Gorka: Left Cares About Alinsky Tactics and Political ‘Triangulation’ More Than Safety of Americans

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Breitbart, by John Hayward, February 13, 2017:

Deputy Assistant to the President Dr. Sebastian Gorka, formerly National Security editor for Breitbart News, addressed the controversy over National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s pre-inauguration phone calls to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Monday’s Breitbart News Daily.

“I can’t comment on what was said, or what wasn’t said, on those telephone calls even though the good general himself says that he can’t remember all the details,” Gorka said. “All I can tell you is my personal experience. I spent several months working very closely with General Flynn and the transition team, in his National Security Council transition team. He’s a man you would trust with your life. He’s a great patriot, man of honor, worn the cloth of the Republic.

“The bottom line is, he shook things up in the DIA, and there are a lot of people who want to take revenge on him. Names I’m not going to list across the airwaves right now, but people who do a little bit of research can work out. The Establishment doesn’t like General Flynn, and for me, that’s a good thing,” he told SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.

Marlow proposed that Flynn was but the latest target of the Left’s “pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it” strategy, as defined by Saul Alinsky in Rules for Radicals.

“You’re absolutely correct,” Gorka said. “Whether it’s Steve Bannon, whether it’s Stephen Miller, whether it was Monica Crowley, or whether it’s General Flynn now. Important point for the listeners, and this is what has to be grasped: it’s never about the issues. It’s not about Russia, it’s not about the safety of Americans, it’s not about preventing attacks like Paris or Nice happening in America. It’s the triangulation. We have to isolate and take down the individuals, separate them from their community, pillory them, and then just make their position untenable. It’s classic Alinsky, and I’m sorry, they’re just picking on the wrong guy, because this guy is as hard as nails.”

[CJR: I feel very bad about Monica Crowley. She deserves her reputation back. Read this – Rising to Monica Crowley’s defense ]

Turning to President Donald Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Gorka said “the message that has to be taken home by everybody – our allies, our partners, and our competitors and our potential enemies – is that our relationship with Japan is back on track.

“Do you remember the ‘Asia pivot’ that wasn’t a pivot, that ended in China intimidating all her neighbors, building fake atolls with military installations on top of them? That age is over. Whether it’s sending a message to put Iran on notice, or whether it’s rekindling one of our closest ties in the region with Japan, this is a new age for America in foreign policy.”

Gorka said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to the White House would cover the “obvious issues,” such as “what can we do, as the outside potential interlocutor, to bring stability, to bring some kind of lasting peace to the region?”

“As part of that, it’s going to have to be a discussion of settlements, what is the status of settlements,” he said. “On top of that, one of the things that we are very keen on is to represent an understanding to the world that Israel isn’t alone. It’s not the threat to Israel from local terrorists. It’s the same thing as Orlando, as the attacks in New York, in Boston. There is this, what I like to call the global jihadi movement, and Israel is as much on the frontline – if not more – than any other country. So we want to bring that international recognition that Israel isn’t just our strongest partner in the region, it’s also really on the frontline of the war against the global jihadists.”

Gorka said the White House was not so much “shifting policy” with its latest statements on Israeli settlements, but offering a “nuanced explication of what our policy is.”

“I’m not part of that team, but I’ve spoken to the people that are working that issue, and it’s a fine line,” he said. “What we have suggested is that when it comes to the settlements, you can build on what you’ve already got. So if you’ve got a building, and you want to go up another story, it’s fine. But going to new territories is not going to help anybody. So we’d like to see a little bit of a snapshot in time. Let’s not have any more territory taken as part of the settlements, so that we can get down to some serious negotiations right now.

“That’s a nuanced policy statement from the team, but I think it bears recognition as acting in good faith, so we can bring the partners to the table.”

Another imminent presidential meeting will involve Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, described by Marlow as “pretty much the anti-Trump” for being “a young man who is very photogenic,” raised in an atmosphere of deep left-wing politics for his entire life.

Gorka thought the two leaders might find common ground by acknowledging “there are issues that have to be dealt with in every country,” including “the tension with regard to the terrorist threat internally.”

“We may be from different political communities, but the bottom line, it’s our northerly neighbor. They share a lot of the same issues that we share, especially when it comes to national security,” he observed. “President Trump is the master of the deal, and he can negotiate with people who even have different political opinions. So let’s see what the day brings, but I think it will be a substantive meeting for both parties.”

Gorka said President Trump will soon decide how to proceed on his immigration executive order, after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a judicial restraining order against it. He praised the analysis Breitbart News has offered on the decision.

“Let’s not talk about the fact that the Ninth Circuit Court has been reversed 82 times. That’s their batting average. What Breitbart has very, very rightly revealed is that of the seven nations on the list that came from the Obama administration, 72 nationals of those nations have been convicted of jihadi terrorist activity in America since September the 11th,” he said.

“This narrative, this politicized narrative that it’s Islamophobic, and it has nothing to do with terrorism, and nobody from those countries has ever committed terrorist acts in America is so totally and utterly fallacious that we need to reset the standard of the discussion. It’s about national security. Seventy-two people – think about that. That’s more than five times the number of hijackers that did September the 11th. So we are going to maintain our commitment to that executive order and those seven countries being on a temporary halt.”

Same interview:

Gorka: Radical Islam Has Grown ‘Much, Much Stronger’ Since 9/11

On Monday’s Breitbart News Daily, SiriusXM host Alex Marlow asked for Deputy Assistant to the President Dr. Sebastian Gorka’s assessment of radical Islam and its position in the world today, compared to its influence on the morning of September 11, 2001. “Is radical Islam stronger now as a movement, or has it been weakened since 9/11?” he asked.

“Superb question,” Gorka replied. “And the answer is unequivocally, without a doubt, much much stronger.”

“Just think about one metric. Let’s look at ISIS. ISIS, the Islamic State, has achieved that which no other jihadi group has been able to do in 90 years since the dissolution of the Caliphate by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924. He fired the caliph, he dissolved the Caliphate, when he created the secular republic of Turkey. For 90 years, the bad guys – al-Qaeda included – have tried to re-establish a theocratic Caliphate. ISIS didn’t talk about it. They did it,” he noted.

“They did it in 2014 from the pulpit of the Grand Mosque in Mosul,” he continued. “According to our own counterterrorism center – this is open source – ISIS has 18 operational affiliates around the world. Compare that to just three years ago, when they had seven. They are getting stronger.”

“This is why it’s very important to understand, we’re not at war with Islam, but there is a war inside Islam, for which version is going to win. And right now, it’s the wrong version,” he warned. “It’s the seventh-century atavistic bloodcurdling version that is represented by the Islamic State. The version that is portrayed by Jordan, by Egypt, by the Emiratis, that needs our support because we cannot see the Islamic State expand any more. That is why the president used the phrase, ‘We are going to eradicate the Islamic State.’”

Gorka said there were two important conclusions to draw from the foreign policy speech President Trump gave in Youngstown, Ohio, during the campaign, principles that continue to shape his policy outlook since the election.

“Number one, it’s very clear, he’s given the generals 30 days to come up with a war plan to defeat the Islamic State, as the epitome of the threat right now – destroy it in theater with our allies, with our partners,” he said. “But that’s the smaller part. We’re the most powerful nation the world has ever seen. We can do that relatively easily.”

“Long-term victory, if you read General Flynn’s book, you’ll see this explicitly laid out,” he continued, referring to The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is now national security adviser to President Trump’s. “Long-term victory comes when people don’t want to become jihadis anymore.”

He said this would require a longer and more difficult second-stage strategy to “delegitimize the narrative of jihad.”

“Just as Ronald Reagan undermined the narrative of the communists, we have to help our allies, the Sunnis of the region, make the totalitarian ideology of the jihadists look hollow and crumble in upon itself,” Gorka urged. “The larger part of our task is to have a very, very full-throated counter-propaganda campaign, which means the Islam of our allies against the Islam of groups like the Islamic State.”

Dr. Sebastian Gorka is the author of the best-selling book Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War and was national security editor for Breitbart News before joining the Trump administration.

Schanzer: The careful way to go after Muslim Brotherhood radicals

Getty Images

Getty Images

New York Post, By Jonathan Schanzer, February 12, 2017:

The Trump Administration is mulling an order designed to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. The best approach would be a piecemeal one: Some Brotherhood branches belong on that list, some don’t — and making the distinction will help President Trump more effectively fight the war on terror.

It’s no secret why the Muslim Brotherhood is in the crosshairs. Its hateful and anti-Western worldview has long served as an ideological gateway to jihadi terrorist groups. Famously, Osama bin Laden’s partner in founding al Qaeda was a Muslim Brother named Abdullah Azzam. And while al Qaeda has broken with the Muslim Brotherhood on a range of political issues, Brotherhood thinkers have undeniably shaped al Qaeda’s ideology over the years — and the ideology of other jihadist groups, too.

The Brotherhood has evolved quite a bit since its founding in Egypt in 1928. For one, the group now operates worldwide. Over time, the political and military pressure from host governments in the Middle East also forced the Brotherhood to dial back on its overt extremist positions. Under the threat of annihilation, these groups had little choice to but to lay down their weapons and embrace politics.

By the time officials in the George W. Bush administration considered making a case against designating the Brotherhood, the picture had become blurry. It appeared that many of the disparate groups comprising the global Muslim Brotherhood had soured on the strategic value of prioritizing violence. Of course, this didn’t mean the movement no longer held extremist views. It had simply become difficult to definitively prove that its component parts formed a global terrorist organization.

If anything, there were some branches of the Brotherhood that seemed to meet criteria, while others were a heavier analytical lift. More than a decade later, this is likely still the case. The Brotherhood in Libya, Syria and Yemen (the Islah Party) have apparent ties to jihadis. The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan (Islamic Action Front), which has marketed itself as a political entity, may be more difficult to designate.

In the end, the intelligence will either meet the legal criteria, or it won’t. There’s no fudging it. Of course, we can augment our own intelligence with help from allied countries. We can ask for help from Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which designated the Brotherhood as a terror group.

Jordan and Egypt may also be willing to share intelligence about their local chapters, which have long sought to challenge the regimes. But Washington must vet that intelligence very carefully. These states have a longstanding desire to weaken their Islamist opposition at all costs.

Once some Brotherhood branches are designated, it may become easier to target others. When certain branches or even leaders of the Brotherhood are caught providing financial, technical or material support to listed entities, they immediately become candidates for designation.

Meanwhile, there will be opportunities to take further action at home. According to an official Treasury report submitted in December, “The US has not designated a domestic US-based charity since . . . 2009.” In other words, it appears that the Obama administration placed an unknown number of terrorist financing cases on hold at the Department of Justice over the last eight years.

Trump should instruct the DOJ to reopen them. When these cases meet criteria, they should be prosecuted. And if they involve Muslim Brotherhood activists, that nexus should be made clear.

Finally, the Trump administration has one last crucial point of leverage to undermine the financing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar and Turkey, two countries typically viewed as US allies, are the top financial and logistical supporters of the Brotherhood worldwide. They also serve as financiers and headquarters to the Brotherhood’s most violent branch: Hamas.

The administration should call upon Qatar and Turkey to end support for Hamas. They should also be warned about their support for Brotherhood branches that appear to be engaged in violent activity or even simply spreading extremist rhetoric.

The administration has a number of options at its disposal shy of a blanket terrorist designation. Because going after the “mother ship” may not ultimately hold up under legal scrutiny, an incremental approach may have a higher likelihood of success. That may also ultimately lead to a broader campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood that enjoys the backing of foreign partners and American skeptics alike.

Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the US Department of the Treasury, is senior vice president at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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CJR: This notion that different “branches” of the Muslim Brotherhood are somehow operating at arms length from each other is wrong headed. That is what the MB wants you to think and that is why we are subverted by them. Evidence abounds of their support for violence. There is no “careful ” way to do  this. Cut them out root and branch!

Wanted Istanbul Terrorist ‘Fought for Islamic State in Syria’

Turkish Police

Turkish Police

Breitbart Jerusalem, January 3, 2017:

Istanbul (AFP) – Turkish authorities on Tuesday intensified efforts to identify and detain a suspected jihadist who killed 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub, and who reportedly fought in Syria alongside Islamic State jihadists.

Police released pictures of the suspect who went on the rampage at the plush Reina nightclub on New Year’s night, spraying some 120 bullets at terrified guests before slipping away into the night.

So far, 16 people are being held over the attack, including two foreigners detained by Turkish police at Istanbul’s main airport. But the killer remains on the run.

Of the 39 dead, 27 were foreigners, mainly from Arab countries, with coffins repatriated overnight to countries including Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

The Islamic State (IS) group on Monday claimed the massacre, the first time it has clearly stated being behind a major attack in Turkey.

The suspect — who has not been named but was reportedly from Central Asia — was staying in a rented flat in Konya before moving to Istanbul to carry out the attack, press reports said.

The Dogan news agency said those detained included a woman suspected of being his wife with whom he had stayed in Konya along with two children.

Reports said police have made progress in the investigation after speaking to the taxi driver who drove the attacker to the club and tracing calls he had made on the driver’s mobile phone.

– ‘Specially selected’ –

The Hurriyet daily said the attacker showed signs of being well trained in the use of arms and had fought in Syria for IS jihadists.

Hurriyet’s well-connected columnist Abdulkadir Selvi he had been trained in street fighting in residential areas in Syria and used these techniques in the attack, shooting from the hip rather than as a sniper.

The attacker had been “specially selected” to carry out the shooting, he said. According to Hurriyet, just 28 bullets failed to hit a target.

“This specially-trained terrorist has still not been detained and is still wandering dangerously amongst us,” he wrote.

He said an IS strike was also planned in Ankara on New Year’s eve but that it had been prevented after eight IS suspects were arrested in the capital. There were no further details.

Near the entrance to the nightclub which lies on the shores of the Bosphorus, an impromptu shrine was set up with pictures of the dead where well-wishers have been piling up flowers.

“The attacker arrived at the door and opened fire towards me,” club manager Ali Unal told AFP.

“My foot slipped and I fell down, the gunshots didn’t stop.”

– ‘Taksim selfie video’ –

Police meanwhile released the first clear images of the attacker, including one taken by security cameras on the night of the attack.

And a chilling video of the suspect taken near Taksim Square in central Istanbul was also released, showing him recording himself with a selfie stick and smiling faintly into the camera.

It was not immediately clear how the footage had been obtained.

Reports said that the attacker could be from Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan. In Bishkek, the national security council said it was checking any possible involvement of a Kyrgyz citizen.

In a statement circulated on social media, IS said one of its “soldiers” had carried out the carnage, accusing Turkey — a majority-Muslim country — of being a servant of Christians and saying the shooting was a response to Ankara’s military action against jihadists in Syria.

Turkish troops are pressing a four-month incursion to oust IS jihadists the border area while Ankara is also pushing a ceasefire plan with Russia as a basis for peace talks to end the civil war.

After a cabinet meeting in Ankara chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the government vowed that the operation in Syria would continue with “determination”.

The shooting took place just 75 minutes into 2017 after a bloody year in Turkey in which hundreds of people were killed in violence blamed on both IS jihadists and Kurdish militants.

The foreigners who died — most of them from Arab countries and including Muslims — had come to the club to celebrate a special night in style.

They included three Lebanese nationals, two Jordanians and three Iraqis, as well as several Saudis.

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Tom Joscelyn with some very interesting information on the Turkey nightclub attack. Unfortunately the video cut off an important part of the interview where he gives new info on Al Qaeda in Turkey. I will post it if I find it.

Also see:

Islamic State claims responsibility for New Year’s Day attack at Istanbul nightclub

Medics and security officials work at the scene after an attack at a popular nightclub in Istanbul, early Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Turkey's state-run news agency says an armed assailant has opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year's celebrations, wounding several people.(IHA via AP)

Medics and security officials work at the scene after an attack at a popular nightclub in Istanbul, early Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Turkey’s state-run news agency says an armed assailant has opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year’s celebrations, wounding several people.(IHA via AP)

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, January 2, 2017:

The Islamic State released a statement earlier today claiming responsibility for the attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey during the early hours of New Year’s Day. At least 39 people were killed and dozens more wounded in the massacre. Many of the victims were foreign tourists, according to local media reports.

The so-called caliphate says that its “hero soldier” assaulted one of Turkey’s “most famous nightclubs,” because it is a location where “Christians celebrate their pagan holiday.” The jihadist group also attempts to justify the attack by portraying Turkey as a “protector of the cross” and accusing Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government of spilling the “blood of Muslims” with its planes and guns. This is likely a reference to Turkey’s military operations in northern Syria, where its forces and allied rebel groups fight Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men on a daily basis. Of course, most of the Islamic State’s victims are Muslims, meaning its accusation against Turkey is hollow. Many of the victims at Reina were likely Muslims as well.

The Islamic State had been reticent to claim responsibility for attacks inside Turkey. Although a number of operations are thought to be the work of its men, including the June 2016 attack on the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, the group didn’t own any of them via its prolific propaganda machine. That began to change in early Nov. 2016, when Abu Bakr al Baghdadi called on his followers to strike inside Turkey. The Islamic State’s thinking likely changed after Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield was launched. Turkish forces and their allies have successfully claimed territory from the caliphate in northern Syria.

During his speech in November, Baghdadi claimed that Turkey had revealed its true agenda by entering the war. He argued that the Turks have taken advantage of the fact that the Islamic State has been distracted by the “war against the infidel nations” and has been forced to defend its territory. For these reasons, Baghdadi told his followers to “attack” Turkey and bring the country into their “conflict.” Baghdadi also likened “infidel” Turkish soldiers to dogs and called on the caliphate’s “soldiers” to spill their blood. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s ‘grand jihad’ against the world.]

Within hours of Baghdadi’s speech, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a car bombing in southeastern Turkey. This was the group’s first high-profile claim of responsibility for a terrorist operation inside the country. Turkish authorities quickly blamed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a US-designated terrorist organization, for the explosion. It is possible that Kurdish terrorists did carry out the bombing. Still, the Islamic State’s claim was important because it signaled a new willingness to publicly lash out at Turkey.

The Islamic State’s new spokesman, Abu al Hassan al Muhajir, continued with Baghdadi’s anti-Turkey theme in his first message, which was released in early December. Muhajir accused Turkey of serving “Crusader Europe” and said that Erdoğan had miscalculated by directly entering the war in Syria. Muhajir called on the Islamic State’s jihadists to strike Turkish interests around the world.

“Accordingly, we make a call to every truthful muwahhid to target the supports of the apostate, secularist, Turkish state everywhere, including the security, military, economic, and media apparatuses…even every embassy and consulate representing them in all lands of the earth,” Muhajir said. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: New Islamic State spokesman seeks to rally Sunnis against Iran, West.]

Baghdadi’s propagandists also released a gruesome video purportedly showing two Turkish soldiers being burned alive in December.

Nightclubs and similar venues are an easy target for the Islamic State’s terrorists. In Nov. 2015, the jihadists slaughtered 89 people at the Bataclan theatre in Paris. The attack on Bataclan was part of a coordinated assault throughout France’s capital. In June 2016, a jihadist who repeatedly swore his allegiance to Baghdadi shot and killed 49 people at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

Initial reports indicate that at least one gunman assaulted Reina. Some local accounts claim that he was dressed like Santa Claus, or in similar holiday garb. However, that detail and many others remain to be confirmed. Turkish authorities have arrested several people suspected of being tied to the Islamic State’s network inside Turkey, but the terrorist responsible for the killings has not yet been identified or detained.

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

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Also see:

Dr. Sebastian Gorka: After January 20, America Must ‘Jettison Political Correctness’ to ‘Inoculate Ourselves’ Against Jihad

Associated Press

Associated Press

 

Breitbart, by John Hayward, December 20, 2016:

Breitbart News National Security Editor Dr. Sebastian Gorka, author of the best-selling book Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War, talked about Monday’s terrorist attacks in Berlin and Ankara on Tuesday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.

Gorka noted that, unlike many terrorist attacks, a great deal of information about the Ankara shooting was immediately available to the public because Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov was murdered in front of a crowd of journalists.

“While there’s lots of jihadi snuff videos out there of hostages being executed, there really is nothing like the video of this ambassador giving a speech at an art gallery, and then being gunned down on camera – and then afterwards having the individual make his statement, his calls of ‘Allahu akbar,’ and his comments on the Syrian conflict actually recorded,” Gorka observed. “Whatever the geostrategic ramifications, that video will be with us for decades, and I’m sure will be used to incite more violence.”

“What we do is that this young man, very well-dressed young man, was part of some special police unit. So he was a Turkish national, and as a result, he represents the epitome of what we call the ‘insider threat,’” he said. “Turkey has suffered from terrorism for decades, but usually it’s by external actors or Kurdish nationals and so forth. In this case, it’s someone who’s in the security services, had some kind of vetting, was carrying a weapon, and then decided to become a jihadi. So this is an insidious threat that all nations have to think about.”

Marlow asked about reports that one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s key political allies is claiming that “shadowy NATO forces” were behind the Ambassador’s murder.

“Well, you know, Moscow loves to perpetuate dezinformatsiya, or disinformation. The whole television network RT is an amazing example of that,” Gorka noted. “The reaction will probably be some spinning of conspiracy theories by the fringes of the administration and those that are acolytes to it. But I think the actual response that we’re waiting for the most is from Putin. Will he use this as he’s used other events to exploit the instability, such as in Ukraine or Syria?”

“This provides for him, if we look at this in the cold light of day, various options to exploit the geostrategic ramifications he can gin up, simply by being the head of state of the country whose ambassador was assassinated,” he said.

Gorka said he “tends to reject the concept of ‘lone wolf’” attacks, so it’s likely just a matter of time before connections between the Ankara shooter and organized terrorism are discovered.

“‘Lone wolf’ was a phrase invented by the Obama administration to make the average American dumber,” he said. “It’s a phrase made to make you disconnect the dots. To me, there is no such thing as a lone wolf because whoever we’re talking about, whether it’s this police officer, the Boston bombers, whether it’s the 9/11 hijackers – whoever it is, they’re all connected. And the connective tissue is, of course, the ideology of jihadism. Let’s wait and see. I think that there may be some kind of broader conspiracy, but let’s just wait a few days and see what the Turkish find.”

Marlow quoted the rant from the Ankara gunman: “We die in Aleppo, you die here.”

“Right, so this is a narrative tag that has been used by jihadis before – that the crimes of the West in the Middle East, interferers, drone strikes, bombings, you name it, must be reflected in violence in the heartland,” Gorka said. “This is all part of the broader combining of philosophies of al-Qaeda originally, that melded the concepts of ‘near enemy’ and ‘far enemy.’ In the fifties and sixties, the jihadists were taking down the near enemy, which is the Arab regimes they saw to be un-Islamic. Now, after Afghanistan, with Iraq and other initiatives and military operations by the West, they want to take the war to the far enemy. That’s us.”

“Take the fight to the heartland of the infidel; this is very much an ISIS tactic. ISIS is fighting on multiple fronts – the Middle East, in North Africa, where it’s building and expanding its Caliphate, but also in the heartland of the United States,” he warned.

Gorka noted that the Berlin truck attack has “already been accepted. The responsibility for that attack has already been taken by an ISIS affiliate.”

“If that turns out to be true, then that just proves once again, we are in a multi-fronted war against a global jihadi movement,” he said, arguing that “the ball is literally in Vladimir Putin’s court, and it will be his reaction that shapes whether or not this has broader ramifications.”

“The only thing that is of note for us is this question of the insider threat,” Gorka added. “Can we put in place better vetting procedures? Are we allowed, as a nation here in America after January 20th, to jettison political correctness and talk about the ideology that motivates people like this police officer? That is something I dearly expect, and it is one of the most important ways to inoculate ourselves from this kind of threat occurring here in America.”

Marlow quoted from President-elect Donald Trump’s reaction to the Berlin attack – that “Islamic terrorists continually slaughter Christians,” and called it a “bold” statement, very different from what President Obama might have said.

“Absolutely,” Gorka agreed. “This is an indicator of how everything will change in just a matter of one short month. And this is very important; let me just give you one data point your listeners should be familiar with: when Iraq was invaded, when we invaded in 2003, there were 1.4 million indigenous Christians in that nation. Iraqi nationals went to church on Sundays. Now, with the rise of ISIS and the declaration of the Caliphate, there are significantly less than 200,000 left.”

“We, as a nation, engaged in Iraq only after the Yazidis – a polytheistic small sect – were hounded up Mount Sinjar. We went to save the polytheists. But there’s a much, much larger story, and that is the concerted targeting of Christians. Of course, a Christmas festival in Germany is an incredibly symbolic target. Let’s not forget this isn’t just about Europe,” he said.

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

20120906-101543_550px-pkk_militant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behind the lines: Syria’s interlocking conflicts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

BREAKING: NATO Member Turkey Descends into Autocracy as Kurdish Lawmakers Arrested, Internet Apps Blocked

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PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, November 4, 2016:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once identified by President Obama as one of his top five closest international leader friends, famously said: “Democracy is a like a train: you get off once you’ve reached your destination.”

Grave reports are emerging from NATO member Turkey tonight that Erdogan is getting the country off the democracy train. Kurdish lawmakers have been arrested and Internet social media applications are being blocked by the Turkish government, in an escalating crackdown that Erdogan has waged since a botched coup attempt this past July.

Reuters reports:

Turkey detained two co-leaders and nine other lawmakers of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) early on Friday over reluctance to give testimony for crimes linked to “terrorist propaganda.”The Turkish Interior Ministry said detention orders for 13 MPs were issued, but only 11 were detained as two lawmakers were abroad. Lawyers had earlier said 15 MPs were detained.

Turkish police raided the Ankara house of co-leader Selahattin Demirtas and the house of co-leader Figen Yuksekdag in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, the party’s lawyers told Reuters.

“HDP call international community to react against Erdogan Regime’s coup,” the party said on Twitter, referring to President Tayyip Erdogan.

Police also raided and searched the party’s head office in central Ankara. Television images showed party officials quarreling with police during the raid, and a Reuters witness said many police cars and armed vehicles had closed the entrances to the street of the HDP headquarters […]

HDP is the third largest party in the 550-seat Turkish parliament, with 59 seats. Parliamentarians in Turkey normally enjoy immunity from prosecution, but the pro-Kurdish party’s immunity was lifted earlier this year.

Arrests have been widespread since the July attempted coup, with the Erdogan regime imprisoning opponents, banning rallies, taking over media outlets, and sacking non-Islamist government employees by the thousands.

Just a few days ago, the State Department ordered families and dependents to leave the country.

Read more

Turkey’s Descent into Islamist Tyranny Deepens

(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Executions, purges, and the shuttering of opposition and Kurdish media mark Erdogan’s ongoing power grabs — as he tries to end NATO’s mission stemming refugee flows to Europe.

CounterJihad, October 31, 2016:

Turkey’s military forces have just seized the Hagia Sophia, appointing a full-time imam to lead Islamic prayers there after 80 years of it being held as a neutral place for both Christians and Muslims.  The move is symbolic, but shows clearly the designs of Turkey’s Islamist president.

The Turkish government under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used the abortive coup of this summer to deepen its control over every aspect of Turkish life, but especially the media and education.  Over ten thousand public servants have been purged from the government in recent days, raising the total figure to over a hundred thousand — some 37,000 of whom have been arrested. Erdoğan has pressed the Turkish parliament to reinstate the death penalty so that he can begin disposing of those he has identified as his enemies.

“Our government will take this proposal [on capital punishment] to parliament. I am sure parliament will approve it, and when it comes back to me, I will ratify it…Soon, soon, don’t worry. It’s happening soon, God willing. The West says this, the West says that. Excuse me, but what counts is not what the West says. What counts is what my people say.”

According to CounterJihad’s sources, the detained who are subjected to trial must submit to having all of their conversations with their lawyers recorded whenever the prosecution requests it.  Such recordings are of course admissible as evidence against the client — or the lawyer, if he comes to be considered an enemy of the state from working too hard to defend people already classified as ‘enemies of the state.’

The detained include especially members of opposition media.  The leadership of the Cumhuriyet daily newspaper, which is nearly a century old, were arrested and their laptops seized by the police.  Their paper is not only critical of Erdoğan , but occasionally supportive of the Kurdish minority.  That appears to be grounds for arrest in Turkey now:  even two mayors were seized by order of a Turkish court on suspicion of being sympathetic to Kurdish militants.  In addition to the attacks on the Cumhuriyet daily, 15 Kurdish news outlets have been shuttered by order of the state.  A pro-Kurdish television station was raided by police and forced off the air.

In addition to the media, the state has moved to consolidate control over its system of higher education.  Some 1267 academics who signed a “Peace Petition” last January have been removed from their jobs according to CounterJihad’s sources, and several have been arrested and charged with “terroristic acts” for signing or forwarding that petition.  Our sources tell us that under the new laws, President Erdoğan must personally approve all new university presidents.

At the same time, the Turkish government is pressing NATO to end its naval mission aimed at containing migration flows across the Mediterranean sea.  Turkey claims that the mission is no longer needed, but the siege of Mosul is expected to produce at least a million new refugees in the coming months.  The Russian operations against Aleppo are likewise expected to produce new waves of migrants.

Turkey appears to be using its position within NATO to advance Russia’s interest here, which is to flood Europe with migrants in order to overburden European governments.  That will produce a Europe less able to resist Russian expansion into Eastern Europe.  Turkey and Russia recently signed a major energy deal, clearing the way for at least an economic alliance.  Erd also moved to abandon daylight savings time, a shift that places Turkey in the same time zone as Moscow.  Russia for its part appears to be negotiating a peace between Turkey and Iran on a partition of Iraq, one that would give Turkey greater control over its Kurdish problems.  If Russia succeeds in peeling Turkey off from NATO, it would invalidate the alliance as NATO requires unanimous decisions for all military decisions.

Also see:

Town of Dabiq falls to Turkish-backed forces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analysis: A new crack in the Sunni bloc?

showimage-3The vacuum left by America’s disengagement has thrown the Middle East into a dangerous state of instability, wherein extremist groups thrive and thwart any hopes for peace.

By Zvi Mazel, JPOST, October 16, 2016

There seems to be a growing rift between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the twin mainstays of the Sunni front against the major threats of Iran’s terrorist operations and nuclear building on the one hand, and against the rogue Sunni Islamic State on the other. The two countries no longer see eye to eye on a number of regional issues, although they deny it and insist that they are still coordinating their actions.

The Egyptian president has stated on a number of occasions that the security of the Gulf is essential to the security of his country, while the Saudi king wrote to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that any attack on Egyptian security would be seen as an attack on Saudi Arabia.

Simmering tensions came to the boil at a special meeting of the UN Security Council on Syria on October 8.

Egypt not only voted with Russia to defeat the French proposal calling for a stop to bombing on Aleppo, it also voted for the Russian counter-proposal opposed by the West. The Saudi representative strongly condemned the two votes, which led to a spate of acrimonious articles in Egyptian and Saudi media. Sisi had to intervene; he declared that though Egypt remained committed to good relations with Gulf countries, it had its own interests.

The so-called pragmatic Sunni bloc, which included the Gulf states, Jordan and Morocco, emerged during the Mubarak years, and enjoyed the powerful support of the United States. Israel played a significant role behind the scenes, because the Gulf states and Egypt believed that it would be able to pressure Washington into stopping Iran’s nuclear program, while at the same time hoping that Israel might bomb Iran’s nuclear installations and deliver the region from that threat.

Barack Obama’s gradual disengagement from the Middle East, while favoring Shi’ite Iran over Sunni countries, was a game changer. America jettisoned Mubarak, its long-term ally, and welcomed the Muslim Brotherhood; it turned its back on President Sisi and made a deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states felt betrayed and lost their trust in the United States, while Egypt, losing political, economic and military American support, turned to Russia and China for sophisticated weaponry and to develop economic projects – including building a nuclear plant to produce energy with the help of Russia. The Russian and Egyptian armies are conducting joint exercises, further testimony to the deepening ties.

In short, deprived of the strong American backing which was the basis of their common policy, Egypt and Saudi Arabia took different paths based on their divergent interests. Egypt, fearing an Islamic takeover, believes Syrian unity must be preserved at all costs, and aligned itself with Russia with regards to Syria, whose goals are similar to those of Iran, which wants President Basher Assad to remain in place in order to ensure its continued access to its Hezbollah ally in Lebanon through Syria.

Riyadh is steadfastly supporting Sunni rebel groups fighting to eliminate Assad and set up a Sunni regime. These groups include Islamic terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and therein lies the crux of the problem. The Brotherhood is still manufacturing terrorism in Egypt, presenting a very real threat and hampering the country’s economic development. As to Saudi Arabia, although it expelled the Brothers following the 9/11 attacks in New York – 15 of 18 perpetrators being Saudi Muslim Brothers – and has declared that the Brotherhood is a terrorist organization, just as Egypt did, it is now in the uneasy position of forbidding its activities in the kingdom while supporting them abroad. In Yemen, it backs al-Islah, a “Reform” party which is an offshoot of the Brotherhood, against the Shi’ite Houthi rebels, in the hopes that they will rule the country after defeating the rebellion.

Egypt emphatically does not want that to happen. It reluctantly joined the Saudi-led coalition again the Houthis, but is not taking part in military operations beyond patrolling the entrance to the Suez Canal, which is in its own interests. The situation regarding Libya is similar. Egypt backs Gen. Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, who is battling extremist groups with great success, while Saudi Arabia helps Brotherhood organizations.

In short, for Egypt, the most pressing threat is that of the Muslim Brothers, which enjoy the support of Turkey and Qatar. Saudi Arabia is more afraid of Iran, and therefore reluctantly allies itself with Sunni terrorist organizations it abhors. It has even grown closer to Turkey, a country at odds with Egypt over the removal of Morsi and the overthrow of the regime of the Brotherhood.

Sometimes logic goes overboard: Sunni Egypt and Sunni Saudi Arabia should have been united in condemnation of the relentless bombing of Aleppo by Russian and Syrian planes, driving the Sunni population out of the town with the intent to replace them with Alawites – but Egypt voted against the French resolution to end the bombing.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has given Egypt $15 billion in outright grants, loans or deposits into Cairo’s central bank, in order to bolster the Egyptian economy and currency, and has supplied Egypt with natural gas and oil. Both countries will try to overcome their differences, but it will not be easy. Riyadh is sending conflicting signals. It suspended regular deliveries of refined oil in spite of the 25 year contract signed in May, estimated at $23b.; it also significantly raised the price of visas for the pilgrimage to Mecca.

On the other hand, it deposited $2b. into Egyptian banks in September to bolster the Egyptian currency. A high-ranking Egyptian delegation is soon expected in Riyadh to “discuss regional issues and the implementation of the cooperation agreements signed in Cairo, during the visit of King Salman in April,” as well as the Syrian issue. The Saudi ambassador to Egypt has been called home to prepare for the visit.

The vacuum left by America’s disengagement has thrown the Middle East into a dangerous state of instability, wherein extremist groups thrive and thwart any hopes for peace. The Sunni bloc is in disarray. It is every country for itself. This has led to a quiet strengthening of security and intelligence cooperation with Israel, and even greater economic exchanges. But this is kept under wraps. Neither President Sisi nor King Abdullah of Jordan dared attend Peres’s funeral, as this newfound collaboration does not bode well for the much-touted “regional solution” of the Palestinian issue.

The writer, a fellow of The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden.

Islamic State Braces as Iraq Prepares Mosul Offensive

An Iraqi soldier flashed a victory sign on Saturday ahead of an expected offensive to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State. PHOTO: ADAM SCHRECK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

An Iraqi soldier flashed a victory sign on Saturday ahead of an expected offensive to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State. PHOTO: ADAM SCHRECK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Update: The siege of Mosul begins

The long-anticipated attack could begin this week, and will aim to recapture Iraq’s second-largest city from the militant group.

WSJ, ByTAMER EL-GHOBASHY and ALI A. NABHAN, Oct. 16, 2016:

“Do you want to be humiliated again by the army, and do you not appreciate the dignity we gave you?” the imam said, according to a resident who was there. “Do you want to be treated badly by the army as they used to treat you before we liberated you?”

The unusual sermon underscored what Mosul residents and Iraqi intelligence officials describe as disarray in the ranks of Islamic State on the eve of a military operation to dislodge the group from its Iraqi stronghold.

The offensive could begin as early as this week, with the aim of depriving Islamic State of its last major territorial holding in the country.

Islamic State has suffered a string of losses lately in its self-declared caliphate. The latest came Sunday when Syrian rebels backed by Turkey and the U.S. drove the militants from the Syrian town of Dabiq. Officials with the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State have said the offensives in Syria and Iraq aren’t coordinated.

Mass defections, internal rivalries and an increasingly restive local population have contributed to a sense of confidence inside Iraq’s military that the time is ripe to mount an attack to recapture Iraq’s second-largest city, according to Iraqi military officials.

“All the people I talk to are ready to rebel against them with the first gunshot of the operation,” another Mosul resident said. He said new defenses set up by fighters in the city appear amateurish. Main streets have been outfitted with concrete blast walls on a platform attached to a rope, with the intention of pulling the rope to drop the walls on incoming military vehicles.

“To me this is so funny and stupid,” said the resident.

Iraqi and U.S. military officials said they see Islamic State as significantly weakened, in large part because of a dedicated psychological warfare unit that has negotiated guarantees from local elders and former Saddam Hussein loyalists to abandon the militants.

For nearly a year, a multiethnic unit inside Iraq’s military that includes academics specializing in sociology, psychology and communication have used covert methods to secure agreements with people of influence in some 16 districts in Mosul, according to several Iraqi officials. These people have helped rally their communities to work with Iraqi security forces, the officials said.

In some cases, the unit has entered Mosul and provided arms to local residents to use against Islamic State once the official operation to reclaim the city begins, one intelligence official said.

“This unit gave people in Mosul hope for survival, determination to resist and a sense that someone is helping them,” said Saeed al-Jayashi, a member of Iraq’s National Security Advisory. “This is exactly what makes you win the battle.”

A ranking officer involved in the unit said the agreements with local leaders are a sign that the psychological warfare campaign has vexed Islamic State—something the unit failed to do in previous battles. This has in part influenced the timing of the planned ground assault.

“The psychological operations are not new, but we know the huge effort in Mosul has been fruitful,” the officer said. “The work done by this group has managed to change the views of many people in favor of the Iraqi security forces.”

A mid-ranking Islamic State commander said in an interview over Facebook that the group has made a tactical decision to partially abandon Mosul, recalling their “human resources” to Syria where they hope to strengthen their foothold.

“There will be no big great epic battle in Mosul,” the commander said. “The tactic now is hit-and-run.”

Islamic State was able to conquer Mosul in 2014 in large part because a local Sunni majority was disillusioned with the Shiite-dominated central government and military fashioned by American policies after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Mosul political and security administrations collapsed when the militants arrived.

But more than two years of harsh Islamic State rule, which residents said has led to food and gasoline shortages as well as arbitrary violence and punishment, has weakened support for the group.

Iraqi and American officials preparing the military assault expect a tough fight, with a specific concern that a desperate group of fighters will attempt to use the city’s 1.2 million residents as human shields. Aid agencies and the United Nations are bracing for an expected exodus once the offensive has launched.

Pentagon officials have said there are pockets within Mosul that may be easier to recapture than others. Iraqi forces will begin to tighten a “noose” around Mosul once operations begin, one senior U.S. military official said recently.

U.S. military officials said they are not sure exactly what they will find inside Mosul. Many fighters will disappear into the populace; others will fight to the end. The effectiveness of suicide bombers, roadside bombs and other Islamic State tactics and weapons will determine how well Iraqi forces fight, they said.

Iraq and neighboring Turkey have also clashed over the makeup of the force that will attack Mosul, which is near the Turkish border. But U.S. officials said that will not delay the operation.

Iraqi intelligence officials have attempted to encourage local rebellions against Islamic State in Mosul while instructing residents to remain in their homes and raise white flags once the Iraqi military and its allied Sunni militias push into the city.

The officer said one tactic which has worked to unsettle the militants has been the so-called “M Group.” Secretly directed by Iraq’s military, the group inside the city marks the homes and offices of Islamic State fighters and administrators with the Arabic letter M—the first letter of moqawamma, which means resistance.

The officer said the tag isn’t necessarily for tactical reasons but appears to have frightened militants who he said have fled in droves in recent weeks. Local residents also said they have seen the militants fleeing.

Local cellphone networks, which haven’t worked for more than a year, are increasingly being restored in the towns and villages surrounding Mosul as Iraqi forces have advanced.

One of the Mosul residents, reached by phone, said Islamic State’s visibility in the city has been reduced dramatically. Foreign fighters who patrolled the streets or haunted internet cafes monitoring activity have largely disappeared, the resident said.

Pickup trucks piled with furniture and other belongings of fleeing fighters have replaced similar trucks mounted with high-caliber machine guns, another resident said.

Islamic State has also been beset in Mosul by internal rivalries, Iraqi military officials said.

“There are disputes between local and foreign Daesh militants,” said Sabah al-Noman, a spokesman for Iraq’s counterterrorism forces, which are expected to lead the ground assault on the city. “These disputes have led to executions on a daily basis.” Daesh is the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

“Daesh now in the city is not Daesh that invaded the city two years ago,” said one of the Mosul residents.

***

Also see:

Turkey’s New Territorial Claims Threaten NATO

turkey-islamic-2Will Russia help give a new birth to a resurgent Ottoman Empire? It’s a tricky bit of diplomacy, but their recent successes suggest they could do so — and thereby destroy the major international alliance controlling Russian aggression.

CounterJihad, October 13, 2016:

A significant claim is being pushed by the Turkish government, one that could redraw the lines of the old Ottoman Empire:

Тhe spat erupted after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the country and the region by surprise last month by calling into question the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which defined modern Turkey’s borders.  He declared Turkey had been blackmailed by foreign powers into giving up vast swaths of territory that were once part of the Ottoman Empire….

[A]ccording to visiting Carnegie Europe scholar Sinan Ulgen[:]  “The message should be seen more of a signal in relation to Turkish polices towards the south, Syria and Iraq. I read it as a backdrop to a policy that tries to build domestic support for a more long-term presence, particularly in Syria, by pointing out, at allegedly past historical mistakes,” Ulgen said.

Turkish forces are currently in Syria and Iraq. But the Turkish presence at the Bashiqa base, close to the Iraqi city of Mosul, has become the center of a deepening dispute with Baghdad. The base is ostensibly tor training Sunni militia to fight Islamic State.

On Tuesday, Erdogan dismissed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s calls to withdraw Turkish troops, telling him “he should know his place.”

Ulgen went on to point out that Turkey has historical claims not only to Mosul, currently contested in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).   Both Mosul and oil-rich Kirkuk were part of the original design of the modern-day Turkey.  The Turks’ traditionalists and nationalists view the treaty that gave them away as having been forced on them at the end of World War I.

If Russian diplomacy can broker a deal that allows Turkey to expand into Iraq and Syria, it could cement Turkey’s move into Russia’s sphere.  Until recently, that looked unlikely at best.  Last year, Turkmen fighters shot down a Russian jet over repeated incursions by the Russian air force.  At that time, relations between the two nations became quite tense.  Russia is backing Iran’s play in the region, apparently in the hope that a powerful Shi’a Iran will create a buffer zone between Russia and the Sunni jihadist forces that have acted to inflame Muslim minorities in Central Asia.  Likewise, the war in the Middle East draws attention away from Russia’s strategic moves in Eastern Europe, such as last week’s deployment of nuclear missileson the very borders of Poland and the Baltic States.

Turkey’s latest move appears likely to inflame Iraq’s government, and Russia’s ally Iran intends to control Iraq at the end of this conflict.  Surrendering territory, especially oil-rich territory, may be a difficult negotiation.  On the other hand, Kirkuk is also disputed with the Kurds, and whichever government formally holds it after the war is going to have to fight to keep it.  Iran may be willing to be persuaded to concede the fight to Turkey in return for a more firmly-controlled corridor between Tehran and the Levant.

That will require some subtle diplomacy to negotiate, but right now Russia is having significant success in its diplomatic moves.  In the wake of a new energy deal between Turkey and Russia, the Russian diplomatic corps seems to have a lot of momentum on its side.  Turkey was already looking away from NATO and Europe in the wake of its Islamist purge following an alleged attempted coup.  Should Russia be able to get a process of negotiation going between Turkey, Iraq and Iran on the issue of Turkish territorial expansion, Russia would assume the leadership role in the region.  Should it actually resolve the negotiations successfully, it could expect Turkey to become part of the Russian sphere of influence.  That would potentially derail NATO, as NATO’s decisions must be taken by a unanimous vote.  If Turkey becomes as strong a Russian ally as China, NATO could become as useless an organ for opposing Russian ambition as the United Nations Security Council (on which Russia has a veto).

American diplomacy is meanwhile spinning its wheels.  The United States broke off talks with Russia, and then called for war crimes investigations into Russia and Assad for their campaign in Syria.  American Secretary of State John F. Kerry also accused Russia of interfering with America’s elections.  However, it appears that Kerry now wants a new push for a cease-fire in Aleppo, which would require Syria and Russia to sign on.

American diplomatic weakness is partially a function of American military weakness in the region.  Russian diplomatic success is partially likewise a function of its deployment of air and naval-gunnery forces, as well as its so-far successful alliance with Iran.  Better American leadership might help, but for now, the situation is rapidly sliding away from America and towards the Russians.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar Funding The Islamic State

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, October 10, 2016:

Why wouldn’t Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and all other wealthy Muslim countries fund ISIS, ISIL, or whatever we are calling the leading army of Mohammad this week?

In the latest Wikileaks download, a series of emails between then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, former Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton and Counselor to President Obama, dated August and September 2014 reveal Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding and providing support to ISIS.

In the email Mrs. Clinton states:  “We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

saudi

We know from the recently released portions of the 9/11 Report a large volume of evidence exists revealing Saudi Arabia funds jihadi training materials and Islamic Centers/Mosques in the United States, among other direct support to fund the global jihad against the U.S. and the West.

Pakistan provided direct support via their intelligence agency (ISI) to Al Qaeda fighters after the attacks on the United States on 9/11/2001, and, provided safe haven for Osama bin Laden.

Turkey’s policies and open hostility towards the United States make clear they cannot be trusted at all.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are giving financial and logistical support to ISIS.

The questions that remain:

*Why are key facilities in Saudi Arabia and Qatar not on our target list?

*Which Muslim country in the world is not hostile to the United States and supporting the armies of Mohammad (ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hamas, etc)?

Turkish President Erdogan Meets With Muslim Brotherhood In The US

By on October 4, 2016

A Turkish media source has reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently met in New York with a group of what were described as “representatives of the Muslim community in the US.” According to the report:

 

President Erdogan was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu, Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag, Minister of Family and Social Policies Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington, DC Serdar Kilic, Deputy Chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Yasin Aktay, AK Party Istanbul Deputy Ravza Kavakci, Deputy Secretary General and Spokesperson of the Presidency Ibrahim Kalin.

Reported attending the meeting were 27 individuals of which 19 are known to be tied to US Muslim Brotherhood or Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood or which have significant associations with the Brotherhood:

The GMBDW reported in June that the Turkish state-run news agency had announced its “Anadolu World Report News Package” at the 2016 annual convention of two US Muslim Brotherhood organizations. As we noted at that time, the choice of venue for the announcement is unsurprising as we have frequently reported on the close ties of Erdogan and the Turkish government to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. This reporting largely began with a report by the GMBDW Editor, centered on the June 2010 Gaza flotilla but which also provided the following background on Erdogan:

The Turkish political establishment has had ties with the Global Muslim Brotherhood since at least the 1970s when Prime Minister Erdogan was reported to have been associated with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a fundamentalist Saudi religious organization that has been accused of promoting extremism and supporting terrorism all over the world. Erdogan has since maintained his ties to the Global Brotherhood as evidenced by his close relationships to Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as former Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Akef, Malaysian opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim, and Yassin Abdullah Qadi, a Saudi businessman blacklisted by the United Nations for funding terrorism and who had links with the US Muslim Brotherhood. A Muslim Brotherhood spokesman has also said that the Brotherhood has maintained ties with the “Islamic movement” in Turkey since the days of Necmettin Erbakan’s early political parties, and the European Muslim Brotherhood has fused with Erbakan’s movement in Europe known as Millî Görüs. German Muslim Brotherhood leader Ibrahim El-Zayat is married to a member of the Erbakan family, and El-Zayat’s business partner is the Secretary-General of Millî Görüs in Germany. El-Zayat, formerly the head of WAMY in Western Europe, also runs Millis Gorus’ extensive portfolio of mosque properties throughout Europe as well as serving as a leader in the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the umbrella group representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe.

(Note: based on confidential sources)