country has a high standard of living for its legal citizens. With no income tax, Qatar (along with Bahrain) is one of the countries with the lowest tax rates in the world. The unemployment rate in June 2013 was 0.1%.[184] Corporate law mandates that Qatari nationals must hold 51% of any venture in the Emirate.[78]

As of 2016, Qatar has the fourth highest GDP per capita in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund[5] It relies heavily on foreign labour to grow its economy, to the extent that migrant workers compose 86% of the population and 94% of the workforce.[185][186] Qatar has been criticised by the International Trade Union Confederation.[187] The economic growth of Qatar has been almost exclusively based on its petroleum and natural gas industries, which began in 1940.[188] Qatar is the leading exporter of liquefied natural gas.[167] In 2012, it was estimated that Qatar would invest over $120 billion in the energy sector in the next ten years.[189] The country is a member state of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), having joined the organisation in 1961.[190]

In 2012, Qatar retained its title of richest country in the world (according to per capita income) for the third time in a row, having first overtaken Luxembourg in 2010. According to the study published by the Washington based Institute of International Finance, Qatar’s per capita GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP) was $106,000 (QR387,000) in 2012, helping the country retain its ranking as the world’s wealthiest nation. Luxembourg came a distant second with nearly $80,000 and Singapore third with per capita income of about $61,000. The research put Qatar’s GDP at $182bn in 2012 and said it had climbed to an all-time high due to soaring gas exports and high oil prices. Its population stood at 1.8 million in 2012. The same study published that Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), with assets of $115bn, was ranked 12th among the richest sovereign wealth funds in the world.[191]

Established in 2005, Qatar Investment Authority is the country’s sovereign wealth fund, specialising in foreign investment.[192] Due to billions of dollars in surpluses from the oil and gas industry, the Qatari government has directed investments into United States, Europe, and Asia Pacific. As of 2013, the holdings were valued at $100 billion in assets. Qatar Holding is the international investment arm of QIA. Since 2009, Qatar Holding has received $30–40bn a year from the state. As of 2014, it has investments around the world in Valentino, Siemens, Printemps, Harrods, The Shard, Barclays Bank, Heathrow Airport, Paris Saint-Germain F.C., Volkswagen Group, Royal Dutch Shell, Bank of America, Tiffany, Agricultural Bank of China, Sainsbury’s, BlackBerry,[193] and Santander Brasil.[194][195]

The country is free from taxes, however, authorities have announced plans to levy taxes on junk food and luxury items in the coming years. The taxes would be implemented on goods that harm the human body – for example fast food, tobacco products, and soft drinks. The roll out of these initial taxes is believed to be due to the fall in oil prices and a deficit that the country faced in the year 2016. Additionally, the country has seen job cuts in the year 2016 from its petroleum companies and other sectors in the government.[196] [197]

Energy

Qatar Airways Airbus A380, Qatar Airways, one of the world’s largest airlines, links over 150 international destinations from its base in Doha.

As of 2012, Qatar has proven oil reserves of 15 billion barrels and gas fields that account for more than 13% of the global resource. As a result, it is the richest state per-capita in the world. None of its 2 million residents live below the poverty line and less than 1% are unemployed.[198]

Qatar’s economy was in a downturn from 1982 to 1989. OPEC quotas on crude oil production, the lower price for oil, and the generally unpromising outlook on international markets reduced oil earnings. In turn, the Qatari government’s spending plans had to be cut to match lower income. The resulting recessionary local business climate caused many firms to lay off expatriate staff. With the economy recovering in the 1990s, expatriate populations, particularly from Egypt and South Asia, have grown again.

Oil production will not long remain at peak levels of 500,000 barrels (80,000 m³) per day, as oil fields are projected to be mostly depleted by 2023. However, large natural gas reserves have been located off Qatar’s northeast coast. Qatar’s proved reserves of gas are the third-largest in the world, exceeding 250 trillion cubic feet (7,000 km³). The economy was boosted in 1991 by completion of the $1.5-billion Phase I of North Field gas development. In 1996, the Qatargas project began exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japan. Further phases of North Field gas development costing billions of dollars are in various stages of planning and development.

Qatar’s heavy industrial projects, all based in Umm Said, include a refinery with a 50,000 barrels (8,000 m³) per day capacity, a fertiliser plant for urea and ammonia, a steel plant, and a petrochemical plant. All these industries use gas for fuel. Most are joint ventures between European and Japanese firms and the state-owned Qatar General Petroleum Corporation (QGPC). The US is the major equipment supplier for Qatar’s oil and gas industry, and US companies are playing a major role in North Field gas development.[198]

Qatar’s National Vision 2030 has made investment in renewable resources a major goal for the country over the next two decades.[182] Qatar pursues a vigorous programme of “Qatarisation“, under which all joint venture industries and government departments strive to move Qatari nationals into positions of greater authority. Growing numbers of foreign-educated Qataris, including many educated in the US, are returning home to assume key positions formerly occupied by expatriates. To control the influx of expatriate workers, Qatar has tightened the administration of its foreign manpower programmes over the past several years. Security is the principal basis for Qatar’s strict entry and immigration rules and regulations.[198]

Demographics

Skyline of Doha

The number of people in Qatar fluctuates considerably depending on the season, since the country relies heavily on migrant labour. In early 2017, Qatar’s total population was 2.6 million, of which 313,000 were Qatari citizens (12%) and 2.3 million were expatriates.[21] Non-Arab foreigners make up the vast majority of Qatar’s population; Indians are the largest community, numbering 650,000 in 2017,[21] followed by 350,000 Nepalis, 280,000 Bangladeshis, 260,000 Filipinos, 200,000 Egyptians, 145,000 Sri Lankans and 125,000 Pakistanis among many other nationalities.[21]

Qatar’s first demographic records date back to 1892, and were conducted by Ottoman governors in the region. Based on this census, which includes only the residents in cities, the total population in 1892 was 9,830.[68]

Populations
Year Pop. ±%
1904 27,000
1970 111,133 +311.6%
1986 369,079 +232.1%
1997 522,023 +41.4%
2004 744,029 +42.5%
2010 1,699,435 +128.4%
2013 1,903,447 +12.0%
2016 2,545,000 +33.7%
Source: Qatar Statistics Authority (1904–2004);[199]2010 Census;[3] 2013 est.[200][201] 2016[202]

The 2010 census recorded the total population at 1,699,435.[3] In January 2013, the Qatar Statistics Authority estimated the country’s population at 1,903,447, of which 1,405,164 were males and 498,283 females.[200] At the time of the first census, held in 1970, the population was 111,133.[199] The population has tripled in the decade to 2011, up from just over 600,000 people in 2001, leaving Qatari nationals as less than 15% of the total population.[201] The influx of male labourers has skewed the gender balance, and women are now just one-quarter of the population.

Projections released by Qatar Statistical Authority indicates that the total population of Qatar could reach 2.8 million by 2020. Qatar’s National Development Strategy (2011–16) had estimated that the country’s population would reach 1.78m in 2013, 1.81m in 2014, 1.84m in 2015 and 1.86m in 2016 – the yearly growth rate being merely 2.1%. But the country’s population has soared to 1.83 million by the end of 2012, showing 7.5% growth over the previous year.[203] Qatar’s total population hit a record high of 2.46 million in November 2015, an increase of 8.5% from the previous year, far exceeding official projections.[204]

Religion

Mosque in Qatar

Religion in Qatar (2010)[205][206]

  Islam (67.7%)
  Christianity (13.8%)
  Hinduism (13.8%)
  Buddhism (3.1%)
  Others (0.7%)
  Unaffiliated (0.9%)

Islam is Qatar’s predominant religion and enjoys official status.[207] Most Qatari citizens belong to the Salafi Muslim movement of Sunni Islam, about 20% of Muslims in Qatar follow Shia Islam with other Muslims sects being very small in number.[208][209][210][211] Qatar is 67.7% Muslim, 13.8% Christian, 13.8% Hindu and 3.1% are Buddhist– other religions and religiously unaffiliated people accounted for the remaining 1.6%.[212] Sharia law is the main source of Qatari legislation according to Qatar’s Constitution.[96][97]

The Christian population is composed almost entirely of foreigners. Since 2008, Christians have been allowed to build churches on ground donated by the government,[213] though foreign missionary activity is officially discouraged.[214] Active churches include the Mar Thoma Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and the Anglican Church of the Epiphany.[215][216][217] There are also two Mormon wards.[215][216][217]

Languages

Arabic is the official language of Qatar, with Qatari Arabic the local dialect. Qatari Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English is commonly used as a second language,[218]and a rising lingua franca, especially in commerce, to the extent that steps are being taken to try to preserve Arabic from English’s encroachment.[219] English is particularly useful for communication with Qatar’s large expatriate community. Reflecting the multicultural make-up of the country, many other languages are also spoken, including Baluchi, Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu, Pashto, Tamil, Telugu, Nepali, Sinhalese, Bengali, and Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia.[220]

In 2012, Qatar joined the international French-speaking organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) as a new associate member. However, in December 2013, the French daily Le Monde revealed that Qatar, which has very few native French speakers, had not yet paid any contribution to the OIF,[221] while the outgoing Administrator of the OIF complained in 2015 that Qatar had not kept any of the promises it made when it joined the organisation and had never paid its annual membership fees.[222]

Culture

Qatar’s culture is similar to other countries in Eastern Arabia, being significantly influenced by Islam. Qatar National Day, hosted annually on 18 December, has had an important role in developing a sense of national identity.[223] It is observed in remembrance of Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani‘s succession to the throne and his subsequent unification of the country’s various tribes.[224][225] Since 1 July 2008, Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari has been the Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage of Qatar.

Arts and museums

Several senior members of Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family are noted collectors of Islamic and contemporary art.

The Museum of Islamic Art, opened in 2008, is regarded as one of the best museums in the region.[226] This, and several other Qatari museums, like the Arab Museum of Modern Art, falls under the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) which is led by Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the sister of the ruling Emir of the State of Qatar, and the prominent collector and art patron Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed Al Thani.[227] The QMA also sponsors artistic events abroad, such as major exhibitions by Takahashi Murakami in Versailles (2010) and Damien Hirst in London (2012).

Qatar is the world’s biggest buyer in the art market by value.[228] The Qatari cultural sector is being developed to enable the country to reach world recognition to contribute to the development of a country that comes mainly from its resources from the gas industry.[229]

Media

The news desk of Al Jazeera English, a Qatari news channel

Qatar’s media was classified as “not free” in the 2014 Freedom of the Press report by Freedom House.[230] TV broadcasting in Qatar was started in 1970.[231] Al Jazeera is a main television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Al Jazeera initially launched in 1996 as an Arabic news and current affairs satellite TV channel of the same name, but has since expanded into a global network of several speciality TV channels known collectively as the Al Jazeera Media Network.

It has been reported that journalists practice self-censorship, particularly in regards to the government and ruling family of Qatar.[232] Criticism of the government, Emir and ruling family in the media is illegal. According to article 46 of the press law “The Emir of the state of Qatar shall not be criticised and no statement can be attributed to him unless under a written permission from the manager of his office.”[233] Journalists are also subject to prosecution for insulting Islam.[230]

In 2014, a Cybercrime Prevention Law was passed. The law is said to restrict press freedom, and carries prison sentences and fines for broad reasons such as jeopardising local peace or publishing false news.[234] The Gulf Center for Human Rights has stated that the law is a threat to freedom of speech and has called for certain articles of the law to be revoked.[235]

Press media has undergone expansion in recent years. There are currently seven newspapers in circulation in Qatar, with four being published in Arabic and three being published in English.[236] There are also newspapers from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka with editions printed from Qatar.

In regards to telecommunication infrastructure, Qatar is the highest ranked Middle Eastern country in the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (NRI) – an indicator for determining the development level of a country’s information and communication technologies. Qatar ranked number 23 overall in the 2014 NRI ranking, unchanged from 2013.[237]

Music

The music of Qatar is based on Bedouin poetry, song and dance. Traditional dances in Doha are performed on Friday afternoons; one such dance is the Ardah, a stylised martial dance performed by two rows of dancers who are accompanied by an array of percussion instruments, including al-ras (a large drum whose leather is heated by an open fire), tambourines and cymbals with small drums.[238] Other percussion instruments used in folk music include galahs (a tall clay jar) and tin drinking cups known as tus or tasat, usually used in conjunction with a tabl, a longitudinal drum beaten with a stick.[239] String instruments, such as the oud and rebaba, are also commonly used.[238]

Sport

Association football is the most popular sport in Qatar, both in terms of players and spectators.[240] The Qatar national under-20 team finished runners-up to West Germany in the 1981 FIFA World Youth Championship after a 4–0 defeat in the final. In January 2011, the Asian Football Confederation’s fifteenth Asian Cup was held in Qatar. It was the second time Qatar had hosted the tournament, with the other instance being the 1988 edition.[241]

On 2 December 2010, Qatar won their bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, despite never previously qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Finals.[242] Local organisers are planning to build 9 new stadiums and expand 3 existing stadiums for this event. Qatar’s winning bid for the 2022 World Cup was greeted enthusiastically in the Persian Gulf region as it was the first time a country in the Middle East had been selected to host the tournament. However, the bid has been embroiled in much controversy, including allegations of bribery and interference in the investigation of the alleged bribery. European football associations have also objected to the 2022 World Cup being held in Qatar for a variety of reasons, from the impact of warm temperatures on players’ fitness, to the disruption it might cause in European domestic league calendars should the event be rescheduled to take place during winter.[243][244] In May 2014, Qatari football official Mohammed bin Hammam was accused of making payments totalling £3m to officials in return for their support for the Qatar bid.[245] However, a FIFA inquiry into the bidding process in November 2014 cleared Qatar of any wrongdoing.[246]

The Guardian, a British national daily newspaper, produced a short documentary named “Abuse and exploitation of migrant workers preparing emirate for 2022”.[247] A 2014 investigation by The Guardian reports that migrant workers who have been constructing luxurious offices for the organisers of the 2022 World Cup have not been paid in over a year, and are now “working illegally from cockroach-infested lodgings.”[248] For 2014, Nepalese migrants involved in constructing infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup died at a rate of one every two days.[249] The Qatar 2022 organising committee have responded to various allegations by claiming that hosting the World Cup in Qatar would act as a “catalyst for change” in the region.[250]

Though football is the most popular sport, other team sports have experienced considerable success at senior level. In 2015, the national handball team emerged as runners-up to France in the World Men’s Handball Championship as hosts, however the tournament was marred by numerous controversies regarding the host nation and its team.[251] Further, in 2014, Qatar won the world championship in men’s 3×3 basketball.[252]

Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha hosted the WTA Tour Championships in women’s tennis between 2008 and 2010. Doha holds the WTA Premier tournament Qatar Ladies Open annually. Since 2002, Qatar has hosted the annual Tour of Qatar, a cycling race in six stages. Every February, riders are racing on the roads across Qatar’s flat land for six days. Each stage covers a distance of more than 100 km, though the time trial usually is a shorter distance. Tour of Qatar is organised by the Qatar Cycling Federation for professional riders in the category of Elite Men.[253]

The Qatar Army Skydiving Team has several different skydiving disciplines placing among the top nations in the world. The Qatar National Parachute team performs annually during Qatar’s National Day and at other large events, such as the 2015 World Handball Championship.[254] Doha four times was the host of the official FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship and three times host FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship. Doha one time Host Asian Volleyball Championship.[255]

Education

Qatar University, main area

Qatar University, east view

Qatar hired the RAND Corporation to reform its K–12 education system.[167] Through Qatar Foundation, the country has built Education City, a campus which hosts local branches of the Weill Cornell Medical College, Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Texas A&M’s School of Engineering, and other Western institutions.[167]

UNESCO Institute for Statistics Literacy Rate Qatar population plus 15 1985-2015

The illiteracy rate in Qatar was 3.1% for males and 4.2% for females in 2012, the lowest in the Arab-speaking world, but 86th in the world.[256] Citizens are required to attend government-provided education from kindergarten through high school.[257] Qatar University, founded in 1973, is the country’s oldest and largest institution of higher education.[258][259]

In November 2002, emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani created The Supreme Education Council.[260] The Council directs and controls education for all ages from the pre-school level through the university level, including the “Education for a New Era” initiative which was established to try to position Qatar as a leader in education reform.[261][262] According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the top-ranking universities in the country are Qatar University (1,881st worldwide), Texas A&M University at Qatar (3,905th) and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (6,855th).[263]

In 2008, Qatar established the Qatar Science & Technology Park in Education City to link those universities with industry. Education City is also home to a fully accredited international Baccalaureate school, Qatar Academy. In addition, two Canadian institutions, the College of the North Atlantic (headquarters in Newfoundland and Labrador) and the University of Calgary, have inaugurated campuses in Doha. Other for-profit universities have also established campuses in the city.[264] In 2009, under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Mozah Al Missned, the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) was established with the aim of transforming education through innovation.

In 2012, Qatar was ranked third from the bottom of the 65 OECD countries participating in the PISA test of maths, reading and skills for 15- and 16-year-olds, comparable to Colombia or Albania, despite having the highest per capita income in the world.[265][266] As part of its national development strategy, Qatar has outlined a 10-year strategic plan to improve the level of education.[267] Furthermore, the government has launched educational outreach programs, such as Al-Bairaq. Al-Bairaq was launched in 2010 aims to provide high school students with an opportunity to experience a research environment in the Center for Advanced Materials in Qatar University. The program encompasses the STEM fields and languages.[268]

Healthcare

See also

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

Story 2: President Trump Meets With Republican Congressional Leaders About Passing Tax Reform and Repealing and Replacing Obamacare By Labor Day — Videos — 

Image result for republican leaders meet at white house June 6 2017

Trump Talks Health Care Bill with GOP Leaders

Trump and GOP leaders meet at White House

Trump tweets about congressional leader meeting

President Trump Meets with Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell & GOP Leaders 6/6/17

White House wants healthcare vote this summer, tax reform in fall

By Ayesha Rascoe | WASHINGTON

The White House is hoping to kick-start its stalled legislative agenda with congressional action on healthcare reform this summer that will clear the way for lawmakers to begin work on a major tax bill after the Sept. 4 Labor Day holiday, an administration official said on Monday.

Senate Republicans will vote on their version of healthcare reform legislation before lawmakers’ August recess, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said. The House of Representatives passed a bill in May.

“There’s been a lot of discussions with staff,” Short told reporters at a briefing. “I think the text is pretty far along.”

Congress will then turn its focus to overhauling the tax code in September. While the administration would prefer that the effort not add to the national debt, Short stressed that the top priority would be cutting taxes.

“We want it to be revenue neutral, and we are still supportive of tax reform, but I am also saying to you that what we believe is most important to get the economy going is the tax cuts,” he said.

President Donald Trump will meet with the Republican leaders of the House and the Senate, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, on Tuesday to discuss the path forward for his agenda, said White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters.

Trump has pressed for quicker action in Congress, but his administration has also been hampered by investigations into alleged ties between Trump’s election campaign and Russia.

The Trump administration has outlined a broad plan that would cut tax rates for businesses and streamline the tax system for individuals. But, the proposal has been short on details — including the cost of the tax cuts and what loopholes would be closed.

The healthcare bill passed by the House could result in 23 million people losing insurance, the Congressional Budget Office estimated, a conclusion that Republicans were quick to challenge. The bill would also reduce federal deficits by $119 billion between 2017 and 2026, according to the analysis.

Short said he believed that the Senate healthcare bill would be “similar” to the House package.

Senator John Cornyn, the No.2 Republican in the Senate, said Monday evening he thought there would be a vote on a healthcare bill in the Senate in July.

Short also said the White House expects for Congress to raise the government’s borrowing authority, also known as the debt limit, before the August recess.

(Additional reporting Richard Cowan, Susan Cornwell and Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-congress-idUSKBN18X031

Story 3: NSA Contractor Pluribus International Employee Reality Winner Leaked NSA Top Secret Document To Intercept — Videos —

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NSA Hacking Leak: Who is Reality Winner?

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Varney & Co : Napolitano on NSA contractor who leaked classified Russia report : 6/6/2017

Published on Jun 6, 2017

A federal contractor was arrested for leaking a classified, top secret NSA report on Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election. Reality Leigh Winner appeared in U.S. District Court in Augusta, Ga., to face one charge of removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet.

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Deep State NSA Contractor “Reality Winner” Caught Leaking Top Secret Info

Augusta contractor charged with mishandling top-secret U.S. materials

The government announced Reality Leigh Winner’s arrest Monday, about an hour after The Intercept reported that it had obtained a top-secret National Security Agency report about Russia’s interference. The NSA report, according to The Intercept, says Russian military intelligence officials executed a cyberattack on a U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials days before last November’s presidential election.

Former FBI Director James Comey is expected to testify Thursday before a Senate panel that is probing Russia’s interference in the presidential election. Comey was fired last month amid an FBI investigation into possible ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign.

In announcing the charge against Winner, the U.S. Justice Department did not identify the classified material — which was dated on or about May 5 — or the news outlet. But The Intercept reported the NSA document it received anonymously was dated May 5.

Trump has railed against leaks from his government, calling for a Justice Department investigation. While Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, described her as no fan of the president, she added, “she’s not an activist.”

Winner is a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation and is assigned to a U.S. government facility in Georgia, where she has held a top-secret clearance, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The government started investigating her after the news outlet contacted it on Tuesday about an upcoming story concerning the intelligence materials.

The news outlet provided federal officials a copy of the classified information. Federal investigators said the pages appeared “folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space.” They quickly identified six people who had printed the materials, including Winner, and found she had email contact with the news agency.

While the Justice Department did not identify the material Winner allegedly mailed the news outlet, it did disclose it is classified at the “Top Secret level, indicating that its unauthorized disclosure could reasonably result in exceptionally grave damage to the national security, and is marked as such.”

Winner’s attorney, Titus Nichols, said she is a U.S. Air Force veteran with no criminal convictions. Winner’s last station with the Air Force was at Fort Meade in Maryland, where the NSA is located. She was still in federal custody Monday, Nichols said, and a court hearing about her detention is set for Thursday. Nichols plans to argue for her release.

“We look forward to getting the evidence and reviewing it and working hard to resolve this matter so my client can put it behind her and so she can go back on with her life,” he said. “She is a good person.”

Monday, Winner-Davis, 51, of Kingsville, Texas, said she spoke to her daughter by phone after she was arrested Saturday.

“She was just in shock,” she said. “She was very quiet. She was scared.”

While Trump is “not her man,” Winner-Davis said, “she hasn’t gone to any riots or marches.” Her daughter was involved with an organization called Athletes Serving Athletes, and she would run with disabled children, helping them along. She also loves to paint and sketch and is fond of drawing Jesus Christ. Her photos on social media show her to be a fitness buff who enjoyed yoga and weightlifting.

“Reality is a beautiful person,” she said. “She’s kind and caring.”

Winner’s posts on Facebook and Twitter have been decidedly anti-Trump. She appeared to be acting on her strong political opinions, even recently visiting the office of a Republican U.S. senator. A Feb. 14 post on Facebook showed her standing outside the downtown Atlanta district office of U.S. Sen. David Perdue. She wrote, “A great American once told us to go out and have conversations with one another.”

One person posted a comment asking her how it went. She responded that she got a “private 30-minute meeting,” not specifying with whom, and said Perdue’s “state policy director is going to send me email updates on some of my concerns regarding climate change and what the state of Georgia is doing to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

“I was able to draw the parallel between the 2011 interview of President Bashar al Assad claiming utter ignorance of the human rights violations his citizens were protesting,” Winner wrote, “to Trump’s statement last week that the White House hadn’t received any calls about the DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline), nor were there any protests before last week. They got the message.”

Since the news of her arrest broke, other Facebook users have hijacked many of her posts with angry messages. Below the post about her visit to Perdue’s office, someone wrote, “Hope they toss you in Ft. Leavenworth for the better part of a half century. You are a TRAITOR to your country and the Govt. should absolutely make an example out of you!”

Other recent comments: “Leakers wear prison sneakers” and “Enjoy life in prison you traitor.” Under a photo of Winner doing a pull-up someone posted: “Looks like you’ll have fun lifting weights in prison for the next 10-20 years.”

A few people offered messages of support, such as, “Hey girl we need to send you money for your defense fund.”

If convicted of the charge of “gathering, transmitting or losing defense information,” Winner could face up to 10 years in prison, court records show.

“Exceptional law enforcement efforts allowed us quickly to identify and arrest the defendant,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a prepared statement. “Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government. People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.”

Winner-Davis said she feels like she’s in a “whirlwind.” She traveled to Augusta and saw her daughter in court Monday but could not talk to her. They just exchanged glances.

“It’s hard not to cry,” she said.

Staff writers Johnny Edwards and Craig Schneider contributed to this story.

Read the FBI arrest application affidavit

http://www.ajc.com/news/breaking-news/augusta-contractor-charged-with-mishandling-top-secret-materials/VFqwwNvxTBe7w2BxkQaWNM/?icmp=AJC_internallink_06062017_digesttease_0606

‘My daughter served her country and ALWAYS does what’s right. But she is NOT a fan of Trump’ – NSA leaker Reality Winner’s parents say Air Force vet is ‘good girl’ being used for ‘political purposes’

  • Reality Winner charged with taking classified material from government facility
  • Her parents Billie-Jean and Gary Davis spoke at her Augusta, GA, home on Tuesday to tell of their concern and stress her good record
  • Her father Gary hinted at her defense tactic and said:  ‘We want her face out there rather than what’s being pulled for their own political purposes.’
  • The decorated former US Air Force linguist, who held Top Secret government clearance, made multiple posts on social media attacking Donald Trump
  • She tweeted ‘Trump is a c**t’ and a ‘piece of s**t’ in a series of posts and compared being white to terrorism
  • Her Nissan Cube was covered in bumper stickers including one saying ‘make America green again’ and the car had what looks like more NSA paper inside
  • Vegan, tattooed yoga instructor was fan of pollster Nate Silver, too ‘scared’ of climate change to have children and had signed picture of Anderson Cooper
  • If convicted of leaking intel, Winner could spend up to 10 years in a federal penitentiary 
  • Her case bears resemblance to Chelsea Manning, a former US Army soldier who leaked classified military documents to Wikileaks 

The mother of alleged NSA leaker Reality Leigh Winner told DailyMail.com today that her daughter always does what’s right, had served her country for six years and had never been in trouble with anyone.

Billie-Jean Davis said they didn’t know what was going on and wouldn’t know anything more until her daughter’s next hearing on Thursday.

‘We haven’t talked with her that much. We saw her only at the court hearing. I think she’s doing okay,’ she said. ‘I’m overwhelmed, I’m very worried about her. I never saw any of this coming.’

Mrs Davis spoke outside her daughter’s home alongside her husband Gary. He hinted at her defense by saying people were using her for ‘their own political purposes’.

If found guilty of breaching the Espionage Act by passing an NSA analysis of alleged Russian hacking to The Intercept, she faces up to ten years in prison.

Her father’s comments and Winner’s social media accounts, which is filled with loathing for Donald Trump, suggests she may try to claim her prosecution is politically-motivated and that she was acting as a whistleblower.

Reality Leigh Winner, a decorated former US Air Force linguist who held Top Secret government clearance, is accused of leaking NSA intelligence

Support: Billie-Jean Davis, Reality Winner's mother, and Gary Davis, her father, have flown from their home in Texas to be nearer their daughter, who will be arraigned on Thursday

Support: Billie-Jean Davis, Reality Winner’s mother, and Gary Davis, her father, have flown from their home in Texas to be nearer their daughter, who will be arraigned on Thursday

Right-on causes: Bumper stickers on the Bernie Sanders-supporting, Trump-hating alleged NSA leaker called for people to 'make America green again' and to 'pray for our priests'

Right-on causes: Bumper stickers on the Bernie Sanders-supporting, Trump-hating alleged NSA leaker called for people to ‘make America green again’ and to ‘pray for our priests’

Speaking outside the Augusta, Georgia, home where Winner was arrested on Saturday by ten car loads of FBI agents, her mother said her daughter had not been politically-minded growing up.

‘She’s a good girl, she’s a good person, she’s never been in trouble with anyone, the law or anything.

‘She always does what’s right. She served her country, she was in the Air Force for six years. She volunteers, she does whatever she can to make the community and the world better. That’s what she wants to do.’

Mrs Davis said that the 25-year-old did not share anything about her job with her parents but described her interests.

‘She’s very talented artist – she paints, she draws. She loves studying about anything and everything she can.

‘She taught herself Arabic before she even got in the Air Force. She’s a yoga instructor and very athletic. Loves to work out, that is her world.’

THE SAYINGS OF COMRADE REALITY WINNER

@realDonaldTrump the most dangerous entry to this country was the orange fascist we let into the white house 

– February 11, 2017

 TrumpIsAC***

– January 30, 2017

#notmypresident #Recount2016

– November 29, 2016 

@kanyewest you should make a shirt that says, ‘being white is terrorism’

– February 25, 2017 

You have got to be s****ing me right now. No one has called? The White House shut down their phone lines. There have been protests for months, at both the drilling site and and outside the White House. I’m losing my mind. If you voted for this piece of s***, explain this. He’s lying. He’s blatantly lying and the second largest supply of freshwater in the country is now at risk. #NoDAPL #NeverMyPresident #Resist 

-February 9, 2017 

 @altusda #NoUSDAblackout #RESISTANCE

– February 18, 2017

#F***ingWall

– January 26, 2017 

On people invading Augusta for Master’s week: They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,

– April 2, 2017 

Her mother said that her daughter, who speaks Farsi, Pashto and Dari – the principal languages of Iran and Afghanistan – was based solely in the U.S. for the Air Force and had not been sent overseas.

Mrs Davis said that Winner had called her father on Saturday. ‘She let him know that she was in trouble and that she had been arrested. She asked if we could come on up and take care of her animals.’

She said that her daughter had not appeared particularly upset about anything in relation to the Trump administration in recent months, despite her extensive social media postings.

‘Not anything more than our normal conversations. Not anything more than that. I never saw this coming.’

Her mother said her daughter did not have any association with any other hackers or groups.

‘Absolutely not,’ she said. ‘In fact if you look on her Facebook, she had posted that she actually went and met with the state representative here in Georgia, to have a sit-down talk with him about what was important to her.

‘[Their conversation] had to do with the climate and the North Dakota pipeline. That was her issue at that point.

‘She posted on Facebook, that instead of bashing people, do it the right way. That’s what kind of a girl she is.’

Her father, Gary Davis, added that they would be staying in Georgia ‘as long as we are needed. We want to make sure she is treated fairly and afforded all her rights.’

He added: ‘The side of Reality we know and love is not what’s being portrayed.

‘We want her face out there rather than what’s being pulled for their own political purposes. She’s a good kid and we are here to help her get through this.’

Neighbor Hank Thompson shared with DailyMail.com the scene on Saturday when Winner had been arrested.

He said that about ten cars with dark windows surrounded the house and had it cordoned off with police tape.

‘They were talking to her out on the step,’ he said. ‘She seemed nervous, I guess, with everything that’s going on.’

He said that she had only been at the property for a few months and was ‘pretty quiet’ in her comings and goings but that he occasionally saw a ‘tall, young man with a red pick-up truck’ at the house. He also said that the mail truck regularly stopped to deliver packages.

When she wasn't tweeting about Trump, Winner spent much of her free time working out

When she wasn’t tweeting about Trump, Winner spent much of her free time working out

Lots of paper: Reality Winner's car also housed other paperwork - it is unclear if these documents were connected with her work

Lots of paper: Reality Winner’s car also housed other paperwork – it is unclear if these documents were connected with her work

It has since been revealed that she was an outspoken opponent of Trump who once branded the president a c**t

It has since been revealed that she was an outspoken opponent of Trump who once branded the president a c**t

Winner’s posting show she was a Bernie Sanders supporter who hated Donald Trump. She even claimed that being white could be compared to terrorism.

It has since emerged the contractor who speaks four languages may have used her linguistics skills to work at a government ‘listening post’ which collects intelligence from the Middle East and Europe, The Daily Beast reported.

She is believed to have worked at the ‘Sweet Tea’ outpost in Fort Gordon, Georgia, where thousands of specialists allegedly work to translate and analyze intercepted messages.

The decorated former USAF linguist – who held Top Secret government clearance – made multiple posts on social media attacking Trump and joking about Russia’s influence in the election.

Under the alias Sara Winners, she made several tweets with the hashtag #NotMyPresident and #Recount 2016. She wrote that ‘Trump is a c**t’ and a ‘piece of s**t’ in a series of angry tweets over the past few months.

The outspoken Sanders supporter also posted a signed picture of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, thanking her for her service.

During the run-up to presidential election, Winner – a keen bodybuilder and fitness fanatic – had joked about the Kremlin’s influence, saying: ‘On a positive note, this Tuesday when we become the United States of the Russian Federation, Olympic lifting will be the national sport.’

After Trump was declared president, the apparently distraught 25-year-old wrote: ‘Well. People suck.’

She also posted a signed picture of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, thanking her for her service 

She also posted a signed picture of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, thanking her for her service

Bernie Sanders-supporting Reality Winner served as a linguist in the US Air Force since 2013 and spoke Pashto, Farsi and Dari. Pictured here in uniform with her mother Billie

Bernie Sanders-supporting Reality Winner served as a linguist in the US Air Force since 2013 and spoke Pashto, Farsi and Dari. Pictured here in uniform with her mother Billie

She also tweeted to Nate Silver, the ex-New York Times pollster whose confident predictions that Clinton had as high as an 85 per cent chance of winning made him a laughing stock – but not to Winner.

‘I listened to you daily, and your podcast kept me sane,’ Winner wrote at the FiveThirtyEight podcast on November 9. ‘What the heck #betrayed #disillusioned.’

‘Privjet Russia’  tweeted Winner the following day, which translates to ‘Hi Russia.’

She also retweeted Sanders’ statement calling the president racist and xenophobic.

Winner has also frequently trolled the president, tweeting at him directly.

In response to a Trump tweet about immigrants coming from seven Muslim-majority countries  being ‘SO DANGEROUS’, Winner asked: ‘have you ever even met an Iranian?’

After the U.S. Department of Agriculture began blacking out public information, Winner tweeted ‘#RESISTANCE’.

Her frustration appears to have come to a head in May when Winner, a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation – a defense contractor that does work for the NSA – allegedly downloaded documents revealing that Russia had hacked an electoral voting machine.

She then posted the intel to online news site The Intercept who published the findings last month.

The leaked documents seemed to show Russia carried out cyber attacks on companies which produce software used during elections.

But the NSA were quickly able to link the leak back to Winner after The Intercept presented them with stolen documents for verification.

NSA officers were able to determine, by analyzing creases in the pages and a secret series of ‘tracking dots’ on the paper, that they had been printed at the NSA’s Augusta, Georgia offices.

Only six people had access to those printers so from there, it was simply a case of narrowing down the suspects. After agents found communication between Winner and the new site, she was arrested.

Winner is now facing up to ten years in jail if found guilty on charged of removing classified material from a government facility.

When Winner wasn’t posting about politics, her social media paints her as something of a loner.

Her life appears to have revolved around her frequent body building and work outs, her vegan diet, and her pets. She has countless selfies of herself working out at the gym, yet few photos of herself with friends.

The 25-year-old, who lists herself as ‘single’ recently held a ‘cativersary’ – complete with birthday cake for her cat Mina and regularly posted about her dog. She also revealed she had been ‘feeling so down.’

The intelligent US Air Force vet had just returned from a solo ‘spiritual journey’ to Belize in Central America when she was arrested.

In one of her vacation snaps, Winner – who appears to be very close with her family including sister Britty – revealed she had recently lost her step father Gary Winner who she considered her dad.

‘There is nothing that can fix the hole in my heart that you left behind,’ she wrote.

‘I still don’t know who I am without you here or how to keep moving forward without the one person who believed unconditionally in everything I want to do in life.

‘Old habits die hard, I still find myself making time to call you in the evenings or jotting down notes or stories to tell you next time we speak. It’s like I have a little piece of you here with me. I miss you, Dad.’

Billie Winner-Davis said that her daughter never discussed her work, and that her family didn’t know much information about her job as a government contractor.

She said Winner who had been a linguist for the U.S. Air Force and can speak middle eastern languages Farsi, Dari and Pashto.

Farsi is the principal language of Iran, while Dari and Pashto are the two most commonly-spoken languages of Afghanistan.

She won a commendation medal for he work as a Cryptologic Language Analyst before she left service in December 2016 at rank of senior airman.

 When she wasn't posting about politics, Winner's social media paints her as something of a loner whose main focus was on bodybuilding

 When she wasn’t posting about politics, Winner’s social media paints her as something of a loner whose main focus was on bodybuilding

Arrested: The government has charged Reality Leigh Winner (pictured), 25, a Georgia intelligence contractor, with passing secret documents to the media

Arrested: The government has charged Reality Leigh Winner (pictured), 25, a Georgia intelligence contractor, with passing secret documents to the media

She is the first person to have charges leveled against her in connection with leaks related to Russian election hacking

She is the first person to have charges leveled against her in connection with leaks related to Russian election hacking

Winner was employed by contractor Pluribus International Corporation in February, and had been working with access to top secret documents since then

Smarts appear to run in the family as her sister Britty is studying for a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology at Michigan State University.

Winner was an employee at Pluribus International Corporation based out of Alexandria, Virginia. She was then posted to a government agency in Georgia. She worked at the facility since February 13, and held Top Secret security clearance.

Pluribus is an analytical and engineering service that provides its services to federal, defense, security and the intelligence community on a contractual basis. The company has 22 locations across the world, including three in the Republic of Korea.

Her mother revealed that she is unsure if her daughter will be able to seek bond and that she has a hearing on Thursday.

‘I don’t know what they’re alleging,’ she told told The Daily Beast. ‘I don’t know who she might have sent it to. [DOJ] were very vague.

 President Trump (above on Monday) has repeatedly railed against leaks, and administration members have called on congressional committees to focus on alleged Russian interference

 President Trump (above on Monday) has repeatedly railed against leaks, and administration members have called on congressional committees to focus on alleged Russian interference

An NSA document published by The Intercept reveals a Russian-backed effort to target local government officials and U.S. firms as part of the campaign

An NSA document published by The Intercept reveals a Russian-backed effort to target local government officials and U.S. firms as part of the campaign

‘They said she mishandled and released documents that she shouldn’t have, but we had no idea what it pertained to or who.’

Winner’s case has divided opinion, with some branding her a ‘traitor’ but others hailing her as a hero.

It bears some resemblance to the case of Chelsea Manning, a transgender US Army soldier who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 for leaking nearly three-quarters of a million classified or sensitive military materials to Wikileaks.

She said at the time she’d been moved to release the secret information because she ‘believed I was going to help people’. She wanted to provide a real record of the realities of war, and give a human face to the casualties.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years at the maximum-security U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth but had her sentence commuted by then-President Obama to just seven years, and she was freed on May 17.

Just as with Winner, public reaction to news Manning leaked the document was mixed. Some hailed her as a 21st-century Tiananmen Square Tank Man after some believe the documents may have triggered the Arab Spring, while others denounced her as a traitor.

The Intercept report based on her leak has been largely overshadowed by her arrest.

It said a top secret NSA document revealed efforts by Russian military intelligence to conduct a spear phishing cyber attack on a company and on local voter registration.

The NSA document is titled ‘Spear-Phishing campaign TTPs used Against U.S. and Foreign Government Political Entities

It states that ‘It is unknown if the GRU (Russian military intelligence) was able to successfully compromise any of the entities targeted as part of this campaign. While this [redacted] cyber espionage program utilized some techniques that were similar to other Russian GRU cyber operations units, this activity demonstrated several characteristics that distinguish it from another major GRU spear-phishing program known as [redacted].’

‘Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors… executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions,’ according to the document the Intercept published.

‘The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to… launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.’

Previous analyses by the intelligence community have stated that Russia was behind hacking into the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair in an effort to impact the election, but have not provided evidence of a successful campaign to affect the vote count or voter rolls.

The feds got a warrant for Winner's arrest

The feds got a warrant for Winner’s arrest

The affidavit mentions a 'U.S. Government Agency' believed to be the NSA

The affidavit mentions a ‘U.S. Government Agency’ believed to be the NSA

Winner confessed to being the source quickly.

According to the FBI, ‘Winner agreed to talk with agents during the execution of the warrant. During that conversation, Winner admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a ‘need to know,’ and with knowledge that the intelligence reporting was classified.’

Without a lawyer present, ‘Winner further admitted removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess the documents,’ according to the government.

The prosecution documents do not name The Intercept, but sources said it was the outlet the leak was to.

An affidavit by an FBI agent in support of an arrest warrant states that on June 1, the FBI was notified by a government agency that it had been contacted by an unnamed news outlet in connection to a story.

After examining the Top Secret document, investigators found pages appeared to be folded or creased – indicating it was printed and carried out of a ‘secured space’ by hand.

An audit concluded that six individuals had printed the document – including Winner.

Upon being interviewed, Winner admitted printing it without having a ‘need to know.’

According to the Intercept, the NSA sought redactions after being contacted, some of which were accepted.

President Trump has repeatedly railed against leaks, and administration members have called on congressional committees to focus not just on alleged Russian interference, but ‘unmasking’ of individuals in leaked governments and leak investigations.

‘It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the media,’ Trump tweeted last week.

HOW THE INTERCEPT REPORT COINCIDES WITH CHARGES AGAINST REALITY WINNER

The charges against Reality Winner, 25, coincided with a report by The Intercept that a top secret NSA document revealed efforts by Russian military intelligence to conduct a spear phishing cyber attack on a company and on local voter registration. 

‘Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions,’ according to the document the Intercept published.

‘The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.’

The Intercept story states that the documents raise the possibility that Russian-based hackers ‘may have breached at least some elements of the voting system,’ bringing the investigation of election interference to a new level. 

According to the FBI, ‘Winner agreed to talk with agents during the execution of the warrant. During that conversation, Winner admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a ‘need to know,’ and with knowledge that the intelligence reporting was classified.’

Without a lawyer present, ‘Winner further admitted removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess the documents,’ according to the government.

An affidavit by an FBI agent in support of an arrest warrant states that on June 1, the FBI was notified by a government agency that it had been contacted by an unnamed news outlet in connection to a story.

After examining the Top Secret document, investigators found pages appeared to be folded or creased – indicating it was printed and carried out of a ‘secured space’ by hand.

An audit concluded that six individuals had printed the document – including Winner.

Upon being interviewed, Winner admitted printing it without having a ‘need to know.’ 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4578260/NSA-leaker-Reality-Winner-s-parents-say-served-country.html#ixzz4jKnlrQa5

 

Alleged NSA leaker met with Perdue staff months before arrest

Who is Reality Winner? The Accused NSA Leaker
The Augusta federal contractor who was charged Monday with leaking top-secret information to the press met with members of U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s staff earlier this year, the Republican’s office confirmed.

Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old contractor with Pluribus International Corporation, posted a selfie with her eyebrows raised outside of the first-term senator’s Atlanta office to Facebook on Feb. 14.

“A great American once told us to go out and have conversations with one another,” Winner wrote in the post, in which she also wrote she was “feeling optimistic.”

A Perdue spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that aides from the senator’s Atlanta office indeed met with Winner in February to discuss “environmental issues.”

Then-Senator-elect David Perdue in November 2014. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Our team meets with hundreds of Georgians monthly to discuss issues important to them,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. She said Perdue’s office does not ask about employment in routine meetings with constituents and that Winner’s work as a federal contractor did not come up then.

“The allegations against Ms. Winner are very serious, and if true, directly threaten our national security,” the spokeswoman said. “I trust our Justice Department will get to the bottom of this and handle it appropriately.”

Using a pseudonym, Winner frequently posted to Twitter about her liberal political views and her revulsion to President Donald Trump and his policies. Her feeds show she was particularly passionate about climate change, refugees, Syria’s civil war and the citizens of Iran, one of the U.S.’ top adversaries.

After a friend asked about her meeting with Perdue’s staff, Winner said it went “really well.”

“I can’t believe I got a private 30 minute meeting, and his state policy director is going to send me email updates on some of my concerns regarding climate change and what the state of Georgia is doing to reduce dependency on fossil fuels,” she wrote.

Winner said she also told Perdue staffers that senators should “not be afraid to directly state when our president or his cabinet tell outright lies.” She said her suggestion was “well heard.”

“I was able to draw the parallel between the 2011 interview of President Bashar al Assad claiming utter ignorance of the human rights violations his citizens were protesting,” Winner wrote, “to Trump’s statement last week that the White House hadn’t received any calls about the DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline), nor were there any protests before last week. They got the message.”

http://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/alleged-nsa-leaker-met-with-perdue-staff-months-before-arrest/3hkGgsRJhbN9mRl9gsy8aK/

Story 4: Wikileaks Julian Assange Critical Of Intercept and Reporter That Lead To Arrest of NSA Contractor Leaker Reality Winner –Videos

 

Image result for wikileaks julian assange critical reality winner leaker of classified documents

INTERCEPT BETRAYS WHISTLEBLOWER TO FEDS: Reporter Possibly Betrays Reality Leigh Winner

The Intercept Burns Reality Winner: Deep State NSA Dupe and Clueless Unwitting Shill

Reality Winner Psy-Op: The Intercept Rats Out Deep State NSA Contractor Shill and Top Secret Leaker

WikiLeaks Declares War on The Intercept

The FBI says a reporter led them to an NSA leaker. Julian Assange says that person, whom he suspects is an Intercept reporter, is a “menace” to sources, journalists, and democracy.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told The Daily Beast he holds reporters—not just the Trump administration—responsible for the arrest of a U.S. intelligence contractor charged with leaking classified information.On Monday, the Justice Department said Reality Winner, a 25-year-old National Security Agency contractor, sent top secret information to a news outlet. The announcement came shortly after The Intercept published a series of NSA documents claiming that Russian hackers targeted a voting-software supplier and local election officials just prior to Election Day.
According to the affidavit, reporters for the unnamed news organization provided a copy of the printed NSA report to the agency in order to seek comment. The NSA claimed six people had printed out the report including Winner, who the agency said had been in contact with an unnamed news outlet.

“If the FBI affidavit is accurate the reporter concerned must be named, shamed and fired by whomever they work for to maintain industry standards,” Assange said via Twitter direct message through the WikiLeaks account on Tuesday.

“Source burning reporters are a menace,” he said. “They chill trust in all journalists which impedes public understanding.”

WikiLeaks offered a $10,000 reward for information “leading to the public exposure & termination” of the reporter.

“It seems likely that the FBI affidavit refers to The Intercept, but not certain, hence we say ‘suspected Intercept reporter,’ said Assange. “But whomever this reporter was they are a menace not only to sources but to all journalists by decreasing the trust between sources and journalist and ultimately the public. Democracy dies in darkness.”

Assange’s defense of leaking NSA documents that accuse Russia of interfering in the U.S. election is in contrast to his agreement last year that he was “1,000 percent” confident Russia did not give WikiLeaks hacked Democratic National Committee emails. While Assange did not comment on the content of the leaks, he defended the alleged leaker Monday night.

It doesn’t matter why she did it or the quality the report. Acts of non-elite sources communicating knowledge should be strongly encouraged.

As for The Intercept, it said in a statement Tuesday that it has “no knowledge of the identity of the person who provided us with the document,” before adding “the U.S. government has told news organizations that Winner was that individual.”

“While the FBI’s allegations against Winner have been made public through the release of an affidavit and search warrant, which were unsealed at the government’s request, it is important to keep in mind that these documents contain unproven assertions and speculation designed to serve the government’s agenda and as such warrant skepticism,” The Intercept’s statement reads.

The Intercept added it will not make further comments at this time.

With President Donald Trump’s call to prosecute leakers, WikiLeaks and Assange find themselves opposing the man who once said, “I love WikiLeaks.”

“The Trump administration has already capitalized on the incompetence or treachery of this reporter by gloating about her arrest in press release hours after the Intercept story broke,” Assange said. “Such press releases are designed to deter future sources.”

On his personal Twitter account, Assange expressed support for Winner’s actions, saying “she is a young women [sic] accused of courage in trying to help us know.”

View image on Twitter

Alleged NSA whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner must be supported. She is a young women accused of courage in trying to help us know.

The Intercept was launched in 2014 initially for the purposes of publishing documents released by Edward Snowden. They have faced criticism from WikiLeaks before. In 2014, The Intercept published a story about the NSA’s recording of cell phone calls from the Bahamas and WikiLeaks took issue with the publication redacting Afghanistan in its report.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/wikileaks-declares-war-on-the-intercept

 

Did the Intercept Betray Its NSA Source?

By Jake Swearingen

Image
Alleged leaker Reality Leigh Winner. Photo: reezlie/Instagram

How, exactly, did the FBI zero in on alleged NSA leaker Reality Leigh Winner? Winner, a contractor for the NSA, was quietly arrested on Sunday and charged with leaking top secret documents. According to the Justice Department, she confessed to printing out classified information while authorities were searching her home and vehicle. Those documents are now confirmed to be the same documents published by the Intercept on Monday afternoon about a Russian cyberattack on U.S. voting machines and officials. About an hour after the Intercept published the story, the Justice Department revealed to the press that it already had Winner in custody, and would be prosecuting her under the Espionage Act. It was an effective bit of showmanship.

The Intercept, for obvious reasons, is saying very little. A statement posted to the site describes the claims made in the government search affidavit and the criminal complaint as “unproven assertions and speculation designed to serve the government’s agenda and as such warrant skepticism.” Naturally, any specific details revealed by the publication could be used to build a case against its sources.

The understandable silence from the Intercept, combined with the fragmented details provided by the court documents, has led to a significant amount of back and forth on Twitter on how much culpability the Intercept has in Winner’s arrest — whether the Intercept’s bad “opsec” led to the government charging Winner, or if Winner’s own missteps led to her arrest. The discussion is more than just a journalistic pissing match: Not only does the site’s reputation as a safe place for anonymous leaks hang in the balance, but journalists and their sources at all publications are nervous about the capabilities of a Trump administration that has declared war on leakers everywhere.

If you go strictly by what’s contained in the FBI’s search affidavit, there were three important pieces of circumstantial evidence that led the Feds to Winner.

The first is that Winner had previous contact with the Intercept. It’s important to note here that — contra the assumptions of many on Twitter — her contact had nothing to do with the story, and occurred months before she even allegedly accessed the report that was leaked. She emailed the site on March 30 from her private Gmail account, asking for a transcript of a podcast. She emailed the site again on March 31, confirming “subscription to the service,” (likely one of the Intercept’s newsletters).

The second is that on May 24, a reporter from the Intercept reached out to an unnamed government contractor, trying to determine the validity of the leak. During the exchange, the Intercept revealed that the leak had been mailed with a postmark of Augusta, Georgia, where Winner lives. (Checking with other sources about the validity of a leak is not necessarily bad opsec; revealing specific information about the leak almost certainly is — though it’s also probably more common than journalists would like to admit.) The contractor told the Intercept that they believed the leak to be fake; when the Intercept returned on June 1, saying that the leak’s authenticity had been confirmed, the original anonymous government contractor turned around and alerted the NSA to the matter — including the key detail that the document had been mailed from Augusta.

The third, and most glaring, is that the Intercept provided a copy of the report itself to the NSA on May 30. It’s unclear if the Intercept gave the NSA a scanned copy of the printed material it had received, or a retyped or otherwise altered version, but the NSA then turned the report over to the FBI for further investigation. According to the FBI’s affidavit, Feds noticed that pages of the intelligence reporting appeared “folded and/or creased,” thus alerting them that the information had been printed. Per the affidavit, the government then found that only six people had printed that report, and Winner had no reason to do so — the report was outside of her job duties.

The “crease” has been bandied about in the press, but there’s good reason to believe that the Feds had a more sophisticated way of figuring out that the document had been printed out. The Intercept’s PDF of the document also contains “tracking dots,” barely visible yellow dots available on printed pages that allow anyone to determine the serial number, model date, and date and time of printed material. You can see these for yourself: Just screenshot the top-left corner of any page of the PDF and invert the colors in an image-editing tool. The dots should become immediately apparent. The tracking dots on the documents from the Intercept show a print date of May 9 at 6:20 from a printer with model number 54, serial number 29535218. (The last page of the PDF has a different set of tracking dots — it’s unclear why.)

If this is the copy that the Intercept also provided to the NSA, then the government likely knew enough to determine which employee had used that specific printer at that specific time — no need to see “creases” at all. In fact, the crease may be pretext to avoid mentioning tracking dots (or another forensic method) used to determine that the document was printed — a prosecutorial technique known as “parallel construction” that avoids revealing how evidence on a case was actually gathered.

The problem with apportioning blame in this case is that we don’t know if the Intercept handed over to the NSA the original copy of the report that they’d received — which would have been a grave security error — or if it was a photocopy or reprint that nonetheless betrayed some evidence.

And it’s important to note that the FBI and NSA didn’t need to know that the pages had even been printed. All material classified “top secret” (the highest security rating a document can receive) are stored in a massive government intranet known as the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, or JWICS. As detailed by New York Magazine contributer Yashar Ali on Twitter, this system logs everyone who accesses top secret documents, as well as what they do with them. Even if the Intercept had verified the document without alerting the NSA, and then paraphrased the entire report, after it published its story, the government would have quickly moved to determine who had accessed the document — and Winner would have, eventually, come under the same scrutiny.

Nonetheless, it’s clear that there were serious mistakes made by both the Intercept and its leaker. It’s quite reasonable for the Intercept to seek confirmation that the document in question was real with third-party sources, and eventually the NSA. But revealing the Augusta, Georgia, postmark to the third-party source clearly helped the government build its case. Providing a copy of the report seems to have, in some way, added to the government’s pile of evidence. And the decision to publish the PDF with the tracker dots unobscured — especially considering the Intercept likely had no knowledge that Winner was the leaker, and she was already in custody — is a baffling unforced error from a site that hinges on being a secure place to send documents.

Assuming Winner is the leaker, too, she made a mistake in contacting the Intercept at work — though given that it happened months before she allegedly sent the report, it’s hard to blame her. Still, Winner, as a contractor for the NSA and an Air Force veteran with top secret clearance, would have known as well as anyone that her traffic would be logged, and would also likely have known that accessing top secret documents — even without printing them out — would have thrown up red flags in the aftermath of a leak.

It’s worth reiterating that the FBI has a strong incentive to cast the Intercept as incompetent handlers of sources. There’s a decent chance that the case was built against Winner in a completely different way — one that didn’t rely on mistakes by the journalists at all — and this particular parallel construction of the case is being put forward to cast aspersions on one of the most notorious investigative outfits online. But there’s no escaping that the mistakes made by the Intercept and Winner — small as they may have been — were enough to get a search warrant and indictment signed. If there’s any consolation for leakers and the journalists they rely on, it’s that the affidavit provides an object lesson in protecting sources.

http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/06/intercept-nsa-leaker-reality-winner.html

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The Science, Economics, Politics and Propaganda of Climate Change — Without Energy Life is Brutal and Short — Videos

Posted on June 3, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, Climate, Climate Change, Coal, Coal, College, Communications, Congress, Countries, Culture, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Fiscal Policy, History, House of Representatives, Human, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Life, Media, Monetary Policy, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Rule of Law, Senate, Tax Policy, Trade Policy, United States of America, Wealth, Weather, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Social scientists should never try to predict the future; they have trouble enough predicting the past.”

~James Q. Wilson

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Tucker: Trump gets US out of bad deal and left melts down

Amb. Bolton: Leaving Paris accord is an ‘excellent decision’

The optics of withdrawing from the Paris climate deal

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Global Warming

Professor Fred Singer on Climate Change Pt 1

Professor Fred Singer on Climate Change pt 2

Stossel: Blinding Us with “Science”

Climate Change: What Do Scientists Say?

Climate Change: What’s So Alarming?

Is Climate Change Our Biggest Problem?

What They Haven’t Told You about Climate Change

Do 97% of Climate Scientists Really Agree?

Why People Don’t Believe In Climate Science

Dr. John R. Christy on Climate Change at Congressional Hearing

John Christy on The Economics and Politics of Climate Change

John Christy: Climatologist – Science, Politics and Morality

Another scientist comes out against global warming

Exploring Climate Change: Full Length Interview with Dr. John Christy

Global Warming / Climate Change Hoax – Dr. Roy Spencer (1)

MIT Professor Richard Lindzen On the Corruption of Climate Science

Interview with Professor Richard Lindzen

Richard Lindzen “Global Warming Alarmism: Science in the Public Square”

Climate I: Is The Debate Over?

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Dr Easterbrook Global Warming HOAX & Facts

Climate Change in 12 Minutes – The Skeptic’s Case

Dr David Evans: Global Warming is Manmade? (1 of 2)

Dr David Evans: Global Warming is Manmade? (2 of 2)

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Climategate: What They Aren’t Telling You!

Climategate: Dr. Tim Ball on the hacked CRU emails

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Climategate: The Backstory

The Climategate Scandal. (Part 1)

The Climategate Scandal. (Part 2)

The Climategate Scandal. (Part 3)

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Fred Singer on Climate Change Data

S. Fred Singer | Global Warming: Scientific Fact or Fiction?

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60% Think Senate Should Vote on Paris Climate Accord

Friday, June 02, 2017

Most voters disagree with President Trump’s decision to quit the Paris anti-global warming agreement and think its fate should be decided by the U.S. Senate instead.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 30% of Likely U.S. Voters agree with the president’s decision to pull the United States out of the agreement signed by President Obama and the leaders of 194 other nations. Sixty percent (60%) think Trump should submit the treaty to the Senate for an up-or-down vote. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on May 31-June 1, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/may_2017/60_think_senate_should_vote_on_paris_climate_accord

Voters Don’t Think Feds Do Enough to Fight Global Warming

Thursday, March 23, 2017

President Trump is expected to dismantle President Obama’s climate change policies, but most voters already think the government isn’t doing enough about the problem.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 20% of Likely U.S. Voters feel the federal government is now taking the right level of action to fight global warming. Fifty-three percent (53%) think the government is not doing enough, while 21% say it’s doing too much. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on March 20-21, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/archive/environment_energy_update_archive/voters_don_t_think_feds_do_enough_to_fight_global_warming

 

Voters Question Cost of Paris Climate Deal
in PoliticsFacebookTwitterEmail thisShareThis

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

While voters are evenly divided on the effectiveness of the new international climate change agreement, most think it will increase energy costs here at home, and few are willing to pay those additional costs. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The national survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on December 14-15, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Fieldwork for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC . See methodology.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/environment_energy/voters_question_cost_of_paris_climate_deal

 

John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, with the weather data he recorded daily while growing up in Fresno, Calif., in the 1960s. CreditRob Culpepper for The New York Times

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, says he remembers the morning he spotted a well-known colleague at a gathering of climate experts.

“I walked over and held out my hand to greet him,” Dr. Christy recalled. “He looked me in the eye, and he said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Come on, shake hands with me.’ And he said, ‘No.’ ”

Dr. Christy is an outlier on what the vast majority of his colleagues consider to be a matter of consensus: that global warming is both settled science and a dire threat. He regards it as neither. Not that the earth is not heating up. It is, he says, and carbon dioxide spewed from power plants, automobiles and other sources is at least partly responsible.

But in speeches, congressional testimony and peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals, he argues that predictions of future warming have been greatly overstated and that humans have weathered warmer stretches without perishing. Dr. Christy’s willingness to publicize his views, often strongly, has also hurt his standing among scientists who tend to be suspicious of those with high profiles. His frequent appearances on Capitol Hill have almost always been at the request of Republican legislators opposed to addressing climate change.

“I detest words like ‘contrarian’ and ‘denier,’ ” he said. “I’m a data-driven climate scientist. Every time I hear that phrase, ‘The science is settled,’ I say I can easily demonstrate that that is false, because this is the climate — right here. The science is not settled.”

Dr. Christy was pointing to a chart comparing seven computer projections of global atmospheric temperatures based on measurements taken by satellites and weather balloons. The projections traced a sharp upward slope; the actual measurements, however, ticked up only slightly.

Such charts — there are others, sometimes less dramatic but more or less accepted by the large majority of climate scientists — are the essence of the divide between that group on one side and Dr. Christy and a handful of other respected scientists on the other.

“Almost anyone would say the temperature rise seen over the last 35 years is less than the latest round of models suggests should have happened,” said Carl Mears, the senior research scientist at Remote Sensing Systems, a California firm that analyzes satellite climate readings.

“Where the disagreement comes is that Dr. Christy says the climate models are worthless and that there must be something wrong with the basic model, whereas there are actually a lot of other possibilities,” Dr. Mears said. Among them, he said, are natural variations in the climate and rising trade winds that have helped funnel atmospheric heat into the ocean.

Dr. Christy has drawn the scorn of his colleagues partly because they believe that so much is at stake and that he is providing legitimacy to those who refuse to acknowledge that. If the models are imprecise, they argue, the science behind them is compelling, and it is very likely that the world has only a few decades to stave off potentially catastrophic warming.

And if he is wrong, there is no redo.

“It’s kind of like telling a little girl who’s trying to run across a busy street to catch a school bus to go for it, knowing there’s a substantial chance that she’ll be killed,” said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “She might make it. But it’s a big gamble to take.”

By contrast, Dr. Christy argues that reining in carbon emissions is both futile and unnecessary, and that money is better spent adapting to what he says will be moderately higher temperatures. Among other initiatives, he said, the authorities could limit development in coastal and hurricane-prone areas, expand flood plains, make manufactured housing more resistant to tornadoes and high winds, and make farms in arid regions less dependent on imported water — or move production to rainier places.

Dr. Christy’s scenario is not completely out of the realm of possibility, his critics say, but it is highly unlikely.

In interviews, prominent scientists, while disagreeing with Dr. Christy, took pains to acknowledge his credentials. They are substantial: Dr. Christy, 63, has researched climate issues for 27 years and was a lead author — in essence, an editor — of a section of the 2001 report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the definitive assessment of the state of global warming. With a colleague at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Dr. Roy Spencer, he received NASA’s medal for exceptional scientific achievement in 1991 for building a global temperature database.

That model, which concluded that a layer of the atmosphere was unexpectedly cooling, was revised to show slight warming after other scientists documented flaws in its methodology. It has become something of a scientific tit for tat. Dr. Christy and Dr. Spencer’s own recalculations scaled back the amount of warming, leading to further assaults on their methodology.

Dr. Christy’s response sits on his bookshelf: a thick stack of yellowed paper with the daily weather data he began recording in Fresno, Calif., in the 1960s. It was his first data set, he said, the foundation of a conviction that “you have to know what’s happening before you know why it’s happening, and that comes back to data.”

Dr. Christy says he became fascinated with weather as a fifth grader when a snowstorm hit Fresno in 1961. By his high school junior year, he had taught himself Fortran, the first widely used programming language, and had programmed a school computer to make weather predictions. After earning a degree in mathematics at California State University, Fresno, he became an evangelical Christian missionary in Kenya, married and returned as pastor of a mission church in South Dakota.

There, as a part-time college math teacher, he found his true calling. He left the pastoral position, earned a doctorate in atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois and moved to Alabama.

And while his work has been widely published, he has often been vilified by his peers. Dr. Christy is mentioned, usually critically, in dozens of the so-called Climategate emails that were hacked from the computers of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Center, the British keeper of global temperature records, in 2009.

“John Christy has made a scientific career out of being wrong,” one prominent climate scientist, Benjamin D. Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, wrote in one 2008 email. “He’s not even a third-rate scientist.”

Another email included a photographic collage showing Dr. Christy and other scientists who question the extent of global warming, some stranded on a tiny ice floe labeled “North Pole” and others buoyed in the sea by a life jacket and a yellow rubber ducky. A cartoon balloon depicts three of them saying, “Global warming is a hoax.”

Some, including those who disagree with Dr. Christy, are dismayed by the treatment.

“Show me two scientists who agree on everything,” said Peter Thorne, a senior researcher at Norway’s Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center who wrote a 2005 research article on climate change with Dr. Christy. “We may disagree over what we are finding, but we should be playing the ball and not the man.”

Dr. Christy has been dismissed in environmental circles as a pawn of the fossil-fuel industry who distorts science to fit his own ideology. (“I don’t take money from industries,” he said.)

He says he worries that his climate stances are affecting his chances of publishing future research and winning grants. The largest of them, a four-year Department of Energy stipend to investigate discrepancies between climate models and real-world data, expires in September.

“There’s a climate establishment,” Dr. Christy said. “And I’m not in it.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/16/us/skeptic-of-climate-change-john-christy-finds-himself-a-target-of-suspicion.html?_r=0

The Creator, Fabricator And Proponent Of Global Warming – Maurice Strong

Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsiblity to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

Current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class – involving high meat intake, use of fossil fuels, appliances, air-conditioning, and suburban housing – are not sustainable.” – Maurice Strong, Rio Earth Summit

“It is the responsibility of each human being today to choose between the force of darkness and the force of light. We must therefore transform our attitudes, and adopt a renewed respect for the superior laws of Divine Nature.“ – Maurice Strong, first Secretary General of UNEP

•••

12-l

Discovering Maurice Strong

by John Izzard January 31, 2010

The Yellow Brick Road to Climate Change Like Dorothy, Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, we’ve all been dancing down the Yellow Brick Road of “settled science” in search of answers from the Emerald City, only to find that what we suspected all along — the Wizard has been telling us fibs. But who exactly is the Wizard? And where did this seeming-madness all begin?

“Undoubtedly there are many “wizards”, but the man behind the green curtain, the man who managed to get the climate industry to where it is today is a mild mannered character by the name of Maurice Strong. The whole climate change business, and it is a business, started with Mr Strong.” Maurice Strong, a self-confessed socialist, was the man who put the United Nations into the environmental business, being the shadowy-figure behind the UN secretaries general from U Thant to Kofi Annan. Maurice-SstrongHis reign of influence in world affairs lasted from 1962 to 2005. Strong has been variously called “the international man of mystery”, the “new guy in your future” and “a very dangerous ideologue”. Strong made his fortune in the oil and energy business running companies such as Petro Canada, Power Corporation, CalTex Africa, Hydro Canada, the Colorado Land and Cattle Company, Ajax Petroleum, Canadian Industrial Oil and Gas— to name just a few.His private interests always seemed to be in conflict with his public persona and his work on the world stage. Strong’s extensive range of contacts within the power brokers of the world was exceptional. One admirer christened him “the Michelangelo of networking”. Maurice Strong described himself as “a socialist in ideology, a capitalist in methodology”. In 1972 he organised for U Thant the first Earth Summit, The Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. This led to the formation of UN Environment Program with Maurice Strong at its head. Later, as the UNEP boss he organised the first international expert group meeting on climate change. This led to exotic UN sponsored organizations such at Earth Council and Earth Charter, The World Resources Institute, the World Wildlife Fund and later The Commission for World Governance and the UN’s University for Peace.

Strong was the driving force behind the idea of world governance by the United Nations when he dreamt up a world tax on monetary transactions of 0.5% which would have given theUN an annual income of $1.5 trillion. About equal then to the income of the USA. The stumbling block was the Security Council, and their power of veto. He devised a plan to get rid of the Security Council but failed to get it implemented. Then came along the idea that global warming might just be the device to get his World Governance proposal up and running.

In 1989 Maurice Strong was appointed Secretary General of the Earth Summit and in 1992, addressing Earth Summit II in Rio, he told the thousands of climate change delegates: It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class— involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work place air-conditioning, and suburbanhousing — are not sustainable. There goes the Sunday roast, a house to live in, the car, the occasional hamburger and generally, life on earth as we know it. But what Strong didn’t tell the delegates was that he was involved in the purchase of the Colorado Land and Cattle Company, which he bought from Adnan Khashoggi, an arms dealer who had strong connections with the Bin Laden family. Keep Reading »

https://climatism.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/the-creator-fabricator-and-proponent-of-global-warming-maurice-strong/

 

IPCC Control Calculations of Annual Human CO2 Production For Political Agenda

by DR. TIM BALL on JUNE 1, 2012

in ATMOSPHERE,DATA,OCEANS,THEORY

Almost every aspect of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) work is manipulated, selected, and controlled, to prove human CO2 is causing global warming. The objective was to prove the hypothesis, not to perform objective science.

The goal was established by the Club of Rome whose member, Maurice Strong transmitted and translated it into world government policy through the United Nations.

“In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that .. the threat of global warming.. would fit the bill…. the real enemy, then, is humanity itself….we believe humanity requires a common motivation, namely a common adversary in order to realize world government. It does not matter if this common enemy is a real one or….one invented for the purpose.” — Club of Rome

He was assisted by politicians like Al Gore and Tim Wirth. In 1993 the latter did not hide the naked political objective.

“We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing …”

They were aided by national weather agencies and bureaucratic scientists with similar political persuasions appointed to the IPCC.

They claimed their goal was achieved in the 2007 IPCC Report which concluded,

“Another unusual aspect of recent climate change is its cause: past climate changes were natural in origin, whereas most of the warming of the past 50 years is attributable to human activities.”

All the CO2 numbers used by the IPCC are very poor estimates and designed to underline the human impact. They are meaningless figures from the total volumes to the annual flows and the human inputs as depicted in the IPCC carbon cycle (diagram).

Human CO2 production is central to the IPCC objective so they control production of the information. Like most things they do it is disclosed, but they know few people realize the significance. Here they explain the process.

—————————————————————–

What is the role of the IPCC in Greenhouse Gas inventories and reporting to the UNFCCC?

A: The IPCC has generated a number of methodology reports on national greenhouse gas inventories with a view to providing internationally acceptable inventory methodologies. The IPCC accepts the responsibility to provide scientific and technical advice on specific questions related to those inventory methods and practices that are contained in these reports, online casino or at the request of the UNFCCC in accordance with established IPCC procedures. The IPCC has set up the Task Force on Inventories (TFI) to run the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Programme (NGGIP) to produce this methodological advice. Parties to the UNFCCC have agreed to use the IPCC Guidelines in reporting to the convention.

How does the IPCC produce its inventory Guidelines?
Utilising IPCC procedures, nominated experts from around the world draft the reports that are then extensively reviewed twice before approval by the IPCC. This process ensures that the widest possible range of views are incorporated into the documents.

——————————————————————

In other words they control the entire process from the methodology, designation of technical advice, establishment of task forces, guidelines for reporting, nomination of experts to produce the reports and final approval of what the reports say. They rely on data from individual UN member nations, but any examination of UN data quickly reveals its inadequacies. For example, look at the countries that claim 99% or higher literacy rate.

IPCC figures for annual CO2 production per nation are equally distorted and wrong. Worse, they have no scientific purpose so they are strictly for the political agenda. Professor Murray Salby shows in this video how the human portion is of no consequence. He demonstrates that variation in natural (non-human) sources of CO2 explain almost all annual changes. He shows how just a 5% variation in these sources is more than the total annual human production.

A partial explanation for the IPCC error is because climate science assumes change and variability are abnormal as the diagram illustrates. They don’t show the error in the estimates of volumes, which in at least three instances, atmosphere, oceans, and vegetation/soil detritus, exceed estimates for total human production. This is true even with IPCC’s claimed annual increase.

IPCC wanted to prove human CO2 was causing global warming as part of their belief that industrialized populations would exhaust all resources and had to be shut down. Their only objective was to show human production was steadily, inexorably increasing. Their calculations predetermine that, because human CO2 production is directly linked to population increase. A population increase guarantees a CO2 increase. It is another of their circular arguments that has no basis in science.

http://drtimball.com/2012/ipcc-control-calculations-of-annual-human-co2-production-for-political-agenda/

Maurice Strong, Climate Crook

The consummate sleazebag, thief and all-round corruptocrat who launched and shaped the UN effort to rid the world of CO2 has died, appropriately enough as his heirs gather in Paris to rob the world blind. Good riddance

maurice strongEditor’s note: Five years ago, Quadrant Online published this profile of Maurice Strong (left), the man who, more than any other, redefined a trace gas as the meal ticket for tens of thousands of climate functionaries — the same people whose light-fingered heirs are today gathered in Paris. To mark his passing, we once again present John Izzard’s profile of the man who did very nicely by costing everyone else dearly.

___________________________________

The Yellow Brick Road to Climate Change

January has certainly been a defining month in the quest for truth about climate change, and the custodians of that “truth” aren’t looking that flash at the moment. Indeed in the month of January some of the major doomsday prophecies unravelled and the prophets themselves seemed to undergo vows of silence. Kevin Rudd, Penny Wong, Tim Flannery — who are never lost for words — seemed, well… totally lost for words!

Like Dorothy, Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, we’ve all been dancing down the Yellow Brick Road of “settled science” in search of answers from the Emerald City, only to find that what we suspected all along — the Wizard has been telling us fibs.

But who exactly is the Wizard? And where did this seeming-madness all begin?

Undoubtedly there are many “wizards”, but the man behind the green curtain, the man who managed to get the climate industry to where it is today is a mild mannered character by the name of Maurice Strong. The whole climate change business, and it is a business, started with Mr Strong.

Maurice Strong, a self-confessed socialist, was the man who put the United Nations into the environmental business, being the shadowy-figure behind the UN secretaries general from U Thant to Kofi Annan. His reign of influence in world affairs lasted from 1962 to 2005. Strong has been variously called “the international man of mystery”, the “new guy in your future” and “a very dangerous ideologue”.

Strong made his fortune in the oil and energy business running companies such as Petro Canada, Power Corporation, CalTex Africa, Hydro Canada, the Colorado Land and Cattle Company, Ajax Petroleum, Canadian Industrial Oil and Gas— to name just a few.His private interests always seemed to be in conflict with his public persona and his work on the world stage. Strong’s extensive range of contacts within the power brokers of the world was exceptional. One admirer christened him “the Michelangelo of networking”.

Maurice Strong described himself as “a socialist in ideology, a capitalist in methodology”.

In 1972 he organised for U Thant the first Earth Summit, The Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. This led to the formation of UN Environment Program with Maurice Strong at its head. Later, as the UNEP boss he organised the first international expert group meeting on climate change.

This led to exotic UN sponsored organizations such at Earth Council and Earth Charter, The World Resources Institute, the World Wildlife Fund and later The Commission for World Governance and the UN’s University for Peace. Strong was the driving force behind the idea of world governance by the United Nations when he dreamt up a world tax on monetary transactions of 0.5% which would have given theUN an annual income of $1.5 trillion. About equal then to the income of the USA.

The stumbling block was the Security Council, and their power of veto. He devised a plan to get rid of the Security Council but failed to get it implemented. Then came along the idea that global warming might just be the device to get his World Governance proposal up and running.

In 1989 Maurice Strong was appointed Secretary General of the Earth Summit and in 1992, addressing Earth Summit II in Rio, he told the thousands of climate change delegates:

It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class— involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work place air-conditioning, and suburbanhousing — are not sustainable.

There goes the Sunday roast, a house to live in, the car, the occasional hamburger and generally, life on earth as we know it. But what Strong didn’t tell the delegates was that he was involved in the purchase of the Colorado Land and Cattle Company, which he bought from Adnan Khashoggi, an arms dealer who had strong connections with the Bin Laden family.

This 200,000 acre cattle property, called the Baca had two hidden secrets. One was that it sat above vast underground water systems, which Strong wanted to remove. He formed the American Water Development Corporation to exploit the water by pumping it out for commercial intent but was stopped by the locals as they feared it would destroy the delicate environment.

The second secret was that Maurice Strong had been told by a mystic that:

The Baca would become the centre for a new planetary order which would evolve from the economic collapse and environmental catastrophes that would sweep the globe in the years to come.

As a result of these revelations Strong created the Manitou Foundation, a New Age institution located at the Baca ranch — above the sacred waters that Strong had been denied permission to pump out. This hocus-pocus continued with the foundation of The Conservation Fund (with financial help of Laurance Rockefeller) to study the mystical properties of the Manitou Mountain. At the Baca ranch there is a circular temple devoted to the world’s mystical and religious movements.

The valley in which the Baca establishment is located is also traditional home for various Navajo tribes. They believe that their ancestors were led underground here by “Ant People” and according to Navajo tradition they were warned of a coming cataclysm by “sky katchinas” (sky spirits). No wonder Strong wanted to buy the Baca.

Meanwhile Maurice was also busy founding the Earth Council Institute in 1992 and recruiting world luminaries such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Shimon Peres, Al Gore and David Rockefeller. In 2000 Earth Charter was formed as a further push by Strong to create a world governing body.

Unfortunately, in 2005, the most powerful man in the push to save of humanity — by steady promotion of the theory of human induced greenhouse gases — was caught with his hand in the till.

Investigations into the UN’s Oil-for-Food-Program found that Strong had endorsed a cheque for $988,885 made out to M. Strong — issued by a Jordanian bank. The man who gave the cheque, South Korean business man Tongsun Park was convicted in 2006 in a US Federal court of conspiring to bribe UN officials. Strong resigned and fled to Canada and thence to China where he has been living ever since.

Strong is believed to have sanctuary in China because of his cousin, Anne Louise Strong, a Marxist who lived with Mao Tse Tung for two years, and when she died in 1970, her funeral was arranged by Premier Chou En-Lai. Anne Louise Strong was a Comintern member — an organization formed in 1919 as the Third International, with one of its aims to use “by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie…”

Maurice Strong, as an 18-year-old Canadian from Manitoba, started work at the United Nations in 1947 as a junior officer in the UN Security Section, living with the UN Treasurer, Noah Monod. Following his exposure for bribery and corruption in the UN’s Oil-for-Food scandal Maurice Strong was stripped of many of his 53 international awards and honours he had collected during his lifetime working in dual role of arch conservationist and ruthless businessman.

The exposure and downfall of climate change’s most powerful wizard? Dorothy and Toto would have loved it!

http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2015/12/discovering-maurice-strong/

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

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

Image result for president trump cartoons north korea

Image result for president trump cartoons north korea

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

Image result for cartoons branco trump north korea

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

White House for North Korea briefing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump signs executive orders on financial services

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

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

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

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

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4441558/Trump-100-Days-Accomplishments-memo-leaked.html#ixzz4fbNUpI3i
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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. fir