The Islamic State group in Mosul, Iraq, has reportedly “crushed” a would-be rebellion of nearly 60 of its fighters just days before Baghdad’s offensive on the city gets under way.
It all happened just last week, when ISIS “executed 58 people…by drowning and their bodies were buried in a mass grave in a wasteland on the outskirts of the city,” Reuters reported, citing five sources in and around Mosul. The 58 were suspected of a plot “to switch sides and help deliver the caliphate’s Iraqi capital to government forces” and all were “arrested after one of them was caught with a message on his phone mentioning a transfer of weapons. He confessed during interrogation that weapons were being hidden in three locations, to be used in a rebellion to support the Iraqi army when it closes in on Mosul. IS raided the three houses used to hide the weapons on Oct. 4.”
One of those arrested was reportedly a local aide of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. That guy—whose name Reuters did not release to protect his family—has since been replaced by “a new official, Muhsin Abdul Kareem Oghlu, a leader of a sniper unit with a reputation as a die-hard, to assist its governor of Mosul, Ahmed Khalaf Agab al-Jabouri, in keeping control.”
ISIS also reportedly snatched special ID cards issued to some of its local commanders to keep them from exiting the city with the families. More here.
Iraq’s counterterrorism police of the Golden Division have reportedly departed Camp Speicher en route to positions near Mosul.
Reminder: the upcoming offensive could become a big mess, the Washington Post’s Loveday Morris warned on Wednesday, reporting from Baghdad.
For a sense of just how messy it could get, here’s a broad glance at the Mosul manifest: Iraq Army; CT police; PKK; Turkey-backed tribes; Shia militia; Assyrian, Christian and Yazidi militia; and, of course, the U.S.-led coalition. That makes seven generic categories of different forces, most of which can be further broken down into more specific elements. More here.
The humanitarian toll of the offensive is going to be enormous, and could include: use of civilians as human shields, chemical weapons use, and the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, the UN warns.
How’s the UN prepared for all that so far? In a word: inadequately. “In order to house and support and accommodate 1 million people at dignified standards we would be looking at an operation of $1 billion,” said Lise Grande, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.
Reuters: “That is more than four times the $230 million the international body has received so far for the effort, funds which have only recently arrived. So far, a total of six camps have been built that can accommodate 50,000 people. Efforts are underway to construct 11 more, said Grande.”
One meeting; many problems. After a morning spent in Cleveland campaigning for Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama will sit down with his national security team to discuss their next steps for dealing with Syria and Russia, Reuters reported Thursday.
One way forward “includes direct U.S. military action such as air strikes on Syrian military bases, munitions depots or radar and anti-aircraft bases,” an anonymous official said.
Another concerns “allowing allies to provide U.S.-vetted rebels with more sophisticated weapons, although not shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, which Washington fears could be used against Western airliners.”
What’s not likely, according to officials: “that Obama will order U.S. air strikes on Syrian government targets.”
But then again, official told Reuters, “he may not make any decisions at the planned meeting of his National Security Council.” State Secretary John Kerry is also set to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Switzerland on Saturday. The two will be “possibly joined by their counterparts from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran, but U.S. officials voiced little hope for success.” More here.
Reminder: Obama has just 97 days left in his tenure as president—and Russia is keeping this in mind perhaps more than anyone. They also want everyone else to keep it mind, accusing the U.S. in now-typical antagonistic rhetoric “of conducting a ‘scorched earth’ policy in relation to Russia during the final months of Barack Obama’s presidency,” AP reported Thursday. Replied The Daily Beast’s Michael Weiss: “Putin’s foreign policy is projection.”
One more thing on the docket during the last 100 days: “a top-to-bottom review of military aid for the [Saudi] kingdom, including both a massive, long-standing program of arms sales and more-limited assistance for the extended air war over Yemen, the Washington Post reports. The administration now wants to condition its support to the Kingdom on a new cease-fire in Yemen: The White House is “not going to help sustain any support . . . if [the Saudis] don’t accept the unconditional cessation of hostilities that we think is absolutely, urgently needed, now more than ever,” a senior official told the Post.
“Everything is on the table,” one official said, including “reductions in or changes to arms sales, not just to support to the Yemen campaign,” which has reportedly dropped off dramatically since the April ceasefire came and went with little effect on the broader war. Read the rest, here.
About those missile launches off Yemen’s Red Sea coast: The Pentagon’s attribution problem in those attacks is making public appearances a little confusing—since the “US Can’t Say Who Launched Missiles from Yemen at Navy Ships,” Military.com reported Thursday.
“We don’t know who was pulling the trigger,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said, but the missiles were launched from “Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen. Iran has played a role and been supportive of the Houthi rebels.” More here.
The Daily Beast’s take: “Pentagon hopes it didn’t just start another war.”
Who else is in the neighborhood off Yemen’s Red Sea coast: a Chinese navy frigate, the Weifang; and a Russian intelligence ship. More from Fox News, here.
From Defense One
Pentagon Urgently Pushing Anti-Drone Tech to ISIS Fight // Tech Editor Patrick Tucker: From mast-mounted radar to drone-jamming guns, the U.S. military’s anti-IED office is rushing to keep up.
The Philippines Is About to Give Up the South China Sea to China // Quartz’ Steve Mollman: ‘We cannot win that,’ President Rodrigo Duterte said of Scarborough Shoal this week. ‘We can’t beat” China.
This week’s Global Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Lockheed looks to diversify its satellite business; Why Europe won’t buy American tanks; Iraq wants more firepower from the sky; and more.
How to Survive a Siege: We Made It Through Sarajevo. Here’s How We’re Keeping Connected In Aleppo // Janine di Giovanni, via The Atlantic: In Bosnia and in Syria, the tactic has been used to destroy bodies—but it’s really an attempt to annihilate the spirit.
Got Something to Sell to the Pentagon? It’s About to Get Easier // Nextgov’s Mohana Ravindranath: A new office just opened to help the Defense Department’s high-tech agency buy more easily from first-time sellers.
Welcome to Friday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1939, a German submarine snuck into Britain’s Scapa Flow naval base and sank the battleship Royal Oak. (Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
U.S. intelligence agents find more links between Wikileaks and Russia, CNN reported Thursday. Their investigators are reportedly zeroing in on the “methods of the disclosures” which “‘suggest Moscow is at least providing the information or is possibly directly responsible for the leaks,’ one US official said.”
One possible example, from Thursday: Russian state news, RT, tweeted and published a new story on leaked emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman, John Podestra, before Wikileaks posted them to their site and tweeted out the link. Radio Free Liberty/Radio Europe’s Christopher Miller spotted that one, and supplied the screengrabs, here.
By a nearly 2-to-1 majority, 64 to 35 percent, Americans favor an active U.S. role in the world, writes Ivo H. Daalder, U.S. ambassador to NATO from 2009 to 2013, and now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The group recently wrapped a survey of U.S. voter opinions on foreign policy and America’s role in the world; Daalder walks us through the findings over at the Washington Post: “Americans support maintaining existing military alliances, with 89 percent saying that doing so is very or somewhat effective at achieving U.S. foreign policy goals…a solid 65 percent of Americans think globalization is mostly a good thing…The public as a whole rates U.S. global influence an average of 8.5 on a zero to 10 scale. For comparison, Americans overall ranked China second, with a mean influence of 7.1, the European Union third at 7 and Russia fourth at 6.2 on the 10-point scale.”
Additionally: “A majority (61 percent) says that the United States ‘has a unique character that makes it the greatest country in the world,’ compared to 38 percent who say that ‘every country is unique, and the United States is no greater than other nations.’”
Implications for the November election: “Donald Trump has proven adept at mobilizing anti-immigrant and anti-trade sentiment among a minority of Americans into a strong movement that seeks to put the United States first in global affairs. Yet, his is not the majority’s view. Most Americans favor the measured, open engagement to the world that has been at the core of U.S. foreign policy for the past 70 years. That is good news for those who believe an active American role abroad is vital to U.S. security and prosperity.” Read the rest, here, or check out the survey results for yourself, here.
While you were sleeping this summer: the U.S. quietly sent F-16s to Djibouti to monitor South Sudan back in July, Stars and Stripes reported Thursday: “F-16s based out of Aviano Air Base in Italy and KC-135’s out of RAF Mildenhall, along with airmen in support, were deployed to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, U.S. Africa Command said. The move was a ‘precautionary measure in order to protect Americans and American interests in South Sudan if required,’” AFRICOM said in a statement. “The deployment came at the request of the State Department and embassy in the South Sudanese capital of Juba, where violent unrest posed a risk to U.S. personnel and facilities,” Stripes adds. More here.
More nuclear bluster from Moscow. A Russian general just warned that American advances in ballistic missile defense could prompt Russia and China to lower their threshold for responding with nuclear weapons. That according to Bloomberg, which reported off a transcript allegedly posted to the Russian defense ministry’s website from remarks by Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, speaking at a security forum on Tuesday in Xiangshan, China. For what it’s worth: that transcript has since been taken down. But you can still read Bloomberg’s report, here.
And finally this week: “Hey ISIS you suck,” reads a new billboard in South Florida, off I-75 just west of State Road 826. “The billboard is part of a campaign organized by Sound Vision, a public relations firm that is looking to make a distinction between ISIS and Muslims,” Florida’s ABC 10 News reports.
“It’s for Muslims. Especially Muslims in South Florida, to tell our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers, that Muslims condemn terrorism in very clear terms,” said Yasir Billoo, of the Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations. “We are one human family. We should be united against the plague that is terrorism. We are better than this. And the only way we will defeat terrorism is to stay united.” Read the rest, here; and have a great weekend!