Iraqi Military to Begin Offensive in Ramadi

The Iraqi military is preparing for a major offensive to retake the Islamic State-occupied city of Ramadi. Iraqi planes began dropping leaflets over the city on Sunday asking residents to leave within the next 72 hours and directing them towards safe routes out of the city. However, the Iraqi military said they are concerned that ...

GettyImages-501753492
GettyImages-501753492

The Iraqi military is preparing for a major offensive to retake the Islamic State-occupied city of Ramadi. Iraqi planes began dropping leaflets over the city on Sunday asking residents to leave within the next 72 hours and directing them towards safe routes out of the city. However, the Iraqi military said they are concerned that Islamic State fighters are trapping civilians in the city. While some civilians have escaped, “there is intelligence information from inside the city that they are preventing families from leaving; they plan to use them as human shields,” an Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman told press.

The Iraqi military is preparing for a major offensive to retake the Islamic State-occupied city of Ramadi. Iraqi planes began dropping leaflets over the city on Sunday asking residents to leave within the next 72 hours and directing them towards safe routes out of the city. However, the Iraqi military said they are concerned that Islamic State fighters are trapping civilians in the city. While some civilians have escaped, “there is intelligence information from inside the city that they are preventing families from leaving; they plan to use them as human shields,” an Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman told press.

Last week, U.S.-backed Kurdish peshmerga pushed back a large attack by Islamic State fighters near Mosul. The Islamic State was forced to retreat despite simultaneous attacks on four positions with car bombs, suicide bombers, ground forces, and bulldozers. As many as 200 Islamic State fighters died in the attacks. In a separate incident on Friday, a U.S. airstrike killed members of the Iraqi military, the reported incidence of friendly fire in the U.S. air campaign in Iraq.

Iran Makes Progress Meeting Terms of Nuclear Deal, U.S. Makes Assurances on Visa Waiver Issue

Iran has reached an agreement to sell nine tons of enriched uranium to Russia and will transfer its stockpile out of the country “in the coming few days,” according to Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s nuclear program. The drastic reductions to Iran’s nuclear stockpile are a component of the international nuclear agreement reached with the P5+1 this summer. Iran is also working to remove centrifuges from nuclear facilities and render the core of its Arak reactor inert so the sanctions-relief phase of the agreement can be implemented. Secretary of State John Kerry responded to concerns that a new law restricting who would have access to the U.S. visa waiver program violates the Iran nuclear agreement’s provisions on economic normalization. “Recent changes in visa requirements passed in Congress, which the administration has the authority to waive, will not in any way prevent us from meeting our JPCOA requirements,” Kerry wrote in a letter to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Headlines

  • An Israeli missile strike in Damascus killed Samir Kantar, a militant who had previously been imprisoned by Israel for the murder of an Israeli man and child in the 1970s but who was released in a Hezbollah prisoner swap in 2008.

 

  • The warring parties in Yemen concluded six days of peace talks in Switzerland on Sunday without a breakthrough, but the parties have agreed to meet again in mid-January; the current ceasefire will be extended but it has been violated frequently, including this morning when Saudi Arabia intercepted a missile fired by Houthi forces.

 

  • Turkey has escalated its campaign against Kurdish militants, killing at least 110 Kurdish fighters according the Turkish military sources, as well as five civilians and two Turkish soldiers.

 

  • Airstrikes believed to have been carried out by Russian planes struck civilian targets in Idlib, Syria, including a marketplace and residential neighborhood, killing scores of people, according to rescue workers and residents.

 

  • Israeli Vice Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Silvan Shalom resigned on Sunday amid allegations that he has sexually harassed several women over his career; the Israeli attorney general has directed police to conduct an investigation.

Arguments and Analysis

A realistic peace plan for Syria needs to begin with an immediate ceasefire” (Philip Gordon, James Dobbins, and Jeff Martini, Washington Post)

“The International Syria Support Group should concentrate on securing an immediate cease-fire and arranging for its enforcement, followed by further negotiations on the shape of a reconstituted Syrian state. Even this will be hard to agree on, but it is a more realistic goal for now, and it is hugely preferable to the main alternative: the continuation or even escalation of a devastating war. Our plan would include maintaining Syria’s unity and territorial integrity, but it would be based on the reality that different parts of the country are already largely controlled by different ethnic groups backed by different outside powers. Those powers and their Syrian clients could agree to provisionally define and accept three corresponding “safe zones” — one controlled by the regime in the west, one controlled mainly by the Kurds in the northeast and one noncontiguous zone in the north and south controlled by the moderate Sunni opposition. A fourth zone would be created in central and eastern Syria in which the Islamic State would be targeted by all. The external powers most closely involved, including Russia, Iran, the United States, Turkey and Jordan, would guarantee adherence to the cease-fire among their respective proxies.”

 

The Saga of the UK’s Muslim Brotherhood Review” (H.A. Hellyer, EgyptSource)

“Overall, the release stigmatizes the group, but goes beyond that. Again, there is no ban of any Brotherhood affiliate or influenced organization — but the association of the group and extremism is clearly established in the release. More than that — a number of British Muslim lobby groups are specifically named as being influenced by the Brotherhood. The linking of those organizations with a group associated with ‘extremism’, against the backdrop of the ISIS threat, will undoubtedly have a negative impact on their activities in the UK — greater contextualization of those groups would have been advised.”

-J. Dana Stuster

-/AFP/Getty Images

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