Documentary – Meeting ISIL (PressTV goes deep inside the terrorist group)

Published on Aug 21, 2014 by PressTV News Videos:

To learn who these people are, what they are fighting for, and who funds them, PRESS TV goes deep into their camps and brings you face to face interviews and exclusive footage. Many of those who were initially infatuated by the group’s promise of justice seem to be horrified and utterly disillusioned today.

(Press TV (stylised PRESSTV) is a 24-hour English language news organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). The IRIB is state-owned but independent of the Iranian government in its management, and its head is appointed directly by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.- wikipedia)

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More Heavy Weaponry for Syrian Rebels?

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President Obama would do well to focus on far more strategically important concerns to the United States, such as stopping the world’s biggest sponsor of terror, Iran, from acquiring nuclear weapons by whatever means are necessary, and dealing effectively with a resurgent Russia.

by :

President Obama is considering ramping up military support to the Syrian rebels, who are increasingly dominated by jihadists. American anti-tank missiles have already appeared in videos in the hands of rebel forces. According to an April 21st report in Time Magazine, the White House is now considering sending the rebels shoulder-fired surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles known as manpads. In the wrong hands, such missiles could be used to take out commercial aircraft.

Senator John McCain is pushing the Obama administration to take that risk. To combat the Assad regime’s use of barrel bombs dropped on civilian populations from government helicopters, McCain said in a March interview with Time Magazine that he was “willing to take the risk of a manpad, the risk of them falling into the wrong hands.”

McCain’s willingness to take the risk of anti-aircraft missiles getting into the wrong hands is wrong-headed for several reasons.  The most obvious reason is the blowback the United States and its allies will suffer when jihadists fighting in Syria take the weapons they have looted from the so-called “moderate” rebels and use them against us. Nearly half of the rebel fighters are “jihadists or hardline Islamists,” according to a summary by The Telegraph of a report the IHS Jane’s defense consultancy group issued last year. And they are the best trained and equipped forces amongst the Syrian opposition.

Al Qaeda-linked groups have set up training camps in Syria, which they are using to prepare foreign jihadists for their return from Syria to spread their attacks more widely.  This includes jihadists from Western countries such as the Rayat Al-Tawheed group, the British jihadist faction in Syria, that has posted an image of the White House with the caption “Wait a while there will come to you mounts carrying lions in shining armour battalions followed by battalions.” Put weapons capable of shooting down commercial aircraft in the hands of these jihadists and we won’t have to wait awhile before reaping the consequences.

Another reason not to pour such weapons into the Syrian conflict at this stage is that we are way too late to make any material difference in the eventual outcome. Assad is winning the war slowly but surely, with help from Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. The anti-aircraft missiles may have a marginal impact in slowing Assad’s offense down further in some locations. However, they will not be able to completely stop the barrel bombs and other lethal weapons Assad is using with such success against the opposition.

As the intelligence and security news service DEBKAfile explained:

“The newly-armed rebels have gained not much more than the capacity to hold on to their present lines for a while longer. But ultimately, they cannot prevent the combined weight of the Syria army, Hizballah and Iraqi Shiite Iraqis, who continue to stream into Syria, breaking through those lines.”

Vladimir Putin will also be only too happy to further arm the Assad regime and counter anything the U.S. might be sending, if for no other reason than to embarrass Obama.

Read more at Front Page

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Why Sunnis Fear Shiites

missile_2By  Hillel Fradkin & Lewis Libby:

The recent Arab revolts in the Middle East and the concomitant “Islamic Awakening” have not merely shaken up the order of an already violent and unstable region. They have reanimated the bloodiest and longest-running dispute in Muslim politics: which branch of Islam, Sunni or Shia, is to rule the Muslim polity. This rivalry dates back some 1,300 years to the death of Muhammad, and while it has occasionally been set aside for reasons of expedience, it has never been resolved. The continuing conflagrations following the mislabeled Arab Spring, increasingly shaped by this ancient Sunni–Shia tension, are set to rage on indefinitely. Affairs in the Middle East are accelerating back to the old normal: a state of hot holy war.

The seemingly internal conflict in Syria has become the war’s central front. Sunni and Shia alike have been drawn into the conflict as the Syrian tragedy has unfolded. Inspired by the revolts in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, in March 2011 Syrians—a predominantly Sunni population—mounted initially peaceful protests against the rule of the Shia-offshoot Alawite regime headed by Bashar al-Assad. Secure in his support from the extremist Iranian regime, Assad responded with great brutality. His opponents responded in kind, fueled by money and arms from their Sunni patrons in the Gulf Arab states and by Sunni Islamists from both the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. They fear what they have taken to calling, with alarm, the “Shia crescent.” The term connotes a swath of Iranian Shiite influence across the Arab world and, via Syria, to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Syria functions as Iran’s direct operational link to its terrorist arm Hezbollah and to the Shiite plurality in Lebanon. It borders Iraq, whose Shiite majority may be radicalized, and Turkey, whose Sunni leadership can be monitored and checked.

As the Syrian revolt proceeded, sectarian elements came to the fore. The momentum frequently shifted back and forth between the Iranian-backed Assad and the Sunni rebels. But this past spring, when Assad’s fortunes waned, Iran doubled down. It arranged for Shiite Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite “volunteers” to join the fray directly and massively, tipping the battle for Syria into Shiite hands. Iran is now winning what one Iranian officer has described as “an epic battle for Shiite Islam.”

As this has gone on, the willful retraction of American influence in the region has fanned both Iranian ambitions and Sunni fears. The Middle East is well versed in the posturings and weaknesses of foreign sovereigns. In Shiite and Sunni eyes alike, President Barack Obama’s proposed deals relating to Syrian chemical weapons and Iran’s nuclear program translate into large gains for radical Shiism.

It is tempting, naturally, for Americans to stay out of a fight between two holy armies who oppose the United States and its allies. To put it very mildly, neither radical Shiite nor radical Sunni groups share our values or serve our interests. Still, as a practical matter, this does not mean that one of our enemies is not a more potent threat than the other. Of all the distasteful regimes in the region, only Iran’s has defined itself from its foundation as our mortal enemy and acted accordingly ever since. Moreover, Iran’s capacity to pursue hostile action toward America is currently growing. Thus, Iran presents the more serious threat to our well-being. If it emerges the victor in the fight for the future of political Islam and regional dominance, American interests will probably be endangered to an extent not seen since the Cold War. This is especially true if an Iranian victory is coupled with the regime’s attainment of a nuclear weapon. Not only will America’s ally Israel be under constant threat of annihilation, but American influence in the Middle East will be made hostage to credible Iranian policy blackmail. And yet, given the current status of the Sunni–Shia conflict, this is where we’re headed. “Iran grows more powerful day by day,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently gloated. It’s hard to disagree.

There are several reasons for thinking that radical Shiism, as manifested in the Iranian regime, might continue to dominate and ultimately win this holy war. First, the Shiite camp enjoys the advantage of the more-or-less unitary leadership of Iran. Perhaps in time internal Iranian opposition could challenge the regime in Tehran, but for now the ayatollahs seem to have stifled any such efforts. Outside Iran, some Shiite clerics in Iraq reject the Khomeinist doctrine of the “Rule of the Jurisprudent,” but this “quietist” school of Shiism is not interested in governing its Persian neighbors and, in any case, is frequently undermined by other clerics working in Iraq on Iran’s behalf. So the concentrated center of Shiite power remains in Iran and is, moreover, strengthened by the support of outside non-Muslim powers—principally Russia and China.

By contrast, the Sunni camp is profoundly divided, and therefore weak. This weakness is manifest in the split among the Sunni Islamist forces fighting Assad in Syria. The result is increasingly frequent military fights between sides, to say nothing of the ongoing fights with more secular Sunni militias.

Beyond Syria, things are scarcely more cohesive for Sunnis. The Sunni nations of Arabia and the Gulf lack the size and reach of Iran. They have provided money and arms to the Sunni rebels fighting Assad, but as they themselves support different Islamist groups inside Syria, they’ve also contributed to the infighting. What’s more, the broader conflicts among these countries have derailed joint efforts.

The unsettled condition of Sunni-majority Egypt, the world’s largest Arab country, has had a demoralizing and divisive effect as well. While ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi had suggested that Egypt might provide greater support for the Syrian opposition, that proposal proved so unpopular it might very well have been a contributing factor in his removal by the Egyptian military. The new regime has made clear that it wants no part of the Syrian civil war.

Read more at Commentary Magazine

 

Iraqi Shiite Militia Leader Watheq Al-Battat: I Would Support Iran in a War against Iraq

 

Al Qaeda-Aligned Groups in Syria May Have Access to Biological Pathogens

U.S. Soldiers from the 457th Chemical Battalion sponge off their level A protective suits / AP

U.S. Soldiers from the 457th Chemical Battalion sponge off their level A protective suits / AP

BY: :

Al Qaeda-aligned militants operating in Syria could already have access to “biological pathogens or weaponized agents,” according to terrorism and biological warfare experts studying the region.

The possible acquisition by al Qaeda of these highly dangerous toxins has prompted bio-warfare experts to label the threat a “clear and present danger.”

Extremist militants and other fighters tied to the terror group al Qaeda have continued to gain a foothold in key sections of Syria as the country’s civil war rages on.

Lawlessness has taken hold in many areas that are home to Syria’s biological weapons research hubs and mounting evidence indicates that al Qaeda fighters have capitalized on this security gap by looting the facilities.

“The Syrian civil war has left sections of the bio-pharmaceutical infrastructure destroyed and looting of labs has been observed, which could indicate that Assad is losing command and control over one of the most dangerous classes of weapons remaining in his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) arsenal,” bio warfare and terrorism experts Jill Bellamy van Aalst and Olivier Guitta conclude in a new report.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is believed to have ample biological weapons stores in addition to the chemical weapons currently being confiscated by Western nations. These caches likely include various neurotoxins and deadly viruses, according to U.S. intelligence estimates and other experts.

“A very credible source has confirmed he saw, near Aleppo, a looted pharmaceutical laboratory, which was probably a cover for a biological weapons production site,” Guitta and van Aalst revealed in a research brief published by the Henry Jackson Society.

Read more at Free Beacon

 

Is Russia Aiding Syria to Hide Its WMD?

wmdBY RYAN MAURO:

Russia’s chemical weapons deal with Syria may not just be a slick move to strengthen Assad. It may be the present-day activation of an old Soviet plan titled “Operation Emergency Exit” designed to cleanse a Third World ally of incriminating material.

Assad has already begun moving his chemical weapons onto Russian ships, according to Kamal al-Labwani, who is a prominent Syrian opposition figure that stands against the Assad dictatorship and the Islamists. The Clarion Project interviewed him in April 2012.

Labwani says that Assad is also hiding chemical weapons in vegetable-filled trucks with the intention of transferring them to parts of Lebanon dominated by Hezbollah. Immediately after the Russian-brokered deal was announced, the Clarion Project was told by an informed source that there was intelligence that Assad was already in the process of sending WMD-related materials to the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon.

The Iraqi government, a supporter of Assad, has denied reports that it is also housing Syrian WMD. General Salim Idris, a rebel military leader, claims that Syrian materials have gone to Iraq, as does an anti-Assad newspaper in Lebanon. The paper says that at least 20 trucks crossed into Iraq without inspection.

As the highest-ranking defector from the East Bloc, Ion Mihai Pacepa, was privy to the deepest secrets of the Soviet Union when he the chief of Romania’s foreign intelligence service. He defected in 1978 and remains in hiding.

In August 2003, he wrote that he had first-hand knowledge of a secret Soviet plan named Operation Sarindar, or in English, “Operation Emergency Exit.” Its objective was to cleanse a Third World ally of chemical weapons in order to prevent the discovery of Russian complicity and to help frame the West as the aggressor.

Read more at The Clarion Project

 

Scoring the Syria Deal: Putin, Assad, and Iran gain; Obama, Turkey, and Israel lose ground

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
September 17, 2013

Diplomacy has never witnessed anything like the dizzying and erratic sequence of events relating to Syria that began on Wednesday, Aug. 21 and ended 3½ weeks later, on Saturday, Sept. 14. Who won, who lost? It’s too soon for a definite answer, but Bashar al-Assad is in the driver’s seat, suggesting that he, Putin, and the mullahs will gain while Obama, Erdoğan, and Israel will lose.

 

A pleased pair: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov celebrate reaching an agreement.

To start, a sketch of recent events:

Aug. 21: A chemical attack took place against civilians in Ghouta, near Damascus, presumably carried out by Syria’s Assad regime.

Aug. 28: Barack Obama indicated an intent to use force against the Assad regime to punish it for the chemical attack.

Aug. 31: Obama retreated and asked Congress for authorization to use force, something he did not have to do.

Over the next week, in an unexpected development, popular and congressional opposition to a strike grew to the point that it became clear that Obama would not get the authorization he sought.

Sept. 9: Secretary of State John Kerry promised an “unbelievably small” attack and off-handedly commented that international control of Syrian chemicals could obviate the need for an attack. The Russians picked up on and ran with the latter remark.

Sept. 10: Obama rescinded the threat to attack the Syrian government and withdrew his request from Congress.

Sept. 14: The U.S. and Russia governments signed the “Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons” to “ensure the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program (CW) in the soonest and safest manner.”

 

 

Logo of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, founded in 1997.

Let’s start by assessing choices facing the two main actors in this drama:

Bashar al-Assad: The framework permits him to make the key decisions that drive the process, subject to the influence of his patrons (Moscow and Tehran) and his advisers (the Assad clan). He has two options, to comply or not to comply with the US-Russian framework and the demands of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which regulates the chemical-weapons treaty Syria has promised to join. As a tactically incompetent leader, his actions are difficult to predict but I expect him not to comply because: (1) He needs these weapons to preserve his regime. (2) The civil war underway in Syria facilitates thwarting the OPCW. (3) Obama’s record suggests he won’t strike in retaliation. (4) Saddam Hussein set an appealing precedent, whereby Iraqi “cat and mouse” games slowed down and obstructed a similar regimen to destroy weapons of mass destruction in the 1990s.

 

Pope Francis called for a global day of fasting and prayer for Syria.

Barack Obama: Already in a corner because of his “red line” threat of August 2012, the U.S.-Russian agreement is a double-or-nothing gambit that places the American president at the mercy of his Syrian counterpart. If Assad complies, Obama becomes a foreign-policy genius for ridding Syria of chemical weapons without a shot. But if, as is far more likely, Assad does not comply, Obama must attack the regime to preserve his credibility, regardless of how much this runs contrary to the wishes of his leftist base and congressional opinion, the United Nations, the pope, et al., and even if it strengthens the jihadis in Syria and embroils the United States in an unwanted long-term military operation. I expect Obama will attack but without causing real damage to his own popularity or the Assad regime.

 

In short, I predict Assad will not comply and Obama will symbolically attack. Assuming this scenario, it means for the major actors:

  • Bashar al-Assad: He crows about surviving an American onslaught and is the stronger to this.
  • Barack Obama: His foreign policy credibility sinks and that of the United States with him, especially vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear buildup, at least until 2017.
  • Vladimir Putin: Whether Assad complies or not, whether Obama attacks or not, the Russian president can’t lose. Rather, he has become eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is the big winner.
  • Iran: Tehran gains, confident that its own nuclear infrastructure is safe from an American strike, unless Obama tears the Assad regime to bits.
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: The reverse: the Turkish president, as leader of the international war party, he loses unless Obama seriously attacks Assad.
  • Israel: Along with Obama, Israel gains if Assad complies. But it loses if Assad does not, as is likely.

We end with two ironies: The U.S.-Russian agreement does not solve the crisis, but delays and deepens it. Obama’s almost nonchalant “red line” statement of a year ago was the obscure mistake that could precipitate the great foreign-policy fiasco of his presidency.

 

Also see:

Axis of the Chemical Weapons Convention by Claudia Rosett

Wanted it bad, got it bad

2234785817By Frank Gaffney, Jr.

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, announced a deal last weekend that is supposed to make the Syrian problem go away.  Er, that is, make Bashir Assad’s chemical weapons go away.  Or at least disappear President Obama’s immediate political problem with breached red-lines and an America with no appetite for war with Syria in response.

The bottom line: Ain’t gonna happen.  The only question is:  Will this deal actually make things worse in any, or all, of those respects?

The old axiom, “you want it bad, you’ll get it bad,” applied to the three-days of fevered bilateral negotiations in Geneva that produced the so-called “plan” for international control and dismantling of the entire Syrian chemical arsenal.  President Obama and his top diplomat understood this Russian-supplied lifeline to be the only hope for extricating them from the disastrous debacle their feckless Syria policy had become.The best that can be hoped for from this deal is that it will reduce somewhat, Assad’s stockpile of chemical arms.  But it is national security fraud – something Team Obama has perpetrated serially since it came to office – to tell the American people the Kerry-Lavrov plan will actually eliminate it.  And the costs for even trying are likely to be far higher than we are being told.

Consider the following facts of life:

  • Dealing with toxic nerve agents, mustard gas and other lethal chemical weapons and the munitions they go in – even storing them, let alone moving and disposing of them – is a very hazardous business under the best of circumstances.  Needless to say, a civil war in which both sides are interested in having access to such weapons of mass destruction is not such an environment.  Already, there is talk about having to put somebody’s “boots on the ground” to secure whatever stocks are declared.  That is a formula for getting such foreign troops (ours?) killed when hostiles target the weapons they are protecting and/or embroiled as combatants in Syria’s civil war.
  • Not surprisingly, there are host of practical issues that likely will further undermine, if not absolutely doom, this deal.   They will help determine how expensive, complex and perhaps ultimately futile the Kerry-Lavrov disarmament scheme will be.  For example, are all the weapons supposed to be destroyedin place by next June – an undertaking involving the construction of specialized incinerators whose operation in this country has proven to be exceedingly time-consuming, costly and hazardous?  Who is going to pay for constructing such facilities and keep them from being targeted in the ongoing civil war?
  • Alternatively, are Assad’s weapons to be shipped out of Syria by then and if so, to where?  Russia?  Great idea.  Ditto places like Saudi Arabia or Turkey.  How about here? Any takers?
  • At its core, even the face value of any such ambitious disarmament plan rests on the accuracy of the inventory of Assad’s chemical arsenal.  What are the chances that we will get full disclosure – let alone by the end of the week?  As recent revelations about how the supposedly cooperative Muammar Qaddafi lied about his chemical stockpile remind us, totalitarian thugs are not trustworthy.  That is especially true of one in the Kremlin.

How this almost certainly will work is that Assad’s inventory will basically track with whatever intelligence assessment we shared with the Russians during last week’s version of “Let’s Make a Deal.”  That’s right:  Kerry’s delegation told Lavrov’s what we thought was there – approximately 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons and agent.  The Russians, we’re told, affirmed that estimate.  And surely they shared our data with their Syrian client, on whose behalf, lest we forget, they are explicitly working.So if our data understates Assad’s actual stockpile, which is almost surely the case, you have what is known in the intelligence business as the “garbage in, garbage out” phenomenon: inputting erroneous assumptions leads inevitably to faulty conclusions.  In this case, that will likely mean that – even if all the other logistic, security and disposal problems are somehow overcome – at the end of the day, the Syrian regime will still have chemical weapons, and probably biological ones, too.

How could it be otherwise?  The U.S. government has never formally confirmed that Syria received chemical and/or biological weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from Saddam Hussein in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom.  While there are reports that Assad is sending some of them back to Iraq now (among other shell-game style movements of his chemical arsenal among roughly 50 sites in Syria itself), our estimates are sure to be off.  Then, there’s the undeclared help Assad has received from North Korea and Iran in producing and concealing his WMD.

  • The larger problem is that all this sharing of information and other revelations about how we detect and monitor chemical weapons movements and dispositions is a field day for our adversaries’ counter-intelligence operations.  Count on them to learn from us and to make it vastly harder for us to know what they are up to in the future.

In short, the present crisis in Syria is not going away.  And the problems arising from previous, fraudulent deals to “rid the world of chemical weapons” are likely to be compounded by this one, not eliminated by Messrs. Kerry and Lavrov – any more than will be the case with all of Bashir Assad’s chemical arms.

The Amateur’s War

ok-450x272By :

Syria would be Obama’s fourth war, but it might as well be his first war. The amateur has an impressive war machine that can level entire countries, but not the understanding of how to use it.

Obama has reportedly flipped through 50 war plans for Syria, but he hasn’t been able to provide one sensible reason why the attack should happen. His rationalizations and justifications never stop shifting. If you don’t like one excuse, wait a bit and another one will come along.

In his weekly address, Obama said that military action was necessary to protect against the national security threat of chemical weapons falling “into the hands of terrorist groups who wish to do us harm.”

This explanation contradicted his actual plan of attacking Syrian military installations thereby helping the Syrian terrorists who wish to do us harm. The surest way to see chemical weapons fall into the hands of terrorists is by bombing Assad.

If Obama were really worried about national security, he would be more concerned about Al Qaeda’s nerve gas manufacturing efforts in Iraq and Assad’s chemical weapons being captured by its Al Nusra Front affiliate.

Obama’s plan for Syria is really a maze of excuses riven with contradictions.

It’s a military solution to a problem that he insists can only have a diplomatic solution. It’s a unilateral attack launched by two men who built their recent political reputations on opposing unilateralism. And Obama is bringing it to Congress for approval as a symbolic gesture while making it clear that he will not be bound by a negative decision.

The man who advocated turning a blind eye to Sudan and Rwanda during his campaign, who emerged into the spotlight opposing the removal of Saddam Hussein, suddenly insists that we cannot turn a blind eye to Syria…after having turned a blind eye to it for years.

Even if 1,429 Syrians did die in the chemical attack, that’s only 1.5 percent of the total deaths in the war. By the end of 2011, the UN listed 5,000 dead in Syria. Obama was willing to turn a blind eye to those 5,000, and the 100,000 that followed, but not to these 1,429.

And like so much else, the chemical attack that Obama is using to justify the strikes is a question mark.

UK intelligence claims 350 dead. French intelligence puts it at 281. Doctors Without Borders lists only 355. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights lists 502 dead.  The one thing these estimates have in common is that they are far below Kerry’s 1,429.

Like these numbers, the facts and excuses fluctuate wildly. Obama promises Americans a light attack to deter Assad, but tells senators that it will lead to regime change. Either Obama is lying or he can’t make up his mind.

The men and women around Obama have proven to be equally amateurish and incompetent.

Samantha Power, his UN ambassador, wasted time trying to convince Iran to reject Assad over his use of chemical weapons, apparently unaware that Iran was developing nuclear weapons to be used on Israel.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told the House Committee that the attacks would cost tens of millions of dollars. Considering that Tomahawk cruise missiles cost $1.5 million each, not to mention the cost of warship deployments and operations, a more realistic figure would be in the hundreds of millions.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough admitted that while there was no “beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence,” the videos of the attacks led him to a “common sense” conclusion that Assad was responsible. Apparently we start wars now based not on evidence, but on common sense conclusions.

Secretary of State John Kerry had told Congress that there was indeed proof beyond a reasonable doubt only to be contradicted by the Chief of Staff. But Kerry didn’t need to be contradicted by McDonough because he was too busy contradicting himself, telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he wanted the option of putting boots on the ground before denying it, telling Congressmen that this was a Munich moment but promising “unbelievably small” strikes.

Kerry, who began his entry into international politics with illegal negotiations with the Viet Cong and began his Senate career with unsolicited negotiations with the Sandinistas, had spent his career practicing to become a diplomatic disaster.

The amateurish performance culminated with Kerry suggesting that Assad could avoid a war by giving up his chemical weapons. Russia signed on to the proposal. A State Department spokesman explained that Kerry hadn’t really meant it. Obama then announced that he was ordering Kerry to follow through on the proposal that he hadn’t meant seriously. It was a comedy of errors with countless lives at stake.

Senator McCain called Kerry’s efforts “unbelievably unhelpful.” The Washington Post described him as “dangerously bad.”

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the only professional on the team, who had warned earlier, “Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid,” appeared to sum up the inchoate state of affairs by replying to the question “What is it you’re seeking?” with “I can’t answer that, what we’re seeking.”

If the highest ranking military officer can’t answer that question about Syria, who can?

Read more at Front Page

Review Timeline Of Obama Admin’s Evolution On Syria Red Line – Special Report (this really is excruciating)

The evidence for Syrian chemical weapons use crumbles

eb6a718b2aab49148e4190b3003c4b1d-e1378733601938By Kenneth Timmerman:

Now we learn that President Obama may be second-guessing his “decision’ to launch military action – that Secretary of State John Kerry insists is not “going to war” — to punish Syria for a chemical weapons attack the United States has not proved it carried out.

That is good news for the American servicemen and women who would be facing very real threats on a very real battlefield if the President did give the order to fight. For example, if the Russian spy ship Priazovye (SSV-201), now stationed in the Mediterranean, were to have used its high-power laser systems to blind American pilots flying toward Syria, would they become victims of “workplace violence,” like the victims of Fort Hood jihadist, Major Malik Hassan?

In classified hearings last week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey, was hard-pressed to justify unilateral U.S. military action, sources privy to the closed door sessions tell me.

As currently conceived by the President, U.S. military strikes would not significantly degrade Assad’s military, Gen. Dempsey admitted. And there was a “real possibility’ that our actions would widen the conflict, bringing in Iran and Russia and involving Israel.

Now the White House is soft-peddling its so-far unsupported claims that the Syrian regime was responsible for the August 21, 2013 chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of people in a suburb of Damascus.

With the 13-minute compilation of YouTube videos the administration presented before the Senate Select Committee on intelligence last Thursday – and provided to CNN on Sunday – the Obama administration is now resorting to a “hearts and minds” campaign with the American public.

We are now supposed to launch military strikes on Syria based on a guilty conscience. Or as Secretary Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations committee last week, because if we fail to act, who knows what bad things Assad will do in the future.

The administration’s case for limited military strikes against Syria is falling apart even before President Obama has spoken to the American people.

Read more at the Daily Caller

 

Direct link between Assad and gas attack elusive for U.S.

2013-09-07T091652Z_3_CBRE98606WA00_RTROPTP_2_SYRIA-CRISIS-INSPECTORSBy Mark Hosenball:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With the United States threatening to attack Syria, U.S. and allied intelligence services are still trying to work out who ordered the poison gas attack on rebel-held neighborhoods near Damascus.

No direct link to President Bashar al-Assad or his inner circle has been publicly demonstrated, and some U.S. sources say intelligence experts are not sure whether the Syrian leader knew of the attack before it was launched or was only informed about it afterward.

While U.S. officials say Assad is responsible for the chemical weapons strike even if he did not directly order it, they have not been able to fully describe a chain of command for the August 21 attack in the Ghouta area east of the Syrian capital.

It is one of the biggest gaps in U.S. understanding of the incident, even as Congress debates whether to launch limited strikes on Assad’s forces in retaliation.

After wrongly claiming that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction before the 2003 U.S. invasion, the U.S. intelligence community, along with the Obama administration, are trying to build as solid a case as they can about what it says was a sarin nerve gas attack that killed over 1,400 people.

The Syrian government, backed by Russia, blames Sunni rebels for the gas attack. Russia says Washington has not provided convincing proof that Assad’s troops carried out the attack and called it a “provocation” by rebel forces hoping to encourage a military response by the United States.

Identifying Syrian commanders or leaders as those who gave an order to fire rockets into the Sunni Muslim areas could help Obama convince a war-weary American public and skeptical members of Congress to back limited strikes against Assad.

But penetrating the secretive Syrian government is tough, especially as it fights a chaotic civil war for its survival.

“Decision-making at high levels within foreign governments is always a difficult intelligence target. Typically small numbers of people are involved, operational security is high, and penetration – through either human or technical means – is hard,” said Paul Pillar, a former CIA expert on the Middle East.

One possible link between the gas attack and Assad’s inner circle is the Syrian government body that is responsible for producing chemical weapons, U.S. and allied security sources say.

Personnel associated with the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Council (SSRC), which has direct ties to Assad’s entourage, were likely involved in preparing munitions in the days before the attack, they say.

A declassified French intelligence report describes a unit of the SSRC, known by the code name “Branch 450″, which it says is in charge of filling rockets or shells with chemical munitions in general.

U.S. and European security sources say this unit was likely involved in mixing chemicals for the August 21 attack and also may have played a more extensive role in preparing for it and carrying it out.

“BEST EVIDENCE”

Bruce Riedel, a former senior U.S. intelligence expert on the region and sometime advisor to the Obama White House, said that intelligence about the SSRC’s alleged role is the most telling proof the United States has at hand.

“The best evidence linking the regime to the attack at a high level is the involvement of SSRC, the science center that created the (chemical weapons) program and manages it. SSRC works for the President’s office and reports to him,” Riedel said.

U.S. officials say Amr Armanazi, a Syrian official identified as SSRC director in a State Department sanctions order a year ago, was not directly involved.

Much of the U.S. claim that Assad is responsible was initially based on reports from witnesses, non-governmental groups and hours of YouTube videos.

U.S. officials have not presented any evidence to the public of scientific samples or intelligence information proving that sarin gas was used or that the Syrian government used it.

The United States has also not named any Syrian commanders it thinks gave the green light to fire gas-laden rockets into Ghouta.

But U.S. and allied security sources say they believe that Syrian military units responsible for the areas that were attacked were under heavy pressure from top commanders to wipe out a stubborn rebel presence there so government troops could redeploy to other trouble spots, including the city of Aleppo.

An analysis by the Congressional Research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress, reported that a declassified U.S. government paper summarizing intelligence findings concludes that Syrian government officials were “witting and directed” the gas attack. But the evidence of who ordered it was not watertight, the analysis said.

The findings were partly based on intercepted communications “involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive” which “confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime,” it said.

As more information has been collected and analyzed, early theories about the attack have largely been dismissed, U.S. and allied security sources said.

Reports that Assad’s brother, Maher, a general who commands an elite Republican Guard unit and a crack Syrian army armored division, gave the order to use chemicals have not been substantiated, U.S. sources said. Some U.S. sources now believe Maher Assad did not order the attack and was not directly involved.

(Editing by Alistair Bell and Ken Wills)

 

 

Drawing an Al-Qaeda Red Line

pic_giant_090713_ABy  Andrew C. McCarthy

Have you noticed who exactly the opposing camps are in Syria’s civil war — the aspect that the side chomping at the bit for American military intervention would prefer not to discuss?

In one corner, we have Bashar Assad. Unlike President Obama and his minions, who spent their first couple of years empowering Assad — Obama reopening diplomatic ties, Hillary pronouncing him a valiant “reformer,” Pelosi huddling with him, Kerry wining and dining him — many of us alleged “isolationists” on the right were never under any illusions about him. Assad is an anti-U.S. thug, the junior partner of Iran, America’s mortal enemy on the Shiite side of the Islamic-supremacist street. While the Obama administration has made an underwhelming case that the Syrian despot has used chemical weapons, let us stipulate for present purposes that the case is airtight. Let’s even concede the more dubious claim that Assad has launched more than one small-scale chemical attack.

Now on to the other corner: the Sunni Islamic supremacists, who are called “rebels” by the Beltway clerisy to avoid the inconvenience that they describe themselves as mujahideen(jihad warriors). The rebels are teeming with al-Qaeda-affiliated and al-Qaeda-inspired operatives — “extremists,” as the Obama administration and the GOP’s McCain wing call them, avoiding the inconvenience that what they are “extreme” about is Islam. Guys who ought to know better, like General Jack Keane, laughably underestimate their number at less than 4,000. But even Secretary of State Kerry conceded in congressional testimony that it is several multiples of that amount — as many as 25,000 (i.e., up to “25 percent” of a force that Kerry put at “70,000 to 100,000 oppositionists”).

Even if things were “only” as bad as Kerry suggests, that would be a frightening picture. After Benghazi, do you suppose empowering — I should say, further empowering — 25,000 jihadists might be a smidge problematic? But that’s not the half of it. Kerry was desperately trying to portray the “rebels” as predominantly “moderate”; undoubtedly, he was low-balling. Moreover, no matter what their number is, al-Qaeda affiliates punch way above their weight. They are trained, organized, disciplined, and lavishly funded by Gulf states that are delighted to have them make their mayhem outside the Gulf.

Even worse, the Obama Left and the GOP’s McCain wing are applying Washington’s lunatic definition of “moderate.” By this thinking, the Islamic ummah is divided into two camps: an al-Qaeda fringe in one, and in the other the teeming millions of “moderate,” tolerant, peace-loving “democracy” activists. In this fantasy, the Muslim Brotherhood — whose name the Beltway strains to avoid uttering in discussions of Syria — is moderate . . . and never you mind the bloody catastrophe the Brothers have wrought in nearby Egypt over the last few weeks and months.

In truth, the Brotherhood is an implacably Islamic-supremacist organization that is “moderate” only by comparison with al-Qaeda, and, even then, only if we are talking about al-Qaeda’s methodology of full-time savagery — the Brothers are part-timers who, unlike al-Qaeda, think violent jihad is just one item on the sharia-installation menu. As far as ideology goes — i.e., the imperative that sharia be installed — the two are on exactly the same page. If anything, the Brotherhood’s influence over the “oppositionists” is even greater than al-Qaeda’s. The Brothers are the antithesis of moderate. They are anti-American (though they’ll happily take our help before using it against us), anti-democratic (though they’ll happily hold popular elections in Muslim-majority countries), and rabidly anti-Semitic.

Are there secular democrats in Syria? Of course there are. Just as in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, however, they are severely undermanned. The contention that there is a strong alternative force within the opposition — rebel factions that oppose Assad, and that not only oppose the Qaeda/Brotherhood factions but are capable of winning without them and then running the country despite them — is a pipedream.

The “rebels” know this even if Washington won’t come to grips with it. Colonel Fatih Hasun is General Salim Idriss’s deputy in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — the assortment of purportedly moderate militias Senator McCain and the Obama administration claim it is in America’s interest to support. On August 22, Colonel Hasun announced that most of the senior commanders were threatening to resign from the FSA’s supreme military council because they reject two Western “red lines”: the demands that they (a) cease collaboration with al-Qaeda and (b) refrain from seizing Assad’s chemical-weapons sites. The FSA has no problem working with terrorists. Ideologically, many of its members have more in common with jihadists than they do with the West; more significantly, they know they cannot win without the jihadists.

Read more at National Review

 

 

UK’s David Cameron: No ‘Smoking’ Gun on Assad

By Keith Davies and Ben Barrack

When it came to action on Syria, Barack Obama’s emissary to the British Parliament, which also happens to be Prime Minister David Cameron, was unsuccessful in convincing Parliament that action was necessary against Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad. Lost in the news about this defeat for Cameron was a rather shocking admission by him that took place during the debate.

Cameron: ‘Let’s not pretend there’s one smoking piece of intelligence (on Assad)’

Cameron: ‘Let’s not pretend there’s one smoking piece of intelligence (on Assad)’

It started with a Conservative member of Parliament Julian Lewis asking Cameron if classified intelligence information Cameron claimed to have in his possession that implicated Assad could be shown to select members of Parliament who sit on the intelligence committee. Cameron’s response was incredibly revealing in that it indicated there isn’t any such intelligence.

Cameron’s initial reaction was typical politik-speak. He assured Lewis that he would be happy to take the request under advisement (this garnered some skeptical groans from other members) but then proceeded to demean the potential consequences of doing so, by saying he didn’t want the intelligence to be used to create a “cult” following. Cameron then directed members to “open source” information that implicated Assad which amounts to nothing more than scant circumstantial evidence, based on demonstrably false premises.

 

Did you catch that? Smear the request for access to smoking gun information; then point to ‘open source’ information that provides nothing more than circumstantial evidence; then admit (and diminish) the fact that there is no ‘smoking’ gun.

At that, Cameron’s circumstantial evidence is suspect and in some cases, flat-out wrong. After assuring members of Parliament that ‘open source’ information was sufficient, Cameron said:

“There’s the fact we know that the regime has an enormous arsenal; the fact they’ve used it before; the fact they were attacking that area. And then with the opposition, of course, there’s the fact they don’t have those weapons, they don’t have those delivery systems, and the attack took place in an area which they were themselves holding.”

While some of those claims are likely provable, others appear to be politically motivated and are demonstrably false.  Several statements of fact made by Cameron are disputable, questionable, disingenuous, or outright dishonest. He then suggested that there is no ‘smoking piece of evidence’, which translates to no direct evidence Assad carried out the attacks, saying that Parliament should vote his way based on a “judgement”.

Read more

I just found this by Ken Timmerman - Verify chemical weapons use before unleashing the dogs of war, written on 8/29/13. He has been an investigative journalist focusing on Iran for a very long time and has many reliable sources. It begins:

The Obama administration has selectively used intelligence to justify military strikes on Syria, former military officers with access to the original intelligence reports say, in a manner that goes far beyond what critics charged the Bush administration of doing in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war.

According to these officers, who served in top positions in the United States, Britain, France, Israel, and Jordan, a Syrian military communication intercepted by Israel’s famed Unit 8200 electronic intelligence outfit has been doctored so that it leads a reader to just the opposite conclusion reached by the original report.

The doctored report was leaked to a private Internet-based newsletter that boasts of close ties to the Israeli intelligence community, and led to news reports that the United States now had firm evidence showing that the Syrian government had ordered the chemical weapons attack on August 21 against a rebel-controlled suburb of Damascus.

Read more at Daily Caller

Related articles

 

McCarthy: Syrian intervention should be based on national security not who used chemical weapons

 

Saudi Chemicals in hands of Syrian Rebels (via Shoebat.com)

Saudi Chemicals in hands of Syrian Rebels (via Shoebat.com)

Syria Argument Has Not Changed Since Spring

by Andrew McCarthy:

The debate on Syria continues to focus like a laser on exactly the wrong issue — whether Assad used chemical weapons. To be sure, as Alan Reynolds argued here yesterday, the Obama administration’s case that he did is underwhelming. More disturbing, Yossef Bodansky lays out evidence that the Assad regime’s alleged sarin attack on August 21 was a deception engineered by the mujahideen rebels who, a week earlier, were already antcipating what he describes as “an imminent escalation in the fighting due to ‘a war-changing development’ which would, in turn, lead to a US-led bombing of Syria.” All that aside, however, the main problem remains what it has always been: Assad’s enemies are enemies of the United States, and helping them does not advance American national security.

Read more…

And over at PJ Media, McCarthy reminds us of Al Qaeda’s history in regards to chemical weapons.

Listen to Secure Freedom Radio interviews with Robert Zarate, Henry Sokolski, Andy McCarthy, and Gordon Chang on the Syrian issue

Related articles

Syria Round-Up: Tests, Posturing and Politics

syriaForMax-2by IPT News:

War Began

NWS_20130825_IME_018_28707069_I1By Justin O. Smith:

“…war began, that is, an event took place opposed to human reason and to human nature. Millions of men perpetrated against one another such innumerable crimes, frauds, treacheries… incendiarisms, and murders, as in whole centuries are not recorded in the annals of all the law courts of the world, but which those who committed them did not at the time regard as being crimes.” -Leo Tolstoy ‘War and Peace’

Today Americans find themselves once more on the brink of a massive military conflagration, and Obama has led them there. His weak, indecisive and timid foreign policy throughout the entire Middle East and his “red line” comments concerning both Iran and Syria regarding any use of weapons of mass destruction do not bode well for Israel’s future, and Obama has backed our nation into a dangerous and precarious position. And, although Secretary of State John Kerry tried his best to link the recent sarin gas attacks on innocent Syrians to the Syrian government and Bashar al-Assad, no definitive proof has yet been offered.

Is it not possible that, through the course of this war, Al Qaeda and the islamofascists managed to capture some of Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile and committed this crime against humanity in order to acquire more arms and garner the full support of the U.S. for Syria’s “rebels”?

Regardless of who is responsible, one must ask, “What vital U.S. interest is at stake here?”

This conflict in Syria represents a great deal more than a simple “civil war”, and Assad was telling the truth to the entire world, when he stated that his government and Syria were under an Al Qaeda led attack, coordinated with other islamofascist groups such as Shaabab el-Nusra. And now, islamofascists from across the globe are flocking to Syria in an attempt to organize a new base of operations there.

The Middle East has long fought an inner struggle, not only between Shia and Sunni sects, regarding the process of modernizing and taking a place in the civilized world, and, in pursuit of establishing a free society eventually, strong men, albeit dictators, and liberal Muslim “reformers” such as Jamal Abd al-Nasser and Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Hafez Assad and now his son Bashar Assad of Syria have attempted to suppress islamofascism and the return of the Islamic theocratic caliphate (much like the Ottoman Empire) espoused by the Muslim Brotherhood and its offspring, Al Qaeda and Hamas. In 1954 Nasser outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, and in 1982 Hafez Assad brutally suppressed a Muslim Brotherhood uprising at Hama. And, in light of how quickly Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood began squashing the Egyptian constitution, declared a dictatorship and repressed 22 million secular Egyptians and persecuted Egypt’s Christians, after Obama ensured Hosni Mubarak’s removal, it appears that previous leaders knew their enemy well.

Mustafa Mashur, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from 1996 to 2002, often stated: “Jihad for Allah is not limited to the specific region of the Islamic countries since the Muslim homeland is one and not divided, and the banner of jihad has already been raised in some of its parts, and shall continue to be raised, with the help of Allah, until every inch of the land of Islam will be liberated and the State of Islam established.”

And, in relation to Mashur’s statement, the Shia Muslims of Hezbollah in Iran and the Sunni Muslims of Al Qaeda, Hamas and many other islamofascist groups are in agreement, even though they are currently battling each other in Syria. This has occurred, in large part, because Iran still needs Russian support (Russia also needs Syrian ports), Syria is a client state of both Iran and Russia, and Iran and Saudi Arabia both see their nations as the leaders of the Islamic world; in the meantime, Erdogan of Turkey is backing Al Qaeda, Shaabab el-Nusra and the other islamofascists in Syria.

By now, most Americans recognize that Assad and the Syrian government have never been a friend to the U.S., as Syria has long been aligned with North Korea, Iran and Russia, but just a little over two years ago, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to Assad as “a reformer”, since he had loosened some of the more repressive measures at the time; make no mistake, Assad has been brutal in his tactics against any opposition to his Baathist government, especially so against the Muslim Brotherhood, but, until his regimes’ recent destabilization, he has been a stalwart protector of Syrian Christians from the likes of Al Qaeda, which is now killing Christians at will!

On August 31, 2013, Obama stated that he “had concluded these (sarin) attacks” had been carried out by Assad’s regime, as ended with “if this proves to be true.” This is the most uncertain and ambiguous statement ever to have been made by a U.S. president.

Initially, Obama seemed set to act on his own authority and order a “limited surgical strike” of cruise missiles on approximately 50 Syrian targets, but now, many of Obama’s supporters are suggesting that a need to present a “unified front” explains his recent vascillation and decision to seek Congressional approval for this strike. Like many others, I see this as a move to save face. His “red line” comment was ill-advised, and now he is compounding idiocy with a more idiotic attack on Assad’s regime, which will only advance Al Qaeda and the islamofascist agenda in Syria; just as U.S. interests were better served in Egypt under Hosni Mubarak, so too are they better served with Assad in contol of Syria for the time being.

On September 1, 2013, Senator Rand Paul stated, “I think it’s a mistake to get involved in the Syrian civil war… How can you ask a man to be the first to die for a mistake?”

Currently our enemies are calling Obama’s indecisiveness “a declining America’s retreat.” With Iran becoming more powerful everyday and still the number one exporter of terrorism in the world and Saudi Arabia exporting the Islamic Wahhabiist ideology, islamofascism is once more on the rise and threatening Europe and America too. War between the United States and the islamofascists and their allies is inevitable; if the U.S. is to attack anyone, the target should be Iran, as we also continue to decimate Al Qaeda, ever since their actions in 1979, 1983, 2001, and 2003 to the present have shown the lengths they will go to hurt America. But, this doesn’t mean we necessarily abandon the idea of, at the very least, a temporary peace and hasten to war in the next few weeks, especially with several Russian warships in the area and an inept and foolish Muslim sympathizer, Barack Hussein Obama, guiding us into certain disaster and possibly WWIII: U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East must reflect a counter to threats from Iran, its proxies and the Muslim Brotherhood and aligned islamofascist groups, as we simultaneously separate ourselves from a region that maintains such a warped worldview and vision of a new order, despite our oil needs which can realistically be met through our own naturally occurring mineral wealth.

I’m not necessarily against taking Assad to task eventually for all his past bad acts, such as the nuclear reactor discovered by Israel in 2007, but I cannot in good conscience support a U.S. president who is not trusted by his allies. This is not the time nor the president of strength needed for the future conflagration America is certain to see.