MESOP – TOP OF THE AGENDA – Biden Visits Iraq Amid Concerns Over Stability

Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Baghdad Thursday, seeking to bolster the Iraqi government in its fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (WSJ). Biden’s trip makes him the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit since the 2011 troop withdrawal. In 2014 U.S. troops returned to the country; they now number around 4,000. The visit comes after weeks of unrest and rallies by supporters of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and demands to end government corruption and mismanagement (AP). Biden also flew to Erbil to meet with the president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, Masoud Barzani (NYT).

“Prime Minister Abadi has weathered an incredible political storm over the last few weeks. Escalating protests led by the Sadrists prompted him to propose a technocratic cabinet, which was then rejected by the leaders of political blocs. The ensuing uproar prompted two former Prime Ministers—Nouri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi—to stage a sit-in in parliament in an effort to overthrow the Abadi government. Although the fate of parliamentary speaker Salim al-Jibouri remains uncertain, for now it looks like the rebels simply do not have the numbers that they would need to defeat the Prime Minister. As Abadi emerges from this latest upheaval, the pressing issue remains that Iraq is running out of money and that the current public sector salary bill is completely unsupportable,” writes Nussaibah Younis for the Atlantic Council.

“The Obama administration’s original plans to withdraw all combat forces from Iraq and allow the Iraqis to sort out their own problems have now confronted reality. Given the president’s recent expressions of regret that the U.S. did not do more for Libya, one can imagine a sober realization that the U.S. has too much at stake in Iraq to leave Baghdad to its own devices,” writes Ellen Laipson for the World Politics Review.

“While effort is being poured into the military component to fight ISIS, including the training of local allies in both Iraq and Syria, what we haven’t heard is who will govern and administrate Raqqa and Deir Ezzor, the two main Syrian cities under ISIS rule, or Mosul in Iraq. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city with a complex ethnic makeup, made governance a constant problem for the Americans during the Iraq war. The various local armed groups—Iraqi Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni militias—and the communities from which they spring resist rule by others. This is especially true in the wake of the many war crimes committed. Is there a plan for governance of these liberated spaces or will we again watch the Islamic State return, perhaps in a different, gentler and more clever version as al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria did?” writes Robert Ford for the Middle East Institute.




MESOP TODAYS OPINION ((II) : BY DAVID IGNATIUS – In Iraq, the Mosul offensive is off to a slow and shaky start

 By David Ignatius Opinion writer April 29 – THE WASHINGTON POST

From a sandbagged hilltop outpost here, you can see the front line of the Islamic State in the muddy brown houses of Al-Nasr, a village on the next ridgeline, about a mile-and-a-half west. The Iraqi army was supposed to have captured this target a month ago. But the offensive was repelled.The battle for Mosul, about 35 miles north, must begin with the seizure of such Islamic State positions along the Tigris River. But the Iraqi army isn’t ready yet to take a small, well-fortified village such as Al-Nasr. So it’s hard to imagine that Mosul itself could be cleared by the end of the year, as the Obama administration has hoped.

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MESOP TODAYS OPION : On Kurds, Kornets & criticisms – By Michael Rubin | American Enterprise Institute

Yesterday, I published a blog post highlighting comments by Kurdish official Hiwa Afandi suggesting that it was not in the Kurdish interest to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) because Shi‘ite volunteers were a greater danger.

That is a very dangerous sentiment, and highlights the fact that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) often operates upon interests that do not coincide with those of the United States and the West as much as those lobbying for Iraqi Kurdistan or its constituent parties suggest.

Was it fair to focus on one official? Yes. Neither the KRG nor the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) nor, for that matter, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, embrace an internal culture of democracy. They do not tolerate dissent in their ranks. Mr. Afandi may not have been as diplomatic as he might have been, but he was no outlier. If he was, he probably would not still be in his government post today.

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MESOP : TRUE ? OR FAKE ? – THAT’S THE SHAKESPEARE QUESTION NOW ! Why Have the Kurds Supplied Isis With Weapons? – By Michael Rubin


Posted 2016-04-26 17:10 GMT – Iraqi Kurdistan has spent millions of dollars on lobbying to depict itself as a democracy, as an ideological ally of the United States in the region, and as committed to the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh). The reality is far more complex.

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MESOP : Iraq Situation Report: April 12 – 25, 2016 (BY ISW) – By Patrick Martin & ISW Iraq Team

Key Take-Away: The U.S. announced additional “accelerants” in the fight against ISIS, reporting on April 18 that it would deploy 217 additional train-and-advise personnel to embed at the brigade and battalion levels with attack helicopters and an additional High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). The limited increase in U.S. military support came in conjunction with an increased number of high-level U.S. military and diplomatic visits between April 8 and April 21 with Iraqi officials during its major political crisis.

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MESOP Report: Iran looks to deploy Hamas in the battle to liberate Mosul from ISIS

JERUSALEM POST  – 25 April 2016 – According to the report, Hamas forces would fight for Mosul’s liberation alongside Hezbollah fighters and the Shi’ite Houthi militias which are currently struggling in Yemen.

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MESOP “THE MULLAH INTERVENTION” : Iranian Armed Forces Fight Alongside Shi’ite Militias in Tuz Khurmatu – the Shi’ite militant groups are significantly supported by Iran

BasNews – 25 Aril 2016 – TUZ KHURMATU — Iranian and Hizbullah armed forces have reportedly participated in the latest aggression in Tuz Khurmatu against Peshmerga forces.According to Asharq Al-Awsat, Iranian and Hizbullah militants took part in the recent deadly clashes between the Shi’ite Militia Hashd al-Shaabi and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in southern district of Kirkuk province.

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MESOP RECOMMENDATION : AUIS VIDEO: Conference on Economic Reforms In Iraq Thamer Al Ghadban


AUIS VIDEO: Conference on Economic Reforms In Iraq Thamer Al Ghadban  – Posted: 24 Apr 2016 09:30 AM PDT –

MESOP REPORT : Kurd-Shi’ite clashes in northern Iraq kill ten, key road cut

TUZ KHURMATU, IRAQ | BY ISABEL COLES – 25 Apr 2016 – REUTERS –  Clashes between Kurdish and Shi’ite Turkmen paramilitary forces in northern Iraq have killed at least 10 fighters and cut a strategic road between Baghdad and the oil city of Kirkuk, security and medical sources said.

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