The Iran Lobby: Alive, Well and Changing the Face of the Middle East

799454648CSP, By Clare M. Lopez, Oct. 23, 2014:

“In February 2009, as President Barack Obama and his new administration were settling into office, the Center for Security Policy published a report I wrote entitled “RISE OF THE ‘IRAN LOBBY’ Tehran’s front groups move on—and into— the Obama Administration.” This occasional paper from the Center was offered as a warning about the constellation of forces that was just then moving into power positions from which to influence U.S. foreign policy in ways supportive of the Tehran regime’s objectives. Today, five years later, the disastrous fruits of that network’s efforts are evident across the Middle East in ways both predictable and unforeseen: Iran stands on the brink of deploying deliverable nuclear weapons, Turkey’s leadership sponsors HAMAS terrorism and harbors both neo-Ottoman ambitions and a visceral hatred of the Jewish State of Israel, and an Islamic State proclaiming itself a Caliphate sweeps armies and borders before it, oddly enabled by both Iran and Turkey.”

See version with embedded hyperlinks here

See version with footnotes here

 

Reshuffling the Deck in the Middle East

A man shuffling a deck of cardsCSP, By Kyle Shideler:

The New York Times wrote on Friday offering a brief glimpse at an underreported front in inter-Islam civil war currently spreading across the Middle East:

Yemen’s Shiite rebels on Friday overran an al-Qaida stronghold after days of battling the militants for the city in the country’s central heartland, a Yemeni official and a tribal leader said. The capture of the city of Radda, in the in the province of Bayda, came with the help of a Yemeni army commander, the two said. The Shiite rebels known as Houthis have been fighting both al-Qaida militants and Sunni tribes over the past few days. The rebels, who in September gained control of the capital, Sanaa, earlier this week overran a key Yemeni port city on the Red Sea.

The action, mirrored similar instances in the past when units in Yemen’s army suspected of links with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Houthi ally, facilitated stunning rebel advances from their home base in northern Saada province. The army commander who helped the Houthis in Radda is said to be a loyalist of the ousted Saleh, who was deposed after the country’s 2011 uprising. Saleh and his party have joined ranks with the Houthis against a common enemy — the Islamist Islah party and its allied tribe of Al-Ahmar, traditional power brokers in Yemen.

Also Friday, fierce clashes erupted in Ibb province, nearly 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Sanaa between the Houthis and tribesmen allied with the Islah party, leaving eight dead, according to other security officials in the province.

The Islah Party is Yemen’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s co-founder is Abdul_Majeed al-Zindani, who is a specially designated global terrorist, and an original spiritual mentor of Osama Bin Laden.

President Obama referred to Yemen and Somalia as models of success to be emulated in Syria. And while my CSP colleague Nik Hanlon handedly covered the problems with the Somalia comparison, Yemen is indeed an apt model for comparison, although not in the way meant by the President. In Yemen the struggle is between Shia militia fighters- backed by Iran and on behalf of a President who was ousted in Western -championed Arab Spring- are advancing against the joint forces of Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. The same is true in Syria, where Muslim Brotherhood-linked fighters, such as the Islamic Front, fight side by side with Al Qaeda-linked Ahrar Al-Sham and AQ’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat al Nusra against Iranian IRGC and Shia Militias on behalf of Bashar Assad.

As in Yemen and Syria, so too in Libya, although instead of Iranian-linked Shia, the “counterrevolution” in Libya is led by a former general of Qaddafi’s, Khalifa Haftar, sponsored by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt in a fight against Al Qaeda’s affiliate Ansar al-Sharia-Libya, and the Muslim Brotherhood-backed militias. The same U.A.E air force that was trumpeted as a partner in the air strikes against ISIS,  conducted air strikes against the Libyan rebels with whom the U.S. had partnered against Qaddafi. But then, in this conflict ironies abound, as when Saudi Arabia bombs the “barbaric” ISIS in airstrikes launched in part following the beheading of Americans, while engaging in a rash of beheadings of their own.

Analysts who examine the current situation as a series of national struggles in separate countries have missed the boat entirely. Everywhere across the region, scores are being settled, and battle lines being drawn and redrawn. What is at stake is not just who will be the next leader of Syria, or Libya, or Yemen. It’s who will be represented as the leader(s) of Islam. Will they be Sunni or Shia? Does ISIS represent a Kharijite deviation as the Muslim Brotherhood accuses, or are the Ikhwan a Murji’ah deviation as ISIS concludes? Do they both represent a takfiri deviation, as the governments Saudi, Egypt and U.A.E and their state-sponsored clerics declare or are these same governments the apostate regimes that ISIS/AQ/MB claim them to be?

These are deeply profound doctrinal questions which are being hashed and rehashed in online screeds over the intricacies of Shariah law, but which will ultimately be settled with violence, just as they have been historically settled for hundreds of years.

For our purposes,  we should realize that the internecine conflict currently being waged does not mean that any of these forces are ultimately pro-Western or allies to be trusted. The same governments which are fighting ISIS paid for the mosques, staffed by Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated imams, at which the current group of ISIS fighters with Western passports were educated and indoctrinated. The Syrian rebels- including Muslim Brothers, that are fighting Assad and ISIS were also providing security for an Al Qaeda cell- The so-called Khorasan Group- whose purpose was a mass casualty attack on U.S. or allied soil. The Shia militias fighting ISIS on the outskirts of Baghdad were the ones using Iranian-manufactured Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) to kill hundreds of Americans. The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leading the defense of Baghdad against ISIS also taught Al Qaeda how to use truck bombs to carry out the U.S. embassy attacks.

And on and on.

The reshuffling of the deck will continue in the Middle East for the time being, and it’s important to track the players, and understand their doctrinal differences and the basis for their conflict. But that is not the same as imagining that one of them represents a trump card for the West to play.

Qatar’s Jihad #StopQatarNow

Qatarby Brahma Chellaney:

Qatar may be tiny, but it is having a major impact across the Arab world. By propping up violent jihadists in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond, while supporting the United States in its fight against them, this gas-rich speck of a country – the world’s wealthiest in per capita terms – has transformed itself from a regional gadfly into an international rogue elephant.

Using its vast resources, and driven by unbridled ambition, Qatar has emerged as a hub for radical Islamist movements. The massive, chandeliered Grand Mosque in Doha – Qatar’s opulent capital – is a rallying point for militants heading to wage jihad in places as diverse as Yemen, Tunisia, and Syria. As a result, Qatar now rivals Saudi Arabia – another Wahhabi state with enormous resource wealth – in exporting Islamist extremism.

But there are important differences between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Qatar’s Wahhabism is less severe than Saudi Arabia’s; for example, Qatari women are allowed to drive and to travel alone. In Qatar, there is no religious police enforcing morality, even if Qatari clerics openly raise funds for militant causes overseas.

Given this, it is perhaps unsurprising that, whereas Saudi Arabia’s sclerotic leadership pursues reactionary policies rooted in a puritanical understanding of Islam, Qatar’s younger royals have adopted a forward-thinking approach. Qatar is the home of the Al Jazeera satellite television channel and Education City, a district outside of Doha that accommodates schools, universities, and research centers.

Similar inconsistencies are reflected in Qatar’s foreign policy. Indeed, the country’s relationship with the United States directly contradicts its links with radical Islamist movements.

Qatar hosts Al Udeid air base – with its 8,000 American military personnel and 120 aircraft, including supertankers for in-flight refueling – from which the US directs its current airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. Camp As-Sayliyah – another facility for which Qatar charges no rent – serves as the US Central Command’s forward headquarters. In July, Qatar agreed to purchase $11 billion worth of US arms.

Moreover, Qatar has used its leverage over the Islamists that it funds to help secure the release of Western hostages. And it hosted secret talks between the US and the Pakistan-backed Afghan Taliban. To facilitate the negotiations, Qatar provided a home, with US support, to the Taliban’s de facto diplomatic mission – and to the five Afghan Taliban leaders released earlier this year from US detention at Guantánamo Bay.

In other words, Qatar is an important US ally, a supplier of weapons and funds to Islamists, and a peace broker all at the same time. Add to that its position as the world’s largest supplier of liquefied natural gas and the holder of one of its largest sovereign-wealth funds, and it becomes clear that Qatar has plenty of room to maneuver – as well as considerable international clout. Germany’s government found that out when it was forced to retract its development minister’s statement that Qatar played a central role in arming and financing the Islamic State.

Qatar’s growing influence has important implications for the balance of power in the Arab World, especially with regard to the country’s rivalry with Saudi Arabia. This competitive dynamic, which surfaced only recently, represents a shift from a long history of working in tandem to export Islamist extremism.

Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia generously supplied weapons and funds to Sunni extremists in Syria, opening the door for the emergence of the Islamic State. Both have bolstered the Afghan Taliban. And both contributed to Libya’s transformation into a failed state by aiding Islamist militias. During the 2011 NATO campaign to overthrow Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, Qatar even deployed ground troops covertly inside Libya.

Today, however, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are on opposite sides. Qatar, along with Turkey, backs grassroots Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots in Gaza, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, and the Levant. That pits it against Saudi Arabia and countries like the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan, whose rulers view such movements as an existential threat, with some, including the House of Saud, investing in propping up autocratic regimes like their own.

Read  more at Stagecraft and Statecraft

Brahma Chellaney, Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, is the author of Asian Juggernaut; Water: Asia’s New Battleground; and Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis.

A Look Inside The Secret Deal With Saudi Arabia That Unleashed The Syrian Bombing

Zero Hedge, by Tyler Durden, 9/25/2014:

For those to whom the recent US campaign against Syria seems a deja vu of last summer’s “near-war” attempt to ouster its president Bashar al-Assad, which was stopped in the last minute due to some very forceful Russian intervention and the near breakout of war in the Mediterranean between US and Russian navies, it is because they are. And as a reminder, just like last year, the biggest wildcard in this, and that, direct intervention into sovereign Syrian territory, or as some would call it invasion or even war, was not the US but Saudi Arabia – recall from August of 2013 – “Meet Saudi Arabia’s Bandar bin Sultan: The Puppetmaster Behind The Syrian War.” Bin Sultan was officially let go shortly after the 2013 campaign to replace Syria’s leadership with a more “amenable” regime failed if not unofficially (see below), but Saudi ambitions over Syria remained.

That much is revealed by the WSJ today in a piece exposing the backdoor dealings that the US conducted with Saudi Arabia to get the “green light” to launch its airstrikes against ISIS, or rather, parts of Iraq and Syria. And, not surprising, it is once again Assad whose fate was the bargaining chip to get the Saudis on the US’ side, because in order to launch the incursion into Syrian sovereign territory “took months of behind-the-scenes work by the U.S. and Arab leaders, who agreed on the need to cooperate against Islamic State, but not how or when. The process gave the Saudis leverage to extract a fresh U.S. commitment to beef up training for rebels fighting Mr. Assad, whose demise the Saudis still see as a top priority.

In other words, John Kerry came, saw and promised everything he could, up to and including the missing piece of the puzzle – Syria itself on a silver platter – in order to prevent another diplomatic humiliation.

When Mr. Kerry touched down in Jeddah to meet with King Abdullah on Sept. 11, he didn’t know for sure what else the Saudis were prepared to do. The Saudis had informed their American counterparts before the visit that they would be ready to commit air power—but only if they were convinced the Americans were serious about a sustained effort in Syria. The Saudis, for their part, weren’t sure how far Mr. Obama would be willing to go, according to diplomats.

kerry kasbah_1Said otherwise, the pound of flesh demanded by Saudi Arabia to “bless” US airstrikes and make them appear as an act of some coalition, is the removal of the Assad regime. Why? So that, as we also explained last year, the holdings of the great Qatar natural gas fields can finally make their way onward to Europe, which incidentally is also America’s desire – what better way to punish Putin for his recent actions than by crushing the main leverage the Kremlin has over Europe?

But back to the Saudis and how the deal to bomb Syria was cobbled together:

The Americans knew a lot was riding on a Sept. 11 meeting with the king of Saudi Arabia at his summer palace on the Red Sea.

A year earlier, King Abdullah had fumed when President Barack Obama called off strikes against the regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. This time, the U.S. needed the king’s commitment to support a different Syrian mission—against the extremist group Islamic State—knowing there was little hope of assembling an Arab front without it.

At the palace, Secretary of State John Kerry requested assistance up to and including air strikes, according to U.S. and Gulf officials. “We will provide any support you need,” the king said.

But only after the Saudis got the abovementioned assurances that Assad will fall. And to do that they would have to strongarm Obama:

Wary of a repeat of Mr. Obama’s earlier reversal, the Saudis and United Arab Emirates decided on a strategy aimed at making it harder for Mr. Obama to change course. “Whatever they ask for, you say ‘yes,’” an adviser to the Gulf bloc said of its strategy. “The goal was not to give them any reason to slow down or back out.”

Arab participation in the strikes is of more symbolic than military value. The Americans have taken the lead and have dropped far more bombs than their Arab counterparts. But the show of support from a major Sunni state for a campaign against a Sunni militant group, U.S. officials said, made Mr. Obama comfortable with authorizing a campaign he had previously resisted.

To be sure, so far Obama has refrained from directly bombing Assad, it is only a matter of time: “How the alliance fares will depend on how the two sides reconcile their fundamental differences over Syria and other issues. Saudi leaders and members of the moderate Syrian opposition are betting the U.S. could eventually be pulled in the direction of strikes supporting moderate rebel fighters against Mr. Assad in addition to Islamic State. U.S. officials say the administration has no intention of bombing Mr. Assad’s forces”… for now.

But why is Saudi Arabia so adamant to remove Assad? Here is the WSJ’s take:

For the Saudis, Syria had become a critical frontline in the battle for regional influence with Iran, an Assad ally. As Mr. Assad stepped up his domestic crackdown, the king decided to do whatever was needed to bring the Syrian leader down, Arab diplomats say.

In the last week of August, a U.S. military and State Department delegation flew to Riyadh to lay the ground for a military program to train the moderate Syrian opposition to fight both the Assad regime and Islamic State—something the Saudis have long requested. The U.S. team wanted permission to use Saudi facilities for the training. Top Saudi ministers, after consulting overnight with the king, agreed and offered to foot much of the bill. Mr. Jubeir went to Capitol Hill to pressed key lawmakers to approve legislation authorizing the training.

And once the US once again folded to Saudi demands to attack another sovereign, it was merely a matter of planning:

Hours before the military campaign was set to begin, U.S. officials held a conference call to discuss final preparations. On the call, military officers raised last-minute questions about whether Qatar would take part and whether the countries would make their actions public.

Mr. Kerry was staying in a suite on the 34th floor of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, where he was meeting leaders attending United Nations gatherings. He called his Gulf counterparts to make sure they were still onboard. They were.

The UAE, which some defense officials refer to as “Little Sparta” because of its outsized military strength, had the most robust role. One of the UAE’s pilots was a woman. Two of the F-15 pilots were members of the Saudi royal family, including Prince Khaled bin Salman, son of the crown prince. In the third wave of the initial attack, half of the attack airplanes in the sky were from Arab countries.

The best news for Obama: it is now just a matter of time to recreate the same false flag that the Saudi-US alliance pushed so hard on the world in the summer of 2013 to justify the first attempt to remove Assad, and once again get the “sympathy” public cote behind him, naturally with the support of the US media.

But how does one know it is once again nothing but a stage? The following blurb should explain everything:

Saudi players in attendance for the Sept. 11 meeting included Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who as the king’s spymaster last year ran afoul of Mr. Kerry over Syria and Iraq policy. U.S. officials interpreted his presence as a sign the king wanted to make sure the court was united, U.S. officials said.

Actually, his presence is a sign that the same puppetmaster who pulled the strings, and failed, in 2013 to remove Assad, and as noted above was at least officially removed from the stage subsequently, is once again the person in charge of the Syrian campaign, only this time unofficially, and this time has Obama entirely wrapped around his finger.

Also see:

  • The Reason Five Arab Countries Teamed Up with Obama –  A natural gas pipeline through Syria would break the Russian monopoly in Europe so this little “war” against the JV team could easily escalate into World War III under the auspices of the weakest US commander in chief in our nation’s history. (ncrenegade.com)

The 100-Year-Old Agreement You Need to Know About to Understand What’s Driving the Islamic State

Glenn Beck broke down the history of the Middle East on his television program Thursday, focusing on a nearly 100-year-old agreement that he says is integral to understanding the motivations of the Islamic State: the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

If you do not understand the Sykes-Picot Agreement, Beck said, you cannot fully understand the Islamic State, or why the Israelis and the Palestinians will never reach a two-state solution.

Though many go back to 1948 and the creation of the modern state of Israel when examining the history of Middle Eastern conflicts, Beck said you actually have to go back to 1916 and World War I.

T.E. Lawrence and World War I

Glenn Beck speaks about T.E. Lawrence, right, on his television program September 18, 2014. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

Glenn Beck speaks about T.E. Lawrence, right, on his television program September 18, 2014. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

“This is the last time the Arab world had a united Islamic State led by a religious leader: the Ottoman Empire, the caliphate,” Beck began. “The Allies knew the Ottoman Empire could shut down key shipping routes and cripple Britain’s economy, France’s. … They had to neutralize it. So Great Britain sent over an Army officer from Britain, and his name was T.E. Lawrence. There was a movie made about him, a great movie with Peter O’Toole called ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’”

Lawrence was tasked with convincing the Arabs to fight against the Ottoman Empire. After Lawrence promised the Arabs rule over a new united Arab kingdom of greater Syria — which encompassed present day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and parts of Iraq and Jordan — he succeeded.

“To get to the root of the current Middle East conflict, that is your starting point,” Beck said. “It is at the center of everything that is happening today.”

“The problem here — Great Britain never intended to honor the promises that they made,” Beck continued. “They had used the Arabs in order to protect their own interests. Remember, they needed to get the Ottoman Empire out of the way.”

Sykes-Picot Agreement

“The entire time Lawrence was negotiating with the Arabs, Great Britain, behind everybody’s back, was negotiating with France, and planning how they were going to actually divide up the Middle East after the war,” Beck said. “They needed to make sure there was no united Arab kingdom that would ever get in the way.”

Under the Sykes-Picot agreement, the British and the French drew new boundaries, fracturing the region so, Beck said, “the British and their allies in the region could control it.”

“Remember, the goal was to divide the Arabs, not to unite them, divide them, so they could protect the trade routes,” Beck said. “They didn’t care about the Arabs, they didn’t care about the Jews, they didn’t care about anything. They wanted the trade routes.”

“The Arabs were forced to accept this western European model of the nation-states because they had no choice,” Beck remarked. “Arab resentment grows in the wake of that treaty, Sykes-Picot, where they have divided everything and made new lines. They wanted — the Palestinians, the Arabs — what was promised to them — the rule of greater Syria.”

 

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

In the decades after the Sykes-Picot Agreement, after the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the British created the British Mandate for Palestine. The area east of the Jordan River was called Transjordan, and the area west of it was a land for the Jewish people.

“How would the Arab world be able to unite now? They needed a new rallying cry. They would use the Balfour Declaration, Britain’s promise of a Jewish homeland in Palestine,” Beck said. “[They] needed to start blaming the Jews, the pawns.”

“The motive becomes clear when you see how the Arab world reacted when the British Mandate in Palestine was set to expire,” Beck said. “The Palestinian Arabs were about to be presented with a chance to finally have what they said they’d always dreamed of. All they wanted was their own land. So now, here comes the UN, and they have this mandate.”

“Remember, the British put together this partition — Transjordan and the Israeli state. So it was a two-state solution. It was split 56 percent Jewish, 43 percent Arab. 56 looks big, but much of the land’s not sufficient for crops, so it’s pretty close. Jerusalem, an international zone. The Jewish people accepted the plan. And if a Palestinian homeland was the goal for the Arab world — not the Palestinians, the Arab world — all they had to do was agree. But remember, the scapegoat goes away.”

Read more at The Blaze with more videos

Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia

King AbdulladThis article is Part II of Alastair Crooke’s historical analysis of the roots of ISIS and its impact on the future of the Middle East.

BEIRUT — ISIS is indeed a veritable time bomb inserted into the heart of the Middle East. But its destructive power is not as commonly understood. It is not with the “March of the Beheaders”; it is not with the killings; the seizure of towns and villages; the harshest of “justice” — terrible though they are — that its true explosive power lies. It is yet more potent than its exponential pull on young Muslims, its huge arsenal of weapons and its hundreds of millions of dollars.

Its real potential for destruction lies elsewhere — in the implosion of Saudi Arabia as a foundation stone of the modern Middle East. We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch.

The clue to its truly explosive potential, as Saudi scholar Fouad Ibrahim has pointed out (but which has passed, almost wholly overlooked, or its significance has gone unnoticed), is ISIS’ deliberate and intentional use in its doctrine — of the language of Abd-al Wahhab, the 18th century founder, together with Ibn Saud, of Wahhabism and the Saudi project:

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the first “prince of the faithful” in the Islamic State of Iraq, in 2006 formulated, for instance, the principles of his prospective state … Among its goals is disseminating monotheism “which is the purpose [for which humans were created] and [for which purpose they must be called] to Islam…” This language replicates exactly Abd-al Wahhab’s formulation. And, not surprisingly, the latter’s writings and Wahhabi commentaries on his works are widely distributed in the areas under ISIS’ control and are made the subject of study sessions. Baghdadi subsequently was to note approvingly, “a generation of young men [have been] trained based on the forgotten doctrine of loyalty and disavowal.”

And what is this “forgotten” tradition of “loyalty and disavowal?” It is Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine that belief in a sole (for him an anthropomorphic) God — who was alone worthy of worship — was in itself insufficient to render man or woman a Muslim?

He or she could be no true believer, unless additionally, he or she actively denied (and destroyed) any other subject of worship. The list of such potential subjects of idolatrous worship, which al-Wahhab condemned as idolatry, was so extensive that almost all Muslims were at risk of falling under his definition of “unbelievers.” They therefore faced a choice: Either they convert to al-Wahhab’s vision of Islam — or be killed, and their wives, their children and physical property taken as the spoils of jihad. Even to express doubts about this doctrine, al-Wahhab said, should occasion execution.

The point Fuad Ibrahim is making, I believe, is not merely to reemphasize the extreme reductionism of al-Wahhab’s vision, but to hint at something entirely different: That through its intentional adoption of this Wahhabist language, ISIS is knowingly lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion — one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively.

For it was precisely this idealistic, puritan, proselytizing formulation by al-Wahhab that was “father” to the entire Saudi “project” (one that was violently suppressed by the Ottomans in 1818, but spectacularly resurrected in the 1920s, to become the Saudi Kingdom that we know today). But since its renaissance in the 1920s, the Saudi project has always carried within it, the “gene” of its own self-destruction.

Read more at Huffington Post

Also see Part I:

Israel and the Obama-Qatari Axis

US-Turkeyby Joseph Puder:

When considering the geo-political map of the current Middle East, not everything is negative or alarming, at least from an Israeli point of view. Although the Middle East is more splintered today than ever before, Israel’s political and diplomatic isolation in the region has faded. The Middle East is now composed of three main blocs and Israel is a partner with one major bloc, which also happens to be its immediate neighbors, or the inner circle of moderate-Sunni and hitherto pro-American Arab states: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates.  However, what is counter-intuitive is the Obama administration’s choice of partners in the region. It is not the moderate Sunni-Muslim states and Israel that Washington sought out as mediators for a Hamas-Israel cease-fire, but the Muslim Brotherhood bloc of Turkey and Qatar.

David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister and one of the founding fathers of the Jewish State recognized early on that the State of Israel had no chance to develop friendly relations with its neighboring Arab states. Pan-Arab leaders such as Egypt’s president Gamal Abdul Nasser fanned the flames of hatred and revenge against the Jewish state, as did fellow Arab dictators in Syria and elsewhere. As a result, Israel’s leadership sought to develop friendly relations with its outer-circle non-Arab states such as Iran, Ethiopia, and Turkey.

The rise of the Islamic Republic in Iran under Khomeini following the Iranian revolution in 1979, and the departure of the Israel-friendly Shah of Iran ended Israeli-Iranian relations. Iran became the arms supplier of Israel’s Palestinian enemies and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and with its nuclear ambition, it constitutes an existential threat to the Jewish State.

Turkey was the only Muslim state to have a steady and rather friendly relationship with the Jewish state. Until the electoral triumph of the AK Party (Justice and Development Party) in 2002, Israel’s trade and military cooperation with Turkey was significant to both countries. The AK Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan changed all of that. His hostility to Israel intensified with each successive electoral victory. Following his second parliamentary victory in 2007, he began tangling with Israel. In late May 2010, Erdogan gave the green light to a Gaza flotilla headed by the Mavi Marmara. It was a deliberate provocation by Erdogan to break through the Israeli blocade. The subsequent AK victory in the 2011 parliamentary elections increased Erdogan’s arrogance and simultaneously his anti-Israel and anti-Semitic outbursts. His latest 2014 presidential victory and his unmitigated support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood severed the special relations Israel has had with Turkey.

Turkey is, in fact, part of the radical Sunni, pro-Muslim Brotherhood bloc, that includes Qatar and Hamas.

The radical Shia bloc led by Iran, which includes Shiite Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Hezbollah in Lebanon, comprise the third bloc.

The puzzling question is why Washington chose to align itself with the Sunni radical Muslim Brotherhood bloc (Qatar and Turkey), and not with the more moderate bloc led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia? Both the Egyptian regime under President Abdel Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the Saudi royals are upset with the Obama administration. Cairo resents Washington’s support for the deposed Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammad Morsi. Washington withheld arms delivery to Egypt because it considered Morsi’s removal illegitimate, albeit, over 30 million Egyptians demanded Morsi’s removal because of his gross mismanagement of the economy, his authoritarian style, his promotion of sectorial Brotherhood ideals and the erosion of civil liberties.

Read more at Front Page

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