Anti-ISIS summit, take 4; Weapons of the Syrian war, listed; 3,500 ISIS recruitment forms, analyzed; Turkish government emails, leaked; and a bit more.
The importance of retaking Libya and the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State will be hot topics when defense ministers from more than 30 countries meet at Joint Base Andrews, in Washington, D.C., to discuss the next steps in the war against ISIS. The meeting is “the fourth time that [U.S. Defense Secretary Ash] Carter has convened an anti-Islamic State coalition,” the Associated Press writes, adding that on Thursday, U.S. State Secretary John Kerry will hold “a joint meeting of defense and foreign ministers in the counter-IS coalition. They are expected to talk about the coordination of political and military efforts, including counter-terrorist financing, combating the flow of foreign fighters, and the stabilization of cities and towns that have been freed from Islamic State control.”
But back to Wednesday’s business at Andrews: “Libya is incredibly complicated to say the least,” said Brett McGurk, the president's special representative to the counter-ISIL coalition. “We have some momentum, the discussion will be how to build on this momentum.”
Outside of Libya, McGurk said, “We are succeeding on the ground in Iraq and Syria but we have a lot of work to do… This is an enormous challenge that will be with us for years to come.”
And on the Mosul offensive: ISIS fighters have “seen this movie before, in 2007 to 2009,” Bill Roggio, a counter-terrorism expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Reuters in this excellent deep-dive into what to expect in northern Iraq in the coming weeks and months. “They know when they fight to the death it's going to not end up well for them.”
NPR’s Renée Montagne sat down with Secretary Carter Tuesday at the Pentagon to get his sense of where things lie, and what’s to come. No surprises out of that one, but you will be brought more or less up to speed on some of the broader dynamics affecting the war on ISIS, the long war in Afghanistan, and the U.S. military’s read on leadership in Turkey—which you can listen to in full over here.
Speaking of Turkey, its F-16s (the ones not involved in President Erdogan’s post-coup purge) dropped bombs on Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq, allegedly killing 20 militants, state-run media announced this morning.
And last but not least on the Turkish side of news this morning, “French military intelligence estimates that about 100 foreigners continue to enter Syria from Turkey each week to join Islamic State,” Reuters writes from a report in the French daily Le Figaro published today Wednesday.
Also in Syria: A horrific execution video from a formerly “vetted” Syrian rebel group shows “Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki fighters [who] captured an Al-Quds child fighter in Handarat[, Syria] & beheaded him,” Middle East Analyst Charles Lister noted Tuesday.
“Even if they no longer get U.S. aid, it still shows the moral pitfalls of what we’re trying to do in Syria,” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a terrorism expert and senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Daily Beast.
ISIS’ grip in Libya is fading fast, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday, AP reported as the militant group faces “the ‘distinct possibility’ of defeat in their last stronghold and are likely to scatter elsewhere in the North African country and the region.” He also “said in a new report to the U.N. Security Council that member states’ estimates of the number of IS fighters range between 2,000 and 7,000 from Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Mali, Morocco and Mauritania. Ban said one member state recently reported between 3,000 and 4,000 IS fighters in Sirte, the extremist group’s last bastion along Libya’s northern coast which he called ‘the most active war front’ in the country.”
And that’s a point France knows all too well, we learn this morning after France’s defense ministry acknowledged for the first time that French special forces are in Libya—and three of them died recently when their helicopter was shot down, The Wall Street Journal reports. A little bit more from AFP, here.
After last week’s attack in Nice, France on the verge of forming a “national guard” force, AFP reports this morning after “French President Francois Hollande said Wednesday that a call to boost reserve forces had paved the way” for such a move.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian drops by Brookings this afternoon. Details for that over here.
Get to better know the many weapons of the Syrian war in this special report from Defense One’s Ben Watson. It traces 10 categories of arms, representing nearly the full range that 21st-century militaries and militants can bring to war. Begin with our interactive timeline, then proceed through a raft of charts, maps, and data that trace the history of the conflict that has killed nearly half a million Syrians in more than five years of civil (though some argue it’s now a full-fledged proxy) war. (Or skip to the section that interests you most: Small Arms, Tanks, Artillery, Airpower (Syrian), Anti‑Aircraft Weapons, Barrel Bombs, Chemical Weapons, Airpower (Non‑Syrian), Cruise Missiles, Suicide Bombers, Advisors.)
From Defense One
“I analyzed over 3,500 leaked ISIS enlistment forms. Here’s what I found”: All jihad is local, reports Researcher and Oxford student Nate Rosenblatt. Read his summary findings, here.
This time, give post-war Iraq a real plan with real money. This week’s counter-ISIS coalition meeting in Washington should also draw up a plan for reconciliation among Iraqi factions, say Nancy Lindborg and Sarhang Hamasaeed of the U.S. Institute for Peace. Read their piece, here.
America’s network of secret bomb detectors could be growing. A mysterious new device may be coming to the streets of northern Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C., home to the Pentagon, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the CIA. DOD says the new device is for bomb detection—but that’s about as much as they’d like anybody to know about it. Via The Atlantic, here.
Welcome to Tuesday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1969, former Lt. (j.g.) Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. Send your friends this link: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. And let us know your news: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“How is this partnership?” On Tuesday, Wikileaks released nearly 300,000 emails from the AKP, also called the Justice & Development party of President President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Wikileaks rushed to publish the data set in response to the post coup purges that so far have included the arrest of 6,000 soldiers, the dismissal of more than 7,850 police officers, and the sacking of more than 2,500 judges among other measures.
The dataset includes a lot of spam and, because it’s almost entirely in Turkish, will take a long time to go through. A quick search of the data trove revealed more than 127 emails related to the İncirlik air base.
One in particular caught our eye, published days after CENTCOM Commander Joseph Votel visited the base at the end of May. It’s a reaction to a DOD news report on coalition activities against ISIS that are based out of the airbase. The email alleges that the vast majority of the operations are performed by just ten percent of the coalition (Qatar, Turkey, the United States and the Saudis).
“Bu nasıl ortaklık?” it asks: How is this partnership?
And oh by the way: Turkey blocked internet access to Wikileaks site late Tuesday. More on that from The Guardian, here.
North Korea declared its intent with that early Tuesday triple-launch from the western side of the peninsula: “The drill was conducted by limiting the firing range under the simulated conditions of making preemptive strikes at ports and airfields in the operational theater in South Korea where the U.S. imperialists’ nuclear war hardware is to be hurled,” state-run media announced, according to Reuters. Lots more of the usual erratic and offensive Pyongyang rhetoric in Reuters’ report, here.
Mysterious car-bombing in Kiev kills prominent Belarussian journalist Pavel Sheremet, a known friend of former Russian opposition leader (also mysteriously killed back in 2015). Sheremet “was driving to work in the car of the website’s owner [early this morning] when it was blown up,” Reuters reports. Replied one Ukrainian lawmaker, Anton Gerashchenko: “I don't rule out that the cynical murder of Ukrayinska Pravda journalist Pavel Sheremet could be used to destabilize the internal political situation in Ukraine… The investigation will examine all possible theories for the murder, firstly linked to his journalistic activities. Even a Russian connection should not be excluded.”
U.S. Naval Chief, Adm. John Richardson, visited a Chinese military base at the northern Chinese port of Qingdao this morning to tell the crowd the U.S. will continue to its South China Sea patrols and regional exercises. He also said “that friendly exchanges with China's navy are conditional on safe interactions at sea,” AP adds. Richardson is slated “to visit China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, along with a submarine training base,” AP writes. More here.
Lastly today: When “get off my lawn” goes wrong. “A man who appears to be Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Karnig Ohannessian can be seen [in a video posted online] standing on a sidewalk near his front lawn, arguing with a group of young men and telling them to leave. He can be seen pointing a gun at them,” New York Daily News writes off this Burke, Va., WUSA9 report Tuesday. While Ohannessian may have been baited into brandishing the weapon, unfortunately that often makes little difference in the age of cell phone cameras and social media.
“More than a month after [Ohannessian] pointed a gun at three young men in front of his house in Burke, he’s facing charges,” WUSA9 reported. “Two Fairfax County detectives, with two other officers watching, served Karnig Ohannessian, 49, with three misdemeanor charges of brandishing a firearm. One charge for each of the victims.” The Washington Examiner also has a bit more, here.