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Vice in the Islamic State
August 12, 2014 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Vice has obtained "unprecedented access" inside the Islamic State in a 5-part documentary The Islamic State. War photographer and corespondent Medyan Dairieh spent weeks alone among the Jihadists. Other films by Dairieh include Rebels of the Bridge, and A City Left in Ruins: The Battle for Aleppo
posted by stbalbach (97 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Part 5 presumably online late tonight or tomorrow.
posted by stbalbach at 10:41 AM on August 12


The films are proving to be an awesome introduction as the members of ISIS portrayed don't hide their beliefs at all. They're quite open about their religious psychosis and sheer inhumanity. An invaluable record of the society for posterity, and one, no doubt, future generations will scarcely believe ever existed.
posted by Thing at 10:59 AM on August 12 [6 favorites]


I really wish Vice didn't take murdoch's money. They've been doing some of the best on-the-ground reportage of the 21st century.
posted by lalochezia at 11:14 AM on August 12 [4 favorites]


I really wish Vice didn't take murdoch's money. They've been doing some of the best on-the-ground reportage of the 21st century.

I'd kind of like to split the shitty Vice and the good Vice, and wall up the shitty Vice like Fortunato.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:18 AM on August 12 [22 favorites]


For the love of God, Murdochsor!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:22 AM on August 12 [8 favorites]


I really wish Vice didn't take murdoch's money. They've been doing some of the best on-the-ground reportage of the 21st century.
posted by lalochezia at 11:14 AM on August 12 [+] [!]


'Tis only a 5% stake (and overall Vice remains privately controlled rather than controlled by external shareholders)
posted by Bwithh at 11:23 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


here's a link to part one of the actual documentary
posted by koeselitz at 11:40 AM on August 12 [7 favorites]


I've heard ISIS (or DAASH as it seems to mainly be called in the Arabic-speaking world) referred to as a cult, and you can see a lot of evidence of that in some of these videos.
posted by cell divide at 11:43 AM on August 12


They've been doing some of the best on-the-ground reportage of the 21st century.

I work in the publishing industry and their transition has been crazy, I believe it's the result of their latest creative director who has been slowly steering the ship around. It's like in this internet age the only way to out-gonzo yourself is to do some actual fucking journalism. I hate the clickbait hipster drug and sex blogs just as much as everyone else but I also kind of marvel at the brilliance of that economic model. While even the most venerable journalistic institutions are turning to Buzzfeed level bullshit as their staffs shrink, Vice seems like they've figured out how not only actually fund some worthwhile projects but also retain some credibility.
posted by bradbane at 11:44 AM on August 12 [10 favorites]


I hate the clickbait hipster drug and sex blogs just as much as everyone else

when did everyone start to hate reading about drugs and sex? No one ever tells me anything.
posted by Hoopo at 11:50 AM on August 12 [12 favorites]


Vice has done some amazing reporting, no doubt. Most of what I've seen on their HBO show has been overseas coverage that other networks can't or won't do.

They do an amazing job of showing how scary/corrupt/evil/crazy various parts of the world are (often with some foreboding music to match), I'd love for them to do more of that kind of reporting in the US/Canada as well.
posted by cell divide at 11:56 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


I'm interested to watch the Vice documentaries.

I have seen enough of ISIS via Internet videos, where they randomly drive by cars on a highway, shoot everyone in those cars, and chase down and finish off stragglers, without mercy. That, in addition to rounding up truckloads of young Shiite men, walking them to a field and summarily executing them; or, killing their Shia victims one by one by shooting them in the head as they (their victims) stand on a blood-stained rocky shore of a lake into which their bodies fall.

I have never been in favor of the Iraqi mission, but after watching those videos all I can say is that every one of those ISIS maniacs need to be wiped off the face of this good earth.

Last, America IS better than the evil propounded by Muslim fanatics (who are NOT the majority of Muslims - they don't represent Islam).
posted by Vibrissae at 11:59 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


FRONTLINE: Losing Iraq
posted by rosswald at 12:00 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]


I've come across some pro-ISIS stuff on social media and it is really bizarre and scary. One minute they are tweeting out spiritual guidance; the next minute heads on spikes and crucifixions along with religious justifications for them; the next historical justifications for "jizyah" or whatever. They tweeted out the Robin Williams movies they liked, then remind that it was blasphemous to ask for him to RIP, and rather should ask that he burn in hell. My guess is the ISIS thing is going to continue to spread for some time. It is astounding.

twitter: @GhaffarH : This pro-ISIS leaflet was being handed out in Oxford Street in London today, worrying times -

Another scary thing I heard on NPR last night was that, although in modern Muslim countries support for things like stoning women to death for adultery is less than 10% or even 0%, in many countries like Egypt and Pakistan it is above 70%!
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:25 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Drinking game: down a shot each time you see a woman. It's okay, you can play at work because spoiler: you won't actually see any women. To me that's the most eerie thing about these videos. It's like when you see pictures of Iceland and you're flipping through them going, "something is weird here... oh shit there are no trees!" Same thing here -- after awhile the lack of women (or girls) becomes spellbinding. They are creating a society that is seemingly completely devoid of women.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:35 PM on August 12 [9 favorites]


(Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates: “They are creating a society that is seemingly completely devoid of women.”

Well, there was the bit in Part 3 where the Sharia Police called a guy over to tell him to make his wife use a different kind of cloth for her veil and stop lifting the edge of her gown up when stepping over a curb.

Incidentally, the most harrowing part I've seen in these yet was in Part 3: the pained, nervous looks on the faces of the men in prison as they insist that they are grateful and feel that they are being "treated well" because they are beaten every day for having had alcohol hidden in their homes.

But then, I haven't watched Part 4 or Part 5 yet.
posted by koeselitz at 12:57 PM on August 12


twitter: @GhaffarH : This pro-ISIS leaflet was being handed out in Oxford Street in London today, worrying times

Were every person who believes in ISIS to hand out leaflets in public the security services would be over the moon. The murderers of Lee Rigby were known as streets preachers for some time, often ranting pretty violently (both are mentally ill, which is why they were so vulnerable to radical Islam). The security services misjudged how near the pair were to carrying out an attack, but other attacks by known extremists have been stopped. An extremist putting themselves out there publicly gives the security services a chance, which is why somebody like Anjem Choudary is kept as a stool pigeon. Sadly Choudary only draws the real dumb-as-bricks crowd, and there are many more who have sworn allegiance to ISIS but keep quiet about it.
posted by Thing at 1:03 PM on August 12


Were every person who believes in ISIS to hand out leaflets in public the security services would be over the moon.

In front of many, many high quality cameras on one of the most heavily surveilled streets in the world, too. It's hard to know how much more gift-wrapped it's possible for a lead to be, save for the fact that they might have arrived by Oyster.
posted by jaduncan at 1:09 PM on August 12


I am beyond words--despair, and humbled as I sit here on this lovely hill overlooking the green mountains, countryside, rolling hills, bay and the peace and people of Co. Kerry and the town of Kenmare. I am so fortunate. ISIS is a movement that defies my understanding, rationalizations and surpasses my fears.
posted by rmhsinc at 1:11 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


FRONTLINE: Losing Iraq

Wow, I just finished watching this. Did we do anything right over there? I knew we royally screwed things up but that documentary just left my mouth hanging open in disbelief the entire time.
posted by Arbac at 1:21 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Another scary thing I heard on NPR last night was that, although in modern Muslim countries support for things like stoning women to death for adultery is less than 10% or even 0%, in many countries like Egypt and Pakistan it is above 70%!

I'm not sure how one defines 'modern muslim country' if it doesn't include Egypt and Pakistan.
posted by empath at 1:31 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how one defines 'modern muslim country' if it doesn't include Egypt and Pakistan.

Turkey? Albania? Bosnia-Herzegovina? Lebanon?
posted by Talez at 1:38 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


I don't know what kind of person looks at what ISIS is doing and thinks to themselves that it's pretty great and decides to join them. But there are plenty of them and the supply seems inexhaustible. And that scares me.
posted by tommasz at 1:48 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


One semi-relevant incident that has been making the news: Australian Jihadist tweets photo of son holding soldier's severed head
posted by rosswald at 1:53 PM on August 12


My most dissonant political thought is that I generally support drilling, fracking, and the XL pipeline, while being very liberal in most other areas.

The reason for this is that a region as consistently in turmoil having a monopoly on the substance that makes modern life possible is terrifying. Imagine what the price of oil would be if North America wasn't the biggest provider around? ISIS is smart and brutal. It aims for money and oil whenever possible. It doesn't look like it will be stopped by anything short of Western military force, which absolutely nobody has an appetite for.

The fact that they control a terribly important dam, that would kill untold numbers of people if breached, is number 2 or 3 on the "oh shit" list they're currently creating.
posted by lattiboy at 1:59 PM on August 12


I don't know what kind of person looks at what ISIS is doing and thinks to themselves that it's pretty great and decides to join them. But there are plenty of them and the supply seems inexhaustible. And that scares me.

I would assume it's some sort of propaganda of the deed type situation. The U.S. military left Iraq and the Shia-dominated government had been getting worse and worse in terms of disenfranchising the Sunni while simultaneously bungling the security situation, and the instability next door in Syria created an environment where these fanatics were able to make quick gains in the country. This momentum allowed them to score tactical victories, which translated to more publicity, and so more support online.

As far as jihadist groups go, ISIS definitely does seem particularly bloodthirsty and violent, and I'm interested in any comparisons between them and al-Qaeda and other organizations. Everything, from their iconography, to their modus operandi, to their enigmatic leader, to their name, makes them look like literal comic book villains.

The Economist had an excellent piece almost a decade ago about how 19th-century anarchism more or less showed the roots of modern terrorism, which I think is relevant here. ISIS even flies black banners.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:07 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Turkey? Albania? Bosnia-Herzegovina? Lebanon?

Okay, fine, but what makes them more modern than pakistan or egypt? Unless you're equating western values with modernity.
posted by empath at 2:10 PM on August 12


As far as jihadist groups go, ISIS definitely does seem particularly bloodthirsty and violent

How about compared to, say, Assad?
posted by empath at 2:12 PM on August 12


This is so, so disappointing, and seems to me to be so much a result of the war in Iraq. While I strongly opposed the decision to go to war in Iraq and hoped at least for Bush & Co. to be held accountable for it, I was very much on the same page Colin Powell was: you break it, you buy it. That means the moment the invasion happened, on the pretext of getting rid of a dangerous tyrant that threatened your security, you committed to ensuring that there were conditions and infrastructure in place to ensure, at the very least, the threat to your country was dealt with. The US went in citing a threat that wasn't there and created a new one by leaving the country unprepared to deal with the fallout.
posted by Hoopo at 2:13 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]


How about compared to, say, Assad?

Way fucking worse, from the sounds of it. Terry Gross did a piece with Dexter Filkins recently that goes over some of the background of ISIS, illustrates how they differe from Al-Qaida, and why they're so violent.

There's alot of luddite-theology wraped up in the whole thing; hence the beheading and the swords. They talk about it in the article I linked a little bit, but the contrasts are kind of bizzare; beheadings and heads on pikes, alongside raybans.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:17 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


The US went in citing a threat that wasn't there and created a new one by leaving the country unprepared to deal with the fallout.

It seems the only way the US could avoid leaving Iraq "unprepared" is to never leave.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:18 PM on August 12


Okay, fine, but what makes them more modern than pakistan or egypt? Unless you're equating western values with modernity.

GDP per capita and PPP that comes close to the developed world.
posted by Talez at 2:21 PM on August 12


when did everyone start to hate reading about drugs and sex? No one ever tells me anything.

It's more of a tone than content thing. The blogs are still very much hipper-than-thou in that old, snarkier Vice way while the newer documentaries are on a much different level. Their photography especially, while not really my thing personally, is very very good (go pick up their photo issue and compare to say, Bloomberg Businessweek). I kind of wonder if their plan is to eventually transition all of their media properties to the "new" Vice tone/brand/whatever but they're holding on to it because it still sells well for the time being. Anyways, it's been interesting to basically watch them do the complete opposite of the accepted wisdom of the "serious journalist" organizations. My local paper, after significantly downsizing of course, has "Six signs you're in a dysfunctional relationship" on their front page next to a dozen stories about Robin Williams and seems to endlessly mess with their subscription model, while Vice is leaving behind the click bait blog thing to actually make shit people want to read and watch. I mean the NYT's coverage of ISIS has been pretty lacking, and yet Vice has some dude embedded with them for ride alongs. It shows that focusing on content, not google analytics, can actually work in the internet age. That's no small feat.

The Economist had an excellent piece almost a decade ago about how 19th-century anarchism more or less showed the roots of modern terrorism, which I think is relevant here. ISIS even flies black banners.

What's the Islamic significance of the black flags? Obviously their ideology is not borrowing anything from the anarchists, and it seems unlikely that they would look to 19th century egalitarians for aesthetics.
posted by bradbane at 2:25 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]


Islamic State Flag Meaning: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Black Standard
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:31 PM on August 12 [6 favorites]


The US fucked up bad -- real, real bad -- when they disbanded the Iraqi army. However, a lot of what's going on right now is due to how fucking horrible Maliki is. The abandonment of the Sunni north didn't have to happen.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:39 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Here's the URL meant to link: The Islamic State. I recall adding it but obviously something went wrong.
posted by stbalbach at 2:50 PM on August 12


Just watched Part 4, where a lot of the film takes place in a stolen church. Makes you think how the Hagia Sophia became what it is today, and the history of the church of Cordoba, which is better known from its time as a mosque.
posted by Thing at 3:07 PM on August 12


here are some updates on...
-the yazidis on sinjar
-the kurds
-the water situation [1,2,3]
-abadi, iraq's new prime minister (but not without a struggle with maliki)

speaking of 'modern muslim countries' and Bloomberg Businessweek...
Qatar's Dangerous Game: Switzerland of the Gulf, Patron of Islamists (also home to Al Jazeera) indonesia, btw, is the world's largest muslim country.
posted by kliuless at 3:45 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


what makes them more modern than pakistan or egypt?

Pakistan is very poor, and includes a lot of territory that is essentally tribal. They are Islamic, but a lot of the values and customs predate Islam. Egypt is richer by comparison but still much poorer than countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Indonesia... and also contains many agrarian communities that are not at all modern.
posted by cell divide at 3:57 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Malaki seems like the guy most responsible for making the latest mess.
posted by humanfont at 3:59 PM on August 12


Yeah, I don't think you can really consider a state "modern" when the central government doesn't even have control over all of its own territory (Pakistan).

CNN is reporting that the father of the boy in the severed head photo has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and has a history of drug abuse, family problems, violent acts, and run-ins with the law.

(I'm sure people here know this, but it's worth pointing out that most people with schizophrenia do not behead people or otherwise become violent.)

Vice really does kill it (no pun intended) with their embedded journalism. The difference from traditional news agencies is like night and day. I'd love to see them leave their sleazoid past behind and fully embrace serious reporting.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:02 PM on August 12


It doesn't look like it will be stopped by anything short of Western military force, which absolutely nobody has an appetite for.

The West still has an appetite for certain uses of force. I'll be pretty surprised if overt US airpower isn't being complemented/guided by forward air controllers supported by special ops units, a la Afghanistan.

But if we start hurting them too much that way, they'll just shelter in the cities. And it's true that no one's in the mood for a few repeats of Fallujah.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:39 PM on August 12


What is the index-finger-straight-up gesture that the IS supporters make in the video? I get the general feel of it (support, solidarity, victory), but does it have some specific meaning or background?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:07 PM on August 12


(Or maybe they are pointing upward toward Allah and heaven?)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:11 PM on August 12


The raised finger is "One God".
posted by Thing at 5:12 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Oh, and if you don't know, it's a specific dig at Christians, whom Muslims are taught to believe have three gods.
posted by Thing at 5:13 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


it's a specific dig at Christians, whom Muslims are taught to believe have three gods.

What? It's not a specific dig at Christians, it's the fundamental articulation of faith. Extending the index finger when reciting the shahadah is an integral act of the 5 daily prayers.
posted by BinGregory at 5:54 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


One thing that hasn't been played up much in the media: You know how we're blowing up a bunch of ISIS guys and their stuff? Much of that stuff is our own equipment.

So, yeah, we blew the fuck out of Iraq's equipment. Then we gave them shiny new American equipment. And now we're blowing the crap out of that equipment. Maybe next we'll be blowing up the equipment we give to replace the replacement equipment we blew up which we gave to replace the original equipment we blew up.

But hey lets arm the dudes in Syria and Ukraine and wherever else. It always works out. Always. If you make the equipment that keeps getting blown up and needs to be replaced anyway.
posted by Justinian at 5:55 PM on August 12


Pic: Extending the index finger during the daily prayers, done while reciting the testimony of faith "I testify there is no God but Allah."
posted by BinGregory at 6:01 PM on August 12


I noticed in the preview for Part 5 that one of the IS fighters yells "No to borders, and no Sykes-Picot agreement."

100 years later, and that British ratfucking of the Arabs is still costing lives.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:18 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]


What? It's not a specific dig at Christians, it's the fundamental articulation of faith. Extending the index finger when reciting the shahadah is an integral act of the 5 daily prayers.

Early Muslims felt incredibly insecure around Christians and sought to differentiate themselves. Claiming that Christians were somehow polytheists and Muslims true monotheists was part of that. The same sense of insecurity was felt about Jews too. A lot of the Koran is about pointing out how the Jews and Christians are wrong in various ways. Most of Muhamed's early converts were polytheists who were easily overawed by the idea of monotheism, but he saw that his religion looked weak in comparison to existing monotheist religions. He coopted them and then undermined them, which gave his religion a defence against their claims. If you peel back the layers of Islam you will find that Muhamed performed a really complex synthesis of existing religions when making his own.
posted by Thing at 6:39 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


The U.S. just announced that at least 130 more advisors aka special forces are going into Northern Iraq aka Kurdistan. The U.S. is also sending a bunch of weapons directly to the Kurds. Combined with the decision to use air strikes against ISIS and the statements of Obama it looks like the U.S. is preparing a go for a long anti-insurgency strategy where some elements Iraqi Army, Shi'ites, Sunni Tribes and Peshmerga combine with American air power and special forces to contain and eventually defeat IS. It sounds like a long hard slog, but one likely to be less visible and therefore less unpopular with American voters than a costly occupation and reconstruction.
posted by humanfont at 7:45 PM on August 12


It doesn't look like it will be stopped by anything short of Western military force ...

Yeah because that's always worked before.

U.S. Actions in Iraq Fueled Rise of a Rebel: “He was a street thug when we picked him up in 2004," ...
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:54 PM on August 12


Hillary Clinton joins critics of Obama's response to ISIS in Iraq
posted by rosswald at 7:58 PM on August 12


Hillary Clinton lacks the moral or intellectual authority to criticize Obama on Iraq given how well her preferred policy worked out in the past there.
posted by Justinian at 8:51 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


In Hillary's defense US foreign policy looked at lot sharper when she was running the State Dept.
posted by humanfont at 10:22 PM on August 12


snuffleupagus: “But if we start hurting them too much that way, they'll just shelter in the cities. And it's true that no one's in the mood for a few repeats of Fallujah.”

We didn't have drones at Fallujah.
posted by koeselitz at 11:16 PM on August 12


Drones aren't magic. You can't fire missiles into a city and not kill a bunch of civilians. A dead civilian in Fallujah is no less dead than one in Gaza or New York City.
posted by Justinian at 11:49 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


In Hillary's defense US foreign policy looked at lot sharper when she was running the State Dept.

Oh, I think she was a great Secretary of State and can be very effective. But it was ultimately Obama calling the shots and I think that reined in her hawkish tendencies. She's got waaaay too much in common with the neocons in terms of foreign policy for my comfort. Still gonna be way better than pretty much anybody the Republicans might nominate of course.
posted by Justinian at 1:49 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Anjem Choudary has confirmed that the people handing out ISIS leaflets on Oxford Street are some of his followers. Everything that I hear about him makes me think more and more that he's MI5. Even Abu Hamza made allegations that he worked with the security services.
posted by Thing at 6:06 AM on August 13


I'd honestly be surprised if he wasn't, though the degree of wittingness and willingness is a question mark. Anjem Choudary, terror canary.
posted by forgetful snow at 6:16 AM on August 13


I'm not sure how one defines 'modern muslim country' if it doesn't include Egypt and Pakistan.

I've spent a decent amount of time in Tunisia, Malaysia and Bosnia and there are many, many Muslims who walk around without a burqa/hijab, drink alcohol, and have frankly much more modern, progressive, egalitarian belief systems than do the majority of right-wing Christians in the US.
posted by crayz at 6:51 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


At the six and a half minute mark in part one they have a fence with several (I stopped counting at four) dead enemy heads mounted on top of the fenceposts. Impressive.

Would definitely click again for some cannibalism footage!
posted by bukvich at 7:27 AM on August 13


Justinian: “Drones aren't magic. You can't fire missiles into a city and not kill a bunch of civilians. A dead civilian in Fallujah is no less dead than one in Gaza or New York City.”

Sure, but – in the first documentary here, the "press officer" for DAASH/ISIL insists that America not be "cowardly" and send drones, but says instead to "send more of your soldiers who we humiliated in Iraq."

It's hard not to hear that and feel like – drones are the answer here. Or at least a big part of it.
posted by koeselitz at 7:34 AM on August 13


HA! Clinton calls Obama to clarify Syria remarks
posted by rosswald at 8:12 AM on August 13


Sure, but – in the first documentary here, the "press officer" for DAASH/ISIL insists that America not be "cowardly" and send drones, but says instead to "send more of your soldiers who we humiliated in Iraq."

Because military spokesmen always say exactly what they want the enemy to do.
posted by empath at 9:03 AM on August 13


I read a NY Times piece summarizing the Hillary article and was annoyed by her hawkish warmongering and her unthoughtful approach to Syria, which seemed to be support the rebels. And as you know if you've read the news or watched the first video here where the ISIS guerillas take over the last Syrian base in the city, ISIS is the rebels, or at least one of many factions. In other words, Hillary called Obama's foreign policy in Syria a failure because he didn't sufficiently support Isis.
posted by johnasdf at 9:59 AM on August 13


We didnt supply arms to the rebels early on. It is possible that this decision meant that only the ISIL and Al Nusra groups had reliable supplies of guns. It is also possible that there was no rebel group that we could reliably arm. When we did send some small arms, the Al Nusra attacked the FSA weapons depots and stole the weapons.
posted by humanfont at 10:30 AM on August 13


I certainly voted for Obama due (in part) to his stance on winding down the Iraq war, but if you watch the Frontline doc. I link up-thread it seems Obama really put Iraq "out-of-mind" - squandering the relative calm bought with 'the surge' and completely ignoring Iraqi politics.

As the US backed away the violence and the sectarian strife came back with a vengeance, and by the time we finally started to decided to pay attention again "cutting the grass" with airstrikes seems to be the only viable "option."
posted by rosswald at 10:47 AM on August 13


I like to think that Vice got useful by jettisoning this guy. 2007 more or less lines up with when I started noticing good reporting and stories like this.
posted by Corinth at 10:52 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I think Obama deserves a lot of credit for working with Sistani and Iran to help convince Dawa to select a new PM. Making military assistance contingent on pluralistic, representative government makes sense, and convincing Sistani and Iran on this is a big achievement. I don't think Obama can be blamed for the disappearing act of the Iraqi military and the massive US intelligence failures. I don't understand why there was no air support against ISIS in Mosul, though. If the US knew Iraq had no airforce it should have provided emergency air support, it seems to me.

Ayatullah Sistani's hand signed letter to the Dawa Party that sealed Maliki's fate, calling them to choose a new PM pic.twitter.com/Qy5yjmAA7F

Success in situations like Iraq and Afghanistan is contingent on the creation of a stable government. There is only so much the US can do to facilitate that. Thus Obama's regrets on Libya for failing to even try to assist the formation of a new government . I wonder if the military should stay longer in Afghanistan.

There does seem to be a consensus opinion that Obama is wrong about Syria. I think we should always support people fighting against totalitarian and/or Jihadist forces for secular democracy, but it is not clear it would have made that much difference. We are arming the FSA with TOW missiles now, and it is a big help against Assad's armor as I understand it, but I'm highly skeptical of the idea that arming FSA earlier would have prevented ISIS' success in Iraq. Maybe what Obama is really hoping for in Syria is a change of leadership in Damascus, similar to Maliki's departure.

Obama on the World
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:22 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Take Two: What's Behind the Religious Conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:08 PM on August 13


I think trying to split the region into easily understood groups is part of the problem and has been part of the problem all along. There are many ways to differentiate between groups in that region -- language, ethnicity, religion, sect, regional, family, etc, and I think people may primarily identify with one group or another depending on conditions on the ground -- the most well known example of that being the Kurds, who also happen to be primarily Sunni, but are the biggest opponents of the Sunni religious group ISIS.
posted by empath at 1:15 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


twitter - @b_judah: The real borders of the Middle East.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:41 PM on August 13


Part 5 is up.
posted by gman at 3:20 PM on August 13


I think we should always support people fighting against totalitarian and/or Jihadist forces for secular democracy

Maybe, but I think the idea that we have any ability to arm people in Syria fighting for secular democracy - hell, that we have any idea who is fighting for what in Syria - is very far fetched. Their own commanders have no idea who is fighting under them a lot of the time and we're supposed to make sure the weapons end up in the hands of a secular democratist and not ISIS? That's impossible.
posted by Justinian at 3:39 PM on August 13


Baghdadi Denial Syndrome
One of the most alarming features of Arab responses to the rise of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq is a persistent pattern of neurotic denial in the form of conspiracy theories and other escapist fantasies. ...

... The most outlandish version circulating online holds that IS leader and "caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is, in fact, a Jewish actor named Elliot Shimon ...
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:30 PM on August 13


Malaki seems like the guy most responsible for making the latest mess.

Bush and Cheney are absolutely most responsible. Malaki wouldn't be a footnote, let alone a main player, if not for Bush/Cheney.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:05 PM on August 13


Reports are now that there were far fewer Yazidis on Mount Sinjar than previously reported, that they are in far better condition than previously reported, and that the siege is now broken. Exaggerated reports used to drum up support for military action? How could such a thing be true?!?!
posted by Justinian at 5:40 PM on August 13


Wait until the Christian Right finds out that yazidis essentially worship lucifer.
posted by empath at 5:54 PM on August 13


What reports Justinian? There seems to be a lot of evidence that there is a substantial population of Yazidis on Mt. Sinjar. The Guardian which is not a bastion of pro-war propaganda has suggested that there are 20,000-30,000 people trapped on Mt Sinjar at this point.
posted by humanfont at 5:55 PM on August 13


humanfront: Pentagon: Mass evacuation of Yazidis in Iraq unlikely.
A mass evacuation of Yazidis hiding from extremist fighters on Iraq's Sinjar Mountains is unlikely following an assessment by the U.S. State Department and military that found far fewer people trapped than previously feared.
[...]
"The Yazidis who remain are in better condition than previously believed and continue to have access to the food and water that we have dropped," he said, citing the success of humanitarian airdrops and airstrikes against ISIS.
posted by Justinian at 6:05 PM on August 13


> Wait until the Christian Right finds out that yazidis essentially worship lucifer.

Oh come on even the Christian Right people can type "do the yazidis worship the devil" into a google search box.
posted by bukvich at 6:08 PM on August 13


Re "this guy," Gavin McInnis, it makes a lot more sense to me now why VICE is so much less hipstery-fuckery-nyah than it used to be. For example see the documentary "Screwed in Houston." It's entertaining but just totally off and in a different tone.

I am totally going to watch these videos tonight and try to fight off the ensuing depression with Pepcid AC, followed by Dickel Rye or Knob Rye and hopefully a bunch of water.

I can't resist including one of my responses to the Advocate article on Gavin:

He's like a 14 year old who just discovered Anton LaVey's Satanic Bible except he mixed it up with the Bible and is showing us all how saying "such and such is natural" is some sort of refutation of the assertion that trans people are born with a sexual identity that often does not match up in one way or another to their physical expression of gender.

The point of saying "being trans is natural" is to help explain to people who otherwise feel they must crush all who behave "unnaturally" that they are not outright choosing to subject themselves to a lifetime of brutish hostility, as we saw with the gay rights movement in the 90's and beyond. In a sense it's a step backwards because it acknowledges that people otherwise feel some wreck-it-Ralph idiotic inclination to crush somebody else because they may have "chosen" to be radically different in ways that don't directly affect the brute in the first place.

But then to come back around and say "being an asshole is natural" doesn't explain anything new, it's tautological because nobody is saying assholes should be destroyed or outed or denied rights or verbally abused everywhere they go even if they kept their assholery under wraps -- being an asshole is a thing humans do, but it's a thing they choose to do when faced with countervailing evidence. I believe I was a born asshole to some extent but I control it as much as possible. I don't direct it at people for pronouncing their English with Latin vowels or being overtly "gay looking" or "trans looking" or having PCOS or whatever. I direct it at assholes like this as much as I can, and unfortunately also some of the people I spend the most time with.
posted by aydeejones at 7:12 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Reuters: Islamic State militants grab new weapon - Iraqi wheat
posted by rosswald at 7:27 PM on August 13


*We didn't have drones at Fallujah.*

I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean...drones carry Hellfire missiles. We had air superiority in the Iraq war, and plenty of aircraft carrying Hellfires and other similar weapons.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:25 PM on August 13


We had drones in Fallujah. We might not have used them, but Predators have been in use since just before 9-11.

The US will use air power and advisors/special forces to stop ISIL advances in support of Kurds and Iraqi army. The Iraqi army will get a lot of easy to use city flattening weapons systems from Russia such as the missile artilery systems they just bought. This fall American drones ans airplanes will target ISIL leadership. As the fall elections season hits the US there will be many reports of ISIL leaders killed by US airstrikes. The public will decide we are winning or stop paying attention. Meanwhile the Iraqi army will receive training from Russia on how to use their new weapons. In January the Iraqi Army will launch its big counter offensive. Mousel will look like Grozney. It will all be very depressing.
posted by humanfont at 10:29 PM on August 13 [5 favorites]


Exclusive: Governor of Iraq's Sunni heartland secures U.S. support against militants
The governor of Iraq's Anbar province in the Sunni heartland said he has asked for and secured U.S. support in the battle against Islamic State militants because opponents of the group may not have the stamina for a long fight.
...

Asked whether Dulaimi was correct in saying the United States had made a commitment, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said she had no details but that American officials had met with a range of people in Iraq to discuss their security needs.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:58 PM on August 14


Hezbollah sees Islamic State as threat to Gulf, Jordan:
The leader of Lebanese group Hezbollah described the radical Islamist movement that has seized territory in Iraq and Syria as a growing "monster" that could threaten Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf states.
This next link should probably be taken with a grain-of-salt, but I thought it was interesting - China Sees Islamic State Inching Closer to Home:
They've been grabbing headlines nearly everywhere else, but the jihadis of northern Iraq haven't been getting much play in China. But a threat by the Islamic State (IS) of revenge against countries, including China, for seizing what IS calls "Muslim rights" appears to have changed all that.

The comments were made in early July, but the news didn't jump the language barrier from Arabic into Mandarin until August 8, when Phoenix Weekly, a Hong Kong-based newsmagazine widely distributed in China, made the IS revenge threats against China its cover story. Since then, the article has been widely syndicated on Chinese news websites and has gained traction on social media as well. Ordinary Chinese who may have felt distant from the carnage now feel it creeping closer to home.
posted by rosswald at 7:44 AM on August 15


This Man Slept Through the Islamic State's Takeover of His Town
posted by homunculus at 11:58 PM on August 15


Enough lies, the Arab body politic created the ISIS cancer
posted by rosswald at 7:17 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]


Vice News: How The Islamic State Seized Peshmerga Territory So Easily
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:08 PM on August 17


So apparently we're the Iraqi/Kurdish Air Force now, what with flying CAS over the Mosul Dam. I'm so glad.
posted by Justinian at 4:18 PM on August 17


Iraq is Vietnam and Obama is Rambo. We are absolutely the good guys and this time we'll win. Right? Please?
posted by humanfont at 11:03 PM on August 17


It'll be over by Christmas.
posted by Justinian at 2:27 AM on August 18 [3 favorites]


'No' from one Iraq villager triggered Islamic State mass killings
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:24 AM on August 19


ISIL Beheads American Photojournalist:

A video posted by ISIL terrorists purports to the show the beheading of an American photojournalist who has been missing since 2012. The group claims the beheading is a message to President Obama to end the American intervention in Iraq.
posted by rosswald at 3:33 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


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