Saturday, February 20, 2016

Supporting farmers in Syria now is essential for a sustainable future - Hurreyet Daily News

... As things stand, Syria has lost half of its herds, and while the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has managed to treat some nine million animals, the risk that unvaccinated surviving livestock will trigger the spread of diseases beyond the borders is real. Wheat production, estimated at 2.4 million tons in the latest marketing season, is 40 percent lower than the pre-crisis average even though weather and cropping conditions have been favorable.

Farmers and pastoralist simply do not have adequate access to the tools of their trade. Inputs like seeds and fertilizer are hard to procure, equipment and infrastructure have been damaged, labor is scarcer, animal feed is lacking and local veterinary services have collapsed or are under enormous strain.

In 2015, FAO has strengthened its presence in Syria and last year assisted 1.5 million people across 13 out of 14 governorates through support to cereal and vegetable production, seed distribution and preservation and protection of remaining livestock.

And yet emergency agricultural interventions in Syria were more than 70 percent underfunded in 2015. Much more can be done, and much more must be done.

With $200, a Syrian farmer (keep in mind that rural women now make up 63 percent of the agricultural workforce) can produce two tons of wheat, providing valuable income and a year’s worth of food for a family of six. On top of that, she or he becomes a protagonist of the effort to overcome the crisis.

Agriculture is also a key channel creating economic opportunities and jobs, a high priority of the renewed U.N. appeal for Syria. U.N.-led efforts have done much to mitigate the short-term suffering of a large share of target aid recipients. We must now further expand their scope to bolstering the sustainability of Syria’s food producers.

FAO’s appeal represents a tiny fraction of the funds needed for the broader humanitarian crisis in Syria. Donors must think like farmers: One must sow in order to reap.

*José Graziano da Silva is director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Footage the Syrian army retake town Kansaba , in Latakia, from Takfiri m...

SYRIA T 90 Vs Anti tank missile

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Iraq says moving troops, preparing offensive to retake Mosul -Rueters

Iraq's military said on Friday it was mobilizing troops to prepare for an offensive the government has pledged to launch this year to retake the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State.
Hundreds of forces from the army's 15th division reached Makhmour base, 70 km (45 miles) south of Mosul, and more forces, including Sunni Muslim tribal fighters, were expected to arrive in coming days, said Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the joint operations command.
Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi told Reuters last month that Iraq would launch the Mosul operation in the first half of the year and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said 2016 would see the "final victory" against the militants.
Some U.S. officials have endorsed that assessment, but a top U.S. intelligence officer told Congress this week any operation to retake Mosul would be long and complex and unlikely to finish this year....

-bth: so if you look at this post and the prior post from the Peshmerga perspective, one could draw a few conclusions. First, Peshmerga are going to want $1 billion USD to complete this task in addition to weapons.  Second, by Iraqi government estimate the earliest attempt on Mosul will be in June and more likely toward the end of 2016 after other preliminary battles are fought - Fallujah, Haditha, Hit and so on. Third, somewhere in this equation the 101st Airborne shows up in support - probably helicopter - and probably coordinating with the Kurds and their Sunni Arab tribal allies.  Does the Russian/Syrian success in Syria set up this time schedule?  I think so.

Iraqi army not ready for Mosul offensive: Peshmerga Ministry - Rudaw

... It is expected the battle for Mosul will happen by the end of 2016. "Unless Mosul is liberated, no stability will exist in Iraq," Yawar claimed.

But Iraq’s Defense Minister, Khalid Al-Obeidi, claimed on Friday that a timeframe for the battle for Mosul has been set for June 2016, with the participation of various well-trained forces.

"The Iraqi defense ministry has laid security plans to launch the Mosul liberation operations from Daesh [ISIS] militants," Obeidi revealed to reporters during a visit to Cairo.

The Kurdistan Regional Government is eager to see the Mosul offensive take place as soon as possible because "the defeat of ISIS in Mosul is of great importance for the Kurdistan region and they have continually been posing threats to the region over the last two years as it is a neighboring city with Kurdistan," stated Yawar.

The Chief of Staff also raised the issue of the needs of the Peshmerga on the battlefield.

The international community has supplied the Peshmerga with weapons and ammunition. “But,” Yawar asserted, “it is not enough when it comes to fighting a group seizing large amounts of weapons from five divisions of the Iraqi army and innumerable weapons in Syria."

When asked what are the important things the Peshmerga need and the KRG is incapable to provide but which the international community can, Yawar answered, "In the past we have received weapons and ammunition, but they are not sophisticated enough to repulse massive offensives."

He continued, "We need brand new weapons, we need outfits for the Peshmerga. The Peshmerga need food, medical care, fuel, bomb detection tools."

Yawar pointed out that, "The most important thing we need for the Peshmerga is a budget. As you know we are hard hit by the economic crisis."

He explained: "A record number of 169,000 Peshmerga are on the frontlines. We need an amount of $81 million per month for our forces."

Yawar did not deny that warplanes from the US-led coalition have played a decisive role in striking ISIS positions and weaponry bases and repulsing the group's assaults against the Peshmerga frontlines.

For the Kurdistan region, Yawar believes such a battle against a large terrorist group is something new as "It is the first time we have faced such a battle."