A WHO’S WHO OF THE GOOD GUYS AND BAD GUYS IN THE NEW JIHAD

miscellaneous-jihadis-afpBreitbart, by SEBASTIAN GORKA & JORDAN SCHACHTEL:

Wars are never simple. With the incredible success of the terrorist group ISIS, now called the Islamic State, and the recent news that Egypt and UAE have engaged in air strikes against the jihadists in Syria, Breitbart News has decided to cut away some of the fog of war and explain who stands where in this latest Holy War for the future of the Middle East and North Africa.

Video: Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) — Theodore Kattouf, former U.S. ambassador to Syria, discusses the Islamic State’s presence in the Middle East with Pimm Fox on “Taking Stock.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Image: John Sexton

Image: John Sexton

Afghanistan: Continually deteriorating alliance with the United States. Taliban insurgency continues to usurp power and territory from the vacuum left behind by US forces’ departure from Kabul. Multi-ethnic society under one ​impossible-to-maintain central administration has created the conditions for constant clashes between tribes. Home to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in the ’80s and ’90s.​

Algeria: Home to Africa’s third-biggest oil reserves and 10th in the world in natural gas reserves. Dealing with widespread poverty and Islamist radicals infiltrating the government. 99% Sunni Muslim.

Al Qaeda: Salafist Sunni terror group now run by the Egyptian Ayman al Zawahiri, with various offshoots spread all over the region. The Islamic State – formerly ISIS – is a break-off of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Bahrain: Tiny country primarily populated by Shiite Muslims but ruled by Sunnis, which has often led to political unrest and anti-regime protests.

Egypt: Run by the government of President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, the former Commander of the Armed Forces. The government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization and is fighting jihadi elements in major cities, especially the Sinai.

Hamas: Palestinian terror organization at war with Israel. The Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, its charter commits its members to “dying in the way of Jihad.”

Hezbollah: Iran-backed Lebanon-based terrorist group. Engaged in “holy war” with Sunni terrorist group The Islamic State in Syria, and according to latest reports, now in Iraq also. Led by Hassan Nasrallah.

Iran: Leader of the Shiite Islamic world. Ruled by theocratic dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Known financier of Hezbollah and Hamas terror groups and ally of Syria’s Assad. Committed to exporting its theocratic revolution.

Iraq: At war with the Islamic State (IS). The new government has lost control of several major cities to IS. Weakened by crumbling defense forces and lack of US forces in the country.

The Islamic State: Formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Lead by the newly announced “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Controls a large swath of territory that spans much of Iraq and Syria. In terms of numbers of fighters, weapons, and available funds, far outstrips the capabilities of Al Qaeda (even at its most powerful on 9/11).

Israel: Only liberal democracy in the Middle East. At war with Iran-sponsored Hamas, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. De facto alliance with Egypt. Closest formal ally to the US in the region

Jordan: Monarchy ruled by King Abdullah II, part of the Hashemite dynasty said to be descended from Mohammad. A moderate Islamic country compared to its Arab neighbors and a close ally of the United States. Threatened as a potential prime target for the Islamic State for both of these reasons. Inherently unstable due to a very large Palestinian population and enormous influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq. Has a small but very capable military and intelligence service.

Kuwait: Home to US military bases. Top officials recently suspected of financing terror. Ruling party dealing with allegations of massive corruption. Emir controls all political power. Recent reports say that Kuwait may be turning against the jihadi movement.​

Lebanon: Although its ​governmental system is technically equally divided between Shiite, Sunni, and Maronite Christians, in reality, both domestic and foreign policy is dominated by ​the ​Shiite terror group and Iran-proxy Hezbollah.

Libya: Ruling party at war with anti-Islamist general Haftar. Country in a state of lawlessness. The Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda-offshoot that was responsible for 9/11/2012 attack on US consulate, is still at large.

Pakistan: Home to the Haqqani network and the country where Osama bin Laden was hiding. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is known to have been infiltrated by ​and supportive of ​radical fundamentalist interests. Fundamentally dysfunctional, Pakistan has never come to terms with its Islamic identity or its paranoia for India.

Qatar: Oil-rich gulf state that controls the Al Jazeera Media Network, which is known as an informal propaganda arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatari officials have been accused by international leaders of financing terrorism, particularly The Islamic State terror group. Along with Turkey suspected of being the largest supporter of jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

Syria: In the midst of a civil war between President Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Army and Islamist factions of varying radicalism. Current death toll estimates around 200,000. A client state of Iran.

Turkey: Previously a stable, secular Muslim state whose democracy was vouched safe by the military. Now ruled by Muslim Brotherhood-friendly leadership. Strongly aligned with Hamas despite being a member of NATO. Along with Qatar suspected of being supporter of jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

Tunisia: Recognized as the catalyst of the “Arab Spring” revolts that changed the map of the Middle East. Recently removed from power Muslim-Brotherhood government.

Saudi Arabia: Ruled as a theocratic absolute monarchy. Preaches Wahhabism, a salafist fundamentalist branch of Islam. Known for Mecca and Medina, the two holiest Islamic sites. Top officials have been accused of aiding and abetting of Al Qaeda and its offshoots. Recently reassessing the threat of extremists to its own system, it has moved closer to Israel.

United Arab Emirates: Carried out airstrikes on Libya last week against Islamist militants. Federation of seven emirates, each governed by an emir who come together to form the Federal Supreme Council, which makes executive decisions on behalf of the UAE. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are two emirates known for being commercial hubs. Interested in defeating the jihadi threat.

Yemen: Home to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, arguably the fiercest branch of AQ. Large US drone presence to combat radical entities. Fragile government threatened by jihadists as well as tribal Houthi insurgents.

Sherman’s 300,000 and the Caliphate’s Three Million

Middle East Forum:

by David P. Goldman
Asia Times
August 12, 2014

553When General William Tecumseh Sherman burned the city of Atlanta in 1864, he warned, “I fear the world will jump to the wrong conclusion that because I am in Atlanta the work is done. Far from it. We must kill three hundred thousand I have told you of so often, and the further they run the harder for us to get them.” Add a zero to calibrate the problem in the Levant today. War in the Middle East is less a strategic than a demographic phenomenon, the resolution of which will come with the exhaustion of the pool of potential fighters.

The Middle East has plunged into a new Thirty Years War, allows Richard Haass, the president of the Council of Foreign Relations:

It is a region wracked by religious struggle between competing traditions of the faith. But the conflict is also between militants and moderates, fueled by neighboring rulers seeking to defend their interests and increase their influence. Conflicts take place within and between states; civil wars and proxy wars become impossible to distinguish. Governments often forfeit control to smaller groups – militias and the like – operating within and across borders. The loss of life is devastating, and millions are rendered homeless.

Well and good: I predicted in 2006 that the George W. Bush administration’s blunder would provoke another Thirty Years War in the region, and repeated the diagnosis many times since. But I doubt that Mr. Haass (or Walter Russell Mead, who cited the Haass article) has given sufficient thought to the implications.

How does one handle wars of this sort? In 2008, I argued for a “Richelovian” foreign policy, that is, emulation of the evil genius who guided France to victory at the conclusion of the Thirty Years War in 1648. Wars of this sort end when two generations of fighters are killed. They last for decades (as did the Peloponnesian War, the Napoleonic Wars and the two World Wars of the 20th century) because one kills off the fathers in the first half of the war, and the sons in the second.

This new Thirty Years War has its origins in a demographic peak and an economic trough. There are nearly 30 million young men aged 15 to 24 in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, a bulge generation produced by pre-modern fertility rates that prevailed a generation ago. But the region’s economies cannot support them. Syria does not have enough water to support an agricultural population, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of farmers into tent cities preceded its civil war. The West mistook the death spasms of a civilization for an “Arab Spring,” and its blunders channeled the youth bulge into a regional war.

The way to win such a war is by attrition, that is, by feeding into the meat-grinder a quarter to a third of the enemy’s available manpower. Once a sufficient number of those who wish to fight to the death have had the opportunity to do so, the war stops because there are insufficient recruits to fill the ranks. That is how Generals Grant and Sherman fought the American Civil War, and that is the indicated strategy in the Middle East today.

It is a horrible business. It was not inevitable. It came about because of the ideological rigidity of the Bush Administration, compounded by the strategic withdrawal of the Obama administration. It could have been avoided by the cheap and simple expedient bombing of Iran’s nuclear program and Revolutionary Guards bases, followed by an intensive subversion effort aimed at regime change in Teheran. Former Vice President Dick Cheney advocated this course of action, but then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice persuaded Bush that the Muslim world would never forgive America for an attack on another Muslim state.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, warned Bush that America’s occupation army in Iraq had become hostage to Iranian retaliation: if America bombed Iran, Iran could exact vengeance in American blood in the cities of Iraq. Then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen told Charlie Rose on March 16, 2009:

What I worry about in terms of an attack on Iran is, in addition to the immediate effect, the effect of the attack, it’s the unintended consequences. It’s the further destabilization in the region. It’s how they would respond. We have lots of Americans who live in that region who are under the threat envelope right now [because of the] capability that Iran has across the Gulf. So, I worry about their responses and I worry about it escalating in ways that we couldn’t predict.

The Bush administration was too timid to take on Iran; the Obama administration views Iran as a prospective ally. Even Neville Chamberlain did not regard Hitler as prospective partner in European security. But that is what Barack Obama said in March to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg:

What I’ll say is that if you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they’re not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits. And that isn’t to say that they aren’t a theocracy that embraces all kinds of ideas that I find abhorrent, but they’re not North Korea. They are a large, powerful country that sees itself as an important player on the world stage, and I do not think has a suicide wish, and can respond to incentives.

Bush may have been feckless, but Obama is mad.

With Iran neutralized, Syrian President Basher Assad would have had no choice but to come to terms with Syria’s Sunni majority; as it happens, he had the firepower to expel millions of them. Without the protection of Tehran, Iraq’s Shia would have had to compromise with Sunnis and Kurds. Iraqi Sunnis would not have allied with ISIS against the Iranian-backed regime in Baghdad. A million or more Iraqis would not have been displaced by the metastasizing Caliphate.

The occupation of Iraq in the pursuit of nation building was colossally stupid. It wasted thousands of lives and disrupted millions, cost the better part of a trillion dollars, and demoralized the American public like no failure since Vietnam – most of all America’s young people. Not only did it fail to accomplish its objective, but it kept America stuck in a tar-baby trap, unable to take action against the region’s main malefactor. Worst of all: the methods America employed in order to give the Iraq war the temporary appearance of success set in motion the disaster we have today. I warned of this in a May 4, 2010 essay entitled, General Petraeus’ Thirty Years War (Asia Times Online, May 4, 2010).

The great field marshal of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648, Albrecht von Wallenstein, taught armies to live off the land, and succeeded so well that nearly half the people of Central Europe starved to death during the conflict. General David Petraeus, who heads America’s Central Command (CENTCOM), taught the land to live off him. Petraeus’ putative success in the Iraq “surge” of 2007-2008 is one of the weirder cases of Karl Marx’s quip of history repeating itself first as tragedy second as farce. The consequences will be similar, that is, hideous.

Wallenstein put 100,000 men into the field, an army of terrifying size for the times, by turning the imperial army into a parasite that consumed the livelihood of the empire’s home provinces. The Austrian Empire fired him in 1629 after five years of depredation, but pressed him back into service in 1631. Those who were left alive joined the army, in a self-feeding spiral of destruction on a scale not seen in Europe since the 8th century. Wallenstein’s power grew with the implosion of civil society, and the Austrian emperor had him murdered in 1634.

Petraeus accomplished the same thing with (literally) bags of money. Starting with Iraq, the American military has militarized large parts of the Middle East and Central Asia in the name of pacification. And now America is engaged in a grand strategic withdrawal from responsibility in the region, leaving behind men with weapons and excellent reason to use them.

There is no way to rewind the tape after the fragile ties of traditional society have been ripped to shreds by war. All of this was foreseeable; most of it might have been averted. But the sordid players in this tragicomedy had too much reputation at stake to reverse course when it still was possible. Now they will spend the declining years of their careers blaming each other.

Three million men will have to die before the butchery comes to an end. That is roughly the number of men who have nothing to go back to, and will fight to the death rather than surrender.

ISIS by itself is overrated. It is a horde enhanced by captured heavy weapons, but cannot fly warplanes in a region where close air support is the decisive factor in battle. The fighters of the Caliphate cannot hide under the jungle canopy like the North Vietnamese. They occupy terrain where aerial reconnaissance can identify every stray cat. The Saudi and Jordanian air forces are quite capable of defending their borders. Saudi Arabia has over 300 F-15′s and 72 Typhoons, and more than 80 Apache attack helicopters. Jordan has 60 F16′s as well as 25 Cobra attack helicopters. The putative Caliphate can be contained; it cannot break out into Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and it cannot advance far into the core Shia territory of Iraq. It can operate freely in Syria, in a war of attrition with the Iranian backed government army. The grim task of regional security policy is to channel the butchery into areas that do not threaten oil production or transport.

Ultimately, ISIS is a distraction. The problem is Iran. Without Iran, Hamas would have no capacity to strike Israel beyond a few dozen kilometers past the Gaza border. Iran now has GPS-guided missiles which are much harder to shoot down than ordinary ballistic missiles (an unguided missile has a trajectory that is easy to calculate after launch; guided missiles squirrel about seeking their targets). If Hamas acquires such rockets – and it will eventually if left to its own devices – Israel will have to strike further, harder and deeper to eliminate the threat. That confrontation will not come within a year, and possibly not within five years, but it looms over the present hostilities. The region’s security will hinge on the ultimate reckoning with Iran.

David P Goldman is Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the Was Family Fellow at the Middle East Forum. His book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too) was published by Regnery Press in September 2011. A volume of his essays on culture, religion and economics, It’s Not the End of the World – It’s Just the End of You, also appeared that fall, from Van Praag Press.

Has Qatar Surrendered?

By Dr. Mordechai Kedar:

Much has been written in the past year about the part Qatar plays in the conflict over the status and role of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement that presents a non-tribal Islamist alternative to tribal loyalties and ideological parties in the Arab world.

For the past two years, the controversy has centered on the role of the “Brothers” in Egypt, on former president  Mohamed Morsi’s legitimacy and the legality of General Sisi’s new government as of July 2013. Qatar has been the main source of support for the “Brothers” and their Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, for the last two decades.

Leading the opposition to Qatar’s policies was Saudi Arabia, and Sisi joined that opposition when he deposed Morsi. The relations between Qatar and its opponents reached a new low in March 2014, when the Saudis, Egypt and the United Emirates recalled their ambassadors from Qatar. Later, there were reports of a Saudi armed force concentrated on Qatar’s border that would have invaded the recalcitrant emirate, had Qatar not been under the protective shade of the United States, which has its main Persian Gulf airbase in Qatar as well as strong economic and institutional ties with it.

Qatar has been the main supporter of Hamas for years, providing funds and a venue for Hamas leadership after it left Damascus, while granting political backing to the movement and its rule in Gaza. Several years ago, Turkey joined the Hamas supporters axis, sometimes joined by Iran –  the latter motivated by its hatred of Israel and/or its hostility to the Saudi regime.

When the current round of hostilities between Hamas and Israel broke out, the Qatar-Turkey Axis immediately placed itself on the side of Hamas, while on the opposing side stood the anti-Muslim-Brotherhood-and-Hamas Axis, consisting of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Emirates and Jordan. America attempted to help the Qatar Axis, but retreated when faced with strong criticism, both from Israel and Congress. The Palestinian Authority is torn between its desire to see Israel destroy Hamas and its pity for the Gazans who are paying with their blood for the Hamas takeover of their lives – and deaths.

When the possibility of ceasefire negotiations was broached, rivalry broke out between the two sides over who would head them and who would be able to sway the agreement in the direction he preferred. As the days went by, it became clear that the solution would depend on the result of the duel between the Saudi King and the Qatar Emir, with the winner designing the future of any agreement between Israel and Hamas.

On August 9, 2014, It became obvious that the winner was the Saudi King and the Egypt-Emirates Axis, the group opposed to Hamas, although not openly supporting Israel. Saudi victory over Qatar and its supporters was certain when last weekend, the Emir could be seen rushing to Riyadh, the capital of the country that opposes his nation’s activities.

Qatar’s surrender reached world consciousness mainly by way of Al Mayadeen, the media channel that has placed itself in opposition to Qatar’s Al-Jazeera.

For example, Al-Jazeera, Qatar’s media channel, calls the president of Egypt “El Sisi”, avoiding the title “President”, because Qatar still sees Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood champion, as the lawful president of Egypt. As opposed to Al-Jazeera, Al Mayadeen uses the title  “President Sisi”.

Al  Mayadeen was founded two years ago in Lebanon by a former Al-Jazeera reporter , Ghassan Ben Jeddou, who handed in his angry resignation from  Al-Jazeera because of the network’s political stand on Saudi Arabia and the takeover of Bahrain during the “Arab Spring.”. Al Mayadeen is suspected of being prejudiced against Qatar and its policies. However, now that there is a proliferation of Arab media channels that are free of government censorship, the only way a network can succeed is if its reports are seen as trustworthy. The above means that the information that follows reporting on the Qatari Emir’s visit to Riyadh, his meeting with the Saudi King and the words exchanged during the meeting,  is not totally reliable.

Note: My interpretations are in the parentheses.

On August 9th, Al Mayadeen reported in Arabic: “The Emir of Qatar told the Saudi King that his country is not in favor of forming alliances (i.e. Qatar is giving up the leadership of the Axis it led up to now). Gaza has become everyone’s focus (i.e. we know that Saudi Arabia does not care about Gaza’s fate)…”.

crown-prince-tamim-al-thani-of-qatar

“The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Ben Khalifa El Thani, said that he has arrived (i.e. was forced to crawl) to Riyadh in order to meet the Saudi King Abdallah ben Abed Elaziz, because he (the Qatari Emir)  knows well the loyalty of the Saudi King to the Arab Nation (i.e. to Saudi Arabia, its friends and their interests alone) and the trust he places in him and he will tell him (the king) what is going on in Gaza (i.e. the catastrophe Israel is wreaking on Hamas and Qatar) out of fear that we will lose our way  (i.e.Israel will win).

“Qatar does not have a policy of forming alliances (Qatar is sorry it led an alliance against the Saudis) even though there was once someone in Qatar who acted like a megalomaniac on the subject of Qatar and its size (severe criticism of Sheikh Hamad, the present Emir’s father and of Sheikh Hamad’s Foreign Minister, who took a politically arrogant line towards the Arab world and Saudi Arabia in particular, despite the fact that Qatar is a tiny Emirate. The Qatari Emir understands that without this criticism, or true repentance, the Saudi King will give him short shrift.).

Al Mayadeen continues: “The Qatari Emir made it clear to the Saudi King that Qatar is worthless if it does not belong to the Gulf Emirates (here he is begging the Gulf nations to allow their ambassadors return to Qatar) or its Arab partners (i.e. we are sorry for the anti- Egypt, Jordan and PA policies we espoused). Both sides (i.e. Axes) complement one another (i.e. our Axis surrenders to yours).

“The Qatari Emir told the Saudi King in plain language: Qatar is willing to follow in your footsteps and heed your instructions (i.e. totally abrogates its independent policies of the last few years) in order to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people (i.e. to salvage Hamas’ rule over the Palestinians who serve it as human shields).

“The Qatari Emir added: ‘In the face of the immense magnitude of the crimes and war of destruction going on in Gaza (and the danger that the Gazans will rebel against Hamas rule), there is no reason for Egypt (and its backer, Saudi Arabia) to insist on an initiative (i.e. conditions for surrender) that doesn’t meet the minimum expectations and demands of the Palestinians (read Hamas), especially now that Israel needs a ceasefire (i.e. Israel can continue fighting on and on because of the Israeli public’s support for their government).

“‘I don’t see how the Egyptians can bring themselves to shut out the Hamas movement. Let us put aside, my lord (!!!), our reckoning with Hamas (and the crimes it committed against Egypt and the Palestinians) for a future date (and then we will forget about them) and stand with the Palestinian people who stand behind Hamas (bearing knives) and support Hamas’ demands (to end the siege).’”

“‘I have come to you, my lord (!!!) in order to hear good tidings (now that we have surrendered and ended our policy of supporting Hamas) that will save us from the situation we are in now (i.e. the isolation we brought on ourselves by supporting  the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, which is on the verge of collapse).’”

Al Mayadeen reports that the meeting between the Saudi King and the Qatari Emir was just ten minutes long, and does not bring the response of the Saudi King – who may have remained silent throughout.

The significance of the detailed report is in the total subjugation of Qatar to Saudi Arabia, of a young and inexperienced Emir to an older and wiser king. What brought about this abject surrender is the combination of Israeli determination and the geography of Gaza, an area under siege even if the present siege is removed, with Israel on one side, Egypt on the other and only the sea – blockaded as well – as a way to find refuge.  Qatar’s peninsula is in a similar position: one can reach the rest of the continent from Qatar only by way of hostile Saudi Arabia or by way of the sea. If not for the American presence there, Saudi Arabia could crush the Qatar regime within a few hours as it did to Bahrain in 2011.

Read more

CIA expert: Obama, Osama share Mideast goal

Clare Lopez

Clare Lopez

By GARTH KANT:

WASHINGTON – Clare Lopez looks more like the prototypical all-American mother she is than the highly trained government spy she was for 20 years.

Sitting across the table at a Washington eatery, the somewhat petite, charming blonde with a friendly and engaging smile was generally soft-spoken but often emphatic in delivery, especially while unloading a bombshell analysis that turned the common understanding of U.S. foreign policy on its head.

According to the former CIA operative, President Obama’s plan for the Middle East is just what Osama bin Laden wanted: removing U.S. troops and putting the jihadis in power.

Lopez spent two decades in the field as a CIA operations officer; was an instructor for military intelligence and special forces students; has been a consultant, intelligence analyst and researcher within the defense sector; and has published two books on Iran. She currently manages the counterjihad and Shariah programs at the Center for Security Policy, run by Frank Gaffney, former assistant secretary of defense for international security policy during the Reagan administration.

Lopez told WND she sees a pattern in Obama’s actions, or inaction, that reveals his blueprint for the Middle East and Northern Africa is to let the warring jihadi factions, the Sunnis and the Shiites, divide the region into two spheres of influence, and for the U.S. to withdraw.

“The administration’s plan, I believe, is to remove American power and influence, including military forces, from Islamic lands,” Lopez asserted.

When WND remarked that was just what Osama bin Laden had demanded, Lopez pointed out that is the aim of all jihadis, “Because that is what Islam demands, that foreign forces be kicked out of Islamic lands.”

Does Obama think if we leave the Mideast the jihadis will then leave us alone?

“I don’t know,” she said. “I can just see the pattern that is enabling the rise of Islam, empowering the Muslim Brotherhood domestically and abroad, alienating and distancing ourselves from our friends and allies and debilitating the American military.”

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

Even if she doesn’t have inside information, the former spy said, “I can see what he is doing; it seems to be a clear agenda. It is clear that is what he is doing.”

WND spoke with Lopez about the current crisis in Iraq, in which the Islamic terrorist army ISIS has blitzed across the country, capturing large chunks of territory while slaughtering Christians and other Muslims and threatening genocide. In a wide-ranging interview, the foreign policy expert also assessed the current state of the Mideast.

She believes Obama’s hesitance in the face of the horrific violence in the current crisis comes from a basic mistake, not recognizing the true motivation of the jihadis is an ideology of relentless conquest.

But she isn’t advocating a return to the Iraq War. Lopez believes the U.S. should protect its interests and those minorities facing genocide, but otherwise, let the warring parties sort it out, for the time being.

Lopez believes regimes such as Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey play all sides of the jihadi game and have “enabled a monster in ISIS” they can no longer control, and “they should be allowed to reap what they’ve sown.” Furthermore, she maintained, U.S. leadership has proven incapable of sorting out who’s who or who’s backing whom.

Besides, she observed, there isn’t much else left for the U.S. to protect in Iraq.

When WND asked her if Iraq is lost, she had a startling but succinct reaction: “Iraq doesn’t exist anymore. I liken it to Humpy-Dumpty. It’s fallen off the wall, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put it back together again.”

Given that bleak assessment, the former CIA operative described what she believes the U.S. must now do to preserve its core interests in Iraq, Syria and the Persian Gulf region:

  • Protect American personnel and facilities at the Embassy in Baghdad and the Irbil and Basra consulates with either airstrikes or evacuation.
  • Provide as much humanitarian aid as possible to beleaguered minorities facing genocide, as well as to friendly countries like Jordan that are burdened with overwhelming economic demands to care for millions of refugees.
  • Stand by allies and partners in the region, especially Israel and Jordan.
  • Help the Kurds survive by providing diplomatic support, intelligence, logistics and modern weapons.
  • Deploy a Special Forces capability to the region to gather intelligence and provide early warning of threats to U.S. interests, and provide the ability to project power and influence as required.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently criticized Obama for not arming what she called moderate rebels in Syria when the civil war there began, which, she claimed, could have prevented the rise of ISIS.

Much more at WND

 

Saudi King Warns of Fitna

1534157424By Clare M. Lopez:

As the annual Muslim holy month of Ramadan drew to a close in late July 2014, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud addressed a meeting of senior Saudi leadership figures and religious scholars in Jeddah. The Saudi monarch, who turned 90 on 1 August, spoke during the Eid al-Fitr celebrations to an audience of his closest supporters. While an official statement aimed at the overall international community had been read out on his behalf on Saudi state television on Friday 25 July 2014 in which he called the Israeli Operation Protective Edge in Gaza as “a war crime against humanity,” at the Jeddah meeting, Abdullah returned to a theme that apparently concerns the Saudi royals even more than Gaza these days. He called it fitna, meaning civil strife among fellow Muslims, but what he really meant was the seemingly unstoppable advance of the Islamic State (IS) that now threatens the borders of the Saudi kingdom.

Back in the 2011-2013 timeframe, the Saudis, along with the Qataris and Turks, had been among the early supporters of what was then known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), when the hard-core Salafi militia was seen as the best chance for ousting the Iranian-backed regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. But after al-Qa’eda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri officially broke ties with the group in February 2013 because its Iraqi leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, refused to confine his activities to Iraq, ISIS began a savage rampage across Syria that eventually in June 2014 drove southward into Iraq as well. The speed of the ISIS advance spread shock and alarm throughout the region. Division after division of the Iraqi army, trained and equipped by the U.S., collapsed and fled, abandoning large quantities of top-of-the-line tanks, vehicles, and weapons to ISIS. On 29 June 2014, with an ever-expanding swath of territory now fallen to his forces, al-Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of a Caliphate (The Islamic State – IS). Shariah and the so-called ‘Conditions of Umar’ (the dhimma conditions) are brutally enforced everywhere under its control, sending hundreds of thousands of Christians, Shi’ites, Yazidis, and other minorities fleeing IS’s merciless demands to “convert, pay the jizya, or die.” Atrocities not seen on such a scale for many decades include the Islamic hudud punishments of amputations, crucifixions, flogging, and stoning, plus beheadings (even of children), sexual enslavement of captured women and the wholesale slaughter of prisoners.

It was against this backdrop that King Abdullah convened some of his closest supporters for the Jeddah speech, in which he cited key Qur’anic passages to condemn in the bluntest terms the “tumult and oppression” that IS is spreading:

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.

And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.

But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression. (Qur’an 2:190 – 193)

Understandably shaken (and with good reason, given the thoroughly un-Islamic lifestyles enjoyed by many Saudi royals), the Saudi King directed his message at the Muslim community as a whole, but called specifically upon “Muslim leaders and scholars of the Islamic nation to carry out their duty towards Allah Almighty and stand in the face of those trying to hijack Islam and [present] it to the world as a religion of extremism, hatred and terrorism.”

Read more at Center for Security Policy

Middle East Meltdown: Here’s What’s Happening

Screen-Shot-2012-09-15-at-8.28.27-PMBy Patrick Poole:

The Middle East is in full meltdown and the U.S. is rapidly nearing full retreat in the region. But considering the incompetents running our foreign policy, our absence may be best for the Middle East for the moment.

So here’s what’s happening:

Iraq: Last night Prime Minister Maliki gave a speech accusing new President Fuad Masum of violating the constitution as Golden Dawn militias backing Maliki took up strategic positions around Baghdad, including the Green Zone, in an all-out coup. Remarkably, Maliki is accusing Masum of a coup. Maliki’s issue with Masum is that the new president has not selected Maliki for a third term as prime minister. One report said that U.S. forces had to extricate President Masum from the presidential palace when it came under mortar fire from Maliki’s renegades. Let’s not forget the words of President Obama in December 2011, when he declared that “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq” upon pulling out all remaining U.S. troops.

Islamic State: A coup, of course, is exactly what Iraq needs right now as the terrorist Islamic State continues to push south despite U.S. airstrikes, as the Islamic State conducts ethnic and religious cleansing of Yahzidis and Christians creating a staggering humanitarian crisis. Last week the Islamic State forces captured the dam north of Mosul, the largest dam in Iraq that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers described in 2007 as “the most dangerous dam in the world” because of its instability. This is a key strategic asset that will give the Islamic State control of the Tigris River as they push towards Baghdad. The best hope to stall this push is not the Iraqi Army, which collapsed several weeks ago when the Islamic State began their offensive, but Kurdish forces. The Islamic State is also preparing to target Saudi intelligence officials as they plan to open a front there, despite the fact that much of their funding has come from Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon: Iraq is not the only place where the Islamic State has launched an offensive. Last week they launched an attack on the Lebanese border town of Arsal, overrunning Lebanese Army checkpoints and taking Lebanese soldiers hostage. Arsal is home to a large camp housing refugees from Syria. ISIS took the captives hoping to exchange them for a Syrian Islamist militia commander supported by Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State that had been arrested by Lebanese authorities. Although the terrorist groups eventually agreed to withdraw and release their captives, the New York Times quoted one their commanders that the attack forces included the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra (the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate) and the Free Syrian Army – the same Free Syrian Army receiving weapons from the U.S. As I reported here last month, some of those U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army forces have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Meanwhile, Lebanon remains without a president as Hezbollah and their March 8 Alliance allies in parliament refuse to elect a president, a position reserved for a Maronite Christian. Syrian refugees now make up one-third of the country’s population, further destabilizing Lebanon.

Syria: The war in Syria drags on as 170,000 people are estimate to have been killed – one-third of those civilians – and many of its largest cities, such as Homs, lie in complete ruin. The Islamic State controls a wide swath of territory in the north, while the Iranian and Russian-backed Assad forces fight to hold onto the coast and Damascus with no end to the war in sight. The recent successes of the Islamic State are prompting many Syrian rebels to join with the terror group.

Turkey: Yesterday’s presidential election saw the Islamist current Prime Minister Recep Erdogan elected.  Last week Erdogan signaled that as president he intended to turn the office from its largely ceremonial role to running the country from this new position. Under Erdogan, the country has grown increasingly authoritarian, with last year’s Gezi protests violently suppressed and the country remaining the largest jailer of journalists in the world. Concerns have been raised about Erdogan’s support for terrorism, particularly financing of Hamas and looking the other way as terrorist groups operate openly on the country’s Syrian border. Recent news reports have directly linked Erdogan to internationally-banned Al-Qaeda financier Yasin al-Qadi, even meeting with him repeatedly despite being on Turkey’s own terrorism list. Despite Erdogan’s dictatorial manner President Obama has hailed the neo-Ottoman Erdogan as one of his top five favorite world leaders, and notwithstanding its support for terrorist groups, Turkey remains as co-chair of the State Department’s Global Counterterrorism Forum.

Israel/Gaza: A new 72-hour truce was announced last night in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. While negotiators are headed back to Cairo today for continued talks, there remains a Mexican standoff: Israel has no intention of ending the blockade on Gaza allowing Hamas to resupply itself as it continues to rain down rockets on Israel, and Hamas has made the border openings a pre-condition to any deal. Since the beginning of Israel’s Operation Protection Edge, Hamas and other terrorist groups have launched 3,488 rockets at Israel and casualties in Gaza are approaching 2,000 (though many media outlets and even the UN are expressing long-overdue caution about casualty figures being supplied by Hamas-controlled ministries).

Egypt: One of the chief causes of the current Israel/Hamas conflict is that the Egyptian government has wisely put a stranglehold on the smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. Since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi a year ago, Egypt has shut down and destroyed a reported 80 percent of the Gaza smuggling tunnels, putting a severe crimp in the Hamas finances that netted the terror group $1 million every day and stocked the terror group with material and weapons. Thus, Hamas is eager to have the Rafah border crossing reopened. The Egyptian presidential election in May that saw Abdel Fattah al-Sisi installed as president seemed to definitively resolve the country’s political crisis, but terror attacks in Sinai and around Egypt directed at the new government continue. These same terrorist groups have also used the Sinai to launch rockets towards Israel. This past weekend the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies announced the formation of the “Egyptian Revolutionary Council” in Istanbul, hoping to model itself off the Syrian opposition and portending a continued insurgency against the Egyptian government. Violence could erupt this week as the first anniversary of the dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Rabaa protests last August 14th, and attacks on Coptic Christians continue in Upper Egypt, where I recently visited.

Read more at PJ Media

Experts: American Adversaries Work Together Despite Differences

Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) / Reuters

Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) / Reuters

BY: :

American adversaries in the Middle East continue to work together across sectarian and religious divides to harm U.S. interests and security, requiring a more nuanced response from U.S. officials to address the turmoil in the region, experts say.

The Obama administration has claimed in recent weeks that the United States and Iran—a traditional U.S. enemy since its Islamic revolution 35 years ago—have a shared interest in pushing back the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), an al Qaeda offshoot, in Iraq. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last month that the United States and Iran have “some history here of sharing common interests,” citing early cooperation on the Afghanistan war against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Iran, led by a Shiite government, is typically viewed as opposing hardline Sunni groups such as the Taliban and al Qaeda as part of an intra-religious dispute among Muslims.

However, Iran has a long history of harboring and supporting al Qaeda. European intelligence reports indicate that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, founder of the group al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) that eventually morphed into ISIL, operated from Iran after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Zarqawi used protection from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to rebuild the terrorist group’s network and prepare for its expansion into Iraq.

The U.S. Treasury Department has called Iran “a critical transit point for funding to support al Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The department in February sanctioned three IRGC officers for allegedly providing support to the Taliban as well as to a senior member of al Qaeda who allegedly used Iran to move Sunni fighters into Syria.

“Iran has a long history of fomenting violent conflict and inflaming sectarian divides throughout the Middle East including in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq,” said the group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) in recent press release.

“Depictions of Iran as a source of stability are therefore erroneous and short-sighted, as are assertions that increased Iranian involvement in Iraq will serve American and Iraqi interests,” UANI added.

Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq for the George W. Bush administration, said in an email that U.S. diplomats often only view the Middle East through “a sectarian lens.”

“Sunnis and Shi’ites show no compunction working together to screw over America, which their respective extremists consider a bigger threat,” he said. “Heck, sometimes it seems that the State Department never bothered to read the 9/11 report which suggested that the attacks might not have happened had Iran not facilitated the travel to training camps of the 9/11 hijackers.”

“Sure, at first glance, Secretary of State John Kerry may believe that the U.S. and Iran share an interest in Iraq,” he added. “But just because firefighters and arsonists share an interest in fire doesn’t mean they are on the same side.”

In Iraq, ISIL partnered last month with former Baathist generals under Saddam Hussein’s regime to seize the key northern city of Mosul. Religious extremist groups such as al Qaeda have traditionally sought to overthrow secular Middle East regimes such as Hussein’s Baathists.

Top U.S. officials have recently expressed grave concerns about the potential for foreign fighters in ISIL to commit terrorist attacks in the United States.

The secular-religious rift in the Middle East also did not stop Hussein from supporting jihadist groups when it suited the former Iraqi dictator’s interests. Hussein reportedly provided safe haven, training, and arms to these groups as long as they agreed to attack countries he wanted to pressure.

Hundreds of thousands of documents obtained in Iraq since 2003, compiled in a report by the Institute for Defense Analyses, further confirmed Hussein’s links to terrorist groups.

Read more at Free Beacon

The Land of Coup d’Etat

3349107683CSP, By Manda Zand Ervin:

Iraq is not a country that was made through history or by the unification of a group of peoples.

The facts are that the Middle East of today was mapped out and subdivided by the British intelligence office after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

The subdivision was made on behalf of the Arabs who had proven loyal to the British Empire. Iraq was made of bits and pieces of the lands that the British could cut away to make a country for the Sunni Hashemite tribal leader Ibn Ghazi who became the first king of Iraq.

Kurdistan was a piece of Iran, as the Kurds, the ancient Medes of Iranian origin, had for thousands of years been occupied by the Ottoman Turks. The Sunni part was a section of ancient Syria and the eastern part was taken from embattled Iran as Iran’s western border was the Tigris River. All this subdivision was done for the benefit of the British Empire, disregarding the interests of the people that they threw into one border.

Iraq was created in November of 1920. It was under  British control until 1932, but as soon as it became independent the government of King Ghazi suffered an attempted coup d’ etat by one of his own military officers in 1933. The instability of the country brought about the reoccupation of Iraq by the British government in 1941 to secure their interests in the oil fields. The British ended the occupation at the request of the new king in 1947.

In 1958, another Sunni general, Abd Al Ghasem, carried out a bloody coup against the young King Faisal and took over as the president of the new Republic of Iraq but lost his life in a third coup carried out by the Baathist Hassan Al Bakr in 1968, who in turn lost his presidency and his head in 1979 to Saddam Hussein, a younger and more ruthless leader of the brutal sect of the Baath party.

Knowing the history of Iraq’s Sunnis and the coups after coups against their own during the 83 years of their rule, how can anyone, let alone Maliki, be blamed for purging the military of Sunnis and the influence of the Baath Party that continues to be a threat?

The Sunnis have been in charge of Iraq from its inception, with a wealth of oil and gas and a small population that should have had the best of everything. But they have been corrupt plunderers of the wealth in absolute dictatorships who have not even gotten along with each other, let alone with the Shias, Kurds, and or the United States.

The Baath Party founders were Pan Arabists seeking unification of Syria and Iraq. The goal is to establish the Arab Empire or Khalifat of Shaam — their name in Arabic, the Islamic government of Iraq and Shaam, the name of the region after the Islamic military took over the lands in the seventh century.

Iraqis are a mismatched nation and do not have the patriotism that a nation should have. The Kurds have been Kurds for thousands of years but Iraq has existed for only nine decades.

The Sunnis have more loyalty to their, tribes, religion, and Arabism than to a country that was created recently by the imperialists who forced them to live with people they don’t like. Unless they are the ruling power, they will refuse to cooperate.

The Shi’ites have the city of Najaf, the center of Shiaism and are connected to the Iranian Shia power. They will only die for their corner of the country and only when the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, who is Iranian, not Arab, issues the fatwa. The backing of the Iranian ruling clerics gives them enough confidence to stand on their own.

For centuries, the hierarchy of the Islamic world has been telling the people that Islam is where their loyalty should lie. Patriotism for the homeland among the Moslems, especially Arabs, is a sin. In the countries that the British intelligence created, there is no love of the homeland and therefore it is no surprise that the Iraqi soldiers fled from the scene.

It is unfortunate that the American foreign policy makers and media analysts have no knowledge of the history and culture of non-Western countries. Secretary Kerry should know the history of the land of the coup d’etat. He should know that there is no possibility of democratic coexistence in Iraq.

The responsibility for what is going on in Iraq can be traced directly back to the British government, not the United States.

Originally published at American Thinker

Second Front Opens in the Sunni-Shia War

A Syrian soldier manning a checkpoint near Damascus

A Syrian soldier manning a checkpoint near Damascus

BY JONATHAN SPYER:

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) organization swept into the city of Mosul in western Iraq last week.  No one has any right to be surprised. ‬

ISIL has held a large swath of western Iraq since January – including the city of Fallujah.  The organization was clearly planning a larger scale offensive action into Iraq. ‬

In January it had carried out a strategic withdrawal from large swaths of Idleb and Aleppo provinces in Syria. This was intended to consolidate its lines in northern Syria, so as to move fighters out toward Iraq.  ISIL controls a contiguous bloc of territory stretching from western Iraq up through eastern and northern Syria to the Turkish border. ‬

Its “Islamic State” is already an existing, if precarious fact, no longer a mere aspiration.  So, like a state at war, it moves its forces to the front where they are most needed‬.

The rapid collapse of Nouri al-Maliki’s garrison in Mosul in the face of the ISIL assault should also come as no surprise.  These forces are hollow. ‬

Saddam Hussein maintained a huge army by coercion. Shirkers and deserters could expect to be executed. But Maliki’s army consists of poorly paid conscripts and often corrupt officers.  The Shia among them in Mosul saw no reason to fight and die for what seemed to them to be Sunni, alien territory.  Sunni officers among the garrison, meanwhile, may well have been working with ISIL itself or with one of the other Sunni Islamist or nationalist formations fighting alongside them. ‬

So what will happen now?  The pattern of developing events is already clear, and much may be learned from the experience of Syria. ‬

Bashar Assad, when rebellion broke out against him in March 2011, sought to use his huge conscript army to crush it.  But the Syrian dictator rapidly found out that his supposedly 295,000-strong army was largely a fiction.  Sunni conscripts refused to engage against the rebels, and Bashar was able to make use only of certain units composed largely of members of his own Alawi sect — units such as the Republican Guard and the 4th Armored Division. ‬

How did Assad address this problem? The answer is that he didn’t — Iran did. ‬

Realizing that their Syrian ally was facing defeat because of an absence of reliable manpower, the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps stepped in to effectively create a new, sectarian military for the Assads.  In addition, Iran introduced its various regional paramilitary proxies into the Syrian battlefield. ‬

By mid-2013, the new, sectarian infantry force trained by the Quds Force and Hizballah – named the National Defense Force – was beginning to be deployed against the Syrian rebellion.  In addition, Hizballah, and Iraqi Shia volunteers of Sadrist and other loyalties began to fill the gaps in manpower for Assad. ‬

These units turned the tide of the Syrian war.  But they have brought Assad survival, not victory.  The dictator rules over only about 40% of the territory of what was once Syria.  The rest is under the control of ISIL, the Kurds, and the Sunni Arab rebels.

Read more at Gloria Center

The Al Qaeda Spring Is Here

iraq1by Daniel Greenfield:

Many of us declared the Arab Spring dead and buried. But the Arab Spring really came in two phases.

The first phase was the political destabilization of formerly stable Arab countries by liberals and Islamists. The second phase was an armed conflict by Islamists to take over entire countries.

These phases overlapped in some cases and the second phase has been underway for a while already. In Libya and Syria the first phase of the Arab Spring became the second phase. When protests didn’t work, the Islamists turned to force. When elections didn’t work for them in Libya, they turned to force for a second time. The Benghazi attack was arguably a collateral effect of Islamist attempts to take over Libya after a poor election performance that same summer.

Advocates of the Arab Spring promised that political Islam would lead to an end to Islamic terrorism, but armed Jihad and political Jihad are two phases of the same Islamic struggle. Now the shift to the second phase is complete. The real beneficiaries of the Arab Spring were always going to be those who had the most guns and cared the least about dying in battle. And that was always going to be Al Qaeda.

Libya and Syria’s civil wars had a ripple effect as weapons were seized and recruits assembled. The lessons of the Afghan wars should have made it clear that the Jihadists involved in those conflicts would not simply go home and live normal lives once the fighting was concluded.

Instead they would find other wars to fight.

The War on Terror was fed by veterans of those wars. So were a dozen more minor Jihadist conflicts that don’t normally make the news. Those conflicts produced their own veterans and spread the war around.

The Arab Spring was supposed to use “moderate” political Islamists to thwart “extremist” terrorists, but that was never going to happen. There is no such thing as a moderate Islamist. There are only Islamic activists more focused on one phase of the conflict. Like the distinction between the political and armed branches of terrorist groups, these distinctions are tactical. They are not ideological.

Read more at Front page

Allen West: Netanyahu Warned of Situation in Iraq in 2011

Truth Revolt, By Daniel Mael:

Allen West, appearing on Fox News’ On The Record, said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a potential vacuum that the United States would create by pulling all troops out of Iraq. “Do not zero out your forces,” West recalled Netanyahu advising. “If you do, it will create an incredible vacuum and you don’t know what will fill that vacuum.”

West then highlighted President Obama’s “political decision” saying it was “not a strategic decision by withdrawing all of our military forces.”

*****

Obama’s plan for Iraq: Let Iran deal with it, June 13. 2014, by Allen West:

While running this morning, I pondered President Obama’s words yesterday on the situation in Iraq. First of all, let me clearly state: wanting to defeat Islamic totalitarianism does not make anyone a “warmonger.” As a matter of fact, it aligns you with a long line of historical figures such as Charles “the Hammer” Martel and the Germanic and Polish Knights who stood at the gates of Vienna. So here we are in the 21st Century and echoes of the past are reverberating.

Obama declared the war in Iraq over but what he failed to realize is that there is a greater war against Islamism and Iraq was just a singular theater of operations — and of course, the enemy always has a vote.

A lack of strategic vision created a vacuum and it is now being filled. Our options are truly non-existent. When Obama states, there will be no “boots on the ground,” then there cannot be any effective air strikes coordinated as part of a ground assault. The enemy can only move forward on a couple of road networks, so it would be easy to halt their advance. But Obama says he is considering a counter-terrorism fund instead.

I have to ask, why are we denying military support to the current government of Iraq, a nation-state which we helped to form, yet we gave Islamist forces military support in Libya — and in violation of the War Powers Act?

Could it be that in “pivoting away from the Middle East” Obama intentionally sought to enable Islamist forces in the region? He sent military and materiel support to Islamists in Libya along with supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt while turning his back on combating the resurgent Islamists in Iraq — talk about confusing.

Regardless, history will detail how America turned victory into defeat on the modern battlefield against Islamic terrorism. Iran already has its al-Quds force leader in Baghdad — signs of things to come. Iraq has become a satellite state of Iran and I don’t think they’re willing to see it fall. It’s part of their regional hegemony and would give them an extension from Iran to Iraq to Syria to Lebanon. And when we flee Afghanistan, Iran will seek to extend its regional dominance to the east — of course the Iranians will have to contend with Pakistan — who already has nukes.

To the north we have Turkey and its leader Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose efforts certainly are supportive of Islamists.

What is playing out in the Middle East — due to Obama’s retreat– is a struggle for dominance in the Islamic world. It entails three major actors: the historical hegemony of Saudi Arabia, the last Islamic caliphate known as the Ottoman Empire, Turkey, and the pre-Islamic empire of Persia, today Iran. The major schism is indeed along the Sunni (Saudi Arabia and Turkey) versus Shia (Iran) lines of separation. However, they would all unite against the smaller and greater satins: Israel and America.

But there is also another key western ally that is caught up in the middle of this — a valuable friend, the Kurds. The Kurdish people are possibly the world’s largest ethnic group without a homeland — albeit with a definitive autonomy. Along with the Kurds they are the other historical Christian groups in the region the Assyrians (once a powerful empire under King Nebuchadnezzar) and the Chaldeans.

Kurdish resolve has already been demonstrated. As the Iraqi government fled Kirkuk, the Kurdish Army, the Peshmerga, took up positions and stemmed the Islamic terrorist attack. An airborne assault landing into Kurdish-held territory would be ideal in order to hit the enemy in the rear — but then again, we’ve been told no boots on the ground. But if I were in charge, I would get behind the Kurds and their efforts to secure their own state — something that would get Erdogan’s attention.

It seems the only real option for the U.S. will be to depend on Iran in order to save face in Iraq.

Now I know lots of folks would rather talk about the relationship between Beyonce’s sister and Jay-Z — including Obama — but somebody needs to be working on a regional strategic vision.

Also see:

ISIS Rampages, the Middle East Shakes

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
June 12, 2014

The jihadis’ takeover of Mosul on June 9 won them control of Iraq’s second-largest city, a major haul weapons, US$429 million in gold, an open path to conquer Tikrit, Samarra, and perhaps the capital city of Baghdad. The Iraqi Kurds have seized Kirkuk. This is the most important event in the Middle East since the Arab upheavals began in 2010. Here’s why:

Regional threat: The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a designated terror group, is in a position to overthrow the governments of Iraq and Syria and perhaps beyond, starting with Jordan. Straddling the Iraq-Syrian border, it may both erase the nearly century-old border between these two colonial creations and end their existence as unitary states, thereby overturning the Middle Eastern political order as it emerged from World War I. Rightly does the U.S. government call ISIS “a threat to the entire region.”

 

Map with towns under the control of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Unexpected strength: These developments establish that the most extreme and violent form of Islamism, as represented by Al-Qaeda and like groups, can go beyond terrorism to form guerilla militias that conquer territory and challenge governments. In this, ISIS joins the Taliban in Afghanistan, Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Al-Nusra Front in Syria, Ansar Dine in Mali, and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

 

A suicide bomber along with Al-Qaeda’s flag (“There is no deity but God, Muhammad is the prophet of God”) and “The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” both below and in the upper right.

Muslims hate Islamism: Thanks to the ferocious reputation ISIS has established in its capital city of Raqqa, Syria, and elsewhere, an estimated quarter of Mosul’s population of almost two million has fled. The current round of ISIS brutality will newly render Islamism obnoxious to millions more Muslims.

 

Mosul residents fleeing ISIS turned roads into parking lots.

Ultimate frustration: Therefore, however much damage the Al-Qaeda-type organizations an do to property and lives, they ultimately cannot emerge victorious (meaning, a caliph applying Islamic law in its entirety and severity) because their undiluted extremism both alienates Muslims and scares non-Muslims. In the end, tactically cautious forms of Islamism (e.g., that of Fethullah Gülen in Turkey) have the greatest potential because they appeal to a broader swath of Muslims and less worry non-Muslims.

Sunnis vs. Shi’ites: ISIS military advances directly threaten Iraq’s Shi’ite dominated, pro-Iran regime. Tehran cannot allow it to go under; accordingly, Iranian forces have already helped retake Tikrit and greater Iranian involvement has been promised. This points to a replica of the ethnic lines in Syria’s civil war, with Turkish-backed Sunni jihadis rebelling against an Iranian-backed Shi’ite-oriented central government. As in Syria, this confrontation leads to a humanitarian disaster even as it turns Islamists against each other, thereby serving Western interests.

The Mosul Dam looms: In the 1980s, Saudis and other Arabs funded a poorly constructed, quickie damon the Tigris River about 35 miles northwest of Mosul. Substandard construction means it leaks and needs constant grouting and other expensive measures to avoid cataclysmic collapse. Will ISIS hotheads continue these repair works? Or might they skimp on them, thereby threatening not just Mosul but much of inhabited Iraq with catastrophic flooding?

American failure: More clearly than ever, the success of ISIS forces exposes the over-ambitious goals of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq (and, likewise, of Afghanistan), which cost the West thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars. The fancy façade of $53 billion in American-sponsored institutions, from failed hospitals to the Iraqi National Symphony, have been exposed as the fiasco they are. ISIS soldiers standing triumphant atop U.S.-supplied military equipment brings home the folly of once-high American hopes for “a stable, democratic, and prosperous Iraq.”

Government of Iraq security shed their uniforms to escape ISIS.

Republicans: Republicans unfairly blame the ISIS victories on Barack Obama: no, George W. Bush made the commitment to remake Iraq and he signed the “Status of Forces Agreement” in 2008 that terminated the American military presence in Iraq at the close of 2011. For the Republican Party to move progress in foreign policy, it must acknowledge these errors and learn from them, not avoid them by heaping blame on Obama.

Democrats: The execution of Osama bin Laden three years ago was an important symbolic step of vengeance. But it made almost no difference operationally and it’s time for Obama to stop crowing about Al-Qaeda being defeated. In fact, Al-Qaeda and its partners are more dangerous than ever, having moved on from terrorism to conquering territory. The well being of Americans and others depend on this reality being recognized and acted upon.

Western policy: This is basically a Middle Eastern problem and outside powers should aim to protect their own interests, not solve the Middle East’s crises. Tehran, not we, should fight ISIS.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

ISIS Threatens to Invade Jordan, ‘Slaughter’ King Abdullah

Gatestone Institute, by Khaled Abu Toameh:

The recent victories in Iraq and Syria by the terrorists of ISIS — said to be an offshoot of al-Qaeda — have emboldened the group and its followers throughout the Middle East. Now the terrorists are planning to move their jihad not only to Jordan, but also to the Gaza Strip, Sinai and Lebanon.

Failure to act will result in the establishment in the Middle East of a dangerous extremist Islamic empire that will pose a threat to American and Western interests.

“The danger is getting closer to our bedrooms.” — Oraib al-Rantawi, Jordanian political analyst

Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Syria have begun creeping toward neighboring countries, sources close to the Islamic fundamentalists revealed this week.

The terrorists, who belong to The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS -- known as DAESH in Arabic] and are said to be an offshoot of al-Qaeda, are planning to take their jihad to Jordan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula — after having already captured large parts of Syria and Iraq, the sources said.

The capture this week by ISIS of the cities of Mosul and Tikrit in Iraq has left many Arabs and Muslims in the region worried that their countries soon may be targeted by the terrorists, who seek to create a radical Islamist emirate in the Middle East.

According to the sources, ISIS leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi recently discussed with his lieutenants the possibility of extending the group’s control beyond Syria and Iraq.

One of the ideas discussed envisages focusing ISIS’s efforts on Jordan, where Islamist movements already have a significant presence. Jordan was also chosen because it has shared borders with Iraq and Syria, making it easier for the terrorists to infiltrate the kingdom.

Jordanian political analyst Oraib al-Rantawi sounded alarm bells by noting that the ISIS threat to move its fight to the kingdom was real and imminent. “We in Jordan cannot afford the luxury of just waiting and monitoring,” he cautioned. “The danger is getting closer to our bedrooms. It has become a strategic danger; it is no longer a security threat from groups or cells. We must start thinking outside the box. The time has come to increase coordination and cooperation with the regimes in Baghdad and Damascus to contain the crawling of extremism and terrorism.”

The ISIS terrorists see Jordan’s Western-backed King Abdullah as an enemy of Islam and an infidel, and have publicly called for his execution. ISIS terrorists recently posted a video on YouTube in which they threatened to “slaughter” Abdullah, whom they denounced as a “tyrant.” Some of the terrorists who appeared in the video were Jordanian citizens who tore up their passports in front of the camera and vowed to launch suicide attacks inside the kingdom.

 

A Jordanian ISIS terrorist wearing a suicide bomb belt and holding his Jordanian passport declares his willingness to wage jihad in an ISIS video. (Image source: All Eyes on Syria YouTube video)

Security sources in Amman expressed deep concern over ISIS’s threats and plans to “invade” the kingdom. The sources said that King Abdullah has requested urgent military aid from the U.S. and other Western countries so that he could foil any attempt to turn Jordan into an Islamist-controlled state.

Marwan Shehadeh, an expert on Islamist groups, said he did not rule out the possibility that ISIS would target Jordan because it views the Arab regimes, including Jordan’s Hashemites, as “infidels” and “apostates” who should be fought.

The recent victories by ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria have emboldened the group and its followers throughout the Middle East. Now the terrorists are planning to move their jihad not only to Jordan, but also to the Gaza Strip, Sinai and Lebanon.

This is all happening under the watching eyes of the U.S. Administration and Western countries, who seem to be uncertain as to what needs to be done to stop the Islamist terrorists from invading neighboring countries.

ISIS is a threat not only to moderate Arabs and Muslims, but also to Israel, which the terrorists say is their ultimate destination. The U.S. and its Western allies need to wake up quickly and take the necessary measures to prevent the Islamist terrorists from achieving their goal.

Failure to act will result in the establishment in the Middle East of a dangerous extremist Islamist empire that will pose a threat to American and Western interests.

Turnaround: Is Saudi Arabia shifting course towards Iran?

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (R) and his brother Prince Salman. Photo: REUTERS

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah (R) and his brother Prince Salman. Photo: REUTERS

By Jonathan Spyer:

A number of recent Saudi moves and official statements have led to speculation regarding a possible shift on the kingdom’s stance toward Iran.

The Saudis appear to be moving at least on a declarative level away from a position according to which Iranian ambitions are a threat to be resisted, toward an attempt to accommodate Teheran.

The speculation regarding a changed Saudi stance rests largely on three recent public events.

The first was the meeting last month between newly-minted Saudi ambassador to Teheran Rahman al-Shehri and former Iranian President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani.

Al-Shehri demonstrably kissed Rafsanjani on the forehead during the meeting. In addition to demonstrating the depth of the ambassador’s patriotism, this act was held by some commentators to portend a renewed Saudi determination to set relations with Iran on a new footing.

The second was the Saudi announcement of an invitation to Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit the kingdom.

The third element that many analysts have pointed to in asserting a change in the direction of Saudi policy is the recent replacement of Prince Bandar Bin Sultan from his position as head of the Saudi intelligence services.

Bandar had been associated with a pro-active Saudi policy in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and other points of Saudi-Iranian tension. His replacement by Mohamed Bin Nayef was seen as portending a less activist regional policy.

This was accompanied by the replacement of Deputy Defense Minister Salman Bin Sultan. Bin Sultan is the half brother of Bandar, and like him was associated with a policy of activist resistance to Iran’s regional advance.

These Saudi gestures should be placed in a context of clear US pressure to their Gulf clients to get ‘on board’ with Washington’s regional diplomacy, close to the center of which appears to be a desire to ‘flip’ Iran from foe to friend.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

Arabs: We Want Democracy – Like Israel

Gatestone Institute, by Khaled Abu Toameh:

“How many Arab leaders would be left if they went on trial of similar cases of bribery and corruption?” — Zuhear al-Karim, Arabic CNN.

“If Olmert were in Kuwait, his case would have been shelved and he would have received a senior position in government.” — Yasalam, Al-Aan.

“Law is above all and this is real democracy. Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East.” — Saad Sayad, Arabic CNN.

The Tel Aviv District Court’s decision to send former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to six years in prison for corruption has prompted calls in the Arab world for endorsing Israel’s standards of accountability, transparency and justice.

Reacting to the sentencing of Olmert, many Arabs expressed hope that the day would come when their countries would learn from Israel that no one is above the law, even if he or she is a president or prime minister.

Sufian Abu Zayda, a leading Fatah official and former Palestinian Authority minister, praised the court verdict; he said it shows that in Israel, no one is above the law.

“This verdict provides further evidence that the judicial system in Israel is fully independent in the wake of the separation between the legislative, executive and judicial authorities, as well as total freedom of the media,” said Abu Zayda, who is considered an expert on Israeli affairs.[1]

The praise for Israel’s democratic system does not mean that Abu Zayda and other Arabs have become pro-Israel and are willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

But while they continue to hate Israel and seek its destruction, many Arabs do not hesitate to express their admiration for the independence of Israel’s judicial system.

Comments posted by Arabs and Muslims on the Internet this week revealed how eager they are for their countries to endorse Israeli democracy. Similar reactions were also published when an Israeli court sentenced former Israeli President Moshe Katzav to seven years in prison for sex-related offenses.

 

Soon to be reunited in prison? Israel’s former President Moshe Katzav (l) and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (r) are pictured here during happier times.

Following are some of the comments posted on Arab media and social websites in response to the Olmert verdict:

  • Ali Al-Kadi: “We salute Judge David Rosen [who sentenced Olmert to prison]. We wish the Arabs had 22 judges like David Rosen!” [Al-Quds Al-Arabi][2]
  • Mohammed Akash: “O Muslims, look at the fairness of this judge and where you are. You must learn from our enemy, Israel. Long live the fair Israeli judicial system.”[Al-Quds Al-Arabi][3]
  • Manji Dalali: “This is one of the secrets behind Israel’s victory over the Arabs. We must learn from our Jewish Zionist enemy the principles of fair justice. “[Al-Quds Al-Arabi][4]
  • Ibrahim – Libya: “We Muslims are in great need of a decent judicial system to punish our thieves and corrupt leaders. May God help us.” [Al-Quds Al-Arabi][5]
  • Hassan Jamal: “I wish Arab countries do the same for their corrupt leaders. I wish the Arab people will do the same for their countries and get rid of corrupt officials, including presidents and kings.” [Al-Quds][6]
  • Mohammed: “Of course Islam is the best religion. But the regimes that claim to endorse Islam are practicing repression and corruption. Meanwhile, Israel is among the democratic countries and is better than all the Arab and Islamic countries when it comes to respecting its people and combating theft of resources.” [Al-Wasat News][7]
  • Adel: “This is the secret to Israel’s success; it has become a symbol of justice because it has made justice one of its major bases of power. We, on the other hand, are doing the opposite. We continue to cover up cases of corruption and do not do anything about them.” [Echorouk Online][8]
  • Abu Zeid: “I live in Israel and am familiar with its laws. In this state, no one is above the law.” [Al-Arabiya][9]
  • Sami Dirani: “Israel is the enemy of the Arabs…but it practices democracy – something the Arabs do not know. That is why Israel is stronger and more advanced than the Arabs, who are busy slaughtering each other. Some [Arabs] are dying of starvation, while others are swimming in pools of dollars.” [Al-Hayat][10]
  • Hani: “The hadith [prophet's sayings] states that we should seek education, even if it is in China. And I say to Muslims, ‘Learn justice even if it’s from Israel.’ I wish the day would come when our leaders would be brought to trial and have our money taken back from them.” [Assawsana][11]
  • Yasalam: “If Olmert were in Kuwait, his case would have been shelved and he would have received a senior position in government.” [Al-Aan][12]
  • Rahhal: “The Zionists have more justice than our thugs and so-called Muslims.” [Al-Aan][13]
  • Kabir al-Muhandiseen: “This is how states are built. This is the secret to Israel’s strength and steadfastness.” [Al-Aan][14]
  • Muhasabah: “In Israel, they hold their officials accountable and send them to prison, while we Arabs glorify the corrupt.” [Al-Aan][15]
  • Zuhear al-Karim: “How many Arab leaders would be left if they went on trial for similar cases of bribery and corruption?” [Arabic CNN][16]
  • Abdo Shehatah: “The Jews continue to prove, every day, that they have real democracy in this world.”[Arabic CNN][17]
  • Saad Sayad: “Law is above all and this is democracy. Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East.”[Arabic CNN][18]

[1] http://samanews.com/ar/index.php?act=post&id=200106
[2] http://www.alquds.co.uk/?p=167721
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] http://www.alquds.com/news/article/view/id/503904
[7] http://www.alwasatnews.com/4266/news/read/885026/1.html
[8] http://www.echoroukonline.com/ara/articles/204210.html
[9] http://www.alarabiya.net/ar/arab-and-world/2014/05/13/-الفساد-يدخل-أولمرت-إلى-السجن-6-سنوات.html
[10] http://alhayat.com/Articles/2324750/السجن-ست-سنوات-لرئيس-الوزراء-الإسرائيلي-السابق-ايهود-أولمرت
[11] http://www.alwasatnews.com/4266/news/read/885026/1.html
[12] http://www.alaan.cc/pagedetails.asp?nid=187579&cid=46
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid.
[16] http://arabic.cnn.com/middleeast/2014/05/15
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ibid.