Home Politics Islamic State...

Islamic State Terrorist Group’s Forces falling apart? Iraqi and Kurdish Commanders See Cracks in Jihadist Discipline

Some extremists are withdrawing from the fight unilaterally, not under orders from their superiors to do so

0
Iraqi special forces soldiers move on foot through an alley on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 4, 2016. Heavy fighting erupted in the eastern neighborhoods of Mosul Friday as Iraqi special forces launched an assault deeper into the urban areas of the city and swung round to attack Islamic State militants from a second entry point to the northeast. VOA

Bashiqa (Iraq), November 6, 2016: While there are no signs that the Islamic State group’s forces are falling apart in northern Iraq under the pressure of the offensive on Mosul, the militants’ last major urban stronghold in Iraq, commanders of both Kurdish and Iraqi military units have told VOA they see cracks emerging in jihadist discipline, indicating the resolve of some militants is weakening.

The picture is not totally uniform, according to the commanders in charge of the Iraqi-Kurdish assault. Some extremists are withdrawing from the fight unilaterally, they say, not under orders from their superiors to do so. This contrasts with other jihadist withdrawals that are clearly tactical.

NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.

“It often depends on the determination of the local IS emir,” says Kurdish General Nuraddin Tatarkhan, who commands the seventh peshmerga division, which has encircled the town of Bashiqa, 24 kilometers from Mosul.

“It really depends, also, on individual fighters,” Tatarkhan said. There is no widespread panic among jihadists, he adds, but suggests their resistance will crumble in the face of the much larger forces ranged against them.

Men are held by Iraqi national security agents, to be interrogated at a checkpoint, as oil fields burn in Qayyarah, south of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 5, 2016. VOA
Men are held by Iraqi national security agents, to be interrogated at a checkpoint, as oil fields burn in Qayyarah, south of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 5, 2016. VOA

Militants’ staged withdrawals

Iraqi and Kurdish commanders have noticed a pattern developing across all fronts in northern Iraq: The first village on a front line is the hardest to recapture from the jihadists, with the second succumbing more easily.

That was seen last week in Mosul when IS resistance was fierce for four days in the eastern district of Gogjali, the first neighborhood inside the city limits overrun by soldiers from Iraq’s elite Golden Division. Then Friday Iraqi soldiers forced their way into the adjacent district of Samaha much more quickly than they had expected, encountering lighter resistance than they had faced all week in Gogjali.

This pattern is being dictated by top IS commanders, the top ranks of the Iraqi and Kurdish forces believe. They add, though, that other Islamic State withdrawals appear to be the result of decisions taken by local emirs or, in some cases, by individual fighters from small units where discipline has collapsed. IS resolve seems to deteriorate more quickly when no foreign members of the terror group are present.

Fierce resistance from Chechens, Kazakhs

“Resistance is much fiercer when there are Chechens, Kazakhs or Central Asians” present among the fighters, Tatarkhan says.

FILE - This image taken from a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who released a new message late Wednesday, encouraging his followers to keep up the fight for the city of Mosul. VOA
FILE – This image taken from a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who released a new message late Wednesday, encouraging his followers to keep up the fight for the city of Mosul. VOA

Islamic State’s leader and self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, broke nearly a yearlong silence last week with a 31-minute audio recording urging his forces to remain firm in the face of the three-week-long offensive on Mosul, the city where he announced to the world that his caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq had been established.

“Know that the value of staying on your land with honor is a thousand times better than the price of retreating with shame,” Baghdadi said. “This war is yours. Turn the dark night of the infidels into day, destroy their homes and make rivers of their blood.”

NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.

The audio recording prompted some Western analysts to speculate that Baghdadi might be trying to stave off his forces’ collapse. U.S. officials say they see no evidence of panic among the jihadists, but the picture on the ground appears more mixed and confused.

Displaced Iraqis, who fled the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, meet their relatives in Khazir Refugee Camp, east of Mosul, Iraq Nov. 5, 2016. VOA
Displaced Iraqis, who fled the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, meet their relatives in Khazir Refugee Camp, east of Mosul, Iraq Nov. 5, 2016. VOA

Civilians tell of their escape

Displaced civilians have confirmed to VOA that not all IS fighters are standing their ground, or appear to be in a rush to embrace “martyrdom” on the battlefield.

“Only two Daesh fighters remained in the village. They said to us, ‘You can go,’ and everyone ran,” 33-year-old Khaleel said.

Civilians in his village, Abu Jerbua, did not hesitate, Khaleel said. They seized the moment and dashed toward government lines as fast as they could.

In an interview later in the packed Khazir Refugee Camp in Iraqi Kurdistan, where he and his family have found refuge, Khaleel described conditions in his village just before he left: “There were heavy airstrikes and a lot of militants were killed. Others just fled.”

“Most of the militants were Iraqis, with some Syrians,” he said. “The Iraqis were not from our area, they were strangers from Anbar [province], mainly.”

Casualties from airstrikes

Abu Jerbua, just south of Bashiqa, had a population of about 500 people before fighting began, but there have been civilian casualties.

“Two whole families died when their houses collapsed on them after being hit in the airstrikes,” Khaleel said.

As for Mosul itself, there are a lot of foreign, non-Iraqi fighters there, he added, “I have seen them with my own eyes.”

His wife gave birth in a hospital in Mosul a few months ago, Khaleel said, and there was a foreign woman who he thinks was European in the neighboring bed, also giving birth.

In contrast to the flight by IS militants from Abu Jerbua, extremists in other villages appear to be much more disciplined and organized, rounding up men and boys and herding them to Mosul.

But in the village of Qaryat Bir Hallan, 20 kilometers east of Mosul, Sarheed, a villager, says he “saw fear in the faces of Daesh fighters.”

The Mosul offensive. VOA
The Mosul offensive. VOA

Militants panicked under fire

Sitting in a tent in the Khazir camp with his family as a sandstorm darkened the sky outside, the 42-year-old school janitor said he tried to keep his teenage sons in their home at all times during the past two years, out of fear that IS would try to recruit them as “cubs of the caliphate.”

“When the offensive started, the militants in our village were afraid,” Sarheed said. “On the second day there was a lot of disorder and they seemed to be panicking, running all over the place.”

As Sarheed described the chaos, his 61-year-old father, an Iraqi army combat veteran from the Iran-Iraq war who lost his leg in 2006, raised his hands to heaven.

Check out NewsGram for latest international news updates.

Elsewhere on the front lines, Iraqi and peshmerga fighters say they are encountering total commitment from the IS militants.

“We have not captured any Daesh fighters,” said one peshmerga commander. “How can you capture militants who want to die? Many of them have suicide vests on.”

Even when a neighborhood or village is seized from IS, Iraqi and peshmerga forces are often surprised by militants infiltrating back in, especially at night, to launch hit-and-run attacks.

IS militants evaded government forces and sneaked back into Qayyarah to mount just such a raid; 13 of the extremists were killed, the Iraqis said. (VOA)

Next Story

What is the Future of US-India Relations? Here’s the Answer

The US presidential elections and future of India-US relations

0
India USA
Given the love fests of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Howdy Modi' event in Houston, Texas, in which Trump participated in September of 2019, and Trump's 'Namaste Trump' event hosted by Modi in India in February of this year, it might be assumed that the future for US-India relations is a splendid one. Wikimedia Commons

BY FRANK F. ISLAM

As the coronavirus pandemic dominates global news in the United States, progress toward the next presidential election scheduled to be held on November 3 moves slowly forward. President Donald Trump had no real opposition in the Republican party and is running for re-election. And it has now become apparent that former Vice President Joe Biden will be his opponent as the Democratic candidate for president.

What would a Trump victory bode for the future of US-India relations? What would a Biden victory bode? Let me answer each of those questions in turn.

Given the love fests of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston, Texas, in which Trump participated in September of 2019, and Trump’s ‘Namaste Trump’ event hosted by Modi in India in February of this year, it might be assumed that the future for US-India relations is a splendid one. This would be an incorrect assumption.

Please follow NewsGram on Facebook to get updates on the latest news

Both of these events were more symbolic than substantive. Trump’s participation in them undoubtedly helped to persuade some — perhaps many — Indian American Modi supporters who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 to cast their ballots for Trump in 2020. Trump’s campaign team took steps to ensure this by holding an event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in which a group of prominent Indian Americans announced their plans to work for his re-election and to mobilize Indian Americans on his behalf.

India USA
It is essential that India and the US develop a strategic relationship that enables them to become those indispensable partners. Wikimedia Commons

To understand the future potential of India’s relations with the US. with Trump as president, however, it is necessary to look beyond these political moves and to examine the present state of those relations and Trump’s personal style.

In a word, the best way to characterize the current relations between the US and India is “functional”. The relationship was relatively good for the first two years of Trump’s presidency. In fact, near the end of 2018, Alice Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, was quoted in the media s saying: “This has been a landmark year for US-India ties as we build out stronger relationships across the board.”

Then, in 2019, the relations went off the track in the first half of the year after the US and India got into a tit-for-tat tariff war after the US terminated India’s Generalized System of Preferences which allowed India to send certain goods to the US duty-free. There have been continuing efforts to structure a “modest” trade deal since then. It was thought there might be some type of deal done in September of 2019 while Modi was in the US by year’s end, and then during Trump’s India visit. But, as of today, there is still no deal.

This inability to get any meaningful trade agreement in place speaks volumes about India’s potential future relations with India with Trump as president. So, too does Trump’s style.

Trump’s campaign slogans this time around are “Keep America Great” and “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” Trump is not a policy wonk and most of his effort will go toward “America First”. This involves making the US more isolated by withdrawing from international agreements, restructuring trade agreements, emphasizing building walls to stop immigrants at the border, using tariffs to block trade with countries who are taking away American jobs, and confronting businesses who are allegedlly stealing American trade secrets.

This perspective suggests what India can expect for its relations with the US if it has to deal with Trump for a second term as president. The relations will stay functional at best. As I have said before, that’s because the words partnership, cooperation and collaboration are not in Trump’s vocabulary. Nationalism, isolationism and protectionism are.

Joe Biden stands in stark contrast to President Trump both professionally and personally. Biden is a strategic thinker and doer with a solid eight-year track record of leadership experience as Vice-President in forging alliances that have made a difference around the world and he has also been a long-standing friend of India.

India USA
To understand the future potential of India’s relations with the US. with Trump as president, however, it is necessary to look beyond these political moves and to examine the present state of those relations and Trump’s personal style. Wikimedia Commons

He was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leading advocate for the Congressional passage of the Indo-US civic nuclear deal in 2005. At a dinner convened 10 years later in 2015 by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Vice President Biden discussed the tremendous joint progress that had been made by the two countries in the past and declared “We are on the cusp of a sea change decade.”

Please follow NewsGram on Twitter to get updates on the latest news

Early in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in July of 2019, in laying out his foreign policy vision, Biden stated that the US had to reach out to India and other Asian partners to strengthen ties with them. The items on Biden’s foreign policy agenda for strengthening which are of importance for India include climate change, nuclear proliferation and cyberwarfare.

During his vice presidency, Biden worked side by side with President Barack Obama to do things that would contribute to achieving Obama’s vision stated in 2010 of India and America being “indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of our time.” In 2020, those challenges are even greater than they were a decade ago.

That is why it is so essential that India and the US develop a strategic relationship that enables them to become those indispensable partners. That can happen if Biden assumes the presidency on January 20, 2021. It cannot happen if Donald Trump remains as president for a second term.

Also Read- Apple to Display COVID-19 Testing Sites on Maps

The results of this upcoming election in the US matter greatly for the future of the United States. They matter greatly for the future of India-US relations as well. Time and the American electorate will tell what that future will be. (IANS)

Next Story

Social Distancing and Lockdown are The Strongest Vaccine: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Bennett University organized an International Conference on COVID-19: Fallout and Future

0
Health conference
"We do not anticipate the worst kind of situation in India like other developed countries, but still we have prepared the whole country for the worst situation," said Vardhan. Wikimedia Commons

By Kanan Parmar

Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan emphasised on Social Distancing saying, “Social Distancing and lockdown are the strongest vaccine against COVID-19 at the moment,” during an International Conference on COVID-19: Fallout and Future.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan addressed the International Conference on COVID-19: Fallout and Future organized by Bennett University on April 9, 2020.

Dr. Vardhan spoke about how India has taken all the necessary steps to prevent coronavirus in India and also gives the latest updates on COVID-19 news.

Please follow NewsGram on Twitter to get updates on the latest news

The minister said that more than a lakh people were trained and educated about the COVID-19 pandemic. These included aviation crew, airport staff, healthcare professionals, etc.  Over 2,500 Indians have been evacuated from various countries. There have been dedicated ICU beds and ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

The health minister highlighted that the even bigger challenge than containing COVID-19 is to stop the spread of misinformation. The minister said, “Anyone who wants authentic information about coronavirus should go through the website of Ministry of Health and Welfare to obtain information.”

health covid-19
The Health Minister advises that N95 masks are to be used only by healthcare professionals. Pixabay

He also thanked healthcare professionals saying, “I would like to thank all the COVID-19 warriors to fight this war against coronavirus.”

The health minister advises that N95 and surgical masks aren’t to be worn by all citizens but only medical staff due to the shortage. The basic necessity is to cover your mouth using any cloth or cotton mask which can also be homemade.

Talking about the positive aspects, Health Minster Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “COVID-19 is a blessing in disguise. Most of the medical equipments used to be imported but now with the help of Ministry of Textiles, we have found manufactures in India.”

Please follow NewsGram on Instagram to get updates on the latest news

“We are in constant touch with the World Health Organization and the WHO has appreciated the efforts taken by the Government of India and Ministry of Health to contain coronavirus,” said Dr. Vardhan.

Many other professionals were present in the conference. These include. Dr. David Nabarro, the special envoy for WHO, Mr. Arvind Virmani, an economic advisor, Mr. Subash Chandra Garg, the former finance secretary of India,Gurcharan Das, Prof. Wenjuan ZhangProf. Beatrice GallelliEoghan SweeneyIrene Jay Liu, a data journalist, Prof. Rasmus Nielsen, Prof. Ashish Kumar Jha and many more.

Other presenters talked about the economic, social and political impacts of the pandemic.

Health conference
Dr. David Nabarro is an international civil servant and diplomat.

Dr. David Nabarro, the special envoy for the World Health Organization said that all the information given by WHO is based on researches done by scientists and doctors.

Health conference
Mr. Gurcharan is an Indian author.

Gurcharan Das, an Indian author said, “Biggest failure of the government is not testing enough.” He also said that the Modi government is in a ‘Dharam sankat’ and faced a challenge on whether to lift the lockdown or not.

Health conference
Mr. Subhash Chandra Garg has served as the Economic Affairs Secretary and Finance Secretary of India.

Mr. Subhash Chandra Garg, the former finance secretary of India believes that there should be a partial lockdown in India.

Also Read- Prime Minister Narendra Modi Urges Citizens to Help Financially Poor People

Ms. Beatrice Gallelli tells us about what went wrong in Italy and also talks about the North-South equality in Italy which lead to the increase in coronavirus cases.

Eoghan Sweeney talks about the spread of misinformation during the times of an epidemic or pandemic.

 

Next Story

Find out How Coronavirus Pandemic Has Disrupted Global Food Supplies

Explainer: How Coronavirus Crisis Is Affecting Food Supply

0
coronavirus
People wait in line to buy food amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in downtown Havana, Cuba. VOA

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted global food supplies and is causing labor shortages in agriculture worldwide. This is the latest health news.

Are there food shortages?

Panic buying by shoppers cleared supermarket shelves of staples such as pasta and flour as populations worldwide prepared for lockdowns.

Meat and dairy producers as well as fruit and vegetable farmers struggled to shift supplies from restaurants to grocery stores, creating the perception of shortages for consumers.

Retailers and authorities say there are no underlying shortages and supplies of most products have been or will be replenished. Bakery and pasta firms in Europe and North America have increased production.

Please follow NewsGram on Instagram to get updates on the latest news

Food firms say panic purchasing is subsiding as households have stocked up and are adjusting to lockdown routines.

coronavirus
Agricultural workers clean carrot crops of weeds amid an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a farm near Arvin, California, U.S. VOA

The logistics to get food from the field to the plate, however, are being increasingly affected and point to longer-term problems.

In the short term, lack of air freight and trucker shortages are disrupting deliveries of fresh food.

In the long term, lack of labor is affecting planting and harvesting and could cause shortages and rising prices for staple crops in a throwback to the food crises that shook developing nations a decade ago.

What’s disrupting the food supply?

With many planes grounded and shipping containers hard to find after the initial coronavirus crisis in China, shipments of vegetables from Africa to Europe or fruit from South America to the United States are being disrupted.

A labor shortage could also cause crops to rot in the fields.

As spring starts in Europe, farms are rushing to find enough workers to pick strawberries and asparagus, after border closures prevented the usual flow of foreign laborers. France has called on its own citizens to help offset an estimated shortfall of 200,000 workers.

Please follow NewsGram on Facebook to get updates on the latest news

More wide-scale crop losses are looming in India, where a lockdown has sent masses of workers home, leaving farms and markets short of hands as staple crops like wheat near harvest.

Is food going to cost more?

Wheat futures surged in March to two-month highs, partly because of the spike in demand for bakery and pasta goods, while corn (maize) sank to a 3½-year low as its extensive use in biofuel exposed it to an oil price collapse.

Benchmark Thai white rice prices have already hit their highest level in eight years.

Swings in commodity markets are not necessarily passed on in prices of grocery goods, as food firms typically buy raw materials in advance. A sustained rise in prices will, however, eventually be passed on to consumers.

coronavirus
A farmer feeds iceberg lettuce to his buffalo during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Bhuinj village in Satara district in the western state of Maharashtra, India. VOA

Some poorer countries subsidize food to keep prices stable.

Please follow NewsGram on Twitter to get updates on the latest news

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that a rush to buy by countries that rely on imports of staple foods could fuel global food inflation, despite ample reserves of staple crops.

Fresh produce such as fruit or fish or unprocessed grains such as rice reflect more immediately changes in supply and demand.

Will there be enough food if the crisis lasts?

Analysts say global supplies of the most widely consumed food crops are adequate. Wheat production is projected to be at record levels in the year ahead.

Also Read- Every Hospital in US May Treat COVID-19 Patients: Health Human Service Agency

However, the concentration of exportable supply of some food commodities in a small number of countries and export restrictions by big suppliers concerned about having enough supply at home can make world supply more fragile than headline figures suggest.

Another source of tension in global food supply could be China. There are signs the country is scooping up foreign agricultural supplies as it emerges from its coronavirus shutdown and rebuilds its massive pork industry after a devastating pig disease epidemic. (VOA)