When Women’s Issues Hide Humanity’s Problem

20080404_niqabBy Diana West:

You may have missed it, but March 8 was International Women’s Day, a holiday unconnected to a religious rite or person, and with no national or even seasonal significance. It is socialist in origin, and it was Lenin himself who made it an official holiday in the Soviet Union. Not surprisingly, it is now a rite of the United Nations.

In these origins lie the day’s basic fallacy: that womanhood is an international — global — political state of being; that there is a universal female political condition, which urges, a la Marx, “Women of the world, unite!” Against what? The common foe — men.

As with Marxism itself, for such a sisterhood to coalesce, even on paper or in elite committees and multinational organizations, the profound cultural and religious differences that shape and guide people’s lives have to be minimized, denied or actually destroyed. In real life, however, culture and religion will out, as they did on this year’s International Women’s Day.

In post-U.S. Iraq, Reuters reported on the International Women’s Day activities of “about two dozen” women — a brave handful — who demonstrated in Baghdad against new, sharia-based legislation now before Iraq’s parliament. Known as the Ja’afari Law after an early Shiite imam, the legislation would allow Iraq’s Shiite Islamic clergy to control marriage, divorce and inheritance. Among other things, this would permit marriage between a man and a 9-year-old girl, according to the marital example of Islam’s prophet Mohammed. Indeed, by the Gregorian calendar, as The Associated Press pointed out, such legislation would apply to girls who are 8 years and 8 months old. (The Islamic calendar year is 10 or 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar year.)

Guess who has approved of this child rape legislation — some den of social outcasts? No, the ministers of Iraq’s cabinet. They preside, of course, over a government created in large measure by great expenditures of U.S. blood and treasure. The draft law now awaits a parliamentary vote.

The Baghdad protesters shouted: “On this day of women, women of Iraq are in mourning.” At least two dozen of them are, anyway. But more than Iraq’s women should be in mourning. After all, child rape — not to mention marital rape and discriminatory divorce and inheritance practices also legalized in the draft legislation — shouldn’t be defined as “women’s” issues alone. If they are so pigeon-holed, by feminist implication, the modification of “male” behavior will ameliorate all. What these women are protesting, however, aren’t men or the “patriarchy” generally, but rather the brutal impact of Islam and its law on women, on children, on the family itself — the basis of civilization. It is here, in the treatment of the weak and the young, of motherhood, marriage and childhood, where core, existential differences between Islam and most of the world’s religions and cultures emerge. They are obscured as “women’s” issues.

In pre-withdrawal Afghanistan, the celebration of International Women’s Day took place inside the heavily guarded New Kabul Compound. It was an upbeat event, at least according to a Defense Department report, featuring several laudable and prominent Afghan women doctors, who naturally talked up education and the need to retain post-Taliban gains made on behalf of women in Afghanistan. Tragically, the State Department’s most recent report on the shockingly low state of human rights in Afghanistan reveals that such gains for women — not to mention children, boys and girls alike — are already mainly on paper only. As the armed utopians withdraw, the dust of tribal Islam settles.

Read more: Family Security Matters

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New Sunni Insurgency in Iraq

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Largely ignored by the global media, Iraq today stands on the brink of a renewed Sunni insurgency.  The emergent insurgency in Iraq is following the same sectarian pattern as the civil war in Syria and the growing violence in Lebanon. It also involves many of the same local and regional players.

The rising violence in Iraq is not, however, simply the result of a spillover from the Syrian war. It derives also from internal Iraqi dynamics. But these are themselves in significant ways comparable to the Syrian and Lebanese situations.

Over 9000 people were killed in fighting in Iraq in 2013.  This is not yet up to the levels of violence just prior to the surge, in the very worst days of the insurgency against U.S. forces and the sectarian bloodletting that accompanied it.  But it’s the highest since 2007.  This year, more than 2000 people have already lost their lives as a result of political violence in Iraq.

As of today, a coalition of Sunni insurgent groups control the city of Fallujah in Iraq’s Anbar province west of Baghdad.  The city of Ramadi  remains partially in insurgent hands, though its southern districts have been re-conquered by government forces in recent days.

Nor is the violence confined to Anbar province.  Rather, car bombings have become a near daily occurrence in Baghdad, and insurgent activity against Iraqi security forces and non-Sunni civilians is taking place in Nineveh, Mosul, Kirkuk and elsewhere in areas of high Sunni Arab population.

So who are these insurgents, and why have events in Iraq reached this crisis point?

As in Syria, a myriad of insurgent groups have emerged. But there are two main forces. These are ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and the Naqshbandi Army.

ISIS emerged in Iraq in 2004, and for a time constituted the official franchise of al-Qaeda in the country.  Under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by U.S. forces in 2005,  it became renowned for its brutal methods.

ISIS experienced a resurgence during the Syrian civil war, and today it controls much of Raqqa province in eastern Syria, including Raqqa city.

In February, 2014, ISIS was “expelled” from al-Qaeda because of its insanely brutal methods in northern Syria, which have included, for example, execution of civilians for smoking, and for swearing.

This movement is now an active force on the insurgent council that now governs Falluja.  Its fighters also rove freely in the vast deserts of western Anbar, making the desert highways unsafe for travelers and government forces.

Read more at Gloria Center

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Pro-Iranian Shiites to Legalize Marrying 9-Year-Old Girls in Iraq

16718Front Page, by :

Obama’s plan for Iraq has really worked out great. Iran is recreating Iraq in its own horrifying Islamic image.

About two dozen Iraqi women demonstrated on Saturday in Baghdad against a draft law approved by the Iraqi cabinet that would permit the marriage of nine-year-old girls and automatically give child custody to fathers.

“On this day of women, women of Iraq are in mourning,” the protesters shouted.

“We believe that this is a crime against humanity,” said Hanaa Eduar, a prominent Iraqi human rights activist. “It would deprive a girl of her right to live a normal childhood.”

Shi’ite Islamists have come to lead the government and look to impose their religious values on society at large.

It describes girls as reaching puberty at nine, making them fit for marriage, makes the father sole guardian of his children at two and condones a husband’s right to insist on sexual intercourse with his wife whenever he wishes.

The legislation is referred to as the Ja’afari Law, named after the sixth Shi’ite imam Ja’afar al-Sadiq, who founded his own school of jurisprudence.

The draft was put forward by Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimari, a member of the Shi’ite Islamist Fadila party.

Mohammed, the Muslim prophet, married a six-year-old, so Islamic law has no problem with raping nine-year-olds.

The Ayatollahs’ Secret Arms Deal with Iraq

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The Obama administration, which is pushing for a final nuclear with the Islamic Republic of Iran and an easing of sanctions, has repeatedly told the American people to trust the Iranian government and that Iran is a rational state actor. Billions of dollars have already flowed into the Ayatollahs government, sanctions on some trade sections have been lifted, Iran’s currency (Rial) is regaining its value, Tehran’s non-oil exports are on the rise as it is starting to feel the benefits of easing international sanctions, and Iran has increased its oil exports and production.

According to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Customs Office, Iran hit a record high in exports with $37.36 billions worth of non-oil products exported during the course of the past eleven months— from March 21, 2013 to February 20, 2014.

Iranian leaders have markedly increased their oil exports, particularly to China and India over the past few months. Iran’s oil exports increased significantly after the interim nuclear deal. According to Iran’s semi-official news agency Press TV, Iran’s oil sales picked up from 1.06 million barrels per day (bpd) to 1.32 million bpd.

A confluence of interests brought Iranian leaders to a desperate political and economic position, and ultimately to the negotiating table for nuclear talks. The main concerns of the Ayatollahs were the economic sanctions and high inflation that endangered the hold on power of the ruling Iranian cleric.

The major question is: what is the Obama administration doing in response? Instead of setting any deals based on American or the international community’s terms, the Obama administration is setting the nuclear deals based on the interests of the Iranian leaders. This is followed by a release of billions of dollars and the lifting of sanctions.

More importantly, how have the Iranian leaders responded to these kind offers?  These economic and political moves have emboldened and strengthened the geopolitical and economic status of the Ayatollahs.

A few weeks ago, in a secret arms deal, the Islamic Republic and the Iraqi Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Maliki signed an arms deal worth millions of dollars. The deal was recently revealed by Reuters news agency.  Based on the recent report by Reuters, Tehran has signed a $195 million arms deal with the central Iraqi government. Accordingly, Iranian and Iraqi defense officials have signed eight agreements through which Iran will sell Baghdad arms, military communications equipment, ammunition for tanks artillery, mortars, and ammunition for U.S.-made M-12 assault rifles, among other weaponry.

First of all, it is worth noting that this arms deal is in violation of the United Nations embargo on weapons sales by Iran. But the Obama administration has not seriously reacted about this arms deal and is still continuing the nuclear talks to reach a final nuclear deal and remove all economic and political sanctions against Iran.

This arms deal is considered to be the first official arms agreement between the Shi’ite Iranian government and Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government of Maliki. This also shows the increasing military, geopolitical, strategic and economic relationship between Iran and Iraq since American troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, and since the United States started to lift sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Read more at Front Page

Al Qaeda controls more territory than ever in Middle East

20140107_FallujahIraqmap620x350By Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland:

(CNN) – From around Aleppo in western Syria to small areas of Falluja in central Iraq, al Qaeda now controls territory that stretches more than 400 miles across the heart of the Middle East, according to English and Arab language news accounts as well as accounts on jihadist websites.

Indeed, al Qaeda appears to control more territory in the Arab world than it has done at any time in its history.

The focus of al Qaeda’s leaders has always been regime change in the Arab world in order to install Taliban-style regimes. Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri acknowledged as much in his 2001 autobiography, “Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet,” when he explained that the most important strategic goal of al Qaeda was to seize control of a state, or part of a state, somewhere in the Muslim world, explaining that, “without achieving this goal our actions will mean nothing.”

Now al-Zawahiri is closer to his goal than he has ever been. On Friday al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq seized control of parts of the city of Falluja and parts of the city of Ramadi, both of which are located in Iraq’s restive Anbar Province.

Anbar is home to predominantly Sunni Muslims, who feel that that the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki treats the Sunnis as second-class citizens.

Sectarian tensions in Anbar recently burst into several all-out revolts against the government, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as the al-Qaeda affiliate there is known, quickly seized the opportunity to notch some battlefield victories.

Government forces increased their presence around Falluja in response and on Tuesday tribal leaders issued a statement urging people who had fled the city or stopped reporting to work to return.

ISIS is also operating in Syria, where it has established a presence in many areas of the Aleppo and Idlib Governorates in the northwest. In August, ISIS launched a propaganda series on video highlighting their activities in Syria, which includes interviews with fighters; the “graduation” of a group of mujahedin “cubs” (aged about 7 to 10 years old) from training, and sermons at local mosques preaching al Qaeda’s interpretation of Islam.

The al-Nusra front has claimed to control parts of at least a dozen Syrian towns. Those include sections of the ancient city of the Aleppo in the northwest, where fighters have been filmed running a community fair and preaching al Qaeda’s values to crowds of children.

The group has also released videos on jihadist websites claiming that it is providing services to the people of several towns in the governorate of Idlib, which borders the Aleppo Governorate to the west. Al Nusra claims that it is a quasi-government and service-provider in the towns of Binnish, Taum, and Saraqib.

Al-Nusra fighters allied to al Qaeda function like a government in areas they control in Syria. The group provides daily deliveries of bread, free running water and electricity, a health clinic, and a strict justice system based on Sharia law in the eastern Syrian city of Ash Shaddadi, where it also took control of the city’s wheat silos and oil wells.

In September a CNN reporting team concluded, “Al Qaeda has swept to power with the aim of imposing a strict Islamist ideology on Syrians across large swathes of Syria’s rebel-held north.”

In sum, al Qaeda affiliates now control much of northern and northwestern Syria as well as some parts of eastern Syria, as well as much of Anbar province, which is around a third of Iraqi territory.

Read more at CNN

Also see:

The Fruit of Obama’s Abandonment of Iraq

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Anbar province, the region of Iraq that 1,300 American soldiers died pacifying, is at risk of being taken over by al Qaeda jihadists and their affiliate, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Fighting between Iraqi government forces and the jihadists is currently going on in Ramadi and Fallujah, the latter city the site in 2004 of the bloodiest battle of the Iraq War. If the Iraqi government fails to retake the city and push back against the jihadist “al Qaedastan” fiefdom now forming in eastern Iraq and western Syria, the American hard-fought victory in Fallujah will be the emblem of how once again an incompetent administration snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, with repercussions for the whole region.

The debacle in Iraq, of course, has many causes. The dysfunctions of tribal cultures and Islam’s theology of violence––papered over by a national identity imposed from without and indifferent to the religious, regional, ethnic, and tribal fault lines of the region––ensured that absent a ruthless strongman to keep order, violence would explode between sectarian and tribal rivals.  For the same reasons, the misguided American attempt to create liberal democracy in a country and culture with few of the preconditions for it was doomed to fail, and as a result sour the American people on any more involvement in a region of indiscriminate violence and ingratitude towards those who had liberated the Iraqi people from a psychopath like Hussein.

Yet despite all that, in 2011 Iraq still had a chance to establish some sort of ordered government, as long as enough American forces were on hand to help keep order and impose mind-concentrating violence upon those who disrupted it, and to prod Prime Minister Maliki to govern like the leader of a nation rather than as the chief of a sectarian gang. And here is where the blame lands on Obama, for failing to negotiate a status-of-forces agreement with the Iraqi government that would have left 10,000-15,000 American troops in the country, and then pulling all U.S. forces out of the country in December 2011. Eager for the political advantage that accrued to claiming he “ended” the war and “brought the boys home,” Obama did not put Maliki’s feet to the fire and get the agreement. Nor did he show leadership and explain to the American people that despite their war-weariness, the 8 years of sacrifice would be wasted if that investment in blood and resources was not protected by continued American involvement. This failure created a vacuum in which foreign jihadists and revanchist Shiites ignited a firestorm of suicide bombings, massacres, and now the full-scale operations in Anbar.

The fallout of the failure in Iraq, however, has serious consequences beyond that country. It is emblematic of the region-wide bungling and inconsistency that have plagued this administration and its criminally mediocre Secretaries of State. From his first day in office, Obama projected to the world doubt about America’s goodness, guilt over its alleged historical crimes, and eagerness to sit down with any thug and dictator who made a pretense of diplomatic engagement and help him “embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect,” as he announced at the U.N.

Read more at  Front Page

An Epic Expression of Failed COIN Strategy; Fallujah falls to Al Qaida Factions

20140107_FallujahIraqmap620x350by JOHN BERNARD:

For the better part of five years, I have been decrying the unconscionable use of the historically failed strategy of Counter Insurgency (COIN) in the midst of an ideological monolithic culture; principally of Islam.

In the past few days and just two years after the final elements of US forces withdrew from Iraq, stories are emerging, bringing to completion the seemingly prophetic message I and others warned of two years ago; that Al Anbar has fallen back into Al Qaida hands with a self-neutered Iraq government seemingly powerless to stop it. I also made the case, then, that Al Anbar was not won by General Petraeus’ conjuring up the spirit of COIN specifically, but by the infusion of some 30,000 American uniforms into the region.

This process is more akin to the scientific theory of displacement than battlefield strategy. If you fill a region with men bearing one set of Colors, the unit marching under a different Banner, will be forced to displace – and they did. The effort to liberate Fallujah, twice, yielded a temporary reprieve for the non-combatants living there which now seems to have been reversed with Al Qaida and other like-minded cells and tribal components, retaking that city and Ramadi.

What is so damnably frustrating about this is that too many of us to list, foretold of this, years ago. And if there were any left in this country who still held onto the belief that either our civilian leadership or the left-listing General Grade Officers which populate the upper echelon of our Military structure were somehow visionaries and intellectuals, this latest manifestation of a failure of foresight should hopefully drive a spike through the heart of that lingering belief.

Not once – but twice, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers were asked to lay down their lives, “liberating” Al Anbar and most specifically, Fallujah; the second time being tightly restrained by the rigid ROE (Rules of Engagement) borne of the incomprehensibly idiotic paradigm of COIN! And now, two years later, that effort and all that blood, proves to have been for naught!

My argument against applying the rigid stricture of COIN – on any battlefield was multi-faceted and immutable. First, if the hope of armed conflict is to convince your enemy of the futility of continuing on his chosen path then historically it has failed to some degree or another, each and every time it has been employed.

Second, the principle reason for dragging it out of the dusty archives of failed ideas has been the desire to mitigate collateral damage among the “innocent” population. The Pentagon assigned that misnomer to the Iraqi and Afghan populations due to a very poorly managed assessment of the human terrain in both countries which concluded the general population was innocent and not party to the calamity that was their culture. This assumption was made possible due to a systemic ignorance of the dominating religion and its likely effect on the daily actions of the people or their potential sympathies with the “insurgency”.

Read more at Family Security Matters

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GORDON: Al Qaeda retakes Fallujah; Obama frees cohorts from Gitmo

aptopix-mideast-iraqjpeg-0d928_s160x240By J.D. Gordon:

In a storyline that would be dismissed by most in Hollywood as too cynical and far-fetched, al Qaeda has recaptured Fallujah, site of the Iraq War’s bloodiest battles, while President Obama has simultaneously launched a newly invigorated effort to free them and their “affiliates” from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

Though nearly one-third of the 4,474 U.S. combat fatalities in Iraq came through the prolonged fight to pry Fallujah and the surrounding Anbar province in the country’s “wild west” out of al Qaeda’s grasp, the power vacuum left by Mr. Obama’s complete withdrawal of our troops in December 2011 has allowed the terrorist network to triumphantly reclaim the city just two years later.

So much for the president’s boast in October 2012 while on the campaign trail: “Al Qaeda is on the road to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.”

As though al Qaeda’s resurgence in Fallujah and the president’s misleading statements aren’t bad enough, he and his top advisers have thrown gasoline on the fire in their continued quest to close Guantanamo, letting the chips fall where they may. After two years of stalling, the White House has just orchestrated the release of 11 detainees in the past several months, including battle-hardened al Qaeda veterans of Afghanistan.

Incredibly, these include Said Muhammad Husyan Qahtani and Hamoud Abdullah Hamoudal Qaeda militants who served in bin Laden’s 55th Arab Brigade, which fought U.S. and coalition troops in Kabul, Bagram and Tora Bora. According to the Joint Task Force’s Guantanamo file on Qahtani, “[the] detainee volunteered for a martyrdom mission and was identified by al Qaeda senior commanders to be a suicide bomber.”

Others recent departures include radical Islamic militants from AlgeriaSudan and China’s separatist Xinjiang province, better known as “East Turkistan” by the ethnic Uighurs fighting for its independence.

It gets worse.

Read more at Washington Times

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How the Arab Spring Unleashed Al Qaeda

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The Arab Spring did to the Middle East what WWI did to Russia and Eastern Europe. Al Qaeda, like the Bolsheviks, plans to pick up the pieces. The new Soviet Union may be an Islamic state that stretches across the Middle East while the Salafi preachers and thugs terrorizing Europe play the role of Communist infiltrators in the West. And another world war may be here before we even know it.

By Daniel Greenfield:

Open up a national newspaper and flip to the stories about the Middle East. The daily toll of bombings and shootings, starving refugees and demolished cities have little resemblance to the cheerful stories about the transformation of the Middle East that were running during the boom days of the Arab Spring.

There isn’t much mention of the Arab Spring anymore. The same media outlets that were predicting that the Middle East was about to turn into Europe have fallen silent. They are eager to forget their own lies.

But it was the Arab Spring that unleashed this horror. The Arab Spring was not an outburst of popular democratic sentiment. It was a power struggle of a clearly sectarian nature. It was the rise of Sunni Islam under the black and white Salafist flags.

Obama and his people favored takeovers by “moderate” Salafi groups that appeared to accept Western ideas such as democracy and modernization. The “moderate” Salafis however worked closely with their “immoderate” Salafi cousins playing a game of Good Salafi and Bad Salafi with America.

The “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt opened the door for Al Qaeda in the Sinai. Its Syrian branch, along with other “moderate” Salafist militias in the Free Syrian Army, fought alongside the Al-Nusra Front which was then Al Qaeda in Syria.

The takeovers led to civil war in Egypt and Syria and escalated a sectarian regional conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. The biggest beneficiary of the Arab Spring was Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Al Qaeda in Iraq had defined itself by the killing of Shiites. Its murder of Americans took second place to its fanatical hatred of Shiites. Its killing sprees had alienated other Muslims at a time when America was seen as the central enemy. But the Arab Spring had made the Islamic terrorist group relevant again.

Iraq’s government tilted toward its Shiite roots as the Arab Spring split the region down the middle creating no room for middle ground. Peace in Iraq had depended on locking Al Qaeda out with a political alliance between Sunnis and Shiites. Bush had made that alliance temporarily work. Obama, who had repeatedly denounced the Iraq Surge, washed his hands of it as quickly as he could.

The Arab Spring helped kill what was left of that alliance as Sunni-Shiite civil wars moved the arc of history in the direction that had been carved out by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi during the Iraq War. Al Qaeda in Iraq was no longer seen as a bunch of homicidal lunatics. They had become visionaries.

The media had chosen to wipe Al Qaeda in Iraq out of the headlines after Obama’s victory. The withdrawal cemented the silence.

When Obama claimed that he needed to fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan where it was hardly a presence, instead of in Iraq where it was still a menace; they didn’t ask many questions. Buried in the news stories were reports that Obama knew that Al Qaeda had ceased to be a major player in Afghanistan.

If Obama had been a Republican, there is no doubt that those stories would have turned into a major issue and the issue into a narrative about a president who lied about a war.

But Obama was a Democrat and those stories and the stories about Al Qaeda in Iraq escalating its attacks remained no more than background noise. Iraq was yesterday’s news. Tomorrow’s news was the Cairo speech and the Arab Spring. Terrorism was over. The tyrants were falling. A new wave of change was coming. And the region would never be the same.

Change did indeed come.

The Arab Spring split the region more sharply than ever across Shiite and Sunni lines. Syria became the fault line in the bloody end of the Arab Spring. And Al Qaeda made its biggest power play yet.

Mali showed that Afghanistan was yesterday’s news. Al Qaeda franchises no longer needed to rely on a Taliban to carve out a territory for their training camps. They could become their own Taliban and seize an entire country.

It took the French to stop them in Mali after the disastrous Libyan War; the most destructive effort at implementing the Arab Spring. But the question is who will stop Al Qaeda in Syria?

The various branches of Al Qaeda and their allies may win in Syria. And Syria is not Afghanistan. It has huge stockpiles of advanced weapons, dwarfing the Gaddafi stockpiles that have already caused a great deal of damage, not to mention the chemical and biological weapons that it will likely hold on to despite the brokered disarmament deal. Syria even had an infant nuclear program.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, now envisions a vast territory under its rule. It is surging in Syria and Iraq and has reached into Lebanon to strike at Hezbollah. There is little to mourn about Sunni and Shiite terrorist groups killing each other, but it would be wishful thinking to imagine that a vastly expanded Al Qaeda with access to advanced weaponry and cities full of manpower will not eventually direct that weaponry at the United States.

Read  more at Front Page

 

Al Qaeda seizes partial control of 2 cities in western Iraq

post-33748-This-Map-Of-Al-Qaeda-In-Iraq-I-FqX3By BILL ROGGIO:

Over the past several days, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, has taken control of large sections of two western Iraqi cities that were once bastions for the terror group.

ISIS fighters entered the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, after the Iraqi military withdrew from them following clashes with tribes over a political standoff that resulted in the arrest of a Sunni member of parliament.

The ISIS has posted videos of its fighters entering the cities in force after clashing with Iraqi police and overrunning several checkpoints. In the videos, a large convoy of ISIS fighters driving technicals, or pickup trucks with heavy machine guns mounted on the back, is seen moving through Ramadi. The fighters are flying al Qaeda’s black banner while singing praises to al Qaeda and its “Islamic state.” [See more videos here.]

Officials from the Iraqi Interior Ministry acknowledged that parts of Fallujah and Ramadi are under al Qaeda control.

“Half of Fallujah is in the hands of ISIS (the Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham) group,” an anonymous interior ministry official told AFP.

“In Ramadi, it is similar – some areas are controlled by ISIS,” the official continued. The other parts of the city are controlled by “tribesmen,” likely a reference to the Sahwa (“the Awakening”), the tribal militia that with US backing ejected al Qaeda from control of large areas of Anbar between 2006 and 2009.

In Fallujah, ISIS fighters stormed the main police headquarters, freed more than 100 prisoners, and seized weapons and ammunition. “Other police stations in the city were torched by fighters as most police abandoned their posts,” Al Jazeera reported.

Iraqi special forces are said to be battling ISIS fighters in Fallujah and Ramadi. The status of nearby cities and towns is not known, but the ISIS has been active in cities such as Haditha, where in March 2012 a large force attacked police stations and executed policemen and their commanders. The ISIS has also staged raids in other cities such as Hit and Rawa.

Ramadi and Fallujah, sizeable cities with populations of several hundred thousand each, once served as the hubs for al Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of the ISIS. From 2004 to early 2007, large areas of the two cities were either controlled by al Qaeda or were contested. The Awakening and US and Iraqi forces waged a protracted counterinsurgency to clear al Qaeda from the two cities as well as from surrounding cities and towns along the Euphrates River Valley.

The ISIS has been targeting Iraqi security forces as well as the Awakening in a series of high-profile suicide assaults and bombings in Anbar. Just two weeks ago, the ISIS killed the commanding general of the 7th Division, one of the division’s brigade commanders, and 16 staff officers and soldiers in a suicide attack in Rutbah. The ISIS set a trap for the division commander as he toured an area thought to have been cleared of the terror group. The 7th Division is made up primarily of soldiers and officers from Anbar province.

Read more at Long War Journal with video

 

 

Also see:

Iraq’s Lessons on Political Will

by Patrick Knapp
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2014

 

 

 

Khodorkovsky and the Freedom Agenda

Jailed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky stands in the defendants' cage before the start of a court session in Moscow December 28, 2010. REUTERS/Tatiana Makeyeva

Jailed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky stands in the defendants’ cage before the start of a court session in Moscow December 28, 2010. REUTERS/Tatiana Makeyeva

by :

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

Until his arrest in October 2003, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oligarch and oil executive, was the richest man in Russia. He might have still been the richest man in Russia today if he hadn’t started thinking about politics, and objecting to the fact that under President Vladimir Putin, Russia had abandoned all prospects for democracy.
With his billions, Khodorkovsky had the means to finance a challenge to Putin’s authoritarian rule. His arrest in 2003 and his 10-year imprisonment was ordered and orchestrated by Putin as a means of silencing and destroying the former KGB officer’s only potent challenger for power.

After 10 years behind bars, Khodorkovsky was suddenly released from prison last Friday, immediately after Putin issued him a presidential pardon.

He held a press conference in Berlin the next day. There he showed that prison had changed his political thinking.

Whereas in 2003, Khodorkovsky thought it was possible to transform Russia into a democracy by simply winning an election, after 10 years behind bars, he recognizes that elections are not enough.

“The Russian problem is not just the president as a person,” he explained. “The problem is that our citizens in the large majority don’t understand that their fate, they have to be responsible for it themselves. They are so happy to delegate it to, say, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and then they will entrust it to somebody else.”

In other words, until the Russian people come to the conclusion that they want liberty, no one can give it to them. They will just replace one dictator with another one. In his words, “If you have a ‘most important person’ in the opposition… you will get another Putin.”

So whereas George Washington was seen as the first among equals, an opposition leader who would succeed Putin, would be more like Robespierre in post-revolutionary France.

Khodorkovsky’s remarks show that you can’t instantly import democracy from abroad. The US defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War. But the Soviet defeat didn’t make the Russians liberal democrats. Until the seeds of democracy are planted in a nation’s hearts and minds, the overthrow of its overlord will make little difference to the aspirations of the people.

Over the past two months, in neighboring Ukraine, we have seen the flipside of Khodorkovsky’s warning. There, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been braving the winter cold to protest President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to ignore the public’s desire to associate with the European Union, rather than with Russia. As the protesters have made clear, they view a closer association with the EU as a means of securing Ukrainian independence from Russia.

For the past two months, Yanukovych has been alternatively assaulting and ignoring the masses rallying in Kiev’s Independence Square.

And last week he signed a deal with Russia that paves the way for Ukraine’s incorporation into Russia’s custom’s union, and its effective subordination to the Kremlin.

At this point, the opposition and Yanukovych are deadlocked. According to National Review’s Askold Krushelnyck, the protesters are trying to break the deadlock by turning to the US and the EU for help.

No, they are not asking for military support.

They have gathered information about financial crimes carried out by Yanukovych, his relatives and cronies. And they are asking the US and the EU to take legal action against them in accordance with their domestic statutes. They translated their information into English and posted it on a website (yanukovich.info), and ask that Western governments freeze their accounts and stop providing financial services to their shell companies.

What Ukraine’s protesters’ actions show is that they understand that when you are dealing with an authoritarian regime – particularly one supported by Putin’s authoritarian regime – it is not enough for a nation to seek democracy and independence. Outside help is also necessary.

Read more at Front Page

Lessons of Iraq and A-Stan: Infidel Armies Can’t Win Islamic Hearts and Minds

Karzai and Rohani in Tehran, December 8, 2013

Karzai and Rohani in Tehran, December 8, 2013

by Diana West:

I am reposting a couple of columns below from 2009, written at a time before the Obama “surge” in Afghanistan, based on Bush’s “surge” in Iraq, was in full swing.

I have long argued that the Bush surge failed (explanation in three parts here). TheObama surge has failed, too, and for the same basic reason that has nothing to do with leaving Iraq “too soon,” or, I deeply hope, “leaving Afghanistan” in 2014. It is vital to stress that these failures are not due to the bravery and sacrifice and skill of our military forces. These forces have resolutely fufilled their impossible missions, to say the very least. The failures lie in war-planning and political strategy, ignorance and fecklessness, at the highest levels of the Bush and Obama White Houses, in the Pentagon, and in the Congress that failed to check them.

(To such ignorance and fecklessness we may also add an epic show of institutional callousness.)

The simple fact is that an army from Judeo-Christian lands cannot fight for the soul of an Islamic land.

This is the obvious but untaught and thus unlearned lesson of these past twelve years of tragic, costly wars. They call us “infidel.” We think that doesn’t matter. The Koran is their guide and they build their constitutions upon its laws. We help them do so and order our soldiers to risk their lives upholding theses sharia-supreme documents in the fantasy-name of  “universal” rights that exist nowhere but in the West. (See the madness begin here back in 2004). Meanwhile, sharia norms and masked Marxism are eroding liberty in the West while 99 percent of our political leaders do nothing.

They learn nothing, too. They set post-9/11 strategy in Iraq without seeing sharia norms and jihad doctrine as obstacles to “nation-building” on a (flawed) Western model — as though sharia and jihad can be eliminated as the authoritative foundations of Islamic culture by wish or denial. Such a  see-no-Islam strategy was doomed to fail, and so it did. But instead of retooling this failed strategy (which served mainly to the benefit of Iran, China and other enemies), they turned around and implemented it in Afghanistan.

We must win the people’s “hearts and minds,” Gen. Petraeus urged his men back in Iraq.

We must win the Afghans’ “trust,” Adm. Mullen and others   stressed (or buy it).

Thus, our soldiers were ordered to take hills of the Islamic mind-world that infidel armies can never attain.

We must respect their culture, the generals insisted, seeking more and more common ground, but ceding ground (metaphorical and real) instead. Vital ground.

We must protect the Afghan people (at the expense of our own), ordered the COIN corps generals, led by Petraeus, who infamously ordered:

“Walk. Stop by, don’t drive by. Patrol on foot whenever possible and engage the population. Take off your [ballistic] sunglasses. Situational awareness can be gained only by interacting face to face, not separated by ballistic glass or Oakleys.

Such “situational awareness” came at a great and tragic cost – but with little if any lasting benefit. Neither “protecting the population,” nor restricting ROEs, nor insanely profligate public works projects have permitted the infidel counterinsurgency to achieve its goals — winning Islamic hearts, minds or trust.

Cultural prostration hasn’t worked either, but not for want of trying.

We must respect their culture (no matter how barbaric). We must uphold their culture (no matter how vile). We must protect Islam, too. We must submit to its laws, and punish Americans who don’t. And punish Americans.

“Handle the Koran as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art,” a memo to Joint Task Force Guantanamo ordered in January 2003. That wasn’t enough. “We will hold sacred the beliefs held sacred by others,” ISAF declared in 2012.

Soon we will have new and enduring allies in the war on “terror.” What difference will it make if we can only fight together for the other side?

From April and August 2009 — over one thousand combat dead and thousands of combat wounded ago.

From April 3, 2009:

“What Do You Mean: If We Ever Want to Leave Afghanistan?”

From August 14, 2009:

“All Those Boots on the Ground and No Imprint.”

US Plays Dangerous Islamist Roulette in Syria

Zahran Alloush, leader of proposed Syrian Islamic Front

Zahran Alloush, leader of proposed Syrian Islamic Front

By Jerry Gordon:

Below the fold in today’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) was a mind numbing article about the Obama Administration caving in to support an Islamic Front opposition group in another desperate move In the volatile Middle East, “U.S., Allies Reach Out to Syria’s Islamist Rebels”.  The motivation is to unite Saudi and Emirate funding to support a fundamentalist militia, Jaysh al-Islam (Islamic Front)  as a Plan B against the two principal Al Qaeda affiliates, the Al Nusra Front and  the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant  (ISIS).   These Al Qaeda affiliates have effectively vanquished the so-called secular opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the country’s North and East adjoining Iraq. The al Qaeda affiliates have been bolstered by foreign fighters from Iraq, Chechnya in Southern Russia and an increasing number of Jihadis from EU countries.

These seemingly desperate efforts are directed at presenting a unified  opposition Syrian National Council (SNC)at an UN-sponsored round of alleged peace discussions in Geneva in late January 2014. The SNC is backed by the London 11, the nations in a loose coalition opposing the Assad regime. Assad is backed by Iran and its proxy Hezbollah with support from Russia. The  Assad military, supplied by Russian weapons and endless flow of arms from Iran,  has scored some successes despite acknowledging the Chemical Weapons disaster in the Damascus suburbs in August 2013.  The Assad regime has advanced in certain areas, while the Al Qaeda affiliates have taken control of swaths of the embattled country now in its 33 month of civil war with over 120,000 dead. The objective of the al Qaeda Affiliates is to create mini-Caliphates ruled under Sharia. The fundamentalist Islamic Front is headed by Syrian Zahran Alloush, whose resume indicates that there may be little difference between his form of fundamentalism and that of the Al Qaeda affiliates. 

*****

The only ethnic group that has shown pluck and strength in clearing out the Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria has been the Kurds in the country’s Northeast. The Kurds have achieved virtual autonomy in their ancestral homeland, Rojava , abutting both Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.  The Kurds have control over the commercial breadbasket of Syria and its oil reserves. Not unlike their Kurdish cousins in adjacent Iraq, the Kurds in Syria have discussed the possibility of having oil flow through Turkish pipelines to the Mediterranean.

*****

Tensions have risen dramatically regarding Syria without any substantive resolution of objectives by SNC and  the London 11 including the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates.  The US and Saudi Arabia partnering in establishment of an Islamic Front  composed of fundamentalist fighters adds a degree of risk that the Geneva talks with the Assad Regime may  break down or be cancelled.  That raises the likely prospect that internecine bloodshed will continue in Syria. The US is now caught up in a dangerous form of Islamist roulette by siding with fundamentalist opposition in Syria to fight against al Qaeda Affiliates both groups supporting Sharia.  This could result in the disintegration of Syria into a failed state divided into warring ethno religious enclaves. Thus fueling massive refugee outflows, causing more problems for adjacent countries like Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Israel.

Read more at New English Review

 

Homeland Insecurity: Al Qaeda ‘Refugees’ on Welfare

HT_al-qaeda_weapons_split_nt_131118_16x9_992-450x321By :

Unbelievably, the Obama administration finds itself embroiled in yet another scandal. ABC News is reporting that dozens of alleged Islamic terrorists with bomb-making skills may have been mistakenly allowed to take up residence in the United States, due to a flawed screening system. Hundreds of FBI specialists have been assigned to an around-the-clock investigation of FBI archives that contain 100,000 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) retrieved from Iraq and Afghanistan. The investigation was prompted by the 2009 discovery of a pair of al Qaeda operatives living as war refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The men subsequently admitted in court that they were terrorists who had attacked U.S. troops in Iraq.

A 2010 video shows one of the men, Waad Ramadan Alwan, 32, field stripping what the FBI revealed to be a Russian PKM machine gun. Subsequent surveillance videos show Alwan and accomplice Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 26, with a Stinger missile launcher and and a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher (rendered inoperable by the FBI) provided to them during a sting operation. Alwan was also known as a braggart who told an agent involved in the sting that he had killed American soldiers in Iraq. “He said he had them ‘for lunch and dinner,’” FBI Louisville Supervisory Special Agent Tim Beam said, ”meaning that he had killed them.”

The FBI was initially led to Alwan in 2009 by an intelligence tip. His claims of being a refugee facing persecution if he remained in Iraq fell apart when a cordless phone base wired to unexploded bombs, and dug up by U.S. soldiers Bayji, Iraq on Sept. 1, 2005, contained his fingerprints.

In 2010, the FBI learned that Alwan had been arrested in Kirkuk in 2006, where he confessed to being a terrorist during his interrogation. In 2007, Alwan crossed into Syria. During that crossing, his fingerprints were entered into a biometric database maintained by U.S. military intelligence in Iraq. Despite that reality, Alwan’s prints were not associated with the Iraqi insurgency, ostensibly because fingerprints of Iraqis were collected on a routine basis.

Hammadi had also been detained by Iraqi authorities. Yet at a 2012 House hearing, a senior intelligence official for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) testified that both men’s names and fingerprints were vetted by the FBI, DHS and the Defense Department and “came in clean.”

During their trial, it was revealed that the FBI had employed a confidential human source (CHS) to record meetings and conversations with the two men, beginning in August 2010. After the CHS confided that he was aiding the Iraqi insurgency, Alwan participated in deliveries of weapons and money he believed were being supplied to Iraqi terrorists. Hammadi was recruited by Alwan the following January. Both men were finally arrested in May 2011. Alwan pleaded guilty on all counts of a 23-count indictment on Dec. 16, 2011. Hammadi pleaded guilty on all counts of a 12-count superseding indictment on August 21, 2012. During sentencing, Alwan received 40 years after cooperating with authorities. Hammadi was given life in prison, and is appealing the sentence.

Unfortunately, these two men apparently represent the tip of a potentially deadly iceberg. “We are currently supporting dozens of current counter-terrorism investigations like that,” said FBI Agent Gregory Carl, director of the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC). House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) implied that assessment was an understatement: “I wouldn’t be surprised if there were many more than that,” he said. “And these are trained terrorists in the art of bomb-making that are inside the United States, and quite frankly, from a homeland security perspective, that really concerns me.”

The DHS offered up the typical bureaucratic cop-out. A statement released by spokesman Peter Boogaard contended that the federal government

continually improves and expands its procedures for vetting immigrants, refugees and visa applicants, and today [the] vetting process considers a far broader range of information than it did in past years. Our procedures continue to check applicants’ names and fingerprints against records of individuals known to be security threats, including the terrorist watchlist, or of law enforcement concern… These checks are vital to advancing the U.S. government’s twin goal of protecting the world’s most vulnerable persons while ensuring U.S. national security and public safety.

A couple of individuals “known to be security threats” managed to elude both the DHS and the CIA. Despite the fact that would-be underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was on the government’s terror watch list, he wasn’t on their no-fly list. Thus, he was able to board Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas day in 2009 with a bomb. That it failed to detonate was nothing more than sheer luck. Then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s initial reaction? She told ABC News that the “system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days.”

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was also on a watch list, the CIA’s classified Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database (TIDE). He was added to that list eighteen months before the 2013 Boston Marathon. Unlike the people on Northwest Flight 253, the people of Boston paid a brutal price for bureaucratic ineptitude.

Ironically, or perhaps infuriatingly, the Tsarnaev family and the Kentucky terrorists enjoyed similar treatment, courtesy of America’s welfare state. As theDaily Mail reveals, when Alwan and Hammadi were arrested, “they were living in public housing and collecting government assistance checks in Bowling Green, Kentucky.” The paper further notes that several other bomb-making terrorists may be enjoying the same lifestyle.

“How do you have somebody that we now know was a known actor in terrorism overseas, how does that person get into the United States? How do they get into our community?” wondered Bowling Green Police Chief Doug Hawkins.

The answer to that question is fairly simple. We have a president who has directed various government agencies to engage in selective law enforcement, and/or impose a filter of political correctness on every decision they make.

This governing philosophy has degenerated DHS into a lawless agency that capriciously enforces law and security policy on an entire range of issues, for instance, the federal immigration law mandating that those seeking entrance into the country not be welfare-reliant. (emphasis added)

Read more at Front Page

Exclusive: US May Have Let ‘Dozens’ of Terrorists Into Country As Refugees

download (36)ABC News, By JAMES GORDON MEEK, CINDY GALLI and BRIAN ROSS:

Several dozen suspected terrorist bombmakers, including some believed to have targeted American troops, may have mistakenly been allowed to move to the United States as war refugees, according to FBI agents investigating the remnants of roadside bombs recovered from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The discovery in 2009 of two al Qaeda-Iraq terrorists living as refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky — who later admitted in court that they’d attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq — prompted the bureau to assign hundreds of specialists to an around-the-clock effort aimed at checking its archive of 100,000 improvised explosive devices collected in the war zones, known as IEDs, for other suspected terrorists’ fingerprints.

“We are currently supporting dozens of current counter-terrorism investigations like that,” FBI Agent Gregory Carl, director of the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC), said in an ABC News interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC News’ “World News with Diane Sawyer” and “Nightline”.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there were many more than that,” said House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul. “And these are trained terrorists in the art of bombmaking that are inside the United States; and quite frankly, from a homeland security perspective, that really concerns me.”

As a result of the Kentucky case, the State Department stopped processing Iraq refugees for six months in 2011, federal officials told ABC News – even for many who had heroically helped U.S. forces as interpreters and intelligence assets. One Iraqi who had aided American troops was assassinated before his refugee application could be processed, because of the immigration delays, two U.S. officials said. In 2011, fewer than 10,000 Iraqis were resettled as refugees in the U.S., half the number from the year before, State Department statistics show.

Suspect in Kentucky Discovered to Have Insurgent Past

An intelligence tip initially led the FBI to Waad Ramadan Alwan, 32, in 2009. The Iraqi had claimed to be a refugee who faced persecution back home — a story that shattered when the FBI found his fingerprints on a cordless phone base that U.S. soldiers dug up in a gravel pile south of Bayji, Iraq on Sept. 1, 2005. The phone base had been wired to unexploded bombs buried in a nearby road.

An ABC News investigation of the flawed U.S. refugee screening system, which was overhauled two years ago, showed that Alwan was mistakenly allowed into the U.S. and resettled in the leafy southern town of Bowling Green, Kentucky, a city of 60,000 which is home to Western Kentucky University and near the Army’s Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. Alwan and another Iraqi refugee, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 26, were resettled in Bowling Green even though both had been detained during the war by Iraqi authorities, according to federal prosecutors.

Most of the more than 70,000 Iraqi war refugees in the U.S. are law-abiding immigrants eager to start a new life in America, state and federal officials say.

But the FBI discovered that Alwan had been arrested in Kirkuk, Iraq, in 2006 and confessed on video made of his interrogation then that he was an insurgent, according to the U.S. military and FBI, which obtained the tape a year into their Kentucky probe. In 2007, Alwan went through a border crossing to Syria and his fingerprints were entered into a biometric database maintained by U.S. military intelligence in Iraq, a Directorate of National Intelligence official said. Another U.S. official insisted that fingerprints of Iraqis were routinely collected and that Alwan’s fingerprint file was not associated with the insurgency.

Go to ABC News for the video

I recommend following Refugee Resettlement Watch