The Turkey-Russia-Iran Axis

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Dramatic developments alter the strategic balance in the Middle East.

Front Page Magazine, by Kenneth R. Timmerman, Aug. 22, 2016:

A techtonic shift has occurred in the balance of power in the Middle East since the failed Turkish coup of mid-July, and virtually no one in Washington is paying attention to it.

Turkey and Iran are simultaneously moving toward Russia, while Russia is expanding its global military and strategic reach, all to the detriment of the United States and our allies. This will have a major impact across the region, potentially leaving U.S. ally Israel isolated to face a massive hostile alliance armed with nuclear weapons.

Believers in Bible prophecy see this new alignment as a step closer to the alliance mentioned in Ezekiel 37-38, which Israel ultimately defeated on the plains of Megiddo.

Today’s Israel, however, is doing its best to soften the blow by patching up relations with Turkey and through cooperation with Russia.

Here are some of the moves and countermoves that have been taking place in recent weeks on a giant three-dimensional chessboard with multiple players and opponents.

Russia-Turkey: It now appears that Russian intelligence tipped off Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan just hours before the planned coup against his regime. When the coup plotters got wind of the Russian communications with Erdogan loyalists at the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), they moved up the coup from the dead of night to 9 PM, when the streets were packed.

For Erdogan, the Russian warning came just in the nick of time, allowing him to flee his hotel in Marmaris minutes before twenty-five special forces troops loyal to the coup-plotters roped down from the roof of his hotel to seize him.

With streets in Istanbul full of people, Erdogan’s text and video messages calling on supporters to oppose the coup had maximum impact.

After purging the military and government of suspected enemies, Erdogan’s first foreign trip was to Russia, where on August 8 he thanked Putin for his help. “The Moscow-Ankara friendship axis will be restored,” he proclaimed.

Two days later, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu blasted NATO for its “evasive fashion” of responding to Turkish requests for military technology transfers, and opened the door to joint military production with Russia.

Cavosoglu accused NATO of considering Turkey and Russia “to be second class countries,” and pointed out that Turkey was the only NATO country that was refusing to impose sanctions on Russia for its annexation of the Crimea and invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has also been in talks with Turkey to base Russian warplanes at the NATO air base in Incirlik, Turkey, where some 2400 U.S. personnel have been quarantined since the failed July 15 coup attempt as Turkey continues to demand that the U.S. extradite alleged coup-plotter Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania.

These talks have alarmed the Pentagon, which on Thursday reportedly ordered the emergency evacuation to Romania of the estimated 50-70 nuclear B-61 “dial-a-yield” gravity bombs stockpiled at the base.

If confirmed, the nuclear withdrawal from Turkey constitutes a major strategic setback for the United States, with Russia poised to replace the United States as Turkey’s main military partner after 60 years of NATO cooperation.

Russia-Iran: The warming of the Russia-Turkey relationship comes as Russia simultaneously is making advances in Iran.

The two countries have a long and often troubled history. The 1921 Soviet-Iranian treaty, which ended long-standing tsarist concessions in Iran, also included a mutual defense pact. Triggered briefly during World War II, the Soviets seized the opportunity to foment a Communist coup in Iranian Azerbaijan in 1948 and only withdrew after President Truman threatened to use nuclear weapons.

Successive Iranian regimes remained suspicious of Soviet intentions for the rest of the Cold War.

In recent years, Iran and Russia have joined together to evade international sanctions, with Russian banks clearing payments for Iranian oil purchases and serving as a conduit for Iranian government purchases abroad.

Last week, the specter of the 1921 defense treaty suddenly came alive when the Russia and Iran announced they had signed a new military agreement to allow Russian jets to use the Nojeh airbase in western Iran for attacks on Syrian rebels.

This is the first time that the Islamic regime in Iran has allowed a foreign power to use Iranian territory as a base for offensive military operations against another country in the region, and the move lead to tensions in the Iranian parliament.

For Russia, the move dramatically reduced flight times for the Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers it had been flying against ISIS targets in Syria from Mozdok airbase in Ossetia, 2000 km away. Iran’s Nojeh air base, outside Hamadan, is less than 900 km from the war zone.

The shorter flight times also meant shorter warning for the Syrian rebels. Russian media reports have alleged that the United States has been providing “satellite surveillance data” to the Syrian rebels of the Russian bombing runs, allowing them to disperse “suspiciously too often” before the heavy bombers arrived on target from Mozdok.

The shorter distance cuts the flight time – and thus the warning time – by 60%, according to former Pentagon official Stephen D. Bryen. “The flight from Iran is between 30 to 45 minutes tops. If, therefore, the US is warning the rebels of impending Russian air strikes, the time to get the message to them and to actually be able to move their forces out of harms way, is far less and maybe too short for finding effective cover,” Bryen wrote in a recent blogpost.

Conclusion: Russia is on the verge of realizing a multi-generational dream of reaching the “warm waters” of the Persian Gulf through Iran.

Iran-Iraq: Adding to these dramatic developments was the announcement last week by a U.S. military spokesman, Colonel Chris Garver, that Iran now controls a military force of 100,000 armed fighters in neighboring Iraq. While the United States has allowed this Iranian expansion under the pretext Iran was helping in the fight against ISIS, clearly Iran can use this massive organized force to exercise its control over Iraq as well.

While none of these events was directly caused by the United States, clearly the lack of U.S. leadership emboldened our enemies, whose leaders have a much clearer strategic vision than ours of where they want the region to go.

Meanwhile, the Russian government continues to pursue the massive ten-year, $650 billion military modernization program that Putin announced in December 2010, despite reduced oil revenues. Those plans include eight new nuclear submarines, 600 new fighter jets, 1000 helicopters, as well as new tanks and other ground equipment.

Most of the new equipment is based on new designs incorporating advanced technologies, not existing weapons systems.

Just this week, U.S. intelligence officials reported ongoing construction of “dozens’ of underground nuclear command bunkers in Moscow and around the country apparently for use in the event of a nuclear wear. General Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command, called Russia’s evolving doctrine on the first use of nuclear weapons “alarming.”

All of this does not mean that the United States and Russia are headed toward a direct confrontation. The more likely consequence, given the sweeping Russian powerplay with Turkey and Iran, is that the United States will simply abandon the region to Putin’s Russia and his Turkish and Iranian allies.

The consequence of that abandon will undoubtedly motivate Saudi Arabia to develop nuclear weapons as a counterweight to Iran.

Nero fiddled as Rome burned. Obama plays golf. Both leaders will leave ashes in their wake.

Also see:

The Problem Isn’t Nation-Building. It’s Islam-Building

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Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, Aug. 19, 2016:

Nation-building has become a very controversial term. And with good reason. Our conviction that we can reconstruct any society into another America is unrealistic. It ignores our own exceptionalism and overlooks the cultural causes of many conflicts. It assumes that a change of government and open elections can transform a tribal Islamic society into America. They can’t and won’t.

But it’s also important to recognize that what we have been doing isn’t nation-building, but Islam-building.

Nation-building in Germany and Japan meant identifying a totalitarian ideology, isolating its proponents from political power and recreating a formerly totalitarian state as an open society. That is the opposite of what we did in Afghanistan and Iraq, never mind Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and all the rest.

We did temporarily pursue de-Baathification in Iraq. But the Baathists were just Saddam’s cult of personality. Saddam was a problem in Iraq. But he wasn’t the problem in Iraq. His rule was a symptom of the real problem which was the divide between Sunnis and Shiites. The real problem was Islam.

Because we failed to recognize that, de-Baathification failed. The Baathists just folded themselves into ISIS. The Sunni-Shiite war went on even without Saddam. Today Sunnis and Shiites are still killing each other in Iraq much as they had for a long time. We have boiled this war down to ISIS, but ISIS, like Saddam is just another symptom of the political violence and divisiveness inherent in Islam.

Instead of secularizing Iraq, our efforts at democracy only heightened divisions along religious lines. The “Lebanon” model for Iraq with power sharing arrangements between Sunnis and Shiites was doomed.

Iraq’s first election was dominated by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. If that name rings a bell, it should. It came out of Iran. You know, the original Islamic Revolution. The “free” election had given a boost to an Islamic terror group whose goal was the creation of an Islamic State in Iraq.

The bloodiest days of the Iraq War actually came when two sets of Islamic terror groups fighting to create an Islamic State began killing each other… and us. We know one of those groups today as ISIS. The other group is the Iraqi government. And a decade later, they’re still killing each other.

Instead of nation-building in Iraq, we practiced Islam-building. Iraq’s constitution made Islam the official religion and the fundamental source of legislation. Its first real law was that, “No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.” The new Iraq we had built was an Islamic State.

We did no better in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan whose constitution declared much the same thing. Its first parliamentary elections saw victories for the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan and the Islamic Society. As in Iraq and Syria, the distinctions between the bad Islamists and the good Islamists were often fuzzy at best. We had replaced the bad Islamist warlords who raped and murdered their enemies with the good Islamist warlords who raped and murdered their enemies.

Our nation-building had created an Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and an Islamic State in Iraq. It was no wonder that the fighting never stopped.

Matters grew much worse with the Arab Spring when Obama and Hillary’s Islam-building project flipped countries that had been democratic and secular in the loosest sense into the tar pit of political Islam.

Coptic Christians were massacred and churches were burned in Egypt. The Christian communities in Iraq and Syria were threatened with annihilation.  The Jewish community in Yemen may be close to disappearing entirely. The Yazidis were raped and murdered on a genocidal scale by the Islamic State.

But in many cases they were just collateral damage from fighting between Sunni and Shiite Islamists, and among Sunni Islamists battling each other for dominance.

The ugliest part of Islam-building was that the resulting conflicts between Islamists and secularists in Egypt and Tunisia highlighted starkly just how wrong our policy was. Instead of backing secular and democratic forces, Obama had thrown in with Islamists. And even after the Muslim Brotherhood was overthrown in Egypt, his administration continued advocating on behalf of its Islamic reign of terror.

If we had practiced actual nation-building, then we would have identified Islamic tribalism as the central corrosive force in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Islamic political movements as the totalitarian threat in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Our efforts would have been directed at isolating them and keeping them out of power while working to democratize and secularize these countries on the old Turkish model. It might not have worked, but at least it would have been nation-building, not Islam-building.

Nation-building might very well have failed. America doesn’t have infinite resources and the lives of our soldiers are precious. Assuming that we can upend radically different societies is excessively optimistic.

But we didn’t even try.

What we have been doing in this century isn’t nation building. Instead we’ve been empowering our enemies. We’ve been sticking our hands into Islamist snake pits and playing, “Find the Muslim moderate” and refusing to learn any better no matter how many times we get bitten.

We have been perfectly happy to help the Islamic terrorists that our soldiers were shooting at last week so long as their leader signed some sort of accord paying lip service to equality yesterday. We didn’t just get into bed with the Muslim Brotherhood, but with former affiliates of Al Qaeda and current proxies of Iran. We allied with the Sunni and Shiite Islamist murderers of American soldiers in Iraq.

And all we got for it was more violence, chaos and death.

Even without Islam, ethnic and tribal divisions would have made nation-building into a difficult challenge. But Islam-building didn’t just leave wrecked societies, but terror threats. Tensions between Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds wouldn’t have led to massacres in Paris and Nice. Only Islam could do that.

Islam takes local conflicts and makes them global. That’s why disputes over the authority of the House of Saud led to the mass murder of thousands of people in New York or why Arab attacks on Israel became a burning international issue. Or why Sunni and Shiite feuds in Iraq and Syria led to a massacre of attendees at a rock concert in Paris.

That is also why the combination of Islam and politics in any form is an existential threat to us.

Not only should we not be subsidizing it in any way, shape or form, but we should be doing our best to stamp it out. If we must have any form of nation-building, it should be the building of secular nations in which Islam is isolated and detached from any political involvement.

We have two options for preventing the spread of Islamic political violence into our countries. The first is a ban on Muslim immigration. The second is a ban on Muslim politics. The former has been dubbed isolationism and the latter nation-building. Neither term is truly accurate, but they capture the essence of the choice.

We however have chosen a choice that is far worse than either. We have opened our doors to Muslim migration while opening Muslim countries to further Islamic political involvement. We have Islamized terror states and ourselves. Is it any wonder that we suffer from a severe Islamic terror threat?

Open borders for Islamic terror and Islam-building have led to our current state of national insecurity. We have made the world more dangerous by backing Islamic politics and we have made our countries more dangerous by welcoming in Muslim migrants to be indoctrinated into terror by Islamist organizations. The more we build up Islam, the more we destroy ourselves.

Also see:

Trump Counter-Terror Speech: What’s Right; What Needs Work

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Photo: video screenshot)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Photo: video screenshot)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Aug. 16, 2016:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump outlined his proposed counter-terrorism strategy yesterday. He laid out an impressive ideology-based strategy that includes uplifting Muslim reformers; however, he also vindicated decades of Islamist propaganda by emphasizing his opinion that the U.S. should have taken Iraq’s oil from its people, which would have required a long-term military occupation to protect it.

What Was Right

The parts of the speech about waging an ideological war on radical Islam were a breath of fresh air.

Criticizing of the past two administrations for not identifying the enemy is not an inconsequential squabbling over semantics. It’s an organizing principle. It is necessary for distinguishing friend from foe and waging the war of ideas. Confronting this ideology should be enthusiastically received by liberals/progressives and conservatives alike.

Trump explained, “Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”

“My administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith. Our administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East and will amplify their voices. This includes speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings…” he continued.

When it comes to outlining the radical Islamic beliefs that we must confront, Trump knocked it out of the park, saying:

“A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: We should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people. In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test of the threats we face today.

“In addition to screening out all members of sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles—or who believe that sharia law should supplant American law.

“Those who do not believe in our Constitution or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country.”

He also called for deporting non-citizens who preach hatred, teaching our values and patriotism to newcomers and wisely talked about why assimilation is an “expression of compassion,” rather than “an act of hostility.”

Casting aside his ridiculous and offensive idea of a ban on all Muslims from entering the U.S., he instead advocated “extreme” ideological vetting based around American values.

Dr. Daniel Pipes has some recommendations on a vetting process can separate Islamists from Muslims we should embrace showing that this process is possible by using background checks, link analysis of what groups potential immigrants have associated with and questioning.

What Needs Work

Although this may be coming at a later date, Trump did not provide details of his counter-terrorism strategy except for his plan to halt inappropriate immigration. Trump pledged to uplift moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, something that is extremely necessary, yet did not mention embracing the Iranian opposition.

If Trump wants to be an ally with Muslim reformers and pro-human rights, his plan for a temporary ban on immigration from unstable countries known for exporting terrorism has to be amended to account for persecuted minorities or reformist Muslims fleeing those countries. For example, immigration for persecuted Coptic Christian from Egypt or a Muslim who is swarmed with death threats for challenging honor killings in Pakistan must fall into a special category.

Interestingly, Trump sees “secular” dictators like Saddam Hussein, Bashar Assad, Muammar Qaddafi and Hosni Mubarak as net pluses. In other speeches, he has blasted the pursuit of regime changes and undermining of governments.

Isn’t this a contradiction to promoting Muslim reformers?

Playing Into the Hands of Islamists

In the speech Trump firmly stated his opinion that the United States should have seized Iraqi’s oil production capabilites, which have required an indefinite occupation of the country.

“I was saying this constantly and to whoever would listen: Keep the oil, keep the oil, keep the oil. I said, ‘don’t let someone else get it.’…In the old days, when we won a war, to the victor belonged the spoils,” he said.

For decades, one of the main—and most fruitful—Islamist talking points is that the West, particularly the U.S., is scheming to steal oil from the Muslims and is happy to lie and slaughter hundreds of thousands of innocents to get it.

This breeds relentless hostility to American and the West and favorability towards Islamism. If that propaganda is seen as an undeniable fact (though statements such as these), then it becomes almost impossible for moderate Muslim reformers to succeed.

Those who argue that violent jihad against America is permissible use this very argument.

Until now, when speaking to the masses, Islamists had to block statement after statement from American politicians that America is not after the oil of the Muslims.

Now, jihadis have clips of an American presidential candidate supported by about 41% of the country advocating what they’ve claimed all along—that the U.S. wants to militarily conquer their land and take their resources.

***

Prof. Ryan Mauro, Clarion Project’s national security analyst, appears on “The Thom Hartmann Show,” the #1 progressive radio show, to discuss Donald Trump’s counter-terrorism speech on August 15.

America’s Most Dangerous Enemy to Lead Mosul Assault

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CounterJihad, Aug. 13, 2016:

According to The Long War Journal‘s Threat Matrix blog, Qassem Suleimani is going to be heavily involved in the leadership of the upcoming offensive against Islamic State (ISIS) positions in Mosul.

The spokesman of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Front (PMF) announced on August 6 that Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, will play a major role in the upcoming operations to take the city of Mosul from the Islamic State. The spokesman defended the presence of Iranian military advisors in Iraq.

According to translations of his remarks published by IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency, the spokesman called Soleimani “one of the most important military advisors” from the Islamic Republic of Iran. He added that Soleimani and other Iranian advisors are in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government and that they provide important consultation.

Soleimani is rumored to have arrived in Iraq last week to prepare for the battle of Mosul with the Iraqi government forces and PMF. An unnamed Iraqi parliamentarian claimed in an Asharq al Awsat article on August 3 that Soleimani arrived without a passport…

Soleimani directs IRGC operations in the Iraqi and Syrian theaters. The IRGC has deployed elite Iraqi and Lebanese proxies to Aleppo this past week to bolster the forces of Bashar al Assad, after rebels succeeded in breaking the siege of eastern Aleppo on August 6.

Now Suleimani is under international travel bans arising from  his attempt to lead a set of assassinations against diplomats worldwide.  Nevertheless, he has been allowed to travel freely to Iraq, Syria, and Russia.  In the course of those travels he has served as Iran’s point man in its unconventional warfare.  He has nearly succeeded in making Iran the dominant power in the northern Middle East, quite a feat given that it is managing to convince a more powerful Russia to follow its lead.

Suleimani led the Iranian efforts during the Iraq War, leading many proxy forces that killed some 3,000 Americans.  He was badly injured in Syria last fall, but seems to have recovered well enough to take a leadership position on the ground.  It is ironic to see him in the forefront of an effort that is backed by the United States, but under the Obama administration, such ironies abound.

Fact Check: Were Obama and Hillary Founders of ISIS? You Bet

AFP

AFP

Breitbart, by Kenneth R. Timmerman, Aug. 12, 2016:

Even the left-stream media is now acknowledging that Donald Trump “has a point” when he blasts Hilary and Obama for creating ISIS.

“Hillary Clinton is vulnerable. ISIS did gain strength during her time as Secretary of State,” said ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz.

Conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt tried to give Mr. Trump an out. “I know what you meant,” he suggested. “You meant that he [Obama] created the vacuum, he lost the peace.”

“No,” Trump replied. “I meant, he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”

Trump is correct – and quite literally, so.

First, a document. Then some history.

Thanks to Judicial Watch, we now have an August 2012 defense intelligence report on the civil war in Syria and the situation in Iraq that openly states that the policy of the United States and its allies was to support the Salafist opposition to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

That opposition, at the time spearheaded by Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), soon morphed into the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, ISIS.

The report appears to have originated from U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in Iraq, well before their intelligence product was tarnished by political interference from top commanders in 2014 aimed at diminishing the threat from ISIS.

Here’s what the report, originally stamped SECRET, actually says:

 AQI, through the spokesman of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), Abu Muhammad al- Adnani… is calling on the Sunnis in Iraq, especially the tribes in the border regions (between Iraq and Syria), to wage war against the Syrian regime…

Opposition forces are trying to control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor) adjacent to the Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar), in addition to neighboring Turkish borders. Western countries, the Gulf States and Turkey are supporting these efforts… [emphasis mine]

There is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria (Hasak and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want…

It is no secret that the United States was supporting the Syrian opposition in 2012 and even until very recently. In December 2012, thanks in large measure to the active lobbying of Mrs. Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, Obama declared that the United States considered the opposition as “the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.”

What was secret until the release of this August 2012 defense intelligence report is that the United States knew that the Syrian opposition was dominated by al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq, groups that merged and morphed into what today we call ISIS.

So Donald Trump is literally correct. Obama and Hillary created ISIS. They figure among the founding fathers of the world’s most brutal terrorist organization. They deserve ISIS Most Valuable Player awards for their efforts.

Some of America’s enemies, such as Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran, have also accused the United States of creating ISIS – but as a tool for encroaching on Iran’s efforts to dominate the Muslim world. In fact, Obama and Hillary’s policies have simultaneously favored Iran and its rise to regional dominance, standing aside as Iran filled the vacuum in Iraq with its own militias and allowing Iranian troops and weapons to flow onto battlefields in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and beyond.

Other documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that the United States was also complicit with arms shipments from Benghazi to the jihadi rebel groups in Syria.

These particular shipments were distinct from the more publicized case of al Entisar, a Libyan fishing vessel that arrived in Iskanderiyah, Turkey, crammed with weapons in late August 2012.

The shipments described in this recently declassified document were sent directly to small Syrian ports under rebel control and included RPG grenade-launchers, sniper rifles, and ammunition for 125mm and 155mm howitzers.

As I revealed two years ago, the U.S. backed arms shipments to ISIS and its allies in Syria appear to have been run out of the White House by then-counterterrorism advisor (and current CIA director) John Brennan. Running the clandestine arms shipments outside official channels allowed Obama and his allies – including Mrs. Clinton, who supported the arms shipments – to withhold that information from Congress.

Deflecting attention from these arms shipments is precisely why Obama and Hillary hatched their “blame-it-on-a-YouTube-video” narrative as the cause of the Benghazi attacks. It was a deliberate deception to trick the American people and cover-up their misdeeds.

Obama’s disastrous withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq in December 2011 clearly enhanced the ability of AQI and ISI to seize control of large portions of Iraqi territory and certainly contributed to the birth of ISIS. It also opened the door for Iran to fill the vacuum.

But as the August 2012 defense intelligence report states, that was the plan all along. Obama and Hillary wanted to create an ISIS-controlled enclave in Syria, “in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

Donald Trump was right. Again.

Kenneth R. Timmerman is the author of Deception: the Making of the YouTube Video Hillary and Obama Blamed for Benghazi, released on July 19 and is now in its 4thprinting.

Also see:

House Report: ‘Strongly Negative Reactions’ to ‘Bad News’ Influenced ‘Rosy’ Intel Tweaking

ISIS members kill a man accused of breaking Sharia law in Raqqa, Syria, in this photo released Feb. 16, 2016, by the terror group.

ISIS members kill a man accused of breaking Sharia law in Raqqa, Syria, in this photo released Feb. 16, 2016, by the terror group.

PJ MEDIA, BY BRIDGET JOHNSON, AUGUST 11, 2016:

WASHINGTON — An initial report from a congressional task force studying claims that intelligence from U.S. Central Command analysts on Iraq and the Islamic State was made more optimistic before presented to the administration found that a review process was influenced by “strongly negative reactions by senior leadership to bad news being reported in intelligence.”

The joint task force to review the whistleblower allegations was a venture of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, led by Reps. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas), and Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio).

“After months of investigation, this much is very clear: from the middle of 2014 to the middle of 2015, the United States Central Command’s most senior intelligence leaders manipulated the command’s intelligence products to downplay the threat from ISIS in Iraq,” Pompeo said in releasing the report today. “The result: consumers of those intelligence products were provided a consistently ‘rosy’ view of U.S. operational success against ISIS.”

“That may well have resulted in putting American troops at risk as policymakers relied on this intelligence when formulating policy and allocating resources for the fight,” he added.

The whistleblower allegations that prompted the congressional probe are still being investigated by the Department of Defense Inspector General, but the task force found that “structural and management changes made at the CENTCOM Intelligence Directorate starting in mid-2014 resulted in the production and dissemination of intelligence products that were inconsistent with the judgments of many senior, career analysts at CENTCOM.”

This issue of products “consistently more optimistic regarding the conduct of U.S. military action than that of the senior analysts,” including in other parts of the intelligence community, extended to press releases, public statements and congressional testimonies — such as a CENTCOM official declaring that the assault to take back Mosul, which still hasn’t happened, could begin in spring 2015, a statement that ISIS was “losing ground” and cornered into a “defensive position” a week before the fall of Ramadi, and the CENTCOM commander Gen. Lloyd Austin’s testimony to Congress that ISIS was in a “defensive crouch.”

They found overall that “the leadership environment within CENTCOM and its Intelligence Directorate deteriorated significantly following the 2013 departure of Marine General James Mattis and his senior intelligence leaders.” Mattis wasrecruited by some this year for an independent White House run, which he declined.

Austin took command after Mattis, and was replaced this March by Gen. Joseph Votel.

During Austin’s tenure, 40 percent of analysts who responded to a survey reported they had “experienced an attempt to distort or suppress intelligence in the past year.”

The task force said the “environment slowly began to improve” after the inspector general began probing the claims last year, but it took Votel’s arrival and a new head of CENTCOM’s intelligence directorate to see marked improvements.

The report said congressional investigators, who did not have access to all requested materials, found “no justifiable reason why operational reporting was repeatedly used as a rationale to change the analytic product, particularly when the changes only appeared to be made in a more optimistic direction.”

“By supplanting analytic tradecraft with unpublished and ad hoc operational reporting, Joint Intelligence Center (JIC) leadership circumvented important processes that are intended to protect the integrity of intelligence analysis.”

Among recommendations to new CENTCOM leadership to keep steering the ship in the right direction, the task force called upon the Defense Intelligence Agency to “take ownership of its role as leader of the Defense Intelligence Enterprise, and significantly increase its analytic oversight and review of intelligence products generated by the Combatant Command (COCOM) intelligence centers.”

The DIA’s inspector general received the May 28, 2015, complaint from a DIA analyst assigned to CENTCOM charging that “senior leaders within the CENTCOM Intelligence Directorate and JIC, including the Director of Intelligence and other senior intelligence staff, violated regulations, tradecraft standards, and professional ethics by modifying intelligence assessments to present an unduly positive outlook on CENTCOM efforts to train the [Iraqi Security Forces] and combat ISIL.”

The congressional panel interviewed five CENTCOM analysts in addition to the one who logged the complaint. Four more analysts declined requests to be interviewed, with House investigators “concerned that some of the analysts may have done so out of fear of potential reprisals for their testimony.” Other officials in the intelligence process were interviewed as well.

Read more

Also see:

A government task force finds that senior officers manipulated intelligence reports to make the President look good. The result? The Islamic State had time to blossom and flower.

Inside the Last ISIS Stronghold in Iraq, Resistance Grows

Anti-ISIS graffiti in Mosul

Anti-ISIS graffiti in Mosul

Preemptive Love, Aug. 4, 2016:

As the extremist group known as ISIS looks increasingly unsteady inside Iraq, there are a growing number of acts of resistance against the group inside the northern city of Mosul, which has been it’s stronghold in Iraq for over two years.

Evidence includes the number of times one sees the letter “M” written on the walls of schools, mosques, and other buildings in the city. This letter was not a casual choice. It is the first letter of the Arabic wordmuqawama, which means “resistance.”

It is an important symbol for those living in the city who oppose the extremist group and all it stands for. Acts of physical resistance are still rare, mainly because the city is full of ISIS fighters, many of whom are armed and who will not hesitate to punish those who oppose them.

Of course, the extremists do not stand idly by when this graffiti appears. They clean it from the walls and try to find those responsible.

Local media has also responded to the graffiti, publishing stories about it, mostly gleaned from Iraqi social media users, who post pictures of the graffiti and boast about how the people of Mosul are trying to resist ISIS.

The “M” is not the only way locals are resisting ISIS. Locals in the Dubbat neighborhood in Mosul—an area where many army officers used to live—woke to find somebody had placed an Iraqi flag atop an electricity pole during the night. The only flag allowed in Mosul is the black one belonging to ISIS. Extremists removed the flag immediately and burned it; they also arrested a number of locals, including some younger people and some retired army officers, and took them away, blindfolded, for questioning.

Everyone in Mosul knows the price of resistance—certain, and most likely cruel, death.

On July 21, ISIS released a 7-minute video that showed two extremists holding knives, as well as two young Iraqi men in front of them. The extremists spoke in French and threatened France again, as well as the other countries belonging to the international coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. They also congratulated the man who killed over 80 in Nice, France, on July 14. Then they proceeded to decapitate the young men with their knives. The whole gruesome spectacle was filmed in Mosul.

The cruelty did not surprise Iraqis. But what is surprising about the video is the fact that it contains an admission from ISIS that there is resistance to them inside Mosul. The two young men who were killed confessed to having drawn the “M” graffiti, and also to having given information to the international coalition.

ISIS has been trying to isolate the people of Mosul from the rest of the world for some time now. In November 2014, the group banned communication by mobile phones (with varying degrees of success); and in February, they began to stop locals from leaving the city. Today, there is no way of getting out of Mosul without using risky smuggling routes.

About a month ago, ISIS fighters started to collect satellite television receivers. Members of the group drive around the city with loudspeakers, calling out to households to hand over their satellite dishes. The receivers will be taken to the outskirts of the city and destroyed, ISIS members say.

Read more

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Also see:

  • Shia militias committing atrocities in Iraqi cities
  • ISIS to adopt the al Qaeda model for Iraq
  • Arming the Sunni tribes, recognizing the Kurds, and distancing from the Iranian-backed government in Baghdad

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The Fall of Mosul – A historical documentary on how 1500 ISIS extremists were able to take control of a modern city of 1.8 million people. It covers ancient history, the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Syrian civil war, and more.

Islamic State Preparing for Loss of Caliphate

ISIS soldiers. (Photo: © Screenshot from video)

ISIS soldiers. (Photo: © Screenshot from video)

Clarion Project,  July 14, 2016:

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL)  is ordering potential recruits to remain in their countries of origin and wait to carry out attacks there, in preparation for the loss of territory it controls in Iraq and Syria.

The world’s most notorious terrorist group has been steadily losing territory in Iraq to the Iraqi army, bolstered by Iranian backed Shiite militias, and in Syria to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Western-backed coalition of militia groups dominated by Kurdish YPG forces.

“While we see our core structure in Iraq and Syria under attack, we have been able to expand and have shifted some of our command, media and wealth structure to different countries,” a longtime Islamic State operative told the Washington Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“We do have, every day, people reaching out and telling us they want to come to the caliphate. But we tell them to stay in their countries and rather wait to do something there.”

Islamic State’s supporters will not be deterred by a lack of organizational infrastructure, former CIA head and retired air force general Michael Hayden told the Washington Post.

“Where al-Qaeda was hierarchical and somewhat controlled, these guys are not,” he said. “They have all the energy and unpredictability of a populist movement.”

IHS senior analyst Columb Strack concurred, telling CNN that “as the Islamic State’s caliphate shrinks and it becomes increasingly clear that its governance project is failing, the group is re-prioritizing insurgency.”

“As a result, we unfortunately expect an increase in mass casualty attacks and sabotage of economic infrastructure, across Iraq and Syria, and further afield, including Europe.”

Experts see this trend as already happening. The recent attacks against Saudi Arabia “bear the hallmarks of ISIL” CIA Director John Brennan announced Wednesday.

The Islamic State successfully carried out an attack against the United States in Orlando Florida, when the Pulse gay nightclub was attacked on June 12 by Omar Mateen, and 49 people were killed in the worst mass shooting in recent American history.

Yet there are many more attempts which are prevented by security services. On Sunday July 10 a Virginia man was arrested in a sting operation after helping an FBI informant make videos of landmarks in Washington DC in preparation for an ISIS terrorist attack.

Last year the FBI investigated terrorism in all 50 states.

Signs of Insurrection in Mosul as ISIS Executes Top Commanders

A fighter with Badr Brigades an armed Shiite group under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces loads his rifle as Iraqi security forces and allied Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces and Sunni tribal fighters, take combat positions outside Fallujah / AP

A fighter with Badr Brigades an armed Shiite group under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces loads his rifle as Iraqi security forces and allied Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces and Sunni tribal fighters, take combat positions outside Fallujah / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Douglas Burton, June 27, 2016:

A synchronized attack on ISIS militants by unknown persons in the city of Mosul suggests spreading unrest in the last large city held by ISIS in Iraq.

Local sources in Mosul have told Iraqi media that ISIS terrorists were shot at by unknown men in several areas in Mosul. ISIS has deployed its fighters in the city to find the shooters. This is the largest synchronized attack since ISIS occupied the city in 2014, Daesh Daily reported Friday.

Additionally, a local activist says coalition warplanes bombed an ISIS vehicle on Masaref Street in Mosul, and bombed the location two more times after terrorists gathered there, according to the Syrian news site ARA.

Former Nineveh Province Governor Atheel Al-Nujaifi, who commands the National Mobilization Force of Sunni fighters, confirms that attacks are taking place inside Mosul with increased frequency.

“There was an attack in the Old City of Mosul on Friday. A man threw a hand grenade at Daesh militants. He was captured, executed and his body dragged through the streets behind a truck,” Nujaifi told the Washington Free Beacon by telephone Sunday. Daesh is an alternative name for ISIS.

“In another incident, an ISIS militant was shouting at a local woman who was not wearing her head scarf and an unknown man attacked the Daesh soldier with a knife,” Al-Nujaifi added.

The news site Sumaria reported Friday that Daesh militia are looking for unknown people in Mosul who tore up Daesh posters and pictures of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in different areas in the city. There are also reports of firefights within the ISIS police force as tension mounts and morale for the ISIS soldiers plummets. According to a Friday report by the Iraqi newspaper Mada, seven Daesh terrorists were killed in internal clashes between Daesh’s Islamic rules police, the hisbah, and security members.

Some Iraqi politicians have predicted that an insurrection will break out as the Iraqi army moves closer to liberating Mosul. An MP from Ninewa, Ahmed Al-Jubouri, who also leads an armed group, told an Iraqi newspaper on Wednesday that “People of Mosul are awaiting the start of the Ninewa liberation operations in order to revolt against Daesh.” He also says some of his fighters sneaked into Mosul city to carry out assassinations against ISIS terrorists.

ISIS executed four of its top commanders in a public square in Mosul on Wednesday, according to multiple sources, including Bas News, a Kurdish news site. The commanders reportedly were convicted by a Sharia Court for high treason on June 22nd and hanged in Mosul the same day, according to media reports. The executions follow the hanging or beheading of 21 ISIS commanders since April and the executions of scores of ISIS fighters charged with desertion or collaborating with Iraqi Army agents.

The Mosul incidents happened as major battles were underway in the northwestern tip of Saladin Province 140 miles north of Baghdad. The Iraqi Army’s elite counter-terrorism units are pressing into the city of Shirqat, an ISIS stronghold. They are supported by the 4,000-man 92nd Brigade, an armored unit including tanks and infantry composed of predominately Turkmen volunteers from Tel Afar, according to Dr. Ali Al Bayati of the Turkmen Rescue Foundation.

The Salahuddin Operations commander says his troops destroyed 30 ISIS vehicle bombs. ISIS media reported more than 10 suicide attacks in the Shirqat areas.

Nujaifi says the subjugation of Shirqat, will be followed by a campaign to liberate Qayara, an oilfield town of 80,000 people 60 km south of Mosul. After Qayara is secured, which he estimates should need only a few days, the full force of the Iraqi Army can turn toward Mosul.

“The Iraqi Army wants to capture the airfield at Qayara, much more than the city. But as the Qayara campaign gets underway, Daesh is expected to burn the oil field,” Mr. Nujaifi said.

Mr. Nujaifi says that most of the elite fighters in Mosul, who are foreign nationals, have fled in recent days to the ISIS stronghold in Tel Afar, 30 kilometers west of Mosul.

Ali Sada, editor of Daesh Daily, contributed to this report.

Also see:

The Islamic State’s prolific ‘martyrdom’ machine

isis suicide attacksLONG WAR JOURNAL, BY | June 8, 2016:

The Islamic State claims to have executed 489 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq, Syria and Libya during the first five months of 2016. The figure comes from monthly data published by Amaq News Agency, a propaganda arm of the so-called caliphate that releases infographics summarizing the group’s suicide attacks.

Amaq’s most recent infographic (seen on the right) indicates that the jihadists executed 119 “martyrdom operations” in the month of May alone. If Amaq’s figures are accurate, then the Islamic State is launching suicide attacks at a historically high rate.

Earlier this month, for example, the State Department reported that there were 726 “suicide attacks” executed by all perpetrators around the globe in 2015. Therefore, all terrorist groups, including the Islamic State, carried out an average of 61 suicide bombings per month in 2015. The Islamic State nearly doubled that rate in May and has exceeded it by more than 20 attacks each month this year, according to Amaq’s infographics.

The data referenced by Foggy Bottom is compiled by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), which maintains an “unclassified event database compiled from information in open-source reports of terrorist attacks.”

According to START’s data, 2015 witnessed a record number of suicide bombings. But 2016 is currently on pace to eclipse that high-water mark.

While Amaq’s claims are difficult to independently verify, the statistics are reasonable given the scale of the Islamic State’s fighting. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men routinely claim credit for simultaneous suicide bombings. The organization is taking on multiple adversaries in every country where it operates, making the use of suicide bombings (one of the jihadists’ most effective tactics) an especially important tool. For instance, the State Department noted that “[o]n average, suicide attacks in 2015 were 4.6 times as lethal as non-suicide attacks.”

A recent video from Al Hayat, another one of the Islamic State’s mouthpieces, trumpeted this “caliphate vs. the world” mentality. In “The Religion of Kufr Is One,” Al Hayat made it clear that Baghdadi’s enterprise is at war with virtually everyone else. The subtitle of the video, “The Islamic State and its methodology dealing with all apostate parties and nations of disbelief,” underscored the degree to which this is the group’s deliberate strategy.

The Islamic State’s prolific use of “martyrs” probably highlights both its strength and weakness. On the one hand, there are likely more people, predominately young men, willing to die for the jihadists’ cause today than ever. (It should also be noted that adolescents and even children have been used in suicide attacks.) On the other hand, most of the organization’s suicide attackers are being dispatched in areas where the “caliphate” is being challenged, including locations that were once under its control.

The Long War Journal assesses that Islamic State is being forced to deploy many of its “martyrs” because its territorial claims are being rolled back in Iraq, Syria and even Libya.

The Long War Journal has tallied the figures provided on Amaq’s infographics from January through May of 2016. The English-language versions of these infographics can be seen below.

The following observations have been culled from Amaq’s statistics.

Most of the Islamic State’s “martyrdom operations,” 303 of the 489 claimed (62 percent), have been carried out inside Iraq. Approximately half of these (152 of 303) have been launched in Anbar province, where the jihadists are engaged in fierce battles with Iraqi government forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias for months. Salahuddin (52 suicide attacks), Nineveh (40), Baghdad (32), and Kirkuk (17) are the next most frequently targeted areas.

The Islamic State launched 175 suicide attacks in Syria (36 percent of the total) during the first five months of the year. Aleppo province (59) was hit most frequently, followed by Hasakah (33), Deir Ezzor (25), Homs (20) and Raqqa (14) provinces. Raqqa is, of course, the de facto capital of the Islamic State. Amaq’s data indicate that 12 of the 14 suicide attacks there this year were carried out in February.

The remaining 11 “martyrdom operations” took place in Libya. Interestingly, Amaq claimed only one suicide attack in Libya from January through April. But the infographic for May shows 10 such bombings. Nine of the 10 have been executed in and around Sirte, the group’s central base of operations in Libya. The Islamic State’s presence in Sirte has been under assault from multiple directions for weeks, with the jihadists losing their grip on some of the neighboring towns and key facilities. Thus, the group is likely attempting to stymie its rivals’ advances with the deployment of its suicide bombers.

Iraqi forces are the most frequent target of the Islamic State’s “martyrdom operations,” as they were hit 279 times from January through May. Bashar al Assad’s regime is the second most frequent target, with the Islamic State’s suicide bombers striking the Syrian government’s forces on 89 occasions. The remaining bombings struck “Kurdish units” (54), the “Syrian opposition” (31 times), the Peshmerga (25), Fajr Libya (10) and General Khalifa Haftar’s fighters in Libya (1).

Vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) are used more often than individual bombers strapped with explosives, according to Amaq. The infographics count 301 VBIEDs used in suicide attacks (62 percent of the total) as compared to 184 bombings using explosive belts, jackets and vests. The remaining four are listed as “dual operations.”

Assuming Amaq’s data are accurate, then the Islamic State’s “martyrdom” machine is setting a record pace for suicide operations.

See more

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

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Shiite Protesters Supporting Muqtada al-Sadr Storm Baghdad’s Green Zone, Occupy Parliament Building

iraq-green-zone-2016-04-30t141758z.sized-770x415xtPJ MEDIA, BY PATRICK POOLE. APRIL 30, 2016:

The government of Iraq teeters on the brink of collapse and a state of emergency has been declared after thousands of supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the Green Zone in Baghdad today and occupied the parliament building:

Hundreds of protesters climbed over the blast walls surrounding Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone for the first time on Saturday and stormed into parliament, carrying Iraqi flags and chanting against the government.The breach marked a major escalation in the country’s political crisis following months of anti-government protests, sit-ins and demonstrations by supporters of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The Green Zone is home to most ministries and foreign embassies and has long been the focus of al-Sadr’s criticism of the government.

Earlier Saturday, al-Sadr accused Iraqi politicians of blocking political reforms aimed at combating corruption and waste. While al-Sadr didn’t call for an escalation to the protests, shortly after his remarks, his supporters began scaling the compound’s walls. A group of young men then pulled down a section of concrete blast walls to cheers from the crowd of thousands gathered in the streets outside.

Various video feeds from inside the Iraqi parliament have been posted:

The Carnegie Endowment has a good overview of the Iraqi political crisis. Sadrist are also blocking the roads to the Baghdad International Airport to prevent Iraqi politicians from fleeing the country:

One U.S. spokesman had to take to Twitter to deny that Iraqi politicians were seeking refuge inside the U.S. Embassy:

Those of us old enough to remember the Iranian Revolution in 1979 can see striking similarities.

Muqtada al-Sadr is no friend of the U.S. and his Iranian-funded Mahdi Army was responsible for the deaths of a number of U.S. soldiers and servicemen in Iraq. Even after the U.S. military departure from Iraq, Sadr has threatened attacks against the U.S. if any type of recognition of Kurdistan or Sunni-controlled areas by the U.S. government were to occur. Bill Roggio of The Long War Journal explains the militias Sadr has under his control:

Sadr controls two militias inside Iraq: the Saraya al Salam, or Peace Companies (often called the Peace Brigades), and the Liwa al Yaom al Mawood, or Promised Day Brigade. Both groups are offshoots of the Mahdi Army, Sadr’s militia that fought US forces in pitched battles in Baghdad and central and southern Iraq between 2004 and 2008. Sadr purportedly disbanded the Mahdi Army in the spring of 2008 after US forces battled the group in Baghdad’s sprawling neighborhood of Sadr City, and created the Promised Day Brigade.

Sadr created the Peace Companies after the Islamic State overran most of northern and central Iraq beginning in June 2014. In February 2015, he purportedly suspended the activities of the two militias, however the groups have been spotted fighting in Iraq since then. Sadr also frequently claimed to have halted the activities of the Mahdi Army during the US occupation, but these ceasefires rarely held.

While Sadr has denied receiving Iranian support, the US military and government consistently stated that his forces have the backing of Qods Force, the special operations branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp. US military officials called the Iranian-backed militias who battled American forces up until 2011, such as Hezbollah Brigades and Asaib al Haq (League of the Righteous), the Mahdi Army Special Groups. With the backing of Qods Force, Sadr’s militias maintain the ability to strike US interests in the Gulf region and the Levant.

It bears mentioning that Vice President Joe Biden was just in Baghdad to meet with Prime Minister Al-Abadi two days ago:

The collapse of the Iraqi government or a continuation of the political stalemate will reflect poorly on Barack Obama’s decision to remove U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of 2011 just prior to his 2012 reelection campaign.

During the 2012 campaign he took credit for the move, but as Iraq continues to devolve under multiple pressure points, including the presence of ISIS in the north and west of the country, he has blamed Iraqi authorities for the American withdrawal.

Also see:

Islamic State Brainwashing Yazidi Boys to Turn on and Kill Their Families

Sipa via AP Images by EDWIN MORA26 Apr 201647

Sipa via AP Images

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, April 26, 2016:

Some Yazidi boys who have been subjected to Islamic State indoctrination are hesitating to escape the jihadist group’s training camps when given the chance, Reuters reports.

“When nine-year-old Murad got the chance to flee from Islamic State — the group that repeatedly raped his mother and slaughtered or enslaved thousands from his Yazidi minority — he hesitated,” notes the report.

“So powerful was the indoctrination during his 20-month captivity in Iraq and Syria that the boy told his mother he wanted to stay at the camp where Islamic State had trained him to kill ‘infidels’, including his own people,” it adds.

Reuters spoke to one of the boys, identified only as Murad, and his mother after they escaped captivity by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

Murad’s mother reportedly said she struggled to convince her son, who was being prepared for battle along other Yazidi boys, to flee the ISIS training camp where he was being held along with his mother and little brother.

“My son’s brain was changed and most of the kids were saying to their families ‘Go, we will stay’,” the mother told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “Until the last moment before we left, my son was saying ‘I will not come with you’.”

“Yazidi boys appear to be part of broader efforts by Islamic State to create a new generation of fighters loyal to the group’s ideology and inured to its extreme violence,” notes Reuters. “The training often leaves them scarred, even after returning home.”

Murad, his brother, and mother were taken hostage by ISIS when the jihadist group seized their village near the Yazidi Iraqi town of Sinjar in August 2014.

ISIS massacred, raped, and enslaved thousands of Yazidis during that offensive. Members of the Yazidi minority group are considered to be devil-worshippers by the jihadist group.

The United States, which launched airstrikes against ISIS in an effort to save the Yazidis, has determined that the attacks on the minority group amount to genocide.

Many Yazidis have been unable to return to their homeland in and around Sinjar due to the ongoing ISIS threat and the damage to the infrastructure caused by the airstrikes.

“More than a third of the 5,000 Yazidis captured in 2014 have escaped or been smuggled out, but activists say hundreds of boys are still held,” reports Reuters.

“Dressed in a long brown skirt and matching headscarf, the mother described how Murad had finally agreed to escape, allowing people smugglers to spirit the family by a convoluted route to a refugee camp near the northern Iraqi city of Duhok where they are living now,” it adds.

The Yazidi boys were being trained to fight the “infidels,” which Murad’s mother described as Shiite Muslims, the peshmerga forces of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the armed wing of Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

“They were teaching the children how to fight and go to war to battle the infidels,” Murad’s mother told Reuters.

The boys were reportedly being dressed in the long robes worn by ISIS members and trained to use guns and knives.

“They were assessing them for how well they had learned to fight. Daesh [ISIS] then showed the families videos of killing. Among them they saw their sons also taking part,” said the mother.

“Islamic State also forced Murad to pray, study the Koran and sit through extremist religious lessons, according to his mother, who said she had been beaten as well as raped by at least 14 men,” reports Reuters.

Other Yazidi boys were subjected to similar treatment.

“They told us, ‘You are Yazidis and you are infidels. We want to convert you to the true religion so you can go to heaven’,” a 16-year-old Yazidi boy told Reuters on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution against his brother and father still held by ISIS.

“Most Yazidis have had to spend small fortunes on smugglers’ costs to rescue loved ones — Murad’s family raised $24,000 to get the three home,” notes Reuters.

Also see:

The Strong Horse is Always Favored

black flag

By Counter Jihad,  April 14, 2016:

Brett Stephens at the Wall Street Journal chides those who excuse terrorist violence from the Islamic world.

There’s a great deal of literature about how young Muslim men—often born in the West to middle-class and not particularly religious households—get turned on to jihad….  It’s a long list.

And in many cases investigators are able to identify an agent of radicalization…. But the influence of the Awlakis of the world can’t fully account for the mind-set of these jihadists. They are also sons of the West—educated in the schools of multiculturalism, reared on the works of Noam Chomsky and perhaps Frantz Fanon, consumers of a news diet heavy with reports of perfidy by American or British or Israeli soldiers. If Islamism is their ideological drug of choice, the political orthodoxies of the modern left are their gateway to it.

Stephens mentions a famous anti-colonial thinker, Chomsky, as a purveyor of the idea that hatred of the West is justified in the Islamic world.  This attitude is not limited to scholars.  It is peddled by public relations firms that are paid by Islamic governments to sell these stories to Western publics.  Burson-Marsteller, called “the PR firm of evil” even by MSNBC, has just crafted a poll designed to push that very point.  Using simplistic language and offering no useful analysis, the poll finds that 90% of Iraqi youth view the United States as an enemy government.

It does not ask why.  It might be because the United States, having brought peace to their land after a brutal civil war, abandoned them to a new spiral of darkness.  President Obama has recently tried to shift the blame for his disastrous Iraq policy onto the shoulders of retiring Central Command leader General Lloyd Austin.  But Austin advised President Obama not to withdraw precipitously from Iraq.  President Obama abandoned Iraq to a renewed chaos.  Had American soldiers remained in the country to stabilize the government, the peace that flourished following the Surge and into 2009 would have continued.

Instead, though, we are told that our ‘occupation’ was the driver of their rage.  “For years, many have argued that Muslims and Arabs, like other humans, don’t appreciate being bombed or occupied,” says Haroon Moghul, a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. “Finally, we have a study to confirm this suspicion.”

That is nonsense.  The Gulf States love America, including Bahrain where we base the US 5th Fleet and Qatar where Central Command’s forward deployed headquarters is located.  Kuwaitis love America in spite of the fact that we base Air Force operations there serving the war in Afghanistan and, yes, Iraq.  Iraqis had mixed feelings about the troops who both were a reminder of national weakness and yet also a guarantor of their country’s stability.  Many did not want us to leave.  “Occupation” isn’t driving the anger at America among the current state of Iraq.

What is driving the anger is the way in which our leadership broke the promises we made, and allowed peace to slip away.  President Obama broke our word and left them to be savaged by the dogs of war.  But peddling the justification has its purpose.  It allows the President to shift the blame for Iraqi anger to his predecessor.  It also teaches the potential jihadist, however, that the West condemns itself and thinks their anger against us is justified.  It suggests to them that we are prepared to submit, because we do not see ourselves as morally worthy to wield the sword.  Weakness provokes.  As a man who knew something about jihad once said, everyone always favors the strong horse.

Also see:

Would Iraqis want help from a country they don’t trust?

iraq

Constitution, by Joe Scudder, April 11, 2016:

Don’t the Iraqis want help in combating ISIS? Many probably do. But watch this news report and notice the anomalies.

Does this seem strange to you? ISIS has invaded Iraq, carved out a portion of its territory, and committed mass atrocities. Yet  has to make a sudden trip to make sure that are going to keep fighting. Why should a politician from thousands of miles away have to go make sure that the Iraqis are willing to fight such an immediate threat? Do they not understand what ISIS is?

No, according to a State Department report, they understand ISIS. ABC News reports,

The Iraqi public, the report says, is “keenly aware of [ISIS’s] true nature” and the polling showed that “nearly all Iraqis have unfavorable views of [ISIS] and oppose its goals and tactics, with no significant variation across religious sects and ethnic groups.”

So they hate ISIS as they should. The problem is that they don’t trust the United States.

Despite the United States spending billions of dollars and spilling American blood in the fight against ISIS, as many as one third of Iraqis believed as recently as last fall that the U.S. “supports terrorism in general or ISIL [ISIS] specifically,” according to a recent U.S. State Department report. Forty percent of the country said the U.S. is purposefully “working to destabilize Iraq and control its natural resources.”

The figures come from State Department polling cited in a State Inspector General report that was published online last week. The report, which used data from October to November 2015, focused on how well the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was implementing the sixth of nine directives from the Obama White House’s strategy to counter ISIS, namely, “Exposing [ISIS’s] True Nature.” While the report found that the embassy was working diligently to counter ISIS’s messaging, mostly with America’s own information about coalition military victories, the White House directive didn’t exactly apply as written.

I’ll leave the accusation about the U.S. wanting to control Iraq’s resources alone. I don’t know that it is true even though I think the Iraqis cannot be blamed for believing it, even if it is false.  What about the U.S. supporting terrorism?

That is exactly what we did in Libya under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The Iraqis aren’t being fools. They are simply reading the news.

Consider this recent post from the Ron Paul Institute: “US Delivers 3,000 Tons of Weapons And Ammo To Al-Qaeda & Co in Syria.”

It reads in part,

US and Turkey supported “rebels” took part in the recent attack on Tal al-Eis against Syrian government forces which was launched with three suicide bombs by al-Qaeda in Syria. This was an indisputable breaking of the ceasefire agreement between Russia and the US It is very likely that some of the weapons and ammunition the US delivered in December were used in this attack.

Millions of rifle, machine-gun and mortar shots, thousands of new light and heavy weapons and hundreds of new anti-tank missiles were delivered by the US. Neither Turkey nor Jordan use such weapons of Soviet providence. These weapons are going to Syria where, as has been reported for years by several independent sources, half of them go directly to al-Qaeda.

No wonder the Iraqis don’t want help from us. They think we’re a major source of their problem.

Do we really want the government increasing our taxes and debt to interfere in that part of the world? What has it purchased for us so far?

Joe Scudder is the “nom de plume” (or “nom de guerre”) of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

Hezbollah Brigades vows to attack US forces ‘defending ISIS’ in Iraq

Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah wave Hezbollah and Lebanese flags in south Lebanon. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Supporters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah wave Hezbollah and Lebanese flags in south Lebanon. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Jerusalem Post, by Maayan Groisman, March 21, 2016:

Hezbollah Brigades fighters in Iraq have threatened to attack the American soldiers stationed in the country, following the decision by the US army to send reinforcements to Iraq to support the international coalition in its fights against ISIS.

In a statement released Sunday, the Iranian-backed organization active in Iraq and in the Syrian civil war, claimed: “the United States increasingly intervenes in Iraq’s issues with its presence in the Iraqi joint operations command.”

While the US army says it is sending reinforcements to Iraq to help the international coalition vanquish ISIS, Hezbollah Brigades’ statement claimed the opposite.

“ISIS, the stepdaughter of the Americans, is taking its last breaths, so the Americans dispatched their ground troops to protect the “clinically dead” body of ISIS,” Hezbollah Brigades’ statement read.

“We have vanquished the American occupation with our quality and quantity in the past and we will continue attacking them, with our resources significantly increased. Iraq’s streets are still filled with the ruins of their vehicles that destroyed our explosive devices, and those injured by their soldiers are still hospitalized.

“The occupation’s coward soldiers should understand that however protective their vehicles are, these vehicles will become an obstacle for them and they will burn to death inside them,” the statement read.

Hezbollah Brigades, known in Arabic as Kata’ib Hezbollah, is not directly affiliated to the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah. However, according to American forces, the group received training and logistical aid from the Iranian Quds force as well as from Lebanese Hezbollah.

Hezbollah Brigades’ statement comes shortly after Colonel Steve Warren, the Spokesman of the US military operation against ISIS, announced Sunday that a group of Marines will reinforce the existing force in Iraq to support the international coalition’s efforts against ISIS.

On Saturday, an American Marine troop who served at a coalition fire base near Makhmur in northern Iraq was killed after the base came under ISIS rocket fire. Several other Marines were wounded in this ISIS attack.

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