Claims of defeat of ISIS in Iraq, Syria

Iraq claims to have driven ISIS out of the country, and Russian claims to have defeated ISIS in Syria.

Reuters: Islamic State completely ‘evicted’ from Iraq, Iraqi PM says

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday that Iraqi forces had driven the last remnants of Islamic State from the country, three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq’s territory.

The Iraqi forces recaptured the last areas still under IS control along the border with Syria, state television quoted Abadi as telling an Arab media conference in Baghdad.

Several squadrons of Iraqi helicopters flew over Baghdad carrying Iraqi flags at noon, in an apparent rehearsal for a victory parade that Iraq is planning to hold in the coming days.

“Commander-in-Chief @HaiderAlAbadi announces that Iraq’s armed forces have secured the western desert & the entire Iraq Syria border, says this marks the end of the war against Daesh terrorists who have been completely defeated and evicted from Iraq,” the federal government’s official account tweeted.

In a separate tweet later, Abadi said: “Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border. We defeated Daesh through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people.”

New Zealand has helped with the training of Iraqi military in their fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh: Announcement of New Zealand Defence Force personnel being deployed in a non-combat training mission to Iraq

On 24 February 2015, the government announced that the New Zealand Defence Force will deploy to Iraq in a non-combat training mission to build the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Up to 143 New Zealand Defence Force personnel were approved by Cabinet to deploy on a training mission, with the main body of the deployment expected to deploy in May 2015. The training of Iraqi security forces at Taji will cover a broad range of individual and organisational military skills so that Iraqi security forces can eventually assume responsibility for delivering their own training programmes.

Extension of the Iraq Deployment

On 20 June 2016, the Government decided to extend New Zealand’s contribution to the Building Partner Capacity mission to 30 November 2018.

The Minister of Defence’s press release regarding the extension.

Rudaw: Russia declares Syria ‘completely liberated’ from ISIS

Russia’s defence minister has informed President Vladimir Putin of the defeat of ISIS in Syria and the “complete” liberation of that country.

“All ISIS formations in Syria have been defeated. Syria has been liberated from terrorists,” General of the Army Valery Gerasimov stated Wednesday evening, adding that Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Putin of this “about an hour ago.”

Announcing the liberation of four villages in Deir ez-Zor province, “there are no territories controlled by ISIS in Syria today,” Gerasimov said.

The military operations were overseen by Russian military advisers “operating in every grouping of the government troops,” according to a statement from Russia’s Ministry of Defence.

“Units of Kurdish militia and tribes from the East Euphrates operating under the leadership of the joint staff and Russian military advisers have made a large contribution to the liberation of territories located to the east from the Euphrates,” Gerasimov added.

On Sunday, in a joint press conference with Russian military officials, the Kurdish armed force YPG announced the defeat of ISIS in the rural areas of Deir ez-Zor province, east of the Euphrates River.

These are major victories and will have significantly reduced the power and influence of ISIS, but I doubt it will be the end of ISIS related terrorism, which may now be be one of it’s only ways of trying to continue their aims.

The Nation: Iraq/Daesh, Maori seats, data

Today on The Nation:

As the battle for Mosul heats up talks to Gerry Brownlee about NZ’s role in Iraq.

Brownlee has just attended a meeting in France between the coalition countries trying to sort out Iraq.

Brownlee says a reconstruction team in Iraq is not on the table… but will see what requests come through.

Brownlee says NZ troops are “absolutely not” involved in combat in Iraq.

Brownlee confirms NZ troops have travelled outside of Taji to another camp near Baghdad.

What’s the end goal for our role in Iraq? Brownlee says it’s to ensure a stable civilian Govt in Iraq.

Live tweeting :

Fighting Daesh on the ground in Mosul is the easy part. We will win this battle. Fighting the ideology is the hard par.

NZ cannot be naïve about Daesh. Its ability to ideologically inspire people is scary. Thus, beating it in Iraq not sufficient.

How the West deals with the Kurds, who has suffered most with Daesh, will be interesting. I fear Turkey’s interests win out…

Turkish P Erdogan has been using rhetoric which evokes the Ottoman Empire. Fear is he has designs on Mosul and curtailing Kurds.

For me the broader question is: is it pertinent to NZ’s foreign policy to be part of America’s international security community?

If answer is yes then participating in American-led initiatives like Iraq is probably a price we have to pay.

Answering no is only palatable if you think NZ has zero security risks in an increasingly geopolitically sensitive Asia-Pacific.

I begrudgingly accept our Iraq action is a necessary activity. However, transparency is critical. Brownlee not convincing me.

Iraq’s problems are deeper than Daesh. Daesh is a symptom, not a cause.

Maiki Sherman, Chris Wikaira and Ella Henry on next year’s fight for the Maori seats… how crucial will they be for forming a Govt?

Ella Henry says it’s going to be a social media-driven campaign.

Sherman says Nanaia Mahuta has come out fighting after the King’s speech endorsing the Maori Party earlier this year (and also points out the questions will be asked what Mahuta has done for Maori after 20 years in Parliament).

Will Mana and the Maori Party do a deal? Sherman says she doesn’t think they’ll go down that path.

Te Tai Tonga and Te Tai Hauauru are the electorates to watch says Sherman.

Sherman on candidates in Māori seats: the people want to see that you’ve been peeling spuds or washing dishes at the marae.

Data Futures chair (and former Auckland City Missioner) Diane Robertson on what the Govt’s doing with your data… and how’s she’s trying to boost the public’s trust.

The Govt is collecting and sharing more data about us – but how do we make sure it’s being used the right way?

 

 

ISIS perhaps but hardly Islam

As details appears that the Nice mass murderer emerge it appears that he was not even a moderate Muslim let alone radical, but despite no evidence of any connection ISIS claim he was acting for them.

And the French defence minister blames ISIS regardless of whether there was any actual links or not.

Some accounts of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel conflict and some are vague and unsubstantiated, which will provide enough ammunition for people with a variety of views to claim what happened in Nice fits their opinion on who and what was to blame.

From New York Times: France Blames ISIS for Inspiring Terrorist Attack in Nice

The Islamic State had kept silent on the Nice attack until Saturday morning, when it declared, in a bulletin issued in Arabic and in English on its Amaq News Agency channel: “Executor of the deadly operation in Nice, France, was a soldier of the Islamic State. He executed the operation in response to calls to target citizens of coalition nations, which fight the Islamic State.”

 The claim must be greeted with caution, because there was yet no evidence suggesting that the driver was radicalized, or had even been exposed to the Islamic State’s propaganda.

ISIS are using it for their propaganda whether there was any actual connection between them and the killer or not. We may or may not ever find out whether ISIS involvement was actual before the attack or opportunist after it.

In 2014, the Islamic State’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, called on the group’s followers to attack Westerners in retaliation for strikes by the United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He has repeatedly singled out France, which is part of the coalition, as a main enemy.

However, no evidence has emerged that Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel got training or orders from the Islamic State. The Islamic State has blurred the line between operations planned and carried out by its core fighters and those carried out by sympathizers inspired, only at a distance, to commit violence.

The defence defence minister blames ISIS anyway.

But on Saturday, France’s defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said: “I remind you that Daesh’s ideologue, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, has for several weeks repeated calls to attack directly, even individually, Frenchmen, in particular, or Americans, wherever they are, by any means necessary,” using an Arabic name for the Islamic State.

 “It is murder, and Daesh’s claim of responsibility comes later, as has happened in other recent events,” Mr. Le Drian added. “Even if Daesh doesn’t do the organizing, Daesh inspires this terrorist spirit, against which we are fighting.”

Obviously ISIS/Daesh may influence and ‘inspire’ nutters to do terrible things. It’s just as feasible that inspiration and encouragement came from social media or was simply a copycat type of attack with ISIS being an excuse.

Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, a native of Tunisia, had a history of petty crime going back to 2010. He received a six-month suspended sentence this year for assaulting a motorist, but was not on the radar of French intelligence agencies. Indeed, he seemed more like a surly misfit — he beat his wife, until she threw him out — than a prospective terrorist.

The country’s top law enforcement official, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, said Saturday: “The individual who committed this absolutely despicable, unspeakable crime was not known by the intelligence services, as he had not stood out over the past years — whether through court convictions or through his activity — for support of radical Islamist ideology.”

But Mr. Cazeneuve added: “It seems that he radicalized himself very quickly. In any case, these are the first elements that have come to light through the testimony of his acquaintances.”

It seems that Bouhlel was nothing like a model Muslim of any type, not moderate and certainly not radical. More of a petty criminal with a history of violence.

In Msaken, Tunisia, the attacker’s father, Mohamed Mondher Lahouaiej Bouhlel, told Agence France-Presse on Friday night that his son had depression, but that he “had almost no links to religion,” and that “he didn’t pray, he didn’t fast, he drank alcohol, and even used drugs.

The elder Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel said of his son, “From 2002 to 2004, he had problems that caused a nervous breakdown.”

“He would become angry, and he shouted,” he said, adding, “He would break anything he saw in front of him.”

However, The Huffington Post quoted Rabab Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a sister of the attacker, as saying the brother “did not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, but he also did not pray and never entered a mosque in his life.” She added: “He was just not stable psychologically and mentally. His wife and her mother both complained about his violent behavior toward her.”

Regardless of the conflicting claims about some of his habits it sounds like his religious practice, or lack of,  is such that ISIS might execute him for it.

ISIS propagandists will know that ‘ISIS attack’ will get headlines and the contradictions won’t be noticed by most people.

ISIL or Daesh?

The group involved in the extremist Islamic insurrection in Syria and Iraq has been called a number of things. They are commonly referred to as Islamic State, ISIS or ISIL:

  • ISIS: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
  • ISIL: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

The Levant refers to a wide area of the Eastern Mediterranean, coming from a French word meaning ‘rising’ (as in the sun rising in the east). ‘Levant States’ referred to the French mandate over Syria and Lebanon after World War 1.

Some don’t like terms involving ‘Islamic State’ because they are not a state, they have taken over parts of two states or countries but are not a legitimate government. Forces in both Syria and Iraq are trying to defeat and eliminate them from their territories.

There are some attempts to re-label them with something less complementary, and Daesh is favoured by some for this. Yahoo News reported:

If You Hear President Obama and John Kerry Call ISIS “Daesh,” Here’s Why

Daesh, however, seems opaque and out of place. The reason more and more world leaders are climbing on the Daesh wagon, however, may simply be because the Islamic State doesn’t like it.

Daesh is technically an acronym for the Islamic State’s proper Arabic name, al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, and was used by ISIS members for a period of time. The word Daesh is now forbidden within the territory controlled by the Islamic State: If you say it, you run the risk of having your tongue cut.

By their barbaric standards that’s a minor level punishment, bot horrific nevertheless.

The term fell out of favor among the militants after a rebranding by the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in July. Part of the reason is because in Arabic the word “Daesh” can be taken as a play on words to mean something along the lines of “a bigot who imposes his view on others” or “to trample down and crush,” the Boston Globe reported.

With propaganda being essential to the ISIS strategy of recruiting foreign fighters, it comes as no surprise that the group has moved to expunge all the negative associations inherent in Daesh.

Propaganda also plays into another reason why leaders are beginning to forswear terms like ISIS and Islamic State. By talking about the group using its own terms, those fighting it convey a de facto sense of legitimacy on the Islamic State’s aims.

The Islamic State, of course, is not actually a state, but rather of collection of terrorists operating from seized territory in Mesopotamia. No “Islamic State” in that territory has ever been recognized by any government as representing any actual country.  World leaders repeatedly calling it a “state” potentially play into ISIS’s hands.

Daesh. Use it — annoy a terrorist.

We can annoy terrorists in rel;ative safety from a distance.

However I have just heard President Obama referring to ISIL several times in a news report on TV.