Buck Brief: 50K Refugees Flee Mosul, Turn to Peshmerga and US Forces for Protection

Michael Pregent, adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute and a senior Middle East analyst, joined The Glenn Beck Program on Tuesday with an update on the situation in Mosul. Pregent is also a former military intelligence officer.

"The effort to take Mosul back from the Islamic State is now many weeks underway. What is the latest in this battle against ISIS on the ground in northern Iraq?" Buck Sexton asked, filling in for Glenn on radio.

Pregent had both good and bad news to relay. Among his concerns were the 50,000 refugees that have fled the area.

"They're preferring to go to places where the Peshmerga are in control of territory, because the Peshmerga have a heavier U.S. presence. And they believe that the U.S. can actually act as a guarantor, but they don't feel necessarily the same way about moving towards predominantly Shia forces," Pregent said.

With food supplies running low, Pregent calls it an "overwhelming" situation.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

VOICE: You are entering TheBlaze threat ops center. This is a secure space. All outside coms are down. Prepare to receive the Buck Brief.

BUCK: Michael Pregent joins us now. He's an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute where he's a senior Middle East analyst. And he's also a former military intelligence officer. Great to have you, Michael. Thanks for calling in.

MICHAEL: Hey, thanks, Buck. Thanks for having me.

BUCK: All right. The effort to take Mosul back from the Islamic State is now many weeks underway. What is the latest in this battle against ISIS on the ground in northern Iraq?

MICHAEL: Well, it's slowed down to a crawl. As the Iraqi security forces are starting to enter from the east, they're encountering a lot of resistance, but they're not getting the US air support or artillery support that they had counted on. And that's because the United States is not going to provide artillery and air support to a predominantly Shia force, as they enter a predominantly Sunni town, where there's still a population of almost a million people still there. So that's why it's slowed down to a crawl.

BUCK: And the -- so far, the humanitarian issues that have been concerns leading up to this, about refugees fleeing the area, the numbers are surging. Are they able -- are the proper authorities and resources in place to try to handle the outflow of refugees, or are they becoming overwhelmed?

MICHAEL: Well, they're already becoming overwhelmed. I think there's 50,000 refugees that have left Mosul so far, and they are running out of food supplies at some of these organizations. But what's more telling is the direction in which the refugee flow is going. The refugees aren't going to the west, where the Shia militias are. They're not going to the south, where the Iraqi military is. They're preferring to go to places where the Peshmerga are in control of territory, because the Peshmerga have a heavier US presence. And they believe that the US can actually act as a guarantor. But they don't feel necessarily the same way about moving towards predominantly Shia forces.

One of the things we're seeing is when CNN, Fox, BBC report on this, they're saying that the Iraqi military are separating the women and children from the men. Now, that is the normal process. A process that is more comfortable when the US is doing the along with Peshmerga to make sure that any military-aged male, who is actually affiliated with ISIS, is screened out.

The problem is when the Iraqi security forces do this, or when the Shia militias do this, they basically say that any Sunni military-aged male is likely collaborated with ISIS. And we've seen people who have disappeared off the battlefield in Fallujah, Ramadi, and Tekrit, when the Shia militias and the predominantly Shia Iraqi military are left in charge of this process.

BUCK: Now, as US support directed to the Peshmerga is limited because we don't want to be -- well, we don't want to be, one, taking any casualties, but also we don't, two, want to be close to some of the battle. They want it to be an Iraqi-led force, and they want the tip of the spear to be Iraqi as much as possible.

The Shia militias, it seems, are going to be more heavily utilized in this process, which could bring about some serious sectarian tension.

MICHAEL: What I'm looking at now is, you look at the forces that are participating in the Mosul operation. It's a counterterrorism service. A lot of these guys are already bandaged from previous battles. They're going in with wounds that they sustained fighting in Tikrit or Ramadi and Fallujah. They're taxed. These guys are tired. They're effective. But they're just overstressed. The 15th Iraqi army -- or 15th Iraqi Army Division is out of Baghdad -- so these are all Shia soldiers, a lot of them affiliated with Jay Salmedi. The 9th Iraqi Army Division is all Shia.

Now, notice I just talked about the Iraqi Army here. They're already heavily infiltrated with militias, except they wear uniforms. They're still flying sectarian flags. Now, the Shia militias in the West, as they move to HEP Talaffer, they're going in, and they're starting to cause some problems there.

What I'm looking at now is, where do these Shia militias put their artillery and their rockets? Because the United States and the coalition is not going to blow up civilian neighborhoods like the Iraqi military and the militias did in Fallujah and Ramadi. So if you keep track of these Shia militias, where they put artillery and rockets, that will be very telling, because as they move into range of Mosul, they will start hitting these neighborhoods where these population centers are still in play.

BUCK: Is there any sense that you've picked up from your contacts on the ground, that the Sunni Arabs who live in Mosul, a city in which no one really knows how many people live there now, but in the past, it's about about a million people. Do you get any sense from those who are in contact with Sunni airbags there, that they feel like it's a good thing obviously that the Islamic State is hopefully going to lose control of Mosul within weeks, maybe months. But it's certainly taken a very long time for the Iraqi government to get to this point. It feels like an unacceptable delay, despite the fact that we should be -- it's a positive development that this is happening. It took, what, two years?

MICHAEL: Well, I would argue that we never really defeated or controlled Mosul when the US was there. We developed networks. We developed relationships to travel leaders. We built a Sunni intelligence network. And we slowly used an intelligence-backed strategy to decimate the leadership, which led to their demise, using the sons of Iraq and the awakening. I think this is a great opportunity to do that, put that back into play now. Obviously, you're not going to be able to take Mosul and the US is unable to provide air support and artery. Now is the time to slow it down, start to develop the Sunni sources, have them provide intelligence, because they've been doing that. They've given intelligence to the Peshmerga and some of the Iraqi security forces that have pinpointed ISIS locations, that have allowed US airstrikes to come in. I think right now, if I was able to advise something on it, let's slow it down. Let's make an intelligence operation that empowers the Sunni operation in Mosul with manpower and Intel to go after ISIS. And then create that political space for them to start building trust with Baghdad again. But that requires huge leverage on our part with Baghdad, to increase that leverage, to pull those levers to make sure that we make Baghdad a government that the Sunni population in Iraq can trust again. And that's going to be the hardest challenge.

BUCK: And this clearing operation will last months, at this point?

MICHAEL: Well, there will be a -- there could be a PR victory. We've replaced the flag in the center of Mosul. And that's exactly what happened.

But if you look at any of those three cities today, you'll still see that there are ISIS networks active, and that they're still able to conduct high profile attacks in Bagdad so there can be a victory that the media celebrates, that ISIS has been defeated in Mosul. And I will argue that that isn't going to happen until the Sunni population in Iraq trusts Baghdad. So I see this going on for a while.

Like I said, we were there from '03 to '11. And there were still pocket of resistance symbols. They just chose not to attack us.

BUCK: Michael, switching gears with one more question for you. You're former US military. What do you think about the likely pick of General Mattis for Secretary of Defense?

MICHAEL: I love the pick. I hope he takes it because he balances everything that people are worried about with the Trump administration. He's hard on Russia. He's hard on Iran. He's pragmatic. He believes that the use of military force needs to be one where you only put the military in if you want to win and you empower them to win. I hope he takes the position. He'd be a great voice -- a great pragmatic voice, a well-respected voice. And I think he would -- he would stay the concerns of most Middle Eastern leaders on what the next administration looks like over the next four years.

BUCK: Michael Pregent is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute. Mike, always great to have you. We'll talk to you soon. Thanks for calling in.

MICHAEL: Thanks, Buck. Thanks for having me.

Featured Image: A picture taken through the bullet-riddled windshield of an Iraqi Special Forces armoured vehicle shows residents walking on a street in the Aden district of Mosul after troops almost entirely retook the area from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists on November 22, 2016. The fighting inside the city so far has focused on eastern neighbourhoods, which elite counter-terrorism and army forces entered earlier this month. The Islamic State group has offered fierce resistance to defend its last remaining bastion in Iraq, the city where its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a caliphate in June 2014. (Photo Credit: THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.