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Dempsey: ‘Challenging Task’ Against ISIS Without Sunni Support for Iraq Government

By , October 12, 2014 12:57 pm

Dempsey: ‘Challenging Task’ Against ISIS Without Sunni Support for Iraq Government

By Benjamin Bell

Posted 2014-10-12 18:49 GMT

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said today that the fight against ISIS would remain a “very challenging task” until the Iraqi government is able to win over the substantial Sunni population living between the capital cities of Iraq and Syria.

“The government of Iraq, which is moving but has not yet achieved a narrative that would cause the 20 million Sunnis who live between Damascus and Baghdad to believe that their future is with the government of Iraq, in the case of Iraqis, and certainly the Syrian regime is not reaching out to the Sunni population in Syria,” Dempsey told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz for “This Week.”

“Until those facts change, this is going to be a very challenging task. In other words, until ISIL [ISIS] doesn’t have, you know, freedom of movement in and among the populations of Al Anbar Province and Nineveh Province, and in Eastern Syria, this is going to be a challenge,” Dempsey said of ISIS, the extremist Islamist group also referred to as ISIL or the Islamic State.

During the interview for “This Week,” the general discussed an incident this week when ISIS fighters were within 20 to 25 kilometers of the strategically important Baghdad airport, where Apache helicopters were called in to assist Iraqi forces.

“Had they overrun the Iraqi unit, it was a straight shot to the airport. So we’re not going to allow that to happen. We need that airport,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey also highlighted the difficulty of targeting ISIS forces as they make efforts to conceal their presence, including blending into local population centers.

“The enemy adapts and they will be harder to target,” Dempsey said. “They know how to maneuver and how to use populations and concealment. So when we get a target, we’ll take it.”

Assyrian International News Agency

Economic Data Doesn’t Support Britain’s Pound

By , October 10, 2014 6:52 am

UK coins on banknotesEconomic news from the United Kingdom were good for the most part today, but it did not prevent the Great Britain pound from dropping and reaching the lowest level in a month against the Japanese yen.

Britain’s trade deficit in goods shrank by £1.3 billion to £9.1 billion in August from July, more than was predicted by specialists. The Conference Board Leading Index rose 0.4 percent in August after increasing 0.2 percent in the previous month. Not all indicators were good, though, as construction output declined 3.9 percent in August instead of growing 0.5 percent as was projected by experts.

GBP/USD dropped from 1.6117 to 1.6031 as of 12:39 GMT today. GBP/JPY tumbled from 173.80 to 172.94, trading near the lowest level since September 11.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Great Britain Pound, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

Earlier News About the Great Britain Pound:

Forex News

The Yazidis Are Not Getting Support

By , October 7, 2014 6:56 pm

When the Islamic State attacked Iraq’s Sinjar Mountain range–home to the largest population of the Yazidi minority–on August 3, they arrived in only a few convoys, estimated to be carrying around 1,000 jihadist fighters. According to a new, private report by an Iraqi with military knowledge (yes, it will become public, hopefully soon), the mountain had a defense force consisting of 16,000 Kurdish Peshmerga and the 11th brigade of the 3rd division of the Iraqi army–led by a Kurdish general. None of the military leaders responsible for defending Sinjar were Yazidis, despite the mountain having a Yazidi majority population estimated at over 84%.

Though vastly outnumbering the attacking jihadists–and maintaining the high-ground advantage–the Peshmerga defenders fled the IS attack without a fight. In mid-August, Christine van den Toorn documented this ignoble abandonment of perhaps the Middle East’s most vulnerable minority group, but only now are we getting a sense of the numbers of Peshmerga who could have successfully defended them and prevented the displacement of several hundred thousand people.

Though as many as 16,000 Peshmerga fled the IS attack on Sinjar–supposedly for not having adequate defenses against the more up-to-date weaponry of the vastly smaller IS force–a group of just 3,000-4,000 local Yazidis with no support has continued to defend a few parts of Sinjar until this very day–embattled but remaining unconquered by the jihadists.

Theories that verge on the conspiratorial circulate among Yazidis who believe the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) threw them under the bus in order to elicit greater US military support. Yazidis see Sinjar–an outlying area not contiguous with the three governorates that make up Kurdistan Province–as a sacrifice made by the KRG for longer-term political goals. Perhaps simple cowardice is a better explanation, though one that runs against the grain of the lionized Peshmerga’s popular reputation.

Regardless of why the Peshmerga forces didn’t remain to defend Sinjar against IS for even one day, all of the claims–by Kurds and Iraqis alike–that it would be soon retaken have failed to materialize. Even after two months of US airstrikes in Iraq, IS still maintains control of almost every area that they took from Iraq and Kurdistan, including Sinjar, Tel Afar, and the Yazidi and Christian towns of the Nineveh Plain near Mosul.

One would expect that the US airstrikes would be conducted in coordination with Kurdish ground forces in order to retake important Yazidi homelands–especially since the refugee crisis is choking the Dohuk governorate so badly that schools cannot open, their classroom floors being the new homes for thousands of expelled Yazidi families. But the particular IS bases on and near Sinjar that Yazidis have repeatedly requested be targeted by US airstrikes remain untouched.

Yazidis have given up all confidence in the KRG, most now self-referring as “Yazidi, not Kurdish.” With almost no arms/munitions support from the Iraqi or Kurdish governments, local Yazidi defenders in Sinjar (calling themselves the Sinjar Protection Forces) are trying to stave off IS attacks into the few areas unconquered by the jihadis. Thousands of kidnapped women being held in locations near the mountain–whose presence is confirmed by the UN and whom Yazidi volunteers are keeping track of–could be liberated by the Yazidi Sinjar Protection Forces, if they could just get US airstrikes to hit the IS bases and provide cover for the fleeing women.

I’ve written and spoken on international media about this problem, and Yazidi representatives have begged the State Department and Department of Defense to work directly with local Yazidi defenders in Sinjar. Instead, a pattern of sporadic and occasional US airstrikes continues in Iraq, more than two months since IS began a genocidal campaign of forced conversions, massacres, and sexual enslavement.

Less than one airstrike per day is occurring on IS targets in Sinjar.

A statement from the Prince–the highest figure of Yazidi leadership

This plight has become so dire that it has shaken the Yazidi Mir, or Prince–the spiritual leader of the community–from his usual sleepy state of towing the Kurdish political line. Mir Tahsin Beg has issued the following statement in Arabic, which we have translated into English, below:

An Urgent Call to the Iraqi Government of Baghdad and the Kurdish Government of Erbil

Since the 3rd of August our Yazidi people have been exposed to the fiercest campaign of genocide [that they've experienced] in this century which has taken the lives of more than 5,000 innocent people through the violence of the Da’esh [Islamic State] terrorist organization. More than 7,000 have been kidnapped–mostly women & children–and around 350,000 are now displaced and expelled into the Kurdistan Region, Syria, Turkey, and other countries, and living in very poor conditions, without access to the minimum requirements for basic human needs.

Despite the passing of more than two months of the Yazidi tragedy, and the IS occupation of Sinjar and other Yazidi areas such as Ba’shiqa and Bahzany, and the presence of a Yazidi resistance defending with a patriotic spirit the very existence of the Yazidis–which is simultaneously a defense of the existence of Iraq, of an integral part of Iraq, and its people, honor, and dignity–until now we haven’t seen any serious attempt to support this resistance in order to free Sinjar and other Yazidi areas, and to save those that can be saved from among the kidnapped and expelled Yazidis who are headed for an unknown destination, without the slightest concern of the central [Iraqi] and regional [Kurdistan] governments, as though the Yazidis were part of neither Iraq nor Kurdistan.

In the face of this horrific and catastrophic situation, we are filled with surprise at the Iraqi and Kurdish Regional Governments’ ignoring of our Yazidi tragedy as though this tragedy is not an Iraqi one.

A few days ago, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces announced the beginning of a battle liberate Sinjar via Rabia in coordination with Iraqi forces and with the support of coalition airstrikes led by the U.S., but these forces have not achieved as great an advance as had been expected. This has prompted the IS forces to start fierce attacks on more than one front in Sinjar to tighten the noose on the Sinjar Protection Forces [local Yazidi volunteer defenders] by closing in on them from all sides.

We call on officials of the central and regional governments to bear responsibility–national, political, humanitarian, and moral–for the deterioration of the Sinjar situation and the consequences of it. We urge them to carry out their national duties to our besieged people in the Sinjar mountains, ask them to support the Sinjar Protection Forces logistically and militarily, and to facilitate the prompt delivery of weapons, equipment, and supplies–immediately.

Prince Tahsin Sa’eed Ali, Head of the Yazidi High Spiritual Council of Iraq and the World

Assyrian International News Agency

$18m Contract to Support Iraqi Navy

By , September 23, 2014 1:20 am

$  18m Contract to Support Iraqi Navy

By John Lee.

Swiftships Shipbuilding of Morgan City, Louisiana, is being awarded an $ 18-million [21 billion Iraqi dinar], not-to-exceed contract for “the accomplishment of continuous lifecycle support for the Iraqi navy.

The contract will provide technical expertise in preventative and planned maintenance, emergent repairs, and platform overhaul support services for Iraqi patrol boats, off-shore vessels, and defender boats.

Work will be performed on Umm Qasr Naval Base, Iraq, and is expected to be completed by October 2015.

According to the announcement from the US Department of Defense:

FMS funding in the amount of $ 9,000,000 will be obligated at time of award and the contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(4).

“Per FAR 6.302-4(a)(2) – full and open competition need not be provided for when precluded by the terms of an international agreement or a treaty between the United States and a foreign government or international organization, or the written directions of a foreign government reimbursing the agency for the cost of the acquisition of the supplies or services for such government.

“The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity (N00024-14-C-4217).”

(Source: US Department of Defense)

Iraq Business News

Rouhani says Tehran to support regional countries in fighting terrorism

By , September 22, 2014 6:06 am

Rouhani says Tehran to support regional countries in fighting terrorism
By: Trend on: 22.09.2014 [08:10 ] (76 reads)

Rouhani says Tehran to support regional countries in fighting terrorism
22 September 2014, 12:14 (GMT+05:00)

Tehran, Iran, Sept. 22

By Milad Fashtami – Trend:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed that his country’s armed forces will support regional countries in their fight against terrorist groups.

“Our region is awash with insecurity and terror,” Rouhani said, promising that terrorists will be duly dealt with.

Iranian president made the remarks at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Iran back in 1980.

Iranian Armed Forces stage nationwide military parades every year to mark the event. The armed forces also put on display the country’s latest defensive achievements.

“Iran is the anchor of stability in the Middle East,” he said. “We are standing united to preserve the magnificence of Islam.”

The Iranian president once again stressed that Iran has never been and will never be after nuclear weapons.

“We are not after initiating any aggression,” Rouhani said.

“We will never surrender to superpowers’ pressure,” Iranian president said, noting that Iran is not scared of enemies’ pressure.

“This nation will never bow to enemies,” he noted.

Referring to the Iran-Iraq war, Rouhani said that, “imperial powers stood by dictatorial regime of Saddam in war with Iran.”

“West aided Saddam with anything from chemical weapons to spying equipment,” he noted, saying that the enemy failed to achieve any of its aims during the war.

“Defense Week is a lesson for us and our enemies,” he said, noting that Iranian people will not allow enemies to bring the nation to its knees.

He further said that the Iranian administration will mobilize all its resources to strengthen armed forces.

“We are proud of our armed forces,” Rouhani said.

http://en.trend.az/iran/politics/2314362.html

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Obama Repeats No US Troops on Ground Against ISIS As Egypt Offers Support

By , September 20, 2014 10:12 pm

Barack Obama, facing questions on the legal justification for and likely “mission creep” of his air campaign against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq and Syria, on Saturday repeated his promise not to use US ground troops but said: “When the world is threatened, when the world needs help, it calls on America. And we call on our troops.”

Later on Saturday the president of Egypt, Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, told the Associated Press he was prepared to support the fight against Isis, but added that “it’s not an issue of ground troops from abroad”.

This week, French planes joined the American effort, which, since 8 August, has delivered more than 170 air strikes on Isis targets in northern Iraq. On Saturday, Isis militants released 49 hostages — 46 Turkish and three Iraqi — who had been taken in Mosul, while Turkey opened its border to 45,000 Kurdish refugees fleeing Isis attacks.

Isis, which has captured swathes of territory in northern Iraq and Syria, has killed two American hostages and one Briton, releasing videos of the killings which have prompted worldwide revulsion.

Delivering his weekly address after gaining congressional support for his plan to arm some anti-government rebels in Syria, Obama said: “I won’t commit our troops to fighting another ground war in Iraq, or in Syria. It’s more effective to use our capabilities to help partners on the ground secure their own country’s futures.”

However, Robert Gates, Obama’s former defence secretary, voiced widespread skepticism about the policy when he told the Associated Press: “They’re not going to be able to be successful against Isis strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces or the [Kurdish] Peshmerga.

“So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy.”

US military personnel were sent to Iraq this summer, and have the authority to fight back if attacked.

Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for New American Security, told the AP that would leave Obama with “something of a rhetorical quandary”.

“From a realistic and even legal standpoint, what’s going to be happening in Iraq is going to look a lot like combat,” said Fontaine, a former State Department official.

In his address, Obama also echoed recent statements about the lack of a credible threat to the US itself from Isis, which have led some observers to question the legality of his effort against the militants. He said intelligence agencies had “not yet detected specific plots from these terrorists against America”, and added: “Right now, they pose a threat to the people of Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East.

“But [Isis] leaders have threatened America and our allies. And if left unchecked, they could pose a growing threat to the United States.”

The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have emerged as key members of the coalition sought by the Obama administration, brought together by secretary of state John Kerry and sold to Congress this week by Kerry, defence secretary Chuck Hagel and military chiefs.

On Saturday, Egypt’s al-Sisi promoted a “comprehensive strategy” to confront not just Isis, and said he had warned about the threat of terrorism in the region a year ago but that other leaders had only understood when Isis fighters overran parts of Iraq.

Addressing congressional support for his policy, Obama said: “A majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate have now approved a first, key part of our strategy by wide margins. They’ve given our troops the authority they need to train Syrian opposition fighters so that they can fight [Isis] in Syria.

“Those votes sent a powerful signal to the world: Americans are united in confronting this danger. And I hope Congress continues to make sure our troops get what they need to get the job done.”

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill approving the plan to arm Syrian rebels on Wednesday, by a vote of 273 to 156. On Thursday the Senate also voted in favour, by 78 to 22 and despite voluble opposition from Rand Paul of Kentucky, a possible Republican candidate for president in 2016.

“It’s not that I’m against all intervention,” Paul said. “I do see Isis as a threat to us — but I see our previous policy as having made it worse.”

On Saturday, saying “more than 40″ countries had committed their support, Obama ended his address by defining the US’s war aims, saying: “We will use our air power. We will train and equip our partners. We will advise and we will assist. And we’ll lead a broad coalition of nations who have a stake in this fight.

“This isn’t America vs [Isis]. This is the people of that region vs [Isis]. It’s the world vs [Isis].”

Assyrian International News Agency

Obama Repeats No US Troops on Ground Against ISIS As Egypt Offers Support

By , September 20, 2014 10:12 pm

Barack Obama, facing questions on the legal justification for and likely “mission creep” of his air campaign against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq and Syria, on Saturday repeated his promise not to use US ground troops but said: “When the world is threatened, when the world needs help, it calls on America. And we call on our troops.”

Later on Saturday the president of Egypt, Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, told the Associated Press he was prepared to support the fight against Isis, but added that “it’s not an issue of ground troops from abroad”.

This week, French planes joined the American effort, which, since 8 August, has delivered more than 170 air strikes on Isis targets in northern Iraq. On Saturday, Isis militants released 49 hostages — 46 Turkish and three Iraqi — who had been taken in Mosul, while Turkey opened its border to 45,000 Kurdish refugees fleeing Isis attacks.

Isis, which has captured swathes of territory in northern Iraq and Syria, has killed two American hostages and one Briton, releasing videos of the killings which have prompted worldwide revulsion.

Delivering his weekly address after gaining congressional support for his plan to arm some anti-government rebels in Syria, Obama said: “I won’t commit our troops to fighting another ground war in Iraq, or in Syria. It’s more effective to use our capabilities to help partners on the ground secure their own country’s futures.”

However, Robert Gates, Obama’s former defence secretary, voiced widespread skepticism about the policy when he told the Associated Press: “They’re not going to be able to be successful against Isis strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces or the [Kurdish] Peshmerga.

“So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy.”

US military personnel were sent to Iraq this summer, and have the authority to fight back if attacked.

Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for New American Security, told the AP that would leave Obama with “something of a rhetorical quandary”.

“From a realistic and even legal standpoint, what’s going to be happening in Iraq is going to look a lot like combat,” said Fontaine, a former State Department official.

In his address, Obama also echoed recent statements about the lack of a credible threat to the US itself from Isis, which have led some observers to question the legality of his effort against the militants. He said intelligence agencies had “not yet detected specific plots from these terrorists against America”, and added: “Right now, they pose a threat to the people of Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East.

“But [Isis] leaders have threatened America and our allies. And if left unchecked, they could pose a growing threat to the United States.”

The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have emerged as key members of the coalition sought by the Obama administration, brought together by secretary of state John Kerry and sold to Congress this week by Kerry, defence secretary Chuck Hagel and military chiefs.

On Saturday, Egypt’s al-Sisi promoted a “comprehensive strategy” to confront not just Isis, and said he had warned about the threat of terrorism in the region a year ago but that other leaders had only understood when Isis fighters overran parts of Iraq.

Addressing congressional support for his policy, Obama said: “A majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate have now approved a first, key part of our strategy by wide margins. They’ve given our troops the authority they need to train Syrian opposition fighters so that they can fight [Isis] in Syria.

“Those votes sent a powerful signal to the world: Americans are united in confronting this danger. And I hope Congress continues to make sure our troops get what they need to get the job done.”

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill approving the plan to arm Syrian rebels on Wednesday, by a vote of 273 to 156. On Thursday the Senate also voted in favour, by 78 to 22 and despite voluble opposition from Rand Paul of Kentucky, a possible Republican candidate for president in 2016.

“It’s not that I’m against all intervention,” Paul said. “I do see Isis as a threat to us — but I see our previous policy as having made it worse.”

On Saturday, saying “more than 40″ countries had committed their support, Obama ended his address by defining the US’s war aims, saying: “We will use our air power. We will train and equip our partners. We will advise and we will assist. And we’ll lead a broad coalition of nations who have a stake in this fight.

“This isn’t America vs [Isis]. This is the people of that region vs [Isis]. It’s the world vs [Isis].”

Assyrian International News Agency

Interest Rate Hike Bets Continue to Support Dollar

By , September 10, 2014 4:39 pm

A sheet of new hundred-dollar billsThe US dollar continued to move upward with help of speculations about an eventual increase of interest rates by the Federal Reserve. The greenback reached the strongest rate in six years versus the Japanese yen. Surprisingly enough, the currency dipped versus the Great Britain pound, which was unexpectedly strong at today’s trading session.

Forex market participants continue to speculate about possible timing of Fed’s interest rate hike. The general consensus is that the US central bank will drop its-asset purchase program in October and start monetary tightening in mid-2015. With relatively uneventful week in terms of economic data from the United States, there is little to change this outlook in one way or the other.

The next Fed policy meeting is scheduled on September 17. It should be an important event as it will be accompanied by press-conference and economic projections.

EUR/USD ticked down from 1.2939 to 1.2922 as of 23:13 GMT today. USD/JPY soared from 106.19 to 106.86, touching the highest level since September 2008. At the same time, GBP/USD advanced from 1.6104 to 1.6203, bouncing from the low of 1.6052 — the weakest rate since November 15.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the US Dollar, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

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Aussie Loses Ground Despite Support from Fundamentals

By , September 8, 2014 12:58 pm

Australian dollar billsThe Australian dollar slumped against its US counterpart and weakened against the euro even as both domestic and overseas economic news were positive for the currency, which was demonstrating remarkable strength last week.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group reported that the number of job advertisements grew 1.5 percent in August from the previous month and 8 percent over a year, suggesting that the labor market is improving. Trade surplus of China, the biggest Australia’s trading partner, widened in August instead of falling as was predicted, expanding to $ 49.8 billion from $ 47.3 billion in the previous month. Yet the Aussie declined despite the supportive fundamentals even though the Australian currency has been the only major that was able to hold its ground against the very strong greenback last week.

AUD/USD tumbled from 0.9363 to 0.9282 as of 17:31 GMT today, while EUR/AUD advanced from 1.3832 to 1.3903.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Australian Dollar, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

Earlier News About the Australian Dollar:

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Fed Policy Outlook Continues to Support US Dollar

By , September 1, 2014 11:09 pm

Mix of US dollar billsThe US dollar rose against almost all of its major counterparts today, touching the highest level since January versus the Japanese yen and reaching the strongest rate in a year against euro, as the monetary policy outlook continues to support the currency.

The dollar demonstrated remarkable performance in August with help of speculations about eventual monetary tightening from the Federal Reserve. The greenback entered the new trading month with strong upward momentum and for now it looks like the currency is going to maintain its rally.

Trading was subdued and volume was thin on Monday because of the Labor Day holiday in the United States. It did not prevent the dollar from gaining on the yen, and the rise accelerated today. The US currency fell versus the Great Britain pound yesterday but pared losses today.

EUR/USD fell from 1.3128 to 1.3120 as of 3:26 GMT today, trading near the lowest level since September 6, 2013. GBP/USD dropped from 1.6606 to 1.6580. USD/JPY climbed from 104.34 to 104.76, trading close to the strongest rate since January 23.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the US Dollar, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

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