Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Iraq / Syria Regional War Updates ( September 17 , 2014 ) -- Indirect US coordination between Iraq / Syria / US and Iran against ISIS continues as does mission creep by US .....FSA seeks relevance in Syria as it doesn't join anti ISIS Coalition - FSA still wants arms / weapons and interventions though......... ....

Zero Hedge......

Thanks To "Title 50", US Boots Are Already On The Ground

Tyler Durden's picture

"When are actual boots-on-the-ground, not Presidential promise-breaking boots-on-the-ground?" ... when, as The Washington Post reports, those 'boots' are protected by 'legal alchemy' called Title 50...simply put, as Ignatius concludes, "U.S. boots are already on the ground, and more are coming. The question is whether Obama will decide to say so publicly, or remain in his preferred role as covert commander in chief."
Here's Obama from earlier:
Here’s a national-security riddle: How can President Obama provide limited military support on the ground to help “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State without formally violating his pledge not to send U.S. combat troops? The answer may lie in the legal alchemy known as “Title 50.”

Title 50 of the U.S. Code regulates the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. An often-cited passage is Section 413(b), which deals with presidential approval and reporting of “covert actions.” In essence, this statute gives the president authority, with a proper “finding,” to send U.S. Special Operations forces on paramilitary operations, under the command of the CIA. The best-known example was the 2011 raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden.


Iraqis and Syrians tell me that U.S. Special Operations forces will be decisive in training the Sunni fighters who can carry the battle into the streets of Mosul, Fallujah and Raqqah. Obama must decide whether this mission is better performed overtly or covertly - but the Americans who will be doing the training will be the same warriors, drawn from such units as the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group.


The decisive issue is whether these U.S. special forces should be embedded with the Iraqi and Syrian forces they train — and accompany them into battle, where they can coordinate tactics and call in air support. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in congressional testimony Tuesday that “where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific [Islamic State] targets, I’ll recommend that to the president.”
*  *  *
We leave it to Ignatius to conclude...
Let’s be honest: U.S. boots are already on the ground, and more are coming. The question is whether Obama will decide to say so publicly, or remain in his preferred role as covert commander in chief.

Late in the day tweets....

Abadi: The fight will go on unless ISIS is hit in Syria. Responsibility of the int. community, esp US, to do something about ISIS in Syria

Abadi said that the Iraqi military will choose & approve targets, US will not take action without consulting with Baghdad first.

PM Abadi on foreign states sending troops: "Not only is it not necessary... We don't want them. We won't allow them. Full stop."

Zarif: Iran will help the Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional government, they are free as to how they want to engage with the US.

Zarif: Disintegration of Iraqi army led to emergence of volunteer forces, we give help in organising them. That’s what we do best.

Zarif: Sanctions do not serve any purposes. When sanctions started, Iran had less than 200 centrifuges. Now Iran has 20,000 centrifuges.

Zarif: Sanctions do not serve any purposes. When sanctions started, Iran had less than 200 centrifuges. Now Iran has 20,000 centrifuges.

Zarif: We need to be realistic. So-called moderate rebels in Syria control no territory, they cannot fight the gov't or ISIS.

Zarif: Position [Assad must go] that has been repeated for the last three years has caused the continuation of the conflict in Syria.

Zarif: ISIS do not fly to Iraq. They come from somewhere. They come from addresses from the countries sitting around the table in Paris.

Zarif says ISIS has been given support from "a good number of US allies"

Zarif calls US-led anti-ISIS coalition "a coalition of repenters", includes states which at one time or another provided support to ISIS

passed a bill authorizing aid to rebels against .

John Kerry: “As Isis grows weaker, the moderate Syrian opposition will go stronger, that is why it is so critical...

John Kerry: “US ground troops will not be sent into combat. A sustainable strategy is not US ground forces. It is...

John Kerry: “Direct and indirect military support: military assistance can come in a number of forms. “In ,...

John Kerry: “We are now moving to an offensive strategy. I’ll just quickly say, at its core, our strategy is...

John Kerry: “The two pillars of comprehensive strategy against ISIL: an inclusive Iraqi government which is...

REPORT: Is the regime targeting moderate rebel leaders building ties to the US?

ROUNDUP: falls to regime, Rebels fight regime for Hama town, Deir e-Zor loses electricity

 Joel Wing retweeted

Iraqi intelligence officer told AP 27,600 IS fighters in Iraq alone Probably means 50,000+ fighters total

final version of intvw w/ 's PM is out.questions why coalition excluding from talks

US military: new airstrikes hit ISIL armed vehicles NW of Haditha Dam & NW of Irbil; ground unit SW of Baghdad & boat on Eurphrates in

Word emerging that IS has threatened to behead a 3rd captive Lebanese soldier within 24hrs.

Sec. Kerry: 'Military action will stop when ISIL capabilities are defeated in .' No mention of at all. Remarkable.

Top 5 Contradictions in Obama’s Emerging ISIL Strategy

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By Juan Cole
In the past week, Secretary of State John Kerry has marshaled support of some sort from both European nations and from countries in the Middle East for the US push against ISIL. Unfortunately, the resulting coalition is riddled with contradictions that may well cripple it. Here a some of the more important obstacles to a smooth alliance or coherent war plan.
1. Kerry deeply wanted buy-in from Egypt, the most populous Arab state and the most important military power among the Arabs. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, however, insisted that the strategy be wider-ranging than just a push against ISIL He wanted a campaign against “terrorism” in general. Al-Sisi’s government has declared devotees of political Islam, i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood, to be terrorists. Al-Sisi believes he can “turn” Obama, getting him to stop criticizing Egypt for the overthrow of the Morsi (Muslim Brotherhood) government, and that the US need for him gives him a trump card in this regard.
2. There are hundreds of guerrilla groups fighting in Syria. Some of them have given fealty to the the so-called Islamic State. Others have joined a rival organization that is more Salafi in coloration, the Islamic Front (strong in Aleppo). The National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army are yet another force, heavily dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and now much weakened. So if Obama agreed with al-Sisi to pursue a global ‘war on terrorism’ together, he would be in the difficult position of opposing the Free Syrian Army and of agreeing to help crush the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood– among the major opposition groups to both ISIL and the Baath regime in Damascus.
3. That is, Obama’s desire to support a “moderate” opposition will lead him to back to the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria. But Saudi Arabia, one of Obama’s major partners, has declared the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, and they have the money to make that stick. With Egypt and Saudi Arabia against the National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army (because of their Muslim Brotherhood ties), Obama by allying with them is basically allying with the murky Islamic Front, which has some al-Qaeda elements and now has turned openly anti-democracy and anti-rights for minorities.
4. Saudi Arabia will provide training camps for the rebels of the “moderate” opposition. But it is rumored that the Saudis are behind the splinter group from the Free Syrian army, the “Islamic Front.” It rejects democratic elections. The Islamic Front is full of people who have continued to have rigid religious views but who are trying to find new allies. The Saudis will be training people, in other words, very much like the Islamic State fighters in their fundamentalism, but who are less hostile to Saudi Arabia and perhaps slightly less openly brutal. That’s a “moderate” Sunni opposition?
5. Iran is a much more promising ally for Obama But because of hardliners in both countries, Obama won’t be able openly to ally with Iran Still, operations by the Jerusalem Brigade of Iranian special forces such as the one to break the ISIL siege of Amerli are at least effective. The downside is that that will look like a Christian/Shiite crusade against Sunni Arabs. Effective militarily, perhaps, but poison politically.

Anti War......

Obama vs. Generals: Odierno Says ISIS War Needs Ground Troops

White House Starts Shifting Meaning of 'Ground Troops'

by Jason Ditz, September 17, 2014
President Obama’s latest comments after his meeting with Centcom was pretty clear about his position of no combat operations being performed by US ground troops in Iraq, yet the Pentagon seems to continue to strongly disagree.
Following up on yesterday’s comments by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey saying ground combat was possible, Army Chief Gen. Ray Odierno is now saying he believes the war willcertainly require ground combat for any chance of success.
Gen. Odierno couched his position as one determined to keep ISIS from having a “safe haven” in Iraq or Syria, and demanded that Congress begin debates to reverse the sequestration spending caps, which Congress has basically been ignoring anyhow.
The reality is that the White House is already starting to shift the definition of “ground troops,” and is admitting that, just as Dempsey said, those troops in Iraq are likely to take front-line positions. Officials are looking to likewise insist that special operations forces don’t actually count as “ground troops” for the promise.
Obama’s determination to keep the American public placated on the war, at least for the time being, by insisting that the war isn’t as big as it obviously is going to be, is running up against the generals’ desire to use the war as a platform for increased funding.
This risks an ongoing public struggle between the administration and the Pentagon on its rhetoric regarding the war, adding to confusion, some deliberate and some not, about what the war actually amounts to.

Syria Escalates Attacks on Rebels With US Planning ISIS Strikes

Anticipating US Attacks on ISIS, Syria's Focus Shifts

by Jason Ditz, September 17, 2014
With the US promising to attack ISIS in Syria soon, the Syrian government is shifting its own strategy in the ongoing civil war, leaving ISIS more or less alone for the US to deal with as they focus on the other rebel factions.

In the Aleppo and Homs Provinces, Syria is focusing its airstrikes on those smaller rebel factions, killing 48 people today in attacks. The strikes are setting the stage for a new military push northward.
Though the US is insisting they’re not going to coordinate with the Assad government, and is even trying to couch their intervention in Syria as aimed at strengthening non-ISIS rebels, it’s clear the move is giving Syria a big chance to turn the tables and recover lost ground from other rebel factions.
That’s because before, the Assad government was committing massive resources to fighting ISIS expansion deeper into their territory. With ISIS now shifting toward fighting the US, and US airstrikes expecting to start soon, the Syrian military can more or less focus entirely on retaking land from the Islamic Front and other smaller factions.
The offensive is likely to fuel more calls for the US to step up arms to such rebels, and likewise push those rebels to ally closer with ISIS.

FBI: US Airstrikes Increasing Support for ISIS

Group Using US Attacks to Boost Recruitment

by Jason Ditz, September 17, 2014
US airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, far from “degrading” the organization, are actually giving ISIS a huge shot in the arm, according to FBI Director James Comey, who testified today before Congress.
ISIS “growing online support intensified following the commencement of US airstrikes in Iraq,” Comey confirmed, saying the group was likely to try to pick up its efforts to take more US hostages going forward to get more publicity.
The US operation seems to be playing directly into ISIS’ hands in many ways, with President Obama’s high-profile speech last Wednesday, promising to escalate the war on ISIS into neighboring Syria, paying off for ISIS in recruitment as well.
According to rebel mouthpiece the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISISsecured at least 162 new recruits in Aleppo Province alone in the days following President Obama’s speech, a sign people are more interested in the group now that it is in a war against the US.
The FBI warned that Western fighters returning to Syria after fighting with ISISremain a “top” security threat, though at the same time they have no real way of tracking what people do once they enter Syria, so there’s a lot of guesswork on who actually fought for ISIS.

Iraqi Officials Brief Syria on Anti-ISIS Coalition Plans

US Rules Out Cooperation, But Intel Continue to Flow

by Jason Ditz, September 16, 2014
The Obama Administration continues to rule out any coordination with the Syrian government on the ongoing war with ISIS, but seems to have set up a fairly robust system of indirect collaboration.
In addition to the US provision of intelligence by way of Germany to the Assadgovernment, the Iraqi government remains closely allied to Syria, and is holding meetings to discuss strategy.
Iraqi National Security Adviser Faleh al-Fayad met with Syrian President Bashar Assad today for a lengthy discussion on the latest developments in Iraq, particularly as it relates to the anti-ISIS coalition.
Assad and the US aren’t on the same page on the ISIS war, with the US trying to court the Gulf Arab states as coalition partners, and Syria saying the best thing Iraq and the others could do is toconvince them to stop bankrolling Islamist rebel factions whose fighters and arms are increasingly flowing into ISIS.
That’s not just in conflict with the US strategy, it’s the exact opposite, as President Obama is pushing for increasing arms to the rebels as a way of creating “alternatives” to ISIS. So far, this has failed, and the overwhelming amount of territory and influence ISIS has suggests that arms to the “moderate” rebels will continue to find their way into ISIS hands one way or another.
Regular contact between Iraq and Syria solves the US problem of not wanting to coordinate with Syria, as it would risk alienating the Saudis, while ensuring the flow of information continues apace.

Free Syrian Army Won’t Join US Anti-ISIS Coalition

They'll Still Keep Taking US Money and Arms, However

by Jason Ditz, September 16, 2014
Col. Riad Assad, the leader of the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel, has announced that his group will not join the anti-ISIS coalition the US is assembling, nor will they participate in attacks on ISIS.
Col. Assad insisted that the rebel group’s chief goal is to conquer Syria and oust President Bashar Assad (no relation). He complained the anti-ISIS coalition did not make regime change in Syria its goal.
The Obama Administration has made much of its intention to throw more money and weaponry at the FSA and other “vetted, moderate” Syrian rebels as part of the anti-ISIS strategy, and has pushed Congress to bankroll a plan to train them to fight ISIS.
Even though the FSA isn’t on board with fighting ISIS, Col. Assad did say his group would be happy to keep taking US money and weapons.
The US arms to the FSA and other “vetted, moderate” rebels have been controversialbecause so many of those weapons have wound up in the hands of ISIS anyhow. The FSA has also been facing growing defections of their fighters into ISIS.

FSA Rebels Urge Israel to Impose No-Fly Zone Over Syria

Claims Intervention Would Win 'Hearts of All Syrians'

by Jason Ditz, September 16, 2014
The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the “vetted, moderate” rebels the US are constantly arming, but who are also allied with ISIS, have urged Israel to join in the Syrian Civil War by imposing a no-fly zone across the nation’s south.
“Israel has the opportunity to win the hearts of all Syrians, whom the entire world has forsaken,” declared the FSA commander,quoted in the Times of Israel, going on to assure Israel that the border with Syria would be secure post-Assad.
The reality, however, is that the Israel-Syria frontier is controlled almost entirely by al-Qaeda at this point, and analysts believe it will be only a matter of time before al-Qaeda starts attacking Israel across the Golan Heights.
Though Israel has long insisted it is neutral in the Syria War, they have attacked Syrian military targets in Golan repeatedly, including when they were fighting al-Qaeda forces in the recent takeover. It is hard to imagine, however, that the FSA narrative of Syrian gratitude for Israeli intervention will come to pass, particularly with al-Qaeda and ISIS in the rebellion’s driver’s seat.

House Increasingly Divided on Plan to Arm Syria Rebels

Senate Leaders Agree to Pass House Bill, But Will House?

by Jason Ditz, September 16, 2014
The Obama Administration’s call for Congressional authorization to increase arms for Syrian rebels seems to be facing growing opposition in the House of Representatives, even after the GOP leadership offered some limitations to try to tamp down resistance.
The debate on the legislation began, but there were said to be a large number of rank-and-file Democrats opposed to the plan, and unmoved by the leadership’s push to back the president.
The Democratic opposition echoes similar fears from many in the Republican majority, who similarly fear that the “vetted, moderate” rebels aren’t trustworthy in fighting ISIS.
It seems a justifiable fear, particularly with the FSA openly saying it won’t join the US anti-ISIS coalition, and just wants the weapons to fight the Assad government. Many of the arms provided to the FSA and other “moderates” have ended up in ISIS hands at any rate.
Still, the House leadership in both parties are expected to push forward with the bill, and believe they have the votes to secure a victory by the end of the week. Bipartisan leaders in the Senate agree they’ll pass the House bill as soon as the House does, but with fears of a political backlash to the new war looming large in the House, that vote seems far from certain. endorses Foreign Policy in Focus’ call to telephone your Congressmen to tell them to vote ‘No’ on the proposal to arm and train Syrian rebels:
Congress is expected to vote in the next few days on a controversial proposal to arm and train Syrian rebels. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have expressed opposition. With recent reports that some so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels this proposal seeks to arm have signed non-aggression pacts with ISIS, as in the past, now is not the time to rush into a policy whose consequences remain so unknown.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has introduced H. Con. Res. 114, demanding a robust debate and an authorization vote on any use of force. Sponsors so far include Reps. Grijalva, Ellison, Lee, McGovern, Defazio, Grayson, and Welch., MoveOn, Win Without War, Peace Action, and many other groups have called for a National Day of Action TODAY to say: stop the rush to war in Iraq & Syria!
Call your Representative NOW at (202) 224-3121 . When you speak to a staffer (or leave a message), you can use the talking points below:
Hi, my name is ______, and I’m a constituent from _______.??
I urge you to vote “NO” on expanding military aid to rebel groups in Syria. More weapons to groups we don’t know, who may use them against us or our allies in the future, will only make the situation worse.
I also urge you to co-sponsor H. Con. Res. 114, demanding a debate and an authorization vote on any use of force and the prohibition of the use of ground troops.
When you’ve made your call, you can report it here.

Pentagon Admits: US Advisers May Fight Alongside Iraqi Troops

US Combat Only Ruled Out 'for Now'

by Jason Ditz, September 16, 2014
Testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee today, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey conceded that the promises of no combat troops in Iraq are only tentative, and that the reality is they’ve only been ruled out “for now.”
Gen. Dempsey says that in the future he may recommend that the ground troops in Iraq, presently labeled “advisers,” will fight alongside the Iraqi military in offensives against ISIS.
Dempsey insisted the current plan is to just provide them with advice, and airstrikes, but if that fails, and pretty much everyone expects that to be the case, the advisers will start accompanying the Iraqi forces on combat missions.
Iraq has truly become a slippery slope in this regard, with the new war launched less than a month ago as a “humanitarian intervention” aimed at dropping aid to Yazidis, and quickly escalated into an air war spanning Iraq and Syria, with a coalition of scores of nations determined to “destroy” ISIS.
At each turn, the American public has been assured that the next step would absolutely not be taken, and that the US was not heading back into a ground war in Iraq, despite all of those ground troops they kept deploying. Now, the admission is that even the ground combat pledge is evaporating, and the US is well and truly in a new open-ended regional war.


residents say has left the city in the past few days, and transferred its heavy weaponry to an...

's foreign minister has indicated that his country might not provide military assistance to against...

will deploy 50,000 extra border police in fear of increasing threats from fighters in Syria and Iraq,...

’s President reveals the country’s position on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says, “For us, the life of 49...

BREAKING: Militants kidnap Lebanese soldier from ’s outskirts

Yesterday's US airstrikes southwest of Baghdad hit targets in Fādhilīyah, Karāghūl and Yūsufīyah areas via

Reports of clashes, indirect-fire attacks on ISF checkpoints and bases in Hawr Rajab in the SE belts:

has largely won local support in the areas it rules by providing services and order

US lawmakers not convinced rebels will stick to the role the US wants to carve out for them -

Top US general may recommend troops 'accompany' ISF in combat

Iraq parliament rejects PM's security nominees, leaving key posts unfilled as country battles militants

 Brown Moses retweeted
Germany will fly to Hammelburg, Germany and train them on using Milan ATGM because of the complexity.

Musings On Iraq Islamic State Continues Mass Killings In Northern Iraq 2nd Week of September 2014