On Tuesday, the NATO Assistant Secretary General for Operations Dr. John Manza and his delegation met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq Mr. Abdul Karim Hashim Aboualgus and his team.

The Deputy Minister and Dr. Manza discussed the current state of the NATO Mission in Iraq and cooperation between the Republic of Iraq and NATO.

They agreed that strong cooperation between the Republic of Iraq and NATO is of mutual benefit. NATO remains committed to our training mission in Iraq, which contributes to the fight against terrorism.

(Source: NATO)

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Foreign troops’ future in Iraq uncertain as clashes continue

For the security of its personnel, NATO has temporarily suspended its training activities in Iraq, given the recent violence there. Iraqis seem divided over what that will mean for their safety.

The United States on Jan. 3 assassinated Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in a drone attack near the Baghdad airport.

Iran retaliated by firing missiles at military bases in Iraq where US troops are stationed. There are also mass protests taking place in Iran and Iraq.

Click here to read the full article.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Iraq’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abdul Karim Hashim Aboualgus at NATO Headquarters on Tuesday.

They shared views on the recent developments in the Middle East and on NATO-Iraq cooperation.

Mr. Stoltenberg underscored that NATO remains fully committed to working with Iraq, and that NATO is ready to resume training and capacity building efforts in Iraq, as soon as conditions on the ground allow, by continuing to support Iraq to build, train and educate the military it needs. A stable Iraq is crucial to regional stability and to euro-atlantic security.

(Source: NATO)

Speaking after the meeting of NATO’s North Atlantic Council, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that the safety of NATO’s personnel in Iraq is paramount and that the Alliance had temporarily suspended training activities on the ground.

He added that NATO was prepared to continue training and capacity-building when the situation permits, emphasizing that the Alliance remains strongly committed to the fight against international terrorism.

Read the Secretary General’s press point here.

(Source: NATO)

By John Lee.

On 11 December 2019, Christoph Buik was appointed as new head of mission for the European Union Advisory Mission in Iraq (EUAM Iraq). He will take up his duties on 1 January 2020.

Christoph Buik, a German national, is currently Director of the UN Standing Police Capacity. Previously, he was Police Commissioner for the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia. He has long experience in international peacekeeping and peace building operations.

He will take over from Markus Ritter, who has held the post since October 2017.

The decision was taken by the Political and Security Committee on 11 December 2019.

EUAM Iraq is based in Bagdad and contributes to the implementation at strategic level of a comprehensive strategy countering terrorism and organised crime with specific reference to border management, financial crime, money laundering and the trafficking of cultural heritage. The mission works in coordination with key international actors operating in Iraq, including the NATO mission in Iraq.

The mission was launched on 16 October 2017 to support the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Iraqi National Security Programme. This programme aims at building state institutions capable of consolidating security, peace and preventing conflicts under the rule of law, and outlines a number of threats to national security, including terrorism, corruption and political instability.

Please click here to read Christoph Buik’s CV

(Source: European Council)

By John Lee.

On 11 December 2019, Christoph Buik was appointed as new head of mission for the European Union Advisory Mission in Iraq (EUAM Iraq). He will take up his duties on 1 January 2020.

Christoph Buik, a German national, is currently Director of the UN Standing Police Capacity. Previously, he was Police Commissioner for the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia. He has long experience in international peacekeeping and peace building operations.

He will take over from Markus Ritter, who has held the post since October 2017.

The decision was taken by the Political and Security Committee on 11 December 2019.

EUAM Iraq is based in Bagdad and contributes to the implementation at strategic level of a comprehensive strategy countering terrorism and organised crime with specific reference to border management, financial crime, money laundering and the trafficking of cultural heritage. The mission works in coordination with key international actors operating in Iraq, including the NATO mission in Iraq.

The mission was launched on 16 October 2017 to support the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Iraqi National Security Programme. This programme aims at building state institutions capable of consolidating security, peace and preventing conflicts under the rule of law, and outlines a number of threats to national security, including terrorism, corruption and political instability.

Please click here to read Christoph Buik’s CV

(Source: European Council)

By John Lee.

Denmark has reportedly offered to lead a NATO mission to train Iraqi forces, replacing Canada, whose term ends in late 2020.

According to AFP, the year-old NATO mission provides around 500 soldiers to advise and train Iraqi troops.

It qutoes the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (pictured) as saying that they would be prepared to send 200 troops to Iraq at the end of next year.

(Source: AFP)

By John Lee.

NATO is to take the lead in the ‘train the trainer’ mission to teach Iraqi military instructors to impart key skills.

According to a press release from the Combined Joint Task Force (Operation Inherent Resolve), the project will involve such skills as countering improvised explosive devices, civil-military planning, armored vehicle maintenance, and military medicine to their trainees. NMI will train the ISF in multiple capacities and build upon their professional military academies, amongst other critical military schools.

The Coalition will build on the training which has already been delivered to more than 173,000 Iraqis.

(Source: Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve)

NATO Leads New Mission to Develop Iraq’s Defense Institutions

A new NATO-led mission in Iraq will work to further develop Iraq’s security institutions and structures, British Army Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika told Pentagon reporters here today.

American and Turkish troops conduct a convoy during a joint patrol in Manbij, Syria, Nov. 8, 2018. Army photo by Spc. Zoe Garbarino

The mission is expected to be established by early next year, said Ghika, who declined to specify which NATO nations and the number of personnel would be involved.

Ghika, deputy commander of strategy and information for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, spoke during a video teleconference from Baghdad today.

The nature of the mission will be noncombat, he said. It will consist of advisors working closely with officials of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and the Office of the National Security Advisor “to help Iraq build a more effective, sustainable, inclusive and transparent defense sector.”

The focus of those efforts will be on institutional education in the National Defense University, the Joint Forces Staff College, and some of the schools which are building military capability in areas such as engineering and infantry, he said. The advisors will focus on training the Iraqi instructors.

Ghika also provided an update on coalition efforts to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and provide aid to civilians impacted by the fighting.

Coalition Efforts in Syria

Last week provided for the safe delivery of critical humanitarian aid to the Rukban internally displaced person’s camp near At-Tanf Garrison, Syria, on the border with Jordan in the deconfliction zone, Ghika said.

Leading that effort were the Maghaweir al Thowra, a fighting force native to southern Syria and a partner of CJTF – OIR, the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, a humanitarian nonprofit organization. Maghaweir al Thowra was previously called the New Syrian Army.

Supplies delivered included 10,475 food parcels, clothes for 18,000 children, 10,000 hygiene kits, as well as newborn baby kits for about 1,200 children, he said.

Also, the U.N. conducted an emergency vaccination campaign to protect around 10,000 children against measles, polio and other potentially deadly diseases.

Currently, the coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces partners are fighting ISIS in the last physically held terrain in the Middle Euphrates River valley around the town of Hajin in eastern Syria, Ghika said.

“This is a hard fight. Indeed, we have witnessed some of the most intense fighting since ISIS was defeated in Raqqa, [Syria,] and Mosul, [Iraq]. The ultimate outcome is not in doubt. ISIS will be defeated in the Middle Euphrates River valley,” he said.

On Nov. 8, U.S. and Turkish forces conducted their second combined joint patrol in the vicinity of the town of Manbij, Syria, on the west bank of the Euphrates, about 19 miles from Turkey. “This is a critical part of the coalition’s efforts to prevent the resurgence of ISIS there and enable the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced people,” Ghika said.

Coalition Efforts in Iraq

Iraqi security forces continue to target ISIS fighters who are attempting to regroup and regain a foothold in the small pockets of the Anbar Desert area of Iraq. Those efforts, called Operation Last Warning, are broadening to the entire country, he said.

Additionally, Iraqi forces are shoring up the border with Syria to prevent ISIS fighters from fleeing to Syria, reinforcing efforts of the SDF, he said.

In Saladin province in northern Iraq, the ISF and the Iraqi counterterrorism service, supported by the coalition, conducted multiple strikes on an ISIS senior leader meeting, killing a significant number of ISIS militants and key leaders, Ghika said.

Progress in Battling ISIS

“I’m struck by the immense progress that’s been made by Iraqi security forces and Syrian democratic forces partnering against the evil of ISIS,” said Ghika, noting that this is his second CJTF – OIR tour, the first as deputy commander of the coalition’s land component command in 2014 to 2015.

A recently published U.N. report on atrocities and mass graves in territories formerly controlled by ISIS documents 202 mass grave sites and the U.N. estimates these sites contain 6,000 to 12,000 bodies, he said.

“This is a stark reminder of why the coalition to counter ISIS was established and why nations across the globe have been willing to send their fighting men and women here,” Ghika said.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)