US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Monday will seal an agreement formally ending the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, more than 18 years after U.S. troops were sent to the country.
Coupled with Biden’s withdrawal of the last American forces in Afghanistan by the end of August, the Democratic president is completing US combat missions in the two wars that then-President George W. Bush began under his watch.
Biden and Kadhimi are to meet in the Oval Office for their first face-to-face talks as part of a strategic dialogue between the United States and Iraq.
The shift is not expected to have a major impact since the United States has already changed the focus of its 2,500-stong force to training Iraqi forces.
US diplomats and troops in Iraq and Syria were targeted in three rocket and drone attacks earlier this month. Analysts believed the attacks were part of a campaign by Iranian-backed militias.
The senior administration official would not say how many U.S. troops would remain on the ground in Iraq for advising and training.
Kadhimi is seen as friendly to the United States and has tried to check the power of Iran-aligned militias. But his government condemned a U.S. air raid against Iran-aligned fighters along its border with Syria in late June, calling it a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
The United States plans to provide Iraq with 500,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine under the global COVAX vaccine-sharing program, the senior administration official said.
In his message to the world’s Muslims during the time of Hajj, Imam Khamenei referred to America’s ignorance in its presence in Afghanistan stating that, “This ignorance led America to be humiliated in Afghanistan. After that raucous invasion 20 years ago and after having used weapons and bombs against defenseless people and civilians, it felt it had become stuck in a quagmire and eventually withdrew its forces from that country.”
This is a certain reality that America was humiliated in Afghanistan many times. The peak of this humiliation was when Joe Biden confessed that he no longer wanted to see American soldiers being killed there after twenty years of occupying Afghanistan. Being ashamed of more than 2,400 soldiers being killed and approximately 21,000 being wounded, Biden withdrew all American forces from Afghanistan in such a way that the American people witnessed the greatest failure of their country in contemporary times after the Vietnam War. Biden said, “I am now the fourth United States president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan: two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”
The Afghans’ fight to free their country from the occupation of the arrogant NATO forces and particularly their continuous resistance to the White House occupation was another factor that led America to be humiliated.
America was also humiliated when they sat across from the Taliban leaders in Doha. They sat humbly before the Taliban asking them for their own soldiers’ security while they had come to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban terrorists and provide security for Afghanistan! Even though they had come to Afghanistan under the slogan of defending women’s rights, in Doha they approved of and accepted the Taliban as a supporter of women’s rights. In referring to the Islamic laws that support women’s rights, they expressed hope that the Taliban movement would fulfill its commitment to women.
America was also humiliated by the Taliban after announcing the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan. The Taliban accused the US of violating the Doha agreement and said, “The US has violated the Doha peace agreement by postponing the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan. Based on the Doha peace agreement, American forces should have left Afghanistan by May.”
The US’s humiliation of being accused by the Taliban terrorist group of breaking their agreement will remain in the history of that country.
The US was also humiliated in its own country. The occupation of Afghanistan cost the American taxpayers two billion dollars. Now a fundamental question that remains for the American people and particularly its intellectuals is, “If Taliban was a terrorist group, which was the reason for the US and NATO forces occupation of Afghanistan for twenty years, then why did you enter into negotiations with this group and why did you agree to withdraw your military forces?” Another question raised by intellectuals is, “How is it that after spending two trillion dollars in Afghanistan, not only terrorism was not defeated, but the terrorist group ISIS entered Afghanistan too?” One Afghan official said that if the Americans had given 20 cents of each dollar (they spent in Afghanistan) to us, we would have been able to build our country and train our forces. Indeed, if America had spent that two trillion dollars on building hospitals, schools, and universities, funding development projects and fighting narcotics and the farming of narcotics, would it have withdrawn from Afghanistan “humiliated”?
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan proved that this country is no longer the superpower of the world and cannot impose its will on nations. During the twenty years of its occupation of Afghanistan, the Americans were continuously exposed to humiliation. The US’s inhumane measures, which led to the destruction of Afghanistan, and the shameless actions of their soldiers in the Afghan prisons that were in opposition to human rights, not only led to the humiliation of the White House internationally, it also incited the endless hatred of the Afghan people toward the occupiers.
The Afghan people’s resistance shattered the US’s grandeur and the same will happen in the case of the US crimes against the people of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, because the resistance forces in the region have found the courage to defend their rights against the aggression of the US and its allies.
In his message on the occasion of Hajj 2021, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution referred to the US’s continuing plots against regional countries. He advised that the vigilant Afghan nation remain watchful concerning America’s tools for gathering intelligence, its soft-war weapons in this country and to vigilantly fight them.
One of the soft-war weapons used by NATO and the US in Muslim countries is transforming the culture of these countries. The West plans to spread the Western lifestyle in Afghanistan by promoting the culture of liberalism. At the same time, they wish to surreptitiously, slowly, quietly alienate the Muslim people of this country from their Islamic culture. These goals have been proposed by the Foreign Ministers of Western countries in international summits under the title of creating a civil society in Afghanistan. In claiming to defend women’s rights, they imply that not wearing the Islamic covering is a factor for women’s development in Afghanistan. The strategic plan of the NATO policy makers in Afghanistan, which will continue in Afghanistan even after the withdrawal of the military forces, is to use modern communication tools for institutionalizing the cultural superiority of the West in this country. Due to their strong religious roots, the people of Afghanistan will never accept the spread of the secular culture of the West or its promiscuity and unrestraint. In this area, the religious scholars and intellectuals should enter the field to protect the Islamic culture and identity of their country.
On the other hand, America does not want the Afghan crisis to be solved and they want the withdrawal of US forces from this country to create a new round of crisis and insecurity. Following the US withdrawal, its mission in Afghanistan is likely to be taken over by third party countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey and terrorist groups such as ISIS or the military branch of Taliban. The US forces will be replaced by intelligence services in Afghanistan and the Pentagon is interested in continuing its political presence and role as an advisor in Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan should restore the national unity they had when fighting in the way of God. The government and ethnic groups, particularly the Taliban, should realize that the crisis in Afghanistan cannot be solved by military means. The best action to be taken is to declare a ceasefire and to continue internal negotiations. In this way, the legal structures may be kept and based on the people and the influence of different ethnicities and groups, a Government of National Reconciliation can be established.—————– The views, opinions and positions expressed on Op-Ed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of abna24.com.
The SPC was directly responsible for guiding Sadrist government officials, managing daily affairs of the Sadrist parliamentary bloc, and giving directions to attend or boycott, and vote on parliamentary decisions and legislation. Sadr’s decision also led to the suspension of the electoral machine and the complete halt of Sadrist electoral activity. The absence of the Sadrist bloc in parliament means the entire legislature is paralyzed, as it is now challenged to achieve a quorum for any session or vote.
Many leaders of political blocs issued statements calling on Sadr to reverse his decision. Observers believe that the absence of his movement from the electoral landscape will complicate the political scene further and require some tough choices, including proceeding with the elections without them and the increased possibility of the Sadrist masses returning to the street as opposition.
Their non-participation in the electoral process means losing a large bloc and an essential ally of the other political blocs. The majority of political parties are directly dependent on alliances with Sadr to confront political rivals and putting up a united front that leads to the formation of the government, especially since the Sadrists didn’t ask for the position of prime minister. In the past, this made them a desirable partner for coalitions, especially since they did not have a robust political presence that would enable them to obtain one of the three main posts of president, prime minister, or parliament speaker.
The participation of the Sadrist movement was decisive in the formation of the past four governments, starting with the second Nuri al-Maliki term in 2010, then the election of Haider al-Abadi in 2014, and then their bilateral alliance with the al-Fateh bloc to form the government of Adel Abdul-Mahdi in 2018, followed by the inauguration of Mustafa al-Kadhimi as prime minister in May 2020. It is clear that without the Sadrists, the Shiite political balance will be impaired.
Escalation against the Sadrists
Muqtada al-Sadr made his famous statement on November 22, 2020: “If I live and life remains… I will follow the events closely and meticulously. If I find that the elections will result in a (Sadrist) majority in the parliament, they will obtain the premiership. I will be able to complete the reform process.” This was followed by the statement of his spokesman, Salah al-Obaidi, on December 29, 2020: “There is an intention and ambition to obtain 100 seats in the upcoming elections, to take control of matters.”
After these two statements, the Sadrist movement became a clear target of the competing political blocs who took these statements seriously and intensified their hidden and declared anti-Sadrist media campaigns. Since that time, a significant media attack has emerged against the movement’s symbols, including their leader, their leadership, and the ministries that are considered to be the Sadrist movement’s share in the government, such as the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Electricity and the Iraqi Central Bank.
Despite the Sadrist movement’s attempt to distance themselves from these institutions and claim that they are not involved with appointing ministers, the campaign on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, was brutal. It intensified personally against Muqtada al-Sadr after the fire in al-Hussein Hospital in Nasiriyah in the night of Monday, July 13, 2021, which killed, by some reports, 92 people. This fire came after a similar one in Baghdad’s Ibn al-Khatib Hospital on April 27, 2021, which killed 82 people. Many blamed these failures on the Sadrist movement and its leader, who in turn blamed corruption in state institutions and the absence of reform.
With the approaching scorching summer and high temperatures, the high-pressure transmission towers of the Ministry of Electricity were subjected to systematic destruction; 135 towers were blown up within a week, which led to the collapse of the power network, depriving many cities of national electricity, which increased the suffering of the people, who in turn directed their anger at the Sadrist movement and the ministry, which they consider to be affiliated with them. This led to the minister’s resignation.
The Sadrist movement considers these attacks as politically motivated and their at members tried to mount a defence. But they did not succeed in standing in front of the massive tidal wave of criticism, especially since the Sadrists are considered the weakest in the media compared to the rest of the parties. They don’t have prominent and influential media channels. The personal Twitter and Facebook accounts of Muqtada al-Sadr are their most powerful platform, followed by the accounts of those close to him, such as Muhammad Salih al-Iraqi, or members of parliament who are active in influential WhatsApp groups defending the Sadrist viewpoint among elites.
One foot in government, the other in opposition
The Sadrist movement is used to playing in both the government and opposition arenas at the same time. They participated in the formation of governments and receiving positions for one or two years, then withdrew the ministers and announced their opposition, as happened in both Maliki governments in 2007 and 2013. The movement played a significant role in ousting Maliki and helping Haidar al-Abadi form his government in 2014. Yet they withdrew their ministers a year later and led an opposition campaign to storm the Green Zone and occupy the parliament building.
The movement led the formation of the Adel Abdul-Mahdi government in 2018 and was allocated four important ministries in his government. They stipulated that the prime minister choose technocratic ministers. They imposed one of their own as secretary-general of the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, and took several deputy minister posts. However, the movement joined the anti-government protests in October 2019 and effectively contributed to Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation.
The Sadrist movement also led the campaign to form the current government and they had a significant role in installing Mustafa al-Kadhimi as prime minister. They reserved four ministries, namely health, electricity, finance, and water resources, and demanded that any minister nominated for a post must be finalised with them. Nonetheless, Muqtada al-Sadr declared on July 15: “I announce that I withdraw my support for all members of this government and the future government, even if they claim to belong to us.”
It is worth noting that the Sadrist movement has not yet announced its opposition to the current government but rather “withdraws a hand.”
Sadrist withdrawal and postponement of elections
Perhaps the most posed question in Iraq’s corridors of power is whether elections will be held or not. This question is asked by all leaders, political pundits, diplomats, and those interested in Iraqi affairs. Many observers doubt the possibility of holding elections in October, especially after Muqtada al-Sadr announced his withdrawal.
The lack of participation of the Sadrist movement means losing the votes of a significant segment within the Shiite house, decisive electoral voters numbering more than one million. These elections will not represent the vast majority of the people. Suppose we add in the boycotts by civil movements, the October protest movement parties, and the reluctance of voters in general. In that case, we will be facing elections that would be lacking legitimacy due to the low rate of public support and voter participation. And this means that any government that emerges from these elections will not represent the vast majority of the people.
According to sources present at a meeting between Kadhimi and Shiite blocs this week, the PM told them there will be no elections without the participation of the Sadrist movement. Others might not share this view. Still, in reality, it is the only scenario, as the absence of the Sadrist movement creates a significant imbalance and a great void in the Shiite political arena. The Sadrists have dominated the Shiite scene since 2010. Their hegemony increased with each election as their seats in parliament rose from 32 to 44 and then 54, and with it their political influence.
It is worth noting that Sadr, in his statement mentioned above, wished “these elections success and the arrival of all the righteous and the removal of the corrupt.” This may mean that with the elections will be held and he wishes them success. Observers believe that appointing both the head of the SPC and his deputy as advisors means that there will be continuity of the work of SPC indirectly. At the same time, neither the movement nor the candidates from the movement formally informed the Independent High Electoral Commission of their withdrawal. This means that the final decision for the withdrawal of the Sadrist movement has not yet been made.
Observers believe that the Sadrist movement will not run in the elections without a clear sign of support from their leader Muqtada al-Sadr. As the election date approaches, it has become imperative to resolve the issue of participation. Perhaps the solution is to start a purge campaign by Sadr targeting corruption within the movement, cutting the way of his political competitors, and holding to account those who exploit the name of the movement for personal interests. This campaign may be an appropriate response to accusations against the Sadrist movement and a door for the movement’s return to the political scene.
The country needs clarity from the Sadrist movement and its leader, especially since Iraq faces a very complex political scene and is suffering from several formidable challenges. Political paralysis in the parliament and the government will not help Iraq in any way.
Farhad Alaaldin is the chairman of the Iraqi Advisory Council. He was the political adviser to former Iraqi President Fuad Masum, the former chief of staff to the KRG prime minister from 2009 to 2011, and former senior adviser to the KRG prime minister from 2011 to 2012.
Incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip on Sunday led to multiple fires in the communities near the Gaza border.
The IDF attacked a military camp belonging to Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip, IDF Spokesperson reported on Sunday night.Israeli Air Force fighter jets attacked the military base which contained a number of buildings used by Hamas members. The base was located in a civilian area, close to a school, IDF Spokesperson reported.They also confirmed that the air strikes are in retaliation for incendiary balloons which were launched earlier on Sunday, leading to fires in the Eshkol Regional Council.
This followed a earlier closure of Gazan fishing space from 12 nautical miles to just six.After the resumption of incendiary attacks and a series of situation assessments, the Coordinator of Government Operations in the Territories’ (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Ghassan Alian announced on Sunday that it was decided to restrict the fishing zone in the Gaza Strip down from 12 to 6 nautical miles.
The decision will take effect immediately and will continue until further notice. Prior to Operation Guardian of the Wall, Gaza’s fishing zone stood at 15 nautical miles.The decision to limit Gaza’s fishing space came after the renewed launch ofincendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory after 3 weeks of relative quiet.The decision comes only 12 days after Gaza’s fishing zone was expanded from 9 to 12 nautical miles due to the relative calm which was seen in recent weeks.In a statement, COGAT said that “The terrorist organization Hamas bears responsibility for everything that is done in and out of the Gaza Strip towards the State of Israel, and it will bear the consequences of the violence perpetrated against the citizens of the country.”
Earlier on Sunday, three fires were extinguished in the Eshkol Regional Council, near the Gaza border. The fire investigator determined all three were the result of incendiary balloons.
Neeraj Singh Manhas (Stockholm, Sweden, April 26, 2021) Global military spending totalled $1981 billion last year, a 2.6 percent rise in real terms over the previous year, according to new figures released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The United States, China, India, Russia, and the United Kingdom were the top five spenders in 2020, accounting for 62% of worldwide military expenditure. China increased military spending for the 26th consecutive year. This article will talk about the SIPRI report numbers and analyse it with respect to India, China and Pakistan. As of January this year, China, Pakistan, and India each have 350, 165, and 156 nuclear warheads, respectively, and the three nations seemed to be building their nuclear arsenals, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).Additionally, it stated that Russia and the US combined own over 90% of the world’s estimated 13,080 nuclear weapons. China, Pakistan, and India each possessed 320, 160, and 150 nuclear weapons in January of last year, according to SIPRI research released. There are nine nuclear-weapon states globally: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. “China is undergoing a massive modernization and development of its nuclear arsenal, while India and Pakistan look to be doing the same,” the paper stated. It has been more than a year since the military stalemate between India’s and China’s forces erupted in eastern Ladakh on May 5, 2020, resulting in the first casualties on both sides in 45 years.India and China have made some headway toward disengagement in the Pangong lake area, but discussions on comparable measures at other flashpoints have stalled.India and Pakistan issued a joint statement on February 25 this year proclaiming a truce along the Line of Control following discussions between their respective Directors General of Military Operations. The SIPRI report also discussed the countries’ fissile raw material inventories for nuclear weapons. “Fissile material, either highly enriched uranium (HEU) or separated plutonium, is the primary material for nuclear bombs… India and Israel have mainly generated plutonium, while Pakistan has primarily created HEU but is developing its capacity to generate plutonium, the report stated.According to the report, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have all created HEU and plutonium for nuclear bombs. “While India and Pakistan’s governments make announcements about some of their missile tests, they release no information regarding the condition or quantity of their (nuclear) arsenals,” the report added.Around 2,000 of the world’s 13,080 nuclear weapons are “kept on high operational alert,” according to research cited in the SIPRI Yearbook 2021.Additionally, Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Australia, and China were the world’s top five importers of significant weaponry between 2016 and 2020.Saudi Arabia accounted for 11% of world imports of significant weaponry during this period, while India accounted for 9.5%. Total spending increased in 2020 will be primarily determined by consumption trends in the United States and China (first and second largest spenders respectively).India’s spending of USD 72.9 billion in 2020, a rise of 2.1 percent, placed it as the world’s third largest spender. SIPRI identified 164 nations as significant weapons importers between 2016 and 2020.Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Australia, and China were the top five arms importers, accounting for 36 percent of overall arms imports.Asia and Oceania got the most substantial arms shipments in 2016-20, accounting for 42 percent of the world total, followed by the Middle East, which received 33 percent. Treaties Preventing Nuclear Proliferation and Testing * The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). * The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Tests in the Atmosphere, Outer Space, and Under Water, sometimes referred to as the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT). * The Treaty on the Comprehensive Ban on Nuclear Tests (CTBT) was signed in 1996 but has not yet entered into force. * The Nuclear Weapons Treaty (TPNW), which will enter into force on 22nd January 2021. The Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, and the Wassenaar Arrangement all fall under this category.India conducted its first nuclear test in May 1974 and remains a signatory to neither the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nor the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).However, India has an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for facility-specific safeguards and a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) allowing it to engage in global civilian nuclear technology commerce.In 2016, it was accepted to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Australia Group.India’s official commitment to non-first-use of nuclear weapons remains unbroken. IISS Report In a May report titled ‘Nuclear Deterrence and Stability in South Asia: Perceptions and Reality,’ the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London stated that chance played a significant ameliorative role in the India-Pakistan crisis of February 2019 and that the two countries “risk stumbling into using their nuclear weapons through miscalculation or misinterpretation in a future crisis.” “India and Pakistan are pursuing new technology and capabilities that might jeopardize one other’s nuclear deterrent. Whatever they learn from previous crises, the uncharted territory they are now exploring requires informed judgement about their doctrines, nuclear and conventional capabilities, and the unpredictable consequences of future crises,” according to the report’s lead author, Antoine Levesque’s, an IISS Research Fellow. China’s rising reputation as a nuclear weapons state, it warned, was exacerbating India’s security difficulties. “Yet, control of the drivers of the India-Pakistan nuclear-deterrence and stability equation remains virtually solely in the hands of New Delhi and Islamabad leaders,” the report concluded.It found that a robust, credible, dependable, and deniable back channel between the leaders is the most promising approach for India and Pakistan to achieve more robust strategic and nuclear deterrent stability. (The author is a Doctoral Scholar in International Relations at Sardar Patel University, Gujarat)
BAGHDAD, July 24 (Xinhua) — Iraqi Communist Party announced on Saturday its withdrawal from the competition in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for Oct. 10.
“The atmosphere is not suitable for holding the elections, and there are many confusions in the political process,” Raed Fahmi, secretary of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party, said in a press conference in the northern city of Kirkuk.
Fahmi noted that financial irregularities and uncontrolled weapons still affect the elections, saying the political parties are “not serious” in achieving the demands of popular protests that broke out in October 2019, and “the upcoming elections are nothing but a change of faces.”
The party won two seats in the 2018 parliamentary elections on a joint list within the Sairoon Coalition, which became the largest group in the Iraqi parliament, with the support of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Over a week ago, al-Sadr announced his withdrawal from the parliamentary elections due to “rampant corruption and unfair competition” among political parties.
Iraq is scheduled to hold early elections on Oct. 10, 2021, in response to the anti-government protests against corruption and lack of public services.
The previous parliamentary elections in Iraq were held on May 12, 2018, and the next elections were originally scheduled to take place in 2022. Enditem
China and Russia are developing “a suite of capabilities” to threaten American assets in space, according to a top U.S. general who acknowledged the pressure to keep ahead of these adversaries in orbit.
“One of the main reasons why we established the Space Force was to go fast and to stay ahead of a growing threat,” Gen. John Raymond, the chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force, told reporters Thursday.
American strategists are trying “to deter conflict from beginning or extending into space,” Raymond emphasized, but China’s emergence as an aggressive space power was heralded in 2007 by its use of a land-based rocket to destroy one of its own weather satellites. Russia likewise has tested anti-satellite weapons, while arms control talks have failed to gain traction as the major powers can’t agree even on the definition of a weapon in space, stoking fears of a full-blown arms race in space.
“The best way we know how to deter conflict from [the] beginning or extending into space is to do so from a position of strength,” Raymond replied when asked if an arms race is already underway. “We’re prepared to protect and defend our capabilities today. We will remain prepared to protect our capabilities into the future.”
China and Russia have proposed arms control treaties touted as a means to avoid the militarization of space, but U.S. officials regard those as bad-faith proposals crafted by “the two countries that … have turned space into a warfighting domain,” as a senior U.S. diplomat said last month.
“The rapid evolution of such threats requires urgent and pragmatic steps if we are to maintain the safety, security, and stability of the outer space environment,” Ambassador Robert Wood told the Conference on Disarmament.
Raymond continued in that vein on Thursday. “We have seen what China has done with, and Russia, has done in developing a suite of capabilities designed to deny our access to space,” the general said. “Everything from reversible jamming of communications satellites and GPS satellites, to directed energy weapons, to satellites in orbit that are designed to destroy U.S. satellites in orbit, to missiles that are being launched from the ground to destroy satellites like China demonstrated — Russia has the same type of program — and to cyberthreats.”
The Space Force, launched in December 2019, has assembled a force of 6,400 personnel, known as “Guardians,” while trying to organize Pentagon efforts to develop and acquire new technologies to maintain an advantage in space.
“There is still significant work to do, but we’ve got the pieces planned out and in place already making a difference,” Raymond said. “And I will say that we are focused and committed to moving fast and developing the capabilities and the tactical timelines that we need to stay ahead of this growing threat and remain the best in the world.”
Those initiatives don’t obviate the need for allied cooperation, in Raymond’s telling, as the general echoed President Joe Biden’s emphasis on partnering with other democracies to counter threats from China.
“I look at the challenges that we face, again, with a very congested, very competitive, and very contested domain, I think there’s even more opportunities,” he said. “And the opportunities stem from a commercial industry that’s thriving, that’s innovative, with technology that’s developing rapidly, and with international partnerships that allow us to protect and defend this domain and to establish safe and professional ways to operate in this domain, and primarily to deter conflict and to make sure that the domain is safe for all so economies can flourish, information can flow, and our nation’s security remains intact.”
The administration is being called on to “make bold decisions to lead us towards a future where nuclear weapons no longer threaten all humanity.”
July 22, 2021
A group of 21 Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday urged President Joe Biden to “reject a 21st century arms race” with key actions including making reductions in the nation’s nuclear arsenal and confirming a no-first-use policy.
The call came in a letter (pdf) led by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.), the co-chairs of the recently formed Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group.
The letter, first reported by The Hill, came as the Biden administration drafts it nuclear weapons doctrine, or Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which is expected to take several months.
“We respectfully ask that you directly guide the NPR process to reduce the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, forego development of new nuclear weapons, and develop a saner declaratory policy on nuclear weapons use.”
Referencing Biden’s history as a U.S. senator and vice president when he was “a party to every major nuclear weapons debate of the past five decades,” the lawmakers wrote that from “bolstering the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, to building European support for the Intermediate-Nuclear Forces Treaty, to securing votes for ratification of the New START Treaty, you have consistently been on the right side of history.”
They framed the NPR as “a watershed moment” in which Biden “can reject a 21st century arms race and make bold decisions to lead us towards a future where nuclear weapons no longer threaten all humanity.”
Six recommendations are detailed for inclusion in Biden’s NPR, the first of which references his June joint statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin affirming that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” As such, the NPR should adjust “declaratory policy to assign a reduced role for U.S. nuclear weapons.”
“We hope that the NPR operationalizes your previously stated view that the United States will not need to fire the first shot in a nuclear conflict,” the lawmakers wrote, “and that it configures its nuclear forces away from that warfighting posture accordingly.”
Biden should also direct the Pentagon “to include in its proposed target list a breakdown of the damage expectancy, civilian casualties, and climatic and humanitarian consequences stemming from nuclear weapons use,” given that even geographically limited nuclear conflict “would be felt by all the planet’s inhabitants.”
The NPR should also assess the quantity and “types of new weapons needed to deter nuclear attack,” taking into consideration previous recommendations from the Government Accountability Office to cancel certain nuclear weapons modernization programs.
Other recommendations include an outside review of the proposed Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) that would cost taxpayers an estimated $264 billion through its life cycle; nixing the two new types of lower yield nuclear weapons called for in 2018 in then-President Donald Trump’s NPR; and committing to “pursuing robust diplomacy with Russia and China on arms control” including through a successor agreement to the New START treaty.
“We respectfully ask that you directly guide the NPR process to reduce the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, forego development of new nuclear weapons, and develop a saner declaratory policy on nuclear weapons use,” the Democrats wrote.
Other signatories to the letter are Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), IIhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Ami Bera (D-Calif.).
It’s unclear at this time if the forthcoming NPR will lay out any fundamental changes to U.S. nuclear weapons doctrine that anti-nuclear advocates say are sorely needed.
Speaking earlier this month to Politico, Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, saidthat the “NPR will be a real test as to whether the Biden administration walks its talk on reducing the role, the number, and the cost of nuclear weapons.”
“Biden also has a responsibility to fundamentally reconsider outdated concepts of how much damage—and how many nuclear weapons—are necessary to deter nuclear threats to the United States and our allies,” Kimball said. “Just a few hundred nuclear weapons could destroy Russia and China, kill hundreds of millions of people, and produce an acute planetary climate catastrophe.”
An explosion in a market in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Thursday killed one person and injured 10.
The explosion in the Al-Zawiya area caused the collapse of parts of a house and damaged dozens of buildings and shops, said the Palestinian interior ministry as reported by the AP. The cause of the blast is unknown.
The Israel Defense Forces called the explosion an “internal” matter. The blast occurred on the third day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
The World Bank had estimated that reconstruction in Gaza, following the 11-day conflict in mid-May that Hamas instigated by launching rockets into Israel, would cost $485 million.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday that while Israel wants to see a peaceful and prosperous Gaza Strip, the Hamas terror organization that rules it seeks the opposite.
WASHINGTON : China is building up its offensive air capabilities far faster than US military planners expected in their national defence strategy three years ago, an Air Force General said on Wednesday.
In a US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning and Programs Lt. Gen. David Nahom told Congress said, “The threat is accelerating much more than we thought back in 2018,”
Speaking on the issue of Navy and Air Force weapons systems divestments, Nahom said that China was pushing ahead as fast as it could to expand its military power including air combat capabilities.
“China’s actions show a sense of urgency, they see a future that is different from the one that we would want to see and they are taking action to realise that future,” Nahom said.
The US Air Force has said it plans to divest more than 200 aircraft with its fiscal 2022 budget request. According to the US Air Force, they wish to use the cuts to free up USD 1.3 billion to reinvest in their sixth-generation fighter, hypersonic weapons and other emerging technologies.
Earlier this month, the United States had expressed concern about China’s accelerated build-up of its nuclear arsenal after a Washington Post report revealed that Beijing has been constructing more than 100 new missile silos in a desert area located in the western part of the country.
“These reports and other developments suggest that the PRC’s (China) nuclear arsenal will grow more quickly and to a higher level than perhaps previously anticipated,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said when asked about reports that Beijing is building more than 100 nuclear missile silos.
“This build-up is concerning and it raises questions about the PRC’s intents.”
The spokesperson stressed that China’s nuclear buildup reinforces the need for arms control measures and urged Beijing to work together on arms control in order to avoid arms races.
Ties between the US and China continue to deteriorate under the Biden administration and both global powers have clashed over several economic and human rights issues.