Ibrahim al-Badri, a run-of-the-mill Sunni Iraqi cleric, gained a degree from the University of Baghdad at a time when pedagogy there had collapsed because of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship and international sanctions. After 2003 he took the name Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and turned to a vicious and psychopathic violence involving blowing up children at ice cream shops and blowing up gerbils and garden snakes at pet shops and blowing up family weddings, then coming back and blowing up the resultant funerals. This man is one of the most infamous serial killers in modern history, with the blood of thousands on his hands, before whom Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy fade into insignificance.
I am unabashedly cheering the liberation movement on, and glad that the UNSC-authorized intervention has saved them from being crushed.
If the Left opposed intervention, it de facto acquiesced in Qaddafi’s destruction of a movement embodying the aspirations of most of Libya’s workers and poor, along with large numbers of white collar middle class people. Qaddafi would have reestablished himself, with the liberation movement squashed like a bug and the country put back under secret police rule. The implications of a resurgent, angry and wounded Mad Dog, his coffers filled with oil billions, for the democracy movements on either side of Libya, in Egypt and Tunisia, could well have been pernicious.
I would like to urge the Left to learn to chew gum and walk at the same time. ... . If we just don’t care if the people of Benghazi are subjected to murder and repression on a vast scale, we aren’t people of the Left.
Hoopo: “There is no military solution to this.
No offense, but a military solution is indeed pretty much the solution to a bunch of armed lunatics using military force to take over cities and impose their will at gunpoint.”
I submit to you also this excellent analysis from the Journal of Small Wars. For once, do read the comments.
Three facts no one seems to factor in:
1. Obama is a muslim.
"The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities."
Since the end of the Cold War 16 years ago, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have been running an experiment with U.S. grand strategy. The theory to be tested has been this: Very good intentions, plus very great power, plus action can transform both international politics and the domestic politics of other states in ways that are advantageous to the United States, and at costs it can afford. The evidence is in: The experiment has failed. Transformation is unachievable, and costs are high.
The United States needs now to test a different grand strategy: It should conceive its security interests narrowly, use its military power stingily, pursue its enemies quietly but persistently, share responsibilities and costs more equitably, watch and wait more patiently. Let’s do this for 16 years and see if the outcomes aren’t better.
After a flurry of speculation recently that President Obama might overcome his distaste for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to go after Islamic State militants in their base inside Syria, the White House is speaking out: There will be no cooperation with the Assad regime.
But even as the United States begins surveillance flights over Syria in anticipation of possible expanded US action against the Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS, some security experts are cautioning the administration about its anti-Assad stance. While it will be possible for the US to degrade IS inside Syria without coordinating with Mr. Assad, they say, reaching more long-term objectives like defeating or even containing the group will probably mean giving up on the goal of seeing Assad step down from power.
Twenty years from now, how will we reflect on this Council’s failure to help those people? How will we explain Council disunity on Syria twenty years after Rwanda
Isis may well advance on Aleppo in preference to Baghdad: it’s a softer target and one less likely to provoke international intervention. This will leave the West and its regional allies – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – with a quandary: their official policy is to get rid of Assad, but Isis is now the second strongest military force in Syria; if he falls, it’s in a good position to fill the vacuum. Like the Shia leaders in Baghdad, the US and its allies have responded to the rise of Isis by descending into fantasy. They pretend they are fostering a ‘third force’ of moderate Syrian rebels to fight both Assad and Isis, though in private Western diplomats admit this group doesn’t really exist outside a few beleaguered pockets. Aymenn al-Tamimi confirms that this Western-backed opposition ‘is getting weaker and weaker’; he believes supplying them with more weapons won’t make much difference.
Assad never really made war against the IS a priority until recently, as one of his own advisors (in the Ministry of Reconciliation, no less) has just felt confident enough to admit to the New York Times. In fact, Assad financed ISIS through oil sales and let many of its mid- or top-ranking figures out of Sednaya prison in 2011, knowing full well they’d go back to jihad, and largely left it alone to establish a command center in Raqqa, where it runs military training camps and administers a totalitarian form of government, replete with the brainwashing of Arab youth. Only after the IS sacked Mosul on June 10 – and probably only because Suleimani ordered it – did a Syrian Air Force campaign against the terrorists begin in earnest, ending what Ambassador Fred Hof has called the “de facto collaboration” between Assad and the IS.
Assad’s belated interest in combating the IS and his piss-poor performance has been so conspicuous that even his supporters have begun to notice. “The jihadist offensive has prompted some panicked supporters of the Syrian government to sharply criticize the leadership,” the New York Times’ Beirut correspondent Anne Barnard wrote last week, “questioning why it appeared to allow ISIS to build a base in the northern Syria province of Raqqa over the last year while claiming the Syrian Army was fighting terrorism.” Some loyalists have blamed the regime in general for not sending the necessary reinforcements into Raqqa, and the now-sacked Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Freij in particular for ensuring that his own “sons are safe in Damascus.”
The information on the laptop makes clear that its owner is a Tunisian national named Muhammed S. who joined ISIS in Syria and who studied chemistry and physics at two universities in Tunisia's northeast. Even more disturbing is how he planned to use that education:
The ISIS laptop contains a 19-page document in Arabic on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals.
"The advantage of biological weapons is that they do not cost a lot of money, while the human casualties can be huge," the document states.
The document includes instructions for how to test the weaponized disease safely, before it is used in a terrorist attack. "When the microbe is injected in small mice, the symptoms of the disease should start to appear within 24 hours," the document says.
The laptop also includes a 26-page fatwa, or Islamic ruling, on the usage of weapons of mass destruction. "If Muslims cannot defeat the kafir [unbelievers] in a different way, it is permissible to use weapons of mass destruction,"
Despite Obama's calls for Assad to step down, many Syrians blame him for refusing to help the armed opposition topple the regime, and U.S.-backed moderate rebels have been sidelined by better-funded Islamist rivals. As extremists gain strength, Assad has positioned himself both domestically and abroad as the best alternative — which Ferzat says was his strategy all along. "The continuance of terrorism in Syria means the continuance of the regime," he says. "And if it weren't for Obama's hesitation, we would never have reached this point."
“The overriding point is that success breeds success,” said Emile Nakhleh, a former C.I.A. analyst. “The perception of quick victories and territory and weapons and bases means they don’t need to try hard to recruit.”
For two decades, Mr. Nakhleh said, Osama bin Laden talked about re-establishing the caliphate, but he never claimed to have done it. “Young people look at ISIS and say, ‘By gosh, they’re doing it!’ They see the videos with fighters riding on big tanks. They see that ISIS has money,” he said.
...a British fighter identified as Brother Abu Bara al-Hindi poses the call to jihad as a test for comfortable Westerners. “Are you willing to sacrifice the fat job you’ve got, the big car, the family?” he asks. Despite such luxuries, he says, “Living in the West, I know how you feel — in the heart you feel depressed.” The Prophet Muhammad, he declares, said, “The cure for depression is jihad.”
Abu Mousab, who himself seemed shell-shocked during a two hour interview, said locals in Deir El Zour and elsewhere in Syria are willing to risk their lives to fight the Islamic State and could take back their country, but they need backing. “This is our land. These are our people,” he said. “If we had outside support, they would not be able to advance,” he said. But the support is not only in arms and ammunition, for fighters need salaries so they can feed their families as well as a promise of benefits for families if they die in battle.
He cited four lessons from the fall of the city. “We need officers with a military mind” to plot strategy and tactics, an “operational headquarters that is responsible for all of Syria,” not just one region or sub-region, more military training, and access to weapons, in particular anti-tank weapons.
The Islamic State militant group released a video purporting to show the beheading of U.S. hostage Steven Sotloff, the SITE monitoring service reported on Tuesday.
A masked figure in the video also issued a threat against a British hostage, a man the group named as David Haines, and warned governments to back off "this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State", the monitoring service said.
Sotloff, a freelance journalist, was kidnapped in Syria in August 2013. Sotloff's mother Shirley appealed on Aug. 27 in a videotaped message to Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, for her son's release.
What is most worrying perhaps is that IS has become a means of concealing a seemingly universal political vacuum. Everyone who hated Bush’s “war on terror” — seeing it either as inadvertently pouring oil on the flames, or as an aberrant throwback to the logic of imperialism — is now happily singing from that very hymn sheet, because it saves them having to think about the real challenges the region poses.
From this, there follows a sequence of statements each more absurd than the last. Iran to the West: embrace us because of the IS threat. Arab regimes to their people: we won’t give an inch because of the IS threat. The Syrian opposition: save us from ourselves because of the IS threat. Hizbullah to the Lebanese people: everything is permissible because of the IS threat. The US: we aren’t going to intervene in Syria because of the IS threat, but we will strike Iraq... because of the IS threat.
African leaders meet in Kenya today to discuss ways of boosting domestic efforts and international support to combat insurgencies that have killed thousands of people across the continent this year.
At least six heads of state, including the presidents of Nigeria, Somalia and Chad, the prime minister of Algeria and ministerial delegations from Libya, South Africa and Ethiopia, are attending the summit in the capital, Nairobi. The meeting is expected to see leaders agree on “concrete steps” to enhance existing measures to “effectively address the threat of terrorism,” the African Union said in a statement yesterday.
Islamist militias in Libya took control of nearly a dozen commercial jetliners last month...
“There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing,” said one official.
CAIRO (Reuters) - After leaving his upscale Cairo neighborhood to fight with the Islamic State militant group in Syria and Iraq, Younes says he learned how to work as a sniper, fire heavy weaponry and behead prisoners using the proper technique.
One year later he harbors the kind of ambition that could create a security nightmare for Egyptian authorities: to return home and hoist the Islamic State's black flag in Egypt as his comrades have over large swathes of Iraq and Syria.
Eventually, says Younes, he and other Egyptian fighters in Islamic State intend to topple Egypt's U.S.-backed government and extend their caliphate to the biggest Arab nation.
“As it relates to the specifics of this matter, based on the information that has been provided to me, I don’t believe that is accurate,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in response to a question
NYT - Mr. Obama’s speech amounted to a strategy for a problem he has long said would defy an American remedy: sectarian strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in countries with deeply disaffected minorities and no history of democratic government.
Among the questions that Mr. Obama did not answer: How will the United States and its allies reinvigorate a moderate Syrian opposition that has been marginalized by more extremist forces? And how can the United States act against ISIS in Syria without benefiting President Bashar al-Assad?
WND EXCLUSIVE - The Kingdom of Jordan is deeply concerned about the Obama administration’s renewed plan to train “moderate” rebels in Syria, believing the Syrian rebels are mostly extremists who espouse radical al-Qaida-like ideology, a senior Jordanian security official told WND.
The official said Obama’s decision to fight the Islamic State, or ISIS, and at the same time arm Syrian rebels was made during a compromise with Saudi Arabia in exchange for Saudi help in scaling back the ISIS threat.
Obama last night announced a sustained campaign against ISIS that could include air strikes and other action in Syria and Iraq. Democrats and Republicans in Congress reportedly support utilizing up to $4 billion to arm the Syrian rebels, with emphasis on the Free Syrian Army.
The security official said Jordan’s estimation is that the Free Syrian Army is no longer a cohesive fighting unit.
And the Jordanian kingdom fears that with U.S. acquiescence, Saudi Arabia will train and arm the al-Nusra front in Syria. Al-Nusra is allied with al-Qaida, although some al-Nusra militants have fought factional conflicts with ISIS.
VikingSword: “"This is a war that could go on for another 10, 15 years[," King said.]”
Most of the US debate about arming Syrian rebels is fairly rigid. The rhetoric in Washington is about "degrading and defeating" the Islamic State. Anything beyond that is mission creep or neoconservative warmongering, which triggers "quagmire" warnings from the political-media complex. As far as the US is concerned, the battle to defeat the Islamic State boils down to one point: "You're either with us or against us."
But as far as most of the major combatants are concerned, the conflict in the Middle East isn't merely a fight for or against the Islamic State. It's a broader regional war in which the Islamic State is one faction. Defeating the Islamic State may require defeating the Iranian proxies in Syria and elsewhere. And that might require cooperation with the Islamic State.
Alternatively, it could mean convincing the West to cooperate with Iran and its allies to defeat the Islamic State, which would put the Western coalition at odds with the rest of the Syrian and Iraqi Sunni forces.
Though Iran has been broadcasting pictures and videos of top state officials and noted foreign dignitaries visiting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the hospital, the health of the man who has held the most powerful post in the Islamic Republic remains unclear. The unusual public relations management of what has been described as a prostate surgery suggests Tehran may be preparing the nation and the world for a transition to a third supreme leader. Iranian efforts to project an atmosphere of normalcy conceal concerns among players in the Iranian political system that a power vacuum will emerge just as the Islamic republic has reached a geopolitical crossroads.
One of those killed was Tawfiq Bensaud, an 18-year-old youth activist. In a photograph circulated on social media sites, Bensaud, with a toothy grin and mop of unkempt hair, held a sign that read: “Smile, you are in Benghazi.”
“It’s depressing. The people who were killed came from all walks of life,” said Mustafa Sallak, a Benghazi-based doctor. “Soldiers, activists, sheikhs,” he said. “People are afraid.”
Instead of pushing Assad to reach a political compromise in 2011 with peaceful protesters, Iran sent its Lebanese Hezbollah proxies into Syria to fight for Assad and dispatched its own Revolutionary Guard commanders to oversee the Syrian counter-revolution. Iran’s pursuit of strategic dominance from Iraq, through Syria, to Lebanon helped create favorable conditions for ISIS barbarians who say they want to slaughter Shiites and Persians first of all.
This threat exists because war and conflict have destabilized the region.
More war won’t fix that.
Just as throwing more and more of our children into Vietnam didn’t bring peace or stability there.
Most certainly we should be concerned. We should be outraged and appalled at the brutality and the horror. Absolutely we should be. Absolutely we should acknowledge our role in this mess and provide what support we can to aid those caught in the middle. With caution. With prudence. With an understanding that real peace and stability can’t be imposed at the muzzle of a gun or dropped from a bomb bay or by shouting Kill ‘em!
NYT - The United States and allies launched airstrikes against Sunni militants in Syria early Tuesday, unleashing a torrent of cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs from the air and sea on the militants’ de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, and along the porous Iraq border.
American fighter jets and armed Predator and Reaper drones, flying alongside warplanes from several Arab allies, struck a broad array of targets in territory controlled by the militants known as the Islamic State. American military officials said the targets included weapons supplies, depots, barracks and buildings the militants use for command and control. Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from United States Navy ships in the region.
You wouldn’t know it from the threat inflation (see here and here) by U.S. senior officials and politicians concerning the Islamic State — aka ISIL, ISIS, ISI, and AQI — but this terrorist threat is already successfully contained and poses little immediate or direct threat to American interests in the region or globally.
It may already be too late. Two years ago, the United States could have killed ISIL before it was born with limited airstrikes on the Assad regime. Back then, the regime was on the run. Free Syrian Army rebels who promoted a “pluralistic, multi-ethnic, multi-religious society” were ripping through regime positions in northern and eastern Syria and even making gains in the capital. The desperate Assad regime only stanched the tide by initiating the first systematic aerial attacks on civilian neighborhoods. If the United States had denied Assad his air monopoly back then, moderate rebels would have regained the initiative, probably seized the capital and presided over moves toward democracy as they did in other Syrian territories.
By Jan. 6, rebels were within blocks of ISIL’s international headquarters; airstrikes on ISIL identical to the ones conducted last night would have delivered the death blow. But the only airstrikes rebels saw were regime attacks behind their front lines with ISIL, which forced them to suspend their offensive.
Don’t get me wrong: If the current airstrikes on ISIL are strong enough to affect ground developments, they will be enormously beneficial to Syria. I am in regular touch with moderate rebel commanders in the main rebel stronghold of Aleppo and in Kobani, a Syrian Kurdish city now under ISIL siege. The Kurds fear that ISIL may soon capture their area and slaughter thousands of civilians, and have pleaded for U.S. airstrikes against ISIL on multiple occasions. Monday night’s airstrikes are an important step forward.
But airstrikes on ISIL only address the symptoms of Syria’s cancer. To destroy ISIL once and for all requires addressing the cause: the Assad regime.
The attacks on the Khorasan Group also complicate U.S. efforts to partner with the more moderate opposition. One Syrian rebel group supported in the past by the United States condemned the air strikes on Tuesday. Harakat Hazm, a rebel group that received a shipment of U.S. anti-tank weapons in the spring, called the airstrikes “an attack on national sovereignty” and charged that foreign led attacks only strengthen the Assad regime.
"As for the raids in Syria, I say that what has happened so far is proceeding in the right direction in terms of informing the Syrian government and by not targeting Syrian military installations and not targeting civilians," he said.
Iran has long been harboring senior al Qaeda, al Nusra, and so-called Khorasan Group leaders as part of its complicated strategy to influence the region and keep itself off the terrorist target list, according the U.S. government, intelligence agencies, and terrorism experts.
“The Iranian regime has nurtured al Qaeda for many years. There are links, there are contacts, they know these people,” said Fouad Hamdan, executive director of the Netherlands-based Rule of Law Foundation, which funds Naame Shaam, an NGO focused on Iran’s role in Syria.
Naame Shaam has produced a 105-page report on Iran’s mischief inside Syria and its ties to al Qaeda, al Nusra, and ISIS. Al Qaeda and ISIS are under orders not to attack inside Iran in order to preserve their supply network there, the report states. The U.S. government concurs.
In recent years Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda has soured. Al Qaeda leaders began leaving Iran in late 2008, including Osama bin Laden’s son Saad bin Laden. Today, Iran supports the governments of Syria and Iraq in their fight against al Qaeda franchises and ISIS.
Nonetheless, some al Qaeda senior managers remain in Iran. Seth Jones, the director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation, said Iran could help the new U.S. campaign against ISIS and al Qaeda by rounding up the remaining al Qaeda operatives on its own territory.
“They could capture and hand over the remaining al Qaeda officials on Iranian soil,” he said. “A few, including Saif al Adel, remain in Iran.”
All of us are from Raqqa, and we were all in Raqqa our all lives.
We were activists against the Assad regime when we started, but after our city was freed, and ISIS took over our freedom, we just decided to launch this campaign to expose all the crimes that ISIS do, and not just ISIS but all the extremist groups in the city.
Most of the people of Raqqa are against ISIS, maybe 90 percent. The other 10, ISIS gives them money, power, and because of that they want it in the city. After the airstrikes, a few more people said, "I will be with ISIS against these strikes." But most in the city just want them out. They are just tired.
“All of the villages around us are Arabs, and they joined with Daash (the Arabic term for ISIL) against us. They are our neighbours. We have known them all our lives. We don’t know what happened to them,” Khalaf said. “They say if we come back they will kill us. They say, ‘we have taken your house, your car, your fields.’ This is why we do not want to go back.”
The scale of the Yazidi pogrom has yet to be fully comprehended by the outside world, Duhok Mayor Mohammad Amin Osman told me.
“Where is the world?” Osman asked. “Here in Duhok, we are Kurds, Arabs, and some Christians, and we are feeling the sadness for the Yazidis. As humans we are feeling their suffering. For the Yazidis, a genocide has happened for them now. All around them they see enemies, and they are afraid of dying.”
Canada has found about $20 million for humanitarian aid to Northern Iraq since the crisis began – a paltry sum, but above average. Even in Syria, where no refuge at all is available to the Arab victims of Bashar Assad and the ISIL gangrene his savagery has caused to spread through the region, the World Food Program has just announced that it is cutting back on the food rations it supplies to six million people, owing to the broken pledges of UN member states.
“It is because the money is not coming in. This is devastating news for people who are aid-dependent.
There is a three month lag between the time food supplies are purchased and delivered on the ground, Ging said. “This will come at a time when the suffering is exacerbated by winter.
“So we will find humanitarian agencies cutting down on aid deliveries when aid is needed more than ever,” he said. “It is not just food, it is vital shelter material, clothing and supplies for water and sanitation.”
Slap*Happy: Calling them "ISIS" means you buy into what the American press is selling at the moment, and brother, it changes but quick.
Calling them "ISIS" means you buy into what the American press is selling at the moment, and brother, it changes but quick.
"I am a Muslim. al-Nusra Front represents me."
While analysts, military and security bodies, and the political leadership tried to approach this new offensive on the region from their own perspectives, they all agreed on a common question: Are the Americans this stupid to do us such a favor?
The answer is, “no, of course not.” Hence, there must be some other motives that have yet to reach the surface, and which need to be revealed.
This question is justified based on the following concept: If ISIS and its affiliated groups consider Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime as their main enemy, then any strike against the terrorist group, in any shape or form, will no doubt benefit these parties. What happened that made the United States take such an action?
For the past few weeks, a string of curious and deadly events has been taking place in Eastern Kurdistan.
Salafi extremists have long been rumored to be operating inside Kurdistan with Iran’s support.
It came as no great surprise to long-time observers, either, when Iran sent tanks across the border.
This is standard fare for Iran–disruption, diversion, and deception.
No, of greater importance are the spate of killings in Urmye, Bokan and Jwanro. These areas are either squarely inside Iran or Kurdistan, depending on who you ask. Starting in September, members of the moderate Kurdish opposition reported five members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “wearing Kurdish cloths” had been shot. A week prior, a member of IRGC reportedly operating in Urmye also lost his life.
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