The United States and the Global
@coalition have made significant progress since January 2017 in the fight against ISIS.
Year-end letter to our 74-member Global
@Coalition on the historic progress against #ISIS in 2017 and plans to increase pressure through 2018. Grateful for the partnership from so many countries around the world. https://www.state.gov/s/seci/2017remarks/276806.htm …
Dear Coalition Partners,
I write to reflect on the accomplishments of our 74-member Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS over this past year, with a look ahead on much left to do in 2018.
First, we congratulated the Government of Iraq for the full liberation of Iraqi territory from ISIS control. The difficulty of this achievement cannot be overstated and was a direct result of the strong leadership of Prime Minister Abadi and the heroic efforts of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga, many of whom lost their lives fighting ISIS on behalf of us all. As a Coalition, we have been proud to support our Iraqi partners throughout this hard-fought campaign, including training more than 126,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces, and supporting stabilization and humanitarian initiatives in the wake of military operations.
Now, we must follow through. Our work over the coming year will require intensified effort to stabilize communities liberated from ISIS. We commend those partners who have contributed to the United Nations Development Program’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS). This program has a remarkable record of accomplishment: 2.8 million Iraqis back in their homes, and not a square meter of ground reclaimed by ISIS. From Mosul, to Ramadi, Fallujah, and Tikrit, we have seen communities come back to life due to the resiliency of the Iraqi people, and the partnership between the Government of Iraq and our Coalition through FFS.
FFS now faces a shortfall, however, of nearly $300 million. Closing this gap is an urgent priority, particularly for west Mosul where hundreds of thousands remain displaced. I am confident that our Coalition will answer the call to close this gap and more – between now and our next Coalition ministerial meeting in Kuwait City early next year. This will be an important meeting, and we are grateful for our vital partner Kuwait, which agreed to host us, as well as the reconstruction conference for Iraq co-sponsored by the World Bank.
As our Coalition remains focused on prioritized stabilization, Iraq’s long-term reconstruction is also getting underway thanks to the efforts of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Government of Iraq reforms. Together, these initiatives have helped stabilize the Iraqi economy and injected billions of dollars into areas of desperate need. Reconstruction will be a multi-year process, dependent upon Iraqi reforms, international financing, regional trade, and creating the conditions for private investment. We welcomed a historic opening between our partners Saudi Arabia and Iraq this year, and look forward to the reconstruction meetings in Kuwait City.
On the security side, we will continue to support the Iraqi Security Forces as they transition from major combat to stability operations with emphasis on training, logistics, intelligence, protecting borders, and counter-terrorism support. Our military team led by CENTCOM will be in touch with counterparts in capitals of military contributors, as we work to support the Government of Iraq to ensure that ISIS can never again terrorize Iraqi citizens and threaten our homelands.
In Syria, we made significant progress in 2017, with a focus on defeating ISIS and de-escalating the underlying civil war that created the conditions for ISIS and other extremist groups to grow and carve out sanctuaries. We are grateful for the efforts of our founding partner Turkey in halting the flow of foreign fighters in and out of Syria and hosting over 3 million refugees.
I also want to recognize our partner, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), for their sacrifices in liberating approximately 50,000 square kilometers from ISIS, including what had been its de-facto capital of Raqqa. At the start of this year, ISIS was planning major external attacks from Raqqa; today, Raqqa is no longer an ISIS sanctuary, thanks to the SDF, which suffered over 1,000 casualties in an extremely difficult five-month battle.
The fight is still ongoing in Syria. As I write this letter, SDF units are engaged in operations to remove ISIS from the Euphrates River Valley, and we anticipate these operations will continue over the first quarter of 2018. The focus will then shift to stabilization, and the United States is prepared to remain in Syria until we are certain that ISIS is defeated, stabilization efforts can be sustained, and there is meaningful progress in the Geneva-based political process pursuant to UNSCR 2254, ultimately leading to constitutional reform and UN-supervised elections.
As in Iraq, we will require significant Coalition contributions to support stabilization in areas of Syria we have helped liberate from ISIS. Stabilization is non-political, life-saving work: removal of explosive remnants of war, restoration of water, electricity, and health services. I would ask all of you to find ways to contribute, whether through the Syrian Recovery Trust Fund, NGOs on the ground in Syria, or other coordinated means. Through the donor consortium our Coalition established this year in Amman, we can connect your experts with specific and essential projects, such as de-mining critical infrastructure in Raqqa, restoration of water pumping stations, or refurbishing electricity grids. Our aim is to enable return of Syrians displaced by ISIS and to help local citizens take charge of their areas as we work on a national settlement in Geneva.
Outside Iraq and Syria, our Coalition remains focused on ISIS networks and affiliates. At the ministerial Secretary Tillerson hosted in March, we reaffirmed the principle that it takes a global network to defeat ISIS’s financial, propaganda, and foreign terrorist fighter (FTF) networks. We have since strengthened our global connections in these areas, and expanded our unprecedented information sharing platforms to protect our homelands, uproot ISIS cells, and combat ISIS propaganda on-line. These efforts have stopped attacks, and they will strengthen in 2018.
Significantly, our Coalition partner INTERPOL now has 43,000 names in its ISIS database, with contributions from 60 partners and information collected from the battlefields in Iraq and Syria. Led by the efforts of many in our Coalition, this month the United Nations Security Council passed UNSCR 2396 that complements our work and provides greater focus on measures to address returning and relocating FTFs. The private sector is also fully engaged to remove ISIS propaganda online, and our key partners Saudi Arabia, UK, UAE, and Malaysia have seized the forefront in combating ISIS in cyberspace. Our Coalition Twitter handle @Coalition provides regular update of our activities, and the innovative work of the Sawab Center in UAE and the Etidal Center in Saudi Arabia now eclipses extremist content and exposes ISIS’s lies.
We enter 2018 knowing that we must continue working side-by-side – Coalition partners, international organizations, law enforcement agencies, and the private sector – to sustain our progress. It is our collective aim as a Global Coalition to pressure and suffocate ISIS wherever it may seek to emerge, raise funds, or send operatives across borders. UNSCR 2396 will further enable our work with key provisions on use of traveler data in border screening and for the collection and use of biometrics to validate identities and constrain ISIS movements.
Finally, I would like to welcome our newest members Djibouti, Chad, Niger, Ethiopia, and Cameroon. Your membership highlights our increasing focus on ISIS and other extremist networks in Africa, particularly as we support our partner Libya as it rebuilds after successful operations to oust ISIS from Sirte. We were also proud to welcome NATO earlier this year, recognizing its critical counter-terrorism capabilities, and important role in training Iraqi forces.
On behalf of President Trump and Secretary Tillerson, we thank all of you for your participation in what is now the world’s largest-ever Coalition of its kind. Thank you in advance for the historic work we will continue to do together in 2018.
Brett H. McGurk
Special Presidential Envoy
30/12/2017 12:00 AM
Opposition questions voters’ records in
Baghdad / Sabah
The parliamentary legal committee confirmed on Friday that 17 percent of Kurdistan’s budget should not be referred to in the 2018 budget, noting that there is a parliamentary tendency to stabilize 12 percent of the budget. The committee member Kamel al-Zaidi said in a statement «The morning»: The «House of Representatives waiting for the return of the budget from the government after the completion of the Finance Committee members’ proposals and return to the government for the purpose of amendment», and explained that «the political blocs are unanimous not to return to 17 percent of Kurdistan», That “the ratio of 17 at the time put the political consensus to be for one year, but negotiations and consensus has kept them over the past years.”
This comes at a time when the Kurdish opposition launched a violent attack on the Kurdistan Regional Government represented by the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the situation of the situation in the region.
For his part, revealed the coalition of democracy and justice led by Barham Salih, the existence of more than half a million names “questionable” in the records of voters of Kurdistan, noting that there are names in the register of voters born in 1870.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has agreed to lift sanctions imposed on Iraq when the country invaded Kuwait 27 years ago.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said Dec. 9 the country had completed its obligations under the sanctions, which were imposed in 1990 when dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The UNSC levied the penalties after naming Iraq a threat to international security and ordered it to pay reparations to states and other parties that suffered as a result of the invasion.
Some 27 years later, Iraq is still suffering the effects of the invasion. Hisham al-Rukabi, the head of Vice President Nouri al-Maliki’s press office, told Al-Monitor that the Iraqi people welcomed the recent UN decision.
Saad al-Hadithi, the spokesman for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, said the move is “an important event in Iraq’s recent history and the closing of a painful [age] that lasted a long time, during which the Iraqi people suffered reduced sovereignty as well as political and economic sanctions that damaged the country’s institutions as well as individuals.”
Lifting the sanctions, he said, “will make Iraq more able to develop and achieve prosperity for its citizens, and restore the world’s trust so it can deal with Iraq as a fully sovereign nation.”
He predicted the decision will allow Iraq to play a greater political and economic role in the Middle East, experience an economic recovery and attract new investment.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government” optimistic “dialogue with Baghdad to resolve the outstanding issues between the two sides, stressing the willingness to discuss” all “files to resolve.
“There is optimism in the ongoing dialogues between Baghdad and Erbil after the initiative of President Fuad Masum,” said government spokesman Sven Dzaii, according to
officials in Kord, hoping that an initiative adopted by infallible and pressure exerted by Washington and its allies from European countries would persuade Baghdad to begin negotiations to resolve the files. In the shadow of the assertion that the meetings of “secret” and “announced” was held through channels between the two sides, interspersed by talks conducted by a technical delegation from the Ministry of Interior Territory in Baghdad, led to the declaration Abadi salaries of employees of the dams of the province and conduct an audit of the regulations of officials of other ministries , In a preliminary index to break the deadlock three months ago.
The spokesman for the provincial government, the need of the parties – Baghdad and Erbil – for dialogue to resolve outstanding problems, especially that the initiative is reinforced by the attempts of the United Nations and the international community.
He added that a number of problems needed to be solved, especially since they are technical, not political.
But the government spokesman expressed regret the provincial government, “the existence of some letters and views through the media and press conferences, especially those issued after the meeting of the Iraqi Council of Ministers – Tuesday – instead of being face to face between officials of Baghdad and the region.
He stressed the readiness of Kurdistan for dialogue in the “all” outstanding issues, which was the cause of convulsions between the parties.
The President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, on Thursday, the federal government to “deal with the double, we find it speaks positively while the actions are contradictory.” He considered that “the decision of Prime Minister Haider Abadi extend the ban on airports in the region, represents a political pressure card against us, and targets citizens primarily patients and displaced.”
The crisis between Baghdad and Erbil intensified after the September 25 independence referendum. The situation escalated into military confrontations after Iraqi forces, in mid-October, launched a security crackdown on most of the disputed areas, including Kirkuk.
Baghdad wants to impose its control on the border ports in the region in addition to the airports, while receiving oil imports, but that Kurdistan is outside the constitutional text and political agreements.
The Iraqi government announced on Friday the disruption of official work in the departments and ministries and government institutions on Sunday.
The Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers said in a statement today that, in view of the coincidence of the Iraqi army holiday on Saturday, and the new year of AD, Prime Minister Haider Abadi to disrupt the official day of Sunday, 31/12/2017.
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