Four Reasons Why Iran Is Worse than the Islamic State

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Breitbart, by Robert Spencer, July 14, 2016:

The Islamic State (ISIS) is a gang of thugs who glory in their sadism, videoing their beheadings of their captives, taunting gays with tweets of #LoveWins accompanying photos of their executions of gays, and boasting of their plans to bring about imminent mass murder and destruction inside the United States.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, on the other hand, is a major player in Middle Eastern and global politics, courted by the Obama administration and the recipient of its largesse as sanctions have been lifted.

Yet as I show in my new book The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran, although ISIS is the object of the world’s scorn and horror and Iran is accorded respect and accommodation, in numerous important ways, Iran is worse, and a more significant global threat, than ISIS.

  1. Iran has a nuclear program. The Islamic State would love to get its hands on nuclear material and construct a bomb. By contrast, due to Barack Obama’s disastrous deal with the Islamic Republic, Iran is well on its way to doing so. Even if it abides by all the terms of the nuclear agreement, within ten years, all restraints on its activity will have expired, and it will be free to construct as many nuclear bombs it can afford (and can pay for with the billions Obama has given to Iran in sanctions relief). Given Iranian officials’ oft-repeated boasts that Israel will soon be destroyed, and that the United States will be as well, this prospect is truly chilling.
  1. Iran funds and controls a global network of jihad terror organizations. While the Islamic State’s claim to constitute the restored caliphate – the sole government to which Muslims owe allegiance, according to Sunni Muslim theology – has won it the allegiance of tens of thousands of Muslims (and several existing jihad terror groups) worldwide, Iran already has that to which the Islamic State aspires: a network of jihad terror organizations with a truly global reach, ready to do Iran’s bidding up to and including the killing of its perceived enemies.

This network’s foremost member is Hizballah, which is active not only in Lebanon but in South America’s Triple Frontier region, as well as in Mexico, where there is evidence that it has trained and collaborated with drug cartels. Other members include the Sunni jihad groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as the Houthis in Yemen and the Iraqi Shi’ite group Kata’ib Hizballah.

Iran doesn’t work only through jihad terror groups. It has funded the Spanish left-wing populist party, Podemos, and in July 2012, Hamid Mohammadi, the Iranian cultural affairs counselor at the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, gave an extraordinarily revealing Farsi-language interview intimating that Iranians in Canada had “preserved their strong attachments and bonds to their homeland” and should strive to “occupy high-level key positions” so that they could “be of service to our beloved Iran.” Mohammadi’s words sparked an investigation of espionage and subversion in the Iranian embassy in Ottawa that ultimately led to its being shut down.

  1. Iran’s Shi’ite eschatology could make it not just willing, but eager to use nuclear weapons. Shi’ite Iran awaits the return to earth of the Twelfth Imam, the mythical savior figure who will conquer and Islamize the world. One of his predecessors, the sixth Imam, Jafar Sadiq, once prophesied that the Imam Mahdi, or Twelfth Imam, would come at a time when the Shi’ites were experiencing persecution to a terrible, unprecedented degree – indeed, he would not return until, said Jafar, “two-thirds [of the] population of the world is not destroyed.” Presumably, then, the Twelfth Imam will return when one-third of the world’s population has been destroyed.

 Former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who remains influential in the Iranian government, boasted in December 2001 that a nuclear bomb “would not leave any thing [sic] in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.” It could also, with millions of Muslim dead, move the Twelfth Imam to return, to put a stop to this unprecedented persecution of the Muslims.

This could mean that the Iranians might want to nuke Israel in order to draw retaliatory nukes that would induce the return of the Twelfth Imam – and no concessions from Obama or his successor would dissuade them.

  1. Iran was involved in 9/11. The Islamic State has inspired Muslims in the U.S. to kill Americans, but so has Iran, with a much more macabre record of success than ISIS has yet amassed. Although its involvement in the 9/11 jihad plot has received very little notice, it was so unmistakable that in 2010, a federal judge determined that Iran, Hizballah, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and other Iranian government departments, as well as the Ayatollah Khamenei himself and former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani were all directly implicated in Iranian efforts to aid al-Qaeda in its 9/11 plot.

That puts the blood of nearly 3,000 Americans on the Iranian mullahs’ hands. And if the mullahs get their way, they will be following up that carnage with many more like it.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

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First anniversary of Iran nuclear deal marred by massive cheating (centerforsecuritypolicy.org)

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Islamic State Preparing for Loss of Caliphate

ISIS soldiers. (Photo: © Screenshot from video)

ISIS soldiers. (Photo: © Screenshot from video)

Clarion Project,  July 14, 2016:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last year the FBI investigated terrorism in all 50 states.

Hammadi & Alwan: The Poster Boys of Refugee Terrorism (Kerry Says Doesn’t Exist)

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You know those background checks State promised us? They don’t even catch guys already on the radar of US and Iraqi intelligence.

CounterJihad, by Paul Sperry, July 8, 2016:

The Obama administration is trying to allay growing public fears that the thousands of Middle Eastern refugees it’s resettling in America — virtually all of whom are Muslim — pose a terrorist threat to the homeland.

Top US officials insist there’s no evidence refugee applicants who go through the U.S. screening process pose a greater security threat than members of any other immigrant group. They claim they are rigorously vetted for terrorist and criminal ties, and that resettlement communities throughout the US are safe.

“There is absolutely no evidence, my friends, zero evidence, that refugees who make it through this arduous process, pose any greater threat to our society than the members of any other group,” Secretary of State John Kerry said while visiting a Washington-area mosque recently.

“And it is important for people to know that,” he added, so they refrain from leveling “bigoted and hateful rhetoric” against the Muslim refugees.

But the secretary deserts the truth. The evidence is overwhelming that even known, hardened terrorists make it through the supposedly “arduous” process.

Perhaps the most egregious example is that of Iraqi refugees Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, two known al-Qaida terrorists who skated right through the administration’s supposedly rigorous screening program within months of each other. They were resettled in Nevada and Kentucky, despite being detained by authorities in Iraq for planting bombs that killed U.S. soldiers and despite having their fingerprints on file in a bomb database.

It’s instructive to examine their case in greater detail, because it shows just how dangerously flawed the U.S. refugee screening system is.

These weren’t refugees from war-torn Syria, where authorities have no reliable database of information to screen immigrants flooding the U.S., no terrorist or even criminal record of them.

Rather, Alwan and Hammadi came from Iraq, another ISIS hotspot, but where the U.S. has a large embassy and a client government, and a lot more information about refugee applicants. U.S. soldiers and military intelligence officers had operated in Iraq for several years, a much different story than in neighboring Syria, where there are few boots on the ground. They had detained and investigated bad guys on a daily basis in Iraq, collecting information on thousands of individuals and sharing it with the FBI, Homeland Security and the State Department.

In fact, plenty of derogatory information was collected on Alwan and Hammadi. Yet the U.S. refugee admissions program still failed to screen out these jihadi killers as security threats.

From 2003 until his capture by Iraqi authorities in May 2006, Alwan fired sniper rifles at U.S. forces and placed hundreds of IEDs in roadways to blow up Humvees and Bradley fighting vehicles, as a member of al-Qaida in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS. Government documents reveal he bragged about how he and other insurgents “fucked up” Hummers and U.S. personnel with hidden bombs filled with ball-bearings, nails and gravel. He said that he had American soldiers for “lunch and dinner.”

Hammadi, for his part, also participated in IED attacks on US forces as a member of al-Qaida in Iraq. An experienced and well-known insurgent, he had been arrested not once, but twice by Iraqi authorities, according to an FBI affidavit.

In other words, both Alwan and Hammadi had long rap sheets and were on the radar of Iraqi and US intelligence. Alwan was even tracked crossing the border into Syria.

Yet both passed background checks and were declared “clean” by US immigration and security officials who followed the administration’s “arduous” refugee screening procedures.

Alwan entered the US in April 2009 and was resettled in Bowling Green, Ky. Hammadi entered the US in July 2009 and took up residence in Las Vegas before being moved to Bowling Green, where he soon reconnected with Alwan.

The pair of jihadists sought asylum as Iraqi war refugees, when in fact they were the enemy. As sympathetic refugees, they were invited to receive welfare and move into public housing, which happened to be located near high-security Fort Knox and Fort Campbell, where the army Nightstalker pilots involved in the raid on Osama bin Laden were based.

Their hatred for America — “I didn’t come here for America” but for “jihad,” Alwan stated — soon became apparent. Alwan spoke of targeting an Army captain in the US and possibly attacking other homeland targets.

The FBI began conducting undercover surveillance of Alwan and Hammadi, using a confidential informant to help spy on them. Agents soon learned that Alwan’s work at a power plant in Iraq was just cover. He was really a terrorist who worked as a sniper and bomb-maker targeting Americans on a daily basis.

One day, they overheard Alwan describing an IED consisting of three high-explosive artillery rounds that he helped build and plant in a roadway near Bayji, Iraq, in 2005. He said he regretted that it failed to detonate, noting in a conversation with the confidential source that he used a particular brand of remote cordless telephone base station to assemble the bomb.

The FBI investigated and found out the bomb had been recovered by US forces. In January 2011, analysts with the FBI’s Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center were able to identify two latent fingerprints belonging to Alwan on the Senao brand phone component.

It confirmed case agents’ fears: a terrorist with serious bomb-making skills had infiltrated the U.S. as a refugee.

How could they wrap him up before he could attack Americans inside America? Problem was, Alwan and his co-conspirator Hammadi were here legally, aided, sheltered and protected by the State Department’s generous refugee program.

The FBI decided to set up a sting operation, enticing both suspects to participate in a terrorist scheme to procure and ship weapons — including sniper rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled launchers, Stinger missiles and C4 pastic explosives — to al-Qaida in Iraq.

The trap worked. Alwan even drew several diagrams of IEDs to help the “mujahidin” kill US troops.

Luckily, both Alwan and Hammadi were put away for 40 years in 2013 for providing material support to al-Qaida. But how many more like them are out there plotting? Alwan spoke of “other cell members” in Bowling Green. And how many additional terrorists-posing-as-refugees are slipping through the net right now?

Maddeningly, the FBI overheard Alwan in one conversation say the he could not go back to Iraq because “I am wanted there.” Yet he was welcomed here with open arms.

While Iraqi refugees are hard enough to screen for terrorist ties, FBI Director James Comey testified last year that it is virtually impossible to conduct background checks on Syrian refugees. “We have no information” on them, he warned.

Yet the State Department is on track to meet President Obama’s target of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in cities across America during fiscal year 2016.

Last month, the number of Syrian refugee admissions surged to more than 2,380 — more than double the number the State Department resettled in the U.S. in May.

A recent poll of 900 Syrian refugees by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies found that as many as 23% — or almost 1 in 4 of them — could be susceptible to ISIS recruitment.

That means as many as 2,300 of the 10,000 Syrian refugees that Obama is resettling inside American cities are potential terrorist threats.

Signs of Insurrection in Mosul as ISIS Executes Top Commanders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Islamic State’s prolific ‘martyrdom’ machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran’s Chess Board

official_photo_of_hassan_rouhani_7th_president_of_iran_august_2013

How the Islamic Republic is strategically dominating the Middle East — and the U.S. is assisting.

Front Page Magazine, by Caroline Glick, June 3, 2016

Reprinted from jpost.com.

Strategic thinking has always been Israel’s Achilles’ heel. As a small state bereft of regional ambitions, so long as regional realities remained more or less static, Israel had little reason to be concerned about the great game of the Middle East.

But the ground is shifting in the lands around us. The Arab state system, which ensured the strategic status quo for decades, has collapsed.

So for the first time in four generations, strategy is again the dominant force shaping events that will impact Israel for generations to come.

To understand why, consider two events of the past week.

Early this week it was reported that after a two-year hiatus, Iran is restoring its financial support for Islamic Jihad. Iran will give the group, which is largely a creation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, $70 million.

On Wednesday Iranian media were the first to report on the arrest of a “reporter” for Iran’s Al-Alam news service. Bassam Safadi was arrested by Israel police in his home in Majdal Shams, the Druse village closest to the border with Syria on the Golan Heights. Safadi is suspected of inciting terrorism.

That is, he is suspected of being an Iranian agent.

There is nothing new about Iranian efforts to raise and run fronts against Israel within its territory and along its borders. Iran poses a strategic threat to Israel through its Hezbollah surrogate in Lebanon, which now reportedly controls the Lebanese Armed Forces.

In Gaza, Iran controls a vast assortment of terrorist groups, including Hamas.

In Judea and Samaria, seemingly on a weekly basis we hear about another Iranian cell whose members were arrested by the Shin Bet or the IDF.

But while we are well aware of the efforts Iran is making along our borders and even within them to threaten Israel, we have not connected these efforts to Iran’s actions in Iraq and Syria. Only when we connect Iran’s actions here with its actions in those theaters do we understand what is now happening, and how it will influence Israel’s long-term strategic environment.

The big question today is what will replace the Arab state system.

Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Libya no longer exist. On their detritus we see the fight whose results will likely determine the fates of the surviving Arab states, as well as of much of Europe and the rest of the world.

Israel’s strategic environment will be determined in great part by the results of Iran’s actions in Iraq and Syria. While Israel can do little to affect the shape of events in these areas, it must understand what they mean for us. Only by doing so, will we be able to develop the tools to secure our future in this new strategic arena.

Until 2003, Saddam Hussein was the chief obstacle to Iran’s rise as the regional hegemon.

US forces in Iraq replaced Hussein until they left the country in 2011. In the meantime, by installing a Shi’ite government in Baghdad, the US set the conditions for the rise of Islamic State in the Sunni heartland of Anbar province on the one hand, and for Iran’s control over Iraq’s Shi’ite-controlled government and armed forces on the other.

Today, ISIS is the only thing checking Iran’s westward advance. Ironically, the monstrous group also facilitates it. ISIS is so demonic that for Americans and other Westerners, empowering Iranian-controlled forces that fight ISIS seems a small price to pay to rid the world of the fanatical scourge.

As former US naval intelligence analyst J.E. Dyer explained this week in an alarming analysis of Iran’s recent moves in Iraq published on the Liberty Unyielding website, once Iranian- controlled forces defeat ISIS in Anbar province, they will be well placed to threaten Jordan and Israel from the east. This is particularly the case given that ISIS is serving inadvertently as an advance guard for Iran.

In Syria, Iran already controls wide swaths of the country directly and through its surrogates, the Syrian army, Hezbollah and Shi’ite militias it has fielded in the country.

Since the start of the war in Syria, Israel has repeatedly taken action to block those forces from gaining and holding control over the border zone on the Golan Heights.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprising recent announcement that Israel will never relinquish control over the Golan came in response to his concern that in exchange for a cease-fire in Syria, the US would place that control on the international diplomatic chopping block.

A week and a half ago, Iran began its move on Anbar province.

On May 22, Iraqi forces trained by the US military led Iraq’s offensive to wrest control over Fallujah and Mosul from ISIS, which has controlled the Sunni cities since 2014. Despite the fact that the lead forces are US-trained, the main forces involved in the offensive are trained, equipped and directed by Iran.

As Iraqi forces surrounded Fallujah in the weeks before the offensive began, Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds forces, paid a public visit to the troops to demonstrate Iran’s dominant role.

The battle for Fallujah is a clear indication that Iran, rather than the US, is calling the shots in Iraq. According to media reports, the Pentagon wanted and expected for the forces to be concentrated in Mosul. But at the last minute, due to Soleimani’s intervention, the Iraqi government decided to make Fallujah the offensive’s center of gravity.

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Misrepresenting the Threat of Islam

7a9d40b9-13de-40a6-8bd1-9dc11badf8eaAIM, by James A. Lyons and Clare M. Lopez

One of the worst things that political and military leaders of a country at war can do is to misrepresent, or not understand, the threat doctrine and objectives of the enemy. Like it or not, America has been at war since November 1979 when Iran took over our embassy in Tehran.

On 15 May 2016, The Washington Post carried an article by retired General David Petraeus, which was his attempt to offer some insights for our next President on how to combat the current threat posed by the Islamic State (IS). He also attempted to address the broader Islamic jihadist ideology that animates them! In so doing, there is an unstated presumption throughout the article that “Islam is a religion of Peace” that has been hijacked by Islamic extremist groups, e.g., Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, al-Nusrah, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth.

General Petraeus fails to mention that the so-called “violent extremist groups” are all part of the Global Jihadists Movement (GJM). They, in fact, are carrying out the core principles of Islam as specified in the Quran, Shariah and the hadiths. Muslims do not consider Islam to be a “religion.” They call it a “complete way of life.” Clearly, our leaders need to understand that Islam is a totalitarian ideology, governed by an alien legal system called Shariah that obligates all Muslims to carry out jihad to conquer the world and subjugate it to Islamic Law. Jihadists plan to accomplish this by capturing our “soul” through the use of terror. Not understanding this is how we find ourselves in our current predicament.

To be clear, the doctrine of Shariah is not espoused by all Muslims. However, as pointed out by Andrew Bostom in his 15 March 2016 article in PJ Media, Shariah supremacism with its hateful bellicosity and bigotry remains regrettably the predominant mindset of the world’s Muslims. He states, based on the latest available information, that 77% of Muslims from the five largest Sunni Muslim populations and 83% of Shiite Iranians want Shariah as the law of the land. Furthermore, 91% of liberated Iraqis and 90% of Afghan Muslims support Shariah as well. So much for Muslim help!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

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

Sipa via AP Images by EDWIN MORA26 Apr 201647

Sipa via AP Images

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, April 26, 2016:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Yazidi boys were subjected to similar treatment.

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

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

Also see:

Report: Islamic State Executes 21 Commanders After Recent Defeats

pro-isis-rally-mosul-iraq-AP-640x480Breitbart, by John Hayward, April 25, 2016:

According to reports from the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, as related by the UK Daily Mailthe Islamic State went on a killing spree against its own commanders over the past three weeks, executing 21 of them for failure in Syria.

At least one of those executions was a public beheading, carried out after commander Abu Mustafa was caught trying to slip across the Turkish border. Another group of Islamic State commanders was put to death in early April for treason, allegedly because they gave away the position of a valued senior leader, who was killed by a coalition drone strike.

The Daily Mail also cites a report from Iraqi media that ISIS “killed 45 of their own fighters by locking them inside a forensic freezer after they attempted to flee during a battle in Iraq.” The frozen bodies were then put on display for consideration by other potential defectors.

With outright defection thus discouraged, ISIS fighters are reportedly “trying to dodge frontline duty by getting doctors to write them fake sick notes.”

Another grisly report from the Times of India claims that the cash-strapped terror state has been executing its own wounded fighters to harvest their organs for black-market sales.

According to this roundup of ISIS misery, morale among the head-choppers has cratered due to steep wage and benefit cuts, and electricity rationing, after economic-warfare airstrikes began hitting their oil and cash reserves. Islamic State income is down 30 percent, while they have lost about 22 percent of the territory in Iraq and Syria held at their peak.

Unfortunately, the Islamic State is not just executing its own commanders. The Times of India report states that ISIS is draining blood and harvesting organs from its prisoners, as well as its own injured fighters.

Kurdish sources claimed last week that ISIS has executed at least 250 girls for “refusing to accept the practice of sexual jihad,” sometimes executing their families as well.

Also, despite its reversals of fortune, the Islamic State is still conducting murderous attacks, including a car bombing in Baghdad on Monday that killed at least 12 civilians.

***

Also see:

  • ISIS Pays Higher Salaries to Jihadists Who Keep Sex Slaves – The Islamic State terrorist group pays its jihadists higher salaries if they have wives, children, or sex slaves, according to a new report.

    Citing official ISIS documents published by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, the Military Times reported Monday that along with the $50 base rate militants receive per month, members are paid “an additional $50 for each wife, $35 for each child, $50 for each sex slave, $35 for each child of a sex slave, $50 for each dependent parent, and $35 each for other dependents.”

    The documents detailed one ISIS fighter who makes $360 a month for his two wives and six children.

    The internal records revealed that the terrorist group “has come under strain” as U.S.-led coalition airstrikes continue to degrade its forces, the Combating Terrorism Center wrote in its analysis. ISIS has also lost a considerable amount of its territory since international strikes began more than two years ago.

    The report highlighted the extremist group’s 50 percent salary cut for its fighters in a Raqqa province from November to December 2015 because of “exceptional circumstance.”

  • ISIS foreign recruitment plummets as airstrikes destroy its cash supplies – The rate of foreign fighters joining the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria has dropped to just 200 per month, down from 1,500-2,000 a year ago, a senior military officer from Baghdad told Fox News during a press briefing at the Pentagon Tuesday.

    Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter Gersten, the U.S.-led coalition’s deputy commander for operations and intelligence, said recent airstrikes against ISIS cash storage facilities have “fractured” the group.

    “In every single way their morale is being broken, in every single way their capability to wage war is broken, and in every single way way we will take this fight and eradicate this cancer,” he added. Gersten also said the desertion rates among ISIS fighters have risen.

John Bolton: Countries That Once ‘Hailed’ Obama as a ‘New Messiah’ Now Realize His Policies ‘Endangered’ Them

Barack-Obama-Berlin-Germany-AP-640x480Breitbart, by John Hayward, April 21, 2016:

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who has formed a Super PAC to support candidates committed to American economic and national security, joined SiriusXM host and Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon on Breitbart News Daily.

Bannon asked if President Obama’s current world travels amounted to “the road trip from Hell,” given his unpopularity everywhere from Europe to the Middle East — a mirror image of the rock-star reception he received in those quarters as a presidential candidate, eight long years ago.

“Back in the 2008 election, he went and made a very big campaign speech in Berlin, and the Europeans and others around the world were so eager to see the back of George W. Bush, they hailed him as almost a new messiah,” Bolton recalled of Obama’s early popularity.  “He won the Nobel Peace Prize within eight or ten months of being in office.  He was going to change the United States in ways that would make everything better.”

“But, in fact, they see — I think people all around the world, in the countries of Europe, where he’s visiting Saudi Arabia, in Israel in particular, but really all around the world — that his policies have now endangered what minimal order and stability there is in the world,” Bolton continued.  “The kind of United States that Obama’s created, the kinds of policies he’s followed, have left not only America less stable, but our friends around the world less stable, too.”

Bolton was not surprised that Obama’s trip to Saudi Arabia included a few of what Bannon called “uncomfortable silences.”

“By agreeing to this nuclear deal with Iran, he has legitimized Iran’s path to deliverable nuclear weapons,” Bolton said.  “Now it’s really only a matter of time.  The Iranian ayatollahs never had any intention of giving up their nuclear weapons program.  What they wanted was their assets unfrozen and the sanctions lifted.  They’ve now got that.  And they’ve now actually provoked an arms race, to the least.”

“So when Obama says, as he did just a couple of days ago, in an interview before leaving on this trip, ‘You know, the Saudis and others have to learn to live with Iran in the region,’ it’s like telling Poland, ‘Look, you’ve got to learn to live with Nazi Germany; you’ve got to learn to live with the Soviet Union.’  They’re engaged in a struggle for hegemony, and Obama’s acting like it’s a playground dispute,” Bolton marveled.  “The oil-producing monarchies on the Arabian peninsula, they think Obama’s basically lost his mind.”

Bolton argued that the rift between the Saudi alliance and Iranian axis goes beyond the Sunni-Shiite religions schism, reflecting “historical animosities,” such as the Iranian view of the Kingdom of Bahrain as a province of Iran.

“It has the resonance as Saddam Hussein and Iraq thinking that Kuwait was a province of Iraq, right before they invaded them back in 1990,” Bolton explained.  “These struggles have long historical roots, and they can change.  When the Shah was in charge of Iran, we had good relations with Iran and his government.  We had good relations with the Saudis.”

“But underneath is, what we’re seeing now is, a fundamental struggle that the United States has helped adjust in our interests — in our interests, not in anybody else’s,” he insisted.  “And when we withdraw from that struggle, our interests suffer, as do the people that we’ve tried to prevent from being dominated — in this case, by the religious fanatics who run the government of Iran.”

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00AM to 9:00AM EST.

You can listen to the full interview with John Bolton below:

Also see:

The Strong Horse is Always Favored

black flag

By Counter Jihad,  April 14, 2016:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

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

iraq

Constitution, by Joe Scudder, April 11, 2016:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It reads in part,

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

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

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

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

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

Brutal: Former Defense Secretaries Openly Slam ‘Inexperienced’ Obama White House War Micromanagement

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Town Hall, by Katie Pavlich, Apr 07, 2016:

For years the Obama administration has been accused of micromanaging the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from inside the White House. Now in an astonishing report from Fox News anchor Bret Baier, three former Obama Defense Secretaries are openly slamming him for his distrust of the military, his failure to lead and they’re exposing his inexperienced and closest advisors for second guessing senior field commanders with phone calls to the battlefield.

“President Obama, he’s one of the youngest presidents we’ve ever had. One of the most inexperienced presidents we’ve ever had. He has a staff around him that is very inexperienced. I don’t think there’s one veteran on his senior staff at the White House. I don’t believe there’s one business person. I don’t believe there is one person who’s ever run anything. Other than Vice President Biden, none of them have ever been elected to anything. You must levin the loaf, levin your advisors where you get a lot of experience at difference things where he, the President himself, is so inexperienced,” Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said. “I think he’s got to fundamentally understand and I’m not sure he ever did nor people around him, the tremendous responsibility the United States has. Not to be the world’s policemen, but to lead and we’re the only ones who can. The world becomes more dangerous, not less dangerous, when America gets less involved in the world. I don’t mean invading and occupying and imposing, but leading.”

“It was the operational micromanagement that drove me nuts of White House and NSC (National Security Council) staffers calling senior commanders out in the field and asking them questions, second guessing commanders,” Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who also served under President Bush, said. “When I I was Deputy National Security Advisor, if I would have tried to, even as deputy, if I had tried to call a field commander, going around Dick Cheney who was Secretary of Defense or Colin Powell who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, I’d have had my head handed to me, probably personally by the President.”

“I told the combatant commanders and the field commanders, ‘If you get calls from the White House staff, if you get a call from the President that’s one thing, that’s totally okay, that’s the chain of command, but you get a call from some White House or National Security Council staffer, you tell them to call me instead and then tell them, oh by the way, go to hell and that’s directly from the Secretary of Defense,” Gates continued.

“I think what I’ve seen in these last four years is almost this cautiousness and over correction which makes it appear that the United States is hesitant to take action and that sends, I think, a message of weakness,” Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.

As if inexperienced White House advisors micromanaging the battlefield wasn’t bad enough, late last year we learned from an exclusive in the Daily Beast intelligence reports were being scrubbed to fit the political narrative that terrorism around the world, including ISIS, was shrinking.

More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials, The Daily Beast has learned.

The complaints spurred the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence.

“The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” one defense official said.

Two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defense Department inspector general in July alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by CENTCOM higher-ups to adhere to the administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the analysts claim.

It should be noted that second guessing field commanders had severe and serious consequences in Afghanistan with 70 percent of U.S. troop casualties there occurring during President Obama’s time in the White House.

***

Fox News Insider, 3/31/16

When Barack Obama took office, he inherited a professional, world-class, battle-toughened military. Seven years later, many experts and insiders see the U.S. armed forces as a tattered and demoralized organization.

Bret Baier looks at the hundreds of billions in cuts, the radical social change forced upon the troops and a foreign policy that breaks with decades of tradition and leaves us in a world more dangerous than ever.

The hour-long program includes interviews with Obama’s first three Secretaries of Defense – Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel – as well as numerous people on the ground, who work to keep America’s fighting forces battle ready.

Gates weighed in on Obama’s decision-making on the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The president ultimately pushed for Mubarak’s immediate removal, despite the military urging caution.

“Literally, the entire national security team recommended unanimously handling Mubarak differently than we did,” Gates said.

During the Libya uprising in 2011, Gates said he had reservations about information on military options going to the White House without his approval.

“You had concerns about that – running military operations out of the White House,” Baier noted.

“Yeah. The experience we had with that in Vietnam didn’t work so well,” Gates responded.

 

Fighting Intensifies Between CIA-Backed Militias and Pentagon-Backed Syrian Rebels

In this photo taken on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, Syrian army rocket launchers fire near the village of Morek in Syria.(AP Photo/Alexander Kots, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Photo via AP)

In this photo taken on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, Syrian army rocket launchers fire near the village of Morek in Syria.(AP Photo/Alexander Kots, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Photo via AP)

PJ MEDIA, BY RICK MORAN, MARCH 27, 2016

Clashes between militias trained by the CIA and the Pentagon are intensifying as bitter fighting has broken out near Aleppo and the Turkish border.

Chicago Tribune:

The fighting has intensified over the past two months, as CIA-armed units and Pentagon-armed ones have repeatedly shot at each other as they have maneuvered through contested territory on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, U.S. officials and rebel leaders have confirmed.In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east.

“Any faction that attacks us, regardless from where it gets its support, we will fight it,” said Maj. Fares Bayoush, a leader of Fursan al Haq.

Rebel fighters described similar clashes in the town of Azaz, a key transit point for fighters and supplies between Aleppo and the Turkish border, and March 3 in the Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud.

The attacks come amid continued heavy fighting in Syria and illustrate the difficulty facing U.S. efforts to coordinate among dozens of armed groups that are trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad, fight the Islamic State militant group and battle one another all at the same time.

“It is an enormous challenge,” said Rep.Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who described the clashes between U.S.-supported groups as “a fairly new phenomenon.”

“It is part of the three-dimensional chess that is the Syrian battlefield,” he said.

The area in northern Syria around Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city, features not only a war between the Assad government and its opponents, but also periodic battles against Islamic State militants, who control much of eastern Syria and also some territory to the northwest of the city, and long-standing tensions among the ethnic groups that inhabit the area, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.

If anything demonstrates the incompetence, futility, and danger of the president’s policiy in Syria, it’s this almost comic clash between fighters trained by two separate wings of our national security apparatus.

Did it really have to be like this? In late 2011, the main organized force fighting President Assad was the Free Syrian Army. At that time, FSA was made up of deserters from Assad’s army and was almost entirely secular in nature. No Islamist militias. No Gulf state support for extremists. No ISIS. No Hezbollah or the Russians assisting Assad.

It was a critical point. Should the U.S. arm and train the Free Syrian Army? I acknowledge there were serious arguments on both sides of the question. The president feared that supporting the overthrow of Assad would commit the U.S. to a course of action that may eventually have required ground troops. Even back then many people realized that if America were to commit ground troops to Syria, it would force Russia to intervene.

But Assad’s army was falling apart. Thousands were deserting or refusing to fire on civilians. This little history lesson is necessary because we forget there were alternative paths that Hillary Clinton and President Obama didn’t take. A strong show of support for the FSA supplied with heavy American arms might have brought the civil war to a relatively quick end without the fractured, quarrelling  opposition and extremist militias wreaking havoc on anyone who disagrees with them.

But Clinton-Obama played it safe and now we are presented with a Gordian Knot that appears hopelessly tangled. Each strand that is unravelled leads to another strand tightening.

None of the many sides in this conflict appear ready to stop fighting. Perhaps that will only happen when they run out of people to kill or they run out of modern weapons and are forced to fight with sticks and stones.

I don’t envy the next president who has to manage the slaughter to keep it from spilling over Syria’s borders and further embroil the region in conflict.