The Turkey-Russia-Iran Axis

fr

Dramatic developments alter the strategic balance in the Middle East.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

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

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Photo: video screenshot)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Photo: video screenshot)

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

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

What Was Right

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Needs Work

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

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

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

Isn’t this a contradiction to promoting Muslim reformers?

Playing Into the Hands of Islamists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

AP Report: Islamic State Used ‘Islam for Dummies’ to Train Recruits

Reuters/Stringer

Reuters/Stringer

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Aug. 18, 2016:

The Associated Press published a report on Monday, compiled from court testimony and interviews with former ISIS fighters, that painted a dim picture of the Islamic State’s recruits. The early waves, in particular, were so clueless that some of them had to order Islam for Dummies from Amazon.com to brush up on the religion.

That juicy little tidbit is, naturally, the basis for the AP’s headline: “Islam For Dummies: IS Recruits Have Poor Grasp of Faith.” However, only two recruits from Britain were that unclear about the concept of jihad. 70 percent of early recruits claimed to have “basic” knowledge of sharia law, while 24 percent described themselves as “intermediate” students of the Islamic legal code, and 5 percent “advanced.” This would suggest only one percent of the people ISIS roped in were largely ignorant of sharia law.

The takeaway from the Associated Press report is not that Islamic State recruits were broadly unfamiliar with Islam — it is that they knew just enough about “moderate Islam” to fall prey to the Islamic State’s appeal.

ISIS radicalizes young Muslims by telling them, in essence, the Islam you get from your parents, and the imam at the mosque you scarcely bother to attend, isn’t the real deal. We are the champions of authentic Islam. Here’s what the moderates don’t want you to hear from the Koran.

This message is mixed with appeals to factional and national solidarity. For example, the AP spoke with a European recruit who “thought he was joining a group to fight President Bashar Assad and help Syrians, not the Islamic State.” He ended up packed into a safe house with other recruits while ISIS imams indoctrinated them.

The Associated Press concludes this means ISIS preys on “religious ignorance, allowing extremists to impose a brand of Islam constructed to suit its goal of maximum territorial expansion and carnage as soon as recruits come under its sway.”

It would be equally valid to describe this as religious curiosity, added to the sense of alienation and frustration that drives so many radicals, violent or otherwise. There seems to be little evidence that would suggest intensive study of Islam halts or reverses the radicalization process — in fact, there is a dismaying shortage of evidence that ISIS recruits can be talked out of radicalization, once it passes a certain point.

The constant refrain from the families of Islamic State recruits and “lone wolf” jihadis is surprise: no one in the family ever seemed to realize just how far gone their ISIS-supporting child was until it was too late. One of the reasons radicalization seems so puzzling and sudden to experts is that such denials are accepted at face value.

Only later do we learn that the jihadi held radical beliefs for much longer than the press was originally led to believe, or the jihadi had a history of run-ins with the law. Alternatively, the families of Western jihadis may be missing important signs of radicalization because they have been taught not to see them, by the media/government that insists terrorism has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Islam.

For example, the AP report quotes ISIS recruit Karim Mohammad-Aggad, who journeyed to the Islamic State in Syria with his brother and a group of friends after an Islamic State recruiter contacted them in Germany, claiming he was bamboozled with “smooth talk” from the recruiter.

“My religious beliefs had nothing to do with my departure. Islam was used to trap me like a wolf,” he said in court, insisting he didn’t “have the knowledge” to answer questions about sharia. A co-defendant gave the same answer, and the Associated Press points out that both Karim and his brother Foued said they had only “basic” knowledge of sharia when they filled out the ISIS entry questionnaire.

Those statements are a very thin reed to hang the “ISIS recruits don’t know anything about Islam” argument upon, especially since Karim’s little brother Foued was one of the monsters who carried out the unspeakable atrocity at the Bataclan nightclub in Paris last November.

Another assertion in the AP report, made by a study from the U.S. military’s Combating Terrorism Center, is that ISIS recruits who claimed advanced knowledge of sharia were less likely to volunteer for suicide missions.

“If martyrdom is seen as the highest religious calling, then a reasonable expectation would be that the people with the most knowledge about Islamic law (Shariah) would desire to carry out these operations with greater frequency,” said the Combating Terrorism Center report. However, “those with the most religious knowledge within the organization itself are the least likely to volunteer to be suicide bombers.”

That is a difficult assertion to evaluate without knowing a great deal more about the backgrounds of the individuals in question. A very small group, since as the AP noted, only 5 percent of incoming Islamic State fighters claimed to have “advanced” knowledge of sharia on the entry paperwork. Broad conclusions cannot be drawn from the way a tiny fraction of ISIS recruits described themselves. They might not have wanted to go on suicide missions, but they were still willing to fight for the Islamic State.

Also, sharia law does not require suicide bombing. There is an argument among Muslim scholars about whether sharia forbids suicide, or murder, but the Koran repeatedly encourages courageous battle against infidels, with a willingness to kill or die in the effort. It is a mistake to confuse sharia law with the totality of Islamic belief and tradition, as practiced by many different groups across an enormous worldwide population.

“Sharia forbids suicide, so suicide bombers don’t understand sharia” is a variation on the No True Muslim fallacy, a tautology which argues terrorists can’t possibly understand authentic Islam because no one who practices authentic Islam would be a terrorist.

The ultimate ends of such an argument — a reformation of Islam in which violence is expunged from the religion, and assimilation-minded moderates triumph in all of Islam’s many factions — is highly desirable. The question is how to get there, and ignoring or downplaying the importance of Islam in the appeal made by ISIS and other extremist groups is not likely to help either moderate Muslims or secular governments devise an effective strategy for combating the radicals.

History renders a grim verdict on that approach: the Western world has been pushing No True Muslim arguments with all of its might, especially after the 9/11 attacks, and yet ISIS happened. The young Western recruits described in the Associated Press report spent their entire lives in the “Religion of Peace”/”Terrorists are on the Wrong Side of History” era, but they still ended up fighting for the Islamic State in Syria. What they tell courts today, as they fight for reduced sentences, is very different than what they probably would have said when they first arrived in the “caliphate.”

Former CIA case officer Patrick Skinner told the Associated Press that most ISIS recruits are “reaching for a sense of belonging, a sense of notoriety, a sense of excitement,” and he claimed, “religion is an afterthought.” If that’s true, then why is the Islamic State so much more successful than the many other groups that offer disaffected youngsters a sense of belonging, notoriety, and excitement? Falling in with a local gang is easy; abandoning your family, and evading the law enforcement agencies of several nations, to join ISIS in Syria or Iraq is hard.

The Islamic State’s religious appeal may be only one ingredient in the fuel that drives people to make that awful choice, but discounting it as irrelevant is dangerous.

Also see:

America’s Most Dangerous Enemy to Lead Mosul Assault

unnamed (1)

CounterJihad, Aug. 13, 2016:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCarthy: Obama’s Iraq Policy Did Not Create ISIS

isis militants in RaqqaOur challenge in the Middle East is that sharia supremacism fills all vacuums.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Au. 13, 2016:

The early Cold War wisdom that “we must stop politics at the water’s edge” has never been entirely true. In endeavors as human as politics, no such altruistic aspiration ever will be. But Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s adage does reflect a principle critical to effective national security: The United States is imperiled when partisan politics distorts our understanding of the world and the threats it presents.

We’ve been imperiled for a long time now. The most salient reason for that has been the bipartisan, politically correct refusal to acknowledge and confront the Islamic roots of the threat to the West. It has prevented us from grasping not only why jihadists attack us but also that jihadists are merely the militant front line of the broader civilizational challenge posed by sharia supremacism.

Inevitably, when there is a profound threat and an overarching strategic failure to apprehend it, disasters abound; and rather than becoming occasions for reassessment of the flawed bipartisan strategy, those disasters become grist for partisan attacks. From 2004 through 2008, the specious claim was that President Bush’s ouster of Saddam Hussein created terrorism in Iraq. Now it is that President Obama is the “founder of ISIS,” as Donald Trump put it this week.

The point here is not to bash Trump. He is hardly the first to posit some variation of the storyline that Obama’s premature withdrawal of American forces from Iraq led to the “vacuum” in which, we are to believe, the Islamic State spontaneously generated. Indeed, this narrative is repeated on Fox News every ten minutes or so.

The point is to try to understand what we are actually dealing with, how we got to this place, and what the security implications are. There is no denying that American missteps have exacerbated a dangerous threat environment in the Middle East to some degree. It is spurious, though, to suggest that any of these errors, or all of them collectively, caused the catastrophe that has unfolded.

The problem for the United States in this region is Islam — specifically, the revolutionary sharia-supremacist version to which the major players adhere. There is no vacuum. There never has been a vacuum. What we have is a bubbling cauldron of aggressive political Islam with its always attendant jihadist legions.

The question is always: How to contain the innate aggression? The fantasy answers are: (a) let’s convert them to Western democracy, and (b) let’s support the secular democrats. In reality, the region does not want Western democracy — it wants sharia (Islamic law), even if there is disagreement about how much sharia and how quickly it should be imposed. And while there are some secular democrats, there are far, far too few of them to compete with either the sharia-supremacist factions or the dictatorial regimes — they can only fight the latter by aligning with the former. At best, the secularists provide hope for an eventual evolution away from totalitarian sharia culture; for now, however, it is absurd for Beltway Republicans to contend that ISIS emerged because Obama failed to back these “moderates” in Iraq and Syria.

The fact that top Republicans use the term “moderate” rather than “secular democrat” should tell us all we need to know. They realize there are not enough secularists to fight either Bashar Assad or ISIS, much less both of them. For all their justifiable ridiculing of Obama’s lexicon, Republicans invoke “moderates” for the same reason Obama uses terms like “workplace violence” — to obscure unpleasant truths about radical Islam. In this instance, the truth is that the “moderates” they claim Obama should have backed include the Muslim Brotherhood and other anti-Western Islamist factions, including al-Qaeda. Of course, if they told you that, there wouldn’t be much bite in their critique of Obama’s infatuation with the Muslim Brotherhood . . . and you might even start remembering that, during the Bush years, the GOP couldn’t do enough “outreach” to “moderate Islamists.”

The Middle East is aflame because of sharia supremacism and the jihadism that ideology always produces. That was the problem long before there was an ISIS. The Baathist regimes in Iraq and Syria, like other Middle Eastern dictatorships, kept sharia supremacism in check by alternatively persecuting Islamist insurgents, turning them against each other, or using them to harass Israel and the West. In Iran, to the contrary, the shah was overthrown by a revolutionary Shiite jihadist movement that he failed to keep in check.

Bush, with what started out as bipartisan support, ousted the Iraqi regime without any discernible plan for dealing with Iran, Syria, and the wider war — delusionally calculating that Iran might actually be helpful because of its supposedly keen interest in Iraqi stability. Iran, of course, went about the business of fueling the terrorist insurgency against American troops. Saddam’s fall unleashed the competing Islamist forces that continue to tear Iraq apart. The thought that we could democratize the culture was fantasy; far from taming sharia supremacism, the government we birthed in Baghdad was converted by the Iran-backed Shiite parties into a mechanism for abusing Sunnis. Naturally, the Sunnis turned to their own sharia supremacists for their defense.

It is fair enough to argue that Obama should not have pulled U.S. forces out of Iraq just as the security situation was badly deteriorating in 2011. But a big part of the reason that Democrats thrashed Republicans in the 2006 midterms, and that Obama was elected in 2008, was mounting American opposition to maintaining our troops there. Critics, moreover, conveniently omit to mention that (a) the agreement with the Iraqi government to withdraw our troops on a timeline unrelated to conditions on the ground was made by Bush, not Obama, and that (b) Bush reluctantly made that agreement precisely because Iraqis were demanding that Americans get out of their country.

The war became unpopular in the United States because it seemed unconnected to U.S. security interests: so much sacrifice on behalf of ingrates, while Iran exploited the mayhem to muscle in. There was no public appetite for a long-range U.S. military presence. What would be the point, when Bush had given the increasingly hostile Iraqi government the power to veto U.S. military operations to which it objected, and had agreed that our forces would not use Iraqi territory as a base of operations against Iran, Syria, or any other country? (See 2008 Status of Forces Agreement, articles 4 and 27.) This was not post-war Europe or Japan, where the enemy had been vanquished. Most Americans did not see the point of further risking American lives in order to stop anti-American Shiites and anti-American Sunnis from having at each other, as they’ve been doing to great lethal effect for 14 centuries.

ISIS (now, the Islamic State) got its start as al-Qaeda in Iraq, the primary culprit (along with Iran) in the Iraqi civil war. ISIS thus long predates Obama’s presidency. Furthermore, the oft-repeated GOP talking-point that al-Qaeda in Iraq was defeated by the Bush troop surge is a gross exaggeration. Our jihadist enemies could not be defeated in Iraq, because Iraq was never their sole base of operations. Since we’ve never had a strategy to defeat them globally, we were never going to do more than temporarily tamp them down in Iraq. They were always going to wait us out. They were always going to reemerge, in Iraq and elsewhere.

One of the places in which they regrouped was Syria. That made perfect sense, because Syria — the client of al-Qaeda’s long-time supporter, Iran — was always a waystation for jihadists seeking to fight American and Western forces in Iraq. Meanwhile, there was an internal Syrian uprising against the Assad regime. To be sure, the revolt had some secular components; but it was thoroughly coopted by the Muslim Brotherhood (as analyst Hassan Hassan comprehensively outlined in Foreign Affairs in early 2013).

Notwithstanding the Republicans’ ISIS myopia, it was not the only jihadist presence in Syria — not even close. Al-Qaeda still had a franchise there (al-Nusrah), along with several other tentacles. Importantly, in its rivalry with breakaway ISIS, al-Qaeda has adopted the Muslim Brotherhood approach of ground-up revolution — the antithesis of the Islamic State’s top-down strategy of forcibly expanding its declared caliphate and implementing sharia full-scale.

As Tom Joscelyn perceptively explained in 2015 congressional testimony, al-Qaeda is attempting to spark jihadist uprisings in Muslim-majority countries while appealing to local populations with fundamentalist education initiatives. Like the Brotherhood, al-Qaeda leaders now preach a gradualist implementation of sharia, which is more appealing to most Middle Eastern Muslims than ISIS’s inflexibility and emphasis on sharia’s barbaric hudud penalties (mutilation, stoning, scourging, etc.). Understand: Al-Qaeda is just as anti-American as it has ever been. In Syria, however, its shrewd approach has enabled the network to insinuate itself deeply into the forces that oppose both Assad and ISIS. So has the Brotherhood.

These forces are the “moderates” that Republicans, apparently including Trump, claim Obama failed to support, creating the purported “vacuum” out of which ISIS emerged. The charge is doubly specious because Obama actually did provide these “moderates” with plenty of support. The GOP rap on Obama is that he failed to jump with both feet into the Syria civil war and take the side of “moderates.” But jumping in with both feet, at the urging of Beltway Republicans, is exactly what Obama did on behalf of the “moderates” in Libya. How’d that work out?

Our challenge in the Middle East is that sharia supremacism fills all vacuums. It was this ideology that created ISIS long before President Obama came along. And if ISIS were to disappear tomorrow, sharia supremacism would still be our challenge. It is critical to be an effective political opposition to the Obama Left. But being effective means not letting the political part warp our judgment, especially where national security is concerned.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is as senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Here is another good opposing view:

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

AFP

AFP

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

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

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

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

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

Trump is correct – and quite literally, so.

First, a document. Then some history.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donald Trump was right. Again.

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

Also see:

How Hillary & Obama Brought Us ISIS

islamic_state_is_insurgents_anbar_province_iraq

Front Page Magazine, by Joseph Klein, August 12, 2016

Donald Trump is standing by his charge that President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are the “co-founders” of ISIS.

“In many respects, you know, they honor President Obama,” Trump said at a Florida rally on August 10th. “He’s the founder of ISIS. I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton.”

Commentators immediately ripped into Trump’s latest accusation against Obama as demonstrably false. They point out that ISIS’s predecessor organization was originally a part of al Qaeda in Iraq and was founded years before Obama became president. David A. Graham, a staff writer at The Atlantic, for example, wrote that the idea that Obama is “a founder of the group is plainly ridiculous.”

A conservative radio show host, Hugh Hewitt, tried during an interview with Trump to offer him some wiggle room.  “You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace,” Hewitt said, in attempting to clarify for the audience what Trump really meant. At first, Trump did not back down from his use of the term “founder” when describing Obama’s relationship to ISIS. He responded, “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.” But then, Trump explained, “I mean, with his bad policies, that’s why ISIS came about. If he would have done things properly, you wouldn’t have had ISIS.” Hewitt agreed with Trump’s explanation, but said he would not have used the phrase “founder of ISIS” to communicate it.

A debate over the precise semantics should not be allowed to obscure the underlying truth of Trump’s observation. Obama’s policies, in which Hillary Clinton participated in their formulation and early implementation, created the conditions that allowed ISIS to rise and become the global threat that it represents today.

ISIS (or the Islamic State, as it likes to call itself) emerged from the remains of the al Qaeda organization in Iraq, which was founded by the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Zarqawi was killed during the second term of George W. Bush’s administration. The al Qaeda organization itself was defeated as a result of Bush’s “surge” policy, which Obama and Hillary Clinton, as U.S. senators, opposed. On October 22nd, 2007, Osama bin Laden admitted in an audio tape, entitled “Message to the people of Iraq,” that al Qaeda was losing the war in Iraq because it had made mistakes and no longer had the allegiance of Sunni insurgents who had switched sides. When Barack Obama became president on January 20, 2009, the war in Iraq against ISIS’s predecessor group was essentially won.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who would later declare himself the caliph and leader of the Islamic State, had been detained in 2004. The date of his release is not certain. He may have been released a few months after his arrest along with other prisoners who were deemed to be low-level at the time. However, according to one account, he was released from a U.S. detention camp in 2009, declaring to U.S. reservists “‘I’ll see you guys in New York,’” according to Army Col. Kenneth King, who was the commanding officer of Camp Bucca.

What we do know for sure is that there was no serious threat posed by any organized ISIS fighting force when Obama took office in 2009. It was President Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, rather than follow the military’s advice to leave a residual force behind, which turned the smoldering embers of the once defeated al Qaeda-backed insurgency into the raging out-of-control conflagration that the newly constituted ISIS, under al Baghdadi’s leadership, created in the entire region. In that sense, ISIS became a newly spun off start-up under Obama’s watch, which launched successfully and expanded because of the power vacuum that Obama’s misguided policies created.

Just as entrenched dominant companies have often ignored upstart challengers until it was too late, Obama indulged in the idea that ISIS’s expansion posed no serious threat. In early 2014, as ISIS was racking up military victories, Obama said, “If a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

Hillary Clinton was no longer Secretary of State in 2014. But looking back at Obama’s JV comment in November 2015 as she campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination, she rejected any suggestion that Obama’s trivialization of the ISIS threat was ill-advised, “from the perspective of what they had accomplished at the time.”

Even as Obama began to take the ISIS threat more seriously, he chose to counteract it with little more than a reactive, incrementalist approach, which Hillary Clinton would continue if elected president. What is needed is the use of overwhelming military power to completely destroy ISIS’s nerve center and major satellite operations.  General George Patton’s maxim holds true today: “There is only one tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is to use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wound, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time.”

ISIS came to life in the first place because of the Obama-Clinton policy of precipitous withdrawal from Iraq. ISIS rapidly gathered steam during its building stage because Obama underestimated the fierce determination of its leaders, the attractiveness of its jihadist ideological message to lure many new recruits, and its highly sophisticated methods. ISIS has metastasized into a global terrorist network because Obama failed to apply the maximum amount of military power at hand to utterly destroy ISIS at its heart in the minimum amount of time.

Donald Trump is telling the cold hard truth. Obama and Clinton in effect created the space for ISIS’s success.

***

Dr. Sebastian Gorka: Trump Is Right, Obama and Clinton ‘Facilitated the Growth of ISIS Into the Most Powerful Jihadi Insurgency the World Has Ever Seen’

“I’m not his spokesman, I’m not part of his campaign, so let him talk for himself,” Gorka said of Trump. “But if he means that the Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton facilitated the growth of ISIS into the most powerful jihadi insurgency the world has ever seen, he is absolutely right.”

“Let’s just look at the facts,” he continued. “In 2008, when this Senator from Illinois became the President, and afterwards appointed Hillary as his Secretary of State, at that moment in time, ISIS didn’t exist. Al Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner of ISIS, was one regional franchise inside Iraq. When we withdrew our troops – when we started to cook the books on intelligence, as you hear from the CENTCOM analysts – then we facilitated the rise of ISIS. With these false red lines in Syria that meant nothing, all the things were put in place by this Administration to help this former al Qaeda franchise become a trans-regional insurgency with more than 80,000 fighters today. That’s facts.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

Also see:

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

Inside the Last ISIS Stronghold in Iraq, Resistance Grows

Anti-ISIS graffiti in Mosul

Anti-ISIS graffiti in Mosul

Preemptive Love, Aug. 4, 2016:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

***

***

Also see:

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

***

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

Four Reasons Why Iran Is Worse than the Islamic State

afp_36924e33f9ea450411cc08ba3ae8bad8eb89868f-e1468504575949-640x480

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.

***

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

Also see:

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)

terrorism-charges-kentucky

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.

Also see:

The Islamic State’s prolific ‘martyrdom’ machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See more

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

Also see:

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.

Read more

Also see: