Iraq

Claire Trevett on how Andrew little got blindsided in Iraq

Andrew Little, helped by the Media party, is claiming triumph on his blitzkrieg tour of Iraq…in the shadow of Gerry Brownlee.

Claire Trevett explains why he’s been done like a dinner by those dastardly Nats.

At first blush, the Government’s invitation to Labour leader Andrew Little to visit the troops in Iraq appeared to be a trick.

The question is not so much why Little took up the invitation to go along with Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee. Despite having criticised Prime Minister John Key’s own visit to Iraq as a photo op, Little had no qualms about brandishing photos of himself striding manfully around Taji in his flak jacket.

The bigger question is why the invitation was issued in the first place.

A superficial interpretation of the Government’s motivations is that it put Little in an awkward situation. Politically, it was a risky move for Little. Labour vehemently opposed sending the troops to Iraq last year, yet there Little was, meeting those very same troops.

It is not unheard of for Opposition leaders to visit troops on deployment. Last year, Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten visited the troops at Taji.

The difference between him and Little was Shorten was able to stand before the troops and assure them they had Labor’s bipartisan support.

Little’s message to the troops was somewhat more complex. It appeared to consist of telling those troops he thought they were doing a good job while sticking to his line that the job they were doing was futile.

Should Little oppose future deployments, he has handed his rivals an encyclopedia of photos and gushing comments with which to lambast him.

The prospect of watching Little squirm in front of those whose deployment he had opposed may well have been the cherry on the top for National.

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That’s one way to choke them to death

You win wars by killing large numbers of the enemy.

You also win by destroying their ability to wage war, destroying key infrastructure the enemy uses and wrecking their ability to pay for it all.

Up to $800m (£550m) in cash held by so-called Islamic State (IS) has been destroyed in air strikes, a US military official says.

Maj Gen Peter Gersten, who is based in Baghdad, said the US had repeatedly targeted stores of the group’s funds.

The blow to the group’s financing has contributed to a 90% jump in defections and a drop in new arrivals, he said.

In 2014, the US Treasury called IS “the best-funded terrorist organisation” it had encountered.

In a briefing to reporters, Maj Gen Gersten, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the US-led operation against IS, said under 20 air strikes targeting the group’s stores of money had been conducted.

He did not specify how the US knew how much money had been destroyed.   Read more »

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So Little visits our troops in Iraq to see how the people he doesn’t want to be there are doing

You’ve got to love the hypocrisy and sanctimony of Andrew Little.

Invited on a ministerial tour to our troops in Iraq he somehow manages to get the Media party to call it his secret trip. Never mind that it was Gerry Brownlee’s trip or that Mark Mitchell went as well…no, for the Media party it was Andrew Little’s secret trip to Iraq.

Labour leader Andrew Little has made a top secret visit to Iraq to visit New Zealand troops based at Camp Taji and is now questioning whether the two-year term will be extended.

Mr Little has just left Iraq after Camp Taji with Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Chief of Defence Force Tim Keating.

Labour opposed the 2015 deployment of troops to help train Iraqi soldiers fight against Islamic State (Isis), but Mr Little said he accepted the invitation from Mr Brownlee because he believed it was important to see first hand the work of the troops and the conditions in which they lived.

Mr Little praised the “skill and professionalism” of the troops he met.   Read more »

Got him…again

Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli is seen in an undated picture from the U.S. Department of State. Al-Qaduli, the second-in-command of the Islamic State, was killed in a raid in Syria on Thursday, a U.S. official told Reuters. REUTERS/U.S. Department of State/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - RTSC8AX

Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli is seen in an undated picture from the U.S. Department of State. Al-Qaduli, the second-in-command of the Islamic State, was killed in a raid in Syria on Thursday, a U.S. official told Reuters. REUTERS/U.S. Department of State/Handout via Reuters

A top Daesh leader has been killed according to Pentagon sources…which is strange because they already killed him previously.

American Special Operations forces in eastern Syria killed a top Islamic State commander this week, Pentagon officials said Friday, part of a months long campaign the Obama administration boasts is eviscerating the Islamic State even as the group continues to demonstrate the power to sow violence in Western Europe.

The American forces originally hoped to capture the commander, Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, and were following his vehicle in at least two helicopters, according to a senior military official who requested anonymity. But their plan to land Special Operations fighters, seize Mr. Qaduli and return him to the helicopter changed for unknown reasons, and they fired on the vehicle instead, killing him.   Read more »

Photo Of The Day

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Baghdad Country Club

It takes Real Balls to Play here

 The Who’s Who of Baghdad’s Green Zone Ate Steak and Drank Fine Wine at a Bar that Billed It’self as “An Oasis of Calm.”

So, many Western visitors to Iraq in the past decade have thrown their heads back after a near-miss with a roadside bomb and thought, I need a drink right now. That was where the Baghdad Country Club came in.

“The management is happy to secure any firearms, grenades, flash bangs or knives in the club armory.”

Saturday night in Baghdad, and Heidi, the barmaid at the Baghdad Country Club, is worried about the beer. On a busy night, she might serve 800 cold ones to the diplomats, security guards, and construction workers who frequent the Country Club, a white cinder-block house with blue trim on a residential street in the Green Zone.

The BCC, as its known, gets its alcohol from suppliers outside the walls, but insurgents are targeting the crossings on either side of the Tigris River. On this Saturday, a truck bomb on a bridge has locked up traffic on the west bank of the Tigris, delaying the delivery of the night’s beer supply. Heidi, a recent college graduate from Florida, wonders whether the war will eventually collapse on the Green Zone, the way it did on the U.S. embassy in Saigon. But she doesn’t let that occupy her for long. Looking down at the empty glass in her hand, she smiles and says, “Let’s do a shot…

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See John, this is what the SAS can do in Syria and Iraq

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Dan .338 Lapua sniper rifle

John Key couldn’t think what the NZSAS could do in Iraq and Syria, rejecting a request from the US for special forces teams.

If he was confused about what it is they could do, perhaps he should have called David Cameron from some advice, since Cameron knows very well what they can do.

A SAS sniper has beheaded an ISIS executioner with a single shot while the militant was teaching jihadis how to decapitate prisoners, it has been reported.

Some 20 Islamic fighters were taking part in the executioner’s outdoor lesson when he was killed by the elite British soldier – hiding 4,000ft away and using specially-designed ‘wounding’ bullets.

A witness said the entire group of student jihadis then fled, deserting their cause after the ill fated training session at a small village in northern Syria.

A witness told The Daily Express the SAS sniper was using a Dan .338 rifle with a suppressor to prevent any noise and flash giving away his position.    Read more »

NZSAS to officially remain underutilised in Iraq

Looks like the Maori party still has John Key by the short and curlies.

Sending New Zealand special forces to Iraq at the request of the US has been “pretty much categorically ruled out”, the Prime Minister says.

The Government received a generic letter from US Defence Secretary Ash Carter in December asking for help, including elite troops, air strikes, provision of ammunition and training.

But in his post-Cabinet news conference today, John Key said New Zealand wouldn’t be taking up the request.

“I think we can pretty much categorically rule out special forces at this time, in terms of that Ash Carter letter we received.”

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Classier than Tony Abbott but as effective

Seems the dodgy wogs don’t like a cold hard winter.

Thousands of Iraqis who arrived in Finland last year have decided to cancel their asylum applications and return home, with some saying they dislike the frosty weather and find the locals unfriendly.

More than 4,100 applications for asylum have been cancelled, officials say, with Finland chartering flights to take the refugees back to Baghdad from next week.

Though the majority say they yearn to be reunited with their families, others are simply disillusioned with the Nordic way of life, according to a local travel agent in Helsinki.

Muhiadin Hassan, who is selling up to twenty tickets to Baghdad each day, told Reuters: “Some say they don’t like the food here, it’s too cold or they don’t feel welcome in Finland. There are many reasons.”
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Knock, knock…

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Brimstone

Brimstone who?

RAF fighter pilots have been filmed destroying an ISIS held building in Iraq with two laser guided Brimstone missiles.

The footage shows precision rockets, which are said to cost £175,000 a piece, flying through the window before exploding.

The terror group’s machine gunners were firing on Iraqi troops in Ramadi, just 60 miles from Baghdad, when the British jets flew over and levelled the structure.

Typhoon jets used a Paveway rocket to destroy an excavator which was converted into a giant booby trap and hidden amongst the trees in Ramadi later that day.

Footage of that strike, which also took place on February 3, showed the large vehicle being torn apart by the laser guided weapon.   Read more »

Buchanan says NZSAS must join the fight

Lefty academic Paul Buchanan says that the NZSAS must join the fight in Iraq against Daesh.

The United States has asked New Zealand to provide special operations troops to the coalition against Isis (Islamic State). The Government has said it will consider the request but the Prime Minister has qualified the response, stating that he does not think New Zealand will increase its contribution beyond the company-sized training complement currently deployed at Camp Taji outside Baghdad.

The PM’s caution has more to do with domestic political concerns than the practical or diplomatic necessities of the conflict. With a thin majority thanks to Winston Peter’s by-election victory in Northland, National cannot risk parliamentary defeat on the issue. But Opposition leader Andrew Little has signalled that Labour is willing to consider sending SAS troops to the fight, so the ground is clearing for authorisation of a new phase of the New Zealand mission.

This was predictable from the moment the NZ Defence Force first deployed to Iraq last May.

Predictable but stymied by intransigence from the Maori party. That may have changed now with Andrew Little’s flip-flop and the Iraqi army showing some resolve after Ron Mark called them cowards.

It was clear then, and it is now, that training Iraqi soldiers is not enough to turn the tide. The training is good and the troops that graduate have improved professional skills, but according to a report prepared by the US Defence Department immediately before Mr Key travelled to Taji in October, they are no better in battle than they were before the training mission began.

The problem lies with the Iraqi Army leadership. Iraqi field rank officers are not included in the training programme and are by and large unwilling or unable to demonstrate the type of leadership skills under fire that are required to make best use of the training received by their soldiers from the NZDF and its allies.

That is where special operations troops like New Zealand’s SAS are useful. Among many other roles they serve as leadership advisers on the battlefield. Because of their exceptional skills and hardened discipline, SAS teams serve as force multipliers in the field by adding tactical acumen, physical resilience and steadfastness of purpose to the fight. They lead by example.

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