Is Kurdistan Rising?

The State of the Kurds  WSJ 6-20-15

NER, by Jerry Gordon, June 21, 2015:

In the Wall Street Journal Weekend edition, June 20-21, 2015, Yaroslav Trofimov writes of the possible rise of an independent Kurdistan, “The State of The Kurds”.  An independent Kurdistan was promised by the WWI Allies in the Treaty of Sevres that ended the Ottoman Empire in 1920. That commitment was dashed by the rise of Turkish Republic under the secularist Kemal Atatürk confirmed in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne denying an independent Kurdistan in what is now Eastern Turkey. Combined a future Kurdistan encompassing eastern Turkey, Northern Syria, northwest Iran and northern Iraq might comprise a landlocked republic of 30 million with significant energy and agricultural resources.  The rise of Kurdistan is reflected in these comments in the Trofimov WSJ review article:

Selahattin Demirtas, Chairman of the HDP party in Turkey:

The Kurds’ existence was not recognized; they were hidden behind a veil. But now, after being invisible for a century, they are taking their place on the international stage. Today, international powers can no longer resolve any issue in the Middle East without taking into account the interests of the Kurds.

Tahir Elçi, a prominent Kurdish lawyer and chairman of the bar in Diyarbakir, Turkey:

In the past, when the Kurds sought self-rule, the Turks, the Persians and the Arabs were all united against it. Today that’s not true anymore—it’s not possible for the Shiite government in Iraq and Shiite Iran to work together against the Kurds with the Sunni Turkey and the Sunni ISIS. In this environment, the Kurds have become a political and a military power in the Middle East.

Elçi, amplifies a concern that Sherkoh Abbas, leader of the Kurdish National Syria Assembly (KURDNAS) has expressed in several NER interviews an articles with him:

The PKK has made important steps to adopt more democratic ways. But you cannot find the same climate of political diversity in [Kurdish] Syria as you find in [northern Iraq], and this is because of PKK’s authoritarian and Marxist background. This is a big problem.

As effective as the KRG government and peshmerga have been in pushing back at ISIS forces threatening the capital of Erbil, the real problem is the divisiveness in the political leadership. That is reflected in the comment of  Erbil province’s governor, Nawaf Hadi cited by Trofimov:

For 80 years, the Arab Sunni people led Iraq—and they destroyed Kurdistan. Now we’ve been for 10 years with the Shiite people [dominant in Baghdad], and they’ve cut the funding and the salaries—how can we count on them as our partner in Iraq?” All the facts on the ground encourage the Kurds to be independent.

That renewed prospect reflects the constellation of  events in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Supporters cheer Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP, in Istanbul, Turkey, in May, 2015. Source: Emrah Gurel/AP

Supporters cheer Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, in Istanbul, Turkey, in May, 2015. Source: Emrah Gurel/AP

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Rouhani Trumpets P5+1 deal; while Senate Dems Back off New Sanctions Legislation

nuclear iran logo(3)By Jerry Gordon:

As if on cue, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani trumpets how the Islamic Regime won big time with the announced Joint Plan of Action (JPA) implementation last Sunday in Geneva.  As The Guardian noted in a report, “Iran nuclear deal means ‘surrender’ for Western Powers, says Rouhani”:

Speaking on Tuesday in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, Rouhani said the “Geneva deal means the surrender of big powers before the great nation of Iran”.

Perhaps one of those victories is the ability of the Islamic regime to pursue what we would call the “nth” development of new, more efficient centrifuges to enrich uranium. Enrichment for only one purpose, to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.  The Obama White House  confirmed that Iran has been allowed to pursue ‘centrifuge research’.     TheWashington Free Beacon noted this White House news conference call exchange in an article,” Iran permitted to continue advanced nuclear research”:

Asked by a reporter on a conference call if the deal stops “Iran from designing new types of centrifuges,” a senior administration official admitted that the deal does not prohibit this activity.

[…]

“So what’s the practical effect of this R&D [research and development] clarification that you labored over so hard? What does it preclude them from doing?” the reporter asked.

It—I mean, their commitment is to continue their current enrichment R&D practices, and those are the practices that are laid out in the November [IAEA} Director General’s report,” said one of two senior administration officials on the press briefing. “This—that’s been documented, and that’s what they were—that’s what they will continue to do.”

As we had reported  in an Iconoclast post on possible veto-proof  bi-partisan Iran sanctions  legislation in the US Senate (S1881) that  the centrifuge research issue had allegedly hit a snag.

Now in the wake of Rouhani’s speech yesterday in Iran comes word that the White House is soft peddling the Iranian President’s trumpeting of this alleged “victory”.    An AFP article,“White House plays down Rouhani crowing on Nuclear Deal” notes these comments by White House spokesperson Jay Carney at yesterday’s press conference:

It is not surprising to us and nor should it be surprising to you that the Iranians are describing the agreement in a certain way towards their domestic audience. It does not matter what they say, it matters what they do.

Problem is it could  thwart the Obama Administration’s campaign to stifle new bi-partisan sanctions legislation , the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act (NWFIA), S1881.

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Yesterday, an Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) conference call on Iran’s intentions over its nuclear program   featured former Israeli Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger and Dr. Michael Ledeen of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.  Dr. Ledeen is an impassioned advocate for both sanctions and support for regime change via what he argues could be a significant Iranian opposition.  Amb. Ettinger suggested that perhaps something more is required, when he commented:

Only one option to avoid facing an Iran which could become an uncontrollable strategic apocalyptic threat. That option is surgical, devastating, disproportional military preemption against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

 

 

Read more at New English Review

 

Expert Testimony: Global al-Qaeda, Affiliates, Objectives, and Future Challenges

map-2-al-qaedaSubcommittee Hearing: Global al-Qaeda: Affiliates, Objectives, and Future Challenges:  (Jul 18, 2013)

Witnesses

Seth Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Director
International Security and Defense Policy Center
RAND Corporation
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Frederick W. Kagan, Ph.D.
Christopher DeMuth Chair and Director
Critical Threats Project
American Enterprise Institute
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Mr. Thomas Joscelyn
Senior Editor
The Long War Journal
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Thomas Hegghammer, Ph.D.
Zuckerman Fellow
Center for International Security and Cooperation
Stanford University
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Also see:

AL QAEDA: THE REPORTS OF MY DEATH ARE GREATLY EXAGGERATED

Al Qaeda: Not Defeated Yet

Al Qaeda militants in the al-Jazeera region on the Iraqi side of the Syria-Iraq border. / AP

Al Qaeda militants in the al-Jazeera region on the Iraqi side of the Syria-Iraq border. / AP

BY: :

A remote conference between more than 20 senior al Qaeda leaders that prompted temporary closures of several U.S. embassies in the Middle East earlier this month indicates that the terrorist organization remains committed to expansion and threatening the West, national security experts said Tuesday.

Daily Beast senior national security correspondent Eli Lake and Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) senior fellow Thomas Joscelyn said at an FDD panel discussion that al Qaeda has retained central management as its affiliates spring up across the Middle East and Africa.

 

Lake and fellow Daily Beast correspondent Josh Rogin reported Tuesday that the electronic conference between leaders of al Qaeda’s regional branches featured advanced encryption methods with video, voice, and chat capabilities.

In a web recording of the seven-hour meeting, which was seized from an al Qaeda courier captured by U.S. and Yemeni intelligence officials, al Qaeda network leader Ayman Al-Zawahri compared the United States’ regional position in the Middle East to the Soviet Union on the eve of its collapse in 1989.

Additionally, he exhorted participants in the conference to capitalize on America’s declining influence in the region before announcing that Nasser al-Wuhayshi, leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), will be general manager of the group as it implements a new phase in al Qaeda’s war strategy.

President Barack Obama has repeatedly asserted that al Qaeda is “on the way to defeat” after drone strikes killed some of the group’s senior leaders.

“While there have been victories, the threat of al Qaeda is far from over at this point,” Lake said.

Joscelyn said the proliferation of al Qaeda affiliates in Syria, Yemen, Mali, Somalia, and other countries is not something the group “stumbled upon” but “has long been part of their strategy.”

However, the group’s various regional branches have shifted their strategy in recent years to increase their effectiveness, Joscelyn noted. Affiliates like AQAP have adopted the “Hamas model” of providing governance and services to disaffected residents of Yemen.

Meanwhile, AQAP has continued to attempt terrorist attacks on the United States by planting underwear bombers on U.S.-bound airliners.

“They’re able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” he said.

The Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday that thousands of foreign jihadists—including Americans and Europeans—have flooded into civil war-torn Syria to join the al Qaeda-affiliated al Nusra Front, raising concerns among U.S. officials that these fighters will receive training for executing terrorist attacks upon return to their home countries.

Additionally, a report from the Long War Journal, a project of FDD, found that at least 15 Salafi jihadist groups—some affiliated with al Qaeda—have begun to occupy the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The groups have reportedly attacked Israeli Defense Forces along Israel’s border and fired rockets into the country.

“It’s indisputable that [al Qaeda has] made more gains now than at any point in their history,” Joscelyn said.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

Pro-Islamist Advocacy Campaign Hits the Wall Street Journal

20130818_egypt2013_violence_LARGE

by MAGDI KHALIL:

The Wall Street Journal is a respected newspaper, and many of its writers are reputable researchers. However, a piece titled “Egypt’s Islamists Will Rise Again” has been described by an observer as “a strike coming from a minority of intellectuals on the conservative side who do not understand the Middle East, though they claim they do, and produce more disorientation among the U.S. public than those apologists on the left,” and that “pieces that undermine the will of Egyptians to resist the Islamists and undermine the will of Americans to stand by them are, willingly or not, part of the Muslim Brotherhood effort to reach their strategic goals.”

The opinion piece authored by Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA analyst serving as a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), suffers not only from wrong assumptions, but is also filled with factual mistakes.

Gerecht laments, “Egyptian liberals since the coup d’état against Mohammed Morsi, have an impression that the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘moment’ in Egypt lasted 12 months-after a long prelude that began in the 1920s.” This impression is wrong if one would listen to the leaders of the liberal, secular, and democratic movement in Egypt. If Mr. Gerecht had listened carefully to Egypt’s vast Arabic language network on free TV and immersed himself in bloggers’ analyses, he would have avoided writing his piece in the prestigious Wall Street Journal. Most Egyptian analysts who were part of the revolution- not the coup, as the former CIA member keeps calling it- know all too well that the Islamists were not uprooted from Egypt, even though their regime was dismantled. Gerecht’s warnings are in vain, for most Egyptians are alert and are bracing for the counter revolution.

The FDD fellow claims: “Conventional wisdom says that the Brotherhood was founded in opposition to British imperialism and Westernizing secular dictators.” This is the wrong interpretation of history. The Ikhwan were launched after the Ottoman Caliphate was destroyed by secular Turks. British occupation of Egypt started circa 1888, and the Brotherhood was founded in the mid-1920s, forty years later, with the desire to bring back the Caliphate. Removing the British from Egypt was not just a goal of the Ikhwan, but of most Egyptians. The Wafd party was the first secular patriotic movement to demand an end to British colonialism, a la the American Revolution. Geretch espouses the argument of the Brotherhood to explain why popular discontent grew against the regime: “The Brotherhood immolated itself after just a year of grossly incompetent government.” However, most Egyptians rose against the Islamists because of the suppression of basic freedoms. Read the signs held by thirty million demonstrators on June 30 and July 26; it was not about bread and jobs, it was about fascism and oppression.

The author admits that “countless Egyptians who had voted for Brotherhood candidates and its constitution turned against the Islamist group in massive demonstrations” and that “there is also little doubt that many in the Muslim Brotherhood were shocked by the size of these rallies.” However, he denies that the Brotherhood “has been routed by marches that we now know were planned by the tamarrud (rebellion) movement and the military.” In his neo-Orientalist view of Egypt and the Arabic tradition in U.S. bureaucracies, he sees Egypt’s poor “in the vast slums of Cairo” as only able to find a sense of community under the mosques. Geretch and a whole generation of failed Middle East studies in the United States are unable to make the basic distinction that Islam and Islamism are two different concepts. The poor may go to the mosque, but everything depends on who is in the pulpit, a Salafist or a Sufi.

Gerecht slams Egypt’s young liberals as he slammed Iran’s youth in 2009. He writes, “This is not Facebook Cairo, where alienated, deplorably educated, unskilled youth express their anger online and show their own kind of community by staging street protests.” The former intelligence officer dismisses the online kids because he thinks that “local clerics, let alone the cultish, secretive godfathers of the Brotherhood” have more influence among the poor and the lower middle class. On June 30 and July 26, Gerecht and his intellectual companions were proven utterly wrong. The masses listened to their youth inasmuch as they listened to the preachers. Islamologues in the West missed the coach on this one.

Gerecht claims that:

“In these precincts the poor, the Egyptian army, the security services, and the police-all unreformed since the fall of Hosni Mubarak-are viewed suspiciously, if not with hostility. The newfound love affair between the army and Egypt’s secular liberals, who in a year’s time came to the conclusion that they needed the military to check Islamist power, will likely do nothing to diminish the skepticism that Egypt’s devout have for army officers and their associates.”

The analytical mistake goes deeper, as many researchers have parroted the assertions of the Edward Saids and John Espositos of America, in that by nature the poor  are drawn to religious figures and thus even more to the fundamentalist ones. In the mind of Western apologia, Arab and Egyptian poor have no judgment of their own, and perhaps no instincts. In the reality lived on the ground in Egypt, ordinary people make a clear distinction between regimes and armies. The poor are the army. Moreover, in his assessment, Gerecht, like most Western admirers of the Islamists, dismisses 30 million Egyptian citizens who protested the Ikhwan. The country’s liberals do not appear to outnumber the Islamists, but this silent majority of Egypt is the greatest of all forces in the nation. Once it moved against the Brotherhood, the latter shrunk to their real size.

More dangerously in his article, Gerecht accuses the army and security services of being the origin of Mohammed Morsi’s “problems.” He goes ballistic against the enemies of the Islamists: military, police, business elite, and Mubarak era remnants, the very “enemies” identified by the Muslim Brotherhood propaganda internationally. It is awkward that the former CIA analyst uses the exact narrative of the international Ikhwan network and their friends in Western media.

Read more: Family Security Matters

Magdi Khalil, Director of the Forum for Democracy, Cairo and Washington, D.C.

Muslim Brotherhood Blames U.S. for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s Ouster

Mideast EgyptBY: :

A senior Muslim Brotherhood official claimed on Tuesday that America and the West “used foreign money, thugs, and criminals” to bring down ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and thwart his so-called statewide “Islamic project.”

America “gave the green light to the [Egyptian military] officers to undertake their coup; isolate, kidnap, and hide the first freely elected civilian president; and suspend the constitution and dissolve the Shura Council,” Muslim Brotherhood adviser and spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan wrote in a Tuesday article originally published in Arabic on Ikhwan Online.

Ghozlan promoted multiple anti-American conspiracy theories, claiming that the United States secretly opposed Morsi for failing to embrace “its subsidiary Israel,” as well as for enacting Islamic law in Egypt.

“America was keen to keep Egypt a weak country vis-à-vis Israel and protect it from any change in Arab policy towards it,” Ghozlan wrote, according to a translation of his article performed for the Washington Free Beacon by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

“America was not happy about the establishment of a regime that adopts the Islamic civilization project for the state at the expense of the secular Western model,” Ghozlan wrote. “[America] was keen on the continuation of Egypt as a weak country dependent on America for food, medicine, and weapons.”

Western opposition to Morsi ultimately led it to support “terrorist acts that reached the point of killing in mosques, after they blockaded, destroyed, and set on fire to the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party,” Ghozlan claimed.

The Brotherhood leader further alleges that the United States secretly “paid $105 million over several months to Egyptian and foreign organizations” to foment chaos in Egypt ahead of the January 2011 protests that brought down former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The goal of this clandestine campaign was to prevent Morsi and the Brotherhood from rising to power in Egypt, Ghozlan claimed.

Egypt expert Eric Trager said that Ghozlan’s statement is proof that the Brotherhood was never a moderate group, as many in the West claimed when Morsi first came to power.

“The Brotherhood’s virulently anti-American, conspiracy-theory-laden statement shows just how badly Washington’s policy of friendly engagement with the Brotherhood failed,” said Trager, a Next Generation Fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“The expectation was that through friendly outreach, and by not criticizing the Brotherhood for all of its domestic abuses, we could build trust and a cooperative relationship with the organization,” Trager said. “Turns out the Brotherhood isn’t so sentimental.”

Read more at Free Beacon

 

Video: Sebastian Gorka Discusses Threat Denial in the Obama Administration

Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Military Affairs Fellow and Director, National Security Fellows Program, Foundation for Defense of Democracies discusses the Obama administration’s persistent denial of the threats from Jihad:

Dr. Sebastian Gorka is an internationally recognized authority on issues of national security, terrorism, and democratization, having worked in government and the private and NGO sectors in Europe and the United States. He was born in the U.K. to parents who escaped Communism during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.  A graduate of the University of London and Corvinus University, Budapest, he was a Kokkalis Fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and holds a Ph.D. in political science. He is an associate fellow at the Joint Special Operations University (USSOCOM) and an assistant professor at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. –

Westminster Institute:

fighting-the-ideological-war-cover1-e1357841767476Islamism is a growing and powerful ideology that tolerates no dissent or rivalry. Yet in recent decades the United States has responded only to the violence that Islamism has generated, not to the beliefs and ideas that drive it. As a result of this failure, Islamist numbers and confidence have grown, and Islamist regimes have taken power in the Middle East and North Africa.  So the United States is less safe than it was before 9/11, as is everyone else outside the Islamist fold.

Until the United States understands and confronts Islamist ideology, it will not be able to slow the Islamist revolution and its destructive effects. This collection of essays proposes an effective strategy for countering and defeating the beliefs that motivate Islamists. It examines those beliefs in detail, considers their strengths and weaknesses, and draws on the lessons of past ideological conflicts. Thus it provides invaluable equipment for the war of ideas in which we must now engage.