The Trump Administration and the Kurds — A Conversation with Sherkoh Abbas

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President of the Kurdish National Assembly of Syria talks chaos in Turkey and hopes for Kurdish statehood.

Front Page Magazine, by Joseph Puder, November 16, 2016:

Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting the Islamic State (IS) in both Iraq and Syria have exhibited courage, determination, and a unique pro-American attitude in the Arabic speaking world.  In Syria, however, the Kurdish forces combating the Islamic State bravely and successfully are being attacked by the Turkish army as ordered by President ErdoganHuman rights activist Dilovan Mirkhan told ARA News (November 13, 2016) that “The Turkish army stationed on the borderline with Syria, bombed residential buildings in the Mosako town in Afrin, adding that the bombardment led to massive destruction in the area.” Mirkhan reported that “Dead bodies of eight civilian victims were collected subsequent to the attack, and many others remained stranded under the rubble.”

It should be unacceptable for the incoming Trump administration to allow Turkey’s dictatorial president Erdogan to attack the very forces (the Kurds) who are liberating portions of Syria from the IS. Moreover, it is also high time for the U.N. and the U.S. to recognize the Kurdish people’s right to self-determination.  The U.N. has held endless sessions in support of Palestinian rights and requests for statehood. The Kurds, numbering tens-of-millions, deserve much more from the international community.  There are 22 Arab states but no Kurdish state.  Given the critical role the Kurds are playing in liberating Iraq and Syria from the barbarism of the IS, the time has come to reward the Kurds with a state of their own.

Kurds have been oppressed by Saddam Hussein in Iraq and gassed in Halabja. Hafez Assad, the dictator of Syria expelled hundreds of thousands of Kurds from the Al-Hasakeh region, with similar numbers becoming stateless.  The Islamic Republic of Iran has equally oppressed its largely Sunni-Muslim Kurds. It has denied political and cultural rights to its Kurdish citizens.  Turkey, where the Kurds count for almost 20% of the population, is currently bombing the Kurds at the Kurdish-majority region of southeastern Turkey, and in Syria.

This reporter asked Sherkoh Abbas, President of the Kurdish National Assembly of Syria (KNA-S), to respond to the current situation in Syria.

Joseph Puder (JP): With Donald Trump becoming the new occupant of the White House, and Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, what would you like the new administration to do in Syria?

Sherkoh Abbas (SA): I hope to see the Trump administration abandon the outdated policy of maintaining the unjust legacy of the colonial Sykes-Picot agreement. Similarly, Trump should reverse the previous U.S. administration’s investment in cozying up to ruthless Middle East regimes at the expense of its existing allies.  Instead, the new administration should support its natural allies such as the Kurds in the Middle East and the Amazigh people (Berbers) in North Africa.

Supporting an independent Kurdistan would help finish the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and reduce Iran’s influence in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.  Working with the Kurds would also sever the Shiite Crescent.  Moreover, open support for the Kurds would check Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ambitious Neo-Ottoman Empire.

The U.S. under the Trump presidency, should provide full and direct support to the Kurds on all levels, including the delivery of arms, unlike the Obama administration.  Arms to the Kurds should bypass Baghdad, and go directly to the Kurds.

During the primaries, Trump expressed support for the Kurds.  We will call on him to do just that.  The Kurds share the same values with the U.S. and they are eager to work with America.

JP: What do you expect from the Trump administration with regards to an independent Kurdish state in Syria?

SA: Syrian Kurds are currently fighting on behalf of humanity in their struggle with the Islamic State.  As quid-pro-quo, the Kurds would like U.S. help in creating a federal system in Syria to start with, and ultimately supporting outright Kurdish independence in Syria. Israel, Russia, and some European nations are promoting a federal state for the failed states of Iraq and Syria.

JP: Are the leaders of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) ready for an independent Kurdish state in Syria?

SA: The YPG needs to distance itself from the Assad regime as well as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and work with all the Kurds, including over 5,000 Syrian Peshmerga forces currently fighting to take Mosul.  It must become inclusive instead of a dictatorial regime.  The YPG does not enjoy the overwhelming support of the Syrian Kurds.  The majority of Syrian Kurds want democracy and independence.

The YPG is vacillating between its work with the U.S., Russia, and the Assad regime.  The YPG has to face the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and IS, as well as other terror groups. The Arab Gulf states, particularly Qatar, is supporting the FSA, which is ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Turkey, a NATO-member, is too close to the IS and al-Qaeda, and their agenda is to get rid of the Assad regime and the Kurds.

JP: What influence can you and the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNA-S) exert on the powers that be in your home town of al-Qamishli and Kurdish Syria?

SA: Most of the Syrian Kurds are loyal to Kurdish tribal and civic leaders, and have strong alliances with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The YPG opposes such relationships, and thus is not a consensus organization.  The Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNA-S) is aligned with tribal and civic leaders and the KRG in Iraq.  We could deliver the “Kurdish street,” and additional soldiers to finish IS.

This year KNA-S has assembled a wide-ranging delegation of Syrian Kurds, including YPG officials, to come to Washington for talks with U.S. administration officials.  Unfortunately, the State Department did not furnish visas to the delegates from Syria to enter the U.S.  Hopefully, the Trump administration will invite the KNA-S to re-assemble the same delegation for talks in Washington.

JP: Given Erdogan’s dictatorial behavior toward the opposition in Turkey, and especially toward the Kurds in Southeastern Turkey, what would you advise the incoming President Donald Trump to do with regards to Erdogan and Turkey?

SA: Turkey ruled by Erdogan is a lost case, and it is not a friend of the U.S.  Turkey’s intimate relationship with radical Islamic groups requires explanation.  Erdogan’s regime has its eyes focused on Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, ostensibly to prevent the formation of an independent and contiguous Kurdistan, comprised of Iraqi and Syrian Kurdistan.

The Trump administration should prevent the Turkish army forces from entering Syrian territory under the guise of fighting IS.  The reality is that Turkey is only interested in fighting the Kurds, and preventing the creation of an independent Kurdish state, or an autonomous Kurdish region in northeastern Syria.

Behind the lines: Syria’s interlocking conflicts

SYRIAN DEMOCRATIC FORCES commanders announce an offensive to take the ISIS-held city of Raqqa last week.. (photo credit:RODI SAID / REUTERS)

SYRIAN DEMOCRATIC FORCES commanders announce an offensive to take the ISIS-held city of Raqqa last week.. (photo credit:RODI SAID / REUTERS)

Jerusalem Post, by Jonathan Spyer, November 11, 2016:

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces last Friday announced the commencement of an operation to conquer the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.  The operation was designated ‘Euphrates Wrath.’

Raqqa is the capital of the ‘Caliphate’ maintained by the Islamic State organization.  In tandem with the effort currently under way to recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul from IS, the loss of Raqqa would represent the final eclipse of the Islamic State as a quasi-sovereign entity.  At this point, it would revert back to the guerrilla/insurgent/terrorist force which it constituted prior to the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.

Conquering the city is likely to be a slow business.  However, the final outcome is not in doubt.  The Islamic State, whose main slogan in Arabic is ‘Baqiya watatamadad’ (remaining and expanding) has been in reality contracting since the high point of its advance in the autumn of 2014.  Its eventual demise, at least as a quasi-state entity, is assured.

But Syria is host not only to the war against IS, but to a series of other, interlocking conflicts.  And one of these additional conflicts pits the two main candidates for the leading role in the fight against IS in Raqqa against one another.

Observe: there is in Syria today no less than five identifiable conflicts taking place.

These are: Turkish-backed Sunni Arab rebel and Islamist organizations against the Assad dictatorship, western backed SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by the Kurdish YPG) against IS, Kurdish YPG against the Assad regime, the aforementioned Sunni rebels against IS and, lastly, the Sunni rebels against the SDF.

The problem for those seeking to cobble together a force to take Raqqa city and by so doing destroy the Islamic State, is that the two eligible forces to carry out this action are the mainly Kurdish SDF and the Turkish-backed, mainly Islamist Sunni rebels – but these forces are at war with one another.

After the SDF announced the commencement of the Raqqa campaign this week, Turkish President Recep Tayepp Erdogan expressed his opposition to the decision, repeating his assertion that the Kurdish YPG are merely ‘another terror organization…a side branch’ of the PKK.

Following the SDF’s announcement, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford met with Turkish Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar in Ankara. After the meeting, Dunford said that the US would work together with Turkey to develop a long term plan for ‘seizing, holding and governing’ the city.

Dunford stated that the US considered the largely non-Arab SDF ‘wasn’t the solution’ for ‘holding and governing’ largely Sunni Arab Raqqa.

A judicious reader will notice that Dunford’s statement doesn’t say that the SDF is unsuitable for the job of capturing the city, only for holding it afterwards.

The root of the deep differences between the SDF and the Turkish supported rebels are to be found not only in the soil of northern Syria. Rather, they are inextricably linked to the long insurgency fought by Turkey’s Kurds against a succession of governments in Ankara since 1984.

The fragmenting of Syria formed a historic opportunity for the Syrian Kurds, which they have seized.  The PYD, the Syrian Kurdish franchise of the PKK organization, established three self-governing cantons along the Syrian-Turkish border in 2012.  In 2015, against the background of the fight against IS, they managed to unite two of these  – Jazeera and Kobani.  On March 17, 2016, the ruling coalition in these areas announced the formation of the ‘Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava.’

The US has since October 2015 found the Kurdish YPG to be a formidable and useful ground partner to coalition air power against IS.  But the Kurds themselves, while welcoming the alliance with the US, have long sought another objective – namely to unite the three cantons, connecting Jazira/Kobani with Afrin in the far north west of the country.

From a Turkish point of view, the prospect of a PKK-linked party controlling the entirety of the 800 km border between Syria and Turkey is entirely unacceptable.  Since mid-2015, a Kurdish insurgency is once again under way against the Turkish government.  As part of the general post-coup crackdown, Erdogan this week arrested Turkey’s most prominent Kurdish politician, Salahattin Demirtas of the HDP.

Since 2012, the instruments Turkey chose to use to contain the Syrian Kurds were the mainly Islamist rebel movements of northern Syria, from the more moderate elements across to Jabhat al Nusra and possibly at one time also ISIS.

By mid-2016, supporting ISIS was no longer an option, and the rebels by themselves were too weak for purpose.  So in August, Turkey boldly launched a direct intervention into northern Syria.  ISIS were the ostensible target.  But the clear purpose was to bisect Syria’s north, rendering a sufficient area impassable that the danger of the Kurds linking up their cantons would disappear.

This process is not yet complete.  The Kurds are still west of the Euphrates, in the town of Manbij. And the crucial IS-held town of Al-Bab remains unconquered.  The Turks would like to help their rebel clients take the town and end any further possibility of Kurdish unification.  But here, in the usual labyrinthine way, other players enter the picture.  Al-Bab is close to Aleppo.  It is possible that the Russians have warned Erdogan that the town remains out of bounds.

But the point to bear in mind is that the process of coalition building against IS in Syria is complicated by the fact that two potential members of the coalition – the US-backed SDF and the Turkish army with their Sunni Arab allies, are currently engaged in a direct conflict with one another.

In this regard,  it is worth noting the yawning gap between the military achievements of the Syrian Kurds and their dearth of similar successes in the diplomatic and political fields.  While YPG commanders call in US airstrikes against IS, no country has recognized the Federation of Northern Syria, and it has received little media coverage.

Dunford’s hurried visit to Ankara reflects the diplomatic state of play.  Namely, that the agenda of a Turkish government, even one that openly supports Sunni jihadis, must be indulged. That of a Kurdish ally can be dismissed.  The Kurds may have little choice in the matter. But they should be careful not to find themselves quickly abandoned once Operation ‘Euphrates Wrath’ is done.

Also see:

General: Raqqa Op Needed ASAP as ISIS Plotting ‘Significant External Operations’

(ISIS photo)

(ISIS photo)

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, October 26, 2016:

ARLINGTON, Va. — The commander for U.S. operations in Iraq and Syria said that, with Iraqi forces still yet to plunge inside Mosul, the coalition is moving forward with urgency on taking the battle to the Islamic State’s capital in Syria — particularly as “an external plot” for a terror attack is being fomented in Raqqa.

Speaking with reporters via video from Baghdad today, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend stressed that Syria is a “complicated battle space” as “our Syrian partners in Turkey continue advancing and push ISIL farther from Turkey’s border.”

“We’re working with our allies, our partners, coalition members to refine the military plan for the isolation and eventual liberation of Raqqa. While that planning effort is ongoing, we will continue conducting precision strikes to reduce the enemy’s freedom of movement, attack their leaders and command and control,” Townsend said.

Seeing greater willingness from local populations to rise up against ISIS after having endured their brutal rule, he said, “gives us confidence that ISIL will also be driven from Raqqa.”

One of the challenges with Raqqa will be using “a partnered force rather than the partner being a nation-state’s armed forces like the Iraqi armed forces” and will be “done with a lot lighter coalition footprint.”

“We’ll have fewer coalition troops there, less combat capability there. We’ll have to apply coalition combat support in a different way than we’re doing here in Iraq,” Townsend said. “…There are a lot of regional security concerns that are in competition there. And the Syrian regime’s involved, the Russians are involved, Turkey’s involved, it’s hard. And there’s — oh by the way, there’s a civil war going on right next door.”

“So it’s gonna be a tough — very tough political environment and a security environment, I think, for our effort there.”

Raqqa is a smaller city than Mosul, but because of the complicating factors Townsend guessed “the ultimate liberation of Raqqa will probably take longer than Mosul.”

“I believe that there are sufficient local forces already available for that operation. However, we have a plan to… recruit and equip and train more local forces for that operation. So that’s part of our campaign plan, to generate additional combat power for that future operation,” he said.

The Raqqa effort will rely heavily on the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF. “They have an Arab wing which we refer to as the Syrian Arab Corp. That force is fairly robust, over 30,000. And a good portion of them are Kurdish forces, Syrian Kurds. But also, another part of that force is — a significant part of that force is Arabs and other ethnic groups that are from that region,” the general explained.

“So we will train the forces that we need. And specifically, we’re going to try to recruit and train a force that’s from the local area of Raqqa. So that’s what’s made our — one of the factors that’s made our efforts in Northern Syria successful to date, is we have recruited, in each case — and Manbij is a good example of this — we’ve recruited forces from the local area that were part of the assault force to liberate that area. And they form the core of the whole force that will stay.”

Townsend clarified that “most the recruiting will be done not by us, but it will be done by our local partners,” and noted “we haven’t found a shortage of volunteers who want to go fight ISIL or Daesh, as we refer to them.”

“There’s no shortage of folks who want to do that, especially if they’re going back to liberate their own hometown,” he said.

U.S. forces may assist “with specialty courses, weapons, leadership courses, those kind of things — and I don’t think that training will be done in the vicinity of Raqqa.”

Townsend said “there’s an imperative to get isolation in place around Raqqa because our intelligence feeds tell us that there is significant external operations attacks planning going on, emanating central in — centralized in Raqqa.”

“So, we think it’s very important to get isolation in place around Raqqa to start controlling that environment on a pretty short timeline. So, we’re gonna take the force that we have and it will — we will go to Raqqa soon with that force. And I think that the Syrian Democratic Forces, to include the Kurdish YPG and the Arab — Syrian Arab Corps, will all be part of that force to go and place isolation at Raqqa,” he said.

Pressed on what that external threat could entail, Townsend said he didn’t want to discuss specific intelligence but “we actually aren’t sure how pressing it is, and that’s what’s worrying us.”

“So we’re not sure, we know they’re up to something. And it’s an external plot, we don’t know exactly where, we don’t know exactly when. You can understand this because you’ve been following these kinds of terrorist plots for a number of years, and we’re gonna try to hit if off,” he continued.

“So what we’re doing right now is a pretty much continuous watch and strikes in the Raqqa area when targets emerge that we can strike. And so we’re gonna do those kinds of suppressive fires until we’re ready.”

After the city of Manbij was liberated from ISIS, “we found links to individuals and plot streams to France, the United States, other European countries.”

“So we know that this is going on in Raqqa, as well. And so I think that’s why its necessary to get down there to Raqqa. We know that it’s a focal point of ISIL external operations, planning, plotting.”

On the prospects of the Turks and the Kurds both wanting to join the fight, Townsend said, “We’re willing to march south with anybody — to Raqqa — with anybody who’s willing to join the coalition, follow the direction that the coalition’s taking and to go defeat Daesh in Raqqa and start that pretty soon.”

The general said that the U.S. plan has been “to pressure Mosul and Raqqa simultaneously, or nearly so.”

“We want to pressure Raqqa so that the enemy doesn’t have a convenient place to go,” he said. “He’s got other places to go but he’s gotta make some choices that maybe weren’t his first or second choices.”

Also see:

Syrian Rebel U.S ‘Vetted Moderate’ Brigade Defects to Rebranded Al-Qaeda Affiliate

war-on-terror-jihad1-sized-770x415xtPJ Media, by Patrick Poole, October 20, 2016:

Reports are emerging this morning that a battalion of Faylaq al-Sham fighters that had previously been vetted as “moderates” by the U.S. has defected to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the recently re-branded Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

This is yet one more episode of U.S.-vetted Syrian rebel groups defecting to U.S.-designated terrorist groups in recent years. Just a few weeks ago I reported here at PJ Media on U.S.-supported Free Syrian Army troops that were openly allied with a group that the State Department had designated a terrorist organization just the week before.

News of the defection of the Muhammad Rasoolullah Brigade of Faylaq al-Sham operating around Idlib initially appeared on Twitter:

Faylaq al-Sham, backed by Turkey, is currently involved in the push against the Islamic State.

Faylaq al-Sham has its roots in the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, and have been branded “Syria’s Moderate Islamists,” so undoubtedly the “experts” will lament this defection as a shock brought about by military necessities on the ground.

But if the so-called “vetted moderate” groups that receive U.S. weapons later turn terrorist, what is the point of the so-called U.S. “vetting” anyway?

The “experts” may also downplay this defection claiming that Jabhat Fateh al-Sham cut ties with Al-Qaeda; but nothing could be further from the truth. All the group did was rebrand, with permission from Al-Qaeda.

In fact, one of the top Jabhat Fateh al-Sham leaders present at the rebranding announcement was Abu Faraj al-Masri, a longtime lieutenant of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Masri was killed in a U.S. drone strike earlier this month.

But the myth of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham’s separation from Al-Qaeda continues to circulate.

Read more

Town of Dabiq falls to Turkish-backed forces

16-10-15-operation-euphrates-shield-1-1024x759LONG WAR JOURNAL, BY THOMAS JOSCELYN, October 17th, 2016:

Dabiq, a town in northern Syria that has been central to the Islamic State’s apocalyptic messaging, has fallen to rebel groups backed by Turkey. The so-called caliphate’s opposition had been closing in on Dabiq for weeks, capturing nearby towns and villages. Yesterday, Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield posted images from inside the town, thereby demonstrating that the Islamic State’s enemies are now in control.

“I welcome today’s news that Syrian opposition forces liberated the Syrian town of Dabiq from ISIL [Islamic State] control, aided by strong support from our ally Turkey and our international coalition,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in a statement on Oct. 16.

“This is more than just the latest military result against this barbaric group,” Carter continued, as Dabiq “held symbolic importance” for Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men.

Indeed, the Islamic State’s propagandists have repeatedly told ‎their followers that Dabiq would be the site of an apocalyptic showdown between the true believers and the “Crusaders.” The group’s English-language magazine was named after Dabiq in a deliberate attempt to play up this imagery. Each issue of “Dabiq” contained a line from Al Qaeda in Iraq’s founder, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who drew on preexisting Islamic beliefs. “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify – by Allah’s permission – until it burns the Crusader armies in Dabiq,” Zarqawi was quoted as saying.

This passage was referenced throughout the Islamic State’s propaganda. For instance, in Nov. 2014, Mohammed Emwazi (also known as “Jihadi John” in the West) appeared in a video in which he and other jihadis beheaded a number of pilots and officers in Bashar al Assad’s military. Toward the end of the gruesome video, Emwazi stood over the severed head of American aid worker Peter Kassig and repeated Zarqawi’s line. Emwazi then added, “And here we are, burying the first American Crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies.” One year later, in Nov. 2015, Emwazi was killed in a drone strike in Raqqa, Syria.

Instead of burying the “Crusaders,” however, the Islamic State was forced to retreat from the town. By itself, Dabiq is not a very significant piece of real estate. It was sparsely populated and more important locations have been seized from the Islamic State’s grip over the course of the past year. But because the self-declared caliphate made such a big deal out of the Dabiq prophesy, the town is more significant than its size would normally indicate. However, like other organizations inspired in part by apocalyptic imagery, the true believers will likely cling to ad hoc explanations for why the loss of Dabiq is not really that damaging to the jihadists’ cause.

The Islamic State has likely known for months that Dabiq would fall. Earlier this year, for example, the group produced a new English-language magazine titled “Rumiyah.” By publishing the magazine under this name, the Islamic State shifted its emphasis from the Syrian town of Dabiq to Rome. Each issue of Rumiyah opens with a line attributed to Abu Hamza al Muhajir, who cofounded the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2006. The ISI is the direct predecessor to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State. “O muwahhidin, rejoice, for by Allah, we will not rest from our jihad except beneath the olive trees of Rumiyah (Rome),” Abu Hamza is quoted as saying in the magazine.

In the Islamic State’s English-language mythology, therefore, the imagined fall of Rome replaced an end-times battle for Dabiq. Neither are remotely close to being a reality. It remains to be seen if Dabiq is reintroduced as the title for an English-language jihadi publication. And it is likely that Dabiq will still be referenced in the group’s propaganda, albeit with less emphasis in the near-term.

In addition to announcing the capture of Dabiq, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield produced a map demonstrating that more than 1,300 square kilometers of territory along the Syrian border has been seized from the Islamic State since August. The official Twitter feed for Euphrates Shield also published the images below of Turkish-backed forces fighting in Dabiq.

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

ACTUALLY, THEY ARE ALL WRONG ON SYRIA

Uncredited | AP Photo

Uncredited | AP Photo

Conservative Review, by Daniel Horowitz, October 11, 2016:

One of the frustrating things about not having a conservative on stage during a major policy debate is that nobody starts from the right premise on any given issue. Nowhere was this more evident than with the discussion about U.S. involvement in Syria during Sunday night’s debate.

As I noted in my foreign policy piece on Friday marking the 15th anniversary of the failed Afghanistan war, nobody in politics seems to understand the lesson of the Middle East, even when it smacks them in the face. There is no positive outcome of an Islamic civil war and no reason for us to get involved in tipping the scales to one side. Undoubtedly, innocent people get killed in the civil war, but that is not our fault nor is it our responsibility to solve these conflicts — especially when there is no recourse other than getting our soldiers killed fighting for one or multiple enemy factions. In fact, strategically speaking on a geo-political level — without factoring in the human suffering — there is actually no better outcome than to have all of our enemies marred in an endless and unsolvable civil war. Why should we share in the misery?

In this vain, it is easy to understand how vacuous the question from Martha Raddatz was with regards to Syria:

what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? Isn’t it a lot like the Holocaust when the U.S. waited too long before we helped?

She later asked a follow up of Trump: “What do you think will happen if Aleppo falls?”

This assertion from Raddatz is outrageous and reflects weapons-grade stupidity, the very sort of ignorance that has gotten our soldiers killed for years to no end. During the Holocaust, there was one regime led by one man who seized power in a western country. By intervening and getting rid of the Hitler regime, that territory was able to be secured and preserved for a liberal democracy that would no longer kill its citizens. Indeed, that is what happened. In Syria, there is a fight between Assad/ Hezbollah/Russia/Iran vs. Al Qaeda splinter groups, Ahrar al Sham, and the Islamic State — with Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia funding a number of the Islamic fundamentalist rebels.

Moreover, those various factions merely reflect the fractious nature of the people in the region. This is a Muslim country that is engaged in an Islamic civil war steeped in theological and tactical differences and exacerbated by irreconcilable sectarian differences. It is also a country that was never a country. It was cobbled together after WWI. There is no way to put that genie back in the bottle now that it has exploded.

Other than holding land for the Kurds, there is no other reliable partner with whom to hold ground. And in fact, once we have all our enemies engaged in a death-match, why should we join in their misery instead of letting them kill each other? Our involvement will do nothing but bring misery to our military without saving a single life. We will make the situation worse and tip the balance of power to a specific sworn enemy, as we have done in each of these insufferable theaters in recent years.

“What if Aleppo falls?”

Hillary’s plan: Support Al Qaeda and continue Obama’s ground war

What an ignorant question! Falls to whom? To Assad? It’s already controlled by Islamists.

Not surprisingly, Clinton’s “solution” posited at the debate was to double down on Obama’s policy of arming the lovely “rebels.” In other words, arm Al Qaeda-affiliates who swear to chop our heads off. Clinton is smart enough to understand that the public has grown weary with U.S. involvement in these Islamic civil wars, so she emphatically said she’s opposed to sending ground troops to Syria. But then she immediately offered the Obama artifice strategy of sending “special ops.” As we’ve noted before, Obama has used the special operations troops as his private mercenary army. He has misused them to operate like a conventional force just so he can declare there are no troops on the ground. But these men are ground troops like everyone else and their lives matter just as much as conventional forces. In fact, it’s even more tragic to lose such highly trained soldiers, as has been happening in recent months (shhh, don’t tell anyone), to prop up Islamic rebels who will never succeed in their mission and hate us just as much as the Islamic State and Assad. In short, Hillary’s plan is to make Al Qaeda strong again while giving the illusion that we don’t have troops on the line.

Also, isn’t it interesting how Hillary orchestrated the Obama administration’s alliance with Iran, with the biggest beneficiary of that deal being Russia, yet she suddenly become zealously anti-Iran and Russia in order to involve our troops in a civil war with the Salafists in Syria?

Hillary did offer one new idea supported by conservatives — to directly arm the Kurds. This is farcical coming from her because almost every Democrat has already voted against such a proposal.

Mike Pence’s incoherent GOP establishment intervention to nowhere

At the debate on Sunday, Trump said he disagreed with his vice presidential candidate’s call for attacking Assad. During the vice presidential debate, Mike Pence expressed support for more robust military action in Syria on behalf of ….i don’t know whom…but some of our many enemies. “If Russia chooses to continue to be involved in this barbaric attack on civilians in Aleppo, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike military targets of the Assad regime,” said the Indiana governor in last week’s debate with Tim Kaine. This is the general position of the GOP establishment and the bankrupt conservative foreign policy mindset. It defies any logic and cannot even be articulated in a way that even makes sense on paper. Who would be the beneficiary of such military force? The Islamic State? The Islamist rebels? The mythical moderate rebels?

Mike Pence has already expressed support for military action against ISIS. Do these people even follow what is going on? Do they get briefings from advisors?

Donald Trump is closer to the mark but still misses the point

Trump came the closest to the truth on Syria during the debate, noting that it was our interventions in the region that exacerbated the problems to begin with and that it is dumb to fight against Assad and Russia when they are fighting the Islamic State. The AP got ensnared in a phony fact check attempting to claim Assad is not fighting ISIS. It turns out Trump was right on that point.

However, he is wrong on two other points.

  1. Just because we shouldn’t fight against the Russians doesn’t mean we should cheer them on. We should cheer their misery in the Syria dumpster fire that will become their second Afghanistan. This is about putting America first, not being servile to Russia.
  2. Trump keeps mentioning ISIS as if that is the consummate threat. And it’s understandable why a candidate would direct his messaging towards ISIS because the public perception is that ISIS is the threat of all threats. However, the reality is that ISIS is on the decline in Syria and Iraq, whereas Al Qaeda affiliates, splinter groups, and alumni, led by Jabhat Fath al Sham (formerly Al Nusrah before breaking from Al Qaeda) are on the ascendency. Trump correctly stated that ISIS is a threat in over a dozen other countries. But they should not be our primary focus in Syria at this point, which is why there is no reason for us to back up Assad and Russia. A pox upon all their houses!

Is it too hard to let Allah sort it out?

***

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

“Putin’s regime is acting as if it is already at war with the West”

Also see:

Obama’s Syria Catastrophe

201113jobs

How a cascading series of blunders by the Obama administration helped lead to the present humanitarian crisis.

Front Page Magazine, by Joseph Kleinn, October 10, 2016:

The humanitarian situation in Syria worsens day by day. The Assad regime and Russia are carrying out intense lethal bombings over the rebel-held eastern Aleppo, where about 250,000 people are effectively trapped under siege by Syrian military forces. They claim they are targeting terrorists, not civilians. The United States and its allies retort that the savage aerial bombing campaign against civilian targets such as hospitals and shelters has nothing to do with counter-terrorism. The United Nations Security Council has met numerous times to address the tragedy, to no avail. This past weekend’s emergency session of the Security Council was no exception.

On October 8th, France and Spain, with the strong backing of the Obama administration, introduced a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council demanding a full cessation of all hostilities, including an end to all aerial bombardments over Aleppo, as well as the provision of immediate, safe and unhindered humanitarian access. Russia introduced its own competing draft.  While there was a fair amount of overlap between the two drafts, the Russian draft omitted any reference to the cessation of aerial bombings and revived the idea of modest weekly 48 hour humanitarian pauses in fighting. It also insisted on the need to verifiably separate “moderate opposition forces from ‘Jabhut Al-Nusra’ as a key priority,” which Russia has accused the United States of failing to accomplish.

Russia vetoed the French-Spanish draft resolution. The Russian draft failed to get the necessary majority of Security Council members to go along with it. Acrimony filled the air with charges and counter-charges assigning blame for the Syrian tragedy and the failure once again of the Security Council to take any decisive action. Meanwhile, civilians continue to die in Aleppo.

Russia’s military intervention on the side of the Syrian regime has surely tipped the balance in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s favor at a horrendous price suffered by thousands of innocent victims, including little children. However, it was President Obama who allowed the situation in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa to spiral out of control in the first place, without even a trace of self-reflection on what he might have done wrong.

The disaster in Syria will likely top Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy, even though Obama so badly wants the Paris Agreement on climate change to be his most long-lasting foreign policy legacy achievement. Indeed, Obama is so hung up on climate change as his number one foreign policy initiative that he actually blames climate change, which he is resolved to begin reversing, as having “contributed to the unrest and the Syrian civil war.” This is an example, according to former U.S. Army Gen. Robert Scales, of “politically-correct imaginings” and “politically-correct theories inserted into a battle plan” that “might well extend war needlessly and get soldiers killed.”

Obama’s solution to the refugee crisis resulting from the Syrian catastrophe is also a politically-correct plan with a potentially dangerous outcome. Obama is allowing thousands of Syrian refugees into the country without proper vetting to determine first who they are and what they believe. And he is not doing so to help save persecuted religious minorities such as Christians and Yazidis from genocide. Out of a total of 12,587 Syrian refugees the Obama administration admitted to the United States during the just-ended fiscal year for resettlement in communities throughout the country, 98.2 percent (12,363) are Sunni Muslims. Only 0.5 percent (68) are Christians and 0.19 percent (24) are Yazidis. Considering that ISIS and al Qaeda members are Sunni Muslims themselves, such an exceedingly high proportion of Sunni Muslim refugees admitted into the country, versus the truly persecuted religious minorities, almost guarantees that some Islamist terrorists will slip through the cracks.

Obama’s fundamental error all along has been to empower the Islamists he believes the United States could work with. He paved the way for enriching Syria’s principal ally in the region, Iran. Very shortly after his apology speech in Cairo to the Muslim world on June 4, 2009, Obama backed the mullahs in Iran, ignoring the pleas for American moral support from millions of dissidents marching peacefully in the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities. They were being beaten and worse as they protested the rigged “election” of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Obama then proceeded to acquiesce to virtually every demand the Islamic theocracy made to secure his nuclear deal with Iran. Thousands of Iranian-backed fighters, likely paid for in part by funds made available to Iran’s government as a result of Obama’s appeasement nuclear pact, have been converging on Aleppo to help the Syrian regime in its all-out assault on rebel-controlled portions of the city.

Obama also supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. To try and topple secular dictators, he helped arm so-called “moderate” rebels in Libya and Syria without careful vetting. Many of them either willingly, or were forced, to join the jihadist terrorist groups ISIS and al Nusra. ISIS gained strength in Syria and Iraq after Obama’s precipitous withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops from Iraq in 2011. Obama’s disastrous decision that same year to intervene militarily in Libya to overthrow Muammar al-Qaddafi, without any concrete plan for the day after, resulted in a failed state and Islamist strongholds from which the Libyan-based Islamists sent jihadists and arms to their jihadist brethren in Syria.

While Obama’s series of disastrous mistakes helped strengthen the Islamists in Syria on both sides of the conflict, he allowed Russian President Vladimir Putin to get the upper hand in Syria, which is playing out today in Aleppo and elsewhere.

It was not always this way. When Putin returned to the presidency in 2012, he did not display an intent to deploy Russian troops or warplanes in or around Syria immediately to help Assad against the rebel forces trying to overthrow him. Obama had decided against any major military intervention in Syria to help the rebels, who, indeed, were almost impossible to vet properly and were saturated with jihadist elements, but allowed the provision of some covert aid to the so-called “moderate” rebels without any apparent interference by Russia. More significantly, in his infamous declaration of a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons in 2012, the Obama risked the credibility of the U.S. if he did not follow through. And that is exactly what happened: Obama had warned the Syrian regime that the U.S. would take direct military action if it used chemical weapons against the Syrian people. Yet, when it appeared a year later that Assad had crossed Obama’s red line with the Syrian military force’s use of sarin gas that took the lives of nearly 1500 people, Obama drew back from his threat. Obama allowed Putin to bail him out of enforcing the red line with a face-saving agreement stipulating the removal and destruction of the Assad regime’s designated stockpiles of chemical weapons. The Obama administration opted to use the UN Security Council to unanimously endorse the agreement worked out, with Assad’s consent, between the United States and Russia. The agreement was to be implemented on an accelerated timetable, with monitoring by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Removal and destruction of the Assad regime’s designated stockpiles of chemical weapons were used as cover for the Assad regime to step up its attacks on civilians with conventional weapons, and jihadist terrorists gained control over swathes of territory. Moreover, Assad still has some chemical weapons, which he has allegedly used against civilians since the passage of the UN Security Council chemical weapons resolution.

Putin in the meantime used a variety of tactics, including bait and switch negotiations and the cynical use of the UN, to buy time in order to build up Russia’s own military forces in the region. President Obama, in turn, played right into Putin’s hands. Obama gave up the military leverage he had in 2013 to target specifically and destroy Assad’s warplanes and airfields when Assad crossed Obama’s red line.  Russia was not then in a position to run interference for Assad militarily. Russia’s strong military build-up since that time has changed the military equation – and, by extension, the balance of diplomatic leverage — to Assad’s and Russia’s advantage. Russia bought the time necessary to become the Syrian regime’s full partner in relentless air attacks leading up to the horrors now unfolding daily in eastern Aleppo.

Sadly, any real viable diplomatic solution to the five-year-plus Syrian conflict, which has taken hundreds of thousands of lives, displaced millions of people, and precipitated a refugee crisis of historic proportions, is further away than ever. In short, President Obama’s legacy in the Middle East consists of a revitalized Iran, a Russian presence at a level not seen for over four decades and an unstable environment in which jihadist terrorists have thrived. Obama has risked importing the ensuing chaos into this country by admitting thousands of unvetted refugees.

Joseph Klein is a Harvard-trained lawyer and the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom and Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam.

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Kredo: Obama Administration All Words, No Action in Syria

Also see:

Brutal ISIS Executions, Military Weakness, and A New Refugee Crisis

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America’s policy in Syria and Iraq has been “cool, rational, and wrong.” Is it already too late to fix it?

CounterJihad, Oct. 4, 2016:

The Islamic State (ISIS) has delivered a new propaganda video showing another gruesome mass execution of fellow Muslims.  The group proclaims that the video should serve as a warning to any Muslims thinking of coming to join any of the rebel armies fighting against them in the conflict.  Amid Nazi salutes, ISIS soldiers clad in stolen American-made 3 color DCU uniforms promised to fight the “apostates” whom they painted as being on the same side as the Americans.

Yet the Americans have done but little to support any allies in the region.  As the Economist notes, US President Barack Obama has kept American forces largely out of the conflict except in an advisory role.  This is because, they explain, he views an American intervention as likely to cause more harm than good.  His policy has been throughout “cool,” “rational,” and “wrong.”

As America has pulled back, others have stepped in—geopolitics abhors a vacuum. Islamic State (IS) has taken over swathes of Syria and Iraq. A new generation of jihadists has been inspired to fight in Syria or attack the West. Turkey, rocked by Kurdish and jihadist violence (and a failed coup), has joined the fight in Syria. Jordan and Lebanon, bursting with refugees, fear they will be sucked in. The exodus of Syrians strengthens Europe’s xenophobic populists and endangers the European Union. A belligerent Russia feels emboldened….

None of this is in America’s interest. Being cool and calculating is not much use if everybody else thinks you are being weak. Even if America cannot fix Syria, it could have helped limit the damage, alleviate suffering and reduce the appeal of jihadism…. Mr Obama says that Mr Assad eventually must go, but has never willed the means to achieve that end. (Some rebel groups receive CIA weapons, but that is about it.)… [J]ihadism is fed by war and state failure: without a broader power-sharing agreement in Syria and Iraq any victory against IS will be short-lived; other jihadists will take its place.

Russia has been building pressure on the Obama administration in other ways.  Since the suspending of talks between the US and Russia, the Putin administration has announced major nuclear war games that will move tens of millions of people to civil defense shelters on very short notice.  They have suspended nuclear arms deals with the United States involving plutonium cleanup, suggesting that they fear the US will cheat.  The Russians have also deployed one of their advanced missile systems outside of their homeland for the first time.  The deployment was made without comment, but as one American official noted wryly, ““Nusra doesn’t have an air force do they?”  Al Nusra Front is an al Qaeda linked organization that has been sometimes allied with, but more often at war with, the Islamic State.

All of this means that America’s window to take a more aggressive approach may be closing, if it has not already closed.  Increasingly Russia and their Iranian allies are looking likely to dominate the northern Middle East from Afghanistan to the Levant.  This President has been badly outmaneuvered.  The next President will have to decide how much he or she is willing to risk in order to try to deal with the feeding of “jihadism… by war and state failure.”

The threat is very real, as estimates are that the assault on Mosul might produce another million refugees headed for Europe and America, or perhaps half again that many.  The failure to take a more aggressive approach may end up bringing a flood tide of human suffering and terror.

U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Allies With Terror Group That State Dept. Designated LAST WEEK

moderate-syrian-rebels-threaten-to-kill-us-special-forces-sized-770x415xtPJ Media, by Patrick Poole, Sept. 29, 2016:

U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups are coordinating with al-Qaeda fronts in defending Aleppo, and other FSA groups — armed with CIA-provided TOW anti-tank missiles — are working together with a terror group designated by the State Department just last week.

That’s from a report filed today by Reuters about the rapidly changing situation in Syria:

In Aleppo, rebels in the Free Syrian Army are sharing operational planning with Jaish al-Fatah, an alliance of Islamist groups that includes the former Syrian wing of al-Qaeda.Meanwhile, in nearby Hama province, FSA groups armed with U.S.-made anti-tank missiles are taking part in a major offensive with the al-Qaeda-inspired Jund al-Aqsa group.

The FSA rebels have deep ideological differences with the jihadists, and have even fought them at times, but say survival is the main consideration.

“At a time when we are dying, it is not logical to first check if a group is classified as terrorist or not before cooperating with it,” said a senior official in one of the Aleppo-based rebel factions. “The only option you have is to go in this direction.”

A top jihadist leader killed in an airstrike on a Jaish al-Fatah meeting earlier this month was Abu Omar Saraqeb, who played an active role in al-Qaeda in Iraq’s campaign against the U.S. in Iraq. Presumably, U.S.-backed FSA leaders were also present at the Jaish al-Fatah meeting.

The alliance between the FSA and Jund al-Aqsa in Hama is particularly noteworthy, since the State Department designated Jund al-Aqsa a terrorist organization just last week.

In its September 20 designation, the State Department identified Jund al-Aqsa as a direct threat to U.S. national security:

The Department of State has designated Jund al-Aqsa (JAA) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which imposes sanctions on foreign persons determined to have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.As a result of this designation, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which JAA has any interest is blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with JAA.Jund al-Aqsa is a terrorist group in Northern Syria that primarily operates in Idlib and Hama provinces. Formed in 2012 as a subunit of al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusrah Front (ANF) – a State Department designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) group – JAA has since split and now carries out operations independently. However, despite the split it is still openly aligned with ANF. In March 2015, JAA launched two suicide bombings at checkpoints on the outskirts of Idlib. JAA also carried out the February 2014 massacre in the village of Maan in central Hama province, killing 40 civilians.

Two weeks ago I reported here at PJ Media about FSA units threatening to kill U.S. Special Forces operating in northern Syria, eventually chasing them out of the town of Al-Rai near Aleppo.

Interestingly, President Obama said — at least sixteen times — that there would be no U.S. boots on the ground in Syria.

What exactly is the point of supporting “vetted moderates” if they have no problem with working with al-Qaeda — or even, in some cases, the Islamic State — whenever they feel its in their interest to do so?

We provide these “vetted moderate” FSA groups with U.S. heavy weaponry when FSA units themselves are threatening to use those weapons against American troops.

Now there is a very real possibility of those weapons being shared with designated terror groups.

For more than two years I’ve been reporting here at PJ Media on the escalating catastrophe of the Obama administration’s Syria policy:

July 7, 2014: U.S. ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Brigades Surrender Weapons, Pledge Allegiance to Islamic StateSept. 3, 2014: U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Operating Openly with ISIS, Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra

Sept. 9, 2014: Fighter With ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Tells L.A. Times They Fight Alongside Al-Qaeda

Sept. 10, 2014: ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Commander Admits Alliance with ISIS, Confirms PJ Media Reporting

Sept. 13, 2014: Yet Another U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Makes Peace with ISIS

Sept. 24, 2014: U.S.-Backed Syrian Group Harakat al-Hazm Condemns U.S. Strikes on ISIS as ‘Attack on the Revolution’

Nov. 2, 2014: U.S.-Armed ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Groups Surrender, Defect to Al-Qaeda

Nov. 3, 2014: How Obama Walked Boehner and GOP Leadership Off the Syrian Rebel Cliff

Nov. 24, 2014: More Defections of ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Rebels to ISIS

Dec. 2, 2014: US-Backed Syrian Rebels Ally with al-Qaeda in South, Surrender CIA-Supplied Weapons in the North

Dec. 14, 2014: Report: Al-Qaeda Using CIA-Supplied TOW Anti-Tank Missiles in Northern Syria

Dec. 28, 2014: NY Times Admits: U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Under Effective al-Qaeda Control

March 3, 2015: U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Collapses, U.S.-Supplied Weapons End Up in Al-Qaeda Hands

March 24, 2015: Video Shows Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra Using U.S.-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missiles in Syria

April 16, 2015: U.S. Analyst Admits ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Have Been Working with Al-Qaeda All Along

May 8, 2015: CIA-Backed, “Vetted Moderate” Rebels Now Working Openly With Al-Qaeda

June 27, 2015: ISIS Using U.S. TOW Antitank Missiles In Latest Syrian Offensive

July 9, 2015: Report: ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Fighting Alongside Al-Qaeda, Islamic State Against Assad Regime

July 23, 2015: U.S.-Funded Free Syrian Army Unit Shows Off Its Kidnapping Skills in New Training Video

July 27, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels: Obama’s 50-Man ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Army Vanishes After Training in Turkey

July 29, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels Part 2: Al-Qaeda Arrests 18 U.S.-Trained Rebels On Their First Day in Syria

July 30, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels: Despite Pentagon Denial, Reports Confirm That U.S.-Trained Syrian Rebels Were Kidnapped By Al-Qaeda Almost Immediately

July 31, 2015: Report: Al-Qaeda Kills Five Members of Obama’s 54-Man Syrian Rebel Army

July 31, 2015: Chechen Terrorists In Syria Have Obtained U.S.-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missiles

Sept. 22, 2015: Report: U.S.-Trained, ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Leader Defects to Al-Qaeda, Turns Weapons Over to Terror Group

Oct. 27, 2016: New Video Shows Al-Qaeda Using Weapons U.S. Gave to ‘Vetted Moderates’

Nov. 24, 2015: U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebels Destroy Russian Helicopter with CIA-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missile

July 20, 2016: CIA-Vetted, “Moderate” Syrian Rebels Behead Child Soldier

Sept. 3, 2016: British Journo: Syrian Kidnapper Who Shot Me Twice is Now a CIA-vetted ‘Moderate’

Sept. 6, 2016: New ISIS Commander Was Trained by State Department as Recently as 2014

Sept. 16, 2016: SHOCK VIDEO: U.S.-Backed, “Moderate” Free Syrian Army Threatens to Kill U.S. Special Forces

The ability to affect any positive change in Syria is compromised by the fact that we have no reliable partner in the country — notwithstanding the so-called “vetted moderates” — and a growing likelihood that American troops may be killed without any national strategic purpose.

***

An Al Qaeda terrorist tells a reporter, “The Americans are on our side.”

Joint Chiefs Chairman Rejects Obama Plan to Share Syria Intel with Russia

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

Breitbart, by James Zumwalt, Sept. 26, 2016:

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford has just gone where no JCS chairman has ever gone before! Unsurprisingly, it took a Marine general to stand up to President Barack Obama in the wake of yet another of his dubious national security decisions.

The same mindless Obama/Kerry negotiating team that brought us an Iran deal undermining our national security, recently sought to bring us a similarly questionable deal with Russia. This one mandated the Pentagon’s participation in an intelligence-sharing agreement with the Russian Central Command in Syria—built upon a ceasefire paving the way for peace negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland.

But, unlike the Iran nuclear deal where the JCS Chairman did nothing, our current Chairman, General Dunford, publicly voiced his objection.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 22, Dunford made clear the military would refuse to execute what was the central element of Obama’s new Syria policy, i.e., intelligence-sharing with Russia—despite the president’s order it be done.

Calling it a bad idea, Dunford said, “The U.S. military role will not include intelligence sharing with the Russians.” Sitting at Dunford’s side during the testimony was his civilian boss, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who raised no objection.

The implication of his testimony was obvious—the president’s deal with Russia was undermining U.S. national security. Dunford, having freed himself from Obama’s vortex, was having none of it.

During his eight years in office, Obama has demonstrated an uncanny ability to endanger U.S. national security interests without ever being challenged by those responsible for doing so.

Congress completely abandoned its responsibility in this regard, most notably allowing Obama to end run the Senate to make a nuclear agreement with Iran effective. The deal—legally a treaty necessitating two-thirds approval by the Senate—was packaged as a non-treaty, i.e., an executive order, as Obama knew he could not muster such approval.

The agreement with Iran, after both presidential candidate Obama and President Obamapromised over two dozen times not to, paved the way for Tehran to get nukes—legally inten years; sooner if done illegally.

Unbeknownst to Congress was the fact the deal also included secret side deals—one of which allowed Tehran to conduct its own inspections with not even U.S. top negotiator Secretary of State John Kerry knowing the details. It also resulted in the lifting of sanctions against Iran and the transfer of billions of dollars, some of which cash transfers were hidden from Congress.

The Senate votes of those either knowing the details of the nuclear deal with Iran or, despite a responsibility to know them, failing to learn them, ultimately enabled Obama to subvert the U.S. Constitution and pass a treaty with less than the mandated two-thirds majority.

The agreement, which Obama promoted as opening the door to better relations between the U.S. and Iran, has resulted in that door being slammed in our face. Since the Senate passed the agreement, the number of naval confrontations with Iran has doubled, with Tehran now even threatening to shoot down our spy planes operating in international airspace.

But it was not the Senate alone that failed the American people in ensuring our national security interests were given top priority by killing the Iran nuclear deal.

Our Founding Fathers imposed limitations upon our military within the Constitution to ensure it always remained subordinate to civilian authority. For over two centuries now, the Constitution has worked effectively to ensure this.

Thus, last year, when the JCS reviewed the terms of an Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by civilian authority, and then JCS Chairman U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey gained full knowledge of its terms and secret side deals, it became incumbent upon him to act in our country’s national security interests as permitted within the Constitution’s guidelines.

There is no way a responsible military leader could have endorsed this deal, knowing secret side deals paved the way for a nuclear armed Iran. Dempsey had an obligation to advise Obama of such. And, when Obama disregarded his advice, Dempsey should have been driven by ethics to tender his resignation. This would have conveyed the message to the Senate it should reject the deal as well. Dempsey failed to do so, allowing the Senate to pass an unconscionable treaty.

It has become clear, as Obama manages to get Kerry and others in government, as well as in the military, to support his questionable national security initiatives, he wields a mesmerizing ability to lure others into his web of dangerous national security thinking.

Clearly, Obama has created a vortex in Washington spinning in a direction contrary to U.S. national security interests. That vortex has proven capable of sucking into it those in government responsible for ensuring a president’s questionable national security actions do not go unchallenged.

But hope may now lie on the horizon due to Dunford’s principled stance.

It is inconceivable to think our president sought to share intelligence with Russia for two reasons.

Firstly, as an ally of Iran, Moscow would obviously share what it learned with Tehran, compromising future U.S. collection efforts.

Secondly, Dunford, during his July 2015 confirmation hearings, had warned Congress that Russia posed “an existential threat to the United States… if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”

Fourteen months later, Dunford’s assessment had not changed, testifying, “a combination of their behavior as well as their military capability would cause me to believe that they pose the most significant challenge, potentially the most significant threat, to our national interests.”

Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for the Syrians, the ceasefire failed after 300 violations negating, for the near-term at least, Obama’s intelligence-sharing scheme with Russia and thus sparing us any further compromise of our national security.

It is discomforting to know Obama still has four months remaining in office. It is comforting to know, however, that General Dunford, having successfully freed himself from Obama’s vortex, will be there to challenge any other dubious presidential decision seeking to undermine our national security.

Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking.” He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.

Russia and the West’s Insane Syrian War

gfFront Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, Sept. 26, 2016:

Russia and the West are fighting to decide whether Syria will be run by Sunni Islamists backed by Saudi Arabia or Shiite Islamists backed by Iran. This insane civil war has burned up countless lives, not to mention plenty of dollars, rubles, euros and pounds. The only certain winners of this war, once the dust has settled, will chant “Allahu Akbar” and call for the death of the infidels.

Sadly this is nothing new. Russia got the PLO started before Bill Clinton decided to become its sugar daddy. Smuggling weapons to the Mujahedeen to fight the Russians got us into Afghanistan. Except these days it’s the Russians who, through the Iranians, are funneling weapons to the locals to fight us. Between us and the Russians, we’ve put wagonloads of weapons into the hands of Jihadis in Iraq and Syria. The consequences will be felt in Moscow, New York, London and Paris.

The West and the Warsaw Pact countries used to fuel foreign wars. These days the war is at home.

Russia and the NATO countries suffer from low birth rates and rising Muslim demographics, but are in a senseless competition to determine which emergent Caliphate will be able to draw its borders in territories it can’t populate. It’s a battle over a pittance taking place in a burning building.

Moscow has around 2 million Muslims. London has over 1 million. Both sides are at risk of losing their own capital cities to real invasions. The EU and Putin’s Eurasian dreams are both built on the Roman notion that the barbarians can be integrated and will make good foot soldiers and laborers.

France’s President Hollande has called for the creation of an “Islam of France”. Putin suggests that the Russian Orthodox Church has more in common with Islam than Catholicism.  Obama preaches that, “Islam has always been part of America”. But such efforts at integration will always fail.

The popular European excuse is that Islamic terrorism represents a failure to integrate the terrorist. Islamic terrorism is indeed caused by a failure to integrate. The mistake is assuming that integration on a civilizational scale is possible. It’s not. You can integrate a few people. You can’t integrate a civilization.

There is a long history of Europeans using Islamic raiders and invaders as weapons against each other. Most of us know that our first international conflict was the First Barbary War against Muslim slavers and pirates. But it was the British who found it useful to use the Barbary pirates to clear rivals from the water.  Louis XIV of France played a similar role in the Battle of Vienna. For that matter the Muslim conquest of the Middle East heavily depended on their exploitation of Christian rivalries.

Our modern malaise is simply a failure to learn anything useful from history.

The Cold War has become reborn as a strange farce in which two failing power blocs are fighting an old war that no longer has any purpose or meaning. Russia has reinvented its brand, but not its ambitions. Its clumsy alliance with Iran will fall apart once the Shiite terror state has gotten what it wanted and boots the Russians out of its backyard. America’s alliance with Saudi Arabia may one day be described by historians as the cause of our downfall.

The West and Russia are reliant on Muslim demographics to power faltering empires whose ideological ends stand in sharp contrast to their Islamic means. Putin claims to want to protect Christendom with an army that is increasingly Muslim. The EU asserts that it is defending secular democracy, but it’s betting its future on a citizenry whose Islamic religion mandates theocratic Sharia jurisprudence.

A Muslim citizenry will not maintain secular democracy. A Muslim army will not protect Christians. The West used to be dependent on Muslim oil. It has since become addicted to the much more dangerous supply of Muslim demographics. Societies with low birth rates are relying on Muslims to make up the gap in manpower and maintain nations that are not expanding or even replacing their own numbers.

Oil dependency was dangerous. Demographic dependency is lethal.

Russia and the West can make jets that casually break the sound barrier. What they aren’t doing is making people. European welfare states and Russian expansionism are built on Muslim populations.

As imperial strategies go, that’s a suicide pact.

But instead of addressing this core civilizational threat, the West and Russia are squandering blood and treasure to decide whether Sunnis or Shiites should dominate Syria. Billions of dollars are being spent to lend an air force, weapons and some measure of ground troops to Iran and the Saudis in their spat.

Russian S-300 missiles now protect Iran’s Fordow nuclear fuel plant. Fordow is located near the Shiite holy city of Qom because Iran’s nuclear plans are inextricably tied to its theology. Last year, Putin offered Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Khamenei a copy of the Koran that had been gifted by Lenin to Uzbekistan. Putin might have done better to keep it and read it before looking at a map of Greater Iran.

The United States has been dragged into several wars by Saudi Arabia. We have spent trillions of dollars defending the Saudis, Kuwaitis, Qataris and their assorted brethren from their enemies while fighting Sunni terror spread by them. The tentacles of Sunni terror now regularly reach deep inside our homeland while we continue defending the homelands of the financiers of Sunni Islamic terror.

Syria is an imperialist war. But it’s not our imperialism. It’s barely even Russia’s imperialism.

Russia and the West are there as pawns of their Islamic allies. Putin and NATO aren’t protecting their influence because the influence goes entirely the other way. The West does not dictate anything to the Saudis nor does Russia get to tell Iran what to do. Instead the old empires are called in when the wannabe caliphates want a power with a big military machine to do their dirty work for them.

Russia and the West are obsessed with a factional struggle in the face of a civilizational struggle. Their failure to recognize the civilizational threat of the caliphate is the greatest threat to their future.

Familiar wars and familiar enemies are easier to fight. It is easier to recreate the Cold War as farce than to recognize that a far older war has come around again. Russia and the West are replaying the tragic history of the Byzantine–Sassanid wars whose ultimate victors were the Mohammedan invaders.

The only thing that the wars between the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire accomplished was to weaken them enough to allow Islam to conquer both of the proud empires. Both sides courted the Arab tribes and made use of them in their conflict with each other. They did not consider the possibility that the prolonged conflict would not end with either a Persian or Byzantine victory, but that the barbarians they had been using as pawns would end up claiming everything. It’s a familiar story replaying today.

Civilizations that fail to learn from history become the object lessons of history. It would be a tragedy if Europe went the way of the Byzantine Empire and a shame if Russia went the way of Persia.

It might be time to rethink what there is to be gained in Syria and lost in the besieged cities of the West.

Also see:

Terror plots in Germany, France were ‘remote-controlled’ by Islamic State operatives

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, Sept. 24, 2016:

On July 18, an Afghan refugee named Riaz Khan (also known as “Muhammad Riyad”) assaulted passengers on a train in Würzburg, Germany with an ax and a knife. Nearly one week later, on July 24, a Syrian refugee identified as Mohammad Daleel blew himself up outside of a music festival in the German city of Ansbach. Approximately 20 people were wounded in the incidents.

Amaq News Agency, a propaganda arm of the Islamic State, quickly issued claims of responsibility for the operations. Amaq also released videos from Khan and Daleel in which they swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.

As The Long War Journal reported at the time, the fact that Amaq was able to release the videos so soon after the attacks suggested that both were in touch with the Islamic State’s media operatives, or at least knew someone in the Islamic State’s network who could send the clips to Amaq. Therefore, they each had at least one tie to the Islamic State, even if it was only digital. [See LWJ reports: Teenager who terrorized German train appears in Islamic State video and Attacks in France and Germany claimed by Islamic State propaganda arm.]

German authorities discovered that there was much more to the story. Islamic State operatives provided specific direction to both Khan and Daleel via messaging applications. The jihadists did the same for a teenage girl who stabbed a police officer at the train station in Hannover, Germany in February. After the bombing in Ansbach, Bavaria’s Interior Minister, Joachim Herrmann, said that Daleel had been involved in an “intensive chat” that ended “immediately before the attack.”

“There was apparently an immediate contact with someone who had a significant influence on this attack,” Herrmann said, according to the Associated Press.

The evidence that has been uncovered in Germany and elsewhere in Europe shows that the Islamic State’s external operations arm has devised a new method for orchestrating terror. The group’s assistance goes far beyond mere inspiration in at least some cases.

In both Würzburg and Ansbach, the Islamic State’s external operations network guided the terrorists through their day of terror. The electronic fingerprints uncovered in these cases recently prompted Germany’s Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, to say that the jihadists were guided by “remote control.” French prosecutor Francois Molins has used the same phrase, “remote-controlled,” to describe a group of women who were plotting terrorism in Paris.

Transcripts published by German press

On Sept. 14, Süddeutsche Zeitung, a newspaper based in Munich, published transcripts of the conversations Khan and Daleel had with their Islamic State handlers. The Long War Journal has obtained a translation of Süddeutsche Zeitung’s report. (Another translation has been published at Worldcrunch, a website that aggregates and translates news stories from around the globe.)

The Islamic State operatives tasked with directing Khan and Daleel are not identified and it is not clear if the same man chatted with both of them.

The details revealed in the transcripts are chilling. Khan and Daleel may have acted alone, in the sense that no other terrorist was physically with them when they struck. But they were certainly not “lone wolves” in any meaningful sense.

During a digital chat with Khan, the Islamic State’s man asked: “What kind of weapons do you intend to use to kill people?”

“My knife and ax are ready for use,” Khan replied.

“Brother, would it not be better to do it with a car?” the Islamic State plotter asked, before suggesting that Khan learn how to operate an automobile. “The damage would be much greater,” he told Khan.

But Khan was impatient, saying he “cannot drive” and “learning takes time.”

“I want to enter paradise tonight,” Khan explained.

16-07-19-muhammad-riyad-768x432As Khan inched closer to assaulting the train’s passengers, he had an “important thing” to tell the jihadist on the other end of the conversation. “Brother, I am sending you my video,” Khan typed. “I will carry out an attack with an ax in Germany today.” (A screen shot from the video, which was released by Amaq, can be seen on the right.) [above]

The handler was pleased, but insisted that Khan should use his ax, not a knife. “If you’re going to commit the attack, Allah willing, the Islamic State will claim responsibility for it.”

Khan said he was sending his video. The man on the other end told Khan to make sure he had created a backup.

“Pray that I become a martyr,” Khan wrote. “I am now waiting for the train.” Not long after, according to the transcript published by Süddeutsche Zeitung, Khan added: “I am starting now.”

“Now you will attain paradise,” Khan’s guide responded.

Süddeutsche Zeitung has also published a partial transcript of Mohammad Daleel’s chats with his Islamic State instructor as he scoped out the prospective target, as well as their discussions on the day of the bombing. The Islamic State’s Naba magazine subsequently identified Daleel as a veteran of the jihad in Syria, meaning he likely developed a rolodex of contacts.

“This area will be full of people,” Daleel wrote as he sent a photo of the venue where the music festival was to be held. “Kill them all in a wide open space,” the Islamic State’s man replied, “where they will lie on the ground.”

screen-shot-2016-07-26-at-12-57-52-pm-768x430The unnamed operative told Daleel (seen on the right) [above] to look for an appropriate place to put his bomb and then try to “disappear into the crowd.” The jihadist egged Daleel on, saying the asylum-seeker should “break through police cordons,” run away and “do it.”

“Pray for me,” Daleel wrote at one point. “You do not know what is happening with me right now,” Daleel typed, in an apparent moment of doubt.

“Forget the festival and go over to the restaurant,” the handler responded. “Hey man, what is going on with you? Even if just two people were killed, I would do it. Trust in Allah and walk straight up to the restaurant.”

It appears that Daleel may not have intended to detonate his explosives at that time. Der Spiegel previously reported that he intended to remotely detonate his backpack bomb, but it went off accidentally. Daleel may have also been planning additional attacks.

The German press has reported on a third instance of “remote-controlled” terror that took place on Feb. 26 at the train station in Hannover. A German-Moroccan girl in her teens, identified as “Safia S.,” assaulted a police officer with a knife. Authorities found that Safia had been in contact via a messaging app with an instructor known only as “Leyla,” who coached Safia as she planned the stabbing.

Part of the Islamic State’s external operations strategy

It is not a coincidence that both Khan and Daleel were “remote-controlled.” This is a deliberate part of the Islamic State external operation arm’s strategy, which aims to both direct and inspire smaller-scale attacks in Western nations. These operations are in addition to larger plots, such as the assault on Paris in November 2015.

Writing in Foreign Affairs, Bridget Moreng provided a comprehensive look at the role played by Rachid Kassim, who is one of the Islamic State’s “most dangerous virtual planners.” Kassim has been tied to a web of terror plots. For instance, as Moreng explains, investigators have found ties between Kassim and the two young jihadists who murdered a priest in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy in July.

screen-shot-2016-07-27-at-2-16-06-pmAs The Long War Journal reported at the time, Amaq News released a video from the two terrorists in which they swore allegiance to Baghdadi. A screen shot can be seen on the right. [above] The video was produced in the same format and style as Amaq’s releases after the attacks in Würzburg and Ansbach. [See LWJ report, Terrorists in Normandy swore allegiance to Baghdadi before attacking church.]

As Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Nathaniel Barr explained in a piece at War on the Rocks, the Islamic State’s virtual planning network has digital tentacles around the globe.

This network extends into the US. Earlier this year, Munir Abdulkader pleaded guilty to terrorism charges after he admitted to communicating with Junaid Hussain, an Islamic State operative based in Syria who played a key role in the group’s digital strategy. According to the Department of Justice, Hussain “directed and encouraged Abdulkader,” who lived in Ohio, “to plan and execute a violent attack within the United States.” It is likely that Hussain was also in contact with the two gunmen who opened fire at an event dedicated to drawing images of the Prophet Mohammed in Garland, Texas on May 3, 2015. Hussain was killed in an American airstrike in Raqqa on Aug. 24, 2015.

[For more on Hussain, see LWJ reports: Ohio man conspired with Islamic State recruiter, Justice Department says and Prime Minister says 2 British nationals killed in airstrikes were plotting attacks.]

There is a debate in counterterrorism circles over how much credibility should be given to the Islamic State’s propaganda machine, including the Amaq News Agency. Each claim should be subjected to scrutiny. Some statements will be false and others exaggerated. But as the attacks in Würzburg, Ansbach and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray show, Amaq’s claims cannot be dismissed out of hand. There is often at least some truth to Amaq’s claims. And, on multiple occasions, the terrorists acting in the Islamic State’s name have been anything but “lone wolves.” Instead, a virtual network guides them along away.

Notes:

*There have been conflicting reports concerning Riaz Khan’s country of origin. But most accounts agree that he was originally from Afghanistan.

**Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Nathaniel Barr, and Bridget Moreng are all colleagues of the author.

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

Also see:

Syria’s military says the U.S.-led coalition carried out an airstrike on an eastern base that is surrounded by Islamic State militants

USAF/Getty

USAF/Getty

 BREITBART JERUSALEM, Sept. 17, 2016:

A U.S. military official in Baghdad said he was looking into the report, which could not be independently corroborated. If true, the strike would mark the first known time the United States had targeted Syrian government forces since the start of the five-year-old conflict. It was unclear why coalition air forces would be mounting attacks during a cease-fire that the U.S has worked to put in place. However, the cease-fire does not apply to attacks on the Islamic State group.

A Russian Defense Ministry official said Syria has informed them that 62 of its soldiers were killed in the airstrike. Russia has been waging a year-old air campaign on behalf of Assad’s forces and closely coordinates with them.

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the airstrike near Deir el-Zour airport was conducted by two F-16s and two A-10s. He did not identify the planes’ country affiliation, but said they were part of the international coalition.

Konashenkov said Syrian authorities reported another 100 wounded. The planes came from the direction of the border with Iraq, he added.

He said IS militants surrounding the air base launched an attack on the Syrian army positions after the air strike. He added that if the coalition attack was launched by mistake, the reason for it was a “stubborn reluctance by the American side to coordinate its action against terrorist groups in Syria with Russia.”

IS has repeatedly attacked the government-held air base, which is an isolated enclave deep in extremist-held territory. The Syrian military said the airstrikes enabled an IS advance on a hill overlooking the air base.

It called the strike a “serious and blatant attack on Syria and its military,” and “firm proof of the U.S. support of Daesh and other terrorist groups,” using the Arabic acronym for IS. President Bashar Assad’s government views all those fighting against it as “terrorists,” and has long accused the U.S. and other rebel supporters of backing extremists.

The U.S.-led coalition has carried out thousands of airstrikes against IS in Syria and Iraq over the past two years, allowing allied forces on the ground to liberate several towns and cities from the extremist group. Russia also carries out attacks against IS targets, in Deir el-Zour and other parts of Syria.

The cease-fire took effect on Monday, and despite reports of violations, it has largely held. However, aid convoys have been unable to enter rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo — a key component of the deal.

Earlier on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin questioned the U.S. commitment to the fragile cease-fire, suggesting that Washington wasn’t prepared to break with “terrorist elements” battling Assad’s forces.

Russia has accused Washington of failing to rein in the rebels, and on Saturday Putin asked why the United States has insisted on not releasing a written copy of the agreement. Officials have provided details of the agreement in press conferences, but have not released an official document, fueling suspicions on both sides.

“This comes from the problems the U.S. is facing on the Syrian track — they still cannot separate the so-called healthy part of the opposition from the half-criminal and terrorist elements,” Putin said during a trip to Kyrgyzstan.

“In my opinion, this comes from the desire to keep the combat potential in fighting the legitimate government of Bashar Assad. But this is a very dangerous route.”

He appeared to be referring to the Fatah al-Sham Front, an al-Qaida-linked group previously known as the Nusra Front, which is deeply embedded in rebel-held areas and fights alongside more moderate groups.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov echoed Putin’s remarks during a phone call with Secretary of State John Kerry. Lavrov noted the “refusal by an array of illegal armed groups to join the cease-fire,” and Washington’s obligation to “separate units of the moderate opposition from terrorist groupings,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

Under the cease-fire agreement, the U.S. and Russia would work together to target the Fatah al-Sham Front, as well as the Islamic State group, while Assad’s forces refrain from striking opposition-held areas.

But Washington has warned Russia that unless aid is delivered to Aleppo, it will not move ahead with the formation of the joint coordination center.

The U.N. has accused Assad’s government of obstructing aid access to the contested city. The Russian military says insurgents have held up the delivery by firing on government positions along the main route leading into besieged, rebel-held districts, in violation of the cease-fire.

The Syrian government said it has done all that is necessary to facilitate the entry of aid convoys to Aleppo, but that armed groups have failed to withdraw from the supply routes and are committing “dangerous, provocative acts.”

Russia’s military said Syrian rebels violated the cease-fire dozens of times over the past day, including with strikes on military and civilian targets in Aleppo.

The Interfax news agency quoted Col. Sergei Kopytsin as saying Saturday that mortar fire and homemade rockets struck Aleppo 26 times. Russian news agencies cited another official, Lt. Gen. Vladimir Savchenko, as saying there had been 55 violations throughout the country. Syria’s state news agency SANA said insurgents have violated the cease-fire 12 times in the last 12 hours. No casualties were reported.

Syrian activists said government forces have meanwhile killed five civilians. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a woman and child were killed Saturday in Talbiseh, in the central Homs province. It says two men were killed outside Damascus and a child was killed in Aleppo province.

Syria’s conflict has killed more than 300,000 people and displaced half the country’s population since March 2011.

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Syria, Russia: Coalition airstrike kills regime forces

SHOCK VIDEO: U.S.-Backed, ‘Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Threatens To Kill U.S. Special Forces

moderate-syrian-rebels-threaten-to-kill-us-special-forces-sized-770x415xc

PJ MEDIA, BY PATRICK POOLE, SEPTEMBER 16, 2016:

Disturbing video emerged today of U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels threatening to kill arriving U.S. special operations forces in the town of Al-Rai near Aleppo. The city was just seized weeks ago from the Islamic State after a push by Turkish troops aided by U.S. air power.

Here is some video from the incident from BBC producer Riam Dalati:

Others shout in Turkish, “Death to America! We will behead you!”

Here is some of the video with translated subtitles:

The Telegraph reports:

The fighters scream anti-American chants as a column of pick-up trucks carrying US commandos drives away from them.“Christians and Americans have no place among us,” shouts one man in the video. “They want to wage a crusader war to occupy Syria.”

Another man calls out: “The collaborators of America are dogs and pigs. They wage a crusader war against Syria and Islam. ”

The US troops are not wearing traditional uniform but they carry American weapons and are wearing the distinctive round helmets favoured by US special forces.

Other video shows the U.S. troops leaving the city as the “moderate” rebels shout threats to “slaughter” them:

The Pentagon just announced that the U.S. troops were entering the area to assist our Turkish NATO allies:

But just yesterday, the U.S. troops came under fire reportedly by our Turkish NATO allies in Tal Abyad:

According to Barbara Starr at CNN, the problem grew so bad that that U.S. fighters had to put up American flags to show they were friendlies:

One problem in Al-Rai, where the U.S. troops were threatened, is the presence of “al-Qaeda-lite” Ahrar al-Sham fighters — the darlings of the Washington, D.C. think tanks:

Those who have been critical of the U.S. misadventure in Syria took time to note the obvious:

But Charles Lister, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and one of the chief think tank cheerleaders of the Syrian “rebels,” assures us that all is well after the incident in Al-Rai:

Perhaps some clarification from Lister on what “discharged” actually means is in order.

The incidents in Al-Rai and Tal Abyad demonstrate the ongoing collapse of the Obama administration’s Syria policy (though GOP congressional leaders have embraced the administration’s slow-motion disaster).

For more than two years I’ve been reporting here at PJ Media on the ongoing follies of the so-called “moderates” in Syria:

July 7, 2014: U.S. ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Brigades Surrender Weapons, Pledge Allegiance to Islamic StateSept. 3, 2014: U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Operating Openly with ISIS, Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra

Sept. 9, 2014: Fighter With ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Tells L.A. Times They Fight Alongside Al-Qaeda

Sept. 10, 2014: ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Commander Admits Alliance with ISIS, Confirms PJ Media Reporting

Sept. 13, 2014: Yet Another U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Makes Peace with ISIS

Sept. 24, 2014: U.S.-Backed Syrian Group Harakat al-Hazm Condemns U.S. Strikes on ISIS as ‘Attack on the Revolution’

Nov. 2, 2014: U.S.-Armed ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Groups Surrender, Defect to Al-Qaeda

Nov. 3, 2014: How Obama Walked Boehner and GOP Leadership Off the Syrian Rebel Cliff

Nov. 24, 2014: More Defections of ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Rebels to ISIS

Dec. 2, 2014: US-Backed Syrian Rebels Ally with al-Qaeda in South, Surrender CIA-Supplied Weapons in the North

Dec. 14, 2014: Report: Al-Qaeda Using CIA-Supplied TOW Anti-Tank Missiles in Northern Syria

Dec. 28, 2014: NY Times Admits: U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Under Effective al-Qaeda Control

March 3, 2015: U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Collapses, U.S.-Supplied Weapons End Up in Al-Qaeda Hands

March 24, 2015: Video Shows Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra Using U.S.-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missiles in Syria

April 16, 2015: U.S. Analyst Admits ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Have Been Working with Al-Qaeda All Along

May 8, 2015: CIA-Backed, “Vetted Moderate” Rebels Now Working Openly With Al-Qaeda

June 27, 2015: ISIS Using U.S. TOW Antitank Missiles In Latest Syrian Offensive

July 9, 2015: Report: ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Fighting Alongside Al-Qaeda, Islamic State Against Assad Regime

July 23, 2015:U.S.-Funded Free Syrian Army Unit Shows Off Its Kidnapping Skills in New Training Video

July 27, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels: Obama’s 50-Man ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Army Vanishes After Training in Turkey

July 29, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels Part 2: Al-Qaeda Arrests 18 U.S.-Trained Rebels On Their First Day in Syria

July 30, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels: Despite Pentagon Denial, Reports Confirm That U.S.-Trained Syrian Rebels Were Kidnapped By Al-Qaeda Almost Immediately

July 31, 2015: Report: Al-Qaeda Kills Five Members of Obama’s 54-Man Syrian Rebel Army

July 31, 2015: Chechen Terrorists In Syria Have Obtained U.S.-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missiles

Sept. 22, 2015: Report: U.S.-Trained, ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Leader Defects to Al-Qaeda, Turns Weapons Over to Terror Group

Oct. 27, 2016: New Video Shows Al-Qaeda Using Weapons U.S. Gave to ‘Vetted Moderates’

Nov. 24, 2015:U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebels Destroy Russian Helicopter with CIA-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missile

July 20, 2016:CIA-Vetted, “Moderate” Syrian Rebels Behead Child Soldier

September 3, 2016:British Journo: Syrian Kidnapper Who Shot Me Twice is Now a CIA-vetted ‘Moderate’

September 6, 2016: New ISIS Commander Was Trained by State Department as Recently as 2014

If only there had been some warning that things were going badly in Syria?

Why Aleppo Matters: Syrian Army Just Broke Islamist Stronghold

syria-guide-mapDaily Caller, by Saagar Enjeti, Sept 8, 2016:

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is tightening the noose around the jihadi stronghold city of Aleppo, possibly his greatest victory in the Syrian civil war.

Assad’s move in Aleppo could reverse all the gains a jihadi-led coalition made last month when it broke the regime’s siege. Aleppo has become a focal point of the broader Syrian opposition and involves almost every major player except the U.S. “Pro-regime forces reinstated the siege of Eastern Aleppo City” Sept. 4, the Institute for the Study of War noted Wednesday, explaining that, “new advances demonstrated the critical role played by Russia.”

Russia is pounding opposition-held areas of Aleppo in daily airstrikes. Iran just dispatched its favorite general to help coordinate the ground offensive, and earlier this month Hezbollah sent thousands of fresh troops to fight alongside the Assad regime. The Syrian regime even flouted the international community Wednesday when it likely dropped chlorine gas on civilians.

The only realistic chance of an end to hostilities in Aleppo is a potential deal between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reports indicate that Obama was considering signing a deal with Putin for an immediate ceasefire in Aleppo, in exchange for military cooperation between the two countries. After months of haranguing over the details, the deal is now unlikely to come to fruition amid continued tensions between the two countries.

Syrian rebel opposition held positions inside Aleppo for nearly five years, but are unlikely to overcome Assad, Iran, and overwhelming Russian firepower. A rebel coalition led by al-Qaida-linked elements broke a government siege of Aleppo in early August, but the effort likely exhausted the military supplies of the groups. The reinstitution of a siege will deprive the group of supplies, and allow the regime and its allies to revert back to the original strategy of attrition warfare.

Despite a devastating five years of civil war, 300,000 civilians remain inside Aleppo. One humanitarian activist told Al Jazeera there are now only two bakeries in Aleppo to serve the remaining 300,000 customers.

Assad, Iran, and Russia have undertaken a concerted campaign to make the rebel position as untenable as possible, by bombing hospitals and cutting off any access to humanitarian assistance. The regime and its allies have tried to bomb as many hospitals as possible within Aleppo to cut off Rebel access to healthcare.

Cutting access to healthcare and food also makes life as miserable as possible for civilians living under rebel occupation.

The Assad regime’s strategy is to maintain control over as much of the civilian populace as possible to ensure perception of legitimacy in the eyes of the world, and bargain with the rebel opposition for peace from a position of strength.

“It is a shame that the world in the 21st century is watching an 8,000-year-old city destroyed on the heads of its inhabitants and bombed with 200 air raids and dozens of barrel bombs daily without doing anything,” President of the Opposition Council Anas Alabdah told The Daily Beast.

***