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Thread: Iraq: Out of the desert into Mosul (closed)

  1. #741
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    There seems to be no sense of ownership of Iraq from the US political elite - there's a lot of buck passing and electoral calculus, but no sense of responsibility.

    This would be fine if the US had no pretensions to global leadership; but it does - and US politicians go on as if the rest of the World hasn't figured out the geo-strategic incompetence of the US ruling elite.

    The rest of the World understood the US was definitely going to be less relevant economically as the years went by (that was clear after the 2008 financial crisis). What is a revelation is how quickly America's geo-strategic relevance is being eroded.

    America's great advantage over the Chinese in most parts of the developing World is its military, but Iraq demonstrates the limitation of that military, but most importantly the failure of imagination of the policy makers wielding that tool.

    So where does US go - after Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq?
    Part of President Obama's platform when running for office was his anti-Iraq war stance, but what he seems to fail to recognize at this time is we're looking at an entirely new threat that has nothing to do with our former premise for invading Iraq (WMD). He seems to be trapped in the past. Action is clearly needed in Iraq, and while this may be an overused phrase, it isn't inappropriate. The terrorist organization(s) in Iraq are a "clear and present danger" not only to Iraq, but our interests in the region and to our homeland.

    Don't count the U.S. out yet, I think you'll see a major change in our worldview and how we approach it when the next President assumes the office, regardless of whether that person is a democrat or republican.

    Relative to China we do have a competitive advantage militarily, but I think a lot of China's economic might is built on a very flimsy foundation. The fact that we're clawing our way back from the economic crisis we went through, even with ineffective political leadership in the White House and Congress, demonstrates our system is pretty resilient. I doubt China could recover from a similar crisis of the scale we went through.

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    I think it is worth adding that no one is turning towards China, Russia, or any country to provide global leadership, so while our relative power may be decreasing using the conventional measures of military might and economic power, we still are viewed as the global power that other nations and international organizations turn to when there are serious problems that need to be addressed. We still have the power of our ideas, and moral power that is far from perfect, but is still attractive compared to alternatives.

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    To add to Bill's commentary, U.S. capabilities are still miles ahead of the next competitor. Sure, the U.S. has its structural problems and a strong argument can be made that U.S. power relative to other states is declining, but there still is a long ways to go for other states to become peers. Much of the problem in the U.S. is self-imposed (political dysfunction, financial constraints, etc).

    As for Iraq - well, unfortunately Bill is correct that some kind of action is required and that the Obama administration is trapped in the past. It's hard to see any other way to address the problem of ISIS without further commitments to Iraq's security. I see ISIS as the culmination of an escalation cycle of Al Qaeda, starting with the initial pre-9/11 spectacular attacks, and now with a movement that is relatively well-organized and disciplined. This is a problem two decades in the making and it will be some time, and will take more than just airstrikes, to resolve it.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Part of President Obama's platform when running for office was his anti-Iraq war stance, but what he seems to fail to recognize at this time is we're looking at an entirely new threat that has nothing to do with our former premise for invading Iraq (WMD). He seems to be trapped in the past. Action is clearly needed in Iraq, and while this may be an overused phrase, it isn't inappropriate. The terrorist organization(s) in Iraq are a "clear and present danger" not only to Iraq, but our interests in the region and to our homeland.

    Don't count the U.S. out yet, I think you'll see a major change in our worldview and how we approach it when the next President assumes the office, regardless of whether that person is a democrat or republican.

    Relative to China we do have a competitive advantage militarily, but I think a lot of China's economic might is built on a very flimsy foundation. The fact that we're clawing our way back from the economic crisis we went through, even with ineffective political leadership in the White House and Congress, demonstrates our system is pretty resilient. I doubt China could recover from a similar crisis of the scale we went through.
    A few words.

    1. I don't think anyone is counting on a super hegemon, those days are over. This is more like the World of Bismark & Gladstone - a very delicate balancing act.

    2. China not only recovered from warlordism, it also recovered from a Japanese invasion and Mao's cultural revolution - all last century. China is a lot more resilient than we think.

    3. I don't see China's economic foundation as flimsy; it's a lot more resilient than we give them credit for - and from Africa & Latin America - you can see a strategy for future economic growth - which the US simply does not have.

    Chinese trade with Africa was $210 billion this year, US trade with Africa was $85 billion. While Chinese trade is on an upward swing, US trade is actually declining - the same applies to Latin America.

    I haven't seen any glimmer of a Bismark in any major US politician - maybe you know more about them than I do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    To add to Bill's commentary, U.S. capabilities are still miles ahead of the next competitor. Sure, the U.S. has its structural problems and a strong argument can be made that U.S. power relative to other states is declining, but there still is a long ways to go for other states to become peers. Much of the problem in the U.S. is self-imposed (political dysfunction, financial constraints, etc).

    As for Iraq - well, unfortunately Bill is correct that some kind of action is required and that the Obama administration is trapped in the past. It's hard to see any other way to address the problem of ISIS without further commitments to Iraq's security. I see ISIS as the culmination of an escalation cycle of Al Qaeda, starting with the initial pre-9/11 spectacular attacks, and now with a movement that is relatively well-organized and disciplined. This is a problem two decades in the making and it will be some time, and will take more than just airstrikes, to resolve it.
    The former QJBR then AQI then ISIL and now IS while initially looking towards the AQ mothership during the founding years and Zarqawi having been in AFG ---even Zarqawi was on the outs with UBL/AQ by 2006, and was "disowned" if one takes the time to go back and read all of the edicts/fatwas that flew back and forth between Iraq and Pakistan/AFG during that period.

    IS has been "disowned" as well by AQ in 2014, and in fact has become a competitor of the first order and virtually the richest "terrorist" group in the world right now--AQ is nowhere close on the financial side.

    It has a far greater recruiting pull that does AQ in general and has received the allegiance oaths to the new Caliphate/al Baghdadi from virtually all of the branch AQ groups.

    IS does not need nor will it need in the future to have ties with or be associated with AQ.

    IS is a new breed of insurgency, radical Takfiri in nature and aggressive.

    It is displaying a remarkable adaptability ---meaning they changed within hours their ground tactics after being bombed, they are in fact using an excellence mission command that the current Army cannot match---actually if one takes the time to read the JCoS's Mission Command article from 2012 one might in fact notice al Baghdadi is copying it to the letter.

    Military tactics on the ground---swarming attacks in a fashion not seen in the ME coupled with a complete understanding of maneuver.

    One can see the insurgency learning curve experience gained in Iraq coupled with the battlefield experience gained in Syria.

    The key though while engaging IS---do not attack Islam as the supposed problem---this is a radical Takfiri ie terrorist group---attack instead the concept of terrorism.

    By focusing say on the supposed Islamic side of the problem just creates a better recruiting narrative. Meaning the message to the youth--see the West is attacking Islam thus you must strike back and protect it. This message is pulling extremely well now especially when they can show battlefield successes against the enemies of the IS---meaning anything other than a Takfiri.

    Why the hesitation right now might be explained in the simple fact---no one can seem to explain their sudden military tactics, their battlefield successes and what drives them. No one can quite see the interrelationship between IS and the Sunni coalition headed by al Duri and no one can foresee just how/why the Sunni tribes are now an unknown factor.

    As an example---the Christians surrounded in the mountains are being circled by no more than 350 fighters in light trucks that are just driving in circles at the base of the mountain range---350 fighters clashed with the Peshmerga and basically defeated the myth that the Psehmerga are the great northern fighters.

    Problem is ---it was all there to be seen from 2002 to 2010 and past 2010--we in our hurry to declare a COIN victory did not want to take the time to understand what we were seeing.

    Example---why was Baghdadi parked in Bucca which was reserved for Wahhabi's and the more radical types--yet released and never sent to trial by the US or the Iraqi's. I have not seen any info on his arrest, his internment first in Abu Ghraib and then why he was placed in Bucca--anyone sent to Abu G and Bucca even if not guilty of anything attended for a period of time one of the finest insurgency training centers in the ME and the US did nothing to stop it.

    Understanding the rise of al Baghdadi is the critical piece-ie he is displaying a serious sign of being a solid religious leader, a solid battlefield tactician/commander, he is a solid group leader, and an astute understander of the West--not Islam- not the IS is the problem---understanding al Baghdadi is the issue.

    Thus the hesitancy in the US as they cannot "figure out" al Baghdadi and his end state game.
    Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 08-13-2014 at 04:25 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I think it is worth adding that no one is turning towards China, Russia, or any country to provide global leadership, so while our relative power may be decreasing using the conventional measures of military might and economic power, we still are viewed as the global power that other nations and international organizations turn to when there are serious problems that need to be addressed. We still have the power of our ideas, and moral power that is far from perfect, but is still attractive compared to alternatives.
    That might be true - but having seen how a combination of Russia & Iran are opportunistically providing leadership in Syria & then Iraq (they lead, then US reluctantly follows their lead), people will increasingly pay more attention to regional powers (in spite of the fact that US will still be the World's dominant power).

    Iraqi Christians have figured out that while US was quick to intervene on behalf on Yazidis - it basically ignored when Christians were evicted from Mosul. It was even France who took the lead on offering them asylum.

    The US might pride itself on leading the charge against terrorism in the Sahel - but everyone knows France is calling the shots here (strategically) - with US providing important logistics. The Nigerian govt (which has traditionally been skeptical of France has been forced into a closer relationship with Paris).

    Too many contradictions have accumulated in US policy over the years - and it will take a very serious politician (not an Obama who is passing time or a Clinton who will say anything to get elected) to take the important first step of drafting a coherent foreign policy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JWing View Post
    Wow, my computer gets broken by my baby cousin and when I come back here everything has gone to hell.

    Anyway, the days of Nouri al-Maliki's premiership are coming to an end. Maliki attempted to repeat his strategy from 2010 which was to drag out the government formation process and outlast his opponents. This time it backfired as not only did State of Law fracture but even his own Dawa Party did. Those splits allowed for the nomination of Haidar Abadi from Dawa to be the next premier. It's not known what Abadi will be like but it does offer the opportunity for a new start for Iraqi politics which is crucial if it wants to reverse the security situation. Here's my article on the whole affair.
    Joel--this whole refugees in the mountains and the defeat of the Peshmerga is being from what I understand driven by no more than 350 IS fighters with light trucks? Their field maneuver ie swarming and the use of mortars as artillery coupled with very good snipers is an interesting tactical development not previously seen in Iraq from 2003-2010.

    Secondly---IS had moved a large number of their personnel into the south of Baghdad and east/west of Baghdad---then silence.

    Why the quiet?---actually it is too quiet as everyone is looking north but IS is sitting quietly around Baghdad and strengthening weekly.

    Was the dam security control recovered by the ISF as of yet or still in IS control?
    Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 08-13-2014 at 04:33 PM.

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    Default R2P or is this an intervention coming?

    Two different viewpoints from London. One by a Kings War Studies academic, who also lectures to Qatar's military, so may have extra value; entitled 'How to best externalize the R2P in Iraq?':http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2014/08/how...e-r2p-in-iraq/

    Personally I think his option for regaining support from disaffected Sunni tribes is long past. Nor are regional 'powers' that willing to commit.

    As the UK sends Tornado recce aircraft, Chinooks and Hercules transports, all ostensibly for humanitarian purposes Shashank Joshi, from RUSI, examines 'British Options in Iraq: Capabilities, Strategies, and Risks':https://www.rusi.org/analysis/commen.../#.U-t10aORcdW

    His sub-title is:
    Pressure is building for the government to recall parliament over the crisis in Iraq and consider intervening alongside US forces. But what are the options for Britain, and what risks do they carry?
    I am not sure where this pressure is coming from - beyond Whitehall. Given this government's stance on supporting the USA, it is likely to be Washington that is applying pressure.

    In anticipation of these choices, we should therefore ask – of ourselves, and of ministers – what is Britain’s strategy in any intervention? A non-exhaustive list would include:
    1. One-off degradation of ISIS’ offensive capabilities;
    2. One-off humanitarian relief;
    3. Indirect support to Kurdish forces;
    4. Indirect support to Iraqi government forces;
    5. A longer mission to contain ISIS, until those local forces gain strength;
    6. A direct and sustained aerial campaign to destroy ISIS – or even more broadly, 'the defeat of jihadism';
    7. Some combination thereof.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Why does Isis hate us so much?

    To look for the "root cause" of Isis is to miss the point. The group represents all the subterranean barbarism that every so often is apt to crawl, blinking into the light, out from the depths of the human subconscious.
    Certainly an interesting POV and a reminder that ISIS is not new, nor just an extreme form of Islam IMHO:http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/...h-9664506.html
    davidbfpo

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    Davidbfpo,

    Please what is the West's strategy for Iraq/Syria? It clear what Russia and Iran hope to accomplish & who they've pitched their tents with, but the West is all over the place - appeasing Saudi Arabia, Turkey & Qatar while trying to keep Iraq together - then there's the strategic funk in Syria.

    Other than preventing the rise of terrorism (which you cannot do without taking a side in the Iraqi/Syria conflict - which the West doesn't want to do), what does the West hope to do, what are its interests?

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    KJ -

    According to a speech by President Obama in 2013, the core U.S. interests in the ME are:

    o “We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world."

    o “We will dismantle terrorist networks that threaten our people."

    o "we reject the development of nuclear weapons that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, and undermine the global nonproliferation regime"

    Secondary interests:

    o "we will build the capacity of our partners"

    o "respect the sovereignty of nations"

    o "work to address the root causes of terror"

    In practice, there are many contradictions in U.S. policy in the region as you mentioned. I think one of the major concerns of the Obama administration is becoming roped into another commitment (or the perception of commitment to Iraq). Yes - this is a new phase of the conflict, but the American public does not have a nuanced understanding of the situation; combined with the approaching mid-term election after what continues to be many years of highly bitter partisan politics, there's a heightened sensitive towards these problems.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Certainly an interesting POV and a reminder that ISIS is not new, nor just an extreme form of Islam IMHO:http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/...h-9664506.html
    From the enclose article David kindly posted

    despite the SS repeatedly reaffirming at its death camps that "here there is no why", for much of the left there was always a "why".
    This underscores much of the debate in SWJ circles. We have those who believe the reason is failed government, economics, etc. Root causes that we can somehow address, and then the world will be all rainbows and unicorns again.

    We have others, closer to my school of thought, that often there are no root causes that we can address. We waste our time and money with our various development programs when they're directed to weaken AQ and other extremists.

    The left hates to hear this, but sometimes it really does come down to killing those who are trying to kill you. Alternative approaches against sadistic killers have failed us repeatedly. To those who say we can't shoot our way out of this, I offer that the collective we can and we must. BUT, and this is an important but, we must do so in a discriminate manner, and in a way that doesn't mobilize the neutrals to turn against us. The extremists are a greater threat to the majority of Muslims than they are to us, so calls to go war with Islam are frankly unethical and misguided. However, aggressively pursuing and eliminating ISIS is a necessity if value our security and way of life. In Iraq they have formed an Army, if they choose to fight us semi-symmetrically they will make our work that much easier.

    These thoughts are directed towards AQ, those who embraced Al-Qaedaism, and their associates and affiliates. Those the author would call fascists. The above is not an approach to deal with insurgents that have valid political issues they're trying to fix.

    But let us be clear: the "root cause" of fascism (and what Isis is practicing us clerical fascism) is an absolute rejection of a plural and democratic society. It is our existence, rather than the subtleties of how we behave, that is intolerable to Isis, hence current attempts to exterminate "un-Islamic" religious minorities in Iraq – a genocide-in the making thankfully being thwarted by the United States.

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    Outlaw

    Haven't seen any numbers on how many insurgent forces were deployed in Sinjar but would not be surprised if it was just a few hundred. They have not been using more than that in any of their other ops of this size.

    There are still on going ops in northern Babil which continue to fail. The 9th sec op of this year was started in Jurf al-Sakhr in mid-July. 1 day after it was finished and everyone claimed success Babil prov council official said IS had moved right back in. Around 3 days later the 10th sec op started, which is still on-going. Fighting in Diyala is actually pretty low level.

    With all the press getting caught up on the attacks upon Sinjar & the Yazidis the insurgents main thrust was actually in Salahaddin which had the most casualties in the first week of August.

    Finally Mosul Dam which was under Pesh protection is still under IS control. Was a report that it has asked the workers there to continue with their work and that they'll be paid. Even brought in some engineers from Syria to help!

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    Bill

    I think of the Surge strategy of those you can reconcile with and those that you can't. IS is one of the latter and you have to kill them. At the same time there are plenty of Sunnis and some insurgent groups that you can turn and those are the ones that you need to reach out to with political reconciliation, development projects, etc. That can also hopefully turn away more people from joining IS. I don't think it's an either or.

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    Here's a link to my latest article on the origins of the ethnosectarian quota system in Iraq. The country is going through a political as well as a security crisis right now. A new candidate for premier has been named Haider Abadi from Dawa/State of Law and many are wondering how much different or the same he will be from Maliki. That ignores the large structural barriers that the Iraqi govt faces one of which is the ethnosectarian quotas which divide up the govt not by competence but by loyalty to parties. Many blame the U.S. and specifically the CPA for creating these quotas, but their origins are actually with the anti-Saddam opposition movement in the 1990s that created this system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    From the enclose article David kindly posted



    This underscores much of the debate in SWJ circles. We have those who believe the reason is failed government, economics, etc. Root causes that we can somehow address, and then the world will be all rainbows and unicorns again.

    We have others, closer to my school of thought, that often there are no root causes that we can address. We waste our time and money with our various development programs when they're directed to weaken AQ and other extremists.
    In Nigeria, where I come from, Western analysts are all over the place about Boko Haram & how poverty and alienation are its root causes - but when you ask them about local Christians who are even poorer and more alienated (because the power structures the British left behind empowered the Muslims in Northern Nigeria) - they are blank.

    I suspect Iraqi Christians and Yazidis would feel the same way as African Christians about the way the Western academic elite has chosen to explain away violent Islamism.

    In the Middle East, the West can comfortably ignore religious minorities as they aren't likely ever have any political power (all US presidents do so; whether Republican or Democrat). In Africa, the Christians aren't likely to be politically insignificant, but as far as the West is concerned, Africa is a strategic backwater.

    So the liberal narrative of Islamist terrorism is likely to persist - as these movements will never be an existential threat to the West like Hitler & Nazis.

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    Outlaw

    Totally forgot IS did launch an operation in Diyala and captured Jalawla from the Pesh. They are launching counter attacks to try to re-take it.

    Should also be mentioned that Syrian Turkish and Iranian Kurdish militias are all now involved or were in the fighting in Ninewa.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JWing View Post
    Here's a link to my latest article on the origins of the ethnosectarian quota system in Iraq. The country is going through a political as well as a security crisis right now. A new candidate for premier has been named Haider Abadi from Dawa/State of Law and many are wondering how much different or the same he will be from Maliki. That ignores the large structural barriers that the Iraqi govt faces one of which is the ethnosectarian quotas which divide up the govt not by competence but by loyalty to parties. Many blame the U.S. and specifically the CPA for creating these quotas, but their origins are actually with the anti-Saddam opposition movement in the 1990s that created this system.
    Thank you very much for your wonderful article, but if you overlay ancient societies with a very recent artificial state - this is what you get, no "ifs", no "buts".

    A nation is like a family, you cannot just group random people, insist they adopt a common flag & anthem - and then expect them to behave like a nation. That is the problem with a lot of the "nations" that were created post WW2 (after the fall of European empires).

    Iraq's fundamental problem is this; it is not a nation. Saddam could have held it together by extreme violence (or another dictator could), but absent that, there was never going to be a basis for nationhood. Shias were smarting under decades of oppression by Sunnis and Sunnis weren't going to take lightly to their diminished status. Kurds had a long-term project - and it wasn't Iraq, it was an independent Kurdish state.

    This kind of ethno-sectarianism isn't limited to the Middle-east - it is one of Africa's primary problems - a consequence of poorly thought out "states". You'll see how Boko Haram (and other Sahelian terror groups) bring out the same ethno-sectarian tensions you noticed in Iraq to the open - keep tuned.

    Let me add that the great advantage the Far East had over Africa and the Middle East is this - colonial borders coincided more or less with ancient/related societies - there was a historical continuum, not a "disjunction" - not the kind of "cut and join" states one sees in the Middle East/Africa - for example; the Vietnamese had a strong identity, the French didn't create a "Vietnamese identity".

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    Quote Originally Posted by JWing View Post
    Bill

    I think of the Surge strategy of those you can reconcile with and those that you can't. IS is one of the latter and you have to kill them. At the same time there are plenty of Sunnis and some insurgent groups that you can turn and those are the ones that you need to reach out to with political reconciliation, development projects, etc. That can also hopefully turn away more people from joining IS. I don't think it's an either or.
    Of course it is, but we fail to pursue killing IS with an adequate level of aggression due to the points KingJaja brings up. Maybe more appropriately borrowing a phrase from a friend of mine, it is "strategic miscalculation" on our part.

    Begin with the end in mind, that is a condition we want after we destroy IS, and that requires political engagement before, during, and after the fight. However, it doesn't mean sidelining the fighting effort and making it secondary to economic development when the adversary hasn't been defeated, which has been our default position.

    The liberals and neocons have beautiful theories, but theories that tend to fall apart rapidly when they confront reality.

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    Default R2P or is this an intervention coming? Part 2

    Well The Guardian is now reporting "boots on the ground" on Mount Sinjar, for humanitarian purposes, both US & UK SOF:http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...e-yazidis-iraq

    I knew Sinjar refered to seized AQ Iraq records, not this - which explains some of the recent aerial activity:
    The US ran a military and intelligence base on a now disused airfield at the top of Mount Sinjar for much of the Iraq war and the terrain of the rugged 45 mile ridgeline is well known to special operations units.
    davidbfpo

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