US Foreign Policy Jan. 25-31, 2016

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The US is a major world power. It’s clear that pivots of the US foreign policy impact developments across 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 crucial world events and developments. 

US Foreign Policy Jan. 25-31, 2016

Written by Costas Ioannou exclusively for SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence; Edited by Rachel Lane

Middle East

On Jan.25, the U.S and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Officials reported details of the latest strikes.

Strikes in Syria

Fighter, attack, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted three strikes in Syria:

  • Near Abu Kamal, a successful strike targeted an ISIL-used earthen bridge.
  • Near Raqqah, a strike destroyed three ISIL cranes and damaged a fourth.
  • Near Hawl, a strike destroyed two ISIL buildings and one ISIL vehicle.

Strikes in Iraq

Coalition military forces used rocket artillery in addition to attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 16 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

  • Near Baghdadi, two strikes destroyed two ISIL weapons caches and an ISIL bunker.
  • Near Kisik, two strikes destroyed three separate ISIL fighting positions and suppressed a light machine gun.
  • Near Mosul, four successful strikes on three separate ISIL tactical units also destroyed a heavy machine gun, an ISIL vehicle, a communications facility, and four ISIL fighting positions.
  • Near Ramadi, six strikes targeted two separate ISIL tactical units, cratered an earthen bridge, and destroyed an ISIL barge, a sniper position, two ISIL bunkers, two mortar positions, an ISIL weapons cache, three buildings and three ISIL tactical vehicles.
  • Near Sinjar, an ISIL tactical unit was targeted and destroyed in addition to an ISIL fighting position.
  • Near Tal Afar, a strike destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions.

On 26/1/2016, delegations from 18 nations including the United States met in Kingston, Jamaica, Jan. 26-29, for talks on security cooperation capacity building in the Caribbean.

More than 100 leaders and experts in defence, government, law enforcement and emergency management took part in the 14th Caribbean Nations Security Conference, or CANSEC XIV, where they examined known challenges to regional stability and discussed the policies, strategies, initiatives, mechanisms and capabilities that support regional collaboration and shared security goals.

The annual conference was co-hosted by Chief of Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force Maj. Gen. Antony Bertram Anderson, and U.S. Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command.

Tidd told attendees he was eager to hear their perspectives and ideas on ways to improve collaboration.

Caribbean Security

U.S. and Caribbean leaders provided updates on the Caribbean Community Crime and Security Strategy and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative(CBSI).

Between 2010 and 2015, the U.S provided over $387 million under CBSI for law enforcement programs to address the threats, complemented by longer-term, rule-of-law programs, economic development activities, and military capability programs.

Mullins-Hall called the State Department-funded Technical Assistance Field Team, one of the most successful programs assisting the region under CBSI.

Based from Southern Command(Southcom), the 15-member team is comprised of engineers, electricians, technicians, communications specialists and logisticians from the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army. The team assists the region’s naval and maritime security forces with improving maintenance, supply and logistics capabilities critical to ensuring the sustainment and availability of maritime patrol fleets for counter illicit trafficking operations.

“They’re actually here in Jamaica this week helping the Jamaica Defence Force launch their SAFE patrol boats,” he added, referring to boats recently donated to Jamaica by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

The second day of CANSEC XIV began with discussions on cooperative efforts to counter transnational organized crime in the Caribbean and improve information sharing.

Delegates visited the Caribbean Military Maritime Training Centre and the Caribbean Military Aviation School, where faculty members acquainted the guests with how their institutions support training and operations for Jamaica and other Caribbean nations.

The final day of CANSEC XIV included a briefing by the Inter-American Defence Board and updates on the 12th Conference of Defence Ministers of the Americas, a meeting of Western Hemisphere defence ministers to be hosted in October by Trinidad and Tobago.

China

On Jan.27, U.S Secretary John Kerry travelled to Beijing, People’s Republic of China, for meetings with senior leaders of the Chinese government ‎to discuss a range of global, regional, and bilateral issues, including North Korea.

Russia

On Jan.28, U.S Defence Department officials held a video conference to discuss ongoing implementation of the U.S-Russia memorandum of understanding on flight safety over Syrian airspace.

The call was co-chaired by Acting Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs Elissa Slotkin and Joint Staff Director for Strategic Plans and Policy Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. and their Russian Ministry of Defence counterparts

The two sides discussed measures to enhance operational safety for counter-ISIL coalition and Russian military forces operating in Syria, including the means to avoid accidents and unintended confrontation between coalition and Russian forces whenever the two sides operate in close proximity, Cook said.

The discussions follow video conferences between the U.S Defence Department and the Russian Ministry of Defence in October 2015 to discuss the safety of coalition air operations in Syria.

“The conversation was constructive and the two sides agreed to continue safety discussions in this format in the future,” Cook noted.

Europe

On Jan.29, in a statement, Defence Secretary Ash Carter commended the Netherlands for its announcement that its pilots will expand their current mission over Iraq to participate in coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and in eastern Syria.

During discussions in Paris last week, the defence secretary met with his counterparts from six of the leading contributors to the campaign to counter ISIL, including Dutch Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.

While there, Carter said the “lasting defeat of ISIL must be a global undertaking, because it is a global threat.” The nations at the meeting reached broad agreement on the military campaign plan and the capabilities required to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat.

Carter said he was grateful for Hennis-Plasschaert’s “immediate action following last week’s meeting, and for the continuing commitment from the Dutch people to this fight.”

Middle East

On Jan.30 the U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Officials reported details of the latest strikes.

Strikes in Syria

Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 16 strikes in Syria:

  • Near Hasakah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL vehicles and an ISIL anti-air artillery piece.
  • Near Hawl, three strikes destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, destroyed an ISIL tunnel system, and damaged a separate ISIL fighting position.
  • Near Raqqah, two strikes struck an ISIL gas and oil separation plant and destroyed an ISIL front end loader, two ISIL excavators, an ISIL crane, an ISIL trenching machine, and an ISIL road grader.
  • Near Ayn Isa, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units.
  • Near Mar’a, five strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle.
  • Near Washiyah, two strikes destroyed two ISIL excavators and damaged a separate ISIL excavator.

Strikes in Iraq

Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

  • Near Asad, one strike destroyed two ISIL bomb-making facilities.
  • Near Baghdadi, one strike destroyed three ISIL rocket rails.
  • Near Ar Rutbah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
  • Near Habbaniyah, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL staging area and an ISIL vehicle and suppressed an ISIL fighting position and denied ISIL access to terrain.
  • Near Mosul, seven strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed 10 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL heavy machine guns, and an ISIL weapons cache.
  • Near Ramadi, one strike destroyed an ISIL command-and-control node and denied ISIL access to terrain.
  • Near Sinjar, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.
  • Near Tal Afar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

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