US Foreign Policy – Dec. 21-26

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The US is a major world power. It’s clear that pivots of the US foreign policy impact developments over the world. Thus, it’s important to know what the US is doing and going to do. SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence team is continuing to provide exclusive reviews of the US official attitude over the crucial world events and developments. 

US Foreign Policy – Dec. 21-26

Written by Costas Ioannou exclusively for SouthFront

Middle East

On December 22nd, 2015, Defence Secretary Ash Carter spoke with Italian Minister of Defence Roberta Pinotti by phone about Italy’s contributions to the effort to counter the Islamic State of Iraq, the Pentagon press secretary said.

The defence leaders last met in October, when Carter travelled to Rome to meet with Italian leaders ahead of the NATO Defence Ministerial and to Sigonella Naval Air Station to visit U.S. personnel stationed there.

Carter thanked Pinotti for Italy’s valuable contributions to the counter-ISIL campaign. The two defence leaders agreed to continue their in-depth dialogue on counterterrorism and other defence issues.

 

On December 24th the U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Strikes in Syria

The US Air Force conducted six strikes in Syria:

  • Near Ayn Isa, one strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL fighting position.
  • Near Mar’a, one strike destroyed an ISIL mortar system and an ISIL fighting position.
  • Near Manbij, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL logistics facility.

Strikes in Iraq

The US Air Force conducted 18 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

  • Near Albu Hayat, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL heavy machine gun, and 24 ISIL rockets.
  • Near Kisik, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
  • Near Mosul, nine strikes struck seven separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed 24 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL excavator and an ISIL assembly area.
  • Near Ramadi, five strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, five ISIL command and control nodes, an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL bed-down location, an ISIL artillery site, cratered five ISIL-used roads and denied ISIL access to terrain.
  • Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

Africa

On 23rd of December, The United States condemned recent acts of violence in the capital of Djibouti and calls for the immediate release of opposition leaders who have been detained.

They urged the Government of Djibouti to respect its citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association, and to exercise restraint. They called on the Government of Djibouti and all political stakeholders to engage in dialogue to prevent further violence. U.S also encouraged the Government and opposition parties to resume negotiations to ensure peaceful and transparent presidential elections in 2016.

“We reaffirm our support for these negotiations and for Djibouti’s commitment to strengthening inclusive governance and development”, John Kirby Spokesperson of the Bureau of Public Affairs stated.

[SF editor: The US interest to Djibouti is clearly related to the possible China’s plans to secure the oil transporting maritime routes throug establishing a military base in the country. The Djibouti’s geographical location makes it an important logistical point at the Gulf of Aden.]

Remembering 2015

[SF editor: This is the last US Foreign Policy review in 2015. So, we’ve decided to remember some facts related to the US foreign policy.]

The U.S mission in Afghanistan

In October, President Barack Obama, announced that the United States would maintain its current level of 9,800 troops in in the country through most of 2016. The president said the United States would stay focused on: training Afghan forces and supporting combat operations against the remnants of al-Qaida.

Army Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said the president’s decision provided “the ability to further develop a lasting strategic relationship with our Afghan partners, and … counter the rise of violent extremism in a volatile part of the world.”

The NATO-led Resolute Support mission, which began Jan. 1, 2015, includes a force of more than 13,000 troops from 42 nations.

[SF editor: Depsite the propagandistic claims, the US doesn’t withdraw from Afganistan. Mreover, it’s possible that the further destabilization in the region could push Washington to raise number of troops there.]

Asia-Pacific relations

Defence Secretary Ash Carter made three trips to the Asia-Pacific region in his first eight months in office. Carter’s frequent visits signified the overall importance of the U.S. “military’s rebalance” to a region he predicts will be the centre of the world’s economy.

During his most recent trip, Carter met with leaders from more than a dozen Asian nations, including Japan and South Korea. They discussed the rapidly changing security environment and threats to U.S interests from China and North Korea. Carter also met with defence ministers during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Malaysia. While there, he and the Chinese defence minister discussed security issues, including tensions in the South China Sea and disagreements over cyberspace.

The year also brought a leadership change as Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. assumed command of U.S Pacific Command from Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III in May.

[SF editor: The US is continuing its long-standing strategy aimed to counter China in the region. The ongoing tensions of the South China Sea are only a part of the US-China standoff in the region.]

Europe

Russia’s retaliatory actions in Ukraine and Syria remain one of the dominant concerns for U.S. defence leaders going into 2016. The United States responded this year, conducting numerous military exercises with its NATO allies across Europe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. Trident Juncture, NATO’s largest military exercise in more than a decade, involved more than 36, 000 troops and 30 nations.

In his most recent trip to Europe, Defence Secretary Ash Carter met with U.S. troops and his counterparts in Spain, Italy and England. He also attended NATO’s meeting for defence ministers in Brussels where alliance leaders discussed Russian aggression, Afghanistan and the threat to NATO’s southern flank. Carter said the Defence Department was adjusting its presence to help make NATO forces more agile, mobile and responsive. He also asked allies to increase their participation in cyber exercises, and encouraged them to work toward meeting NATO’s cyber defence targets to enable all to meet the highest standards for cybersecurity.

[SF editor: The US continues military build-up in Europe pushing other nations to more aggresive attitude over the ongoing crisises which grown from the US expantion in the Middle East (migration crisis) and Ukraine]

Middle East

U.S. and coalition forces have intensified their strategy for Operation Inherent Resolve, the mission to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and ISIL. Daily airstrikes have destroyed ISIL oil facilities, weaponry and staging areas in both Iraq and Syria. Other targeted strikes have killed numerous ISIL leaders, and aided Iraqi and Kurdish ground offensives.

Defence Secretary Ash Carter outlined the U.S. strategy to Congress in October. He said the United States would support “moderate” anti-ISIL Syrian forces and Jordanian partners to put pressure on Raqqa, ISIL’s stronghold. The United States also would support Iraqi forces as they attempt to retake Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province. Finally, U.S. raids would become more opportunistic, working on actionable intelligence and targeting ISIL leaders.

After November’s terrorist attacks in Paris, Carter urged U.S allies to accelerate their efforts against ISIL. The Defence Department also plans to deploy a specialized expeditionary targeting force to help Iraqi and Kurdish troops and to put more pressure on ISIL.

U.S. Military Budget

The Defence Department dealt with budget uncertainty for most of 2015, marking a fourth year of facing the impacts of sequestration. In February, President Barack Obama sent Congress a base budget request of $534.3 billion for fiscal 2016, plus $51 billion in overseas contingency funds. The request was $36 billion above fiscal 2016 sequestration caps, which defence and service leaders argued was necessary to maintain readiness amid numerous security challenges around the globe and in cyberspace.

In late October, following weeks of negotiations, Congress and the White House agreed on two years of funding. The total included about $580 billion for 2016, an amount defence leaders said would provide stability and help strike a balance between needs and resources.

 

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