The conflict across Iraq has caused an estimated 1.8 million Iraqis, half of them children, to flee from their homes across the country.
Children of Iraq
See also: Iraq – A Peoples Photo Journal
Islamic State is fighting hard to reinforce its presence in Syria as it loses ground in Iraq, deploying fighters to seize full control of a government-held city in the east while at the same time battling enemies on three other fronts.
It underlines the residual strength of Islamic State even after its loss of a cluster of cities in Iraq and half of Mosul, and points up the challenges facing U.S. President Donald Trump in the war he has vowed to wage against the group.
The jihadists have opened their most ferocious assault yet to capture the last Syrian government-controlled area in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, a pocket of Deir al-Zor city that is surrounded by Islamic State territory.
The assault has raised fears for tens of thousands of people living under government authority in the city. Their only supply route has been cut off since Islamic State severed the road to the nearby air base earlier this week.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s opponents appear more divided than ever as they prepare for peace talks next week, demoralized by their defeat in Aleppo and unable to unite into a single force to defend their remaining territory.
The new diplomacy led by Assad’s Russian allies has exposed yet more splits in a rebellion that has never had a clear chief, with rebel factions long fractured by regional rivalries, their ties to foreign states, and an ideological battle over whether to pursue Syrian national or Sunni jihadist goals.
Several leaders have became prominent only to be killed in the nearly six-year-old conflict and numerous military and political coalitions have come and gone. After the rebels’ defeat in Aleppo last month, the latest effort to unify the jihadist and moderate wings of the insurgency collapsed.
By contrast Assad is as strong as at any time since the fighting began, his Russian and Iranian backers committed to his survival while the differing agendas of foreign states backing the rebels have added to their divisions.
The delegation of rebels that will attend the talks with the Syrian government starting on Monday in the Kazakh capital Astana represents only part of the moderate opposition that has fought Assad in a loose alliance known as the Free Syrian Army.
The jihadist group Islamic State (IS) has lost almost a quarter of the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria over the past year, according to new analysis.
IS militants were in control of about 60,400 sq km (23,300 sq miles) in December 2016, compared with about 78,000 square km (30,100 sq miles) at the start of the year, the report by IHS Conflict Monitor says. This compares to a loss of about 14% over 2015.
IS came to the world’s attention in June 2014, when it overran Iraq’s second city of Mosul and then moved southwards towards the capital Baghdad, routing the Iraqi army and threatening to eradicate the country’s many ethnic and religious minorities.
At its peak, some 10 million people were living in territory under IS control. However, a report by IHS Conflict Monitor in October 2016 suggested the figure was nearer six million.
The current focus of the battle against IS has been for control of Mosul, the jihadist group’s last major urban stronghold in Iraq.
When Barack Obama leaves the White House on Jan. 20, he will have both ended and launched a war in Iraq. Critics of his Iraq policy have blamed the country’s slide toward political repression and internecine war after 2011 on the headlong rush to withdraw combat troops from Iraq beginning in 2009, while ignoring the ramifications of such action on Iraq’s fragile democracy. Yet, this narrative glosses over the president’s deeper legacy in Iraq: a story of domestic political pressure, obstinate partners in Baghdad, and missed opportunities to exert influence through non-military means.
In a speech at Camp Lejeune in early 2009, President Obama outlined how he planned to end the U.S. military commitment to Iraq – stressing his administration would “not let the pursuit of the perfect stand in the way of achievable goals.” After December 2011, he predicted, it would be up to the Iraqis to secure their own future. His message resonated with the majority of Americans weary of continued troop commitment after six years of occupation and high U.S. casualties. When Obama took office, over 49 percent of Americans wanted to end the U.S. military presence there as soon as possible. By October 2011, two months before the last soldier would depart Iraq, three quarters of Americans approved of Obama’s withdrawal plan.
KABUL – Heads of NATO member countries have said their presence in Afghanistan is needed and that they will continue their cooperation with the country.
They also asked all regional players to help with the Afghan security situation.
“In terms of NATO’s response to counter terrorism, I believe that NATO is already doing a lot to support counter terrorism efforts. First being present and active in Afghanistan, then supporting a number of activities in the Mediterranean and the Middle East and we have to understand that counter terrorism isn’t just a physical fight against terrorism; counter terrorism has a number of levels and facades and NATO is contributing to many of them and will contribute even more,” said General Petr Pavel Chairman of NATO Military Committee.
He said: “We are working on bringing these efforts more closely together, to give them more coherence and thus more effectiveness. NATO will continue supporting activities especially in training, in preparation of specialists of the countries mostly affected by terrorism and give them more local capabilities to be effective in this endeavor.”
KABUL – President Ashraf Ghani has asked a top Pakistani cleric to help convince the Taliban into resuming peace parleys with his administration.
Ghani made the request in a telephone call to Maulana Samiul Haq, chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-S) who is widely branded as the father of Taliban.
Afghan Ambassador Dr Omar Zakhilwal, who met Haq at his residence in Akora Khattak, arranged the phone conversation that lasted 36 minutes.
JUI-S spokesperson Maulana Yousaf Shah quoted Ghani as saying that many Taliban leaders, who had studied at the Darul Uloom Haqqania in Akora Khattak, respected Haq as their teacher.
The president urged the cleric to use his clout with the Taliban and persuade them to resume the long-stalled peace dialogue. He hoped the JUI-S leader would work for ending the bloodshed in Afghanistan.
By Khaama Press on 21 Jan 2017 12:59pm – No Comments
A key Taliban fighter expert in making magnetic bombs was arrested by the Afghan intelligence operatives in Jalalabad city, the provincial capital of Nangarhar province. The National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement said the detained militant has been identified as Baryalai son of Mohammad Jalat Khan. The statement further added that Baryalai was
By Khaama Press on 21 Jan 2017 11:54am – No Comments
At least three foreign insurgents affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group loyalists were killed in an airstrike in East of Afghanistan. According to a statement released by the provincial police commandment, the militants were killed in an airstrike carried out by the US forces in Achin district. The statement
By Khaama Press on 21 Jan 2017 2:49pm – No Comments
Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah welcomed Donald Trump’s commitment made to the US forces based in Afghanistan. Abdullah pointed towards Trump’s telephone conversation with the US forces in Bagram and pledging support to their presence and fight against terrorism. He said the commitment by President Trump was made considering the bilateral relations between Kabul and
Today, January 20, 2017, a day which will live in infamy.
Hundreds of demonstrators gather to wave placards and shout slogans at the National Press Club where pro-Trump event was held
Lauren Gambino in Washington
Protesters gather outside the National Press Club in Washington, the venue for the pro-Trump ‘DeploraBall’ event. The name of the event on Thursday was inspired by a remark made by Hillary Clinton, who referred to some of Trump’s supporters as a ‘basket of deplorables’
Chaos erupted outside the DeploraBall on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration as protesters clashed with supporters of the president-elect.
“Nazi scum!” a masked man yelled through a police barricade at a woman in a sequined gown as she defiantly waved her ticket for the event. A woman held a sign that read “Look, Ma. It’s a racist misogynist” with an arrow pointed toward the guest line. In response a man flipped open his suit jacket to show her his shirt, which read: “Deplorable lives matter.”
Hundreds of protesters filled the street in front of the National Press Club, the chosen venue for the DeploraBall, a name inspired by a remark made by Hillary Clinton, who referred to some of Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables”. Law enforcement blocked off the street to cars for the protest on Thursday night. Two rows of police in riot gear guarded the entrance to the club and much of the sidewalk.
A number of the ball’s attendees were thought to be associated with the “alt-right”, a far-right movement in the US that has praised the Republican president-elect. The event has also revealed friction within the movement, as the DeploraBall’s organizers distanced themselves from the extreme elements of the group.
The movement has come under intense scrutiny following a conference in December 2016 when Richard Spencer, the white supremacist who coined the term “alt-right”, declared “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” and some in the audience gave Nazi-style salutes.
The event attracted 1,000 of the president-elect’s most fervent supporters in an evening dedicated to celebrating “Trumpism” in the city he railed against. The dress code, according to the event’s website was “black tie optional – aka ‘fun formal’ – aka no rules”.
From behind the police line protesters flashed middle fingers and shouted obscenities and insults, calling the guests “fascists” and “racists”. “The red hats are better than white sheets,” one man said. “Watch your pussies, ladies” a woman shouted at female attendees.
The taunts occasionally turned to the police. “Who are you protecting?” the crowd chanted after the police cleared the sidewalk.
An inflatable white elephant emblazoned with a banner that said “racism” loomed over the crowd. Protesters in hoods and masks set fire to a pile of placards in the middle of the street. Another group beamed floodlights at the top of the building to project the messages: “Impeach the Predatory President.”
Charlie Angus, the member of parliament who represents the Wapekeka First Nation, said of government funding denied to the program: ‘If these were white kids … people would be fired.’ Photograph: Nathan Denette/AP
Ashifa Kassamin Toronto
Wapekeka First Nation was a shining example of a community that was managing to keep at bay the wave of suicides that has swept through so many of Canada’s indigenous communities.
But two years after funding cuts forced them to dismantle a pioneering suicide-prevention program, the deadly epidemic has again struck the remote, northern Ontario community.
Two 12-year-old girls have taken their own lives in recent weeks and another four girls in this 430-person community have been flown out and placed on 24-hour suicide watch.
Another 26 students are considered high risk for suicide, with leaders expecting this number to grow in the coming days. “Our community is in crisis,” said Joshua Frogg, the spokesperson for Wapekeka First Nation. For many across Canada, the two girls who died – Jolynn Winter and his niece, Chantel Fox – are nothing more than names, said Frogg. “For those of us that live in the community, those are our children. They are our future, they are our legacy.”
It’s a bitter turn of events for a community that was once a leader in suicide prevention. In the 1990s the community – at the time reeling from more than a dozen suicides of its members over the span of a decade – developed the Survivors of Suicide program and began hosting an annual conference on the issue.
The program offered healing to a community that had been shattered by the legacy of residential schools, where 150,000 indigenous children were taken to forcibly integrate into Canadian society and were often subjected to systematic abuse.
The community had also been among those most affected by Ralph Rowe, a man described by one crown prosecutor as “likely one of the most prolific pedophiles this country has ever seen”.
In the 1970s and 80s, Rowe, an Anglican priest, pilot and Boy Scout leader would regularly fly into remote First Nations communities and take young boys camping. He was eventually convicted of more than 50 counts of indecent assault against young boys. A 2015 documentary estimates that Rowe may have abused as many as 500 indigenous boys.
The community’s suicide-prevention program helped heal lingering scars of the past. But First Nations youth are still five to six times more likely to die by suicide than their non-indigenous counterparts.
Chief Bruce Shisheesh is calling for long term commitment from the Canadian federal government to overcome the crisis. Since last September, more than 100 Attawapiskat people have attempted suicide
In Canada, 24-hour suicide prevention centres can be found across the country through the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.