by Matt Nizich

AUMF Amendment

Lawmakers applaud after panel approves language revoking war authority
July 6, 2017
The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved an amendment that would revoke a 2001 law giving the president authority to undertake war against al Qaeda and its affiliates unless a replacement provision is created. House Appropriations defense subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas) was the lone lawmaker to oppose the amendment, arguing that it’s a policy issue that doesn’t belong in an appropriations bill”.

Is Congress finally going to take back its power to declare war?
July 5, 2017
The Week’s Anthony Fisher explains the importance of the war making powers shifting from the President to Congress. Mr. Fisher also clarifies the significance of an amendment even being proposed; stating “Whether or not this amendment survives, it’s telling that so many in both parties and both houses of Congress have finally come around to see the danger in allowing for a “blank check” to use military force, as also demonstrated by a Senate draft resolution written by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to repeal both the 2001 AUMF and 2002 AUMF against Iraq, which was discussed earlier this year.”

A Twist in the Quest for an AUMF Against the Islamic State
July 4, 2017
Patrick Ryan Alban of Small Wars Journal takes an in depth look at the 2001 AUMF, and gives a detailed summary of how this provision has allowed President’s to wage war in all but name in countries like Libya and Syria. Mr. Alban also makes an interesting point regarding the repeal of the AUMF without any replacement plan:  “Another possibility, although just as unlikely, is that the repeal of the 2001 AUMF will be passed into law without a replacement AUMF to continue the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Congress Must Reclaim War-Making Authority
July 8, 2017
Marjorie Cohn, a Contributor to Huffpost, argues that the AUMF needs to be repealed and war making powers should be stripped from President Trump due to his illegal use of Tomahawk missiles in Syria, which do not comply with the UN Charter or the War Powers Resolution.  Ms. Cohn also makes the argument that President Trump is leading the US down a destructive road with the North Korea conflict.

Afghanistan

As U.S Adds Troops in Afghanistan, Trump’s Strategy Remains Undefined
June 18, 2017
President Trump’s plan to increase troop levels in Afghanistan by 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers is being criticized as short sighted and lacking any larger strategy. Mark Landler and Michael Gordon of the New York Times reported that “Even Mr. Mattis has acknowledged that more troops will not be sufficient without a broader strategy, which the White House does not plan to complete before mid-July”.

Death of U.S. soldier in Afghanistan highlights the evolving role of conventional combat troops there
July 5, 2017
Dan Lamothe of The Washington Post reports that U.S. soldiers are beginning to take on a more direct role in the war in Afghanistan. Mr. Lamothe also states that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s Afghanistan strategy, “is expected to call for the U.S. military to return to a war footing with the Taliban and lift Obama-era restrictions that limited the mobility of U.S. military advisers on the battlefield. The Pentagon could add 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. troops to the 8,400 currently deployed and allow them to be closer to combat operations.”

US senators say new strategy is needed to win in Afghanistan
July 4, 2017
The Associated Press reported that “A U.S. congressional delegation led by Sen. John McCain visited Kabul on Tuesday for the U.S. Independence Day, meeting with Afghan government leaders and military officials to discuss the more than 16-year-long war in Afghanistan.” John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee stated that “The old effort certainly didn’t work,” and that ”They (Taliban) are not going to negotiate unless they think they are losing…So we need to win and have the advantage on the battlefield and then enter into a serious negotiation to resolve the conflict.”

Syria

U.S. and Russia Reach Agreement for Cease-Fire in Syria
July 7, 2017
Time reported that “The United States and Russia have reached agreement on a cease-fire in southwest Syria, three U.S. officials said Friday as President Donald Trump held his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin”.  “The deal is separate from an agreement that Russia, Turkey and Iran struck earlier this year to try to establish “de-escalation zones” in Syria where violence would be reduced… The new agreement to be announced Friday will be open-ended, with no set end date”

In Battle Against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Civilians Suffer Most
July 10, 2017
Petra Cahill of NBC News reports that “The U.S. military confirmed Friday that at least 603 civilians had ‘more likely than not’ been ‘unintentionally killed’ by coalition airstrikes since they started the bombing campaign against ISIS in August 2014.” Petra also goes on to state that “Airwars, a non-profit organization that tracks civilian casualties from the airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, puts that number about eight times higher. The group, which is made up of former journalists in the Middle East, Europe and the U.S., found that at least 4,354 civilians have been killed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes between August 2014 to June 2017”.

US and Russia inch closer to cooperating on Syria, but long road lies ahead
July 8, 2017
Tim Lister of CNN reports that “Tillerson, who joined the talks in Hamburg, said the ceasefire was a ‘defined agreement’ and could be a precursor to further cooperation in Syria. His Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, said the US and Russia had ‘promised to ensure that all groups there comply with the ceasefire,’ which will come into effect Sunday and be underwritten by Russian military police coordinating with the US and Jordan”.

‘The closer we get, the more complex it gets.’ White House struggles on strategy as Islamic State nears defeat in Iraq and Syria
July 2, 2017
The Los Angeles Times reports that “the White House has yet to define strategy for the next step in the struggle to restore stability in the region, including key decisions about safe zones, reconstruction, nascent governance, easing sectarian tensions and commitment of U.S. troops”.

Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Arrives in Mosul to Declare Victory over ISIS
July 9, 2017
Tim Arango and Michael Gordon of the New York Times reported that “Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul on Sunday to congratulate Iraq’s armed forces for wresting the city from the Islamic State. Though the war may be declared over, American Colonel Pat Work says that “ISIS will challenge this” and “It’s going to continue to be hard everyday….Iraqi security forces need to be on top of their game, and we need to be over their shoulder helping them…”

Iraqi forces declare victory over Islamic State in Mosul, but fighting continues
July 9, 2017
The Chicago Tribune reports that the declaration of victory in Mosul is far from the end of the war. As the battle for Mosul has demonstrated, the Islamic State is prepared to fight for every inch it holds, even as the neighborhoods its cadres lived in are destroyed around them. U.S. officials won’t put a timeline on how much longer the war will last, but most analysts predict it will continue throughout this year and perhaps much of 2018”. The United Nations predicts that at least $1 billion will be required to rebuild Mosul’s basic infrastructure.

ISIS Nears U.S. Military Base In Iraq, Slaughters Journalists
July 7, 2017
Tom O’Connor of Newsweek reported that “The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has staged a new offensive against Iraqi forces south of Mosul, slaughtering soldiers and civilians as it nears a U.S. military installation. Facing sweeping losses in its former stronghold of Mosul, militants loyal to ISIS have attempted to regain territory by entering the village of Imam Gharbi, about 43 miles south of the embattled city. ISIS first stormed the village earlier this week and has reportedly since made gains toward the nearby Qayara air base, forcing U.N. humanitarian staffers to flee the U.S.-controlled site.”