Exclusive: The Arming of Benghazi

062615_web_arms_0Fox Business, by Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne, June 27, 2015:

The United States supported the secret supply of weapons to Libyan rebels while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State according to federal court documents obtained by Fox News.

In a sworn declaration to the District Court of Arizona May 5th 2015, a career CIA officer David Manners said, “It was then, and remains now, my opinion that the United States did participate, directly or indirectly, in the supply of weapons to the Libyan Transitional National Council.”   The timing matters because in the Spring of 2011 the Libyan opposition was not formally recognized, and the direct supply of arms was not authorized. At that time, the CIA Director was David Petraeus. (DAVID MANNERS DOCUMENT HERE)

Manners testified before a grand jury investigating American defense contractor Marc Turi who faces trial this September on two counts that he allegedly violated the arms control export act by making false statements.

Turi and his company Turi Defense Group are at the center of an ongoing federal investigation over the source and user of weapons defined in court documents as “end user” or “end use”  flowing into Libya as Moammar Qaddafi’s regime was collapsing in 2011.

In “United States of America v. Marc Turi and Turi Defense Group,”  Manners identifies himself as having 18 years experience as an intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA, with foreign postings as Chief of Station in Prague, Czechoslovakia and in Amman, Jordan.  Manners also stated he was “the executive assistant to the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency.”

Manners’ declaration supports statements made exclusively to FOX News by Turi about what President Obama’s team and members of Congress knew about weapons flowing into the region  during the chaotic Arab Spring of 2011.

“When this equipment landed in Libya, half went one way, and the half went the other way,”  Turi said, emphasizing that poor oversight, allowed individuals hostile to the United States to get arms.  “The half that went the other way is the half that ended up in Syria.”

As part of Fox’s ongoing investigation of the 2012 terrorist attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, as well as former Navy Seals Ty Woods and Glen Doherty, Turi spoke exclusively to FOX Senior Executive Producer Pamela Browne.   The investigation premiered on “FOX Files” on the FOX BUSINESS NETWORK.

Turi was one of several thousand US arms contractors licensed by the State Department to sell and move weapons around the world.  He’s been a go to guy for the US government, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I got involved in this business in the 1990s,”  Turi explained. “I’ve been involved in all type of operations, regarding transportation, logistics, and liaising with those foreign governments.”

Turi admits to a criminal history.  He told Fox that in the late 1980’s, he stole a computer, his roommate’s car, and wrote bad checks including one for $100,000 dollars.  Through court records, Fox News verified he was arrested, convicted, and served time in an Arizona jail.

“In my youth, I made some very very bad mistakes…I was discharged from the United States Navy other under than honorable conditions…and I’ve been fighting ever since to get that honor back.”   (TURI DISCHARGE DOCUMENT HERE)

Licensed arms contractors require painstaking compliance in order to obtain the necessary approvals set by strict US government regulations. While Hillary Clinton served as President Obama’s Secretary of State, American arms dealers were awarded a record number of export licenses to sell sophisticated weapons, military parts and technology internationally.

“That’s actually been a huge, policy position, of the Obama Administration,”  Celina Realuyo, a professor of national security at the Perry Center at the National Defense University explained to FOX. Realuyo has served two presidents with expertise in tracking down money and weaponry used in what are called “dark networks” that can channel weapons to criminal and designated foreign terrorist organizations.

More than 86-thousand licenses with a value of $44.3 billion dollars were granted in 2011… a surge of more than $10 billion dollars from the previous year.

In the spring of 2011, Turi says his high level contacts both inside and outside of the US government, encouraged him to explore options to arm the Libyan opposition as they tried to overthrow then Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi.  He says his associates included David Manners, a former intelligence officer with the CIA who stated his expertise to the court as an expert with knowledge of “authorized covert arms transfers.”

Turi provided documents and email exchanges with high level members of Congress as well as military, and State Department employees which are currently being reviewed by Fox News.

Turi said, “That’s where I came up with this “zero footprint” Arab supply chain whereby, our foreign ally supplies another, Arab country.”  In this case, the US would supply conventional weapons to a US ally-Qatar, who would inturn supply them to Libya, as a kind of workaround.

“If you want to  limit the exposure to the US government, what you simply do is outsource it to your allies,”  Turi said, describing the practice. “The partners-the Qataris, and the Emiratis did exactly what they were contracted to do.”  Turi told Fox he never supplied any weapons to Qatar, and it was in the hands of the US government and the State Department’s Bureau of Political and Military Affairs which was headed by a key Clinton aide, Andrew Shapiro.  Mr. Shapiro was responsible to oversee the export control process at the State Department.

March 2011 was a busy time for Hillary Clinton.  Even today, congressional investigators doubt they have all of the emails from her personal server when she was Secretary of State.   On the 14th, along with Chris Stevens, who was then the number two man in Libya serving as the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Clinton met with Libya’s Mustafa Jibril in Paris– a senior member of the TNC.  The next day, Secretary Clinton met with Egypt’s new foreign minister Nabil el Arabi in Cairo and walked through Tahrir Square with her senior adviser Huma Abedin.  At the same time, Turi’s proposal, a 267-million dollar contract, was working its way through US government channels.

“My application was submitted on the 12th,”  Turi said his contacts gave the proposal to the then Secretary of State.  “…through their relationship with the TNC, then provided that application information to Mrs. Clinton via the TNC council when she was in Cairo. That’s what was told to me…and emailed. ”

Turi provided  Fox News with emails he exchanged – in early April 2011 – with Chris Stevens to alert him  to the proposed weapons deal.  The emails were previously cited by the New York Times, but Fox News is now making the message traffic public. (CHRIS STEVENS EMAIL DOCUMENT HERE)

Stevens replied with a “thank you ” and wrote  “I’ll keep it in mind and share it with my colleagues in Washington.”

As FOX Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge first reported, it was a heavily redacted email released to the Benghazi Committee last month that clearly states that on April 8, 2011, a day after the Turi/Stevens exchange, Secretary Clinton was interested in arming the rebels using contractors:

“FYI. The idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered,” Clinton wrote.  Significantly, the State Department released emails blacked out this line, but the version given to the Benghazi Select Committee was complete. (CLINTON EMAIL DOCUMENT HERE)

In May 2011, Turi got a brokering approval from the State Department for Qatar.  In July, his Arizona home was raided by federal agents.

“They came in  the full body armor, and weapons and, they take my computers and my cell phones and that was it. That was the last time I saw them. And they’ve been chasing me all over the world for the past three years, speaking to associates of mine all over the United States and looking into my records and my past.”

His attorney Jean-Jacques Cabou told Fox in a series of emails that his client had a track record working for the “US government through the Central Intelligence Agency” and the government case is an “epic fishing expedition.”  Adding his client”…neither lied on any application nor did he do anything other than support U.S. foreign policy and interests in the Middle East.”

Turi believes his “zero footprint” idea was stolen out from under him, and now he is being blamed for a program that went off the rails.

Such are the stakes in this case, that the Justice Department National Security Division is involved, and recently requested that some proceedings remain secret under CIPA, the Classified Information Procedures Act.   The Federal Judge wrote on June 16 “the government can seek protection under CIPA 4 in this case only by complying with Ninth Circuit law by making a formal claim of privilege, lodged by the head of the department which has actual control over the discoverable information.”

In his sworn declaration to the court, Manners said his grand jury testimony on covert arms transfers was cut off by the government lawyer. “As a result of the Assistant United States Attorney’s actions, I believe that (a) the grand jury never received a full and complete picture of authorized covert arms transfers and their relevance to the present case. ”

“At some point, I may be that internet video excuse,”  Turi said, referring to statements where then Secretary of Clinton and members of the Obama Administration wrongly blamed an obscure anti-Islam video for the 2012 terrorist attack that killed four Americans.    “I don’t know.  But, it’s really strange that the US government would invest three years, a multi-year investigation, fly all over the world interviewing people, for an application.”

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

House Subcommittee Hearing on “Intelligence Void” involved in admitting Syrian Refugees

3927540564CSP, by Alessandra Gennarelli, June 24, 2015:

Wednesday, June 24th, the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security held a hearing titled “Admitting Syrian refugees: The Intelligence Void and the Emerging Homeland Security Threat.” This hearing addressed the issue of the FBI’s inability to vet incoming Syrian and Iraqi refugees that could have terrorist ties.

Chairman Representative Peter King (R-NY) started by stating that “Americans opening doors to those who flee violence is a part of who we are” giving examples to past refugee success stories such as Albert Einstein, before summarizing the security threat in Iraq and Syria and the “vulnerabilities in the screening process.”

Rep. King went on to highlight the threat of “refugees who take advantage of the safe haven,” stating that the “savagery of ISIS” has caused the “worlds biggest refugee crisis.” He stated that the area has a “lack of stable foreign governments” and the “information and intelligence we are able to acquire is limited and often times unverifiable.”

Rep. King ended his opening statement by saying that while America “should not close [it’s] doors” it should be “thoughtful and intuitive with the most assurance that we are not importing terrorists” and that the panel testifying should “solicit recommendations on additional measures that should be taken.”

In his opening statement, Dr. Seth Jones, the director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation, warned that a “growing number of attacks in the US are linked back to this region” and that there are “4 million refugees based in the Syrian province.” He went on to say that Syria has the “highest number of foreign fighters, several [terrorist] groups in the region have planned to put operatives in the west including Europe, and the US intelligence understanding [in the area] is worse.” He summarized by saying that the “US does have a long standing tradition of offering asylum … however an integral part is insuring that those refugees including those in jihadist battlefields do not present a risk to safety and security in the west.”

Thomas Fuentes, former FBI Assistant Director, followed by stating that the International Police Cooperation or Interpol, is “essential in everything we do” and that lack of working partners in Syria, specifically the lack of police and government in the region, is a large reason the FBI does not have the capabilities to vet incoming refugees from the area. Thomas Fuentes stated that he has served as a member of the Executive Committee of Interpol and opened an FBI office in Baghdad, which was a crucial resource for intelligence on the area. He continued to state that a lack of government in Syria deeply affects America’s ability to gain information concerning refugees in the area.

Daveed Gartenstein- Ross, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense Democracies, began his opening statement discussing the interest the country should have in “alleviating the situation in Syria.” He added that if a terrorist group should decide to pose a terrorist as a refugee they would have to “land in a refugee camp and get picked up in the lottery process by the UN” to be chosen to come here. He continued in saying that the radicalization process of those already in the United States is the bigger problem. He gave the example of someone in the United States who has an interest in Syria and looks at the terrorist group al- Nusra as cooperative as having an alleviated risk of radicalization than imported refugees. He also stated that the declining domestic product causes a risk in handling these problems, and that a reevaluation of the US migration policy is in order. He ended by stating that the US has a bad reputation of “not standing by those who help us” and that we need to “focus on our obligation to Iraqis and Afghans who assisted U.S. efforts in these countries.”

Rep. King then asked the panel whether Jordan could be relied upon to help in the vetting process. Fuentes answered by stating that the United States has an excellent relationship with the Jordanians and their intelligence is excellent. Dr. Jones agreed in saying that Jordan does have the best handle on the problem but that there should be a layered system in which our intelligence program follows the Jordanian vetting process, and that we should not rely on anyone else to do this process for us.

Congressman Lou Barletta (R- PA) asked, “How would you access the intelligence communities to properly vet refugees for admission?” Dr. Jones commented that Syria has far fewer human collectors, intelligence capabilities and has a much weaker ability to collect information useful for the vetting process.”

Fuentes then went on to point out that since “refugees are enemies of the state, we cannot rely on that state to vet them properly.”

The witnesses were then asked about helping these refugees in ways other than bringing them into the country. Daveed answered saying that the American public has a strong duty and that “actually addressing the situation over there is important.” He commented that we could “improve the situation in camps and provide job and educational opportunities.” He supported thinking about helping the issue in the area of origin and that it would be “the best use of money.” Fuentes agreed with providing resources “that would make camps more livable” but warned that the length of time that this aid would be provided would determine the timing of terrorism, because these groups would wait until the program ends to send their men through refugee camps.

Rep. Keating (D- MA) asked about the internal intelligence found on the ground with limited people there. Dr. Jones answered that while “capabilities are better today than a few years ago … better doesn’t mean good.”

Chairman King asked about maintaining surveillance on those entering the United States as Syrian refugees. Fuentes quickly answered saying the FBI cannot track these people “unless there is a predication or indication that the person is involved in criminal activity” and that tracking a large population such as all Syrian refugees is not plausible as the amount observed has to be narrowed down before it can be initiated. Daveed followed by saying that the US vetting system is “very antiquated.”

Chairman King concluded the hearing by saying there is currently “no real answer” to the problem, and “there is still going to be risks there no matter what process we follow.” However, it is “in our national interest that something be done and we are going to have to find a way to do it…

Is Kurdistan Rising?

The State of the Kurds  WSJ 6-20-15

NER, by Jerry Gordon, June 21, 2015:

In the Wall Street Journal Weekend edition, June 20-21, 2015, Yaroslav Trofimov writes of the possible rise of an independent Kurdistan, “The State of The Kurds”.  An independent Kurdistan was promised by the WWI Allies in the Treaty of Sevres that ended the Ottoman Empire in 1920. That commitment was dashed by the rise of Turkish Republic under the secularist Kemal Atatürk confirmed in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne denying an independent Kurdistan in what is now Eastern Turkey. Combined a future Kurdistan encompassing eastern Turkey, Northern Syria, northwest Iran and northern Iraq might comprise a landlocked republic of 30 million with significant energy and agricultural resources.  The rise of Kurdistan is reflected in these comments in the Trofimov WSJ review article:

Selahattin Demirtas, Chairman of the HDP party in Turkey:

The Kurds’ existence was not recognized; they were hidden behind a veil. But now, after being invisible for a century, they are taking their place on the international stage. Today, international powers can no longer resolve any issue in the Middle East without taking into account the interests of the Kurds.

Tahir Elçi, a prominent Kurdish lawyer and chairman of the bar in Diyarbakir, Turkey:

In the past, when the Kurds sought self-rule, the Turks, the Persians and the Arabs were all united against it. Today that’s not true anymore—it’s not possible for the Shiite government in Iraq and Shiite Iran to work together against the Kurds with the Sunni Turkey and the Sunni ISIS. In this environment, the Kurds have become a political and a military power in the Middle East.

Elçi, amplifies a concern that Sherkoh Abbas, leader of the Kurdish National Syria Assembly (KURDNAS) has expressed in several NER interviews an articles with him:

The PKK has made important steps to adopt more democratic ways. But you cannot find the same climate of political diversity in [Kurdish] Syria as you find in [northern Iraq], and this is because of PKK’s authoritarian and Marxist background. This is a big problem.

As effective as the KRG government and peshmerga have been in pushing back at ISIS forces threatening the capital of Erbil, the real problem is the divisiveness in the political leadership. That is reflected in the comment of  Erbil province’s governor, Nawaf Hadi cited by Trofimov:

For 80 years, the Arab Sunni people led Iraq—and they destroyed Kurdistan. Now we’ve been for 10 years with the Shiite people [dominant in Baghdad], and they’ve cut the funding and the salaries—how can we count on them as our partner in Iraq?” All the facts on the ground encourage the Kurds to be independent.

That renewed prospect reflects the constellation of  events in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Supporters cheer Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP, in Istanbul, Turkey, in May, 2015. Source: Emrah Gurel/AP

Supporters cheer Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, in Istanbul, Turkey, in May, 2015. Source: Emrah Gurel/AP

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Clinton Silent as Number of Worldwide Refugees Reaches Record Level

AP

AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Daniel Wiser, June 23, 2015:

Hillary Clinton’s policies as secretary of state failed to address several crises that have produced a record number of displaced persons worldwide, according to a Republican group that also noted her lack of a commemoration for World Refugee Day.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a report last week that there were 59.5 million people who were forcibly displaced at the end of 2014, the largest number ever recorded. More than half of the displaced persons were children. Refugee levels spiked in the Middle East, Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa, all regions where Clinton’s policies faced criticism during her tenure as secretary of state.

America Rising PAC, a GOP opposition research firm, pointed out that Clinton—the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president—did not make a statement on World Refugee Day, this past Saturday.

“Secretary Clinton’s silence on World Refugee Day was extremely telling,” Colin Reed, executive director of America Rising, said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “Under her failed leadership at the State Department, the world became less stable and more dangerous, and her policies led to the global unrest that has contributed to the number of refugees reaching record levels.”

The UNHCR said one of the main contributors to the burgeoning refugee total is the four-year civil war in Syria, where an average of 42,500 people were displaced each day of last year. Syria has the world’s most internally displaced people (7.6 million) as well as refugees that have fled to other countries (3.88 million).

In March 2011, Clinton said the United States did not intervene in Syria because of the perception that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was a “reformer.” Critics later derided Clinton for the comment when Assad escalated his crack down on the country’s opposition and began to kill his own people, including with chemical weapons. The civil war has claimed more than 200,000 lives.

Clinton reportedly supported efforts to arm more moderate rebels early in the civil war but failed to persuade President Obama to do so.

Terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS), capitalized on the chaos in the Syrian war to expand their territory. In June 2014, IS launched an offensive across the Syrian border into western and northern Iraq, seizing the key city of Mosul and eventually other cities in Iraq’s Anbar province. More than 3.3 million Iraqis have been displaced by IS.

Last June, Clinton said she “could not have predicted the extent to which [IS] could be effective in seizing cities in Iraq and trying to erase boundaries to create an Islamist state.” Intelligence officials have said their efforts to monitor IS were made more difficult by the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011. Clinton largely supported the removal of U.S. forces from Iraq and dismissed criticism of the Obama administration, which was unable to secure a status of forces agreement permitting a residual troop presence.

In Ukraine, the conflict between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatists has displaced1.2 million people in the country and resulted in more than 6,000 deaths since last April. Clinton infamously presented a “reset” button to Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, in 2009 to promote more cooperation between the two countries, though the Russian word on the button actually translated into “overcharged.” Amid Russia’s ongoing destabilization of Ukraine and continued support for Assad, the reset policy is now widely regarded as a misguided move. Nonetheless, Clinton said last year that the reset “worked” on issues such as nuclear nonproliferation and the transport of supplies to U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Additionally, the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has forced more than 1.5 million people, including 800,000 children, to abandon their homes. Hundreds of Nigerian teachers and schoolchildren were killed last year. Despite pressure from some U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, Clinton declined to name Boko Haram a terrorist group while she was secretary of state. Sen. David Vitter (R., La.) has speculated that Clinton’s decision might be related to Gilbert Chagoury, a Nigerian construction magnate and Clinton Foundation donor with substantial business interests in the country.

A Clinton spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on World Refugee Day and her policies as secretary of state.

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A new strategy for Iraq and Syria

Iraq forcesWashington Post, by Charles Krauthammer, June 18, 2015:

It’s time to rethink Iraq and Syria. It begins by admitting that the old borders are gone, that a unified Syria or Iraq will never be reconstituted, that the Sykes-Picot map is defunct.

We may not want to enunciate that policy officially. After all, it does contradict the principle that colonial borders be maintained no matter how insanely drawn, the alternative being almost universally worse. Nonetheless, in Mesopotamia, balkanization is the only way to go.

Because it has already happened and will not be reversed. In Iraq, for example, we are reaping one disaster after another by pretending that the Baghdad government — deeply sectarian, divisive and beholden to Iran — should be the center of our policy and the conduit for all military aid.

Look at Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi. The Iraqi army is a farce. It sees the enemy and flees, leaving its weapons behind. “The ISF was not driven out of Ramadi. They drove out of Ramadi,” said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Our own secretary of defense admitted that “the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight.”

We can train them forever. The problem is one of will. They don’t want to fight. And why should they? They are led by commanders who are corrupt, sectarian and incompetent.

What to do? Redirect our efforts to friendly forces deeply committed to the fight, beginning with the Kurds, who have the will, the skill and have demonstrated considerable success. This year alone, they have taken back more than 500 Christian and Kurdish towns from the Islamic State. Unlike the Iraqi army, however, they are starved for weapons because, absurdly, we send them through Baghdad, which sends along only a trickle.

This week, more Kurdish success. With U.S. air support, Syrian Kurds captured the strategic town of Tal Abyad from the Islamic State. Which is important for two reasons. Tal Abyad controls the road connecting the terror group’s capital of Raqqa to Turkey, from which it receives fighters, weapons and supplies. Tal Abyad is “a lung through which [the Islamic State] breathed and connected to the outside world,” said Kurdish commander Haqi Kobane.

Moreover, Tal Abyad helps link isolated Kurdish areas in the Syrian north into a contiguous territory, like Iraqi Kurdistan. Which suggests that this territory could function as precisely the kind of long-advocated Syrian “safe zone” from which to operate against both the Islamic State and the Bashar al-Assad regime.

More good news comes from another battle line. Last week, the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front, backed by and trained in Jordan, drove the Syrian government out of its last major base in eastern Daraa province, less than 60 miles from Damascus.

These successes suggest a new U.S. strategy. Abandon our anachronistic fealty to the central Iraqi government (now largely under Iran’s sway anyway) and begin supplying the Iraqi Kurds in a direct, 24-hour, Berlin-style airlift. And in Syria, intensify our training, equipping and air support for the now-developing Kurdish safe zone. Similarly, through Jordan, for the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front. Such a serious and relentless strategy would not only roll back Islamic State territorial gains, it would puncture the myth of Islamic State invincibility.

In theory, we should also be giving direct aid to friendly Sunni tribesmen in Iraq whose Anbar Awakening, brilliantly joined by Gen. David Petraeus’ surge, utterly defeated the Islamic State progenitor, al-Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006-2007. The problem is, having been abandoned by us once, when President Obama liquidated our presence in 2011, why should the Sunnis ever trust us again?

***

A Plan to Defeat ISIS

Published on Jun 18, 2015 by securefreedom

Center for Security Policy Exec. VP Jim Hanson announced CSP’s plan to topple that Caliphate and Defeat ISIS at the National Security Luncheon held at the Capitol Visitor’s Center 17 July 2015

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Egypt helping organize anti-Muslim Brotherhood Syrian opposition

640x392_65997_224309-190x150CSP, by Ashley Davies, June 8, 2015:

A two-day conference of Syrian opposition leaders in Cairo is set to wrap up today, June 9th. The conference, a continuation of meetings in January, intended to develop a political solution to Syrian turmoil and form a new coalition called the Syrian National Opposition. In January, over 150 representatives of 40 Syrian political parties and organizations gathered and drafted a 10 point document on the new coalition’s goals. These points included backing a political solution in Syria, rejecting foreign military presence in Syria, releasing all hostages and detainees in Syria, and following the Geneva I communiqué.

The meetings on Monday and Tuesday, organized by Haytham Manna, were also set to elect a political committee and establish a policy charter. The political committee, the Syrian National Opposition, is said to be in favor of separation of state and religion, equality of all Syrian citizens, and seeks to criminalize political sectarianism and terrorism. Manna claimed the conferences have taken place in Cairo because the “Egyptian Foreign Ministry has always maintained good relations with all the currents of the Syrian opposition.”

Amongst those attending the most recent conference included 75 members of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, of whom Manna says approximately 20 of the democratic members are with him.

Attendees included Haytham Manna and Ahmad Jarba. Manna, one of the main organizers of the conferences, is well known for being highly critical of the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in the Syrian opposition. Manna has accused the Brotherhood of being the cause of Syrian turmoil and forcing Syria to embrace “Islamism”. In response, the Muslim Brotherhood have accused Manna of aiding the Assad regime’s interests. Jarba was elected president of the Syrian National Coalition in March 2014, assisting Mustafa al-Sabbagh’s faction, in an attempt to oust the Brotherhood out of the opposition, take over all other positions in the Coalition. The undermining of the Brotherhood’s presence in the Coalition resulted in substantial ill will between many of the Brotherhood’s members towards Jarba.

The presence of these high-ranking Syrian leaders at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood highlights the fact that Egypt’s motives for hosting the conference may extend to a desire to help form Syrian coalition with a strongly anti-Brotherhood stance. Tensions between Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood have been high since Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Brotherhood, was forced out of office in a coup in 2013. Most recently, Egypt has expressed in intense displeasure with the United States meeting with Muslim Brotherhood members. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s  administration playing host the Syrian opposition conferences, we can expect Egypt to attempt to encourage an outcome that best undermines the Brotherhood.

Iran Spends Billions to Prop Up Assad

ASKING FOR A LOAN? SOURCE: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

ASKING FOR A LOAN? SOURCE: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Bloomberg View, by Eli Lake, June 9, 2015:

Iran is spending billions of dollars a year to prop up the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, according to the U.N.’s envoy to Syria and other outside experts. These estimates are far higher than what the Barack Obama administration, busy negotiating a nuclear deal with the Tehran government, has implied Iran spends on its policy to destabilize the Middle East.

On Monday, a spokeswoman for the U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told me that the envoy estimates Iran spends $6 billion annually on Assad’s government. Other experts I spoke to put the number even higher. Nadim Shehadi, the director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University, said his research shows that Iran spent between $14 and $15 billion in military and economic aid to the Damascus regime in 2012 and 2013, even though Iran’s banks and businesses were cut off from the international financial system.

Such figures undermine recent claims from Obama and his top officials suggesting that Iran spends a relative pittance to challenge U.S. interests and allies in the region. While the administration has never disclosed its own estimates on how much Iran spends to back Syria and other allies in the Middle East, Obama himself has played down the financial dimension of the regime’s support.

“The great danger that the region has faced from Iran is not because they have so much money. Their budget — their military budget is $15 billion compared to $150 billion for the Gulf States,” he said in an interview last week with Israel’s Channel 2.

But experts see it another way. The Christian Science Monitor last month reported that de Mastura told a think tank in Washington that Iran was spending three times its official military budget–$35 billion annually–to support Assad in Syria. When asked about that earlier event, Jessy Chahine, the spokeswoman for de Mistura, e-mailed me: “The Special Envoy has estimated Iran spends $6 billion annually on supporting the Assad regime in Syria. So it’s $6 billion not $35 billion.”

Either way, that figure is significant. Many members of Congress and close U.S. regional allies have raised concerns that Iran will see a windfall of cash as a condition of any nuclear deal it signs this summer. Obama himself has said there is at least $150 billion worth of Iranian money being held in overseas banks as part of the crippling sanctions. If Iran spends billions of its limited resources today to support its proxies in the Middle East, it would follow that it will spend even more once sanctions are lifted.

The Obama administration disagrees. It says the amount Iran spends on mischief in the region is so low that any future sanctions relief will not make a difference in its behavior. Speaking at a conference this weekend sponsored by the Jerusalem Post, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said that even as Iran’s economy has suffered from sanctions in recent years, it has been able to maintain its “small” level of assistance to terrorists and other proxies. “The unfortunate truth remains that the cost of this support is sufficiently small, that we will need to remain vigilant with or without a nuclear deal to use our other tools to deter the funding of terror and regional destabilization,” he said.

Shehadi and other experts acknowledged that their figures were estimates, because the Tehran regime does not publicize budgets for its Revolutionary Guard Corps or the full subsidies it provides to allies. Nonetheless, Shehadi says, Iranian support to Syria today is substantial, especially when factoring in the line of credit, oil subsidies and other kinds of economic assistance Iran provides the Syrian regime.

Steven Heydemann, who was the vice president for applied research on conflict at the U.S. Institute of Peace until last month, told me earlier this year that the value of Iranian oil transfers, lines of credit, military personnel costs and subsidies for weapons for the Syrian government was likely between $3.5 and $4 billion annually. He said that did not factor in how much Iran spent on supporting Hezbollah and other militias fighting Assad’s opponents in Syria. Heydamann said he estimated the total support from Iran for Assad would be between $15 and $20 billion annually.

A Pentagon report released last week was quite clear about what Iran hopes to achieve with its spending: “Iran has not substantively changed its national security and military strategies over the past year. However, Tehran has adjusted its approach to achieve its enduring objectives, by increasing its diplomatic outreach and decreasing its bellicose rhetoric.” The report says Iran’s strategy is intended to preserve its Islamic system of governance, protect it from outside threats, attain economic prosperity and “establish Iran as the dominant regional power.”

If Iran ends up accepting a deal on its nuclear program, it will see an infusion of cash to pursue that regional agenda. Shehadi said this fits a pattern for dictatorships in the Middle East: they preoccupy the international community with proliferation issues while, behind the scene, they continue to commit atrocities.

“In the early 1990s, Saddam Hussein was massacring his people and we were worried about the weapons inspectors,” Shehadi said. “Bashar al-Assad did that too. He kept us busy with chemical weapons when he massacred his people. Iran is keeping us busy with a nuclear deal and we are giving them carte blanche in Syria and the region.”

Also see:

Shoshana Bryen: The Kurds – A Guide for U.S. Policymakers

Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director, Jewish Policy Center; Former Senior Director for Security Policy, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)

Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director, Jewish Policy Center; Former Senior Director for Security Policy, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)

Center for Security Policy, by Rachel Silverman, June 8, 2015:

On Sunday, June 7th Turkish voters delivered a dramatic blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In a historic first, a party dominated by ethnic Kurds surged into the Grand National Assembly in Ankara, marking a new moment in the evolution of Turkey’s democracy. According to Akin Unver, a professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, it’s now “impossible to sideline Kurdish politics. Despite the civil war of the 1990s, Kurds have evolved politically and established a lasting legacy” on the Turkish national stage.

Professor Unver, is not the only one who believes that the Kurds should be recognized politically. On June 4th, during the Center for Security Policy’s National Security Group Lunch on Capitol Hill, Shoshana Bryen who is the Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center offered three practical steps that the U.S. can do to help assist the Kurds and advance U.S. interests in the region.

Bryen says that the first step, which coincides with Professor Unver, “is for the U.S. to recognize the Kurds politically, as an ally, as a partner in the fight against ISIS.” She mentions that there was a meeting in Paris last week between coalition members to discuss Iraq and Syria and the Kurds were not invited, despite the fact that there are 160,000 or so Kurdish fighters on the ground doing the job.

The second step, according to Bryen, is for the U.S. to talk to the Kurds directly and not through Baghdad:

“Right now all the aid that we give them, which is not a whole lot, goes through Baghdad. The Kurds probably get about 25 or 35 percent of that, which means we need to talk to them directly instead. The U.S. needs to figure out how to give them military equipment directly. The Turks, Iraqis, and Iranians will not like it, but if the Germans and the French can supply the Kurds directly which is what they do now, then the U.S. ought to as well.”

Bryen’s third step is that the U.S. needs to figure out how to get the Kurds to the United States to talk. Bryen stresses that “the Kurdish voices are not being heard around the United States and they need to be. They need invitations, they need to be invited to testify on Capitol Hill, and they need to be invited to conferences.”

Bryen also stresses that U.S. interests actually lie with the minority communities in the Middle East, which includes Israel and the Kurds. She says that “we have allies in the region and we need to lean on them instead of trying to pretend that our enemies are our allies.” Bryen ends with saying that if we follow these three crucial steps, then that is “the beginning of wisdom for the United States.”

Becoming allies with the Kurds would offer the United States tremendous strategic advantages that would help defeat the Islamic State, especially now after the Turkish election results. Unlike several of the countries from which the U.S. flies their aircrafts or bases their ships, the Kurdish leaders and people are pro-American, its ruling regime is not a monarchy ripe for Arab-Spring-style overthrow, and it does not sponsor Islamist terrorism. It is clearly time for America to form an alliance with the Kurds.

U.S. Acting as Air Support to Al-Qaeda in Syria Against ISIS

Al Nusrah leader Abu Muhammad al Julani interview with Al Jazeera June 3, 2015 Source: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/06/inheritedjihad.php

Al Nusrah leader Abu Muhammad al Julani interview with Al Jazeera June 3, 2015 Source: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/06/inheritedjihad.php

PJ Media by Patrick Poole, June 7, 2015:

U.S. coalition aircraft struck ISIS positions in support of Syrian rebels, including Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official Syria affiliate, along with another prominent jihadist group, Ahrar al-Sham. This is a dramatic shift from just a year and a half ago, when Obama administration officials said they would support Islamist groups as long as they weren’t allied with Al-Qaeda.

Agence France Presse reports:

US-led aircraft bombed Islamic State group fighters as they battled rival Syrian rebels, including Al-Qaeda loyalists, for the first time, a monitoring group said on Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described the overnight raids in northern Aleppo as an intervention on the side of the rival rebels, which include forces who have been targeted previously by US-led strikes.

“The coalition carried out at least four strikes overnight targeting IS positions in the town of Suran,” the Britain-based Observatory said.

“It’s the first time that the international coalition has supported non-Kurdish opposition forces fighting the Islamic State,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

He said at least eight IS fighters were killed in the strikes and another 20 were injured.

This is also the first time that the U.S. has openly acted as air support for Al-Qaeda.

It needs to be stressed that U.S. airstrikes have targeted Jabhat al-Nusra in just the past month. Now we are effectively their air force. Nusra was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. in December 2012.

Some may remember the breathless media reports last September that a previously unmentioned terror group operating inside Syria was plotting attacks on the U.S. and other Western targets, described by U.S. officials as the “Khorasan group.” As Al-Aan TV later revealed, the “Khorasan group” was nothing more than an elite group of foreign fighters working as part of Jabhat al-Nusra.

Thus began a series of U.S. strikes targeting al-Nusra:

Sept. 23: An airstrike killed Nusra leader Abu Yousef al-Turki.

Nov. 13: A Nusra base near Idlib was hit killing two.

Nov. 19: A storage facility controlled by Nusra was struck near the Turkish border at Harem.

March 9: A local Nusra headquarters in Bab al-Hawa was targeted close to the Turkish border.

May 20: Two Nusra buildings in Tawama were destroyed, killing 15 fighters.

This dramatic shift in U.S. policy towards al-Nusra has not gone unnoticed:

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So what changed?

Undoubtedly Nusra’s role in the opposition to ISIS was the topic of conversation at last month’s U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council’s meetings at Camp David. Nusra’s role in the Syrian opposition, particularly in the northwest part of the country, has grown considerably. If anyone could direct the Al-Qaeda franchise to cease plans directed at Western targets to allay fears of the Obama administration, it would be their Gulf sponsors.

Perhaps the result of those discussions was a two-part Al Jazeera interview with Nusra commander Abu Muhammad al-Julani. Speculation by some in the D.C. foreign policy community was that Julani was going to renounce the group’s allegiance to Al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri.

But, as Tom Joscelyn at the Long War Journal noted, Julani made clear that Jabhat al-Nusra was Al-Qaeda’s operation and would remain so in submission to Zawahiri. Yet some in the D.C. foreign policy circles still insist that Nusra is becoming more “pragmatic.”

As I reported here at PJ Media in March, there is a major effort on the part of academics and journalists to rehabilitate Al-Qaeda’s image in the face of a growing ISIS threat.

And now, with Julani doubling-down on his allegiance to Al-Qaeda and Zawahiri, the U.S. is in the awkward position of providing air support to the very terror group, along with other “moderate” jihadists, in their struggle over territory with ISIS.

So our official policy is now to support the terrorists in Column A to fight (for now) the terrorists in Column B.

Some are happy with this development:

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I have reported here at PJ Media extensively over the past year about the shifting allegiances and alliances with terror groups by U.S.-backed Syrian rebel groups. In fact, much of the recent gains made by Jabhat al-Nusra against the Assad regime have come as a result of U.S. TOW anti-tank missiles that had been provided to other groups that later fell into Nusra hands.

There are no assurances that Julani and Nusra will remain in the anti-ISIS camp. In fact, Julani previously served as one of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies and nothing prevents some kind of reconciliation down the road.

Barack Obama’s schizophrenic — and at times, contradictory — policy towards Syria has led us to this point where U.S. forces are serving in support of anti-ISIS elements, including Al-Qaeda. Not fourteen years after 9/11, is this what American signed up for?

Iraq’s refusal to take refugees leaves America in questionable position

3183166746CSP, by Alessandra Gennarelli, June, 1, 2015:

The number of refugees fleeing from their homes in Iraq is rising at an alarmingly high rate, estimated to be as high as 14 million people in April, as the Syrian civil war continues and ISIS maintains hold of highly populated Iraqi cities.

85% of Iraqis on the run are Sunnis. Most refugees who are fleeing within their borders attempt to cross into Baghdad, where Shiite militants on strict orders to hold the border do not let them cross. The Northern Kurdish Region, which has been “long a haven for civilians fleeing Iraq’s turmoil,” is still welcoming Christian refugees but are becoming hesitant when accepting Sunni Arabs. The security measures that are beginning to be put into place, according to the Iraqi government, are based on legitimate concerns.

These concerns stem from the country’s inability to vet the unmanageable amount of people crossing the borders between cities. The Iraqi government acknowledges that the “Islamic State is entrenched in Anbar and counts on some support from local citizens”, essentially saying that terrorists are likely to enter under the guise of a refugee. The large displacement of people, lack of housing and personal information for each citizen makes attempting to vet each citizen for entry unsustainable.

Funding is another issue as Aid agencies worry that soon they will be unequipped to help the increasing refugee flow, as they are now not only coming from Syria but other ISIS embedded towns like Ramadi in Iraq. The United Nations controls the refugee replacement program in Iraq and is struggling with monetary flow.

The New York Times reports that the “$500 million donation to the United Nations by Saudi Arabia ran out in March and other funds are quickly dwindling.” Another $500 million dollars is requested from the United Nations, the organizations biggest appeal in history, in order to successfully handle the quickly deteriorating situation in Iraq. The Senior United Nations official in charge of humanitarian efforts Lisa Grande said of the situation, “We are tapped out of money.”

Abuse of the refugee sponsorship program is another pressing issue within Iraq’s borders. The New York Times reports that in order to get to Baghdad, Anbar civilians must secure a sponsor in the capital who can escort them into the city. However, some residents are charging as much as $700 to incoming refugees according to the International Rescue Committee. Mark Schnellbaecher, the IRC’s regional crisis response director said of the issue, “Not only does paying for sponsorship undermine its security credentials, it also forces an unacceptable financial burden on displaced Iraqis who will need their savings to provide for their families.”

While Iraq is openly admitting their struggle and hesitancy with admitting Arab refugees in large numbers, the U.S. Government is urgently seeking to relocate these men, women and children to the The United States. The Center For Security Policy released an article May 26 discussing the letter Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) as well as fourteen other senators wrote asking President Obama to consider planning on 65,000 Syrian refugees to be on our border by the end of 2016. Refugee Resettlement and the Hijra to America explains in a broader sense the lack of communication that needs to be reformed in order to fix the immigration process of America.

America is receiving a large amount of refugees as tensions in Iraq and Syria rise. As of 2012, Texas is receiving the most refugees out of any state followed by California, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia. According to critically acclaimed author and columnist Paul Sperry, Obama has “averaged 100,000 new immigrants from Muslim nations a year … It’s more than we’re importing both from Central America and Mexico combined.”

Detroit, Michigan is, as The National Journal states, “A Dream Come True for Iraqi Refugees.” In places like this, Muslim immigrants are able to infuse into society, and are often provided with “food stamps, subsidized housing, health care, educational costs for children and the costs associated with the criminal justice system” all at the expense of the US taxpayer. The National Journal goes on to explain “Detroit’s suburbs have absorbed tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees in recent years in the wake of the war.” Muslim communities often begin to form in these cities as more are placed in the same designated areas. A similar view was offered by a New York Times Op-Ed writer.

However, three dire issues arise with these transitions.

Firstly, the concerns of national security and the failures of the US immigration officials vetting process are causing a magnitude of problems. The book Refugee Resettlement and the Hijra to America explains that “as entire regions of the Middle East … descend into chaos, the ability of immigration officials to conduct proper vetting of applicants by verifying places of origin, political orientation, criminal records or even basic identity, is all too often non-existent.” Sperry says of the same process, “The FBI officials who are in charge of that type of vetting process for terrorists coming in under visas and refugee programs … admit, under oath, that they have no idea who these people are, and they can’t find out.” The assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Michael Stench even commented on the lack of information the FBI is experiencing.

Secondly, the financial ability of America to host these refugees is quickly fading. Ann Corcoran’s book explains that in the fiscal year 2014, total available funding dedicated to the Refugee program stood at $1,143,000,000. The fiscal year 2015 shows the funding falling to $1,059,000,000. As stated above, the US taxpayer remains responsible for providing the money, but left out of the conversation on what happens to it.

Lastly, Refugee Resettlement watchers such as Ann Corcoran, a citizen turned expert on this topic, are raising awareness about the failure of transparency that the government continues to have with it’s citizens on the topic.

Essentially, Iraq’s struggle with its immigration vetting process is effecting not only it’s own country, but countries worldwide, as not only the United States but places like the UK, Germany and Canada are receiving refugees from this area of conflict as well.

The Islamic State now controls both Syria and Iraq, currently the main sources of most Muslim immigrants to America. As Paul Sperry said, “We have no idea if they’re going to come into this country to escape terrorism or to carry out terrorism. We have no idea.”

Also see:

How to beat ISIS in Iraq despite Obama’s feckless foreign policy

2540868340CSP, by Fred Fleitz, May 29, 2015:

There have been a lot of compelling arguments made since the disastrous fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi to ISIS last weekend that it is time for the President Obama to adopt a coherent strategy to defeat ISIS that includes sending ground troops to fight alongside the Iraqi army.

Kimberly and Fred Kagan, the smartest people I know on this issue, said in a Washington Post article last week that President Obama has no Iraq strategy and called on him to send “a few thousand additional combat troops, backed by helicopters, armored vehicles and forward air controllers able to embed with Iraqi units at the battalion level, as well as additional Special Forces troops able to move about the countryside.”

While I mostly agree with the Kagans, they are not acknowledging two realities about President Obama’s approach to ISIS and the crisis in Iraq and Syria.

First, Mr. Obama does have an Iraq strategy. It is to do as little as possible about this crisis for the rest of his presidency so he can hand this mess to a future president.

He only reluctantly agreed to send military advisers to Iraq and approve airstrikes because he was forced to by ISIS atrocities. This has been followed by constant spin by Obama officials exaggerating the effectiveness of the president’s Iraq policy and dismissing ISIS gains.

The most recent example was when President Obama said this week “I don’t think we’re losing” after he was asked about the fall of Ramadi during an interview with The Atlantic.

Even worse was Mr. Obama’s ludicrous statement on Memorial Day that “Today is the first Memorial Day in 14 years that the United States is not engaged in a major ground war,” a claim that is technically true because the 3,000 military advisers he sent to Iraq are restricted to bases and the attacks that the United States is staging in Iraq and Syria are being conducted by the U.S. Air Force and special forces.

Second, the president also is trying run out the clock in Syria but the results may be far more dire. Due to major gains on the ground by ISIS and the Al Nusra Front (an Al Qaeda affiliate) over the last few months, the Assad regime is in danger of collapse. Limited U.S. airstrikes and the current effort to arm and train a small number of moderate Syrian rebels to fight ISIS will be too little and too late to affect the Syria situation.

If Assad falls, the bloodletting in Syria and the conversion of Syria into an ISIS-controlled terrorist state will have huge repercussions for regional and global security.

So what can be done about Iraq, Syria and ISIS given the restrictions that President Obama has placed on U.S. forces?

Concerning Iraq, I believe there are several things the U.S. can do to reverse ISIS gains that President Obama might agree to such as directly arming the Iraqi Kurds, stepping up the training and arming of the Iraqi army, and arming Sunni militias.

Airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq should be significantly increased. (Why didn’t we bomb the ISIS “victory parade” in Ramadi this week?) The U.S. should also send more special forces and military advisers.

Although President Obama probably will continue to refuse to allow U.S. troops to engage ISIS in combat (other than an occasional special forces raid), he might agree to allow U.S. military advisers leave their bases and accompany Iraqi forces into the field. This could allow them to shore up the morale of Iraqi soldiers and better coordinate airstrikes.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposed such changes last week, calling on Mr. Obama to allow U.S. troops to operate behind the lines in Iraq and support Iraqi security forces. He would let U.S. troops serve as forward air controllers and spotters. Gates also believes U.S. military trainers should be embedded down to the battalion level in Iraqi security forces and also work with Sunni tribes in Anbar Province and with the Iraqi Kurds.

Continuing tensions between the Shiite government in Baghdad and Iraqi Sunnis is a major obstacle to defeating ISIS. Many Sunnis are supporting ISIS because they are more afraid of the Shiite government and Iranian-trained Shiite militias. This fear grew when Shiite militias engaged in mass looting after they took the Shiite city of Tikrit from ISIS at the end of March. The perception that the government did not do enough to defend Ramadi may further fuel Iraqi Sunni estrangement with Baghdad.

The U.S. must pressure the Baghdad government to resolve these tensions and bring Iraqi Sunnis into the fight against ISIS. This must include demanding an end to the government’s reliance on Iranian military support since Iran’s presence in Iran is driving up support for ISIS by Iraqi Sunnis. The Obama administration also must stop using Iran as a proxy to fight ISIS in Iraq.

The Obama administration must do more to target ISIS by expanding counterterrorism efforts and airstrikes against it everywhere it is operating, including in Libya. The U.S. should work to step up efforts with our European allies to stop the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria. ISIS funding sources should be targeted, including by bombing oil facilities it has captured. There also must be a robust effort to counter ISIS propaganda on the Internet.

These measures could help reverse ISIS gains in Iraq. However, they will not defeat ISIS because it will still be based in Syria and will continue to expand its control of that country. Only a large international force can defeat ISIS in Syria and restore order. Since there is no chance this will happen, I believe ISIS and the al-Nusra Front will eventually seize control of Syria and oust Assad.

We need to recognize that Syria is lost and prepare for the coming catastrophe when Assad falls. There will be a huge number of refugees trying to escape a new ISIS government. There is a strong prospect of widespread atrocities, including beheadings, against supporters of the Assad regime and Christians. An ISIS victory could also lead to an influx of foreigners traveling to Syria to join it and the country becoming a terrorist safe haven that could profoundly alter regional and global security.

The United States needs to begin an international dialogue on the coming collapse of Syria, ways to prevent this, and contingency plans for a collapse. Creating humanitarian safe zones needs to be considered, although finding states to send troops to defend them will be difficult.

ISIS captured Ramadi despite being vastly outnumbered by the Iraqi army because of poor leadership, poor morale, lack of weapons and ineffective U.S. airstrikes. Although I do not see a viable way to defeat ISIS in Syria, the steps outlined above could reverse ISIS gains in Iraq despite President Obama’s feckless foreign policy.

I concede that much of what I am proposing is a holding action until a new American president is in office who is prepared to lead. Many will argue that since President Obama doesn’t want to win in Iraq, we should pull our troops out. I believe this would be a mistake because ceding Iraq to ISIS would have profound and long-lasting implications for global security that we would have to confront down the road.

Also see:

Senators Durbin and Klubuchar lead push to flood US with 65,000 Syrian refugees by next year

CSP, by Adam Savit, May 26, 2015:

Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are leading a group of fourteen senators in calling on President Barack Obama to significantly increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed to resettle in the United States. Their letter to Obama cites precedent in that “the United States traditionally accepts at least 50 percent of resettlement cases from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).” With the UNHCR seeking to resettle 130,000 Syrian refugees worldwide, that means an influx of 65,000 to American shores by the end of 2016.

The letter then cites “leading U.S. refugee organizations (including Church World Service, HIAS, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, USCCB, National Association of Evangelicals’ World Relief.” These organizations and others constitute the VOLAGs (Voluntary Agencies), ostensibly non-profit and non-partisan organizations who have a chokehold on refugee policy for the United States.

For a press release and full copy of the senators’ letter to Obama, click here.

For more on the VOLAGs and their destructive influence, as well as a broader treatment of the refugee resettlement threat in general, Ann Corcoran’s new #1 Best-Seller Refugee Resettlement and the Hijra to America is required reading:

Federal_Immigration_Policy_amazonbutton1-684x1024

And if you don’t have time to read the book, view and share the 4 minute viral video of Ann explaining the basics of her book below. Be sure to share this video with friends and keep up the momentum.

Also See:

ISIS Targets City that Inspired Washington, D.C. for Destruction

Palmyra (wikipedia)

Palmyra (wikipedia)

Frontpage, May 22, 2015 by Daniel Greenfield:

The great columns and pediments of Washington, D.C. that give it a Roman and Greek air have their origins in a lost city in the Syrian desert. After Robert Wood and James Dawkins visited the ruins of Palmyra in the eighteenth century, the illustrations of the bare columns and broken arches helped inspire neoclassical architecture. Now the city that helped inspire Washington is occupied by ISIS.

It is a historical irony that the classical architecture of our national capital where Islamic terrorists are appeased owes a good deal to a forgotten Christian outpost that surrendered to the armies of Islam.

Some would even say that history is repeating itself.

Palmyra fell when it was besieged by the savage horde of Khalid ibn al-Walid; the Sword of Allah. The Sword of Allah was known for numerous atrocities. One particularly gruesome account describes how he murdered the Arab poet and chieftain Malik ibn Nuweira for returning taxes demanded by Mohammed to his people, telling them, “Your wealth is now your own.” The Islamic IRS was even nastier than ours.

The Sword of Allah cut off Malik’s head and used it to cook dinner before raping his wife. Through such atrocities, that helped inspire the modern crimes of ISIS, the Sword of Allah was able to keep Mohammed’s conquests together after his death. When he came to Palmyra, the Sword swore by Allah that he would conquer it even if it were in heaven and capture its sons and daughters.

Hoping to save their lives, the people of Palmyra surrendered and became dhimmis. Arabic replaced Aramaic, Islam replaced Christianity and the city once founded by King Solomon mostly vanished from history. Those inhabitants who survived the terrible centuries of Islamic occupation, lost their identity, their religion and any knowledge that they were of a nobler kind than their brutal conquerors.

Palmyra falls again with its capture by ISIS. This fall may be its final one. If ISIS has its way, the ruins of the city that helped inspire the rebirth of classical architecture in England and America will be destroyed.

Like the old armies of Islam that destroyed the Library of Alexandria because its books were a threat to the totalitarian writ of the Koran, ISIS destroys the remains of the civilizations that predated Islam. It is not alone in seeking to destroy the histories of more civilized times so that none of the peoples under its rule can ever seek to better themselves by reaching for something higher and better than the Koran.

America found inspiration in ancient civilizations to reach higher. ISIS wants a world where no one can ever know that there were better men than Mohammed and the Sword of Allah, so that its followers will aspire to be nothing better than murderers and rapists, destroying the past to kill the future.

While the archeological mass destruction practiced by ISIS and the Taliban is well known, “moderate” Muslim kingdoms like Saudi Arabia engage in the same practice. Wahhabism began with the destruction of relics. While Europeans were marveling over Palmyra, the House of Saud was massacring thousands and destroying historical artifacts across Iraq and Syria in a manner indistinguishable from ISIS.

The Islamic State’s Caliph has vowed that “After Ramadi, will come Baghdad and Karbala.” ISIS is retracing the path of the House of Saud, which had declared, “We took Karbala and slaughtered and took its people (as slaves), then praise be to Allah… and we do not apologize for that and say: ‘And to the unbelievers: the same treatment.’”

That horrid event took place in the same year that Washington D.C. was incorporated as a city and the Library of Congress was founded. There could hardly be a better contrast between Islam and America.

That is what we are up against, not only in the fight against ISIS, but in the Clash of Civilizations.

Islamists in Libya and Timbuktu, after Obama’s illegal regime change destabilized the region, were left free to destroy mausoleums and shrines. When UNESCO protested, the Jihadists of Ansar Dine, the Defenders of Islam, responded by mocking the helpless international organization, “We are all Muslims. UNESCO is what? [We are acting] in the name of Allah.”

Now UNESCO is appealing to protect Palmyra from the modern Swords of Allah, but it’s equally helpless to do so. The Swords of Allah and Defenders of Islam are savages who thrive on terror. They destroy everything that reminds them of their own cultural inferiority. They cannot be reasoned with.

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova calls the potential destruction of Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site, “an enormous loss to humanity.” But we cannot save the ruins of Palmyra until we recognize that the forces threatening it today are the same as those that left it a forgotten ruin in the desert.

The enormous loss to humanity started when the warlords of Islam began the destruction of thousands of years of civilization. ISIS is only finishing what the armies of Mohammed began.

When it burns manuscripts in the Mosul Library, ISIS is following up Caliph Omar’s destruction of the Library of Alexandria. When the Jihad conquered Persia and found “innumerable quantity of books and scientific treatises”, Omar commanded, “Throw them into the water.”

Until we recognize that ISIS is the extension of the Islamic imperative of cultural mass destruction, we will continue losing cultural heritage sites, not only in the Middle East, but in Europe as well, where churches are being turned into mosques, Georg Engelhard Schröder’s Juno is covered up in the Swedish Legislature to avoid offending Muslims and a Mozart opera is shut down in Berlin.

Palmyra is likely to meet the same fate as Aleppo and Nimrud. As have Hatra and Khorsabad.

The ruins of Nimrud were bulldozed and blown up. In Mosul, ISIS savages rampaged through the museum smashing artifacts. Dabiq, the ISIS magazine, explained that, “The kuffar (non-Muslims) had unearthed these statues and ruins in recent generations and attempted to portray them as part of a cultural heritage and identity that the Muslims of Iraq should embrace and be proud of.”

ISIS, like the armies of Islam dating back to Mohammed, has as its core mission the destruction of the pre-Islamic cultures that might inspire people living under Islam to better themselves, to look beyond the black veil of Islam to the past and the future. There is nothing savages hate more than civilization.

What is at stake in the Clash of Civilizations is the destruction of civilization. The ruins of Palmyra inspired our civilization. Their threatened destruction should inspire us to protect our own civilization from the Swords of Allah before all that remains of our cities is the ruins of a lost greatness.

***

Also see:

Report: Syria Conflict Makes World Bloodiest in Decades

ISIS-Video-Yemen-640x480Breitbart, by Oliver Lane, May 20, 205:

The “spectacular brutality” of the Islamic State and raging conflict in the Levant is making the world less settled and more dangerous than it has been for decades.

A report by a globally-respected think tank has revealed that despite the number of individual conflicts raging across the world falling dramatically since 2008, conflict deaths have actually tripled in just seven years. The International Institute for Strategic Studies’ (IISS) Armed Conflict Survey, released today, tracks the changing nature and scope of war across the globe. Its findings should set alarm bells ringing for strategic planners in the Western world.

Of more immediate concern for European nations struggling to deal with the weight of refugees arriving on their doorsteps, this wave of people appears to be just the beginning. The increased brutality of conflicts means 2013 was a record year for refugees – it was the first time since 1945-6, at the end of the Second World War, that more than 50 million people were on the move because of conflict, and the trend is deepening with ever passing year.

The conflict in Syria, and the rise of ISIS, has much to do with the deteriorating world security picture. Speaking at today’s launch, IISS director and former MI6 director Nigel Inkster noted ISIS’s “spectacular brutality”, while a colleague said the past year has been a watershed moment in developing global jihad, changing it from comparatively primitive terrorism into a “state building exercise” which is “fundamentally new”.

Alia Brahimi of the IISS said of the Islamic State: “The aim of imposing vision of society radically changes the jihad enterprise”, and that the seizure this week of the regional capital Ramadi from the Iraqi government by ISIS forces shows “evidence of sophisticated tactics” that are “of high order” which were able to “overmatch Iraq’s forces”.

Remarkably, more people were killed in the Syria conflict in 2014 than in the Iraqi, South Sudanese, Mexican, and all Central American wars combined:

Syrian war graph

Which in part has accounted for the shocking rise of conflict fatalities worldwide. Although the number of active wars being fought fell from 62 to 42 from 2008 to 2014, the number killed tripled, to 180,000 worldwide.

IISS News tweet

The Islamic State has only been matched in its brutality in its apparent appeal to would-be Jihadists around the globe since it declared a new Caliphate, replacing the defunct Ottoman empire which collapsed at the end of the Great War, last year. Cadet branches of the Islamic State have emerged in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with bloodthirty Boko Haram in Nigeria even pledging allegiance to the new Caliphate.

The Islamic State has repeatedly made claims on territory in Europe, reclaiming areas lost since Christian civilisation pushed back against Muslim conquests which took lands in the Iberian Peninsula, Apennine Peninsula, the Balklands, and even laid siege to Vienna, now the capital of Austria. As reported by Breitbart this week, the Islamic State has been posting images of its supporters living undercover in Europe, holding up ISIS signs near prominent landmarks, including the Coliseum in Rome.

The propagandistic images came only days after European leaders were warned by a regional government in Libya that ISIS fighters were disguising themselves as refugees to sneak into Europe undetected in migrant boats. Last month, Breitbart London published an exclusive interview with retired Royal Navy Admiral and Ministry of Defence strategic planner Chris Parry, who warned ISIS would not be content with just sneaking fighters into Europe by boat, but would inevitably launch marine-style speedboat raids on Southern European coastal towns, as terrorists had in the Mumbai attack in 2008.

RAdm. Parry told Breitbart: “If you look at the maps put out by the Islamic State, it is pretty clear what they want back. Italy, Spain. They want back what they once had. Islam is a very territorial religion.

“If there isn’t the political will or military ability to face down threats off the North African littoral, be it migration, criminality, or terrorism, then we will get progressive erosion. We will get raids on coasts, we will get yachts intercepted at sea, we will get merchant ships subject to terrorist, pirate, or criminal attack.

“The Western world needs to have more self belief in its own values, it has to hold its nerve, and we have to rediscover a lot of self-reliance”.

Also see:

FOX Report Today: Documents Reveal Benghazi Libya Weapons (Provided by U.S. and NATO) Shipped To Syria

benghazi4-e1351495805540 (3)

The Last Refuge, May 18, 2-15:

Today Fox News is reporting confirmation that weapons from Benghazi were shipped to Syria. This affirms one of the essential elements outlined in our Benghazi Brief.

The “Benghazi Brief” remains the most controversial research report we have ever produced. The brief contains over two years of research and hundreds of very specific citations supporting it.

The Brief has also been challenged and with extensive vetting factually withstood all scrutiny. The report, while exhaustive in detail, remains the strongest summary of events surrounding the two years leading up to the Benghazi Libya attack on 9/11/12.

We have repeatedly stated The Benghazi Brief, and ALL of the cited information contained therein, is available for use by anyone who has a goal of communicating the truth surrounding the controversial events.

The Power Point version is AVAILABLE HERE

Read the full report HERE

Read Catherine Herridge’s report:

Read Judicial Watch’s report: