The Obama Administration’s Strategic Schizophrenia

obamasCSP, By Kyle Shideler:

Last week in the Wall Street Journal it was reported that the Obama administration sought an agreement on fighting ISIS with Iran:

The correspondence underscores that Mr. Obama views Iran as important—whether in a potentially constructive or negative role—to his emerging military and diplomatic campaign to push Islamic State from the territories it has gained over the past six months. Mr. Obama’s letter also sought to assuage Iran’s concerns about the future of its close ally, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, according to another person briefed on the letter. It states that the U.S.’s military operations inside Syria aren’t targeted at Mr. Assad or his security forces.

It is now being reported that the same administration believes ISIS cannot be defeated without overthrowing Assad:

President Barack Obama has asked his national security team for another review of the U.S. policy toward Syria after realizing that ISIS may not be defeated without a political transition in Syria and the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, senior U.S. officials and diplomats tell CNN. The review is a tacit admission that the initial strategy of trying to confront ISIS first in Iraq and then take the group’s fighters on in Syria, without also focusing on the removal of al-Assad, was a miscalculation. In just the past week, the White House has convened four meetings of the President’s national security team, one of which was chaired by Obama and others that were attended by principals like the secretary of state. These meetings, in the words of one senior official, were “driven to a large degree how our Syria strategy fits into our ISIS strategy.”

The contradiction between these two policies should be obvious, as Iran has expended ample time, funds, and men (primarily through proxy forces like Hezbollah and other Shia militias) to keep Assad in power. In fact overthrowing Assad would by necessity require the targeting and destruction of some of the very same forces that the Obama administration envisioned fighting ISIS on our behalf in Iraq.

The administration’s utter strategic incoherence is founded on an unwillingness to comprehend what drives both the Iranian aims (through proxies in Iraq and Syria), as well as the forces arrayed against them.  As we have repeatedly pointed out here on the Free Fire blog (See here, here, and here), the Syrian opposition is dominated by Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda-allied Islamist militias connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Obama Administration’s policy for Syria has involved alternatively partnering with these Islamists, while also bombing certain units of them during the course of the air campaign against ISIS. All sides in the current regional conflict are motivated by the same ideological agenda, establishing their hegemony in the region in order to extend (their particularly sectarian brand) of Islamic law, and to use future gains as a base for further jihad against their enemies, including principally the United States. Whether the U.S. attempts to partner with Iran against ISIS, or Al Qaeda against ISIS, or the Muslim Brotherhood against Al Qaeda, or Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood against Iran, every permutation will result in the same eventual outcome. Victory for enemies of the United States.

The Obama administration has prided itself on it’s attention to “nuance”. In its dealings in the Middle East, it has repeatedly attempted to tease out differences and distinctions that are at best irrelevant, leading to the construction of a world view that is ultimately divorced from reality in any meaningful way. The result is that this Administration finds itself simultaneously on all sides, and still the wrong sides, of every strategic challenge.

Iran Switching to Hard Ball in a Last Attempt to Control Iraq

Shi'ite fighters and Iraqi army members participate in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in Jurf al-Sakhar October 26, 2014.(Photo: © Reuters)

Shi’ite fighters and Iraqi army members participate in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in Jurf al-Sakhar October 26, 2014.(Photo: © Reuters)

The unforeseen ouster of Nouri al-Maliki represented a major defeat for the Iranian regime’s agenda in Iraq. Tactics had to be switched.

BY JACOB CAMPBELL:

“Good Opportunity”

A “good opportunity” is how Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi – one of the Iranian regime’s most senior clerics – described the events of June 10.

By most accounts, the fall of Mosul on that date was exactly the crisis the mullahs needed to tighten their grip on Iraq.

In a June 16  article for the New York Times, under the headline “ISIS Will Fail in Iraq, and Iran Will Be the Victor,” Steven Simon of the Middle East Institute predicted that, “to the extent that this sectarian brawl produces something resembling a winner, it won’t be in Washington, Mosul or Baghdad – but in Tehran.”

Drawing much the same conclusion, Middle East experts Michael Doran and Max Boot wrote in the Washington Post on June 17 that “the rise of ISIS provides Tehran with multiple benefits. For one thing, it makes … the Shi’ites of Iraq ever more dependent on Iranian protection.”

Nor is the long shadow cast over Iraq by the Iranian regime visible only from a Western perspective.

As Iraq’s Azzaman daily – a favourite of Iraqis in the country’s predominantly Shi’ite south – reported on September 4, “The stunning military successes by the Islamic State (IS) have made Iraq more reliant on Iran than any time before … IS’s invasion [has] given Tehran more leverage on almost all aspects of life in the country.”

Likewise, on October 1, Iranian dissident and human rights activist Amir Basiri argued in Forbes magazine that “Iran has been able to benefit immensely from the havoc that the Islamic State has wreaked across Iraq … [by using it] as an excuse to surge thousands of troops through the porous Iran-Iraq border and notch up the violent activities of its many proxy militia groups.”

Indeed, in the months that followed the Mosul takeover, at least 5,000 Revolutionary Guards – including 200 elite Qods Force officers – swarmed across the border into Iraq, while membership of the Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia tripled to over 30,000, swelling the total number of Iraq’s Shi’ite militiamen to well in excess of 150,000.

Consequently, the Pentagon assessed that, by mid-July, the Iraqi army was “deeply infiltrated” and had become “heavily dependent on Shi’ite militias – many of which were trained in Iran – as well as on advisers from Iran’s paramilitary Qods Force,” the New York Timesrevealed.

According to Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey, as reported by the World Tribune on September 22, “A study by US Central Command determined that 24 of the 50 brigades in the Iraqi army … [are] dominated by Shi’ites believed [to be] aligned with Iran.”

In an interview with CNN on October 13, Fareed Zakaria of the Council on Foreign Relations summarised the state of Iraq’s military in blunter – but no less accurate – terms: “There’s no real Iraqi army … If you scratch the surface of the Iraqi army, it’s a bunch of sectarian militias.”

All of this corroborates the following information, contained in a report handed to the author during a meeting with Iraqi tribal representatives in late June:

“Qassem Soleimani, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF), has set up his headquarters in the Baghdad International Airport zone, where he is directing the reorganisation and amalgamation of the Iraqi army and Shi’ite militias into 200-man battalions, each of which is to be commanded by an IRGC-QF officer. Soleimani’s chief of staff is Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, a senior advisor to the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia … Recently, Soleimani met with Hadi al-Ameri, Iraqi Transport Minister and leader of the Badr Brigade militia, to negotiate the merger of the Badr Organisation with Kata’ib Hezbollah … For all intents and purposes, Soleimani is now the commander-in-chief of Iraq’s armed forces.”

Rather than downplaying its control over the Iraqi army, the Iranian regime has sought to publicize it, with the state-run Fars Newsproudly affirming that “Soleimani is the actual leader of the Iraqi forces,” according to Iraqi News.

With Iraq in chaos and the reins of its military firmly in the mullahs’ hands, the Iran newspaper – a publication owned by the Islamic Republic News Agency – felt confident enough to claim in a June 26 editorial that, “[since] there is no way to resolve the escalating crisis in Iraq domestically, … Iran can pave the way for an interim coalition” to govern Iraq.

This, however, proved to be an overoptimistic miscalculation.

Read more at Clarion Project

Jacob Campbell is a Senior Fellow of the Humanitarian Intervention Centre, Head of Research at Stand for Peace, and Co-Chairman of the Ashraf Campaign (ASHCAM). He tweets@JCampbellUKIPon Twitter.

Also see:

Wannabe jihadists are taking cruises to avoid security checks while travelling to Syria and Iraq

Reuters / Gary Cameron

Reuters / Gary Cameron

Schanzer tweet

news.com.au: WANNABE jihadi fighters are increasingly booking tickets on cruise ships to join extremists in battle zones in Syria and Iraq, hoping to bypass stepped-up efforts to thwart them in neighboring Turkey, Interpol officials have told The Associated Press.

This is one of the reasons why the international police body is preparing to expand a pilot program known as I-Checkit, which airlines use to check passenger information against Interpol’s databases – in hopes that one day the system could expand to include cruise operators, banks, hotels and other private-sector partners.

Turkey, with its long and often porous border with Syria, has been a major thoroughfare for many of the thousands of foreign fighters seeking to join extremists like the Islamic State group, which has captured territory across Iraq and Syria.

Speaking in Monaco, where Interpol is holding its general assembly this week, outgoing chief Ronald Noble confirmed that Turkey was a destination for would-be jihadists, but declined to identify any others.

He also refused to indicate how many people might be involved, but called on countries to step up screening at all transportation hubs – “airports and, more and more, cruise lines.”

Turkish authorities say they have set up teams to nab suspected foreign fighters in airports and bus stations, and have deported hundreds in recent months.

Pierre St. Hilaire, director of counterterrorism at Interpol, suggested that the Turkish crackdown has shown results in recent months, and so some would-be jihadis are making alternative travel plans.

“Because they know the airports are monitored more closely now, there’s a use of cruise ships to travel to those areas,” he said.

“There is evidence that the individuals, especially in Europe, are traveling mostly to Izmit and other places to engage in this type of activity,” he said, referring to a Turkish coastal town.

The phenomenon is relatively new, within the past three months or so, said other Interpol officials.

“Originally, our concern about people on cruise ships – dangerous people on cruise ships – really focused on the classic sort of rapist, burglar, or violent criminal,” Mr Noble said.

“But as we’ve gathered data, we’ve realized that there are more and more reports that people are using cruise ships in order to get to launch pads, if you will – sort of closer to the conflict zones – of Syria and Iraq.”

Cruise ships, which often make repeated stops, offer an added benefit by allowing would-be jihadis to hop off undetected at any number of ports – making efforts to track them more difficult.

Mr St. Hilaire said it wasn’t exactly clear yet how many would-be foreign fighters were traveling by cruise ship to reach Syria, and added that there were other options as well: to avoid passing through airports, some people have driven all the way from their homes in Europe to the Syrian border.

He was quick to caution that Europe is by no means the only or even the main source of foreign fighters for Syria.

“It’s a global threat – 15,000 fighters or more from 81 countries traveling to one specific conflict zone,” he said, noting that that there are some 300 from China alone.

“In order to prevent their travel and identify them, there needs to be greater information-sharing among the region, among national security agencies.”

Many European governments have expressed concern that home-grown jihadis who self-radicalize online and then travel to Syria will return home with skills to carry out terror attacks. Frenchman Mehdi Nemmouche, who allegedly spent a year in Syria and fought with Islamic State, is the chief suspect in a May attack on the Jewish Museum of Brussels that killed four people.

POTUS OBAMA SENT SECRET LETTER TO IRAN’S LEADERSHIP; SEEKING TEHRAN’S HELP AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE; PLEDGED NOT TO TAKE OUT ASSAD

ayattollah, November 7, 2014 · by R.C. Porter:

Disastrous and ill-conceived. From the very beginning of POTUS Obama’s first term in office, he and his ‘team’ have sought to offend our friends and appease our adversaries. One of POTUS Obama’s first foreign policy affronts against a long-time ally, was to send the bust of Winston Churchill back to England. Great start on how not to win friends and influence people. POTUS Obama’s view of the world and his perceived belief that America was in large part to blame for many of the world’s ills was naïve and perplexing. From his — can’t we all just get along speech in Cairo, to his failure to support the Iran uprising after a corrupt Presidential vote, his re-set with Russia, withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq too quickly and without a tether, failure to check China’s aggressive posture in the western Pacific, backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and now appeasing the Mullahs of Iran and the butcher of Syria — Obama’s foreign policy is breathtaking in its fecklessness and vacuity. The best way to defeat the Islamic State — is also take out Assad. The U.S. should have taken out Syrian military airfields — the minute we began bombing ISIS positions in northern Syria. And, we surely do not want to encourage the Mullahs in Tehran/Qum that they can still produce a nuclear weapon, or achieve a near-constant breakout capability with a deal more to their liking — because of a U.S. President’s desperation for a deal — at almost any price. Very, very disturbing. No wonder this letter was sent in secret, and without Congressional input, or knowledge. RCP.

 

Obama Wrote Secret Letter to Iran’s Khamenei About Fighting Islamic State

Presidential Correspondence With Ayatollah Stresses Shared U.S.-Iranian Interests in Combating Insurgents, Urges Progress on Nuclear Talks

By JAY SOLOMON And CAROL E. LEE, Nov. 6, 2014

WASHINGTON-President Barack Obama secretly wrote to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the middle of last month and described a shared interest in fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, according to people briefed on the correspondence.

The letter appeared aimed both at buttressing the campaign against Islamic State and nudging Iran’s religious leader closer to a nuclear deal.

Mr. Obama stressed to Mr. Khamenei that any cooperation on Islamic State was largely contingent on Iran reaching a comprehensive agreement with global powers on the future of Tehran’s nuclear program by a Nov. 24 diplomatic deadline, the same people say.

The October letter marked at least the fourth time Mr. Obama has written Iran’s most powerful political and religious leader since taking office in 2009 and pledging to engage with Tehran’s Islamist government.

The correspondence underscores that Mr. Obama views Iran as important-whether in a potentially constructive or negative role-to his emerging military and diplomatic campaign to push Islamic State from the territories it has gained over the past six months.

Mr. Obama’s letter also sought to assuage Iran’s concerns about the future of its close ally, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, according to another person briefed on the letter. It states that the U.S.’s military operations inside Syria aren’t targeted at Mr. Assad or his security forces.

Mr. Obama and senior administration officials in recent days have placed the chances for a deal with Iran at only 50-50. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to begin intensive direct negotiations on the nuclear issue with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, on Sunday in the Persian Gulf country of Oman.

“There’s a sizable portion of the political elite that cut their teeth on anti-Americanism,” Mr. Obama said at a White House news conference on Wednesday about Iran’s leadership, without commenting on his personal overture. “Whether they can manage to say ‘Yes’…is an open question.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, foreground left, met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, background right, in Vienna in July. ENLARGE
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, foreground left, met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, background right, in Vienna in July. JIM BOURG

For the first time this week, a senior administration official said negotiations could be extended beyond the Nov. 24 deadline, adding that the White House will know after Mr. Kerry’s trip to Oman whether a deal with Iran is possible by late November.

“We’ll know a lot more after that meeting as to whether or not we have a shot at an agreement by the deadline,” the senior official said. “If there’s an extension, there’re questions like: What are the terms?”

Mr. Obama’s push for a deal faces renewed resistance after Tuesday’s elections gave Republicans control of the Senate and added power to thwart an agreement and to impose new sanctions on Iran. Sens. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) have introduced legislation to intensify sanctions.

‘There’s a sizable portion of the [Iranian] political elite that cut their teeth on anti-Americanism. Whether they can manage to say ‘Yes’…is an open question.’

-Barack Obama

“The best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is to quickly pass the bipartisan Menendez-Kirk legislation-not to give the Iranians more time to build a bomb,” Mr. Kirk said Wednesday.

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) expressed concern when asked about the letter sent by Mr. Obama.

“I don’t trust the Iranians, I don’t think we need to bring them into this,” Mr. Boehner said. Referring to the continuing nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, Mr. Boehner said he “would hope that the negotiations that are under way are serious negotiations, but I have my doubts.”

In a sign of the sensitivity of the Iran diplomacy, the White House didn’t tell its Middle East allies-including Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates-about Mr. Obama’s October letter to Mr. Khamenei, according to people briefed on the correspondence and representatives of allied countries.

Leaders from these countries have voiced growing concern in recent weeks that the U.S. is preparing to significantly soften its demands in the nuclear talks with Tehran. They said they worry the deal could allow Iran to gain the capacity to produce nuclear weapons in the future.

Arab leaders also fear Washington’s emerging rapprochement with Tehran could come at the expense of their security and economic interests across the Middle East. These leaders have accused the U.S. of keeping them in the dark about its diplomatic engagements with Tehran.

The Obama administration launched secret talks with Iran in the Omani capital of Muscat in mid-2012, but didn’t notify Washington’s Mideast allies of the covert diplomatic channel until late 2013.

Senior U.S. officials declined to discuss Mr. Obama’s letter to Mr. Khamenei after questions from The Wall Street Journal.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday declined to comment on what he called “private correspondence” between the president and world leaders, but acknowledged U.S. officials in the past have discussed the Islamic State campaign with Iranian officials on the sidelines of international nuclear talks. He added the negotiations remain centered on Iran’s nuclear program and reiterated that the U.S. isn’t cooperating militarily with Iran on the Islamic State fight.

Administration officials didn’t deny the letter’s existence when questioned by foreign diplomats in recent days.

Mr. Khamenei has proved a fickle diplomatic interlocutor for Mr. Obama in the past six years.

Mr. Obama sent two letters to Iran’s 75-year-old supreme leader during the first half of 2009, calling for improvements in U.S.-Iran ties, which had been frozen since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Tehran.

Mr. Khamenei never directly responded to the overtures, according to U.S. officials. And Iran’s security forces cracked down hard that year on nationwide protests that challenged the re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad .

Mr. Khamenei is believed to be the decision maker on the nuclear program. ASSOCIATED PRESS

U.S.-Iran relations have thawed considerably since the election of President Hasan Rouhani in June 2013. He and Mr. Obama shared a 15-minute phone call in September 2013, and Messrs. Kerry and Zarif have regularly held direct talks on the nuclear diplomacy and regional issues.

Still, Mr. Khamenei has often cast doubt on the prospects for better relations with Washington. He has criticized the U.S. military campaign against Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL, claiming it is another attempt by Washington and the West to weaken the Islamic world.

“America, Zionism, and especially the veteran expert of spreading divisions-the wicked government of Britain-have sharply increased their efforts of creating divisions between the Sunnis and Shiites,” Mr. Khamenei said in a speech last month, according to a copy of it on his website. “They created al Qaeda and [Islamic State] in order to create divisions and to fight against the Islamic Republic, but today, they have turned on them.”

Current and former U.S. officials have said Mr. Obama has focused on communicating with Mr. Khamenei specifically because they believe the cleric will make all the final decisions on Iran’s nuclear program and the fight against Islamic State.

Mr. Rouhani is seen as navigating a difficult balance of gaining Mr. Khamenei’s approval for his foreign policy decisions while trying to satisfy Iranian voters who elected him in the hope of seeing Iran re-engage with the Western world.

A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency checks the enrichment process inside the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in January. ENLARGE
A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency checks the enrichment process inside the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in January. EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The emergence of Islamic State has drastically changed both Washington’s and Tehran’s policies in the Middle East.

Mr. Obama was elected on the pledge of ending Washington’s war in Iraq. But over the past three months, he has resumed a U.S. air war in the Arab country, focused on weakening Islamic State’s hold of territory in western and northern Iraq.

Iran has had to mobilize its own military resources to fight against Islamic State, according to senior Iranian and U.S. officials.

Tehran’s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has sent military advisers into Iraq to help the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a close Iranian ally. The IRGC has also worked with Syrian President Assad’s government, and Shiite militias from across the Mideast, to conduct military operations inside Syria.

U.S. officials have stressed that they are not coordinating with Tehran on the fight against Islamic State.

But the State Department has confirmed that senior U.S. officials have discussed Iraq with Mr. Zarif on the sidelines of nuclear negotiations in Vienna. U.S. diplomats have also passed on messages to Tehran via Mr. Abadi’s government in Baghdad and through the offices of Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, among the most powerful religious leaders in the Shiite world.

Among the messages conveyed to Tehran, according to U.S. officials, is that U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria aren’t aimed at weakening Tehran or its allies.

“We’ve passed on messages to the Iranians through the Iraqi government and Sistani saying our objective is against ISIL,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on these communications. “We’re not using this as a platform to reoccupy Iraq or to undermine Iran.”

-Michael R. Crittenden contributed to this article.

Write to Jay Solomon at jay.solomon@wsj.com and Carol E. Lee atcarol.lee@wsj.com

Foreign jihadists flocking to Iraq and Syria on ‘unprecedented scale’ – UN

An image grab taken from a video released by Islamic State group's official Al-Raqqa site via YouTube. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

An image grab taken from a video released by Islamic State group’s official Al-Raqqa site via YouTube. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

By Spencer Ackerman:

The United Nations has warned that foreign jihadists are swarming into the twin conflicts in Iraq and Syria on “an unprecedented scale” and from countries that had not previously contributed combatants to global terrorism.

A report by the UN security council, obtained by the Guardian, finds that 15,000 people have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State (Isis) and similar extremist groups. They come from more than 80 countries, the report states, “including a tail of countries that have not previously faced challenges relating to al-Qaida”.

The UN said it was uncertain whether al-Qaida would benefit from the surge. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida who booted Isis out of his organisation, “appears to be maneuvering for relevance”, the report says.

The UN’s numbers bolster recent estimates from US intelligence about the scope of the foreign fighter problem, which the UN report finds to have spread despite the Obama administration’s aggressive counter-terrorism strikes and global surveillance dragnets.

“Numbers since 2010 are now many times the size of the cumulative numbers of foreign terrorist fighters between 1990 and 2010 – and are growing,” says the report, produced by a security council committee that monitors al-Qaida.

The UN report did not list the 80-plus countries that it said were the source of fighters flowing fighters into Iraq and Syria. But in recent months, Isis supporters have appeared in places as unlikely as the Maldives, and its videos proudly display jihadists with Chilean-Norwegian and other diverse backgrounds.

“There are instances of foreign terrorist fighters from France, the Russian Federation and and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland operating together,” it states. More than 500 British citizens are believed to have travelled to the region since 2011.

Read more at The Guardian

Kurdish TV Parodies Islamic State as Sex-Crazed Morons

 

Washington Free Beacon, by Sam Taylor:

A video released by KurdSat TV in Iraq portrays Islamic State fighters as sex-crazed idiots obsessed with blood, killing, and milking male goats.

The parody video, translated and published by the Middle East Media Research Institute on Sunday, is another production in a series of indigenous Middle Eastern anti-IS propaganda films. Both Palestinians and Iraqis have joined in on the IS-bashing.

A group of Kurdish actors dressed in comically fake beards and military garb sang and played instruments against a backdrop of the IS flag, all while merrily strumming their machine guns and intermittently fighting with swords.

“We are bearded, dirty, and filthy; we are brainless with nothing in our heads,” the mock jihadists sing. “We kill the dove in the sky and bring history to the present.”

The refrain of the song effectively sums up the stupidity of IS militants:

We are ISIS, we are ISIS

We milk the goat even if it is male.

The remaining verses harp on the jihadists’ terrible music, awful odor, and obsession with sex and violence.

“We strive for Jihad and sex, we are comfortable and happy to see blood,” the mock jihadists sing. “Our pockets are full of Qatari money, our language is bullets and cutting.”

Former Iraqi MP Ayad Jamal Al-Din: A Civil State Is the Only Solution to Combat ISIS

 

Published on Oct 20, 2014 by MEMRITVVideos

In a recent TV interview, former Iraqi MP Ayad Jamal Al-Din called for the establishment of a civil state in Iraq based on man-made law and equality, rather than on Islamic jurisprudence, as the only way to combat ISIS. He further said that there were thousands of mosques in the U.S. and worldwide that incited and prepared people to join ISIS. “Islam has been politicized and is used as a sword,” he said in the Al-Iraqiya TV interview, which aired on October 17.

Obama Throws the Free Syrian Army Under the Bus

Smoke rises following an airstrike by US-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Oct. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) LEFTERIS PITARAKIS — AP

Smoke rises following an airstrike by US-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, Oct. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
LEFTERIS PITARAKIS — AP

PJ Media, By Patrick Poole, October 16, 2014

For the past three years, the Obama administration has hailed the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as the saviors of Syria — the “vetted moderate” force that was going to topple the butcher Assad. Because of that, the administration provided training, money and weapons to prop up the FSA (the word is they sent lawyers too).

But according to a report last night by Hannah Allam at McClatchy, Obama is now throwing the FSA under bus:

John Allen, the retired Marine general in charge of coordinating the U.S.-led coalition’s response to the Islamic State, confirmed Wednesday what Syrian rebel commanders have complained about for months – that the United States is ditching the old Free Syrian Army and building its own local ground force to use primarily in the fight against the Islamist extremists.

“At this point, there is not formal coordination with the FSA,” Allen told reporters at the State Department.

That was perhaps the bluntest answer yet to the question of how existing Syrian rebel forces might fit into the U.S. strategy to fight the Islamic State. Allen said the United States’ intent is to start from scratch in creating a home-grown, moderate counterweight to the Islamic State.

For most of the three years of the Syrian conflict, the U.S. ground game hinged on rebel militias that are loosely affiliated under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, or FSA. Their problems were no secret: a lack of cohesion, uneven fighting skills and frequent battlefield coordination with the al Qaida loyalists of the Nusra Front.

Last month I reported here at PJ Media about the coordination of the “vetted moderate” FSA with Jabhat al-Nusra and even ISIS. That coordination was later confirmed by a senior FSA commander.

Those reports came just as Congress was considering a vote to spend another $500 million to train their administration’s “vetted moderate” partners. That funding wasapproved by both the House and the Senate before Congress left town for the election break. With Obama cutting the FSA loose less than a month later, those who voted against the funding are going to look like geniuses.

Now that the FSA is safely under the bus it remains to be seen exactly who Obama is going to enlist to train and fight. Most of those who can fight are already in the fight. What are they going to do now, put out an ad on Craig’s List?

As one observer noted last night, Syria watchers should keep an eye out for the following ad showing up in the help wanted section of Middle East newspapers:

Wanted, Multicultural, non-sectarian, Jeffersonian democrats interested in military careers. English a plus. Drug test required.

Under Obama’s bus must be getting crowded…

5 Key Implications If Baghdad Falls to ISIS

ISIL-surrounds-balad-air-baseBy Patrick Poole:

Reports that ISIS has surrounded Baghdad and are quickly closing in on the Baghdad international airport (armed with MANPADS no less) are troubling. Baghdad itself has been rocked by a series of VBIED attacks in the past 24 hours by ISIS, indicating that the battle for Baghdad has begun.

The possible fall of Baghdad could be the most significant development in the War on Terror since 9/11. And yet, many among the DC foreign policy “smart set” were not long ago mocking such a scenario.

So what happens if such a situation comes to pass? Here are five key implications (by no means limited to these) if Baghdad falls to ISIS:

1) ISIS will not be claiming to the be the Islamic State, they will BE the Islamic State

Symbolism doesn’t matter much to your average post-modern Westerner, but it still does in the Islamic world and the capture of Baghdad will hold enormous value. For 500 years Baghdad was the seat of the Abbasid Caliphate, and falling to ISIS would allow them to reclaim that mantle. Such an event will electrify the Middle East and beyond, with many Muslims holding firmly to the belief that the abolition of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924 by Ataturk is seen as one of the key contributing factors in the decline of the Muslim world over the past century. No amount of State Department hashtags or tweets, nor pronouncements by Sheikh Barack Obama and Imam John Kerry that there is nothing Islamic about the Islamic State, will be able to negate any claims by ISIS to be the revived caliphate.

2) The Great Reconciliation between jihadist groups will begin

Much of the Obama administration’s anti-ISIS efforts have been trying to leverage other “vetted moderate” groups in Syria against ISIS, with some “smart set” thinkers even advocating engaging “moderate Al-Qaeda” to that end. We are already seeing jihadist groups gravitating towards ISIS, such as the announcement this week by Pakistani Taliban leaders pledging their allegiance to the Islamic State. Other groups of younger jihadis are breaking away from Al-Qaeda franchises in North Africa and defecting to ISIS. Despite bitter rivalries between ISIS and other jihadist groups in Syria, namely Al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, they will be hard-pressed to deny ISIS’ caliphate claims if they do take Baghdad. In that part of the world, nothing succeeds like success. If Baghdad falls, jihadist groups, some of whom have been openly hostile or remained neutral, will quickly align behind ISIS. And the horrid sound coming out of Washington DC will be of foreign policy paradigms imploding.

3) What of US personnel in Iraq?

The US Embassy in Baghdad is the largest embassy on the planet. And after Obama sent 350 more US military personnel to guard the US Embassy last month, there are more than 1,100 US service members in Baghdad protecting the embassy and the airport. That doesn’t include embassy personnel, American aid workers, reporters, etc. also in Baghdad. ISIS doesn’t have to capture the airport to prevent flights from taking off there (e.g. Hamas rockets from Gaza prompting the temporary closure of Israel’s Ben Gurion airport this past summer). If flights can’t get out of Baghdad, how will the State Department and Pentagon evacuate US personnel? An image like the last helicopter out of Saigon would be of considerable propaganda value to ISIS and other jihadist groups. Former CNN reporter Peter Arnett, who witnessed the fall of Saigon in April 1975, raised this possibility back in June. It’s not like the US has prestige to spare internationally, and the fall of Baghdad will mark the beginning of the end of American influence in the Middle East, much like it was in Southest Asia in 1975.

4) If ISIS captures Baghdad, it will be with weapons provided by the US to the Iraqi Army and “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups

Since their push back into Iraq this summer, ISIS has regularly paraded captured weapons and vehicles that have been provided by the US to the Iraqi Army, which rapidly collapsed in the face of the ISIS advance. ISIS has subsequently used these US-provided weapons to repel attacks by Iraqi forces. A report published last month by UK-based Conflict Armament Research documented the use of US-provided Humvees, armored personnel carriers, and firearms by ISIS. In addition, ISIS has at least 52 US-made M198 howitzers with GPS aiming systems that have a 20 mile range that will undoubtedly be used in their assault on Baghdad. Yesterday, Charles Lister of the Brookings Institutetweeted out recent images of ISIS fighters equipped with M79 Osa anti-tank weapons that had been provided by Saudi Arabia to the “vetted moderate” Free Syrian Army. The potential propaganda value of ISIS capturing Baghdad with US weapons will be enormous.

5) The Fall of Baghdad will herald an unparalleled sectarian war in the Middle East and wide scale regional instability

The fighting in Syria and Iraq has been part of the regional sectarian competition between Sunni Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States against Shia Iran and its allies in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria and Hezbollah. ISIS and Sunni Syrian rebel groups have been proxies in this fight. If Baghdad falls to ISIS, it will be all-hands-on-deck across the entire Middle East, with a sectarian war not seen since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and sectarian/ethnic cleansing not seen since the Balkan wars. We are already seeing Shiite militias killing Sunnis indiscriminately in Iraq and widespread ethnic and religious cleansing by ISIS in Northern Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, our NATO ally Turkey is now bombing the same Kurds who are fighting ISIS. Because of these sectarian attacks millions of refugees have already flooded to Syria’s neighboring states, destablizing countries like Lebanon and Jordan. The ISIS push in Anbar province in Iraq has caused 180,000 more to flee, according to the UN. The potential humanitarian disaster from the dislocation of millions in the region could be without parallel.

Read more at PJ Media

Turkish President Declares Lawrence of Arabia a Bigger Enemy than ISIS

1413221153467.cachedBy Jamie Dettmer:

In a stunning speech, Erdogan railed against Western “spies” and journalists and seemed to endorse the ISIS plan to redraw the region’s borders.
GAZIANTEP, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took on the iconic Lawrence of Arabia Monday in a furious anti-Western diatribe.  The Turkish president compared the outside meddling in the region now to the role the renowned British army officer played during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans during World War I. And Western diplomats here say the tirade bears a rather striking resemblance to some of the propaganda that has come out of the so-called Islamic State, widely known by the acronym ISIS or ISIL.

Last week, stung by Western criticism of Turkey’s conspicuous absence from the U.S.-led air combat against the terror organization, and the refusal of the Turkish government to rescue the besieged town of Kobani, just across the Syrian border, Erdoğan insisted he had no sympathy for the jihadists.

But on one very important point of history and geography it now appears there’s a serious convergence of views between ISIS and Erdoğan. In his speech Monday at a university in Istanbul, the Turkish president blasted the Sykes-Picot Agreement, a secret understanding (signed behind Lawrence’s back) that divided up the Middle East after World War I between British and French spheres of influence. That deal opened the way for a British vow to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine and led to borders drawn by the European powers that created modern Syrian and Iraq. Historian David Fromkin summed up the mess that resulted in the title of his book The Peace to End All Peace.

“Each conflict in this region has been designed a century ago,” said Erdoğan. “It is our duty to stop this.”

In point of fact, T. E. Lawrence was opposed to the secret Anglo-French agreement, because it reneged on promises given the Arabs by London in a bid to persuade them to revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule. He tried mightily to sabotage the deal. But Erdoğan is either unaware of that or sought to simplify history.

ISIS, meanwhile, has done some simplifying of its own, and on similar lines. Its militants say explicitly they are out to erase the borders that Sykes-Picot established across most of the modern Middle East. In the summer, after sweeping in from Syria to seize Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, they produced a video called, yes,  ”The End of Sykes Pico,” in which they blew up a border outpost and leveled part of the earthen barrier on the Iraqi-Syrian border. They declared triumphantly they would bulldoze other Western-imposed borders as well.

The Erdoğan speech was suffused with an angry anti-Western narrative—he also tilted at Western journalists, accusing them of being spies—and will no doubt thrill some of Erdoğan’s supporters. In southern Turkey, some local officials in his Justice and Development Party (AKP) express sympathy for ISIS. But it will ring alarm bells in Western capitals at a time coalition officials are redoubling their efforts to try to persuade a reluctant Turkish government to play a forward-leaning part in the American-led war on the jihadists.

Turkey is considered crucial if President Barack Obama’s war aim to “degrade and defeat” ISIS is to be accomplished. The country has been the main logistical base for the Islamic militants, the main transit country for foreign fighters to enter neighboring Syria and a key source of it’s revenue from the smuggling of oil tapped in captured oil fields. In his determination to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, Erdoğan has been accused of at best turning a blind eye to the rise of ISIS and at worst actively encouraging it.

Read more at The Daily Beast

Also see:

Why Turkey and the Administration have Doomed The Kurds in Kobani

ISIS Flag atop hill overlooking Kobani, Syria Source: AFP

ISIS Flag atop hill overlooking Kobani, Syria Source: AFP

By Jerry Gordon:

This was a tough day in Kobani, Syria for the 2 to 3,000 Kurdish YPG fighters desperately trying to stave off with light arms the onslaught of ISIS forces equipped with US and Russian tanks and artillery pouring fire into the shrinking city center.   According to a Bloomberg October 4, 2014 report, those fighters in Kobani   “feel furious and deserted by the US” according to Faysal Sariyildiz, a pro-Kurdish legislator.  The siege is now past 14 days, and many believe the end of the Kurdish town bestride the Turkish border may be at hand. The desperation of the brave YPG fighters was reflected in a female commander who undertook the first suicide attack on an ISIS outpost in the eastern area of Kobani, detonating a grenade, killing her and a number of Salafist jihadis.  Flags of ISIS emblazoned with the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith now do the hilltops overlooking the embattled town.

But no coalition ‘partner’, neither the Turks ringing  the border with  tanks, while  tending to the huddled mass of more than 180,000 Kurdish refugees, nor the US-led coalition of allegedly 40 countries are coming to the relief of these valiant Kurdish YPG fighters.  The possible imminent fall of Kobani  underscores the failure of the Obama strategy of relying solely on an air campaign  that so far has been a failure to “degrade and destroy” ISIS.   A Wall Street Journal  analysis indicated that  ISIS has proven to be resilient in the face of the coalition air assaults, held onto territory and potentially may expand it further with the imminent fall of Kobani.  A Pentagon briefing today estimated the cost of the air campaign to date at over $1.1 billion.

It was a tough day for Jen Psaki, the State Department spokesperson fending off questions from reporters during the Daily Press Briefing  about why no US relief or resources aren’t coming to the aid of the embattled Kurds in Kobani.   Moreover, there were nagging questions as to why Vice President Biden had to apologize to Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the Saudis for telling the truth. The truth about their complicit behavior that allowed ISIS to metastasize into the terrorist Army of the self-declared Caliphate of the Islamic State.

The fiasco of the Obama strategy of military assistance was underscored in a New York Times report on the sources of ammunition obtained from ISIS caches and analyzed by a private group Conflict Armament Research that revealed sources were US, Russian and Chinese.  A spokesperson for CRA commented, “The lesson learned here is that the defense and security forces that have been supplied ammunition by external nations really don’t have the capacity to maintain custody of that ammunition.”

Last Sunday, the Lisa Benson Show interviewed US Army Brig. Gen. (ret.) Ernie Audino, Dr. Jala Abbas and Washington, DC-based Kurdish Human Rights.org leader about the lack of Administration support for besieged Kobani.   Their concerns about the looming humanitarian disaster in Kobani were also reflected in a letter circulating among Kurdish Americans presenting pleas for help to both the Administration and Congress. It noted:

Kobani has been surrounded for almost two weeks; the latest reports indicate that the city is under heavy bombardment and parts of the city may have fallen

If democratic nations fail to provide immediate military support to Kurdish fighters, Kobani will suffer the same tragic fate as Shingal referring to the massacres of Christian and other minorities in Iraq this summer.

Perhaps  the most insightful analysis of this looming disaster in Kobani came from  former Reagan era OMB Director and veteran Wall Street banker,  David Stockman , in his Contra Corner blog commentary, The Siege Of Kobani: Obama’s Syrian Fiasco In Motion .  Stockman is as disturbed as many Americans about why the valiant Kurds in Kobani are being abandoned to their doomed fate.  He clearly is in command of Kurdish history in the modern era and the failure at the Treaty of Versailles following WWI to the present to recognize a non-Arab ethnic state of more than 30 million Kurds drawn from enclaves in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran.  Stockman is unforgiving about the current duplicity of the Islamist regime of President Erdogan of Turkey, the Saudis and the baleful failure of the Administration to exert leadership in the face of the provocative barbarism of ISIS and even its acolytes here in the US.  Stockman presents the real-politick behind the doomed plight of the PYG fighters trapped in Kobani.

Stockman addresses these central questions:

Self-evidently the lightly armed Kurdish militias desperately holding out in Kobani are fighting the right enemy—-that is, the Islamic State. So why has Obama’s grand coalition not been able to relieve the siege?  Why haven’t American bombers and cruise missiles, for instance, been able to destroy the American tanks and artillery which a terrifying band of butchers has brought to bear on several hundred thousand innocent Syrian Kurds who have made this enclave their home for more than a century? Why has not NATO ally Turkey, with a 600,000 man military, 3,500 tanks and 1,000 modern aircraft and helicopters, done anything meaningful to help the imperiled Kurds?

Read more at New English Review

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Iran Orders Elite Troops: Lay Off U.S. Forces in Iraq

1412594766052.cachedBy Eli Lake:
The last time Iranian and American forces were in Iraq, the two sides quietly fought each other. Now Iran’s Quds Force officers in Iraq are purposely leaving the Americans alone.
Pay no attention to the Shi’ite militias threatening to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. The elite Iranian forces backing those militias have been ordered not to attack the Americans.

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

What will it take for us to stop doing business with Qatar?

UN-GENERAL ASSEMBLY-QATAR

We’ve let the desert state face both ways on funding extremism.

The Spectator, Simon Heffer, 4 October 2014:

On 17 June, a meeting of the Henry Jackson Society, held in the House of Commons, discussed (according to the minutes published on the society’s website) how a tribal elder in northern Cameroon who runs a car import business in Qatar has become one of the main intermediaries between kidnappers from Boko Haram and its offshoot Ansaru and those seeking to free hostages. It was alleged that embezzlement of funds going to Qatar via car imports might be disguising ransom payments. It was also alleged that Qatar was involved in financing Islamist militant groups in West Africa, helping with weapons and ideological training, and (with Saudi Arabia) funding the building of mosques in Mali and Nigeria that preach a highly intolerant version of Islam.

This was far from the only time such accusations have been levelled. Yet Qatar is supposed to be one of our allies, supporting air strikes against the Islamic State. Its ruler even thinks his enormous wealth entitles him to blag his way into Her Majesty’s carriage at Royal Ascot. Given Qatar’s questionable role in the current tide of savage Islamism, should its ruler be allowed anywhere near our Queen? And should they be allowed to buy up our country, as they have done relentlessly since the crash of 2008?

After the overthrow of President Morsi of Egypt, Qatar became a place of refuge for the Muslim Brotherhood. However, on 12 September it asked several leading Brotherhood figures to leave. They duly did, not in outrage or indignation, but apologising for causing embarrassment. Clearly, they felt a debt to the Qataris, and a senior Brotherhood spokesman, Amr Darrag, said what it was. He issued a statement thanking Qataris for their support to ‘the Egyptian people in their revolution against the military junta’.

Qatar asked its former friends to leave because of pressure applied by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Some may come to London: there is already a group of Brotherhood members in Cricklewood, under scrutiny from the authorities. But even now, Qatar remains home to an array of exiled Islamists, and thus a focus of suspicion to its neighbours. Bahrain joined Saudi Arabia and the UAE in withdrawing its ambassador from Doha this spring. It has been widely reported that Qatari money funds extremists in Libya, and when these ambassadors were recalled, the Zionist Organisation of America asked the US government to declare Qatar a state sponsor of terrorism.

The Emir of Qatar’s personal fortune and the country’s sovereign wealth fund are rumoured to amount to £50 billion. Qataris own substantial amounts of real estate — such as the Shard, the Olympic Village, One Hyde Park, a part of Canary Wharf, the United States Embassy building in Grosvenor Square, the Chelsea Barracks development and Harrods. They have large stakes in the stock exchange, Sainsburys and Barclays bank. Almost all Britain’s liquefied natural gas comes from Qatar, accounting for a quarter of our gas needs. The desert state has also bought the 2022 World Cup — rather like playing a cricket Test series at the South Pole — in a fashion so seemingly corrupt that there have been widespread calls for a boycott.

Sir John Jenkins, the British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, has compiled a report exposing extremist activity among members of the Brotherhood and their links to jihadis. It named three Muslim charities in Britain that seemed to be sending funds to extremists in the Middle East. At the very least this should lead Britain to expel members of the Brotherhood, close down the charities and sequester their funds; but the problem will never be dealt with until the source of the funding is cut off. At some stage the British government must ask itself a simple question: however much we want Qatari gas, how much longer can we permit commercial relations with such people?

In June the American magazine The Atlantic asserted that Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qa’eda proxy in Syria, had somehow received ‘Qatar’s economic and military largesse’. There is no suggestion this was sanctioned or funded by the Qatari government: but every suggestion it came from interest groups based in Qatar and wealthy Qatari nationals. The problem has been around for years. Wikileaks published a memorandum from Hillary Clinton, when US secretary of state, saying Qatar had the worst record of counter-terrorism co-operation of any ally of the United States.

The Qatari foreign minister, Khalid al-Attiyah, called claims such as The Atlantic’s ‘Qatar-bashing’, and denied the country or anyone in it was bankrolling IS. Certainly, most of the evidence for IS’s funding points to groups and individuals in Saudi Arabia. However, Saudi Arabia may provide training camps for anti-IS groups from Syria approved by the Americans. In response to a US request for similar assistance, the Qataris said it would be ‘premature’. Meanwhile, the Americans continue to accuse Qatar and Kuwait of being ‘permissive environments’ for the funding of terrorism, and believe Qatar has unhealthily close links with Jabhat al-Nusra. Certainly, Mr Attiyah has sought to play down its activities by pointing instead to atrocities committed by those loyal to Bashar al-Assad.

Israel has driven America’s scepticism over Qatar, accusing it of funding Hamas and of exporting terror not just through Jabhat al-Nusra but through IS. A German minister, Gerd Müller, then said that when the question was raised about funding IS, ‘The key word there is Qatar.’ This brought an immediate repudiation from the Qataris, who argued they had been among the first to condemn the beheading of the murdered American hostage James Foley.

However, the Americans — whose largest base in the Middle East is, ironically, at Al Udeid in Doha — believe Qatar has funded extremists not merely in Syria and Libya but also in Tunisia, Mali and Iraq. Another Wikileaks cable revealed Meir Degan, a former head of Mossad, telling the US that ‘Qatar is trying to cosy up to everyone’, and warning America to close its bases there.

Qatar’s pretence that it is an honest broker in the Middle East, attempting to see all sides of an argument, may wash in Doha. It won’t, however, resonate in countries such as Britain and America whose citizens are targeted by jihadis financed by people who may be Qataris, and who have enjoyed Qatari hospitality. Qatar needs to be reminded that the civilised parts of the world with which it does business won’t tolerate apologists for savage extremists. It can’t face both ways on this. Britain must expel members of the Brotherhood and sequester their funds. And it must tell Qatar that unless it stops turning a blind eye to some of its people funding murder and extremism, and stops equivocating about extremists, its assets will be frozen and trade with it suspended until it does.

Simon Heffer, is a columnist for the Daily Mail and a former deputy editor of The Spectator.

500 Ft. Riley Soldiers Deployed To Iraq

big_red_one

It’s unclear as to whether they will be wearing boots or not.

Truth Revolt, By Larry O’Connor:

The “Big Red One” is stepping up yet again. 500 troops from the Army’s 1st Infantry are to deploy to Iraq from Fort Riley, Kansas next month.

Fox News has details from the Pentagon’s announcement Thursday:

More than 200 hundred of the soldiers will be based in Iraq at U.S. Joint Operations Centers (JOCs) in Baghdad and the Kurdish capital of Irbil, and the rest of the contingent will operate out of U.S. bases in the region under the U.S. Central Command, Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said at a Pentagon briefing.

The initial plan was to have 138 of the troops at the operations center in Baghdad, 68 at the operations center in Irbil and 10 at the Iraqi Defense Ministry, Kirby said. The 200-plus troops will be part of the 475-troop contingent President Barack Obama authorized last month to serve in Iraq as advisers to the Iraqi National Security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

However, the 200 from the 1st ID will not “embed” with the other advisers at the brigade and headquarters levels with the Iraqi and Kurdish forces, Kirby said. Instead, the 1st ID troops will perform duties at the JOCs, he said.

This is the first deployment of US troops since America pulled out all remaining forces in 2011 when President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton were unable to reach a Status of Forces agreement with the Iraqi government.

The President has insisted that American troops will not be used in any combat role in the current offensive against ISIS. The local station in Ft. Riley’s Kansas, KMBC, says that local commanders insist the troops will be used only in an advisory capacity in Iraq.

Also see:

 

Obama Praises Muslim Cleric Who Backed Fatwa on Killing of U.S. Soldiers

President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly / AP

President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo:

President Barack Obama favorably quoted and praised on Wednesday in his speech before the United Nations a controversial Muslim cleric whose organization has reportedly endorsed the terror group Hamas and supported a fatwa condoning the murder of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Obama in his remarks offered praise to controversial cleric Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah and referred to him as a moderate Muslim leader who can help combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL or ISIS) radical ideology.

However, Bin Bayyah himself has long been engulfed in controversy for many of his views, including the reported backing of a 2004 fatwa that advocated violent resistance against Americans fighting in Iraq.

This is not the first time that the Obama administration has extoled Bin Bayyah, who also has served as the vice president of a Muslim scholars group founded by a radical Muslim Brotherhood leader who has called “for the death of Jews and Americans,” according to Fox News and other reports.

The State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau (CT) was forced to issue multiple apologies earlier this year after the Washington Free Beacon reported on its promotion of Bin Bayyah on Twitter.

“This should not have been tweeted and has since been deleted,” the CT Bureau tweeted at the time after many expressed anger over the original endorsement of Bin Bayyah.

However, it appears that Obama and the White House are still supportive of Bin Bayyah, who, despite his past statements, is still hailed by some as a moderate alternative to ISIL and al Qaeda.

“The ideology of ISIL or al Qaeda or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed, confronted, and refuted in the light of day,” Obama said before the U.N., according to a White House transcript of his remarks.

“Look at the new Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies—Sheikh bin Bayyah described its purpose: ‘We must declare war on war, so the outcome will be peace upon peace,’” Obama said, quoting the controversial cleric.

Concern over the administration’s relationship with Bin Bayyah started as early as 2013, when outrage ensued after he was reported to have met with Obama’s National Security Council staff at the White House.

While Bin Bayyah has condemned the actions of groups such as Boko Haram and ISIL, he also has taken controversial positions against Israel.

He issued in 2009 a fatwa “barring ‘all forms of normalization’ with Israel,” according to a Fox report on the White House meeting.

Additionally, the notorious 2004 fatwa permitting armed resistance against U.S. military personnel in Iraq reportedly stated that “resisting occupation troops” is a “duty” for all Muslims, according to reports about the edict.

Patrick Poole, a reporter and terrorism analyst who has long tracked Bin Bayyah, expressed shock that the Obama administration would endorse the cleric on the world stage.

“It is simply amazing that just a few months ago the State Department had to publicly apologize for tweeting out it’s support for Bin Bayyah, only to have Barack Obama go before the leaders of the entire world and publicly endorse Bin Bayyah’s efforts,” Poole said.

“It seems that nothing can stop this administration’s determination to rehabilitate Bin Bayyah’s image, transforming him from the Islamic cleric who issued the fatwa to kill Americans in Iraq and calling for the death of Jews to the de facto White House Islamic mufti,” he said.

This type of mentality has contributed to the administration’s foreign policy failures in the region,” Poole said.

“This is a snapshot of why this administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East is a complete catastrophe,” he said. “The keystone of their policy has been that so-called ‘moderate Islamists’ were going to be the great counter to al Qaeda. But if you take less than 30 seconds to do a Google search on any of these ‘moderate Islamists,’ you immediately find they are just a degree or two from the most hardcore jihadis and have little to no difference when it comes to condoning violence.”

A White House official said that the president’s remarks speak for themselves and declined to add anything further.