Mashaan AlJabouri: On Iraqi Elections

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Iran, Russia, Syria, Iraq Hold Security Meeting in Baghdad

February 5, 2018

Baghdad security meeting

High-ranking officials from Iran, Russia, Iraq, and Syria held talks about a range of security issues in Baghdad and stressed the need to boost cooperation between the four countries in the fight against Takfiri terrorist groups.

During the Sunday meeting of the Intelligence Center of Iran, Russia, Iraq, and Syria chaired by Iraq’s Director of Military Intelligence Major General Saad Mezher Al-Alaq, the participants discussed activities of the four countries in the security and intelligence fields and counter-terrorism.

Speaking at the session, Major General Alaq expressed his gratitude to Iran for supporting the Iraqi nation in the fight against ISIL and said although the terrorist group was defeated in Iraq, vigilance should be exercised to counter their activities to insecure the Arab country under new names.

The Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjejdi, also praised the role of the intelligence center in the collapse of ISIL and thanked all members of the quadrilateral coalition, including Russians and Syrians.

SourceIRNA

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KATA’IB HEZBOLLAH THREATENS TO “FORCE” WASHINGTON TO WITHDRAW TROOPS FROM IRAQ

South Front

Kata'ib Hezbollah Threatens To "Force" Washington To Withdraw Troops From Iraq

31.12.2017

Kata’ib Hezbollah members

On December 30, Kata’ib Hezbollah released a statement calling on the US leadership to withdraw American troops from Iraq before the group will “force” Washington to do so.

The enemy of humanity, the US, can no longer desecrate Iraqi soil, as the fighters of the Hezbollah Brigades [Kata’ib Hezbollah] will not allow them to do so,” the group said in its statement. “The Iraqi government and Council of Representatives need to make a decisive decision about the presence of US troops who should voluntarily withdraw before we force them to flee from the country.

The statement was released on the sixth anniversary of the US military withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. In the statement, Kata’ib Hezbollah also recalled its role in the resistance to the US occupation of Iraq.

Kata’ib Hezbollah is a part of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), which are officially incorporated into the Iraqi Armed Forces.

The analysis below was released by SouthFront on August 27, 2017:

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SYRIAN-IRAQI WAR REPORT – NOVEMBER 27, 2017: IRAQI TROOPS LIBERATED 14,100 KM2 FROM ISIS

South Front

Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bombers carried out massive strikes on ISIS terrorists in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor on November 25 and November 26. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the strikes hit ISIS’ manpower, vehicles and command posts in the Euphrates Valley.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces continued clearing the western bank of the river from terrorists and liberated Gharibah, Dablan, Wadi Fulaytah and Tall Tafran.

On November 26, the Syrian Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA) claimed that “Turkish-backed militants” have shot down three Russian helicopters over the northern Aleppo countryside. An official of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) told ANHA that several Russian pilots and high-ranking officers were killed or injured in the supposed attack on the Russian helicopters.

So far, ANHA has provided no video or photo confirmation of its claims. The militant groups of Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) have not claimed that they downed some helicopters in the area.

According to local sources, three Russian helicopters, a Mi-8AMTSh and two Ka-52, were really spotted in the area. Local militants opened fire on them with light weapons and machine guns.

However, no helicopter was downed. An absence of the official commentary on the issue from the Russian Defense Ministry contributes to this version.

In northeastern Hama, ISIS cells have seized the villages of Rasm Sakkaf, Mu’siwan, ‘Atshanah, Shayhat Hamra and Abu ’Ajwah from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The group expansion in the area came amid an intense fighting between the SAA and HTS in southern Aleppo and northern Hama.

The Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have liberated the area of 14,100 km2 including 175 villages since the start of the anti-ISIS operation in the al-Jazeera region of Iraq. During their advance, government troops have destroyed 11 vehicles, 5 oil tankers, 18 car bombs and 6 motorcycles of ISIS as well as dismantled 1,000 IED planted by ISIS.

The army and the PMU are now consolidating their gains, securing the recently liberated area and re-supplying their troops. As soon as this is done, they will continue their push to liberate the rest of the border area from ISIS.

ISIS-held Pocket In Euphrates Valley Is Close To Collapse Under Tiger Forces Pressure (Map)

SYRIAN-IRAQI WAR REPORT – NOVEMBER 24, 2017: US FORCES TO REMAIN IN SYRIA TO OPPOSE IRAN, ASSAD

South Front

On November 23, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the Tiger Forces and their allies continued their operation against ISIS on the western bank of the Euphrates. Pro-government forces have established control over the villages of Mahkan, Quriyah, Subaykhan, Kashma and Tashreen.

On the same day, Tu-22M3 strategic bombers struck positions of ISIS in the province of Deir Ezzor after they had flown about 2,000 km from Russia. The strike hit ISIS’ manpower, vehicles and strong points near Al-Katia.

On November 24, the SAA and its allies advanced further in the direction of al-Bukamal.

In southwestern Aleppo, clashes are ongoing between the SAA and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in the villages of al-Rashadiya and al-Hajara. Pro-government sources claim that the SAA has recently deployed reinforcements to the area. However, this has not helped the government forces yet.

In Western Ghouta, the SAA liberated the village of Beitima from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and engaged militants at Bardae Hill south of the militant-held town of Beit Jinn. If the SAA seizes this important hill, it will be able to establish a fire control over the key militant-held town in the area.

According to pro-HTS sources, 15 SAA soldiers were killed during the clashes near the hill.

Meanwhile, reports appeared in the mainstream media that Washington is not going to withdraw from Syria after the defeat of ISIS.

Previously, the US administration explained its invasion in the country with a need to defeat the terrorist group. Now, it is reportedly seeking to stay there in order to reduce the influence of Iran and Assad government in the post-ISIS period.

On November 23, the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) launched a military operation to liberate the remaining ISIS-held border area in western Iraq. According to the PMU media wing, government troops liberated 56 villages, the bridges of al-Sukariat, al-Akarb and al-Bka and the Geneva Airport.

The army and the PMU destroyed 8 vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) of ISIS and captured 3 others. They also destroyed 3 vehicles and several mortar positions of ISIS.

According to the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq, two suicide bombers attacked a gathering of the PMU fighters north of Baiji. There are no confirmed reports about the number of casualties because of the attack.

After the liberation of the Iraqi part of the Euphrates Valley, thousands of ISIS fighters were forced to retreat to the desert area at the Syrian-Iraqi border. A part of them is now seeking to infiltrate the government-held cities and to establish criminal networks there. Another part has joined the migration flow, which is heading through Turkey to the European Union.

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US BUFFER ZONE IN NORTHEASTERN SYRIA AND LAND-BRIDGE FROM TEHRAN TO BEIRUT

24.11.2017

Written by Elijah J. MagnierOriginally appeared in Arabic at alraimedia.com and in English HERE;

Following the victory of the Syrian army and its allies over the “Islamic State” group in the town of Albu Kamal in the north-east of the country, the road has been opened for the first time since the declaration of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 between Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut and become safe and non-hostile to the four capitals and their rulers.

The United States tried to block the road between Tehran and Beirut at the level of Albu Kamal by forcing the Kurdish forces into a frantic race, but Washington failed to achieve its goals.

US Buffer Zone In Northeastern Syria And Land-Bridge From Tehran To Beirut

Click to see the full-size map

The Syrian Army along with allied forces (the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Iraqi Harakat al-Nujaba’) liberated the city, opening the border with Iraq at al-Qa’im crossing. ISIS militants fled to the Iraqi al-Anbar desert and east of the Euphrates River where US and Kurdish forces are operating.

The United States established a new rule of engagement in the east of the Euphrates, informing the Russian forces that it will not accept any ground forces (the Syrian army and its allies) east of the Euphrates River and that it will bomb any target approaching the east of the river even if the objective of the ground forces was to pursue ISIS.

Thus, the US is establishing a new undeclared no-fly-zone without bothering to deny that this can serve ISIS forces east of the Euphrates and offer the terrorists a kind of protection. Moreover, the US-led international coalition air bombing against ISIS has reduced noticeably.

With this US warning, it is clear that Washington is declaring the presence of an occupying force in Syria, particularly as the presence of the coalition was linked to fighting ISIS as previously announced. Today ISIS has lost all cities under its occupation since July 2014 in Iraq and before this date in Syria. Therefore there is no legal reason for the presence of the US forces in the Levant.

By becoming an occupation force, the US troops expose themselves, along with the proxy Kurds operating under its command, to attacks similar to the one in Iraq and the one in Lebanon in 1982 during the Israeli invasion.

The United States will no longer be able to block the Iraqi-Syrian road (Al-Qaim-Albu Kamal) because it is related to the sovereignty of the two countries. But this does not mean Tehran will use this route to send weapons across Baghdad and Damascus to Hezbollah in Lebanon, for two reasons:

First, Iraq has sovereignty and the Prime Minister Haider Abadi will not allow any Iraqi armed party to keep its weapons because the Iraqi armed forces are responsible for holding security, especially after the defeat of ISIS in all cities.

Abadi’s next step will be to disarm all Iraqi movements and organizations by the year 2018 and most likely after the forthcoming elections in May. According to well-informed sources Iran and the Marjaiya in Najaf (and the majority of the Iraqi parties) want Abadi to be re-elected for another term.

This means that Iraq will not allow its territory to be used to finance non-state actors, even if these have taken part in the elimination of ISIS. Neither will he allow weapons to cross his country to an ally that fought alongside the Iraqi forces – such as Hezbollah – because he is not positioning himself against the United States and the countries of the region. This is not Iraq’s battle.

Secondly, Hezbollah does not need the land route from Tehran to Beirut because the sea and air links with Tehran are open through Syria and from it to Lebanon. Moreover, Hezbollah is no longer in need of additional weapons in Lebanon, especially since the Lebanese-Syrian front is unified against any possible future Israeli war.

As for Syria, the preparations for starting the challenging and complex rounds of negotiation to open the way for political talks have begun in Sochi, Russia. Naturally, these talks are difficult because the United States has demands, as does Turkey, which has shown its intention to stay for a very long in the north of Syria.

In this context, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is ready to prepare for a new constitution, on which work began several months ago. Syrian and international human rights experts and law specialists have been discussing with various groups how to establish new constitutional foundations for Syria, aiming to invite the numerous anti-Damascus parties to lay down their arms and join in the negotiations for the future of Syria.

The only problem remains with al-Qaeda in Bilad al-Sham, and the thousands of foreign fighters in Idlib, waiting for the results of the Turkish-Syrian negotiation.

The war was long and complex, mainly because of shifting alliances. But the peace will be no less complex to construct if future wars based on revenge and a greedy desire for territory are to be avoided.

جسر طهران – بيروت… حقيقي أم وهمي؟

تقرير / منطقة أميركية عازلة شمال شرقي سورية

بعد الانتصار الذي حققه الجيش السوري وحلفاؤه باستعادة مدينة البوكمال السورية شرق البلاد من تنظيم «داعش»، فُتحت الطريق – للمرة الأولى منذ إعلان الجمهورية الاسلامية في ايران العام 1979 – بين طهران وبغداد ودمشق وبيروت وأصبحت آمنة وغير عدائية للعواصم الأربع وحكّامها.

وحاولت الولايات المتحدة قطع الطريق البرية بين طهران – بيروت وإعاقتها عبر البوكمال من خلال دفْع القوات الكردية (قسد) التي تعمل بإمرتها نحو البوكمال في سباقٍ محموم أدى الى فشل واشنطن في تحقيق أهدافها. وقد وصلت القوات السورية ومعها القوات الرديفة (حزب الله اللبناني والحرس الثوري الايراني وحركة النجباء العراقية) الى المدينة وحرّرتْها وفتحتْ الحدود البرية مع العراق، بعدما كانت سيطرت قواته البرية على الحدود من ناحية القائم وطردت «داعش» الذي فرّ رجاله إلى الصحراء العراقية في الأنبار وإلى شرق نهر الفرات حيث توجد القوات الأميركية وتلك الكردية العاملة بإمرتها.

وعملت الولايات المتحدة على إرساء قواعد اشتباك جديدة شرق الفرات، إذ أبلغت الى القوات الروسية انها لن تقبل وجود أي قوى للجيش السوري وحلفائه شرق نهر الفرات وأنها ستقصف أي هدف يقترب من شرق النهر حتى ولو كان الهدف قوات «داعش»، وتالياً فإن أميركا فرضت منطقة حظر طيران من دون الإعلان عنها ولم تُخْفِ حمايتها حتى لقوات «داعش»، وخصوصاً أن وتيرة الغارات الأميركية والتحالف الدولي الذي تقوده واشنطن تراجعتْ في شكل ملحوظ. وبغرض منْع عبور نهر الفرات، تكون أميركا أعلنت عن بقائها في شمال شرقي سورية، الأمر الذي تعتبره دمشق احتلالاً لأن الحرب على «داعش» اقتربت من نهايتها مع خسارة التنظيم كل المدن التي كان يحتلّها في سورية والعراق.

وهذا التوصيف للقوات الأميركية قد يعرّضها ومعها القوات الموالية لها لعمليات شبيهة بتلك التي تعرّضت لها العام 2003 مع بداية احتلالها للعراق وأيضاً العام 1982 في لبنان إبان الاجتياح الاسرائيلي.

ولن تستطيع الولايات المتحدة قفل الطريق العراقي – السوري (القائم – البوكمال) لأن الأمر يتعلق بسيادة البلدين. الا أن هذا لا يعني ان طهران ستستخدم هذه الطريق لعبور الأسلحة الى «حزب الله» لسببين:

اولاً: ان للعراق سيادة وتالياً فإن رئيس الوزراء حيدر العبادي لن يسمح لأي طرف مسلّح عراقي بالوجود في العراق لان القوات المسلحة العراقية كافية للإمساك بالوضع الأمني – خصوصاً بعد إنهاء سيطرة «داعش» على المدن – وتالياً الخطوة التالية للعبادي ستكون سحب السلاح من كل الحركات والتنظيمات العراقية بحلول السنة المقبلة وعلى الأرجح بعد الانتخابات. وعلمت «الراي» أن إيران والمرجعية العليا في النجف وغالبية الأحزاب العراقية تريد التمديد للعبادي لولاية ثانية. وهذا يعني أن العراق لن يسمح بأن تُستخدم أراضيه لتمويل جهات غير حكومية – حتى ولو كانت صديقة وشاركت بالقضاء على «داعش»، مثل «حزب الله» – لانها بهذه الطريقة تضع نفسها بالواجهة ضدّ الولايات المتحدة ودول المنطقة وهذا ما لا تريده بغداد.

ثانياً: لا يحتاج «حزب الله» الى الطريق البرية لأن الخطوط البحرية والجوية مفتوحة عن طريق سورية والداخل اللبناني، إضافة الى ان الحزب لم يعد يحتاج إلى أسلحة إضافية في لبنان، وخصوصاً ان الجبهة اللبنانية – السورية أصبحت موحّدة ضد أي عدوان اسرائيلي محتمل في المستقبل. اما بالنسبة إلى سورية فالتحضيرات لبدء الجولات الصعبة والمعقّدة لفتح الطريق أمام المحادثات السياسية قد بدأت في سوتشي – روسيا، ومن الطبيعي ان تكون هذه المحادثات شاقة لأن الولايات المتحدة لها طلبات وكذلك تركيا التي ثبتت نفسها في المناطق الشمالية لسورية وكأنها باقية لأمد طويل.

وفي هذا السياق فإن الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد مستعدّ للتحضير لدستور جديد بدأ العمل من أجله منذ أشهر وقد عُرض على الخبراء الحقوقيين ويُناقَش مع جهات مختلفة لوضع أسس دستورية جديدة لسورية تجبر الأطراف المتنوعة المشارب على إلقاء السلاح. وتبقى عقدة «القاعدة» في بلاد الشام والمقاتلين الأجانب الموجودين بالآلاف في إدلب على حالها في انتظار القرار التركي – السوري في شأن مصيرهم.

Debate: The end of Daesh and its caliphate

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