Iraq Green Zone protests end – Politico

With Louis Nelson and Ellen Mitchell

CHAOS IN IRAQ — PROTESTERS LEAVE BAGHDAD GREEN ZONE ON CLERIC’S ORDERS, The New York Times reports: “After a day of sleeping, praying and even swimming in the Green Zone, the government citadel historically off limits to ordinary Iraqis, protesters began leaving Sunday evening on orders from the man who had sent them: Moktada al-Sadr, the influential Shiite cleric.

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“In a statement issued from the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq, Mr. Sadr directed his followers to leave the Green Zone in an orderly fashion, to chant for Iraq and not a sect, and to help clean the space they had occupied. A day earlier, hundreds of protesters demanding an end to corruption stormed the fortified Green Zone in dramatic scenes that hinted at revolution. But by Sunday evening the episode had become something less: an affirmation of Mr. Sadr’s sway over the street, but one aimed at pressuring the government to enact promised reforms rather than bringing it down.”

— ISIL BOOSTS ATTACKS IN RESPONSE TO TERRITORIAL LOSSES, via Reuters: “Islamic State attacks have increased this year, particularly in Iraq and Syria as the group responds to substantial territorial losses, a U.S.-based analysis firm IHS said on Sunday.

“There were 891 attacks during the first quarter of 2016 in neighbors Iraq and Syria, more than in any three-month period since the militants’ sweeping advance in mid-2014, IHS said in a new report. Those attacks killed 2,150 people, a 44 percent rise over the previous three months and the highest quarterly toll in nearly a year.”

— RUSSIA SAYS SYRIAN CEASE-FIRE TALKS TO INCLUDE ALEPPO, Reuters also reports: “Russia said on Sunday talks were taking place to include Aleppo in a temporary lull in fighting declared by the Syrian army in some western parts of the country, a sign of intensified efforts to halt a surge of violence in Syria’s former commercial capital.

“The United States said stopping the bloodshed in Aleppo, which has been at the center of an escalation of violence that has all but destroyed a wider ceasefire deal and broke up peace talks in Geneva, was a top priority.”

THIS WEEK — CARTER IN GERMANY: Defense Secretary Ash Carter is headed to Germany today, and POLITICO’s Connor O’Brien will be tagging along. On Tuesday, Carter is attending the U.S. European Command change of command ceremony with Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti taking over for Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove.

On Wednesday, Carter will meet with his counterparts from the countries in the counter-ISIL coalition. According to the Pentagon, the meeting “will allow ministers to assess the state of the campaign, receive details on the latest steps the U.S. is taking to accelerate ISIL’s defeat and identify additional capabilities the coalition may need in the future.”

The Senate quietly confirmed Scaparrotti Thursday to lead EUCOM, as well as Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson to head the U.S. Northern Command and Army Gen. Vincent Brooks to replace Scaparrotti as commander of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula.

HAPPY MONDAY AND WELCOME TO MORNING DEFENSE, where, with both the House and Senate out on a week-long recess, we hope everyone’s enjoying a post-NDAA break. We’ll be turning things back over to Jeremy Herb on Tuesday. Send tips and pitches to jherb@politico.com, and follow us on Twitter @jeremyherb, @morningdefense and @politicopro

HAPPENING TODAY: Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work and DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar speak at the Atlantic Council’s Global Strategy Forum. The full agenda is here.

FOR YOUR RADAR LATER THIS WEEK: Tuesday evening, the service chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard discuss challenges facing the military at the Council on Foreign Relations. And Wednesday, VA Secretary Bob McDonald addresses veterans’ health-care issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

‘THE DONALD TRUMP OF INSPECTORS GENERAL,’ via our colleague Nahal Toosi: “Earlier this year, as a group of U.S. senators sat rapt before him, John Sopko decided to go for the goats. Sopko, hailed by many as a heroic advocate for taxpayers for his prolific work as the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, threw a sudden punch at a now-defunct Pentagon task force he had long accused of mismanagement. He singled out the task force’s $6 million program to boost the war-torn country’s cashmere industry, which included importing nine light-haired Italian goats…

“There was one problem. Despite Sopko’s tantalizing insinuations during the January hearing, there is evidence that the cashmere program has been a success at boosting an important Afghan industry, creating hope in areas that might otherwise become havens for terrorism. But this wasn’t the first time the 63-year-old Sopko has spun the facts in pursuit of an appealing sound bite…

“POLITICO looked through hundreds of pages of documents and interviewed more than two dozen people for this story, including top-ranking current and former officials and employees from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the State Department and the Pentagon, as well as past and current congressional staffers and members of the inspectors general community. Several of the sources have followed Sopko’s work for years and expressed long-simmering anger toward a man they said had distorted the role of an inspector general by relying on shoddy research and ignoring inconvenient context.”

POLITICO PRO Q&A: OSHKOSH VP JOHN BRYANT: “It’s been a busy few years since John Bryant, a retired Marine Corps colonel, was named Oshkosh’s senior vice president of defense programs. The Wisconsin truck-maker has landed the program to refurbish the MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle, or M-ATV, is building the Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles, working on the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, or M-ATV, program, and has been selected for the the Marine Corps’s new airport fire rescue vehicle.”

“Most recently, it beat out Lockheed Martin and AM General in the hard-fought competition to build the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle for the Army and Marine Corps – a program expected to cost $30 billion over its lifetime. “We want that full-rate production decision to be an absolute, slam dunk, no brainer for the department,” Bryant attests…Our colleague Ellen Mitchell spoke with Bryant by phone about the company’s defense priorities.” The full Q&A is here, for Pros.

ICYMI — HOUSE INTEL PANEL APPROVES POLICY BILL: The House Intelligence Committee approved its authorization bill for the new 2017 fiscal year by voice vote in a closed markup Friday. The legislation sets policy for the agencies within the intelligence community and authorizes funding levels for classified programs. The full bill, as introduced, is here and a section-by-section summary is here.

SPEED READ

— A car bomb at a Turkish police station kills two police officers and wounds 22: NYT

— Calls resurface to name a ship Fallujah, the site of two key battles during the Iraq War: Military.com

— The family of a Navy officer accused of spying has set up a website arguing he’s innocent and that his constitutional rights were violated: Navy Times

— How the “Green Zone” helped destroy Iraq: POLITICO Magazine

— Marines continue to struggle with the stigma surrounding mental-health issues: Jacksonville Daily News

— With chemical weapon stockpiles shrinking worldwide, The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is turning its attention to emerging threats: The Associated Press

— The giant Al Qaeda defeat that no one’s talking about: POLITICO Magazine

— Ten months after a terrorist attack left five service members dead at a recruiting station in Chattanooga, Tenn., the debate over arming recruiters and other vulnerable military personnel continues within the Defense Department: Military Times

— The Air Force will deploy a special operations squadron of 10 CV-22 Ospreys to Yokota Air Base, just outside Tokyo, in 2017: Military Times

— A U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals ruling clears the way for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy charges against Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to continue: Military Times

— Italian defense giant Finmeccanica, in a nod to one of the greatest inventors of all time, has officially changed its name to Leonardo: POLITICO Pro

— Financial experts are concerned that career military service members could be shortchanged by the Pentagon’s calculation of a lump sum cash payment option under a new “blended” retirement system: Military Times

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