Had enough of soft balls? Have we had enough talk about the weather….IT IS WINTER…IT SNOWS…..GET OVER IT!
Shall we move on to the briefing or should we discuss what zero turn mower is best? Today’s briefing is a bit longer than normal but there has been a lot of news since the last briefing……
Item 1–How long can we fight?
Several months into the ISIS war, the 90-day limit for President Obama to seek Congressional authorization has passed. He’s given some lip-service to wanting Congressional support, but only on his terms.
Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D – CA) bill probably isn’t what he had in mind. Offering an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS, Schiff is also looking to dramatically limit the scope of the conflict.
The bill would limit the war to three years, would confine it to Iraq and Syria, and would rule out the use of US ground troops in combat operations. The Pentagon opposes all these limits.
If you think there will ever be an enforceable time line…..then you have not been paying attention.
Item 2–Iraqi Shi’a militias have their own agenda in the fight against ISIS…..
Eye-witnesses who survived the massacre in the Diyala Province village of Barwanah are describing a situation starkly different from official Interior Ministry claims that what happened was murky, and being orchestrated by ISIS for propaganda effect.
Five different witnesses told the exact same story of militias having summarily executed scores of Sunnis shortly after the military had retaken the village from ISIS
Old habits die hard. Never had this problem when Saddam was alive and in charge…..but that is another debate for another time.
Item 3–Islamic State militants struck at Kurdish forces southwest of the Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Friday morning, Reuters said. The militants launched mortar fire and attacked positions held by Kurdish peshmerga fighters in four districts southwest of the city. In a separate attack, at least 18 people were killed when two bombs went off in Baghdad’s Bab al-Sharqi district Friday morning. Three civilians were later killed and at least 10 others wounded in northwestern Baghdad by mortars. In the city of Samarra, about 125km north of the capital, two suicide bombers targeted a security checkpoint, killing three and wounding five members of the police and Shiite militias.
Did ISIS pull out of Kobane to attack Kirkuk?
Item 4–Speaking of Kirkuk………
ISIS has launched a new round of attacks against several Peshmerga-held targets across Iraq today, hitting sites in four different districts, and launching bombing attacks in Kirkuk.
Kurdish officials initially claimed 45 ISIS fighters were killed today, and bragged of repelling attacks west of Irbil, though the increases ISIS activity sent the price of oil rising.
Eight Peshmerga fighters were killed, along with a top general in the force who had been leading anti-ISIS operations in Kirkuk. The UN announced it is evacuating foreign staff from the area after the offensive
The withdrawal from Kobane does not seem to have dampened their fighting spirit…..
Item 5–ISIS may use petty rivalries to their advantage……..
Kurdish forces in recent weeks have retaken parts of the strategic Iraqi town of Sinjar, whose Yazidi population was driven out in a humanitarian disaster last year that triggered U.S. intervention. But sniping among Kurdish factions makes the hold on the town seem shaky and is threatening the wider fight against Islamic state militants.
Today’s divisions reflect decades of conflict between peshmerga supporters of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), headed by Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, and the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) of Abdullah Ocalan in Turkey. The two groups were opponents in 1990s civil warfare, which ended in an accord that allowed PKK fighters to remain on the KDP’s Iraqi turf. The U.S. State Department regards the PKK as a terrorist organization because of its history of violence in Turkey.
The commander of peshmerga forces around Sinjar, Brig. Gen. Salam Warti, described the PKK and other militias as loose cannons unwilling to stick to an agreed strategic plan. He said they rushed into Sinjar too quickly last week, when the Kurdish regional government announced that its forces had wrested nearly a third of the town from IS forces. That boast proved short-lived as peshmerga troops retreated to the hills, and other Kurdish soldiers took refuge in the urban outskirts.
This could evolve into a bigger problem than most are willing to see…….
Item 6–Outgoing Sec. of Defense has always been straight forward….but he may have told the honest truth that few will admit……
Outgoing Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said in an interview on Friday the United States might eventually need to send non-combat ground troops to Iraq to help turn back Islamic State forces.
Hagel, who announced his resignation under pressure in November, told CNN all options must be considered in Iraq, including sending troops for non-combat roles such as gathering intelligence and locating Islamic State targets.
“I think it may require a forward deployment of some of our troops …,” he said. “I would say we’re not there yet. Whether we get there or not, I don’t know.”
Hagel’s comments echoed testimony by General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Congress last fall when he said U.S. troops might have to take a larger role on the ground in Iraq.
Item 7–Abuses committed by militias will be punished……..
– Iraq’s prime minister blamed “criminals” on Saturday for alleged mass executions, following reports that dozens of civilians were killed by Shi’ite militias in Diyala province.
“It’s not permitted for people to take the law into their own hands and punish others whenever they want to settle scores,” Haider al-Abadi told a gathering of Sunni and Shi’ite religious and political leaders in Baghdad.
Is this a change or is it just words to make the US happy?