New Sunni Insurgency in Iraq

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Largely ignored by the global media, Iraq today stands on the brink of a renewed Sunni insurgency.  The emergent insurgency in Iraq is following the same sectarian pattern as the civil war in Syria and the growing violence in Lebanon. It also involves many of the same local and regional players.

The rising violence in Iraq is not, however, simply the result of a spillover from the Syrian war. It derives also from internal Iraqi dynamics. But these are themselves in significant ways comparable to the Syrian and Lebanese situations.

Over 9000 people were killed in fighting in Iraq in 2013.  This is not yet up to the levels of violence just prior to the surge, in the very worst days of the insurgency against U.S. forces and the sectarian bloodletting that accompanied it.  But it’s the highest since 2007.  This year, more than 2000 people have already lost their lives as a result of political violence in Iraq.

As of today, a coalition of Sunni insurgent groups control the city of Fallujah in Iraq’s Anbar province west of Baghdad.  The city of Ramadi  remains partially in insurgent hands, though its southern districts have been re-conquered by government forces in recent days.

Nor is the violence confined to Anbar province.  Rather, car bombings have become a near daily occurrence in Baghdad, and insurgent activity against Iraqi security forces and non-Sunni civilians is taking place in Nineveh, Mosul, Kirkuk and elsewhere in areas of high Sunni Arab population.

So who are these insurgents, and why have events in Iraq reached this crisis point?

As in Syria, a myriad of insurgent groups have emerged. But there are two main forces. These are ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and the Naqshbandi Army.

ISIS emerged in Iraq in 2004, and for a time constituted the official franchise of al-Qaeda in the country.  Under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by U.S. forces in 2005,  it became renowned for its brutal methods.

ISIS experienced a resurgence during the Syrian civil war, and today it controls much of Raqqa province in eastern Syria, including Raqqa city.

In February, 2014, ISIS was “expelled” from al-Qaeda because of its insanely brutal methods in northern Syria, which have included, for example, execution of civilians for smoking, and for swearing.

This movement is now an active force on the insurgent council that now governs Falluja.  Its fighters also rove freely in the vast deserts of western Anbar, making the desert highways unsafe for travelers and government forces.

Read more at Gloria Center

Also see:

The Ayatollahs’ Secret Arms Deal with Iraq

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The Obama administration, which is pushing for a final nuclear with the Islamic Republic of Iran and an easing of sanctions, has repeatedly told the American people to trust the Iranian government and that Iran is a rational state actor. Billions of dollars have already flowed into the Ayatollahs government, sanctions on some trade sections have been lifted, Iran’s currency (Rial) is regaining its value, Tehran’s non-oil exports are on the rise as it is starting to feel the benefits of easing international sanctions, and Iran has increased its oil exports and production.

According to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Customs Office, Iran hit a record high in exports with $37.36 billions worth of non-oil products exported during the course of the past eleven months— from March 21, 2013 to February 20, 2014.

Iranian leaders have markedly increased their oil exports, particularly to China and India over the past few months. Iran’s oil exports increased significantly after the interim nuclear deal. According to Iran’s semi-official news agency Press TV, Iran’s oil sales picked up from 1.06 million barrels per day (bpd) to 1.32 million bpd.

A confluence of interests brought Iranian leaders to a desperate political and economic position, and ultimately to the negotiating table for nuclear talks. The main concerns of the Ayatollahs were the economic sanctions and high inflation that endangered the hold on power of the ruling Iranian cleric.

The major question is: what is the Obama administration doing in response? Instead of setting any deals based on American or the international community’s terms, the Obama administration is setting the nuclear deals based on the interests of the Iranian leaders. This is followed by a release of billions of dollars and the lifting of sanctions.

More importantly, how have the Iranian leaders responded to these kind offers?  These economic and political moves have emboldened and strengthened the geopolitical and economic status of the Ayatollahs.

A few weeks ago, in a secret arms deal, the Islamic Republic and the Iraqi Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Maliki signed an arms deal worth millions of dollars. The deal was recently revealed by Reuters news agency.  Based on the recent report by Reuters, Tehran has signed a $195 million arms deal with the central Iraqi government. Accordingly, Iranian and Iraqi defense officials have signed eight agreements through which Iran will sell Baghdad arms, military communications equipment, ammunition for tanks artillery, mortars, and ammunition for U.S.-made M-12 assault rifles, among other weaponry.

First of all, it is worth noting that this arms deal is in violation of the United Nations embargo on weapons sales by Iran. But the Obama administration has not seriously reacted about this arms deal and is still continuing the nuclear talks to reach a final nuclear deal and remove all economic and political sanctions against Iran.

This arms deal is considered to be the first official arms agreement between the Shi’ite Iranian government and Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government of Maliki. This also shows the increasing military, geopolitical, strategic and economic relationship between Iran and Iraq since American troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, and since the United States started to lift sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Read more at Front Page

Al Qaeda controls more territory than ever in Middle East

20140107_FallujahIraqmap620x350By Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland:

(CNN) – From around Aleppo in western Syria to small areas of Falluja in central Iraq, al Qaeda now controls territory that stretches more than 400 miles across the heart of the Middle East, according to English and Arab language news accounts as well as accounts on jihadist websites.

Indeed, al Qaeda appears to control more territory in the Arab world than it has done at any time in its history.

The focus of al Qaeda’s leaders has always been regime change in the Arab world in order to install Taliban-style regimes. Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri acknowledged as much in his 2001 autobiography, “Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet,” when he explained that the most important strategic goal of al Qaeda was to seize control of a state, or part of a state, somewhere in the Muslim world, explaining that, “without achieving this goal our actions will mean nothing.”

Now al-Zawahiri is closer to his goal than he has ever been. On Friday al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq seized control of parts of the city of Falluja and parts of the city of Ramadi, both of which are located in Iraq’s restive Anbar Province.

Anbar is home to predominantly Sunni Muslims, who feel that that the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki treats the Sunnis as second-class citizens.

Sectarian tensions in Anbar recently burst into several all-out revolts against the government, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as the al-Qaeda affiliate there is known, quickly seized the opportunity to notch some battlefield victories.

Government forces increased their presence around Falluja in response and on Tuesday tribal leaders issued a statement urging people who had fled the city or stopped reporting to work to return.

ISIS is also operating in Syria, where it has established a presence in many areas of the Aleppo and Idlib Governorates in the northwest. In August, ISIS launched a propaganda series on video highlighting their activities in Syria, which includes interviews with fighters; the “graduation” of a group of mujahedin “cubs” (aged about 7 to 10 years old) from training, and sermons at local mosques preaching al Qaeda’s interpretation of Islam.

The al-Nusra front has claimed to control parts of at least a dozen Syrian towns. Those include sections of the ancient city of the Aleppo in the northwest, where fighters have been filmed running a community fair and preaching al Qaeda’s values to crowds of children.

The group has also released videos on jihadist websites claiming that it is providing services to the people of several towns in the governorate of Idlib, which borders the Aleppo Governorate to the west. Al Nusra claims that it is a quasi-government and service-provider in the towns of Binnish, Taum, and Saraqib.

Al-Nusra fighters allied to al Qaeda function like a government in areas they control in Syria. The group provides daily deliveries of bread, free running water and electricity, a health clinic, and a strict justice system based on Sharia law in the eastern Syrian city of Ash Shaddadi, where it also took control of the city’s wheat silos and oil wells.

In September a CNN reporting team concluded, “Al Qaeda has swept to power with the aim of imposing a strict Islamist ideology on Syrians across large swathes of Syria’s rebel-held north.”

In sum, al Qaeda affiliates now control much of northern and northwestern Syria as well as some parts of eastern Syria, as well as much of Anbar province, which is around a third of Iraqi territory.

Read more at CNN

Also see:

The Fruit of Obama’s Abandonment of Iraq

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Anbar province, the region of Iraq that 1,300 American soldiers died pacifying, is at risk of being taken over by al Qaeda jihadists and their affiliate, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Fighting between Iraqi government forces and the jihadists is currently going on in Ramadi and Fallujah, the latter city the site in 2004 of the bloodiest battle of the Iraq War. If the Iraqi government fails to retake the city and push back against the jihadist “al Qaedastan” fiefdom now forming in eastern Iraq and western Syria, the American hard-fought victory in Fallujah will be the emblem of how once again an incompetent administration snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, with repercussions for the whole region.

The debacle in Iraq, of course, has many causes. The dysfunctions of tribal cultures and Islam’s theology of violence––papered over by a national identity imposed from without and indifferent to the religious, regional, ethnic, and tribal fault lines of the region––ensured that absent a ruthless strongman to keep order, violence would explode between sectarian and tribal rivals.  For the same reasons, the misguided American attempt to create liberal democracy in a country and culture with few of the preconditions for it was doomed to fail, and as a result sour the American people on any more involvement in a region of indiscriminate violence and ingratitude towards those who had liberated the Iraqi people from a psychopath like Hussein.

Yet despite all that, in 2011 Iraq still had a chance to establish some sort of ordered government, as long as enough American forces were on hand to help keep order and impose mind-concentrating violence upon those who disrupted it, and to prod Prime Minister Maliki to govern like the leader of a nation rather than as the chief of a sectarian gang. And here is where the blame lands on Obama, for failing to negotiate a status-of-forces agreement with the Iraqi government that would have left 10,000-15,000 American troops in the country, and then pulling all U.S. forces out of the country in December 2011. Eager for the political advantage that accrued to claiming he “ended” the war and “brought the boys home,” Obama did not put Maliki’s feet to the fire and get the agreement. Nor did he show leadership and explain to the American people that despite their war-weariness, the 8 years of sacrifice would be wasted if that investment in blood and resources was not protected by continued American involvement. This failure created a vacuum in which foreign jihadists and revanchist Shiites ignited a firestorm of suicide bombings, massacres, and now the full-scale operations in Anbar.

The fallout of the failure in Iraq, however, has serious consequences beyond that country. It is emblematic of the region-wide bungling and inconsistency that have plagued this administration and its criminally mediocre Secretaries of State. From his first day in office, Obama projected to the world doubt about America’s goodness, guilt over its alleged historical crimes, and eagerness to sit down with any thug and dictator who made a pretense of diplomatic engagement and help him “embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect,” as he announced at the U.N.

Read more at  Front Page

An Epic Expression of Failed COIN Strategy; Fallujah falls to Al Qaida Factions

20140107_FallujahIraqmap620x350by JOHN BERNARD:

For the better part of five years, I have been decrying the unconscionable use of the historically failed strategy of Counter Insurgency (COIN) in the midst of an ideological monolithic culture; principally of Islam.

In the past few days and just two years after the final elements of US forces withdrew from Iraq, stories are emerging, bringing to completion the seemingly prophetic message I and others warned of two years ago; that Al Anbar has fallen back into Al Qaida hands with a self-neutered Iraq government seemingly powerless to stop it. I also made the case, then, that Al Anbar was not won by General Petraeus’ conjuring up the spirit of COIN specifically, but by the infusion of some 30,000 American uniforms into the region.

This process is more akin to the scientific theory of displacement than battlefield strategy. If you fill a region with men bearing one set of Colors, the unit marching under a different Banner, will be forced to displace – and they did. The effort to liberate Fallujah, twice, yielded a temporary reprieve for the non-combatants living there which now seems to have been reversed with Al Qaida and other like-minded cells and tribal components, retaking that city and Ramadi.

What is so damnably frustrating about this is that too many of us to list, foretold of this, years ago. And if there were any left in this country who still held onto the belief that either our civilian leadership or the left-listing General Grade Officers which populate the upper echelon of our Military structure were somehow visionaries and intellectuals, this latest manifestation of a failure of foresight should hopefully drive a spike through the heart of that lingering belief.

Not once – but twice, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers were asked to lay down their lives, “liberating” Al Anbar and most specifically, Fallujah; the second time being tightly restrained by the rigid ROE (Rules of Engagement) borne of the incomprehensibly idiotic paradigm of COIN! And now, two years later, that effort and all that blood, proves to have been for naught!

My argument against applying the rigid stricture of COIN – on any battlefield was multi-faceted and immutable. First, if the hope of armed conflict is to convince your enemy of the futility of continuing on his chosen path then historically it has failed to some degree or another, each and every time it has been employed.

Second, the principle reason for dragging it out of the dusty archives of failed ideas has been the desire to mitigate collateral damage among the “innocent” population. The Pentagon assigned that misnomer to the Iraqi and Afghan populations due to a very poorly managed assessment of the human terrain in both countries which concluded the general population was innocent and not party to the calamity that was their culture. This assumption was made possible due to a systemic ignorance of the dominating religion and its likely effect on the daily actions of the people or their potential sympathies with the “insurgency”.

Read more at Family Security Matters

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GORDON: Al Qaeda retakes Fallujah; Obama frees cohorts from Gitmo

aptopix-mideast-iraqjpeg-0d928_s160x240By J.D. Gordon:

In a storyline that would be dismissed by most in Hollywood as too cynical and far-fetched, al Qaeda has recaptured Fallujah, site of the Iraq War’s bloodiest battles, while President Obama has simultaneously launched a newly invigorated effort to free them and their “affiliates” from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

Though nearly one-third of the 4,474 U.S. combat fatalities in Iraq came through the prolonged fight to pry Fallujah and the surrounding Anbar province in the country’s “wild west” out of al Qaeda’s grasp, the power vacuum left by Mr. Obama’s complete withdrawal of our troops in December 2011 has allowed the terrorist network to triumphantly reclaim the city just two years later.

So much for the president’s boast in October 2012 while on the campaign trail: “Al Qaeda is on the road to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.”

As though al Qaeda’s resurgence in Fallujah and the president’s misleading statements aren’t bad enough, he and his top advisers have thrown gasoline on the fire in their continued quest to close Guantanamo, letting the chips fall where they may. After two years of stalling, the White House has just orchestrated the release of 11 detainees in the past several months, including battle-hardened al Qaeda veterans of Afghanistan.

Incredibly, these include Said Muhammad Husyan Qahtani and Hamoud Abdullah Hamoudal Qaeda militants who served in bin Laden’s 55th Arab Brigade, which fought U.S. and coalition troops in Kabul, Bagram and Tora Bora. According to the Joint Task Force’s Guantanamo file on Qahtani, “[the] detainee volunteered for a martyrdom mission and was identified by al Qaeda senior commanders to be a suicide bomber.”

Others recent departures include radical Islamic militants from AlgeriaSudan and China’s separatist Xinjiang province, better known as “East Turkistan” by the ethnic Uighurs fighting for its independence.

It gets worse.

Read more at Washington Times

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How the Arab Spring Unleashed Al Qaeda

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The Arab Spring did to the Middle East what WWI did to Russia and Eastern Europe. Al Qaeda, like the Bolsheviks, plans to pick up the pieces. The new Soviet Union may be an Islamic state that stretches across the Middle East while the Salafi preachers and thugs terrorizing Europe play the role of Communist infiltrators in the West. And another world war may be here before we even know it.

By Daniel Greenfield:

Open up a national newspaper and flip to the stories about the Middle East. The daily toll of bombings and shootings, starving refugees and demolished cities have little resemblance to the cheerful stories about the transformation of the Middle East that were running during the boom days of the Arab Spring.

There isn’t much mention of the Arab Spring anymore. The same media outlets that were predicting that the Middle East was about to turn into Europe have fallen silent. They are eager to forget their own lies.

But it was the Arab Spring that unleashed this horror. The Arab Spring was not an outburst of popular democratic sentiment. It was a power struggle of a clearly sectarian nature. It was the rise of Sunni Islam under the black and white Salafist flags.

Obama and his people favored takeovers by “moderate” Salafi groups that appeared to accept Western ideas such as democracy and modernization. The “moderate” Salafis however worked closely with their “immoderate” Salafi cousins playing a game of Good Salafi and Bad Salafi with America.

The “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt opened the door for Al Qaeda in the Sinai. Its Syrian branch, along with other “moderate” Salafist militias in the Free Syrian Army, fought alongside the Al-Nusra Front which was then Al Qaeda in Syria.

The takeovers led to civil war in Egypt and Syria and escalated a sectarian regional conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. The biggest beneficiary of the Arab Spring was Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Al Qaeda in Iraq had defined itself by the killing of Shiites. Its murder of Americans took second place to its fanatical hatred of Shiites. Its killing sprees had alienated other Muslims at a time when America was seen as the central enemy. But the Arab Spring had made the Islamic terrorist group relevant again.

Iraq’s government tilted toward its Shiite roots as the Arab Spring split the region down the middle creating no room for middle ground. Peace in Iraq had depended on locking Al Qaeda out with a political alliance between Sunnis and Shiites. Bush had made that alliance temporarily work. Obama, who had repeatedly denounced the Iraq Surge, washed his hands of it as quickly as he could.

The Arab Spring helped kill what was left of that alliance as Sunni-Shiite civil wars moved the arc of history in the direction that had been carved out by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi during the Iraq War. Al Qaeda in Iraq was no longer seen as a bunch of homicidal lunatics. They had become visionaries.

The media had chosen to wipe Al Qaeda in Iraq out of the headlines after Obama’s victory. The withdrawal cemented the silence.

When Obama claimed that he needed to fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan where it was hardly a presence, instead of in Iraq where it was still a menace; they didn’t ask many questions. Buried in the news stories were reports that Obama knew that Al Qaeda had ceased to be a major player in Afghanistan.

If Obama had been a Republican, there is no doubt that those stories would have turned into a major issue and the issue into a narrative about a president who lied about a war.

But Obama was a Democrat and those stories and the stories about Al Qaeda in Iraq escalating its attacks remained no more than background noise. Iraq was yesterday’s news. Tomorrow’s news was the Cairo speech and the Arab Spring. Terrorism was over. The tyrants were falling. A new wave of change was coming. And the region would never be the same.

Change did indeed come.

The Arab Spring split the region more sharply than ever across Shiite and Sunni lines. Syria became the fault line in the bloody end of the Arab Spring. And Al Qaeda made its biggest power play yet.

Mali showed that Afghanistan was yesterday’s news. Al Qaeda franchises no longer needed to rely on a Taliban to carve out a territory for their training camps. They could become their own Taliban and seize an entire country.

It took the French to stop them in Mali after the disastrous Libyan War; the most destructive effort at implementing the Arab Spring. But the question is who will stop Al Qaeda in Syria?

The various branches of Al Qaeda and their allies may win in Syria. And Syria is not Afghanistan. It has huge stockpiles of advanced weapons, dwarfing the Gaddafi stockpiles that have already caused a great deal of damage, not to mention the chemical and biological weapons that it will likely hold on to despite the brokered disarmament deal. Syria even had an infant nuclear program.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, now envisions a vast territory under its rule. It is surging in Syria and Iraq and has reached into Lebanon to strike at Hezbollah. There is little to mourn about Sunni and Shiite terrorist groups killing each other, but it would be wishful thinking to imagine that a vastly expanded Al Qaeda with access to advanced weaponry and cities full of manpower will not eventually direct that weaponry at the United States.

Read  more at Front Page

 

Al Qaeda seizes partial control of 2 cities in western Iraq

post-33748-This-Map-Of-Al-Qaeda-In-Iraq-I-FqX3By BILL ROGGIO:

Over the past several days, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, has taken control of large sections of two western Iraqi cities that were once bastions for the terror group.

ISIS fighters entered the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, after the Iraqi military withdrew from them following clashes with tribes over a political standoff that resulted in the arrest of a Sunni member of parliament.

The ISIS has posted videos of its fighters entering the cities in force after clashing with Iraqi police and overrunning several checkpoints. In the videos, a large convoy of ISIS fighters driving technicals, or pickup trucks with heavy machine guns mounted on the back, is seen moving through Ramadi. The fighters are flying al Qaeda’s black banner while singing praises to al Qaeda and its “Islamic state.” [See more videos here.]

Officials from the Iraqi Interior Ministry acknowledged that parts of Fallujah and Ramadi are under al Qaeda control.

“Half of Fallujah is in the hands of ISIS (the Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham) group,” an anonymous interior ministry official told AFP.

“In Ramadi, it is similar – some areas are controlled by ISIS,” the official continued. The other parts of the city are controlled by “tribesmen,” likely a reference to the Sahwa (“the Awakening”), the tribal militia that with US backing ejected al Qaeda from control of large areas of Anbar between 2006 and 2009.

In Fallujah, ISIS fighters stormed the main police headquarters, freed more than 100 prisoners, and seized weapons and ammunition. “Other police stations in the city were torched by fighters as most police abandoned their posts,” Al Jazeera reported.

Iraqi special forces are said to be battling ISIS fighters in Fallujah and Ramadi. The status of nearby cities and towns is not known, but the ISIS has been active in cities such as Haditha, where in March 2012 a large force attacked police stations and executed policemen and their commanders. The ISIS has also staged raids in other cities such as Hit and Rawa.

Ramadi and Fallujah, sizeable cities with populations of several hundred thousand each, once served as the hubs for al Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of the ISIS. From 2004 to early 2007, large areas of the two cities were either controlled by al Qaeda or were contested. The Awakening and US and Iraqi forces waged a protracted counterinsurgency to clear al Qaeda from the two cities as well as from surrounding cities and towns along the Euphrates River Valley.

The ISIS has been targeting Iraqi security forces as well as the Awakening in a series of high-profile suicide assaults and bombings in Anbar. Just two weeks ago, the ISIS killed the commanding general of the 7th Division, one of the division’s brigade commanders, and 16 staff officers and soldiers in a suicide attack in Rutbah. The ISIS set a trap for the division commander as he toured an area thought to have been cleared of the terror group. The 7th Division is made up primarily of soldiers and officers from Anbar province.

Read more at Long War Journal with video

 

 

Also see:

Iraq’s Lessons on Political Will

by Patrick Knapp
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2014

 

 

 

Lessons of Iraq and A-Stan: Infidel Armies Can’t Win Islamic Hearts and Minds

Karzai and Rohani in Tehran, December 8, 2013

Karzai and Rohani in Tehran, December 8, 2013

by Diana West:

I am reposting a couple of columns below from 2009, written at a time before the Obama “surge” in Afghanistan, based on Bush’s “surge” in Iraq, was in full swing.

I have long argued that the Bush surge failed (explanation in three parts here). TheObama surge has failed, too, and for the same basic reason that has nothing to do with leaving Iraq “too soon,” or, I deeply hope, “leaving Afghanistan” in 2014. It is vital to stress that these failures are not due to the bravery and sacrifice and skill of our military forces. These forces have resolutely fufilled their impossible missions, to say the very least. The failures lie in war-planning and political strategy, ignorance and fecklessness, at the highest levels of the Bush and Obama White Houses, in the Pentagon, and in the Congress that failed to check them.

(To such ignorance and fecklessness we may also add an epic show of institutional callousness.)

The simple fact is that an army from Judeo-Christian lands cannot fight for the soul of an Islamic land.

This is the obvious but untaught and thus unlearned lesson of these past twelve years of tragic, costly wars. They call us “infidel.” We think that doesn’t matter. The Koran is their guide and they build their constitutions upon its laws. We help them do so and order our soldiers to risk their lives upholding theses sharia-supreme documents in the fantasy-name of  “universal” rights that exist nowhere but in the West. (See the madness begin here back in 2004). Meanwhile, sharia norms and masked Marxism are eroding liberty in the West while 99 percent of our political leaders do nothing.

They learn nothing, too. They set post-9/11 strategy in Iraq without seeing sharia norms and jihad doctrine as obstacles to “nation-building” on a (flawed) Western model — as though sharia and jihad can be eliminated as the authoritative foundations of Islamic culture by wish or denial. Such a  see-no-Islam strategy was doomed to fail, and so it did. But instead of retooling this failed strategy (which served mainly to the benefit of Iran, China and other enemies), they turned around and implemented it in Afghanistan.

We must win the people’s “hearts and minds,” Gen. Petraeus urged his men back in Iraq.

We must win the Afghans’ “trust,” Adm. Mullen and others   stressed (or buy it).

Thus, our soldiers were ordered to take hills of the Islamic mind-world that infidel armies can never attain.

We must respect their culture, the generals insisted, seeking more and more common ground, but ceding ground (metaphorical and real) instead. Vital ground.

We must protect the Afghan people (at the expense of our own), ordered the COIN corps generals, led by Petraeus, who infamously ordered:

“Walk. Stop by, don’t drive by. Patrol on foot whenever possible and engage the population. Take off your [ballistic] sunglasses. Situational awareness can be gained only by interacting face to face, not separated by ballistic glass or Oakleys.

Such “situational awareness” came at a great and tragic cost – but with little if any lasting benefit. Neither “protecting the population,” nor restricting ROEs, nor insanely profligate public works projects have permitted the infidel counterinsurgency to achieve its goals — winning Islamic hearts, minds or trust.

Cultural prostration hasn’t worked either, but not for want of trying.

We must respect their culture (no matter how barbaric). We must uphold their culture (no matter how vile). We must protect Islam, too. We must submit to its laws, and punish Americans who don’t. And punish Americans.

“Handle the Koran as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art,” a memo to Joint Task Force Guantanamo ordered in January 2003. That wasn’t enough. “We will hold sacred the beliefs held sacred by others,” ISAF declared in 2012.

Soon we will have new and enduring allies in the war on “terror.” What difference will it make if we can only fight together for the other side?

From April and August 2009 — over one thousand combat dead and thousands of combat wounded ago.

From April 3, 2009:

“What Do You Mean: If We Ever Want to Leave Afghanistan?”

From August 14, 2009:

“All Those Boots on the Ground and No Imprint.”

How Obama Abandoned Iraq

al-qaeda-in-iraq-announces-merger-with-notorious-syrian-rebel-group-450x337By Arnold Ahlert:

President Obama’s facility for lying has taken center stage once again, as Americans grapple with the reality that they in fact can’t keep their health insurance if they like it. Yet while they remain focused on that debacle, another series of declarations made by the president, namely that al Qaeda was “on the run” and near “defeat,” is looking equally deceitful. Last Friday, Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met in an effort to deal with what is being characterized as a “bloody resurgence” of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). “Unfortunately, al Qaeda has still been active and has grown more active recently,” Obama was forced to admit to reporters.

Active is an understatement. More than 6,000 people have been slaughtered in 2013 alone, according to UN estimates. Eight days ago, a series of nine bombs placed in parked cars were detonated over a half hour period at markets and police checkpoints in Baghdad. The blasts killed at least 42 and wounded more than 100 in mostly Shi’ite neighborhoods. On the same day, 14 people were killed and at least 30 more were wounded when a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into a group of soldiers sealing off a street near the al-Rafidain Bank, where their fellow soldiers were getting paid.

Those attacks and others drove the October death toll to 964, including 855 civilians, 65 policemen and 44 soldiers, marking the highest monthly death toll since 2008. The number of wounded totaled 1,600  including 1,445 civilians, 88 policemen and 67 soldiers. By contrast, only 33 insurgent fighters were killed, and 167 were arrested.

Thus, Maliki was making his first visit to Washington, D.C. in two years, seeking help to stop the carnage. His first meeting took place Wednesday with Vice President Joe Biden. In the two hour session, the Iraqi leader asked Biden to help him overcome congressional opposition to the sale of Apache attack helicopters to his government. Maliki considers the Apache’s ability to fire precise ordinance and track enemy movements with powerful cameras critical to defeating AQI.

Congressional skeptics from both political parties are highly suspicious of Maliki’s motives, believing that he might use such weaponry against political opponents unaffiliated with AQI, or other terrorist organizations. They further contend that Iraq continues to allow Iran to enter its airspace, facilitating that nation’s efforts to send Syria President Bashar Assad military supplies and fighters. Six senators — Carl Levin (D-MI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), John McCain (R-AZ), James M. Inhofe (R-OK), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — hammered Maliki’s government, saying it remained beholden to Iran’s “malign influence.” They further condemned Maliki’s “mismanagement of Iraqi politics” that threatens to reignite a civil war.

Read more at Front Page

 

Iranians in Camp Liberty Demand Promised Protection from U.S.

A victim of the Camp Ashraf massacre.

A victim of the Camp Ashraf massacre.

BY SHAHRIAR KIA:

Fifty-four days have passed from the day the Iraqi forces attacked Camp Ashraf. On September 1, Iraqi forces, doing the Iranian regime’s bidding, savagely murdered 52 residents. In the course of the same attack, the assailants abducted seven of the Camp’s residents, including 6 women. Reliable documents and accounts given by eyewitnesses at the scene indicate that the attack was conducted by Iraqi forces, who were acting upon the orders of the Iraqi Prime Minister and at the behest of the Iranian regime.

Since September 1, several hundreds of Liberty residents have been on a hunger strike demanding the immediate release of the seven Ashraf hostages and protection for them in Camp Liberty.

Despite all assurances and guarantees given by the United States officials and the United Nations regarding the protection of the residents, none have been fulfilled to date. Even the minimum means of protection that were promised by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Beth Jones to the Mojahedin leadership were not implemented by the Iraqi government.

The residents believe that their current situation is a byproduct of trusting the United States.

Documents obtained from inside Iran clearly prove that the seven hostages
are in Iraq, in prisons controlled by the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The Iraqi government has constantly denying these facts and has deceived the international community, particularly the United States and United Nations, who are responsible for the protection of the residents of the Camp and especially the seven hostages.

On October 10, the European Parliament passed a resolution about “Recent
Violence in Iraq,” in which it strongly condemned the September 1 attack on Ashraf. According to Ms. Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the
European Union, there is reason to believe that the seven hostages are being
kept in Baghdad. The European Parliament calls for their immediate and unconditional release.

Moreover, Alejo Vidal-Quadras MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament
from the Centre-right EPP said, “I welcome the adoption of this resolution which was supported unanimously by all political groups in the Parliament and I urge Iraq to stop its violent terror Campaign against the 3,000 Iranian democratic opposition members in Camp Liberty and to release the seven (PMOI-Mek) members who were abducted by Iraqi forces last month.”

The indescribable crime committed in Ashraf on September 1 was not a terrorist act by a militia group, but a crime committed by a government strongly tied to the regime of Tehran, carrying out the suppressive policies of the Iranian regime against members of its opposition.

Comprehensive blockades, three murderous raids on Camp Ashraf, and three rocket attacks on Camp Liberty by the Iraqi security forces, have so far ended with more than 130 deaths and 1,200 wounded residents.

Read more at Clarion Project

 

Iraq: A US-Midwived Iranian Client State

Followers of Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr carry an image of him and chant slogans against the U.S. and sectarianism during a protest in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad on March 16, 2013.

Followers of Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr carry an image of him and chant slogans against the U.S. and sectarianism during a protest in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad on March 16, 2013.

by Andrew Bostom:

Back in February, 2004, I described with great uneasiness the refusal of “moderate” Ayatollah Sistani (an Iraqi denizen, but one who never relinquished his Iranian citizenship) to meet with U.S. Civilian Administrator in Iraq, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer.  At the time I suggested that al-Sistani’s spurning of Ambassador Bremer may well have reflected the odious and Sharia supremacist Shiite doctrine of  “najas-based”  regulations—the physical and spiritual debasing of the non-Muslim infidel for their alleged “uncleanliness” of body and mind. I ended with this foreboding observation:

For Ambassador Bremer to remain willfully oblivious to the deeply entrenched Shi’ite dogma of najas, or worse, ignoring and tacitly accepting its discriminatory effects, bodes poorly for American efforts to help Iraqis create a modern democratic and ecumenical society. The “culturally authentic” but brutally oppressive Shi’ite theocracy of neighboring Iran demonstrates clearly the corrosive impact of najas dogma in a contemporary Muslim society.

In a series of essays at The American Thinker, beginning in March of 2006 (herehere, and here), I warned of a policy failure that by virtue of its willful blindness to totalitarian Islam, was abetting Sharia supremacism, in general, and simultaneously, Iranian Sharia-based hegemonic aspirations, with regard to Iraq. By September 13, 2006,  commenting on then President Bush II’s absurdly ebullient, making the world safe for Sharia assessment of the “accomplishments” in Iraq, I made this gloomy prognostication citing the same misplaced optimism expressed in 1935 by the British Arabist S.A. Morrison. Despite great expense of British blood and treasure, more than a decade of military occupation, and even after the Assyrian massacres (by Arab and Kurdish Muslims) of 1933-34, shortly after Britain’s withdrawal, Morrison wrote, (in “Religious Liberty in Iraq”, Moslem World, 1935, p. 128):

Iraq is moving steadily forward towards the modern conception of the State, with a single judicial and administrative system, unaffected by considerations of religion or nationality. The Millet system [i.e., dhimmitude—not reflected by this euphemism] still survives, but its scope is definitely limited. Even the Assyrian tragedy of 1933 does not shake our faith in the essential progress that has been made. The Government is endeavoring to carry out faithfully the undertakings it has given, even when these run directly counter to the long—cherished provisions of the Shari’a Law. But it is not easy; it cannot be easy in the very nature of the case, for the common people quickly to adjust their minds to the new legal situation, and to eradicate from their outlook the results covering many centuries of a system which implies the superiority of Islam over the non—Moslem minority groups. The legal guarantees of liberty and equality represent the goal towards which the country is moving, rather than the expression of the present thoughts and wishes of the population. The movement, however, is in the right direction, and it may yet prove possible for Islam to disentangle religious faith from political status and privilege.

I concluded with these disquieting observations (circa September, 2006), regarding unintended, if predictable Iranian empowerment, in particular:

Over seven decades later, the goals of true “liberty and equality” for Iraq remain just as elusive after yet another Western power has committed great blood and treasure toward that end. More ominously, Iraq’s newly empowered Shi’ites and their leaders appear to have forged an unholy alliance with Iran which is more likely to promote Sharia despotism, than liberal democracy. [emphasis added]

Now The Los Angeles Times (hat tip Jihad Watch) is formally acknowledging what I began warning about in 2004, and maintained was well underway by 2006. In a March 28, 2013 analysis with the eponymous title, “Ten years after Iraq war began, Iran reaps the gains,” reporter Ned Parker proffers these summary conclusions:

American military forces are long gone, and Iraqi officials say Washington’s political influence in Baghdad is now virtually nonexistent. Hussein is dead. But Iran has become an indispensable broker among Baghdad’s new Shiite elite, and its influence continues to grow.

Parker cites these two pathognomonic examples of the abject US policy failure in Iraq—which has clearly empowered Iran—the second despite ongoing, feckless American pursuit of our ostensibly “vital role” in mollifying “tensions” between Iraq’s sectarian Shiite and Sunni factions, and the inexorable spillover effect of this Shiite-Sunni animosity into the Syrian civil war:

The signs are evident in the prominence of pro-Iran militias on the streets, at public celebrations and in the faces of some of those now in the halls of power, men such as Abu Mehdi Mohandis, an Iraqi with a long history of anti-American activity and deep ties to Iran. During the occupation, U.S. officials accused Mohandis of arranging a supply of Iranian-made bombs to be used against U.S. troops. But now Iraqi officials say Mohandis speaks for Iran here, and Prime Minister Nouri Maliki recently entrusted him with a sensitive domestic political mission.

American officials say they remain vital players in Iraq and have worked to defuse tension between Maliki and his foes. During a visit to Baghdad on Sunday, however, Secretary of State John F. Kerry was unable to persuade Maliki to stop Iranian flights crossing Iraqi airspace to Syria. The U.S. charges that Iranian weapons shipments are key to propping up Syrian President Bashar Assad; Maliki says there is no proof that Tehran is sending anything besides humanitarian aid. Kerry’s visit was the first by a U.S. Cabinet official in more than a year.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism ” (Prometheus, November, 2008)

 

Obama’s Ongoing Betrayal of America’s Sacrifices in Iraq

Baghdad-car-bomb-010-450x270By :

On Oct. 5, a suicide bombing just outside a graveyard in Baghdad killed 51 people, many of them Shi’ite pilgrims on their way to a shrine. The attack, commonplace in today’s Iraq, is symptomatic of a nation once again on the brink of civil war. The media largely ignore these ongoing horrors, and for very obvious reasons: it is becoming more evident by the day that the disintegration of Iraq may have been preventable were it not for President Obama’s politically-motivated premature withdrawal of American troops in December 2011, against the advice of military advisors. Now, al-Qaeda in Iraq is surging and slaughtering civilians dozens at a time, while the enormous sacrifices of thousands of American soldiers have been made into a mockery.

In July, more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed by bombs and gunfire, marking the deadliest month since violence between Sunni and Shi’ite sects reached its apex between 2006 and 2008. Kenneth Katzman, an analyst of Middle Eastern affairs for the Congressional Research Service, illuminated the fundamental problem. “The growing Sunni rebellion in Iraq has fueled the resurgence [of al-Qaeda in Iraq], as has the fact that the U.S. isn’t there providing intelligence, backstopping the Iraqi security forces or continuing to train and keep up their skill levels,” he explained.

The U.S. isn’t there because Obama failed to negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq’s nascent government. Obama claimed Iraqi intransigence was to blame for the failure, because they wouldn’t grant U.S. troops legal immunity if they were breaking Iraqi law. Yet as Max Boot explained in a 2011 Wall Street Journal article, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other government officials had expressed the same reservation in 2008, when there were far more American troops in the country. Nevertheless, President Bush was able to secure an agreement.

Boot explains the contrast. “Quite simply it was a matter of will: President Bush really wanted to get a deal done, whereas Mr. Obama did not,” he wrote. “Mr. Bush spoke weekly with Mr. Maliki by video teleconference. Mr. Obama had not spoken with Mr. Maliki for months before calling him in late October to announce the end of negotiations. Mr. Obama and his senior aides did not even bother to meet with Iraqi officials at the United Nations General Assembly in September.”

Boot further notes that Obama’s constant bragging about ending the war, which culminated in his decision to keep only 5000 troops in Iraq (as opposed to the 20,000 initially requested by military commanders or even the 10,000 that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen judged to be the absolute minimum to maintain security) convinced Iraqis they would be left to fend for themselves.

Once our troops withdrew, Maliki moved to consolidate power. Crackdowns were undertaken again Sunni and Kurdish leaders, and other opposition forces. Those crackdowns reached a critical point on April 23, when government forces killed dozens of Sunni protesters in the city of al-Hawijah. The protesters were demonstrating against government policies, including Maliki’s increasing alignment with Iran. A week later, former Iraqi Ambassador Ryan Crocker characterized the crackdown as a turning point, noting that Sunni and Shi’ite leaders who had previously opted to solve their differences without violence were no longer inclined to do so. “Now Sunni Arab sheikhs who had been urging restraint are calling for war,” he wrote. “Some reports say that the tribes are gathering former insurgents and preparing to fight.” In April, 712 Iraqis were killed, a figure that represented the highest number of monthly casualties since 2008.

It hasn’t been that low ever since.

On July 21, a major prison break in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, freed as many as 800 terrorists, including senior members of al-Qaeda. Suicide bombers drove explosives-laden vehicles to the gates of the prison and blasted their way into the compound. “The prison break was a major blow, suggesting not only that [al-Qaeda in Iraq] has enough manpower, but it also has the ability to train, plan, move around undetected and use weaponry,” Katzman explained. “It is a very serious example of how it now has much more freedom of action than they did when the U.S. was militarily present in Iraq.”

Read more at Front Page

 

U.S. Gov’t Abandons Iranian Dissidents in Iraq

Iranian dissident2By Clare Lopez:

The Iranian regime’s predilection for hostage-taking as a tool of foreign policy dates back to the earliest years following Khomeini’s 1979 revolution. Unfortunately, so does the U.S. government’s apparent willingness to let them get away with it.

Today, the fate of thousands of defenseless Iranian dissidents belonging to the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MeK), to whom the U.S. government pledged protection, depends on American action in fulfillment of solemn promises.

These pro-democracy Iranian patriots have been left stranded as virtual hostages in two camps inside Iraq, which have been attacked repeatedly with lethal force by the armed forces of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Tehran regime puppet.

Dozens of MeK members have been killed, hundreds injured and seven remain actual hostages after being seized by Iraqi troops in an attack on Camp Ashraf on September 1, 2013. It is time to welcome these MeK members into the U.S. as political refugees who share the American commitment to liberty.

Unfortunately, the U.S. record of standing up to the mullahs’ regime is not encouraging. In fact, if truth be told, there is no such record, even on behalf of Americans, never mind allies like the MeK, whose members assisted U.S. forces in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

The craven failure of President Jimmy Carter in 1980 to respond immediately and forcefully to the seizure of the U.S. Tehran Embassy and subsequent holding of American mission personnel by Iranian thugs for more than a full year set the pattern of U.S. administrative quailing before this rogue regime for decades to come.

The 1980s in Lebanon featured a parade of Iranian-directed Hezbollah kidnappings, torture and murder of Westerners, including American citizens, for which no official retribution was ever exacted. Many would agree that President Ronald Reagan’s panicked withdrawal of the U.S. military from the Multinational Force in Lebanon after the October 1983 Marine barracks bombing set an image of U.S. weakness that persists to this day.

As Admiral James “Ace” Lyons has explained, he personally drew up the plans to obliterate Hezbollah’s Sheikh Abdullah Barracks, above Baalbek in the Beka’a Valley with a swift aerial strike. It was U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, whose spineless fretting about what the Arab world might think, who ultimately prevailed on President Reagan to hold back.

Read more at The Clarion Project

Related Story: See Clarion Project’s Interview with Shahriar Kia, press spokesman  for the Iranians being held at Camp Liberty.

 

Billions of Petrodollars at Stake in the Syrian Civil War

pipeline ablaze in Iraq

The bloody Syrian civil war pits religious sects against each other, but also involves massive economic interests in petrodollars.

BY RYAN MAURO:

The Syrian civil war is often accurately framed as an ideological conflict, while other times it’s reasonably portrayed as a sectarian one. It is sometimes forgotten that Islamists have economic interests and that the outside parties fueling the bloodshed see it as an investment that can yield sky-high returns.

The oil politics of the region are intertwined with its sectarian and ideological divisions. In the energy contest, every loss for Iran is a gain for its Sunni nemeses and vice versa. The fate of Syria is a decisive battle in that contest with potentially severe strategic and financial consequences for Russia.

The West and its Arab allies have long sought to turn Syria away from the Iranian sphere of influence. After all, Syria is an Arab country, while Iran is Persian. The Syrian population is majority-Sunni, while Iran’s is majority-Shiite. And Syria’s regime is secular, while Iran’s is theocratic.

In 2009, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia (presumably with American backing) approached the Assad regime with a lucrative deal. A pipeline would be built to deliver natural gas to Europe via Syria, transiting Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey.

The losers in this deal would be Iran and Russia. The Russians treasure the dependency of Europe and Turkey upon its natural resources. The Iranian regime would likely lose its only Arab ally and conduit to Hezbollah, as Syria would become economically linked with Iran’s Sunni rivals.

Assad turned the offer down and instead double-downed on his alliance with Iran and Russia. In 2011, he signed a $10 billion deal for an Iranian-Iraqi-Syrian pipeline.

As Abraham H. Miller explains, “Assad, in a stroke of the pen, foiled Turkey’s economic dreams and potentially brought Iranian oil and gas into the European market by an estimated increase of thirty percent.”

Read more at The Clarion Project