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Tag Archive: Iraq

Changes to Rules of Engagement Approval Levels and Civilian Casualties

Anyone serious about combating ISIS and minimizing civilian casualties needs to consider the importance of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) in Iraq and Syria.  We offer our thoughts on the ROE in the hope of deepening, if not starting, conversation. First, we examine the application of ROE in light of the ISIS tactic of packing civilians into a building and then baiting an attack. …   continue »

ISIS Tactic of “Baiting” US-Coalition to Kill Civilians–and who bears responsibility


Many are searching for an explanation for the recent spike in civilian casualties resulting from coalition operations in Iraq and Syria, including specific incidents which have reportedly involved particularly high numbers. On Thursday, the Department of Defense described to reporters a particularly gruesome tactic on the part of ISIS that may explain some of these tragic outcomes.…   continue »

Comparing: The Leaked Draft vs Final Executive Order Barring Citizens of 7 Muslim-Majority Nations and All Refugees

On Friday, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order implementing new immigration policies, which he stated are designed to “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America.” Most consequentially, the order:

  • creates a 90-day entry ban on nationals of seven majority-Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen;
  • provides for indefinite extension of the entry ban on nationals from any of those seven countries if their government is unable to provide adequate information to assess whether applicants are a security or public-safety threat;
  • halts the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely;
  • prohibits all refugee admissions into the United States for 120 days;
  • on the resumption of the refugee admissions, prioritizes refugees fleeing religious-based persecution if the individual is a member of a minority religion in his or her country of nationality (e.g., Christians in a Muslim-majority nation);
  • establishes a program to collect and publish information about “terrorism-related activity” and “major offenses” allegedly committed by foreign nationals in the United States

The President’s action on Friday follows two days of speculation since an earlier draft version of the order was leaked to the press.…   continue »

How News Media Can Get Misled by Tough Talk on Killing Terrorists

Image: US airstrike with 2,000lb bombs on ISIS bank in Mosul, Jan. 11, 2016 – CENTCOM

Less than a half hour after Donald Trump took the oath of office on Friday, ABC News ran a report by James Gordon Meek and Brian Ross headlined “Trump May Have Early Chance to Target ISIS Leader al-Baghdadi.”  A reader could be forgiven for assuming that the story was about an intelligence breakthrough in the hunt for the notoriously elusive chief of America’s top terrorist adversary.  …   continue »

The Troubling Application of the Political Question Doctrine to Congressional Force Authorizations

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Nov. 21 dismissed the suit brought by U.S. Army Captain Nathan Michael Smith challenging the legality of the military campaign against ISIS under Operation Inherent Resolve. The opinion by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejecting the suit on political question grounds is troubling.…   continue »

Integrating Iraqi Fighting Forces Is Not Enough to Curb Abuse

Human Rights Watch saw Shia armed forces allied with the Iraqi government commit horrific abuses against the Sunni civilian population during the operation to retake Fallujah back in May. We didn’t want it to happen again in Mosul.

As a result, Human Rights Watch pressed the Iraqi government to keep the abusive units within the Popular Mobilization Forces, also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, out of the Mosul operation.…   continue »

Five (Overlooked) Decision Points for the Trump Administration in National Security

What are the decision points that the President-elect’s transition team and incoming administration will likely face over the horizon in the national security arena? News media and commentators have highlighted issues that now dominate headlines including: relations with Russia, Israeli settlements, the Iran nuclear deal, torture, Syria and ISIL strategy, North Korea’s nuclear program, and freedom of the press.…   continue »