US In The Sahel

The Sahel?  That is Africa in case you were dashing for the Google button.

Image result for sahel

For years now the US has been in the region assisting local governments in their efforts to fight the specter of growing terrorism.

What got me thinking about our involvement in the Sahel was the announcement of a special envoy….

The United States has created a special envoy for Africa’s Sahel region, a State Department spokesman said on Friday, to counter rising violence from groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State which are expanding their foothold.

Envoy Peter Pham, started his new role earlier this week, the spokesman said. He has been serving as U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa since November 2018.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-sahel/u-s-creates-new-envoy-position-to-counter-rising-terrorism-in-sahel-idUSKBN20T2ZJ

But are US troops necessary?

A Review of the necessity for US troops in the region is on-going…..

Facing skepticism from members of Congress about plans to alter force posture in Africa, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told members of the House Armed Services Committee that he remains committed to keeping U.S. forces on the continent.

“There are no plans to completely withdraw all forces from Africa,” Esper said Wednesday.

As part of a broader review of the force structure for the combatant commands, Esper has been considering moving forces out of U.S. Africa Command’s area of operations. Reports emerged at the end of 2019 that the department was looking at removing several hundred forces from Niger, Chad and Mali.

https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2020/02/26/heres-what-espers-africom-review-has-decided-so-far/

Why do we continue to fight and die in this region?  I mean our so-called NATO allies are there as well then why not let them handle the hard lift in Africa?

For Washington’s foreign policy establishment, no nation is too unimportant to be considered vital to America’s security. No territory is too insignificant for the United States to dominate. No spot on earth is too distant to station an American soldier. How else to judge the hysterical criticism of the Trump administration’s proposed military drawdown in Africa?

Despite the fiscal crisis, strategic overreach, endless war, and political division, “the Blob,” as Washington’s foreign policy community is known, refuses to consider a world where Uncle Sam does not treat every region and nation as his personal sphere of interest. Washington is determined to protect more than a score of rich allies in Europe, multiple wealthy clients in Asia, and a gaggle of Middle Eastern nations.

Roughly seven thousand American personnel are stationed across Africa, primarily in Djibouti, Niger, and Somalia. Defense Secretary Mark Esper is considering rebalancing U.S. defense resources, shifting toward containment—not that he has used that word—of China and Russia. To advance that process, last fall the Pentagon asked each regional command for its resource needs. Explained Esper: “We’ve begun a review process where I’m looking at every theater, understanding what the requirements are that we set out for, making sure we’re as efficient as possible with our forces.”

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/americas-africa-enigma-why-us-troops-are-taking-unnecessary-risks-126031

Personally I say end this deployment of US troops…..we already have enough war in other spots why make a new one?

As the United States sensibly backs its military out of Afghanistan and considers drawing down the remaining 5,000 American troops in Iraq, it is time to review the expanded U.S. military presence in West and East Africa (~7,000 troops), particularly counterterror operations. Such a review was announced by Secretary of Defense Mike Esper in December 2019.

Our African deployments were practically invisible until October 2017, when four American soldiers died in an ambush in Niger. Suddenly Americans — including at least one U.S. Senator — realized that the U.S. military was in Africa getting the U.S. into deeper and deeper trouble.

It is time to pull back these forces. They reflect a militarization of U.S. foreign policy that has accelerated since 2001. Claims to the contrary, the military does not do these operations particularly well and there is growing evidence that they are counterproductive, generating more terrorists than they eliminate and exacerbating instability. They do nothing to counter Chinese or Russian influence in Africa, despite claims that they do. The threat they target is not a vital U.S. interest. In sum, by militarizing U.S. engagement in Africa, security assistance, training, and operations are harming U.S. security interests.

The U.S. military should end its counterterror operations in Africa

Time to end at least one armed conflict….I am sure that we will find another to replace the profits for the M-IC.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

ISIS In The Shadows

Our mash up with Iran seems to be dialing down….kinda like all other “crisis” in this era of Trump.

We are laser focused on Iran and its proxies in Iraq (BTW contrary to the idiots on the Right ISIS is not an ally of Iran)…..but problems could be brewing elsewhere…..

In an emergency session of Iraqi parliament, a bill was passed revoking Iraq’s request for US help in fighting ISIS, and calling for the government to expel US forces. The US troops may not be leaving, but they’d already suspended their operations.

Over the weekend, US officials reported that they suspended their training missions for Iraqi forces to scale up defense of their own base security. On Sunday they confirmed that the anti-ISIS mission is also suspended going forward.

While President Trump is threatening sanctions against Iraq for wanting the troops out, he seems comfortable with them not actually doing anything other than staying in Iraq for its own sake. The US command in Iraq says it is “committed” to the mission, though the mission isn’t entirely clear at this point, beyond staying and threatening Iraq with sanctions.

How many troops are required for this non-mission remains to be seen, but indications are that the US is going to keep adding troops to Iraq and Kuwait, and President Trump will react furiously to any indication that Iraq doesn’t want the occupation to continue.

(antiwar.com)

Do not take your eye off the real enemy…ISIS…..

The militants are now more skilled and more dangerous than al-Qaeda, according to Lahur Talabany, a top Kurdish counter-terrorism official.

“They have better techniques, better tactics and a lot more money at their disposal,” he said. “They are able to buy vehicles, weapons, food supplies and equipment. Technologically they’re more savvy. It’s more difficult to flush them out. So, they are like al-Qaeda on steroids.”

The veteran intelligence chief delivered his stark assessment in a London accent – the legacy of years in the UK after his family had to flee from the regime of Saddam Hussein.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50850325

Never a good idea to overlook the obvious…..but then I am not part of the Trump foreign policy team……

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

That ISIS Thing

We have not had much news about ISIS…as it should be because according to Trump he defeated them single handed….and yet they still exist….

Even before the recent raid that resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the erstwhile head of the Islamic State, Donald Trump had spoken of how he had single-handedly defeated the caliphate.

“Now, when I came, the caliphate was all over the place,” the president said apropos of nothing during a news conference with the Australian prime minister on September 20. “I defeated the caliphate — ISIS.”

At a press conference on October 21, after pulling troops out of Syria, Trump put himself even closer to the battle with the Islamic State: “I’m the one that did the capturing. I’m the one who that knows more about it than you people or the fake pundits.”

The Islamic State and Trump’s Delusion

A look at this ISIS thing through the eyes of a Neocon think tank……

Almost as soon as it became clear that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was dead, the revisionism began about whether this was actually a good thing.

Some analysts predicted that al-Baghdadi’s death as a “martyr” would inspire others, becoming a “propaganda bonanza” for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

We should not be so gloomy. The death of such a sadistic killer and serial rapist is unambiguously good news.

It was also the last thing that ISIS needed. Caliphate relinquished, the group’s operations inevitably will be disrupted by the death of its emir, especially with Abu Hassan al-Muhajir—a potential successor—killed in a U.S. airstrike just hours later.

5 Things to Watch in Tracking the Future of ISIS

The group has been diminished but not gone……and they have a new tactic of terror….FIRE

A media outlet affiliated with ISIS has been instructing the group’s radical adherents to set forest fires in the United States and Europe to cause mass ecological disasters, according to posts on an internet forum dedicated to the terror group.

At least four propaganda posters that have appeared on the pro-ISIS Quraysh media outlet have urged followers to “ignite fires” as part of an ongoing jihad against America and its allies.

https://freebeacon.com/national-security/isis-tells-followers-to-set-forest-fires-in-u-s-europe/

The caliphate is down but not out……

Just months after the Islamic State militant group lost the last of its territory in Syria, and days after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a U.S.-led raid, the group has found safe haven in a remote, ungoverned space in Iraq, as foreign fighters move across the border from Syria, military officials tell NBC news.

“The fight against ISIS is continuous,” said U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William Seely, commander of Task Force-Iraq. “We’re seeing ISIS fighters move from Syria across hundreds of miles of desert.”

Their goal, Seely says, is to re-establish their physical caliphate in the region.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/mideast/defeated-isis-has-found-safe-haven-ungoverned-part-iraq-n1076081

How many times must I say this….ISIS IS NOT DEFEATED!

It is only napping waiting for the day to return.

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

AQ Makes A Comeback

All the reporting from the MSM lately has been about the terrorist group, ISIS and very little has been reported on that other group, Al-Qaeda….

It never really left the region but a recent report points to a resurgence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan……we are talking about AQ not the Taleban….not necessarily the same group although sympathies overlap.

We have lost our concern over AQ after the death of Osama and the rise of ISIS,,,,the world took their eye off this group of terrorists……and in doing so have made this rise possible…..

Al Qaeda has prioritized its re-entry into Afghanistan since 2014, when the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) drew down forces.[3] Al Qaeda Emir Ayman al Zawahiri announced the formation of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) in 2014, a move intended to counter the Islamic State’s declaration of a so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria as well as exploit the ISAF drawdown.[4] Al Qaeda’s re-entry into Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan forced the U.S. to resume counter-terrorism operations there in 2015.

Senior AQIS leaders and Taliban commanders are co-located in Afghanistan today, signaling an enduring and high-level partnership. American and Afghan forces targeted a joint Taliban-al Qaeda compound in Musah Qal’ah District, a Taliban stronghold considered the group’s de facto capital, in Helmand Province on September 22.[5] Multiple Afghan security organizations reported that the operation killed senior AQIS leader Asim Umar and a courier who connected AQIS leaders to Zawahiri. Afghanistan’s intelligence agency and a U.S. official have since confirmed Umar’s death in the raid.[6] The operation also targeted several Taliban commanders from districts in Helmand Province.[7] It is a sign of the extent of al Qaeda’s return to the area.

http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/10/al-qaeda-expands-its-presence-in.html

Further Reading:

https://lobotero.com/2018/07/06/does-anyone-remember-al-qaeda/

Never turn your back on a dangerous animal……

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Another Hero

Everyone that knows me knows that I am a dog person…..I have always had the companionship of a canine friend most of my life….so when I hear a story about our canine heros that are also fighting global terrorism I am glad…..

One such hero was used in the hunt and destruction of ISIS leader Baghdadi…..

The nation got its first look at the military dog wounded in the US raid that ended in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi when President Trump tweeted a photo Monday. But one mystery remains, CBS reports. “We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing and killing the Leader of ISIS,” the president wrote. Trump had praised the dog, who was sent into a tunnel to chase Baghdadi at a compound in Syria, when he announced the raid Sunday. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs had said earlier that the dog’s name was not being released yet. “The dog is still in theater, returned to duty with its handlers,” Gen. Mark Milley said.

A dog named Cairo helped Navy SEALs in the raid that brought the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, per CNN. Like Cairo, the dog used in the latest raid is a Belgian Malinois, a breed similar to German shepherds but smaller. Dogs train with troops for weeks for such missions, said the head of the US War Dogs Association, per NPR. They sometimes parachute from planes or swim to shore from a submarine. When they return from duty, he said, they sometimes have suffered physical and psychological injuries. Milley said the dog used in Syria is recovering after being slightly wounded.

The nation thanks her for her service and sends our best hopes for her speedy recovery.

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Take Me To Your Leader

I can hear the Who in my head and think an episode of CSI is about to begin….but NO….I am wondering who will lead the leaderless ISIS now that Baghdadi is no longer among the living.

My intel files has several candidates to lead ISIS……

the most likely candidate to succeed Baghdadi is Abdullah Qardash, also known as Abu Omar Turkmani, a former Iraqi military officer under Saddam Hussein.

A former senior leader of al-Qaeda, Turkmani was detained in Camp Bucca along with other IS leaders, the paper said.

According to Iraqi sources quoted by the paper, “Qardash is characterised by cruelty, authoritarianism and militancy, and he was among the first people to welcome al-Baghdadi in Mosul in 2014.”

The second nominee for the group’s leadership is Haji Nasser, or Abd al-Nasser, who has been on the US terrorism list since the end of 2018. Haji Abd al-Nasser is known for belonging to the most radical trend within IS.

The third nominee is Mu’taz al-Jaburi, better known as Hajji Taysir. A senior IS leader, Washington has set a $3m reward for whoever gives information leading to him.

Sami al-Jaburi, the fourth candidate, is the former IS financial affairs director and was in charge of the group’s oil and gas sales, according to the paper.

The fifth candidate, according to Arabi21, is Abul Hassan al-Muhajir, IS’s official spokesman since the end of 2016 – but he was reported killed at the weekend in another US-led raid.

Muhajir is out…….so that leaves 4 candidates….who are you….who….who?

And now we have a winner!

Abdullah Qardash

ISIS already has a new leader — a feared former officer for Saddam Hussein known as “the Destroyer,” according to reports.

Abdullah Qardash was reportedly already running day-to-day operations and kill campaigns for the terror group and formally took over its leadership after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death on Saturday.

“Baghdadi was a figurehead. He was not involved in operations or day-to-day,” a regional intelligence official told Newsweek in confirming the successor. “All Baghdadi did was say yes or no — no planning.”

Qardash had been loyal to Baghdadi after they were held together at the Camp Bucca detention center in Basra after being jailed by US forces over their links to al Qaeda in 2003, the Times of London has said.

(NY Post)

You have your answer now let the hunt begin…..tic toc……

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Breaking News–Syria

I try to keep the news out of my weekend posts but some times it just too important to wait for a week day…..today is one of those reports….

The news has just been put out on the air waves….ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi, has been killed by US military action….

US officials are reporting that a Saturday special operations raid against northwestern Syria killed a “high-value” target, and that the Pentagon has “high confidence” that they had killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Baghdadi has been reported killed or gravely wounded several times in the past, only to reemerge unharmed. The Pentagon suggested that further verification is pending, but that the man believed to be Baghdadi killed himself with a suicide vest after a brief firefight.

President Trump declared ‘something very big has just happened” on Twitter,and White House officials say he is planning an official announcement of Baghdadi’s death for 9:00 AM on Sunday morning.

The leader of ISIS since 2010, Baghdadi has been considered one of the highest value targets on the US list ever since. This would have been a much bigger deal when ISIS was an active force in Iraq or Syria, but is still significant to the group’s operations. It has never been entirely clear who would replace Baghdadi, despite his regularly being reported taken out of action.

It’s also not clear what this will mean for the US war in Syria, though since the war has already been transitioning to being about controlling Syria’s oil, which probably won’t be changed by this killing.

(antiwar.com)

Good news if accurate….but keep in mind al-Baghdadi has been said to be dead on at least two occasions that I know of and injured in several others.

We await an official announcement from our Fearless Leader…..keep in mind he said Obama did not kill Osama it was the soldiers……which is correct of course…..I want to watch the spin.

I will post more as facts become known…..

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

I return IST to its normal posting schedule…….