Kurdistan offers joint border to Iraq

The Kurdistan Region in Iraq offered to work with Baghdad to carry out a joint deployment of Kurdish and Iraqi forces to a strategic border crossing with Turkey.

Observers from the United States-led coalition against Daesh (IS), or Operation Inherent Resolve, were invited to participate.

The offer was extended “as a goodwill gesture and trust-building exercise that ensures a limited and temporary arrangement until an agreement is reached in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution”, read a statement from the Kurdistan Regional Government’s department of defence.

A halt in Iraqi advances has been in effect since Friday on orders from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Iraqi forces began an offensive against disputed Kurdish-controlled territories such as the city of Kirkuk and its surrounding oil fields.

Baghdad has also made attempts to take over international border crossings and in the past demanded international airports be handed over.

The advances came after Kurdish President Mosoud Barzani held an independence referendum for the semi-autonomous region on Sept 25, a vote the Iraqi government considers illegal.

The US-led coalition has worked closely with both the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi special forces in pushing so-called Islamic State out of Iraq.

When Daesh captured swathes of land across northern Syria and northwestern Iraq in 2014, many of the US-trained and equipped Iraqi forces fled their positions.

The Kurdish Peshmerga protected key infrastructure and launched the first pushes against Daesh.

A long campaign that started in October of 2016 for the capture of Mosul from the militants ended this past summer with government forces taking control once again.

More details to follow. Image 1 of Kurdish military from The Michigan Review. 

US forces capture Benghazi attacker

The United States captured a militant who allegedly played a role in the 2012 attack on dual US security compounds in the Libyan city of Benghazi, said President Donald Trump on Monday. 

Three US staff and Ambassador Christopher Stevens were killed in attacks on the American diplomatic compound and a secret Central Intelligence Agency complex about 1.6 km away.

The captured militant, Mustafa al-Imam, is the second suspect brought into custody over the Benghazi attack on Sept 11 and 12, 2012 carried out by Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia.

The US Attorney’s office said Mr al-Imam is charged with murder, providing material support to terrorists and discharging a firearm in the course of a violent crime.

“Yesterday, on my orders, United States forces captured Mustafa al-Imam in Libya,” Mr. Trump said in a statement.

“To the families of these fallen heroes: I want you to know that your loved ones are not forgotten, and they will never be forgotten.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed Monday that the suspect “will face justice in federal court for his role in the attack.”

“We will never forget those we lost – Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Ambassador Christopher Stevens – four brave Americans who gave their lives in service to our nation. We owe it to them and their families to bring their murderers to justice,” Sessions said via a statement.

Clinton Benghazi.jpg

Although a Republican-led House Select Committee investigation cleared Hillary Clinton of any wrongdoing, it was her controversial decisions as Secretary of State during the Benghazi crisis that plagued her during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The first suspect captured by US forces, considered the planner behind the attack, is currently on trial this week in Washington. Abu Khatallah faces 18 charges related to the attack, including the killing of an internationally protected person among other crimes.

Those who perished in the attack include the ambassador Stevens, State Department technical officer Sean Smith, and retired Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.


Former Trump aides enter FBI custody

Former campaign manager for United States President Donald Trump Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates turned themselves over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday.

This comes amid a probe into allegations regarding Russia’s influence on the 2016 presidential election.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates with a 12-point indictment that includes conspiracy against the US and conspiracy to launder money.

Read the full indictment

Beyond these two charges, the pair faces the following: unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements and seven counts of failure to disclosed foreign bank and financial accounts.

Mr. Trump responded on Twitter a few hours after the charges were laid out, saying “sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign”.

He also called for investigation focus on “crooked” former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.


The president followed up with a second tweet saying there is “no collusion!”

The indictment revealed that former foreign affairs aide to Mr. Trump George Papadopoulos secretly plead guilty in lying to FBI agents during the investigation.

Manafort and Gates will appear in court at 1:30 pm ET.

The White House has yet to formally respond to the incidents.

More details to follow. Image 1 of Paul Manafort from CNN.


Clinton campaign paid for dossier research

The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for the research that brought about the Russian dossier that states allegations against United States President Donald Trump in regards to Russia. 

This is according to the Washington Post, which released the exclusive story on Tuesday evening, citing sources “familiar with the matter.”

The dossier, written by Brit Christopher Steele, brings up allegations in regards to Mr. Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and Moscow.

A lawyer representing the 2016 Clinton campaign and the DNC, Marc E Elias, utilized Fusion GPS in April 2016 to carry out the research found in the dossier, according to the WP.

Once complete, Fusion GPS brought on Mr. Steele, a former British intelligence officer, to write the document, which became public on Jan 11 of this year via Buzzfeed.

Many news agencies were aware of the dossier’s existence since fall 2016, including local media and international, such as BBC News.

The Clinton campaign and DNC funded Fusion GPS’s research until the end of October 2016, writes the Washington Post.

Elias and Fusion GPS declined to give comment to the Post, and spokesmen for the Clinton campaign and the DNC also had none at this time.

More details to follow. With files from the Washington Post. Image 1 of Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in 2016 from Wikimedia Commons.


Russia vetos United Nations Security Council vote to extend current mandate of chemical weapons investigations in Syria

Russia has vetoed a United Nations Security Council vote to extend the current UN mandate of chemical weapons investigations in Syria. The mandate, funding the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), was first established in August 2015 to investigate chemical weapons usage in Syria and its perpetrators.

The mandate is due to expire in November. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley condemned the veto, stating “Russia has once again demonstrated it will do whatever it takes to ensure the barbaric Assad regime never faces consequences for its continued use of chemicals as weapons.”


House Republicans have announced that two new probes

House Republicans have announced that two new probes – both involving the Department of Justice – are being launched by the House Oversight Committee. The first probe, conducted in conjunction with the Judiciary Committee, will investigate the controversial allegations of private email usage by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as former FBI Director James Comey.

The second probe, in conjunction with the Intelligence Committee, will investigate actions taken by members of the Obama administration regarding a uranium deal with Russia that allegedly gave Russia control of over 20 percent of the United States’ uranium supply. Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the first focus of the probe will be to determine “whether or not there was an FBI investigation, was there a DOJ investigation, and if so, why was Congress not informed of this matter”.


US-anti missile battery is fully integrated into air-defense systems for South Korea


A US-anti missile battery was fully integrated into air-defense systems for South Korea today. The Delta Battery, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment was deployed to South Korea from Fort Bliss, Texas, in April, and has been officially realigned with the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.

“The 35th ADA Brigade now employs the full complement of the U.S. Army’s ADA capabilities in the Republic of Korea, consisting of Avenger, Patriot and THAAD,” a US Army statement said.

US Forces in Korea (USFK) and South Korea’s military also announced the creation of a joint security force to guard the Seongju military base.