The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) branch in Afghanistan has declined “in size, capability, and ability to hold territory” since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, who allowed the U.S. military to drop the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on the jihadist group, reports the Pentagon.
Nevertheless, the 20 terrorist groups in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including ISIS, “continue to present a formidable challenge to Afghan, U.S., and coalition forces,” warns the Trump administration in its first semi-annual report to Congress on Afghan war progress.
“The presence of as many as 20 terrorist organizations,” namely ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the Haqqani Network, among others, “creates the largest concentration of terrorist and extremist organizations in the world and a complex threat environment,” it adds.
Known as the Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), the ISIS wing in Afghanistan “regressed” during the period covered by the Pentagon assessment — December 1, 2016, through May 31, 2017.
“The current U.S. objectives in Afghanistan are to defeat threats posed by al Qaeda, support the ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces], and give the Afghan people the opportunity to succeed and stand on their own,” notes the Pentagon:
In early 2016, the United States expanded counterterrorism objectives in Afghanistan to include targeting ISIS-K as part of the broader fight against ISIS. The focus on defeating ISIS-K increased significantly during this reporting period. The ultimate goal of U.S. and international efforts is a sovereign, secure, stable, and unified Afghanistan.
In April, American Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, ordered the U.S. military to launch the 21,600 pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB), known as the “mother of all bombs,” on a fortified network of underground tunnels used by ISIS-K.
MOAB killed more than 90 ISIS-K jihadists in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, reducing the number of ISIS-K fighters to about 700. The group’s manpower peaked at about 3,000 fighters.
The U.S. military has identified Nangarhar as ISIS-K’s primary stronghold in the Afghanistan region.
“ISIS-K has regressed since its operational emergence and initial growth in 2015. Several factors have disrupted ISIS-K’s growth and diminished its operational capacity, including U.S. counterterrorism operations against the group, ANDSF operations, pressure from the Taliban, and difficulties in gaining local populace support,” reports the Pentagon. “During the last reporting period, ISIS-K had a limited presence in six provinces; however, it is now largely confined to four districts in southern Nangarhar Province.”
The Taliban and ISIS-K are regional rivals competing for fighters, territory, and influence. Taliban jihadists remain the most prominent and strongest terrorists in Afghanistan.
The group controls or contests about 35 percent of Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) report. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis recently admitted America is “not winning” the 16-year-old war.
The Pentagon assessment acknowledges that “ISIS-K remains a threat to security in Afghanistan and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and ISIS-K retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers.”
The Pentagon adds:
ISIS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country. Moreover, command and control and funding from core ISIS elements in Iraq and Syria are limited. Still heavily reliant on external funding, ISIS-K is struggling to develop funding streams within Afghanistan, which has increasingly put it into conflict with the Taliban and other groups vying to raise revenue from illegal checkpoints and the trade of illicit goods.
ISIS-K continues to draw its members from disaffected TTP fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who believe that associating with or pledging allegiance to ISIS-K will further their interests.
TTP refers to the Pakistani Taliban or Tehrik-e-Taliban. The Trump administration is expected to escalate the U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan by up to 4,000 service members in response to the mess he inherited from his predecessor.
Currently, the U.S. military reportedly has a force of about 8,400 troops in the country.
“The ANDSF are at a critical point in the fight against the insurgency. The plan to modify the force structure and develop into a more agile and lethal force is underway, but 2017 is a year of setting conditions to build momentum,” notes the Pentagon.
ANDSF members, which include police and army units, “must weather the storm from the insurgency and deny the Taliban strategic victories on the battlefield, fight ISIS-K, grow and train… to become a more offensive force in 2018,” declares the Pentagon.
The UN started their dirty game against Libya in 2011. They used made-up lies about crimes that were never committed to push through articles to take action against Libya and the Libyan people using their criminal enforcer arm called NATO. The UN went against their own bylaws and refused to send fact finding commissions to investigate the truth in Libya before taking any action. The Libyan government requested 3 times for the fact finding commissions to come to Libya but were completely ignored. Then the UN went on to enforce a “no fly” zone over Libya by request and push of Obama, Clinton and McCain. After the “no fly” zone was installed (it took 3 days), NATO began to bomb the country with impunity.
Because the Libyan people were against this illegal invasion of their country, NATO faced a backlash and a strength of will to fight by the Libyan people who knew they were being attacked without cause. The Libyan people’s only protection against the 250,000 mercenaries brought in by the CIA (Clinton/Obama) was the Libyan National Army. These mercenaries, robbed, raped, killed and destroyed whatever they wanted with the help and encouragement of the UN, NATO and all the other western factions involved in the invasion of Libya. NATO began to destroy the country with their indiscriminate bombing raids that took place day and night all over the entire country. The Libyan National Army having no ability to fight back was being systematically destroyed and those who were not killed were tortured, killed or assassinated by the mercenaries. NATO bombed homes, schools, water supplies, hospitals, food warehouses, roads, power plants, hotels, farms (including animals and crops), anything and everything they wanted…it was a killing free for all.
Left destroyed, many Libyans went into exile as the perpetrators of the crimes against their country wanted to install their own puppet governments full of radical Islamic terrorists and other criminals. Any Libyan who had worked with or supported the past government was imprisoned and many were tortured to death. Out of the original population of 6.5 million people, over a million have been killed (up to 2017), 2 million went into exile, 1 million became homeless and the rest struggle to survive in a police state run by criminals supported by Italy, the US, the UN, France, the UAE, Turkey and Qatar. The promised 2014 election, where less than 1 million voted, threw out all the Muslim Brotherhood puppets and installed an elected House of Representatives. The criminal Muslim Brotherhood did not accept the results of the election and began to attack the duly elected officials causing them, the HOR (House of Representatives) to relocate themselves to the eastern city of Tobruk for their safety. After that the old GNC (General National Congress) reinstalled itself by force in Tripoli using the help of armed militias and declared itself the real government of Libya. No one recognizes this false government.
Enter the UN again, via their their UN representative to Libya, appointed by the UN, who is a German named Kobler. The Libyans have literally no representative at the UN and do not recognize a German to represent them. That has not stopped the UN who has moved ahead aggressively to create and install their puppet government in Libya.
About one year ago the UN using Kobler, formed a new government for Libya in Tunisia. This new government has not one person in their group that the Libyan people would want to lead them. It is full of Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Ansar Al Sharia and other radical Islamic terrorists. The legitimately elected government of Libya the HOR, rejected all association with the UN group as they have no authority in Libya and were not chosen by the Libyan people. No one wanted the UN puppet government that the UN named the “Government of National Accord” (think about the arrogance of the name the UN hand picked puppets to run the Libyan government under their direction). This made up government was not welcome in Libya, not by the real Libyans and not by the other puppet government in Tripoli. They were not being allowed into the country.
So, what did the UN do? They put this puppet group on boats and took them into Tripoli from Tunisia by the dark of night to sneak them into the country. Once inside they had to hold themselves up at the Mitiga Airport for their own safety. Now the UN had their scheme in full action, they began to put out mass media reports across the world calling Fayez al-Serraj (the leader of the UN group) the Prime Minister of Libya. Next they sent this Serraj out to foreign countries to meet with foreign leaders like he was representing Libya as their Prime Minister.
But their dirty scheme was just starting, they had their puppet in place and they began to use him to commit criminal acts. They used Serraj to call in airstrikes on Libya by Africom, these air strikes were mostly against the city of Sirte where ISIS has taken up. The excuse was to clean ISIS but what actually happened was ISIS was dispersed but the airstrikes were in support of the Misurata Militias (the most hated criminal militias in Libya supported by Clinton and McCain) who then moved into Sirte and locked down the city, went door to door stealing, raping whatever. These militias also destroyed most of the power lines and completely destroyed an animal feed plant that was imperative for food for Libya.
The latest scheme that the UN came forward with was to have Serraj sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Italy. This MOU stated that Libya would build many camps across their country to hold all the African immigrants attempting to get into Europe through Libya. Serraj then demanded that the EU send his group 800 million Euros to support this scheme, which of course he would have pocketed. But, the UN (who put this scheme together) underestimated even the bad guys in Libya who filed a claim with the Appeals Court in Tripoli against this MOU. The Appeals Court found in favor of this complaint and stated that Serraj has no authority to sign such an agreement and that the agreement would turn Libya into a giant refugee camp which would be unsustainable as Libya cannot even feed her own people at this time.
Frustrated by this, Serraj took a trip to the UAE where he met with some of his handlers and agreed to go back to Libya and take control of the National Oil Company of Libya. This will be a trick because the NOC is headed by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who will not pass his post voluntarily.
Seeing Serraj failing and watching him being attacked by many different militias, the Italians have come to his aid. The Italians, who have no authority in Libya or right to be on Libyan soil, have sent their famous military General, Paoulo Serra to help Serraj complete his mission to take over Libya from the Libyan people. The Italians also have (illegally) 400 soldiers on the ground in Libya supporting the criminal Misurata Militias. Anyone who knows history about Libya and Italy, knows that Libya had been occupied by Italy in the past and that Italy committed crimes and atrocities against Libya so huge that they almost affected a complete genocide of the Libyan race. Italy agreed to pay huge amounts of reparations to Libya because of their war crimes. This was negotiated by Ghadafi. Of course all those reparations have never been paid and now Italy is back inside Libya with their military. The Libyan people are disgusted in disbelief and saddened by this horrible turn of events appearing to repeat the past.
The UN is a criminal organization that has organized a fake government for Libya, installed it and is now using it to forward whatever agenda they desire.
The Libyans have had 6 years to understand the dirty game that has been played against their sovereignty, their culture and their land, they will not go quietly into the night, they will fight until they are free of the criminal western cabal that has infected their land.
© ReutersUS Army General Joseph Votel, the commander of the US Central Command As the White House is reportedly weighing deeper military involvement in the Yemeni civil war alongside Middle Eastern allies, America’s top commander in the region told Congress “there are vital U.S. interests at stake” in the fight.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that the U.S. does not want Yemen to be used asa sanctuary for attacks against the U.S. and allies or for militants to choke off the Red Sea’s Bab el-Mandeb strait, which runs past Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula as well as Djibouti and Eritrea on the Horn of Africa.
Comment: If the US wasn’t in the Bab el-Mandeb strait, it wouldn’t be a sanctuary for attacks against the US. If Saudi Arabia and cohorts weren’t bombing the blazes out of Yemen and killing off its population, the same applies.
The comments came as U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is asking the White House to lift restrictions on U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, The Washington Post reported this week. The plan under consideration reportedly includes backing a planned Emirati offensive to retake a key Red Sea port.
Altogether, it would be a more aggressive tack against Iran for the U.S., beyond counterterrorism operations against the local al-Qaida affiliate. On Wednesday, Votel said Tehran “poses the greatest long-term threat to stability” of the region and that the U.S. must disrupt, expose and hold it accountable through a combination of diplomatic and military action. “That has to be done, they have to account for their destabilizing role in the region right now,” Votel said.
The four-star general also stressed the threat posed by the al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen. “This is the franchise of al-Qaida that has demonstrated in the past — that has tried to attack our homeland, and some of those people still exist,” he said. “That’s a key aspect, and our focus is on disrupting it.”
Comment: Perhaps Votel should refresh his memory on the origins of al-Qaida and who-all was really responsible for 9/11. He should also remind himself that Iran did not start the Yemeni conflict, did not destabilize the region, nor is it responsible for the massacre of the Yemeni people.
An escalating role for the U.S. would risk complicity in a spiraling humanitarian crisis, as fighting between a Saudi-led coalition of regional states and Houthi rebels has cut off food supplies and yielded thousands of civilian casualties. In the public hearing on Wednesday, which preceded a closed-door session, lawmakers did not probe the risks in depth. But Votel did nod at them in his discussion of U.S. interests. “All of that is against the backdrop of the civil war, and we all understand the implications of becoming involved in those types of activities, and if we don’t choose to move forward militarily, we have to look at ways to move forward and resolve that situation,” Votel said.
Rep. Paul Cook, a former Marine colonel and a member of both the the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, replied: “Obviously everyone wants peace in the area and the fighting to stop, but until that happens, I think we have to take the side of our friends and allies.
Comment: Wrong. They have to take the side of innocent civilians. That is what militaries were created to do. (But that doesn’t count when you are selling weapons and equipment to the slaughterers.)
“They are so concerned that Iran is using the Houthi rebels as a proxy to destabilize and come after them,” the California Republican said. “While I don’t think we need boots on the ground, as much as we can do with [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] to support our friends and allies is critical.”
Amid questions from Cook, Votel affirmed the Foreign Military Financing and Foreign Military Sales programs are “extraordinarily important” in the region, and he said he was concerned when the U.S. does not share systems, potentially driving allies to buy elsewhere. The comments came after the State Department earlier this month reportedly approved a resumption of weapons sales that critics had linked to Saudi Arabia’s bombing of civilians in Yemen. In September, the Senate voted down a measure to block the $1.15 billion sale of U.S. tanks to Riyadh.
In the Bab el-Mandeb strait, the U.S. Navy has already expanded its presence. The destroyer Cole was tasked Feb. 3 with patrolling the region, days after a suicide boat attack by Yemeni Houthi rebels on the Saudi frigate Al Madinah off the port of Al Hudaydah killed two sailors on the warship. Stressing the waterway’s importance for international commerce and U.S. freedom of navigation, Votel said that it threatened to become “an extraordinarily restricted strait.”
With Iran’s backing, the strait has become militarized, he said, with “a layered defense” of coastal missiles, radar systems, mines and explosive-laden boats — “threatening ships and our security operations.”
Comment: And US ships decked in full armor don’t count in the militarization. Iranian paramilitary boats are small patrol boats.
These capabilities, he said, have migrated from the Strait of Hormuz, an important waterway for the oil trade at the mouth of the Arabian Gulf, where Iranian paramilitary boats have routinely faced off against U.S. naval forces.
Votel suggested use a combination of diplomatic and military efforts to resolve the issue. “This is an area where we will need the Department of State to help us,” he said. Amid questions from lawmakers about Iran’s probing naval maneuvers and perceived harassment of U.S. ships, Votel attributed the alleged aggression to Tehran’s aspirations to be the dominant regional power and downplayed their effect.
“I’m extraordinarily confident in our leaders and in the processes, procedures and capabilities they have to properly defend themselves,” Votel said. “The presence of these types of boats have seldom, if ever prevented us from doing their missions. [The paramilitary boats are] there to demonstrate their presence, in some cases be provocative.”
Votel affirmed that Tehran had increased destabilizing acts since the nuclear deal, which intentionally or not, will hand ammunition to critics of the controversial treaty. “I believe they have,” Votel said. “I believe that Iran is operating in what I would call a gray zone. It’s a competition between states and its just short of open conflict. They do it through surrogate forces, through lethal aid, and through their own cyber activities and influence operations.”
Comment: And who would know this mode of operation better than the creators, facilitators and protectors of ISIS?
There are more that 100,000 Iranian-backed Shia militants in Iraq, and that poses “a big concern” about Tehran’s influence beyond the fight against the Islamic State group, he said, as the U.S. advises Baghdad on integrating Shia paramilitary forces.