Trump’s Grand Strategy: Get the United States out of the Middle East, Now

Our troops in Syria are hostages to Obama’s deal with Iran, which mandates a state of perpetual war between America and the region’s Sunni majority. Donald Trump wants to withdraw from both.

Tablet Magazine, by Lee Smith, April 23, 2018:

“Mission Accomplished,” Donald Trump tweeted triumphantly after the recent limited strikes on Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons facilities. Critics were quick to portray the President’s boast as hot air, and pontificate about the need for a comprehensive White House strategy to deal with Syria and other long-term regional issues.

But Trump does have a strategy, which the strikes and the President’s tweets have made plain—a U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria and a U.S. withdrawal from the Iran deal. Washington has plenty of allies to work with and through in the Middle East, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both share an American interest in rolling back Iran. Further, the White House can work against Iran and its partners in Syria through proxy forces on the ground.

The peculiar fact is that neither the Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, nor the U.S. troop presence in Syria was designed to push back on the clerical regime. Quite the opposite—they are part of a strategy purposed, perhaps unintentionally, to relieve Tehran. But now Trump intends to get out of both—while reserving the prerogative to use force, as the strikes made plain.

There is little evidence to suggest that Trump is a grand strategist in the classical mode, but his instincts are right. Contrary to the horror and scorn with which both ideas have been greeted by the Beltway foreign-policy consensus, Trump’s grand Middle Eastern strategy makes sense.

The irony is that Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, sought to accomplish the same goal of withdrawing the United States from the mire of what Trump rightly describes as a “troubled” region. The difference is that Obama’s mechanism for extricating America from the Middle East was the nuclear deal with Iran, which has paradoxically entailed not only more bloodshed but also continuing U.S. military engagement on the ground. Obama’s big mistake was his naïve belief in Iranian PR, which transformed a militarily weak, economically backwards, and politically unstable country into a technological powerhouse fronted by the dashing revolutionary fashion-plate, Qassem Suleimani.

Obama’s grand strategy was to “balance” traditional U.S. allies against Iran to create a kind of stasis while the U.S. snuck out the back door. The problem with that strategy was that Iran was simply unable to fill the stabilizing role Obama had in mind. It’s too weak, and there are many, many more Sunnis in the Middle East than Shiites. Not even Vladimir Putin’s military escalation in September 2015 followed by massive infusions of U.S. cash to Iran and its clients could win a decisive victory for the Assad regime, which Russia and Iran support.

Why is this glaringly obvious failure in judgment still so difficult for D.C. pundits and think-tankers to understand? In part, because it would acknowledge that Obama wasn’t so smart, which means they aren’t so smart, either. It would also force the chattering classes to acknowledge years of U.S. complicity in the Syrian genocide. Americans, especially those on both the left and the right who see demonstrating American virtue as a main goal of U.S. foreign policy, still cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that Obama didn’t simply stand idly by while the Iranians and their allies slaughtered and gassed Syrians, although that prospect would certainly be bad enough. Rather, America actively assisted in the slaughter.

The money that the Obama White House provided Iran—tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief, the $1.7 billion ransom for American hostages—helped fund Iran’s Syrian campaign. The weapons and the soldiers who committed genocide inside Syria were partly paid for with U.S. dollars. American aid to the Iraqi army and Lebanese Armed Forces helped stabilized Iranian holdings while the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its partners like Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite militias slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, nearly all of whom were Sunnis, many of whose villages were then subjected to sectarian cleansing and replaced with Shia loyal to Iran. While D.C. partisans of “fighting ISIS” point to the prevention of a future terror attack on U.S. soil as the main rationale for their mission, it doesn’t take a genius to see how helping kill 500,000 Sunnis in Syria is more likely to produce future terror attacks than to prevent them.

Trump’s strategy is simple: Pull the plug. The Middle East is a “troubled place,” Trump said after the strikes. “We will try to make it better, but it is a troubled place. The United States will be a partner and a friend, but the fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people.”

What this means in practice is that the President is almost certain to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear agreement next month. He’s given Secretary of Defense James Mattis six months to beat ISIS and then we’re out.

Read more

Assad’s Horror, and Those Who Enable It

hoto credit: Muhammed es Sami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.
Demonstrators draw picture on a wall to describe the poisonous gas attack and protest against the Assad regime’s alleged gas attack on Douma in Syria on April 08, 2018

Russia, Iran, and North Korea all play a role in the Syrian regime’s chemical attacks on its own people.

The Weekly Standard, by Thomas Joscelyn, April 8, 2018:

Horrific images from the aftermath of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria are once again circulating online. The scene of this gassing is the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus. Both the location and the timing of this apparent war crime are symbolically important. And while the immediate focus will be on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his willingness to gas his own people, any long-term solution will require understanding the role of the rogue states that enable and support him.

It was one year ago, on the morning of April 7, 2017, that the Trump administration launched punitive airstrikes against Assad’s regime at the Shayrat Airfield in response to a Sarin gas attack days earlier. Those targeted bombings were intended to send a message to Assad: Stop using banned weapons of war against your own people. Assad was undeterred.

He had failed to adhere to a previous deal, negotiated by the Obama administration and Russia, that was intended to end his chemical weapons capability. The concord was struck in the aftermath of the August 21, 2013, nerve agent attack on eastern Ghouta–the same suburb hit in the last 24 hours. The U.S. government determined that the Assad regime was responsible and “that 1,429 people were killed … including at least 426 children.”

Just a few weeks later, in September 2013, the U.S. and Russia agreed to “special procedures” for the “expeditious destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program and stringent verification thereof.” Secretary of State John Kerry claimed in 2014 that the agreement had worked, saying “we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out” of Syria. That obviously wasn’t true, or at least highly misleading, as Assad retained the capability to regenerate and use certain weapons.

And now—one year after the U.S. attempted to punish Assad with airstrikes, and in the same neighborhood that was terrorized in 2013— the Syrian regime has seemingly struck again.

Many details concerning this most recent attack remain to be confirmed. But the world has already learned some valuable lessons regarding the behavior of rogue actors when it comes their pursuit and use of banned weapons.

There is no real question that Assad has continued to use chemical weapons even after he agreed to give them up. As the State Department was quick to note yesterday, the U.S. has concluded that he was responsible for the April 4, 2017, Sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun—the same incident which prompted the Trump administration’s bombing. And both the U.S. government and the UN have found that Assad’s goons used other chemical weapons, namely crude chlorine bombs, more than once. While some of these bombs struck areas held by jihadi rebels, they have also indiscriminately killed civilians.

Assad’s principal international backer, Vladimir Putin, hasn’t stopped him from using of them. Nor has Iran, which is deeply embedded in Syria alongside Assad’s forces. In fact, the Assad-Putin-Khamenei axis has a legion of online apologists who argue that the high-profile chemical weapons assaults aren’t really the work of the Syrian “president” at all. This noxious advocacy on behalf of mass murderers is readily available on social media.

It gets even worse, as another rogue state has reportedly facilitated Assad’s acquisition of chemical weapons: North Korea. This facilitation is especially worrisome in light of the two nations’ previous cooperation on a nuclear reactor that was destroyed by the Israelis in 2007.

In March, the U.N. issued a report on North Korea’s active “prohibited military cooperation projects…stretching from Africa to the Asia-Pacific region, including ongoing ballistic missile cooperation with the Syrian Arab Republic and Myanmar, widespread conventional arms deals and cyberoperations to steal military secrets.”

The U.N. traced a number of visits by North Korean officials to Syrian soil, finding that “multiple groups of ballistic missile technicians” have been inside Syria. Citing intelligence received from a “Member State,” the U.N. explained that these “technicians … continued to operate at chemical weapons and missile facilities at Barzah, Adra and Hama.” The Assad regime tried to deflect this accusation by claiming the North Koreans were in town simply for “training athletics and gymnastics.”

But the U.N. documented additional suspicious details, including previously unknown illicit shipments and transfers. The U.N. investigative body’s “investigations into several cases of hitherto unreported arms shipments and cooperation with front companies of designated entities between 2010 and 2017 showed further evidence of arms embargo and other violations, including through the transfer of items with utility in ballistic missile and chemical weapons” programs.

In one such transfer, the North Koreans provided the Assad regime with “special resistance valves and thermometers known for use in chemical weapons” programs. U.N. member states also interdicted suspicious shipments, including bricks and tiles that may be used as part of a chemical weapons program. Although the U.N. found these specific materials weren’t banned, a member state noted that they “can be used to build bricks for the interior walls of [a] chemical factory.”

The U.N. found it especially suspicious that North Korean front companies were doing business with the Syrian government’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), which oversees Assad’s chemical weapons development.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned 271 SSRC staffers in the aftermath of the April 2017 Sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun. Treasury explained that the SSRC is “the Syrian government agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them.” And the sanctioned SSRC employees “have expertise in chemistry and related disciplines and/or have worked in support of SSRC’s chemical weapons program since at least 2012.”

Therefore, the U.N.’s conclusion that North Korea has been working with the SSRC is especially noteworthy.

The U.S. and its allies will continue to face daunting challenges when it comes to restraining rogue nations and their pursuit of banned weapons. As Syria’s ongoing work on chemical weapons shows, such proliferation concerns often involve multiple rogue states. Assad’s chemical weapons attacks inside Syria are principally his own doing, but not solely. He has friends outside of Syria who are willing to help.

***

Also see:

***

Is John Bolton the Man Who Will Dismantle the Islamic & Marxist Counter-States in America?

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – FEBRUARY 22: Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks during CPAC 2018 February 22, 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland. The American Conservative Union hosted its annual Conservative Political Action Conference to discuss conservative agenda. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, March 27, 2018:

How can an American citizen know Ambassador John Bolton, President Trump’s new National Security Advisor, is a good choice for the position?

Because the Marxists are losing their minds.

In fact, John Bolton brings to the table an understanding of a wide variety of threats with strategies to take the fight to the enemy.

UTT’s President John Guandolo interviewed colleagues Philip Haney and Trevor Loudon to weigh in on this issue while the three men spoke together at a panel discussion this past weekend at the Western Conservative Summit in Phoenix, Arizona.

The topic was the Islamic and Marxist Threats.

Former founding member of the Department of Homeland Security, author, Whistleblower and one of the most knowledgable men about the Islamic Movement in the United States, Philip Haney, had this to say about Mr. Bolton:

“I’ve always been a great admirer of Bolton, and I think it’s one of the best choices President Trump has made for his cabinet so far.  He has always stood up for our sovereignty, our Constitutional values, and defended us against great opposition.  He’s outspoken, or I should say, plain-spoken.  People know exactly what he thinks, and he doesn’t equivocate.  He just tells it like it is.  I admire that.  We need some more of that.”

“I think we would all agree Americans put a high value on honesty.  (Mr. Bolton) is always honest.  Foreign leaders know exactly where he stands.  I am very pleased…(with) the appointment of Bolton.”

Responding to the question, “If you could give Mr. Bolton one piece of advice, what would it be?” Mr. Haney replied:

“Focus on the Muslim Brotherhood and start with the domestic arena, but also its connection to the foreign in places like Egypt.  We need to look at the Muslim Brotherhood and get these front groups designated and shut down.  They’re connected to Hamas – that’s been proven.  It is not a theory.  We know it and they have been operating in our face for ten years.  Its time we put an end to that.”

[To get a copy of Philip Haney’s book See Something Say Nothing click here.]

One of America’s greatest resources for information on the Marxist penetration of our government and society is New Zealand native Trevor Loudon.  His movie The Enemies Within tells the tale of the devastating penetration of the American government by avowed Marxists as well as jihadists.

Here are Mr. Loudon’s comments about John Bolton’s new role as the President’s National Security Advisor:

“I’m very very pleased that this is the decision.  I think John Bolton is one of the most knowledgeable and hardcore American Patriots out there.  He understands national security like no one else.  He understands both the external threats and the internal threats, and has no illusions that America has enemies that need to be dealt very, very forcefully.  So I think he’s a perfect choice for President Trump at this time.  I think he will not only confront America’s external enemies, I think he’s a great force for draining the swamp.  I think he will be firing a bunch of people that need to be fired, and I don’t think he’ll take any prisoners.  So, I think that was an inspired choice by President Trump.”

In response to the question “Do you think Mr. Bolton has a good understanding of the Marxist threat in America?” Trevor responded:

“Yeah, I do.  I think he has more understanding than most.  He understands both the threats of countries like Russia and China, but he also understands very much the threat from Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood, and organizations like that.  I don’t think he has any illusions.  I think people in Tehran, Moscow and Beijing will be very, very concerned about this choice, and we should be happy about that.”

Responding to the question, “If you could give Mr. Bolton one piece of advice, what would it be?” Mr. Loudon replied:

“Drain the swamp. Get rid of the bad elements in the State Department and the national security apparatus, stop those leaks.  Deal with the internal enemies first…then you can confront the external enemies.”

Also see:

10 Big Changes to Expect With Pompeo at State

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, March 21, 2018:

By replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, President Trump has hit the “restart” button on his foreign policy a little over a year into his term.

Trump referenced the Iran deal as the point of contention sparking Tillerson’s departure, as Tillerson and his State Department colleagues favored a policy of making additional demands with additional pressures instead of withdrawing from the deal.

Expect 10 big changes in foreign policy once Pompeo is officially the Secretary of State.

1.Unleashing the sleeping hounds upon on our enemies

Expect a “shadow war” against our enemies that will likely out-do the Obama Administration’s strong covert attacks on the Iranian-North Korean nuclear and missile programs.

As CIA Director, Pompeo reportedly ordered a dramatic increase in human intelligence-gathering, covert operations, cyber security and counterintelligence. He loosened restrictions on drone strikes and other measures to kill terrorists.

Pompeo’s top terrorist hunter was Michael D’Andrea, who married a Muslim woman overseas he met while serving undercover and subsequently converted to Sunni Islam. As the New York Times explained, “perhaps no single CIA official is more responsible for weakening Al-Qaeda.”

D’Andrea, also known as “The Dark Prince” and “Ayatollah Mike,” oversaw the successful search for Osama Bin Laden, as well as the impressive killing of the elusive Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyah.

When Pompeo took over the CIA, he informed the “Dark Prince” he has a new focus: Iran.

In North Korea, Pompeo argued that the ultimate solution should be to “separate the regime from this system” that includes Kim Jong-Un departing from power. His comments contradicted Tillerson’s earlier statement that the U.S. does not seek the ultimate removal of the cultish dictatorship.

In pursuit of that objective, Pompeo has been hoping to support North Korean opposition forces that can destabilize the regime, threatening the only thing that Kim Jong-Un really cares about: himself.

Trump believes that strong pressure caused the potential breakthrough in diplomacy that was recently announced. He will be inclined towards embracing Pompeo’s approach while publicly giving North Korea a chance for a positive change in relations.

Pakistan should also be worried as President Trump has unequivocally stated that Pakistan will finally be held accountable for its role in sustaining the global jihadist insurgency, including killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Pompeo accurately stated that victory in Afghanistan and getting to some kind of ceasefire with the Taliban is wholly contingent upon the Taliban and interlinked jihadist groups losing their safe haven in Pakistan. To date, the U.S. has refrained from targeting most of Pakistan’s proxies with the infrastructure that sustains Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

To Tillerson’s credit, his State Department designated Hizbul Mujahideen, a jihadist group that is essentially an arm of Pakistani intelligence, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Trump Administration is likely to target the Al-Qaeda-linked groups who maintain a large infrastructure in Pakistan and Kashmir that reaches into the U.S.

2. Ending the Iran deal and a broader attack on Iranian influence

Pompeo’s position on the nuclear deal with Iran is quite clear: “roll it back.”

He believes Iran should not be allowed to have advanced nuclear enrichment capabilities or to the ability to quickly “break out” from a civilian nuclear program into a bomb-building program.

That’s almost the opposite of Tillerson (and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster), who criticized the deal but fought to preserve it.

Pompeo also desires to “push back” Iran, meaning forcing its militias, terrorist proxies and various regional influence operations into retreat. Iran’s efforts include murdering American troops in Afghanistan and creating a Hezbollah-like force in Yemen.

A big question remains about whether Trump will embrace regime change—albeit using more acceptable words, given his consistent opposition to overthrowing foreign governments.

President Trump rooted on the brave protestors in Iran with repeated public encouragement (though it should have continued right up to today), but never formally aligned U.S. policy with their ultimate goal.

Senior officials confirmed to me that the Trump Administration actually rejected overthrowing the Iranian regime as a strategy. This account is substantiated by others who got separate briefings from administration officials who denied trying to remove the theocracy from power.

Pompeo is likely to be more inclined towards this option—the best anti-war, pro-peace option available. As secretary of state, he’s also likely to embrace the Sunni Arab plan to destabilize Iran and its Qatari allies that Tillerson rejected.

3. Rejecting the Islamist lobby of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, Iran and (possibly) Turkey

Tillerson could not have been more disappointing when it came to confronting the Sunni Islamist lobbies of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar and Turkey. The result has been the loss of a tremendous opportunity to pressure Qatar as the Arabs ganged up on the terror-sponsor following Trump’s positively-received speech in Riyadh.

Tillerson, more than any other Trump Administration official, bears responsibility for saving the Muslim Brotherhood from being designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization so its U.S. network could begin being dismantled. Tillerson praised Turkish dictator Erdogan and shilled for Qatar.

One cannot help but suspect that Tillerson’s business ties from leading Exxon-Mobil impacted his decision-making towards his former business partners. When Tillerson was widely reported to be on the edge of quitting, he was said to tell colleagues that, besides Iran, his biggest area of difference with Trump was Qatar.

Why was he so passionate about standing up for Qatar out of all the complicated foreign policy he had to deal with?

When the Arab world put its foot down on Qatar, Tillerson’s State Department contradicted the commander-in-chief, even casting doubt on our Arab partners’ allegations that Qatar sponsors Islamist terrorists—a widely known, indisputable fact.

Qatar also launched a well-funded lobbying campaign targeting former Trump campaign officials and seducing former adversaries, like a senior staffer to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act. The result was Trump flip-flopping on our terror-sponsoring “ally.”

The Tillerson State Department, like the Obama Administration before it, gave a platform to a radical cleric linked to the Muslim Brotherhood so he could win a fanbase as an admirable “moderate” against terrorism.

In August 2017, Clarion Project broke the story that a pro-Erdogan Muslim Brotherhood coalition known as the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations had visited the State Department to express their opinion on the Islamist-manufactured Temple Mount crisis facing Israel. The coalition didn’t say much about the meeting except that it was “encouraged by the constructive dialogue.”

The State Department defended the meeting and added an extra dose of madness to the situation. It turned out there were more meetings. The red carpet was rolled out for the council. They had “met a cross-section of working-level officials from different offices in the [State] Department,” it said.

Here’s another example:

As Dr. Daniel Pipes pointed out in August 2017, Tillerson’s State Department was even facilitating meetings between official Indonesian visitors (and presumably others) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group with a history of ties to Islamic terrorist and extremist groups. The Justice Department listed CAIR as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a terrorism-financing trial and identified it as an “entity” of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee, a secret body established to covertly assist the Hamas terrorist group.

As a congressman, Pompeo was one of the earliest and staunchest supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act, knowing full well that put him in the crosshairs of the Islamist lobby backed by Qatar and Turkey.

However, the Trump Administration’s stance towards Erdogan has been disturbingly friendly, so it is unclear how much change will come in that direction. Pompeo gave a disappointing answer when asked whether the Kurds are America’s friend that could foreshadow a continuance of the Trump Administration’s frequent choosing of Turkey over the Kurds.

Yet, when it came to Iran, he was not swayed by local pressure from businesses eager to trade with the regime, such as by selling aircraft and associated equipment. In fact, he wrote an article titled, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Do Business With Iran.”

4.The Muslim Brotherhood and possibly Jamaat ul-Fuqra are likely to be designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations

When it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood, Pompeo gets it. He even went head-to-head with local Islamists when he was a congressman, bringing public pressure upon the Islamic Society of Wichita for having a terrorism-linked guest speaker. The mosque cancelled the event, blaming him for causing security costs to get too high.

The case for designating Jamaat ul-Fuqra, whose Muslims of the Americas (MOA) front is known for claiming to have 22 “Islamic villages” in America, is just as strong as it is for the Muslim Brotherhood—if not stronger. If Pompeo is made aware of it, he is likely to designate the group, especially due to its links to the recently-designated Hizbul Mujahideen.

5. Even stronger stance with Israel against Islamism and its associated hatreds.

If you thought the Trump Administration was favorable towards Israel now, just wait to see what happens with Pompeo in charge of foreign policy.

Pompeo sees Israel as a beachhead of secular democracy stemming the wave of Islamism headed towards the West. Even under President Trump, there were danger signs for Israel emerging.

6. Pressure on Islamic leadership

Pompeo understands that the jihadist threat is rooted in an ideological interpretation of Islam and that Muslim leaders who fail to unequivocally stand against terrorism and the pursuit of theocratic sharia law are part of the problem.

Critics of Pompeo are taking these comments out of context and conveniently ignoring his support for D’Andrea, the Sunni Muslim convert who led the covert operations against Al-Qaeda and now, due to Pompeo, is doing the same against Iran.

Pompeo’s observation about a lack of “Thomas Jeffersons” in the Middle East does not reflect anti-Muslim bigotry but a desire to help Muslim modernist reformers.

7. He understands the ideological war

A review of his statements and actions have a common denominator: He knows how to wage ideological warfare against America’s adversaries. The aforementioned example of how he pressured the mosque in Wichita proves this point.

As CIA Director, he released portions of Osama Bin Laden’s archive that the Obama Administration refused to—presumably because they showed far closer ties between Bin Laden/Al-Qaeda and Iran than it wished for the public to know.

He saw the value in releasing evidence to expose both enemies. This is a no-brainer that you’d assume would happen all the time but it does not. In the past, our government failed to embrace transparency and cautious release of information as a strategy, and more broadly, a moral imperative for our democracy.

8.Tougher on Russia, Venezuela and Cuba

It must be remembered that Russia is backing elements of the Islamist cause, particularly the Taliban, Iran, the Assad regime and Hezbollah. It also does not consider Hamas to be a terrorist group, and Putin’s puppets in Chechnya are promoting puritanical beliefs.

Expect Pompeo to hold Putin accountable as much as President Trump will let him.

Pompeo does not fall for the manipulations of Russia, Iran and Assad that are designed to present themselves as the “moderate” solutions to the threat of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the like. He disagrees with Trump regarding the helpfulness of Russia’s role in Syria.

He is also not a “Russia denier.” He doesn’t continually dismiss any intelligence analysis concluding that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election and use our hyper-partisanship to rip apart American society and use our dysfunction to discredit the ideology of secular democracy.

Pompeo also sounds like he advocates a tougher line on the Venezuelan dictatorship that is allied with Iran and expressed concern about Cuban intelligence operations against the U.S.

9. Confronting the “non-state hostile intelligence services”

Pompeo is greatly concerned with how anti-American actors, including Islamists and obviously Russia, can use “non-state hostile intelligence services” like Wikileaks to wreak havoc on the West’s intelligence operations, military operations and international partnerships, as well as dominate media cycles to their preferred narrative.

As I wrote here, Julian Assange is dedicated to fanning the flames of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.Comedian Stephen Colbert, in a rare break from character and politeness, confronted Assange on behalf of U.S. troops in this 2010 interview before bashing Wikileaks became a left-wing pastime.

One of the most important people involved with Wikileaks, Israel Shamir, praised Iranian President Ahmadinejad and refers to Palestinian terrorists as “martyrs.”

He’s also a Holocaust denier and, since 2010, acts as the liaison between Assange and the Russian state-controlled media. The ties between the anti-Semitic Israel Shamir, Julian Assange and Russia are extensive and well-documented.

To give another famous example, a bipartisan U.S. House Intelligence Committee investigation into Edward Snowden concluded that he lied about numerous parts of his story and has close ties to Russian intelligence.

Pompeo is triggered when Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are mentioned.

In one public discussion, he said Snowden “absconded to the comfortable clutches of Russian intelligence, his treachery directly harmed a wide range of U.S. intelligence and military operations … In fact, a colleague of ours at the National Security Agency recently explained that more than a thousand foreign targets, people, groups and organizations, more than a thousand of them, tried to change how they communicated as a direct result of Snowden’s disclosures. That’s a staggering number.”

Snowden claims to have no relationship with Assange’s Wikileaks. That further illustrates the fact that these “non-state hostile intelligence services” are a growing threat and, for Islamists and the governments sponsoring them, present an incredible opportunity.

As Pompeo points out, these “activists’” emphasis on disclosures that hurt the West is telling. He said, “Julian Assange and his kind are not the slightest bit interested in improving civil liberties or enhancing personal freedom.”

10. A Trump Administration more in unison and a better informed President Trump

The Trump Administration basically did not include the State Department. This divided was aggravated by the simple fact that Tillerson and Trump just didn’t get along and had too many differing opinions.

Unnamed officials were regularly quoting Trump as calling Tillerson too weak. Tillerson did not deny reports that he called Trump a “moron” at a meeting.

Unlike Tillerson, Pompeo has personal chemistry with Trump. He also upstaged Tillerson with his talent for educating Trump on foreign affairs using visuals that hold his attention.

Expect dramatic changes in the Trump Administration’s foreign policy and its approach towards Islamist extremism.

Conclusion

Of the most senior officials, only National Security Adviser McMaster stands in the way of an aggressive ideological war on Islamism. And it seems his days are numbered, with his likeliest replacement being former U.N. ambassador John Bolton.

The White House is denying that McMaster is on his way out the door, but we’ve heard those denials before. Trump needs to just do it.

We are over a year into the Trump presidency and, by the end of this year, we’ll probably be hearing about Democratic and possibly Republican candidates announcing their presidential candidacies.

There is no time to waste.

It’s time for Trump to get his team together and get his foreign policy moving.

Hayward: Free Syrian Army, Once the Great ‘Moderate’ Hope, Joins Turkey to Attack Kurds

Huseyin Nasir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Feb. 6, 2018:

Turkey has conducted its “Operation Olive Branch” military incursion into Syria in concert with the Free Syrian Army, which has helped Turkish forces take control of several villages in the Afrin region.

This is an uncomfortable development for U.S. policymakers because both the Kurds and Free Syrian Army were considered battlefield allies of the United States in the war against the Islamic State, and the FSA was seen as the model white-hat rebel group when the Obama administration and intervention-minded Republicans were desperately seeing “moderate” forces in the Syrian rebellion to support.

In fact, as recently as last spring, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) strongly urged increased support for the Free Syrian Army as part of the U.S. strategy for stabilizing Syria while holding the regime of dictator Bashar Assad at bay.

McCain has long been prominent among those convinced the Free Syrian Army was America’s best bet for a terrorist-free moderate rebel group to arm and support, a step he felt the Obama administration was much too reluctant to take while Russia was busy shipping arms to the Syrian regime.

He made a surprise visit to the Turkey-Syria border in 2013 to meet with FSA leaders who wanted American heavy weapons, up to and including anti-aircraft weapons, and American air support against FSA adversaries such as Hezbollah. At the time, the FSA claimed to be running perilously low on munitions, which does not seem to be a problem now that they are fighting on Turkey’s behalf against the Kurds.

McCain has not responded well to contrary arguments about the FSA, as when he reportedly stormed out of the room during a 2014 presentation by Syrian Christians who said there were Islamist fighters among the FSA’s ranks.

There was a good deal of confusion surrounding support for the Free Syrian Army in the Obama administration, which occasionally seemed uncertain about what kind of support it was sending them. Critics complained effective support for moderate rebel groups was announced too late, after too much dithering, and was delivered too long after it was finally announced. The aid program that eventually materialized was an unserious disaster.

Whether reluctantly as with Obama, or eagerly as with McCain, plans for zero-footprint Syrian intervention kept circling back around to the Free Syrian Army, despite persistent warnings it contained some unlovely people and outright terrorists. One reason for this default support is that many of the other options for American support were Kurdish groups or members of Kurdish-dominated umbrella organizations, which was problematic because U.S. policymakers wanted to avoid conflict with the Turkish and Iraqi governments. Going all-in on the Kurds would inevitably bring accusations that America was supporting Kurdish nationalists, separatists, or terrorists (as Turkey would have it).

To this very day, Turkey denounces American support for the Kurds as direct support for terrorists, no different in principle from shipping arms to the Islamic State, which is something the Turks also charge America with doing when they are especially upset. It may come as some small consolation to know that everyone involved in the Syrian quagmire accuses everyone else of supporting terrorism, and they quite frequently have a point, since even the better rebel groups have been known to cooperate with powerful terrorist forces like al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front from time to time. It is difficult for outside powers to be certain that a weapon given to a white-hat moderate rebel today will not be handed over, voluntarily or involuntarily, to a terrorist or war criminal tomorrow.

In a 2013 profile of the Free Syrian Army, the BBC noted it was a “loose network of brigades rather than a unified fighting force,” with very little operational control exercised by appealing and high-minded spokesmen like Brigadier General Salim Idris.

Brigades aligned with the Free Syrian Army and its spinoff organizations retained “separate identities, agendas and commands.” The BBC noted that some of them “work with hardline Islamist groups that alarm the West, such as Ahrar al-Sham, and al-Qaeda-linked jihadists.”

Deutsche Welle recalls that, a few weeks ago, a delegation from the Free Syrian Army came to Washington and argued that if the CIA did not resume military aid frozen by the Trump administration, its “moderate” forces would have no choice but to look elsewhere for support. Virtually overnight, the FSA signed up with Turkey to work as mercenaries in its war against the Syrian Kurds, which DW notes is difficult to square with the FSA’s nominal mission of battling the tyranny of Bashar Assad on behalf of the Syrian people. It also argues against viewing the FSA as the kind of staunch moderate ally who can be entrusted with American weapons as they fight a noble battle to liberate Syria from cruel dictatorship.

“The Free Syrian Army practically doesn’t exist,” DW quotes Mideast expert Kamal Sido telling a German broadcaster. “The Free Syrian Army is a smokescreen hiding various names, and if you look at the names, at these groups’ videos, you’ll find they are radical Islamist, Jihadist groups.”

Charles Lister of the Brookings Institution contributed the observation that nearly 80 distinct factions now identify themselves with the FSA brand, and while some are moderate in outlook, others are hardline Islamist radicals. The group as a whole is moving inexorably into the orbit of radicals, and Islamist patrons like Turkey’s Erdogan, simply because they tend to be better-armed and more ruthlessly effective on the battlefield.

If such groups ever succeeded in overthrowing Assad, they would likely either replace him with an Islamist tyranny or turn their guns against their erstwhile moderate allies – which is essentially what the FSA is doing to the Syrian Kurds right now. At this point, with Russian and Iranian support firmly behind Assad, his ouster seems unlikely, so the “rebels” are largely fighting for concessions at the negotiating table and perhaps a degree of autonomy to run their own little fiefdoms within postwar Syria. Every proposal to arm Syrian groups must carefully consider what those groups actually intend to fight for.

It should also consider how they fight. Syrian Kurds are protesting the brutality of the Turkey-FSA invasion of Afrin, which threatens to push even further into Syria, as President Erdogan has openly called for American troops to get out of his way.

Over the weekend, video footage surfaced that appears to show Free Syrian Army fighters fondling and abusing the corpse of a female Kurdish fighter killed in the Afrin operation. One of them described the woman’s body as “the spoils of war from the female pigs of the PKK,” which is the violent Kurdish separatist organization in Turkey. The Turks insist that all Syrian Kurdish militia forces are allied with the PKK, including those directly supported by the United States.

The Free Syrian Army high command promised to investigate the incident and hold those involved accountable, “if it is verified in accordance with Sharia law and our principles.” The use of Islamic law to decide whether clearly heinous activity constitutes a war crime is not what the Western world should be looking for in a “moderate” ally.

Conversely, the Turks and their allies accuse the Kurds of fighting dirty and allying themselves with the brutal Assad regime, and Kurdish forces have been blamed for civilian deaths from a rocket barrage that struck a refugee camp near the Turkish border on Monday.

Syria is a bloody mess, and white hats are hard to find, but the hellish conundrum is that failure to intervene unleashed a refugee wave that threatens to drown Europe, not to mention a humanitarian disaster within Syria that should be utterly intolerable to the civilized world. The Free Syrian Army clearly is not the easy answer that so many people have so desperately wanted it to be for the past five years. They proved it by joining a Turkish operation that may soon put the lives of American troops at risk and threaten the future of NATO.

Also see:

Civilians in Northern Syria Flee to Caves as Turkish Invasion Barrels On

Russian-Turkish axis in Syria faces meltdown

Syrian Kurds: Russia Pressured Us to Give Afrin to Assad ‘One Day’ Before Turkish Attack

Iran In Latin America: Identifying The Problem and How We Need To Confront It

Center for Security Policy, by Luis Fleischman, Feb. 1, 2018:

Originally posted on the London Center for policy research

Last December, Politico uncovered a story with serious and far-reaching implications.The Obama Administration undermined and blocked a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) program in its eagerness to secure a nuclear deal with Iran.This program targeted a billion dollar per year Hezbollah cocaine and arms trafficking operation in Latin America and the United States.

The Hezbollah operation also involved arms trafficking and money laundering. According to the report, cocaine trafficking originated inLatin America, specifically through Venezuela and Mexico, with profits generated in the U.S. and laundered through the purchase of used cars. According to U.S. agents involved in the investigation, the criminal operation was directed and planned by Hezbollah’s innermost circle and “its state sponsors in Iran.”

According to Politico, the money collected by Hezbollah went directly toward its military activities in the Middle East, particularly to the Assad regime in Syria where more than half a million people have been killed and millions more have been displaced. Furthermore,the drug profits aggravated issues at home; tons of cocaine were sold in the U.S.at a time when drug addiction constitutes one of America’s most pressing crises, having claimed close to 50,000 American lives in the past year alone.

The DEA sought approval to continue investigations, order arrests, extraditions and prosecutions of suspects, and impose financial sanctions on some of the operation’s major players. However, the Departments of Justice and Treasury rejected, delayed, or blocked those requests. Likewise, the State Department rejected requests to pursue cooperation with countries that could have helped target key suspects involved in those criminal activities.

The story reported by Politico is not merely about a criminal operation; rather, it follows a larger trend that has serious security implications for the entire Western Hemisphere. Iran has had a presence in Latin America for decades. However, its role in the region expanded and intensified after Hugo Chavez took the reins of the Venezuelan state in 1999. Chavez based his rule on a revolutionary transnational agenda that included a quasi-socialist authoritarian revolution at home, and an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy aimed at spreading his revolution throughout the region.

Unlike Napoleonic France or the Soviet Union, Venezuela did not have armies to expand its revolution by force. Rather, Chavez began to funnel money to candidates in different countries in the region who held views akin to his ideology and proceeded to establish alliances with regional guerilla movements to organize subversion across Latin America.Indeed, Chavez believed that to expand the revolution abroad, he needed to count on the power of asymmetric warfare. Thus, Chavez saw groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as a necessary force that could create subversion abroad and expand his so-called “Bolivarian Revolution.” The FARC took part in the rebellion that toppled the government of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in Bolivia. Likewise, theystrengthened relationswith the Shining Path guerrilla Maoist movement in Peru and other subversive groups in the region. Theyalso trainedmembers of the Paraguayan Popular Army (EPP) who kidnapped and murdered the daughter of a former Paraguayan president.Chavez followed the same trajectory and established relationships with other militant groups, such as the Basque ETA and most importantly, the Iranian backed paramilitary, Hezbollah.As such, the alliance between Venezuela and Iran has strong foundations. They both are anti-American and seek to reduce U.S. power in their respective regions and, if possible, in the world. Chavez defined the Islamic and the Bolivarian revolutions as “sister revolutions.” Venezuela needed Iran’s subversive capabilities and its “valuable” experience in building a totalitarian-revolutionary regime to complement what Cuba had already been doing.

Hezbollah and Iran’s IslamicRevolutionary GuardsCorps (IRGC) have also established a presence in the region, training “soldiers of the revolution” in Venezuelan camps, and even helping to design and build the ALBA school, a military training camp in Bolivia. The school’s main purpose is to ideologically indoctrinate soldiers and strengthen the bonds between the armed forces and the new Latin American revolutions. The revolution promoted a civic-military alliance, a situation that has enabled the regime to survive. Venezuela’s own Vice President,Tarek Al Aissami, has been a key liaison between Venezuela and Iran.

For its part, Iran needed Venezuela to expand its presence in Latin America. According to the late Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman, Iran has a presence in 12 countries in the region including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Uruguay. Iranhas sought to increase political alliances in the region for which Venezuela and its allies provided a great opportunity. Italso sought a strategic position in the region to increase deterring capabilities against the U.S. Additionally, Iran has aspired to reach out to the Muslim community in Latin America. Indeed, Iran has established a number of networks in the region with mosques and even a TV channel(HispanTV) in Spanish.(HispanTVhas given wide coverage to groups that promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories). Iran also sought to use Latin American countries, particularly Venezuelan banks, to curbthe effect of international sanctions.

Moreover,Venezuela issued passports to Iranians and Hezbollah members to facilitate their free travel around the region and the world. Likewise, several Caribbean countries thatallied with Chavez established dangerous liaisons with Iran. Guyana signed an agreement with Iran in which Iran would map Guyana’s mineral resources, including uranium. Dominica signed an agreement with Iran that enabled citizens of Iran, parts of the Middle East and Central Asia to obtain a second citizenship and a passport. The islands of St. Kitts and Nevis have also sold passports to Iranians.

These could have potentially harmful consequences. In 2007, a Hezbollah member stationed in Guyana attempted to carry out a terrorist attack at Kennedy Airport.Likewise, in 2011 Iran tried to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in Washington. Furthermore, sophisticated tunnels built along the U.S.-Mexican border have been designed in the image of the tunnels found along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Intelligence officials have raised the possibility that Hezbollah has been enlisted by drug cartels to design and improve the tunnels along America’s southern border.

These actions can place the U.S. at the mercy of terrorist attacks not just by Hezbollah, but by any other terrorist group that establishes an alliance with Iran, including the Islamic State or al Qaeda. There has been evidence of a relationship betweenIran and al Qaeda over the past several years;therefore,similar cooperation should not be ruled out in Latin America.Indeed, in August 2016 the U.S.Southern Command reported the infiltration of 30,000Sunni individuals from the Middle East, which is the equivalent of 10 percent of the total illegal smuggling coming from the southern border.

In 2016, an officer who worked in the Venezuelan embassy in Baghdad charged that the embassy sold passports to whomever would pay. The officer witnessed embassy officials selling Venezuelan passports to individuals from the Middle East, including criminals and terrorists from Iraq and Syria.Given reports of ISIS activity in these countries, it would not be surprising if some of these passports were sold to affiliated individuals.

The drug cartels also play a role in the Venezuelan and Iranian schemes. Venezuela has opened its airports and seaports to drug trafficking. Chavez, like his mentor Fidel Castro, saw drug trafficking as a means to corrupt and destabilize American society—the main consumer of drugs, as well as generating large quantities in profits.Spanish journalist Emilio Blasco has estimated that 95 percent of Colombian drugs bound for Europe and the U.S. depart from Venezuela. Blasco, who authored the book Boomerang Chavez in 2015, also claimed that Diosdado Cabello, a former general, Minister of Interior, and speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly, directed these drug operations alongsideVice President Al Aissami and Hugo Carvajal, a former director of military intelligence.

For Iran, their involvement in drug trafficking served as a source of revenue and as a means to deepen its logistical penetration in the region. Other actions indicate that there is indeed a link. There were reports that indicated that the assassination attempt against the Saudi Ambassador mentioned above was carried out with the help of Mexico’s Los Zetas, a notoriously violent drug cartel. Furthermore, there have been reports that members of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel received weapons and explosive training in Iran.

According to Rafael Isea, a former Deputy Minister of Finance and President of the Bank of Economic and Social Development, current Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, then foreign Minister, travelled to Damascus in 2007 to meet with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. The purpose of his trip was to negotiate the installation of Hezbollah cells in Venezuela. This agreement protected Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and money laundering activities as well as its arms supplies and provision of passports. These passports and visas were prepared by Ghazi Nasr El Din, a counselor in the Venezuelan embassy in Syria, who was born in Lebanon and later became a Venezuelan citizen. El Din, who was blacklisted by the FBI, helped Hezbollah raise money and repeatedly facilitated the travel of more than 300 Hezbollah members. Their role, according to Isea, was to participate in drug trafficking and money laundering to secure funding for Hezbollah.

Therefore, what was uncovered by Politico in December was not just a criminal activity aimed at securing financial support for Iran’s wars in the Middle East. This isthe tip of the iceberg. There is an ominous marriageof conveniencebetween Iran, transnational crime, and regional states led by Venezuela that may have severe consequences for the United States and the region.The Trump Administration will have to take a holistic approach by focusing its energies on Iran, Venezuela and transnational crime. In terms of Iran, I outlined a strategy in a recent article. In terms of Venezuela, Trump must extend sanctions to the entire political and military operation. However, the current policy of gradual sanctions on a handful of military officers and politicians is insufficient and ineffective. The entire military and political elite must feel the effect of economic sanctions and restriction of movement.

The Venezuelan military, like many other authoritarian regimes, has been given control of parts of the economy and food distribution. It has been reported that some officers practice “food-trafficking,” taking advantage of the people’s desperate need for food. If the army abandons Maduro, this could be a good first step towards regime change. This is why heavy sanctions must be applied over the entire armed forces, and not just on a few officers. Supporters of the regime continue to desert Mr. Maduro; it is important to make sure that more members of the military do the same.

Finally, the Trump Administration must intensify the war on drugs and cartels that operate across many countries in Latin America.  Venezuela and its ally regimes in Ecuador and Bolivia expelled the DEA years ago. The crackdown on the cartels must be uncompromising.The challenge is significant.This important fight was lost in the last decade as former president Barack Obama attempted to seek normalization with Cuba and reconciliation with Venezuela.  Part of such appeasement was to surrender to several Latin American governments that opposed the U.S war on drugs.Now, we have no choice but to confront all these challenges heads on.

Also see:

WATCH: Tillerson Says U.S. and Argentina Will Cooperate to Fight Hezbollah’s Illicit Activities in Latin America

UTT Throwback Thursday: President Should Drop Pakistan as Ally

Understanding the Threat, by John  Guandolo, Sept. 21, 2017:

It is being reported that President Trump is considering dropping Pakistan as a U.S. “ally” due to their obvious support for “terrorism.”

It’s about time.

Pakistanis showing support for Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden

The Quranic Concept of War – written in 1989 by a Brigadier General SK Malik of the Pakistani army with the forward by the Army Chief of Staff/former Pakistani President Zia ul Haq and the Preface by the Advocate General of Pakistan – is doctrine for the Pakistani military.  It makes clear that war against non-muslim forces is obligatory until Islam dominates the world.

After the 9/11 attacks, the Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI) aided Al Qaeda in moving men and equipment to safer locations anticipating U.S. retaliatory attacks.

Al Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan for several years up until the time he was killed in a U.S. raid.

Pakistan used “aid” money provided by the United States government during the Obama Administration to expand its nuclear program.

Pakistani ISI created Lashkar e Taiba, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the U.S. government, which has conducted numerous jihadi attacks including the four-day long Mumbai (India) attack of 2008 which killed over 160 people.

Pakistan has never been a friend to the United States, because it is a driving force in the global jihad.

Pakistan needs to be crushed along with Saudi Arabia and Iran.