The United States and its partners can improve regional security and stability in Eastern Europe by supporting the modernization and reform of the Armed Forces of Ukraine more aggressively. Ukraine has suffered from consistent Russian military aggression since Russia occupied the Crimean Peninsula and militarily intervened in the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts in 2014. The overall unpreparedness of the Ukrainian military and its inability to match the capabilities of Russian forces allowed Russian and Russian proxy forces to gain a foothold in eastern Ukraine from which they continue to destabilize the entire country. The Ukrainian armed forces have been partially restructured and strengthened in the face of this constant pressure, enough to stabilize the front lines for a time. They require significantly more support of all varieties, however, if they are to stop the advance of Russia and its proxies permanently, to say nothing of reversing the armed occupation of Ukrainian territory.
Pro-regime forces backed by heavy airstrikes seized at least fifteen districts in Eastern Aleppo City including large parts of the Old City of Aleppo, shrinking the pocket held by opposition forces by more than seventy-five percent. Meanwhile, Russia and the U.S. met in Germany to discuss a potential deal to evacuate all civilians and opposition fighters from Eastern Aleppo City except for members of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham - the successor of Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.
ISIS lost significant control zones near Mosul, Raqqa, and al-Bab since October 17, 2016. Anti-ISIS forces fully encircled Mosul and penetrated the eastern side of the city. Meanwhile in Northern Aleppo, rival Kurdish-led Operation Euphrates Wrath and Turkish-backed Operation Euphrates Shield encroached on ISIS-held terrain near Raqqa and al-Bab, respectively.
The Council of Representatives met to discuss the 2017 federal budget on December 4 and 5 but failed to put the budget to a final vote .The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) deployed security forces from Baghdad to northern Iraq, as ISIS spectacular attacks in the capital decreased.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) made limited gains in Mosul from November 28 to December 5, but moved additional assets from Baghdad into the region in order to reinforce current lines of effort in Mosul and improve security in southern Ninewa.
The U.S. Anti-ISIS Campaign has inadvertently emboldened select factions of Kurds in Iraq and Syria in a manner that threatens to exacerbate preexisting political and ethnic divisions, stoke regional conflict, and disrupt current momentum against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. risks the long-term failure of its mission if the coalition proves unable to reduce tensions along these seams and rebalance its campaign to incorporate a wider variety of partner forces on the ground.
Pro-regime forces seized at least five opposition-held districts in Eastern Aleppo City on November 26 - 28 following a heavy air campaign that began on November 15. Meanwhile, Turkey stated that an alleged regime airstrike killed at least three soldiers of the Turkish Armed Forces participating in Operation Euphrates Shield near Al-Bab in Northern Aleppo Province on November 24.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has kept international attention riveted on Russian operations in Syria while escalating military deployments and political operations across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Putin’s global strategy relies on creating the impression that a U.S. challenge to Russian expansion would be met with a conventional military or even nuclear Russian response. Putin aims to present the incoming administration with the false dichotomy of partnering with Russia and allowing Putin to operate with impunity or going to war.
The Iraqi Council of Representatives (CoR) passed a law on November 26 that solidifies the Popular Mobilization, the majority of which are Shi’a militias with a history of sectarian violence, as a permanent security institution in Iraq.