Posts Tagged ‘Daesh’

In their first conversation since Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president, he and President of Russia Vladimir Putin discussed improving cooperation between their countries in the fight against terrorism and the importance of rebuilding bilateral trade and economic ties.

Moscow sees Washington as its most important partner in fighting international terrorism, Putin told Trump, according to the Kremlin’s official statements on the conversation. Both leaders reportedly supported the idea of improving “real coordination” between their nations in the fight against Daesh and other terrorist groups active in Syria.

Trump and Putin also expressed their willingness to work together to “develop and stabilize” US-Russia interaction and assured each other that their nations’ citizens view the other’s positively.

In addition, the two world leaders discussed Iran’s nuclear program, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the situation on the Korean peninsula, and the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, the Kremlin reports, as well as nonproliferation issues.

Trump and Putin also expressed their willingness to work together to “develop and stabilize” US-Russia interaction and assured each other that their nations’ citizens view the other’s positively.

In addition, the two world leaders discussed Iran’s nuclear program, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the situation on the Korean peninsula, and the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, the Kremlin reports, as well as nonproliferation issues.

Trump and Putin are expected to speak again to discuss possible dates and places for a face-to-face meeting.


Ask Barack

Posted: December 8, 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,
Preparing to leave office, US President Barack Obama finally admitted his country’s role in the emergence of Daesh and…and unexpectedly gave advice to Donald Trump.
Barack Obama said that even though the terrorists claim to fight on behalf of Islam, the ongoing fight against the scourge of terrorism should not be viewed as a fight against one specific religion.
“If we act like this is a war between the United States and Islam, we’re not just going to lose more Americans to terrorist attacks, but we’ll also lose sight of the very principles we claim to defend,” Obama noted in an obvious nod to President-elect Trump who will be taking office in January.
As the Syrian conflict approaches its 6th anniversary, there is a sense of optimism among pro-government supporters, with Russia stepping up military assistance and the prospect of Donald Trump cutting off support to the opposition.
Since the start of unrest in Syria, the US government has fixated on dislodging President Assad from office — using any means necessary.

However, there has been widespread speculation that Donald Trump will focus more on tackling groups such as Daesh, and could potentially be willing to work in conjunction with Assad’s forces and Russia.

Ahrar al-Sham is one of the most powerful groups fighting against the Syrian Army and its allies. Russia has attempted to designate this group as a terrorist organization but the US has previously protested the group’s innocence.
The US government has also criticized the Russian air force for attacking this group. Ahrar al-Sham has openly said that they want to impose Shariah law across Syria, and they have even collaborated with Fateh al-Sham, which was previously part of the al-Qaeda franchise.
Unlike Daesh, which seeks to establish a worldwide caliphate, Ahrar al-Sham has indicated that they are only interested in imposing Shariah law in Syria. This is already problematic, as many minorities will inevitably suffer from persecution.
Furthermore, if the group was to satisfy its objectives in Syria, they may expand their goals, potentially aiming to establish an Islamic State far beyond Syria’s borders. After all, groups like this thrive off violence, war and aggressive expansion. Therefore, by aiding this group, America is putting itself, and many other countries in unnecessary danger.
It is hard to imagine a scenario where Donald Trump will continue to support this group. In fact, many opposition fighters in Syria were deeply saddened when news broke out that Trump had emerged victorious over Hillary Clinton.
It appeared that Hillary’s foreign policy, especially on Syria, was in stark contrast to Trump’s. She was seemingly in favor of imposing a no-fly zone over Syria and providing more military support to the armed opposition. Russia has sophisticated military assets in Syria, including several fighter jets, and the S-300 and S-400 SAM systems. This puts them in a good position to deal with/prevent a no-fly zone.
Even with substantial support from their allies, rebels in Aleppo were unable to break the siege on eastern Aleppo. They were able to score some initial gains, especially in the al-Assad district, but pro-government forces were successful in reversing all their gains in a matter of days, with little air support. The pro-government forces in Aleppo are comprised of units from the Syrian Army, Liwa al-Quds (a Palestinian militia), SSNP fighters, Hezbollah, and Iraqi Shia militiamen.
Russia and Syria have given rebels and civilians the opportunity to leave Aleppo several times, but opposition fighters have prevented civilians from leaving the area. Recently, footage emerged showing protests in Aleppo, calling for the rebels to leave the area. Some of the footage reportedly showed armed men firing at protesters with live ammunition.
It remains to be seen what the newly elected President of the US will do, but it seems that he will cut off support to the rebels at the least. He may even be content with allowing Assad to remain in power, as a means of combating terrorism, and helping Syria return to normality. Even without further assistance from the west, Assad’s forces already have the upper hand at most battlefronts in Syria.
Some analysts have suggested that Trump may continue with America’s previous foreign policy — arming and backing the opposition, including Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham.
Ultimately, it depends on whether he decides to give his advisers a large role in policy-making, while he takes more of a figurehead position or decides to implement his pre-election narrative.
By Suliman Mulhem
According to circulating reports from Syria, pro-government forces have made significant advances in eastern Aleppo. The Syrian Arab Army, backed by allied militias and air support, has taken control of Hanano district and Jabal Badro in the space of around 48 hours.

The speed of the Syrian army’s recent gains in Aleppo are impressive, considering the urban battleground.

At the request of the Syrian government, Russian militarily intervened in the Syrian conflict in September 2015. Shortly before the arrival of Russian warplanes in Syria, the Syrian army suffered a string of defeats, most notably in Idlib province.

Since Russia’s intervention, the tide has turned, and Assad’s forces advanced on several key fronts. They managed to retake the ancient city of Palmyra, and lift the siege of the Kuweires airbase in Aleppo.
Given the presence of Russian military assets in Syria, it is virtually impossible for any opposing group to retake all of Syria. The provinces of Latakia and Tartus are considered to be the safest areas in Syria, due to the presence of Russian facilities.
Pre-war, these provinces were primarily populated with Alawites, as well as many Christians. As of November 2016, more than 1.5 million internally displaced Syrians, mainly Sunnis from Aleppo, live in Latakia.
Based on Donald Trump’s previous comments and narrative, many expect him to cut-off support to opposition forces in Syria, and potentially cooperate with the Syrian government to tackle Islamist groups in Syria.
Furthermore, Russia has placed its advanced S-300 and S-400 SAM systems in Syria, giving them the power to down enemy aircraft. Therefore, it is unlikely that the armed opposition will receive any direct military support (against pro-government forces) from their allies, for example a no-fly zone.
 Victory in Aleppo is crucial to the long-term success of the Syrian Army’s operations. It will serve as a huge morale boost, as well as allowing for thousands of pro-government fighters to be deployed elsewhere.
Based on recent developments, it is clear that Assad’s government has the advantage. Their advantage could potentially be further accentuated by the involvement of Iraqi militias in Syria.
Earlier this month, Hadi al-Amiri, a leader in the Iraqi PMU, said that President Assad has requested support from his group.
It has been speculated that they will enter Syria, and battle Daesh in the province of Deir Ezzor, once they have liberated Mosul. Thousands of Syrian soldiers have been trapped in Deir Ezzor for several years. Breaking the siege would free-up these soldiers (including 4,000 soldiers from the elite Republican Guard), allowing to fight on other fronts.
In the past year, many countries have changed their position on the Syrian crisis in favor of Assad. For example, in December 2015, the Pakistani Foreign Minister said that his country opposed any attempt to topple Assad.
More recently, the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi indicated his support for the Syrian government.
“Our priority is to support national armies, for example in Libya to exert control over Libya territory and deal with extremist elements. The same with Syria and Iraq,” al-Sissi said.
Syria and Egypt were part of a political union from 1958 until 1961, known as the United Arab Republic.
Although the war is far from over, it seems highly probable that the Syrian government will emerge victorious.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Uncloaked Precision/anthonychris82

As Islamist forces led by the al-Nusra front tried unsuccessfully to break the siege of eastern Aleppo in Syria, the future of the country’s largest city, and the war-torn country more broadly, seems predetermined, Alexander Mercouris, editor-in-chief of The Duran, told.

Washington’s “plan B” in Syria is now starting to emerge, Mercouris told Loud & Clear host Brian Becker, commenting on the failed counter-offensive by rebel groups in Aleppo.

“The US is expecting eastern Aleppo to be liberated within few next weeks,” he said, referring to reports from the National Security Council Meeting held earlier this month.
Despite this summer’s negotiations between Moscow and Washington, the corridor for opposition groups to retreat from eastern Aleppo with their light weapons on hasn’t been established. That means that the US-backed rebels won’t give up efforts to win over Aleppo, the country’s major industrial center and most populous urban area.
“For all the Jihadist groups [Aleppo is] a symbol of war in Syria,” Mercouris asserted. “If they have a presence there, they are a serious contender for political power in Syria. If they are thrown out of Aleppo, that ambition dies.”
Still, the defeat of rebels in Aleppo is only a question of time, he explained: “They are encircled by all sides now by the Syrian Army; more forces from Southern Syria and government-controlled areas will be concentrated there. They are cut off from supplies so they cannot replenish or reinforce. But I don’t think they will go quietly.”
Citing National Security Council Meeting reports, Mercouris suggested that the US is now seeking to develop a safe zone in north-eastern Syria controlled by Jihadi rebels that Washington could use as a “bargaining chip in future talks of political future Syria.”
“In essence, what they actually mean is partitioning of Syria into a rebel-controlled Northern and North East areas and a government-controlled Western area,” that includes large cities like Aleppo and Damascus.
In this scenario, Mercouris continued, Raqqa, which is now held by Daesh, would become a center for another constellation of Jihadi groups.
“What the US doesn’t want is Raqqa to fall to the Syrian military,” which is why Washington indicated it does not want Moscow or Damascus involved in the liberation of Raqqa.
However, to bring that plan to fruition, the US needs its protégés to destroy Daesh, and that’s another challenge for the Pentagon. Washington’s initial plan suggested that the YPG, a Kurdish militia, would liberate Raqqa, helping to establish the US protectorate there. But this met with a fierce opposition from Turkey, which has long opposed Kurdish forces, and which sent troops to both Syria and Iraq.
“If the US and Turkey will be working together in North-East Syria, it might be a way of smoothing relations” between Washington and Ankara, following Turkey’s failed coup attempt on July 15. “The problem with doing it, however, is that it sets Turkey, and by extension the US, against the Kurds in Syria.”
“If the US cannot carry out attacks on Syria trying to achieve its objective in very indirect ways, they are ultimately so counterproductive that it’s better for the US to stop doing them,” Mercouris said.
A poll conducted earlier this year revealed the majority of Japanese view the US as a threat to Japan, despite playing a less important role in the world than they did a decade ago.
A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in April and May in Japan revealed that the majority of Japanese people view their ally, the United States, as one of the major threats to their country. They also believe the US is playing a less important role in the world than it did 10 years ago. Perhaps paradoxically, however, most of the 1000 respondents still share a favorable view of the US.
According to the poll, 72% have favorable view of the US in general. However, 61% of them see America as being in decline, as compared to a decade ago. Fifty-two percent of respondents named the US as 6th out of 8 major threats to their nation, after cyberattacks from other nations, Daesh and China’s emergence as a world power. Global climate change and economic instability are also among the top threats.
At the same time, only 33% believe tensions with Russia are threatening their country — even less than those concerned with Middle-Eastern migrant influx.
Interestingly, despite the fact that the vast majority of Japanese share an unfavorable view on China, with 63% believing China is a major threat, respondents were split evenly regarding whether Japan should grow strong economic ties with their western neighbor or take a tough stance on territorial disputes: 47% believe trade is a better way to stem the perceived Chinese threat, while a slightly smaller share, 45%, believe confrontation is the solution.
While the Japanese remain skeptical about playing a more important military role in the region, this year’s 29% is a slight increase over previous year figure of 23% of respondents supporting the empowering of the Japanese military.
In terms of Daesh and terrorism in general, the vast majority of respondents (79%) believed military force will do no good in fighting the threat, as it creates more hatred and more terrorists.
Respondents were generally approving of Shinzo Abe’s handling of trade, the economy and relations with the US, South Korea and China. Interestingly, the 52% support for Abe’s economic policies comes along with only 30% of respondents believing the economic situation in the country is good. In 2012, only 7% of people favored the state of the country’s economy.
In terms of the view abroad, the vast majority of respondents expressed confidence in US President Barack Obama during the time of the survey.
“The Japanese retain confidence (78%) in US President Barack Obama to do the right thing regarding world affairs,” the survey reads.

In a further sign of growing tensions between the United States and Turkey, Pentagon officials revealed on Wednesday that the Kurdish YPG militia will play a major role in the upcoming attack on the Daesh-held city of Raqqa, and it’s not good news for Ankara.
As coalition forces continue retaking the Iraqi city of Mosul from Daesh, US officials are looking ahead to Raqqa, the terrorist group’s Syrian stronghold.
American forces are currently on the ground in Syria to train opposition fighters, including Kurdish YPG militia fighters operating within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), according to Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend. However, a key US ally isn’t happy about it.
“Turkey doesn’t want to see us operating with the SDF anywhere, particularly in Raqqa. We’re having talks with Turkey and we’re going to take this in steps,” Townsend told reporters.
“The only force that is capable on any near-term timeline are the Syrian Democratic Forces, of which the YPG are a significant portion. We’re going to take the force that we have and we will go to Raqqa soon with that force.”
Townsend underlined the importance of liberating Raqqa, saying US officials believe the city is where the terrorist group plans most of its international attacks.
“We think it’s very important to get isolation in place around Raqqa to start controlling that environment on a pretty short timeline.”
 As the eastern flank of the NATO alliance, Turkey is a vital ally to the United States and its Western partners. Tensions have been high through the administration of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Under Erdogan, Ankara has launched a crackdown on Kurdish communities in the country’s southeast.
In what may have been an effort to appease Turkish leadership, US officials stressed that, while the YPG will play a role in the offensive, it will not be directly involved in taking Raqqa. Townsend added that the US will also play a smaller role in the Raqqa operation than it has in Mosul.
“We’ll have fewer coalition troops there, less combat capability there, we’ll have to apply coalition combat support in a different way than we are doing here in Iraq,” he said.
Expected to coincide with the Mosul operation, the Raqqa offensive is expected to begin soon.
“I think it will be within weeks, that’s what I want to say, and not many weeks,” US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told reporters on Tuesday.