Future of Iraq

WASHINGTON/BERLIN/BAGHDAD (Own report) – A strategy paper prepared by the US Atlantic Council think tank – with the assistance of Germany’s CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation – is proposing measures for Western powers to take to insure their continued influence in Iraq following the fall of Mosul. According to the paper, published a few days ago, US military forces should remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future, train and equip Iraqi forces to prevent IS from regrouping and recovering after its expected defeat. To push back Iran’s influence, measures should also be taken to help the country’s economic development. In Baghdad, a government “strongly inclined to cooperate closely with the United States” is needed, the paper states, and calls for US allies – particularly European countries – to engage in Iraq to “tackle sensitive areas in which the United States is not seen as neutral.” Berlin is already using this opportunity to build its own base of influence in Iraq and is supporting the reconstruction of towns recaptured from the IS. Insuring western control of Iraq is considered all the more urgent, since Russia could successfully obtain major influence in Damascus following the anticipated end of the Syrian war.

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Iraqi officers land in Syria, stir Israeli concern

Iraq switching sides to the Iranian-Syrian-Russian axis is now official:

 

Israeli security chiefs were gravely concerned Wednesday, May 17, when they learned that a high-ranking Iraqi military delegation had arrived in Damascus, the first in decades during which the Iraqi and Syrian ruling regimes were at odds, for a discussion on the situation unfolding on the Syrian-Iraqi border – in particular the Al-Tanf crossing.

DEBKAfile’s military sources reported on May 15 and May 16 on the potential for a clash of arms over this strategic crossing, which is situated at the intersection of the Jordanian, Iraq, and Syrian borders and commands the No.1 Route linking Baghdad with Damascus and the Jordanian capital of Amman. Continue reading

US, UK, Jordanian forces enter S. Syria

 

US special forces, together with British and Jordanian elite troops, moved into southern Syria late Sunday, May 14. They were acting to counter the Syrian-Iranian scheme to nullify the American plan for posting Jordanian forces in southeastern Syria, which timed for the days before US President Donald Trump’s trip to the Middle East.

The US-led armored force with British and Jordanian units crossed from northern Jordan through the Tanf Border-Crossing between the Hashemite Kingdom, Iraq and Syria, and took up positions capable of consolidating their control of the main road between Palmyra and Baghdad. Some of their moves were coordinated with Israel. Continue reading

Fiercely resistant ISIS seizes two Iraqi cities

https://i1.wp.com/www.debka.co.il/dynmedia/photos/2016/10/24/src/Mosul_Fighting_24.10.16.jpg

 

US soldiers were Monday ordered to use gas masks after ISIS poured oil on a sulfur mine 70km south of Mosul that continues to burn near the US and Iraqi military center at Qayyarah.One obstacle after another – often unforeseen – is slowing the coalition’s advance on Mosul – as debkafile was the first publication to reveal last week. It is becoming obvious that ISIS is following a plan to circle around Mosul in a wide radius and pouncing on important spots for diversionary attacks:

Last week, they overran Kirkuk; this week, Sinjar and Rutba. Continue reading

The Real Red Line in the Middle East

 

If ISIS attacks Jordan, neither the United States nor Israel will be able to stay out of the fray

There is a Sarajevo somewhere in Jordan. It lies well outside Amman, somewhere in the hostile terrain to the east or the north. Were the armed ISIS extremists — who now call themselves representatives of the Islamic State and soldiers of the new caliphate — to cross this line, the current conflict that engulfs Syria and Iraq would likely explode and grow more complex and costly by quantum degrees. This is not the sort of red line that is the product of an ill-considered, halfhearted burst of presidential bravado. This is the type of red line that triggers historic change and is worth considering as we mark the epoch-making events in Sarajevo that spawned World War I 100 years ago.

For now, the wars in Syria and Iraq seem almost to be inviting the United States to remain more or less on the sidelines. Once an amorphous mess, it has seemed to take on something of a shape and symmetry. In both countries today, alliances featuring the ruling governments working in collaboration with Iran and Russia are taking on the extremists. With the announcement this weekend of Russian planes and munitions being shipped to the government in Baghdad, the orchestrated bombings last week of ISIS targets by Syrian jets in Iraq, and the active role of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in both places, it almost seems like a traditional conflict with two sides vying against one another.

Further, with Moscow and Tehran willing to take up the fight against ISIS, it might be tempting for Washington to effectively sit this one out. After all, if the United States wants promises of political reform and the Iranians and Russians clearly don’t require it to intervene, the Iraqis will be even harder for America to deal with. Intransigent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki may simply opt for the support of Tehran and Moscow, as well as a tacit alliance with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, avoiding the hard work of creating a truly representative Iraqi government — which also happens to be the most self-serving possible choice. Unfortunately, for the world, the route of “letting others fight our battles for us” might be “easier” — but it’s exceptionally dangerous. Continue reading

Jordanian Bedouin hoist Al Qaeda flag in Ma’an – 104 km from Eilat. US, Israeli forces on the ready

“Ma’an is the Falluja of Jordan!” shouted thousands of Bedouin Saturday, June 28, in the southern Jordanian town of Ma’an. This legend was inscribed on the placards and flags they bore aloft with one hand in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). In the other, they waved automatic rifles.

Ma’an (pop: 50,000) is in a sensitive location:  218 km south of Amman, it also lies 104 km from the Israeli port town of Eilat and some 60 km from the main artery cutting south from northern Israel to the south.

But although pro-Al Qaeda riots have been going on for days in Ma’an, capital of the southern province of the Kingdom of Jordan, military and security personnel have not been seen in its vicinity. Continue reading

Iran’s supreme leader tells students to prepare for cyber war

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has delivered a sabre-rattling speech to Iran’s ‘Revolutionary foster children’ (in other words, university students) to prepare for cyber war.

The supreme leader has urged his country’s students – whom he called “cyber war agents” – to prepare for battle, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported Wednesday.

“You are the cyber-war agents and such a war requires Amman-like insight and Malik Ashtar-like resistance. Get yourself ready for such war wholeheartedly,” wrote Khamenei. The supreme leader was referring to two of Prophet Mohammad’s warrior companions in early Islamic history. Continue reading

Report: Russian ship and Syrian senior officials flee

Syrian opposition sources say ship left Latakia port, families of top regime members escape to Lebanon. Syrian information minister: If attacked, we’ll defend ourselves

Syrian opposition elements claimed on Monday that a Russian navy ship, which has docked for a long time in the vicinity of the Latakia port, has left its harbor.

In addition, it was reported by opposition sources that thousands of family members of top official and figures in the Syria regime escaped to Lebanon and to Latakia. These reports were not confirmed by other sources. Continue reading

New Centcom underground war room in Amman for US intervention in Syria

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Amman this week to inaugurate the Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan manned by 273 US officers. US media correspondents were permitted to visit the new war room for the first time on condition of non-disclosure of its location and secret facilities.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the installation is bomb- and missile-proof against a possible Syrian attack. The US Air Force command section is in direct communication with the US, Israeli, Jordanian and Saudi Air Force headquarters ready for an order by President Barack Obama to impose a partial no-fly zone over Syrian air space. Continue reading

Obama uses EU to confront Israel with tough interlinked choices: borders or nuclear-armed Iran

It doesn’t take a political genius to see how US Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrival in Amman Tuesday, July 16, for his sixth bid to bring Israelis and the Palestinians to the table, ties in with the new EU anti-Israel funding guidelines published on the same day. To avoid a head-on clash with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the US president has loosed the Europeans in full cry against Jerusalem and its policies. European Union foreign affairs executive Catherine Ashton chairs the international negotiating forum with Iran. And so, the EU has given Tehran a broad wink that it is worth its while to come to a fresh round of nuclear diplomacy while Israel is kept on the run in the settlements-cum-borders dispute.

Israel is further weakened by its own internal political difficulties. Continue reading

Large US Marine force lands in Aqaba to deploy on Jordanian-Syrian border

A large American military force disembarked Tuesday, June 4, at the southern Jordanian port of Aqaba – ready for deployment on the kingdom’s Syrian border, debkafile’s exclusive military sources report. The force made its way north along the Aqaba-Jerash-Ajilon mountain road bisecting Jordan from south to north, under heavy Jordanian military escort.

Our sources disclose that this American force numbers 1,000 troops, the largest to land in Jordan since the Syrian civil war erupted in March 2012. They are members of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Force carried aboard the USS Kearsage amphibious assault ship, which has been anchored off neighboring Israeli Eilat since mid-May. Upon landing, the marines took to the road in a convoy of armored vehicles including Hummers. Continue reading

‘First we take Damascus, then Tel Aviv’

Salafist leader warns that once rebels topple Assad’s regime they will set their sights on Israel; says ‘We won’t rest until Palestine is liberated’

The leader of the radical Salafist movement in Jordan, whose organization actively supports the Syrian rebels’ efforts to topple President Bashar Assad’s regime warned Sunday that once the Damascus opposition achieves its primary goal, it will set its sights on Israel.

The group’s leader, Abed Shihadeh, who is also known as Abu Muhammad al-Tahawi, spoke at the funeral of a Jihadist who committed a suicide attack in Amman last week.

“We tell Benjamin Netanyahu, the (Israeli) prime minister, get ready. The army of the Prophet Mohammad is coming your way.Continue reading