Published on Oct 9, 2014 by The Final Say Radio Show
Clare Lopez, Vice President for Research & Analysis with the Center for Security Policy, joins the show to discuss ISIS and other security threats.
Published on Oct 9, 2014 by The Final Say Radio Show
Clare Lopez, Vice President for Research & Analysis with the Center for Security Policy, joins the show to discuss ISIS and other security threats.
That’s the conclusion of the latest U.S. intelligence assessment for Iraq. And it represents a stunning turnaround for Iran’s Quds Force, once considered America’s most dangerous foe in the region.
U.S. intelligence officials tell The Daily Beast that the apparent Iranian decision not to target American troops inside Iraq reflects Iran’s desire to strike a nuclear bargain with the United States and the rest of the international community before the current negotiations expire at the end of November.
“They are not going after Americans,” one senior U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast familiar with the recent assessments. “They want the nuclear talks to succeed and an incident between our guys and their guys would not be good for those talks.”
The Quds Force, named for the Arabic word for Jerusalem, are believed to have hundreds of troops in Iraq. As the primary arm of the Iranian state that supports allied terrorist organizations, their operatives worried Obama’s predecessor so much that the Treasury Department began sanctioning its members in 2007 for sabotaging the government of Iraq. The U.S. military accused the Quds Force of orchestrating cells of terrorists in Iraq. In 2012, Wired magazine dubbed Quds Force leader Qassem Suleimani the most dangerous person on the planet. In 2013, the New Yorker arrived at a similar conclusion, and claimed he has “directed Assad’s war in Syria.”
More recently, the Treasury Department has accused the Quds Force of international heroin trafficking and conducting terrorism and intelligence operations against the Afghanistan government. That’s why it’s so extraordinary that the Quds Force would be perceived to be laying off U.S. forces in Iraq.
But in some ways, the assessment is not surprising. Both Iran and the United States share a common enemy in the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). In late August, U.S. airpower and Iranian-backed militias broke the ISIS siege on the town of Amerli. Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, was photographed in Amerli, after the town was liberated from ISIS.
The latest assessments from the U.S. intelligence community also interpret Iran’s behavior in part as linked to the ongoing negotiations between Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China.
A U.S. intelligence official said the Quds Force behavior was the equivalent of a confidence building measure, a diplomatic term that refers to a concession offered to improve the atmosphere of negotiations. (Iran had already offered to play a more “active role” in the regional fight against ISIS, in exchange for nuclear concessions.)
Read more at The Daily Beast
“U.S. negotiators have responded to Iranian intransigence on key issues with creative but sometimes disturbing counterproposals.”
This sentence describing the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran were not the words of Republican critics of President Obama’s Iran policy. They were part of a lead editorial that ran in the Washington Post on October 3, 2014.
Think about it: the Washington Post is accusing the Obama administration of making disturbing counterproposals to a radical Islamist state-sponsor of terror which is suspected of having a covert nuclear weapons program.
The long list of these disturbing U.S. counterproposals include:
While the U.S. continues to make disturbing counterproposals and concessions in the nuclear talks, Iran has given little in return and is refusing to cooperate with IAEA investigations into indications that its nuclear program has military applications. Iran also refuses to provide IAEA inspectors with full access to its nuclear facilities.
I agree with the Washington Post’s concern that President Obama might be tempted to make more concessions to Iran to get a final nuclear agreement before the talks are schedule to end on November 24. The Post recommends that unless there is a dramatic change in Iran’s positions, the interim deal which set up this year’s nuclear talks should be extended and Iran be threatened with tougher sanctions if it does not agree.
This recommendation does not go far enough. A diplomatic process to reduce the threat from a nuclear Iran that includes disturbing American counterproposals and concessions is not in the national security interests of the United States. It is therefore imperative that Congress reject these talks as well as any agreement they may produce and reestablish a responsible U.S. policy on the Iranian nuclear program by placing new sanctions on Iran until it complies with all UN Security Council resolutions on its nuclear program.
BY RYAN MAURO:
The Turkish parliament is considering authorizing military action against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. will welcome such a development, but it must not forget Turkey’s previous support of Al Qaeda in Syria, deal-making with the Islamic State (ISIS), hosting of Hamas terrorists and embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood.
A Turkish group closely linked to Turkish President Recep Erdogan even signed up human shields for Hamas. Intelligence leaks reveal that top Turkish officials are secretly collaborating with Iran-linked terrorists, a development in line with Turkey’s drift towards Iran in spite of their historic rivalry and backing of opposite sides in Syria.
Erdogan’s time as leader of Turkey has resulted in sharply increased anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and overall hostility to the West. A Pew poll of 11 Muslim countries found that Turkey is the only one where support for suicide bombing is increasing, more than doubling from 7% in 2011 to 16% now.
Nor should the U.S. forget the Turkish government’s increasingly autocratic governance, anti-Western incitement and crackdown on social media. Turkey is also rated as the number one jailer of journalists, even beating out China and North Korea for the title.
This anti-Western activity has only increased in recent months.
Turkey and Qatar, another supposed “ally” supporting the Islamist cause and financing Islamic terrorists, agreed to form a “supreme strategic cooperation council.” Turkey is expected to provide support for Qatari military and security forces. Qatar hosts over 200 members of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Former U.S. ambassador to Turkey confirmed that Turkey has supported Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s wing in Syria and Ahrar al-Sham, another Al-Qaeda linked group in Syria and ignored U.S. protests about this support. The free flow of personnel and weapons from Turkey to Syrian jihadists contributed to the rise of the Islamic State.
Read more at Clarion Project
With the Iran nuclear talks now in their endgame and the prospect of a very different political environment in Washington next year if Republicans capture the Senate, Obama officials are in overdrive to achieve their dream of a legacy agreement with Tehran so that President Obama can claim he halted the threat from the Iranian nuclear program. Their goal is to get a final agreement before the nuclear talks are scheduled to end November 24.
While the Obama administration has long been desperate to get such an agreement, two recent ill-advised American concessions and a string of misleading statements and proposals demonstrate how far the White House is willing to go and why it is vital that Congress denounce on a bipartisan basis the nuclear talks and a possible final agreement .
Two weeks ago, the United States floated a proposal to let Iran keep all of its 19,000 centrifuge machines, which Tehran is using to enrich uranium to reactor grade as long as all but 1,500 are “disconnected” and cease enriching uranium. This proposal alarmed many experts because Iran could quickly begin enriching uranium to weapons grade by reconnecting all of its centrifuges.
As generous as this offer was, it apparently did not go far enough for Tehran. The Associated Press reported on September 25 that U.S. diplomats have proposed letting Iran operate up to 4,500 centrifuges if its stockpile of enriched uranium gas is converted to uranium “powder.” This proposal rests on the assumption that such an arrangement would give the international community plenty of time to react to an Iranian “dash” toward constructing a nuclear weapon because it would take over a year for Iran to re-convert low-enriched powder into uranium gas for further enrichment to weapons-grade uranium.
The assumption behind this proposal is false. Both Amos Yadlin, former head of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate, and Mark Hibbs, a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment and nuclear proliferation expert, agree that it would take Iran only about two weeks.
A final agreement also appears unlikely to do anything to reduce the nuclear-proliferation threat posed by Iran’s large stockpile of low-enriched uranium. I noted in NRO last November how a 2013 American Enterprise Institute study found that Iran has produced enough reactor-grade uranium since 2009 “to fuel a small arsenal of nuclear weapons after conversion to weapons grade.” The Langley Intelligence Group Network agreed with this assessment and estimated that, from its 20 percent-enriched-uranium stockpile, Iran could make enough nuclear fuel for one bomb and could make another seven from its reactor-grade uranium if further enriched to weapons grade.
Estimates by the American Enterprise Institute, the Institute for Science and International Security, and the Nuclear Proliferation Education Center on how fast Iran could make enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear bomb using reactor-grade uranium range from four to six weeks.
This latest proposed concession continues a pattern of misleading statements and proposals by Obama-administration officials on the Iran talks that began with last November’s interim agreement with Iran, which set up this year’s negotiations on a final agreement.
Read more at Center for Security Policy
The big foreign policy debate now is whether we should ally with Sunni or Shiite Jihadists to defeat ISIS.
The pro-Iranian camp wants us to coordinate with Iran and Assad. The pro-Saudi camp wants us to arm the Free Syrian Army and its assorted Jihadists to overthrow Assad.
Both sides are not only wrong, they are traitors.
Iran and the Sunni Gulfies are leading sponsors of international terrorism that has killed Americans. Picking either side means siding with the terrorists.
It makes no sense to join with Islamic terrorists to defeat Islamic terrorists. Both Sunni and Shiite Jihadists are our enemies. And this is not even a “the enemy of my enemy” scenario because despite their mutual hatred for each other, they hate us even more.
The 1998 indictment of bin Laden accused him of allying with Iran. (Not to mention Iraq, long before such claims could be blamed on Dick Cheney.) The 9/11 Commission documented that Al Qaeda terrorists, including the 9/11 hijackers, freely moved through Iran. Testimony by one of bin Laden’s lieutenants showed that he had met with a top Hezbollah terrorist. Court findings concluded that Iran was liable for Al Qaeda’s bombing of US embassies. Al Qaeda terrorists were trained by Hezbollah.
While Shiite and Sunni Jihadists may be deadly enemies to each other, they have more in common with each other than they do with us. Our relationship to them is not that of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” That’s their relationship to each other when it comes to us. In these scenarios we are the enemy.
The pro-Saudi and pro-Iranian factions in our foreign policy complex agree that we have to help one side win in Syria. They’re wrong. We have no interest in helping either side win because whether the Sunnis or Shiites win, Syria will remain a state sponsor of terror.
It’s only a question of whether it will be Shiite or Sunni terror.
Our interest is in not allowing Al Qaeda, or any of its subgroups, to control Syria or Iraq because it has a history of carrying out devastating attacks against the United States. We don’t, however, need to ally with either side to accomplish that. We can back the Kurds and the Iraqi government (despite its own problematic ties) in their push against ISIS in Iraq and use strategic strikes to hit ISIS concentrations in Syria. We should not, however, ally, arm or coordinate strikes with either side in the Syrian Civil War.
Both the pro-Saudi and pro-Iranian sides insist that ISIS can’t be defeated without stabilizing Syria. But it doesn’t appear that Syria can be stabilized without either genocide or partition. Its conflict is not based on resistance to a dictator as the Arab Springers have falsely claimed, but on religious differences.
Helping one side commit genocide against the other is an ugly project, but that would be the outcome of allying with either side.
Stabilizing Syria is a myth. The advocates of the FSA claimed that helping the Libyan Jihadists win would stabilize Libya. Instead the country is on fire as Jihadists continue to fight it out in its major cities.
Even if the FSA existed as an actual fighting force, which it doesn’t, even if it could win, which it can’t, there is every reason to believe that Syria would be worse than Libya and an even bigger playground for ISIS. The FSA enthusiasts were wrong in Egypt and Libya and everywhere else. They have no credibility.
Read more at Frontpage
The Iranian offer has been widely been interpreted as one to fight ISIS alongside the U.S. After all, Iranian-backed militias and American airpower earlier this month helped drive ISIS out of the Iraqi town of Amerli.
But there’s a second possibility. Iran has long been harboring senior al Qaeda, al Nusra, and so-called Khorasan Group leaders as part of its complicated strategy to influence the region and keep itself off the terrorist target list, according the U.S. government, intelligence agencies, and terrorism experts.
Now, with a potential nuclear deal and rapprochement with the West in sight, the Shiite regime in Tehran could be looking to sell its Sunni terrorist friends down the river.
“The Iranians have kept a lot of these guys as a point of protection. They are explosive bargaining chips,” said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council. “If they would have handed them over to the United States years ago without getting anything in return, they would have become a greater target for al Qaeda and they would have less cards to play with the U.S. now.”
U.S. officials have insisted all week that although U.S. and Iranian officials have been discussing the war on ISIS and Tehran’s nuclear program on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly this week, the two issues are not linked and never should be. But Iranian officials told Reuters that Iran would help the U.S. fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria only if the U.S. made concessions on Tehran’s nuclear program. The White House publicly rejected the offer.
On Wednesday, Rouhani connected the issues again and said that if only the U.S. struck a deal with Iran on the nuclear issue, Iran could really start to help on ISIS and other terrorist organizations.
“If Iran could reach a comprehensive deal on its nuclear program and leave sanctions behind, it would be able to assume a more active position on interregional dialogue in the Islamic world,” Rouhani told an audience at an event hosted by the New America Foundation.
“No one is justified in helping terrorists, whether they are taking action in Syria, or Iraq, or Lebanon, it really doesn’t matter,” he said. “Terrorism must be driven out and eradicated from the region.”
Washington experts often point out that Iran has more to lose than any country from the spread of ISIS and al Qaeda. The predominantly Shiite country is ideologically opposed to the Sunni terror groups, and ISIS threatens Iran’s dominance over neighboring Iraq. In 2003, Iranhanded over to the United Nations the names of hundreds of al Qaeda suspects.
Yet the relationship between the Shiite mullahs and the Sunni extremists isn’t that simple. The question now is whether Iran is willing to trade those bargaining chips in exchange for the ability to preserve its nuclear program.
“The Iranian regime has nurtured al Qaeda for many years. There are links, there are contacts, they know these people,” said Fouad Hamdan, executive director of the Netherlands-based Rule of Law Foundation, which funds Naame Shaam, an NGO focused on Iran’s role in Syria.
Naame Shaam has produced a 105-page report on Iran’s mischief inside Syria and its ties to al Qaeda, al Nusra, and ISIS. Al Qaeda and ISIS are under orders not to attack inside Iran in order to preserve their supply network there, the report states. The U.S. government concurs.
Read more at The Daily Beast
Also MUST see: (h/t Tom Wyld – @)
I simply don’t believe in coincidences, especially when it comes to the Obama administration. Remember when we reported here about President Barack Hussein Obama meeting with pro-Hezbollah clerics on 9-11?
And now some very disturbing news has surfaced about American-Hezbollah coordination — let me remind you that Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed Islamic terrorist group based in Lebanon. It was Hezbollah who was responsible for the 1983 Marine Beirut bombing which killed over 250 American Marines, Sailors, and others. It was Hezbollah who was responsible for the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achilles Lauro and the heinous and barbaric murder of American Jewish citizen Leon Kilnghoffer — a man confined to a wheel chair and pushed off the ship into the Mediterranean Sea.
And despite all this, Hezbollah is indirectly receiving American intelligence aid.
As reported by Arutz Sheva,”Mohammed Afif, the new head of public relations for the Lebanese-based Iranian-backed terror organization Hezbollah, gave a rare New York Times interview as Lebanese experts reveal his group is indirectly receiving American intelligence aid in its fight against Islamic State (ISIS). Following ISIS’s temporary conquest of Arsal last month on the Lebanese side of the Syrian border, the US sent new weapons to the Lebanese army, which coordinates with Hezbollah. Likewise, US intelligence has found its way to Hezbollah according to Lebanese experts. That leaked intelligence may explain some recent impressive achievements against ISIS, including the first known Hezbollah drone strike.”
So let’s have a quick review. The Obama administration released five senior Taliban members to Qatar — where the head of Hamas resides. Obama coordinated with Qatar and Turkey, both major supporters to Islamic terrorist groups. Now apparently Obama is assisting Hezbollah with intelligence — and Hezbollah is a named Islamic terrorist organization.
This ladies and gents is our biggest fear — that the Obama administration would work with nefarious actors in its quest to deal with ISIS — instead of destroying ISIS itself. So Obama may not be dealing with Iran directly, but he’s working with Iran’s proxy terrorist army, Hezbollah.
> America is providing intelligence aid to Hezbollah, an Islamic terrorist group that is the avowed enemy of our ally Israel.
> Hezbollah is allied fighting in support of Bashar al-Assad whom Obama said must go.
> Therefore, we are providing intelligence support to Hezbollah who is fighting against the Syrian rebels who we want to arm and train to fight against ISIS who are fighting against Assad who is supported by Hezbollah who is supported by Iran who is the largest sponsor of Islamic terrorism who is responsible for countless attacks against our men and women and is marching towards developing a nuclear bomb capability.
Yep ladies and gents, that is Obama foreign policy — FUBAR!
LWJ, By September 24, 2014:
Al Qaeda’s so-called “Khorasan group,” which was struck in the US-led bombing campaign earlier this week, is run by senior jihadists dispatched to Syria by Ayman al Zawahiri.
One member of the group, a veteran al Qaeda operative named Muhsin al Fadhli, has been publicly identified.
But several US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal have confirmed that another well-known al Qaeda bigwig, a Saudi known as Sanafi al Nasr, is also a leader in the group. And, like al Fadhli, Nasr once served as the head of al Qaeda’s Iran-based network.
In March, The Long War Journal first reported that Nasr is a senior al Qaeda leader. US intelligence officials explained at the time that he was involved in al Qaeda’s strategic planning and policies.
Five months later, in August, the US Treasury Department designated Nasr, noting that he is a “key” al Qaeda financier, as well as one of the Al Nusrah Front’s “top strategists.” Treasury also said that Nasr became a “senior” leader in Al Nusrah, an official branch of al Qaeda, after relocating to Syria in the spring 2013.
Nasr, whose real name is Abdul Mohsin Abdullah Ibrahim Al Sharikh, has an active Twitter feed with more than 23,000 followers.
In tweets posted since early 2013, Nasr has revealed a number of details concerning al Qaeda’s operations. In one tweet, for instance, he explained that al Qaeda’s senior leadership decided to deploy trusted veterans to Syria, where they were embedded within both the Al Nusrah Front and Ahrar al Sham.
Nasr’s tweet was one of the first public hints regarding al Qaeda’s plans.
Nasr has been closely tied to the leadership of Ahrar al Sham, a rebel group in Syria that fights alongside Nusrah on a regular basis. Ahrar al Sham is the most powerful organization in the Islamic Front, a coalition of several groups. It was cofounded by Abu Khalid al Suri, a veteran al Qaeda operative who served as Ayman al Zawahiri’s representative in Syria until he was killed in February.
Much of Ahrar al Sham’s leadership was killed in an explosion earlier this month. After they were killed, Nasr changed the header on his Twitter feed to an image honoring the slain jihadists.
US officials have stressed that al Qaeda’s “Khorasan group” was planning attacks in the West and possibly against the US homeland.
“Intelligence reports indicated that the group was in the final stages of plans to execute major attacks against western targets and potentially the US homeland,” Lieutenant General William Mayville, director of operations for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained to reporters. Other US officials have said the same.
Nasr has not hidden his desire to strike the US. Treasury noted in August that he “has used social media posts to demonstrate his aspiration to target Americans and US interests.”
Former head of al Qaeda’s Iran-based network
Although he is relatively young, Nasr is an al Qaeda veteran. He first began contributing to jihadist forums and websites roughly a decade ago.
Nasr was groomed for his position within al Qaeda, in part, because of his jihadist pedigree. Several of Nasr’s brothers, two of whom were once detained at Guantanamo, joined al Qaeda. Some of Nasr’s other family members, including his father, have also been tied to al Qaeda.
Indeed, according to US intelligence officials, Nasr is one of Osama bin Laden’s third cousins and his family bonds have made it easier for Nasr to keep the trust of al Qaeda’s Gulf donors. Cash has flowed through Nasr into al Qaeda’s coffers.
Nasr is so respected within al Qaeda that he was tasked with managing its deal with the Iranian regime, which is one of the organization’s most sensitive relationships. In early 2013, according to Treasury, Nasr temporarily served as the head of al Qaeda’s Iran-based network. Al Qaeda’s presence in Iran is the result of a formerly “secret deal” between the Iranian government and the terrorist organization.
Nasr’s ties to Iran may help to explain why, according to the US Treasury and State Departments, the Iranian regime continues to allow al Qaeda to funnel fighters to the Al Nusrah Front in Syria. Al Nusrah is fighting in Syria against Bashar al Assad’s regime and Hezbollah, both of which are backed by the Iranians. Given their opposition to each other in Syria, the ongoing relationship between al Qaeda and the Iranians is somewhat of a mystery.
It is so well-known in jihadist circles that Nasr was based in Iran for a time that supporters of the Islamic State have even criticized Nasr’s Iran ties on social media. Nasr has repeatedly criticized the Islamic State, which was part of al Qaeda’s international network before being disowned by al Qaeda’s general command.
Like Muhsin al Fadhli, another leader in the “Khorasan group” and former head of al Qaeda in Iran, Nasr was redeployed to Syria in 2013.
Other al Qaeda operatives who joined the Khorasan group have come from around the world, including from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, and North Africa, according to The New York Times.
I24 News, By SHERKOH ABBAS Sep. 22, 2014:
“You can lead them to water, but you can’t make them drink.” After having its “head” dunked in the truth of Islamism, the Obama Administration seems to prefer to drown in its failed anti-Bush pacifism.
Everyone knows the most reliably pro-American military in the Syria-Iraq region is the Peshmerga, yet American arms have not been provided to these Kurds, nor has their justified nationalist aspiration been acknowledged, let alone endorsed.
Instead, America is handing the region to Iran (enhancing its nuclear ambitions), accommodating resurrected Turkish dreams of a worldwide caliphate (transcending its “sultanate”), and failing to enlist necessary support from Wahhabist Saudi Arabia (reinforcing its ideological outreach). Indeed, America can’t find anyone to provide the “boots on the ground” that can begin to match the burgeoning Islamic Army, threatening to conquer the American Homeland… and everything in between.
Lame excuses for inaction advanced by Obama’s spokespeople are easily exposed; for example, they failed to ensure that the Continuing (Funding) Resolution passed last week would allow direct support for Erbil without first transiting Baghdad. Again, ideology (“We must not undermine the new ‘unity’ government”) shrouds intent and pays lip-service to the legitimate, urgent needs of one of the diminishing number of unabashedly pro-American fighting forces.
The vacuum displacing a relatively tranquil Pax Americana is predictably and rapidly being filled by both Sunni and Shiite Islamists, and Kurdistan finds itself in the cross fire.
Tehran wants to immortalize a Shiite Crescent (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon), Ankara wants to sever it with Sunnis (multi-national Arabs and non-Arab Ottomans), and Riyadh wants to stir the pot just enough to foment insurrection, but not enough to allow the Kingdom to be threatened. Geopolitical lines are thereby crossed as these aspirations are being fulfilled, while Kurdistan (joining Israel, to a degree) serves as an irritant, a stubborn target for those harboring far greater aspirations.
Each of these countries has attempted to manipulate Kurdistan via political alliances that serve only to undermine the legitimate aspirations of the populace – self-determination, either as an independent state or as a quasi-independent federated-region. In the mean time, 30-40 million Kurds struggle for survival.
Instead of helping Kurds, who are ready to do America’s bidding, Obama aspires to let the Free Syrian Army decide which “moderates” should receive armaments and year-long training in Saudi Arabia (costing American taxpayers $1 billion). Is Obama enamored of Saudi oil?
Instead of helping Kurds, who desperately need American support, Obama is acceding to Turkey’s rapprochement with the Islamic State, most recently having absented itself from America’s nascent “alliance of the unwilling” in return for release of 49 Turkish hostages. Is Obama pro-Brotherhood?
Instead of helping Kurds, after more than 60 villages and towns in Syrian Kurdistan have fallen to the Islamic State, Obama is receding from opposing Assad (propped up by Rouhani and Putin), hoping that Syrian air defenses (yet to be degraded) won’t block Allied bombers. Is Obama a genocide-appeaser?
Kurds eagerly and valiantly defend Western civilization against Muslims who continue fighting the Crusades; they may be a millennium remote chronologically, but they remain zealots hungry to avenge the 1683 defeat of Islam outside the gates of Vienna.
Demography is rapidly changing, as Kurds are increasingly subject to ethnic cleansing; if defeated, Kurds would be forcibly resettled out of Syria and thereby lose their distinctive identity for, already, a million refugees have relocated, replaced by pro-Assad Shi’ite/Alawite Arabs. Sporadic air-support (recalling the Yazidi plight) is grossly insufficient against the Islamic State. Yet, inexplicably, Obama has even failed to ensure other Arab nations (plus his Turkish pal, Erdoğan) and opposition groups (plus other countries, worldwide) condemn the Islamists’ anti-Kurd acts.
Political groups petitioning for support must have “clean hands.” Thus, elements of the Free Syrian Army seeking allied arms must pass the litmus-test of supporting Kurds, for most are allied with the Muslim Brotherhood or al-Qaida. Unlike stateless-Kurdistan, pro- and anti-Assad entities are merely struggling for power. Therefore, America must provide military, political and humanitarian assistance to Kurdistan urgently, empowering it to lead a coalition of ignored minorities.
Dr. Sherkoh Abbas (President of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria) and Dr. Robert Sklaroff (a physician-activist) have co-written essays during the past half-decade advocating for an independent Kurdistan.
(Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that Iran had a role to play in a global coalition to tackle Islamic State militants who have seized swaths of Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.
“It must be comprehensive and include close collaboration across multiple lines of effort. It’s about taking out an entire network, decimating and discrediting a militant cult masquerading as a religious movement,” he said. “There is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran.”
Kerry’s remarks appeared to represent a shift away from previous U.S. statements indicating a reluctance to cooperate with Iran to confront the threat of Islamic State. The United States cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran during a hostage crisis after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The United States, president of the U.N. Security Council for September, called the meeting on Iraq as it builds an international military, political and financial coalition to defeat the radical Sunni Muslim group.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, this week said he had rejected an offer by Washington for talks on fighting Islamic State. Kerry said he refused to be drawn into a “back and forth” with Iran over the issue.
Shi’ite Muslim-dominated Iran is a key ally of the governments in Iraq and Syria.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the only country in the region that is both capable of and has shown unqualified determination to help the Iraqi government and coordinate with it to assist all those threatened by ISIL,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told the council.
“Any real and genuine initiative to remedy regional predicaments needs to originate from within the region and be based on regional cooperation. Combating extremism is not an exception,” he said, repeating Tehran’s official view.
Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are expected to hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly next week where Islamic State and Tehran’s nuclear program will likely be among key topics of discussion.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said 40 nations have pledged help to a coalition against Islamic State. French jets struck a suspected Islamic State target in Iraq for the first time on Friday, joining a U.S. bombing campaign that started a month ago when Iraq asked for help.
“In 2003, acting against Iraq was something that divided this council; in 2014, acting for Iraq and against the (Islamic State) … terrorists is a duty for all of us,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the U.N. Security Council, referring to French opposition to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
The U.N. Security Council on Friday adopted a statement urging “the international community, in accordance with international law, to further strengthen and expand support for the government of Iraq as it fights ISIL (Islamic State) and associated armed groups.”
The U.N. special envoy to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said the United Nations estimates some 8,500 have been killed during clashes in Iraq since January and more than 16,000 injured.
“ISIL is a scourge that has brought untold sorrow to the people of Iraq and Syria,” Mladenov told the Security Council. “They have shown contempt for equality, fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person.”
The United States is also planning to carry out air strikes against Islamic State in Syria, while the U.S. Congress on Thursday gave final approval to Obama’s plan for training and arming moderate Syrian rebels to take on the militants.
Other Western powers have been more reluctant to launch military strikes in Syria, which could be seen to bolster President Bashar al-Assad. Western states have repeatedly called for Assad’s departure over his crackdown on popular protests in 2011 that sparked a civil war, now in its fourth year.
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin warned that any action by an international coalition against Islamic State should be in line with international law and the U.N. Charter.
He said Russia, long an ally of the Syrian government, was “extremely concerned” about possible air strikes against the militants in Syria without the Damascus government’s approval.
“International counter terrorist operations should be carried out either with the approval of the sovereign government or with the approval of the U.N. Security Council,” Churkin told the council.
“Any other options are considered illegal and undermine international and regional stability,” he said.
Washington Free Beacon, By Alana Goodman:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) could lead to a “massive loss of life” in the United States if it is not stopped, but added that he still believes Iran’s nuclear ambitions pose a greater threat to the U.S. than the Islamic State, in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon last week.
The senator also tied Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Obama administration’s Iran policy, and warned the White House against using a military campaign against ISIL as an excuse to appease Tehran.
“As grave as the threat from ISIS is, in my view the most significant threat to U.S. national security remains the threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons capability,” said Cruz. “The incoherence of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy will come to full flower if the peril of ISIS is used as an excuse to further appease Iran and facilitate their acquiring nuclear weapon capability.”
He added that “everything President Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have done have increased the chances of Iran acquiring nuclear weapon capability, and have perversely increased the chances of future military conflict.”
While Cruz has not said whether he will run for president in 2016, his response to one question suggested that the possibility is on his mind.
“What should a strong president do [to prevent a nuclear Iran]? Well number one, I’ve introduced legislation in the Senate, comprehensive Iran sanctions legislation that demonstrates the direction I believe we should be taking,” said Cruz.
Although he noted that he remains supportive of a new sanctions legislation introduced by Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez, he called the proposals “weak sauce.”
“Kirk-Menendez on its face is pretty weak sauce. It lays out future contingencies in which ultimately sanctions will be re-imposed. That’s not a rational way to negotiate with religious extremists like [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei,” said Cruz.
“The legislation I’ve introduced would immediately re-impose sanctions on Iran, would strengthen those sanctions to make them as crippling as humanly possible, and then it lays out a clear path to how Iran can lift those sanctions.”
Cruz said both ISIL and the Iranian regime are “radical Islamic terrorists who want to kill us. The one thing on which they agree is killing Americans.”
His comments echoed former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who said earlier this month that Tehran posed a more significant geo-strategic threat than ISIL.
Still, the senator warned that failing to confront ISIL could lead to massive U.S. casualties.
“If we don’t act now and if they are able to consolidate power and control of a nation state with massive oil revenues, the inevitable consequence of that will be a significant and perhaps even massive loss of life here in the United States,” said Cruz.
He criticized the idea of arming Syria’s anti-Assad rebels, saying that many of them were allied with ISIL, and the Obama administration had not provided a clear plan on how to keep the weapons from falling into the hands of terrorist groups.
Cruz also defended his opposition to U.S. military action against the Syrian regime last summer.
“Had the administration gotten what it wanted last summer, there’s a very real chance ISIS would be stronger today than it is right now,” said Cruz.
The potential 2016 presidential hopeful sought to strike a middle ground between the non-interventionist wing of the Republican Party and those who supported President Bush’s “freedom agenda.”
“We have a job to do, and it’s not transform distant countries into democratic utopias,” said Cruz. “It’s not turn Iraq into Switzerland. It’s to prevent people who want to kill Americans from killing Americans.”
“I think it is unquestionably right that we are tired of sending our sons and daughters to distant lands to engage with nation-building,” he added. “But I think it is a profound misreading of the American spirit to confuse that with Americans being unwilling to defend themselves, being unwilling to stand up to serious and real national security threats, and to stand up with overwhelming force.”
by Paul Alster
Special to IPT News
September 19, 2014
The international community is allowing the rise of ISIS to distract it from the far more dangerous prospect of a nuclear Iran, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz warned Wednesday. The comments followed his visit last week to the United States, where he met with senior State Department figures William Burns and Wendy Sherman.
“The Iranians are getting almost everything but giving almost nothing,” Steinitz told a Jerusalem news conference in which he expressed his belief that Iran is being far from truthful in its ongoing P5+1 nuclear talks. “Although it is important to defeat ISIS [Islamic State], if Iran gets nuclear weapons, it’s a different world for decades. This is the main threat to global security and should be the priority… I went [to Washington] concerned and I came back concerned,” Steinitz added. “I didn’t hear anything… that gave me hope.”
Senior Israeli military and intelligence figures have issued similar warnings in recent months, indicating that while Iran under President Hassan Rouhani offers the veneer of a more moderate regime, little has changed in Tehran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s firebrand supreme leader, still calls all the shots.
A recently published 80-point International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s compliance – or non-compliance – indicates that Steinitz has genuine grounds for concern. Among its key findings:
19. “Contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, Iran has not suspended all of its enrichment related activities in the declared facilities…”
49. “Iran is conducting a number of activities at UCF, EUPP, FMP and the Fuel Plate Fabrication Plant (FPFP) at Esfahan … which are in contravention of its obligations to suspend all enrichment related activities and heavy water related projects…”
62. “The Agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”
67. “[A]t a particular location at the Parchin site, the Agency has observed through satellite imagery ongoing construction activity that appears to show the removal/replacement or refurbishment of the site’s two main buildings’ external wall structures … These activities are likely to have further undermined the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification. It remains important for Iran to provide answers to the Agency’s questions and access to the particular location in question.”
Of the main points in the report’s summary, the following is undoubtedly of significant concern:
75. “While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and LOFs declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement, the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
Iranian failure to comply with the interim P5+1 deal struck last year by the U.S. and other leading nations should mark the end of negotiations, said Steinitz, one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest allies. Allowing the talks to stumble along gives Iran the benefit of continued relief from international sanctions that dealt a crippling blow to the Iranian economy.
“From our point of view, President Obama’s very important principle and statement that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal,’ is by no means a failure,” Steinitz said. “In a sense, it’s a kind of success… It means standing up for your principles and not sacrificing global security.”
Israeli military officials share concern that Iran is threatens that security through its astonishing subterfuge and double-dealing – presenting a benign face to the world while continuing to support terror organizations such as Hamas in Gaza and Hizballah in southern Lebanon.
In a recent exclusive interview, a senior Israeli naval officer (speaking to the IPT on condition of anonymity), outlined the extent to which Iran continues to try evading international efforts to stem its attempts to arm its proxy armies.
“It is a war against this axis [Iran, Hamas, and Hizballah], and this war on the seas is continuing at the same time as these [P5+1] talks are going on,” the navy official said. “I’m happy that these talks are going on because maybe, maybe, it’s a channel to stop this madness. But at the same time, I know that I will not go back home and rest because of the talks. I will keep working.”
“[Iran] not only uses every possible way to pass on weapons, but they are also passing on information and instructions on how to produce weapons in Gaza. We know for sure that even if rockets and weapons reached Gaza tunnels via the Sinai deserts, they weren’t produced in the Sinai desert. They probably arrived by the sea and came from Iran via the Red Sea ports, or Egypt – of course without the knowledge of Egypt itself.”
In recent years, the Israeli navy has intercepted huge Iranian arms shipments on vessels such as the Frankop (2009), the Victoria (2011), and earlier this year the Klos-C, whose cache of M-302 missiles, mortars, and masses of ammunition were hidden under its legitimate cement cargo.
“We know for sure that … weapons have passed through ports on ships that had no knowledge they were carrying this lethal cargo,” the officer explained. “We know they are using containers that are transported from one ship to another, some of which sometimes stand for days or weeks out in the blazing sun waiting for a ship to take it. If one of these [unstable] containers blows up a lot of innocent people will get hurt. All the time Iran uses innocent people and they don’t care how many of those innocent people get hurt, as long as they achieve their mission.”
“My men and ships are out there and we have been kept busy, not only with Iran, but with a lot of people who are not willing to accept the State of Israel. [Syrian dictator Bashar al-]Assad is a little more occupied now than in the past and I don’t believe he has aspirations about war with Israel, but he will do whatever he can by using proxies such as Hizballah that will keep Israel and its army occupied.”
Continuing concerns over Iranian deception, together with the new threat posed to Middle Eastern stability posed by the swift rise of ISIS, have brought about an apparent change – if not in public, then seemingly in private – in alliances of convenience between states which formerly would have balked at the thought of working together, the senior officer said.
“If someone in your neighborhood is slaughtering and torturing – like what happened to the American reporters – you understand that you will do everything for him not to be your neighbor,” he said. “You will join hands with a neighbor with whom you may never have been friendly before to make sure the crazy neighbor won’t do you any harm.”
“I won’t go into specific details on cooperation” he adds, “but I will say for sure that every sane human being that is living around here just wants to have a family, a peaceful life, and a place of work. I hope that one day we will see this happen and … I will go out with my flotilla and join hands with the Egyptian navy, Saudi Arabian navy, everyone around us, to make sure we will keep those people out of the Middle East.”
Paul Alster is an Israel-based contributor to FoxNews.com and The Jerusalem Report and blogs at paulalster.com. He can be followed on Twitter: @paul_alster
It’s time for Americans to demand that Washington take stronger action to prevent terror groups in the first place — not simply reacting after we’ve been attacked.
By J. D. Gordon:
Imagine a team of doctors removing the largest malignant tumor from a lung cancer patient, leaving in countless smaller ones, and then allowing the patient to smoke 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day. Does anyone think this would cure the problem?
Yet that is basically Barack Obama’s approach to “destroy” ISIS.
And why is that?
While eliminating today’s largest terror network will help protect Americans and allies for the moment, it does nothing about smaller ones, nor changes the underlying conditions that led to their rise in the first place.
Let’s face it, a hit parade of anti-Western, radical Islam-inspired terror groups have stung Americans under every single president since Jimmy Carter. It’s not so simple as to just “blame Bush” or even the current administration.
For instance, Iranian revolutionaries humiliated Carter by capturing the U.S. Embassy and holding hostages in Tehran for 444 days. Islamic Jihad blew up the Marine Barracks in Beirut, killing 241 service members during Ronald Reagan’s first term. George H.W. Bush was president-elect when Libyan agents exploded Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Bill Clinton was the Commander-in-Chief during the first World Trade Center terror attack, the Khobar Towers explosion in Saudi Arabia, East Africa Embassy attacks, and USS Cole bombing in Yemen. George W. Bush presided during 9/11 and the aftermath. Though Barack Obama ordered the hit on Osama Bin Laden, Islamic terror groups are even stronger now, despite his olive branch attempts to close Guantanamo and rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Yet militarily attacking Sunni terror groups like Al Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS, Ansar al Sharia, Al Nusra Front, Hamas, Al Shabab and Boko Haram, some of whom want to re-establish an Islamic Caliphate stretching from Afghanistan to Spain; and rival Shia groups who follow Iran’s state orders like Hezbollah, Mahdi Army and Badr Corps, is akin to pruning poison ivy. It works for a while, though stronger ones eventually rise to take their place. In order to stop the problem entirely, we must tear up the roots.
Though political correctness has muddied the waters of public discourse, Americans should not be fooled — the roots of terror are in radical Islam.
Exported by Shia-led Iran, and the competing Sunni branch from Saudi Arabia plus other Gulf States, adherents of both versions seek to destroy Israel and drive the U.S. out of the Middle East.
Complicating matters further, since the Saudis and other hardline Sunnis consider Iranians upstarts and apostates, they have fought proxy wars against Tehran to thwart their exportation of Shia Islam.
In preserving the Arabian Peninsula as center of gravity for the Muslim world, the Saudis and their allies in Qatar, Kuwait and U.A.E. have spent an estimated $100 billion to promote their extreme Sunni form of Wahhabism. They built madrassas throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan, teaching boys only the Koran, which helps explain why the Taliban emerged as a powerful force. And their material support to defeat the Soviet’s decade-long occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, aided by the U.S., similarly gave jihadists worldwide an appetite for further glory.
The world has slowly, yet steadily felt the repercussions of intolerant, political Islam. As a cultural indicator, for instance, take a look at pictures from 1970’s Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan – women commonly wore dresses, skirts and enjoyed far more equality. Now they’re in hijabs in Cairo, Istanbul and Tehran. And while under the Taliban rule, burqas in Kabul, much like the female second class citizens wearing obligatory niqabs are in Gulf States, with just the eyes visible. In some places, they’re even whipped, stoned or hanged for alleged infractions of ultra-rigid sharia law. Freedom has been extinguished in large swaths of the planet.
Meanwhile, though it sounds good in the faculty lounge, Mr. Obama’s proclamation that ISIL is not “Islamic,” rings hollow coming from an American.
Read more at Daily Caller
J.D. Gordon is a retired Navy Commander and former Pentagon spokesman who served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2005-2009. He is a Senior Adviser to several think tanks based in Washington, DC.
Center For Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz:
Secretary of State John Kerry’s awkward denial that the United States has not proposed “coordinating with Iran” against ISIS suggests the Obama administration did indeed propose this and is engaged in damage control after its efforts were revealed by Iranian officials.
I wrote in a Sept. 3 Newsmax article that while the U.S. should attack ISIS — also known as ISIL and the Islamic State — in Syria even though this will help keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, the United States must resist the temptation to draw Iran further into the crises in Iraq and Syria. I believe this because Iran bears significant responsibility for the outbreak of sectarian tensions in Iraq since 2011 due to its strong support for the Nouri al-Maliki government and by its training of Shiite militias that have massacred Iraqi Sunnis.
An increased Iranian presence in Iraq would alienate Iraqi Sunnis and make it more difficult to bring them back into the political process.
I believe the Obama administration has been unable to resist the temptation of trying to bring Iran into the battle against ISIS. According to The New York Times, Iranian officials claim they have rejected multiple invitations by the United States to join a coalition against ISIS.
According to the Iranian state news agency — IRNA — Iran’s President Khamenei recently said, “The American ambassador in Iraq asked our ambassador [in Iraq] for a session to discuss coordinating a fight against Daesh [ISIS].”
Khamenei said the Iranian government rejected this request.
Kerry’s denial of Khamenei’s claim was tortuous and hard to believe. Kerry said today that he is not going to get into a “back and forth” with Iran over whether his diplomats suggested that the U.S. and Iran join forces against ISIS. Kerry also said, “I have no idea of what interpretation they drew from any discussion that may or may not have taken place. We are not coordinating with Iran. Period.”
The Los Angeles Times reported today that the U.S. has been discussing ISIS with Iran. According to a Sept. 14 LA Times article, “The U.S., for its part, says it is not coordinating military efforts against Islamic State with Iran, though it has repeatedly discussed the issue with Iranian officials.”
Despite holding behind the scenes discussions with Iran about Iraq, Syria and ISIS, the United States vetoed Iran’s participation in an international conference that opened today in Paris on the ISIS threat. While I agree this was the right move, the Obama administration’s decision to publicly block Iran from the Paris ISIS conference while it conducts secret talks with Tehran on the same issues this conference will be addressing suggests Obama officials are trying to conceal what they are discussing with Iran from the American people and Congress.
So when do U.S. talks with Iran about ISIS become cooperation? More importantly, why is the United States using nuclear talks with Iran — which are going very badly — to discuss Iraq and Syria? What purpose could this achieve other than getting Iran more involved in these two countries.
It is fortunate that Iran revealed the overtures by Obama officials to coordinate on the ISIS threat since Congress can now demand answers from the administration about this latest foreign policy blunder and hopefully force the president to halt any efforts by his diplomats to draw Iran further into the crises in Iraq and Syria.