Briefing :- 9/7/17

Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 9th of July, 2017 :-

1. Trump abandons Western countries at G20, sidles up to Putin :-

Trump was out of sync with the leaders of Western countries at the G20, but showed a close fondness for Vladimir Putin.

Trump was the only leader of the world’s major economies to reverse his country’s pledge to achieve the climate goals set out in the Paris climate accord, which the 19 other countries called “irreversible”.

Trump and Putin said they look forward to working together on cybersecurity, even though multiple US intelligence agencies say Russia launched a broad cyber campaign against the United States to interfere with the 2016 election, with the specific aim to get Trump elected.

Trump emerged from the G20 saying he “accepted” Putin’s claim that Russia did not interfere in the election.

This comes even though on June 26, 2017, he posted a Tweet in which he appears to accept that there was in fact Russian meddling in the US election. However, he blamed Obama, not Russia, for it.

This comes just as the Washington Post reported that Russian government hackers have penetrated energy and nuclear company business networks.

Trump also made a peace deal with Russia regarding Syria which, as the Daily Beast summarises: Will leave dictator Bashar al-Assad in power, who, this April, Trump said “needed to go” because of his alleged chemical weapons attacks on his own people. The deal will permits the idea of “safe zones” proposed by Russia and its backers, and it depends on cooperation from Moscow, including the use of Russian troops to patrol parts of the country.

Highly anticipated was Trump’s first meeting as president with Vladimit Putin. Media outlets have stated it is their first meeting together, but more precisely it is definitely the first time Trump has met Putin as US president; it is not exactly clear that they have never met.

Donald Trump has given many different accounts of his relationship with Putin, saying “I have never met Putin” on one occassion and “I don’t think I’ve ever met him” on another. He has claimed adamently he “has no relationship with Putin”, and, in 2013, when asked if he has a relationship with Putin said “I do have a relationship”. On one occassion he said “I was in Moscow recently, and I spoke indirectly and directly with President Putin”.

There are currently several ongoing investiations into Donald Trump and his administration’s links to Russia.

The Justice Department has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counselor to lead the DOJ investigation into “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”

Mueller is also leading a criminal investigation to see if obstruction of justice, witness intimidation or perjury were committed by anyone involved in his other investigation, including President Trump.

The Senate And House Intelligence Committee is also investigating Trump’s administration’s connection to Russia.

So is the Senate Judiciary and also the House Oversight and Government Reform Committees are also investigating Trump and Russia.

2. Iraq PM declares victory over Islamic State in ‘liberated’ Mosul :-

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in the “liberated” city of Mosul on Sunday, his office said, in the biggest defeat yet for the Islamic State group.

Abadi “arrives in the liberated city of Mosul and congratulates the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people on the achievement of the major victory,” his office said in a statement.

The announcement comes after a gruelling nearly nine-month battle to retake the northern city from the jihadists after three years under their rule.

A photo on Abadi’s official Twitter account showed him dressed in a black military uniform and cap as he arrived in Mosul to announce the recapture of the city.

The fighting did not seem to be completely over yet, with gunfire still audible in Mosul and air strikes hitting the city around the time the premier’s office released the statement.

The declared victory in Mosul marks an epic milestone for the Iraqi security forces, who had crumbled in the face of an IS onslaught across Iraq in 2014.

IS swept across much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland in a lightning offensive that year, proclaiming a self-styled “caliphate” straddling Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

But the jihadist group, which is facing twin offensives backed by a US-led coalition in both countries, has since lost large parts of the territory it once controlled.

The Iraqi forces launched their campaign to recapture Mosul in October, seizing its eastern side in January and launching the battle for its western part the next month.

But the fight grew tougher when Iraqi forces entered the densely populated Old City on the western bank of the Tigris River that divides the city.

In recent days, security forces have killed jihadists trying to escape their dwindling foothold in Mosul, as Iraqi units fought to retake the last two IS-held areas near the Tigris.

Earlier Sunday Iraq’s Joint Operations Command had said it killed “30 terrorists” trying to escape across the river.

Even in the final days of the battle, thousands of civilians remained trapped inside the Old City and those who fled arrived grief-stricken after losing relatives in jihadist sniper fire and bombardments.

Around 915,000 residents have fled Mosul since the start of the battle for the city in October, the United Nations said this week.

Iraqi forces are backed by air strikes and advisers of the US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

Abadi declared on Twitter late last month that “we are seeing the end of the fake (IS) state”.

The recapture of Mosul will not however mark the end of the threat posed by IS, which holds territory elsewhere in Iraq and is able to carry out frequent bombings in government-held areas.

In Syria, a US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance is fighting to oust the jihadist group from the northern city of Raqa after penetrating its heavily fortified historic centre.

3. US, Russia and Jordan reach ceasefire deal for southwest Syria :-

The United States, Russia and Jordan have reached a crucial ceasefire and “de-escalation agreement” in southwestern Syria, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said on Friday.

Tillerson announced the deal after a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg.

The ceasefire goes into effect on Sunday, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who was also present at the meeting, said.

Tillerson said the area covered by the ceasefire affects Jordan’s security and is a “very complicated part of the Syrian battlefield”.

“It is (a) well-defined agreement on who will secure this area,” he told the media,

Prior to leaving for the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Tillerson had said the US was prepared to discuss joint efforts with Russia in order to stabilise the situation in Syria.

4. US bombers conduct drill near Korea DMZ in show of force :-

US bombers carried out a rare live-fire drill in South Korea Saturday, flying close to the DMZ in a show of force after Pyongyang’s latest missile test, the South’s defence ministry said.

After the drill, the B-1B Lancers, deployed from the Anderson Air Base in Guam, flew close to the tense and heavily militarised land border with the North before turning back, the Yonhap news agency reported.

The exercise aimed to “sternly respond to the series of North Korea’s ballistic missile launches,” the South’s military said in a statement.

Four US and South Korean jet fighters joined the live fire drill, which was conducted at a range in Yeongwol County, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of the inter-Korean border, the military said.

The long-range heavy aircraft each dropped a 2,000-pound (907.1 kilos) laser-guided bunker-busting smart bomb.

The drill simulated the two US bombers destroying enemy ballistic missile batteries and South Korean jets mounting precision strikes against underground enemy command posts, it said.

“Through this drill, the South Korean and US air forces demonstrated strong determination to thoroughly punish the enemy for its provocative acts, and showed off their capability to pulverize enemy command posts,” the statement said.

North Korea on Tuesday test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time, an apparent game-changer in its confrontation with Washington over its nuclear and missile programmes.

In response, US and South Korean soldiers fired ballistic missiles simultaneously in a drill Wednesday, simulating an attack on the North’s leadership “as a strong message of warning,” the South’s military said at the time.

The US Missile Defense Agency said Friday it would soon test an anti-ballistic missile system in Alaska, days after the North demonstrated its arsenal was capable of striking parts of Alaska with the ICBM test.

5. ‘All options on table’ with North Korea: Pence at DMZ :-

The United States is ruling nothing out in its dealings with North Korea, Vice President Mike Pence said Monday during a visit to the heavily militarised border between the two Koreas.

Washington wants to achieve security “through peaceable means, through negotiations. But all options are on the table as we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of South Korea,” he said at the border village of Panmunjom.

Pence, speaking at Freedom House, a few metres from the military demarcation line that he described as a “frontier of freedom”, said America’s relationship with South Korea was “ironclad and immutable”.

“The message of the people of the United States of America is that we seek peace, but America has always sought peace through strength and my message here today standing with US forces Korea, standing with courageous soldiers from the Republic of Korea is a message of resolve.

“The people of North Korea the military of North Korea should not mistake the resolve of the United States of America to stand with our allies.”

Pence’s visit to the DMZ comes a day after North Korea’s latest missile test failed, when the rocket exploded seconds after blast off.

 

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