US Central Command (Centcom) conducted a total of 31 partnered operations against IS in Iraq and Syria during July 2023, resulting in five IS operatives killed and 30 detained, according to a release on Wednesday.
In Iraq, the operations comprised 20 partnered efforts, with 2 IS operatives killed and 24 detained. Syria saw 11 partnered operations, with 3 IS operatives killed and 6 detained. No US-only operations were reported in either country.
Maj. Gen. Matthew McFarlane, CJTF-OIR Commanding General, emphasized the "dramatic reduction in ISIS activity" and pledged a commitment to "an enduring defeat of ISIS."
Centcom is a US Department of Defense command responsible for areas primarily in the Middle East, Central Asia, and parts of South Asia.
Gen. Michael Kurilla, Centcom commander, stressed the crucial partnership with the Iraqi Security Force and Syrian Democratic Forces in regional efforts to ensure the continued suppression of IS.
The inaugural US-Iraq Joint Security Cooperation Dialogue wrapped up in Washington today, marking a milestone in the two countries' joint efforts for regional stability.
Led by US Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander and Iraqi Minister of Defense Thabit Al-Abbasi, the dialogue focused on shared defense issues, the fight against IS, and the development of Iraq's defense capabilities.
Key discussions included a review of the Defeat-IS campaign and the confirmation that no US forces with a combat role remain in Iraq. Both sides committed to deepening security cooperation, exploring military assistance programs, and working on repatriating displaced persons from northeast Syria.
The meeting builds on previous bilateral agreements and seeks to set the stage for continued collaboration in addressing evolving threats and opportunities in the region.
An official website of the United States government
U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Iraq
9. August 2023 14:52
In a move sure to exacerbate tensions, an arrest warrant has been issued by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for Wahab Halabjay, a commander in the KRG, over the murder of an intelligence officer.
In June, the Erbil court sentenced Halabjay to death for the killing of Colonel Hawkar Jaff last year, a decision that has been publicly rejected by the PUK leadership as "politicized."
Now, the prosecutor general is demanding Halabjay be turned in or handed over. Halabjay is in Sulaymaniyah where the PUK control in terms of security and military might. In a show of support to Halabjay, PUK leader Bafel Talabani posed for pictures with him and handed him a medal the day after the June sentence was handed out.
The prosecutor's office has expressed concern over security agencies being used for 'private disputes and the failure to implement court decisions', warning that it could lead to an increase in "terrorism, murder, kidnapping, and intimidation" in the region.
9. August 2023 13:38
The National: 'Heist of the century' investigations to widen
The investigation into Iraq's so-called "heist of the century," a theft of $2.5 billion from Iraq’s General Commission for Taxes, could extend to the arrest of high-ranking former politicians, according to sources speaking to The National's Mina Aldroubi and Robert Tollast.
Iraqi officials, including former finance minister Ali Allawi and aides of former prime minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, are among those in a requested Interpol red notice from Baghdad.
However, Interpol told The National that a red notice is not an international arrest warrant and would require review. No red notices have been issued for the named individuals. The original statement by Iraq's Commision of Integrity implied they had, but the wording was vague on whether the notices were issued or merely requested.
The case involves the discovery of 250 fraudulent cheques written to five shell companies, which were then cashed and the funds suspected of being flown out of the country. The theft is considered one of Iraq's worst public fund abuses.
Head of the Iraqi Commission for Integrity, Haider Hanoun, asked the US and the UK to cooperate in executing arrest warrants against four men. However, sources close to the case claim that the commission lacks "sufficient evidence" and that the pursuit points to a "political agenda."
The National's report highlights concerns of political motivations behind these arrest warrants. A former adviser to Mr. Al Kadhimi suggested that the call for the red notice serves to divert public attention from ongoing failures with electricity and the Iraqi currency crisis.
Farhad Alaadin, foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Sudani, said to The National that the investigation has no limits and anyone could be investigated if evidence arises.
Suspicions of corruption extend to Baghdad airport, where rival factions control different parts of the sprawling site. Sources say that these rivalries blur lines of accountability, and it might explain how $2.5 billion in cash was smuggled out without detection.
In any case, the whole thing is becoming quite the political football.
Baghdad's integrity commission claims red notices will be issued, but sources say the issue has become a political football
9. August 2023 13:31
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani has ordered the creation of three new brigades within the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.
This decision aligns with the Reform and Unification Law, which ostensibly seeks to unify the two Peshmerga forces that the PUK and KDP each command.
The parties have each had their own security forces for decades, a process ossified by the brutal civil war between the two parties in the 1990s that ended with each party wielding control over their own zone in the Kurdistan Region. The US-led coalition has recently started piling on the pressure to redouble unification efforts as the political process in the region continues to break down. The growing sense of frustration on the part of Kurdistan's Western partners has been evident in the increasingly pointed statements made by Western officials as inter-party rivals threaten to further destabilize the Kurdistan Region.
The US pays a stipend to the KRG for Peshmerga salaries.
Hot on the heels of Dana Gas, Gulf Keystone, a major operator in the Kurdistan Region, has provided an update on its status ahead of its 2023 Half Year Results. The update reveals some challenges the company faces, with exports from Shaikan Field remaining suspended since March 25, 2023, due to the shut-in of the Iraq-Turkey pipeline. The lack of payments from the KRG since last September has left Gulf Keystone with $151 million in outstanding receivables.
Despite these setbacks, Gulf Keystone's CEO, Jon Harris, has expressed confidence that the suspension of exports is temporary and that KRG will resume payments, reflecting ongoing discussions between KRG, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, and Turkish authorities.
To mitigate the financial impact, the company has pursued local sales and cost reduction strategies, with its cash balance standing at $80 million as of yesterday.
As with Dana Gas Gulf Keystone's attempting to navigate a complex and unpredictable market, marked by fraught political negotiations and financial uncertainties. The situation is indicative of the broader challenges faced by International Oil Companies operating in the region.
In advance of the publication of its 2023 Half Year Results on 31 August 2023, Gulf Keystone, a leading independent operator and producer in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (“KRI” or “Kurdistan”), is today providing an update on operational and corporate activity. Jon Harris, Gulf Keystone’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “While no official timeline has been announced, we continue to […]
Gulf Keystone Petroleum
9. August 2023 11:40
Dana Gas experienced financial challenges in the Kurdistan Region during the first half of 2023.
Amid global settling of hydrocarbon prices, revenue decreased 22% to AED 814 million ($222m), a decline also influenced by additional discounts on condensate sales in KRI as the company shifted to third-party local buyers while other producers left the region. The Kurdistan Region is still reeling from the inability to export oil via the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline after Turkey pulled the plug earlier this year.
Despite these setbacks, Kurdistan Region production increased by 6% to 36,400 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd).
Pearl Petroleum, a five-firm consortium of which Dana Gas is a member, received a payment of $101 million from the KRG, a significant movement toward settling outstanding receivables.
Dana Gas's operations in the region continued without interruption, and it is in ongoing discussions with the KRG to clear the remaining AED 356 million ($97 million) in receivables.
Established in December 2005 and publicly listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, Dana Gas has substantial exploration and production assets in Egypt, the Kurdistan Region, and the UAE.
Iraqi fighter jets are claimed to have killed a number of suspected IS militants in the Hamrin mountain ranges in Saladin province yesterday, as part of an intensified aerial campaign against the remnants of the group.
The airstrikes were guided by "accurate military intelligence" and targeted a hideout, resulting in deaths and the destruction of an SUV.
Since the end of the anti-ISIS US-led coalition's combat mission in late 2021, the Iraqi air force has increased its efforts, killing at least 70 ISIS militants as of June. Despite the destruction of its self-styled caliphate in 2017, ISIS has regrouped in remote parts of Iraq, continuing to carry out attacks.