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Author Topic: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR  (Read 62639 times)
bigdog
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« Reply #400 on: August 01, 2014, 05:36:39 PM »

http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/31/world/meast/israel-gaza-region/

From the article:

"This is unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict," says CNN's Ali Younes, an analyst who has covered the region for decades. "Most Arab states are actively supporting Israel against the Palestinians -- and not even shy about it or doing it discreetly."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #401 on: August 02, 2014, 01:12:58 AM »

Many interesting implications in BD's post, and in the one that follows too:
================================


ISIS Opens The World's Biggest Bazaar of Violence
Posted: 01 Aug 2014 03:32 PM PDT
ISIS isn't a state and it's not your typicaly insurgency. It's much more interesting than that. ISIS is a marketplace -- a freewheeling bazaar of violence -- and it is rapidly expanding.  

So far, it's been very successful:

   it operates freely in an area bigger than most countries (and it has lots of oil),
   it's been attracting the participation of a growing number of organizations and individuals, and
   it's financially successful and self-funding (it's already made billions of $$ from oil, crime, bank robberies, and more).

This success is due to the fact that ISIS isn't trying to build a "state."  It's not a government.

It's a bazaar in an autonomous zone.  It operates outside of the global system.  It doesn't want to be a state (which would make it vulnerable).  
This bazaar was built for one purpose:  perpetual expansion and continuous warfare.

To keep things running, ISIS offers a minimalist, decentralized governance.  Day-to-day life is governed by a simple, decentralized rule set: Sharia Law.
Participation is open to everyone willing to live under Sharia and able to expand the bazaar to new areas.

The strategies and tactics ISIS uses are open sourced.  Any group or individual can advance them, as long as they can demonstrate they work.  
Weapons and other technologies needed for war are developed, shared and sold between participants and the pace of development (based on previous expamples is very quick).

Making money through criminal activity is highly encouraged.  Mercenary work is encouraged.  

All of these attributes (and more) make ISIS hard to fight (something similar to this fought US forces to a standstill for four years in a much less advanced state until Petraeus started using a strategy similar to this).

 It's also a good demonstration that global guerrillas are the cockroaches of warfare.  Once they become established, they are nearly impossible to get rid of.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2014, 01:17:02 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
MikeT
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« Reply #402 on: August 02, 2014, 01:23:01 PM »

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/08/01/Islamic-State-to-Join-Palestine-to-Fight-the-Barbaric-Jews

Fortunately I also read this morning that we're all about to be killed in a long overdue solar flare.  So we don't have to worry about this.  smiley
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ccp
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« Reply #403 on: August 02, 2014, 09:57:25 PM »

Zakaria - > Gaza is now a proxy war. 

[No mention of his Harvard pal the anti-Semite Bamster being on the wrong side - AGAIN.  For that matter so is his network CNN]

"This time, Gaza fighting is 'proxy war' for entire Mideast
 
By Josh Levs, CNN

updated 1:48 PM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
 
 The Gaza conflict is a proxy war for the Middle East, analysts say
Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia are seen as supporting Israel's crackdown on Hamas
Turkey and Qatar support Hamas
Hamas is an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, which threatens some governments
 
  (CNN) -- The conflict raging in Gaza is different this time.

While Hamas' rocket attacks and Israel's military actions may look familiar, they're taking place against a whole new backdrop.

"This is unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict," says CNN's Ali Younes, an analyst who has covered the region for decades. "Most Arab states are actively supporting Israel against the Palestinians -- and not even shy about it or doing it discreetly."

It's a "joint Arab-Israeli war consisting of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia against other Arabs -- the Palestinians as represented by Hamas."

As the New York Times put it, "Arab leaders, viewing Hamas as worse than Israel, stay silent."

Most Arab states are actively supporting Israel.
CNN's Ali Younes, Mideast analyst

One of the outcomes of the fighting will likely be "the end of the old Arab alliance system that has, even nominally, supported the Palestinians and their goal of establishing a Palestinian state," Younes says.

"The Israel-Hamas conflict has laid bare the new divides of the Middle East," says Danielle Pletka, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. "It's no longer the Muslims against the Jews. Now it's the extremists -- the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, and their backers Iran, Qatar and Turkey -- against Israel and the more moderate Muslims including Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia."

"It's a proxy war for control or dominance in the Middle East," says CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

To understand why and what all this means, we need to begin with understanding of Hamas.

Zakaria: Gaza is 'proxy war' for Mideast
Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood
 
Hamas, which has controlled the Palestinian government in Gaza for years, is an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood. To many Americans, the brotherhood is familiar for its central role in the power struggle for Egypt. But it's much larger than that.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is international, with affiliated groups in more than 70 countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE," says Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The Arab Spring showed the region that uprisings can lead to the Brotherhood gaining power. So it's a threat to the governments it opposes.

"Israel's ongoing battle against Hamas is part of a wider regional war on the Muslim Brotherhood," says the Soufan Group, which tracks global security. "Most Arab states share Israel's determination to finish the movement off once and for all, but they are unlikely to be successful."

"From the perspective of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE and some other Arab states, what the Israeli Prime Minister is doing is fighting this war against Hamas on their behalf so they can finish the last stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood," Younes says.

"Arab governments and official Arab media have all but adopted the Israeli view of who is a terrorist and who is not. Egyptian and Saudi-owned media are liberal in labeling the Muslim Brotherhood as 'terrorists' and describing Hamas as a 'terrorist organization.' It's a complete turnabout from the past, when Arab states fought Israel and the U.S. in the international organizations on the definition of terrorism, and who is a terrorist or a 'freedom fighter.'"

Egypt's new President vowed during his campaign that he would finish off the Muslim Brotherhood. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former military chief, deposed Egypt's first freely elected leader, President Mohamed Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood, last year following mass protests against Morsy's rule.

El-Sisi was elected officially in June.

"In Egypt you have a regime that came to power by toppling a Muslim Brotherhood government," says Trager. "It's therefore in an existential conflict with the Brotherhood. So it doesn't want to see Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, emerge stronger in a neighboring territory."

Egypt also has another reason to stand against Hamas: rising violence and instability in Sinai, the northern part of Egypt that borders Israel and Gaza. Hamas' network of tunnels includes some in and out of Egypt used to smuggle goods include weapons for attackson Israeli civilians.

It's part of a regional war on the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Soufan Group, which tracks global security

The new Egyptian government has been "cracking down aggressively since it removed the brotherhood from power," Trager says.

El-Sisi closed the border crossings between Egypt and Gaza, which has helped block Hamas militants from escaping or smuggling in more weapons during Israel's onslaught. But it also has contributed to the humanitarian crisis of people trapped in Gaza.

Egypt proposed a cease-fire, and Israel quickly accepted it -- indicating that it contained the terms Israel was looking for, analysts say. Hamas rejected it. While Egypt has worked furiously to try to broker a truce in the past, Cairo this time shows little rush to change its proposal to one much more favorable to Hamas, analysts say.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan

The monarchies of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan have called on Hamas to accept the cease-fire proposal as is.

"We condemn the Israeli aggression and we support the Egyptian cease-fire proposal," Jordan's King Abdullah said last week.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE are "challenged by Islamists who come to power via the ballot box rather than through royal succession," says Trager.

The Saudis and Egyptians are more scared of Islamic fundamentalism than they are of Israel.
CNN's Fareed Zakaria

"So these countries have been directly supportive of the coup in Egypt because it removed elected Islamists and therefore discredited that model."

Saudi Arabia is "leading the charge," partly through backing the coup and financing state media reports that attacked the brotherhood, says Younes.

"Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE all see the destruction of Hamas as of benefit to their internal security as well as to regional stability."

"The Saudis and the Egyptians are now more scared of Islamic fundamentalism than they are of Israel," says Zakaria.

"The Saudi monarchy is more worried about the prospects of Hamas winning, which would embolden Islamists in other parts of the Middle East, and therefore potentially an Islamist opposition in Saudi Arabia."

But Hamas is not alone.

Turkey and Qatar remain supportive of Hamas.

Qatar supported Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood government, and built "an Egypt-centric Al Jazeera network that became known for its strongly pro-Muslim Brotherhood line," says Trager.

Qatar also funds many Muslim Brotherhood figures in exile, including Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal, who is believed to have orchestrated numerous Hamas terrorist attacks.

"I think this is a case of a country with a lot of money to burn making a certain calculation in 2011 that made a lot of sense at the time: that the Brotherhood was the next big thing that was going to dominate many of the countries of the region," says Trager. "Realistically, it made sense to bet on it."

Turkey has "more of an ideological sympathy with the Brotherhood," he says.

Erdogan has tried to use the cause of the Brotherhood to bolster his own Islamist credentials.
Eric Trager, Washington Institute

Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with CNN, accusing Israel of "genocide."

"Erdogan has tried to use the cause of the Brotherhood to bolster his own Islamist credentials at home," says Trager. Last year, Erdogan cracked down on mass demonstrations in his country.

Iran has long supported Hamas, supplying it with weapons. And Meshaal used to be based in Syria.

But that changed. In 2012, Meshaal left Syria as the country's civil war deepened -- a decision believed to have caused a breakdown in his relationship with Iran as well, says Firas Abi Ali, head of Middle East and North Africa Country Risk and Forecasting at the global information company IHS. Tehran is aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Now, Syria -- Israel's neighbor to the north -- is locked in a brutal, multiparty civil war, with Islamist extremists hoisting severed heads onto poles. The war, believed to have killed more than 115,000 people, is just one of the many developments emphasizing how many "fault lines" there are in the region, Richard Haass, president of Council on Foreign Relations, told "CNN Tonight."

"There's fault lines within the Palestinians between Hamas and the other part of the Palestinian Authority. You have Sunnis vs. Shia. You have Iran vs. Saudi Arabia and the Arabs. You have secularists vs. people who embrace religion in the political space."

The Palestinian Authority

Paying a price for all this is another key player: Fatah, the Palestinian faction that controls the West Bank. Fatah and Hamas have long fought each other, but earlier this year made another effort at a unity government.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who is in charge of the government in the West Bank, "seems politically exhausted by all the twists and turns he has made in search of a durable solution," the Soufan Gruop says. "And the one chance of reasserting his authority through a unity government that would have forced Hamas into a subordinate and less militant role has now disappeared. He must now watch helplessly as protests in the West Bank undo whatever progress he had made towards a two-state solution."

Gaza conflict by the numbers
 
CNN's Jethro Mullen, Brian Todd
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #404 on: August 06, 2014, 10:04:32 AM »

Supporting/working with the Kurds makes sense to me:

http://allenbwest.com/2014/08/4-things-id-stop-advance-islamic-state-charge/

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DougMacG
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« Reply #405 on: August 06, 2014, 05:13:15 PM »

Supporting/working with the Kurds makes sense to me:
http://allenbwest.com/2014/08/4-things-id-stop-advance-islamic-state-charge/

Agree.  To not help them is to throw away the last remnant of everything we fought for.

The original theory on not helping Kurds directly I believe was that it would undermine our relationships with Turkey and Iran.  Now Turkey seems to be a full fledged enemy and Iran has been that for 35 years.  It seems to me we could use an ally (and a base) in the region, if invited and the terms were right.  Maybe there are other considerations.  I wish we had a Commander in Chief looking our for our interests.
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G M
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« Reply #406 on: August 06, 2014, 05:31:24 PM »

http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/isis-exterminating-minorities-iraq

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #407 on: August 07, 2014, 12:12:12 PM »

U.S. Weighs Iraq Airstrikes, Citing Crisis

President Obama is considering airstrikes or airdrops of food and medicine to address a humanitarian crisis among some 40,000 religious minorities in Iraq who have been dying of heat and thirst on a mountaintop after death threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, administration officials said on Thursday.

The president, in meetings with his national security team at the White House on Thursday morning, has been weighing a series of options ranging from dropping humanitarian supplies on Mount Sinjar to military strikes on the fighters from ISIS now at the base of the mountain, a senior administration official said.

“There could be a humanitarian catastrophe there,” a second administration official said, adding that a decision from Mr. Obama was expected “imminently — this could be a fast-moving train.”

READ MORE »
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/08/world/middleeast/obama-weighs-military-strikes-to-aid-trapped-iraqis-officials-say.html?emc=edit_na_20140807

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G M
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« Reply #408 on: August 07, 2014, 05:08:36 PM »

Amazing how quickly the "responsibility to protect" disappeared and yet this administration still makes choices that empower jihadists globally.
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objectivist1
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« Reply #409 on: August 08, 2014, 06:57:59 AM »

World Ignores Christian Exodus from Islamic World

Posted By Raymond Ibrahim On August 8, 2014

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

While the world fixates on the conflict between Israel and Hamas—and while most mainstream media demonize Israel for trying to survive amid a sea of Arab-Islamic hostility—similar or worse tragedies continue to go virtually ignored.

One of the most ancient Christian communities in the world, that of Iraq—which already had been decimated over the last decade, by Islamic forces unleashed after the ousting of Saddam Hussein—has now been wiped out entirely by the new “caliphate,” the so-called Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym “ISIS.”

As Reuters reported:

Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul….

It said Christians who wanted to remain in the “caliphate” that the Islamic State declared this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract—a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya.”

“We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement said.

The amount of jizya-money demanded was $450 a month, an exorbitant sum for Iraq.

Hours after the demand for jizya was made, Islamists began painting the letter “n” on Christian homes in Mosul—in Arabic, Christians are known as “Nasara,” or “Nazarenes”—signaling them out for the slaughter to come.

Most Christians have since fled. A one-minute video in Arabic of their exodus appears here—women and children weeping as they flee their homes—a video that will not be shown by any Western mainstream media outlet, busy as they are depicting instead nonstop images of Palestinian women and children.

The Syrian Orthodox bishop of Mosul said that what is happening to the Christians of Mosul is nothing less than “genocide… not to mention the slaughters and rapes not being reported… Forcing more than a thousand Christian families out of Mosul, and turning Christian churches into Muslim mosques, is equivalent to genocide.”  Of course, the word genocide means to kill or make extinct a people.

Others were not as lucky to flee. According to Iraqi human rights activist Hena Edward, a great many older and disabled Iraqis, unable to pay the jizya or join the exodus, have opted to convert to Islam.

Meanwhile, the jihadis continue destroying churches and other ancient Christian holy sites in the name of their religion, and murdering any Christians they can find. Among other acts, they torched an 1800 year old church in Mosul, stormed a fourth century monastery—formerly one of Iraq’s best known Christian landmarks—and expelling its resident monks.

Most recently, in Syrian regions under the Islamic State’s control, eight Christians were reportedly crucified.

The Islamic State’s call for Christians to pay jizya is not simply about money. It is about subjugation. Most Western media reporting on this recent call for jizya have failed to explain the accompanying dhimma contract Christians must also abide by. According to the Islamic State, “We offer them [Christians] three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”

The “dhimma contract” is a reference to the Conditions of Omar, an Islamic text attributed to the caliph of the same name that forces Christians to live according to third class citizen status.

In fact, several months back, when the Islamic State was still called “ISIS,” it applied the Conditions of Omar on the Christian minorities of Raqqa, Syria. The Islamic group had issued a directive

citing the Islamic concept of “dhimma”, [which] requires Christians in the city to pay tax of around half an ounce (14g) of pure gold in exchange for their safety. It says Christians must not make renovations to churches, display crosses or other religious symbols outside churches, ring church bells or pray in public. Christians must not carry arms, and must follow other rules imposed by ISIS… “If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword,” the statement said [emphasis added].

The persecution and exodus of Christians is hardly limited to Iraq. In 2011, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom noted: “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year.” In our lifetime alone “Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt,” all Muslim majority nations.

Under Saddam Hussein, and before the 2003 U.S. “liberation” of Iraq, more than a million Christians lived in Iraq; Mosul had some 60,000 Christians. Today there are reportedly none thanks to the new Muslim “caliphate.”

In Egypt, some 100,000 Christian Copts fled their homeland soon after the “Arab Spring.” But even before that, the Coptic Orthodox Church lamented the “repeated incidents of displacement of Copts from their homes, whether by force or threat. Displacements began in Ameriya [62 Christian families evicted], then they stretched to Dahshur [120 Christian families evicted], and today terror and threats have reached the hearts and souls of our Coptic children in Sinai.”

In late 2012, it was reported that the last Christian in the city of Homs, Syria—which had a Christian population of some 80,000 before jihadis came—was murdered. An escaped teenage Syrian girl said: “We left because they were trying to kill us… because we were Christians…. Those who were our neighbors turned against us. At the end, when we ran away, we went through balconies. We did not even dare go out on the street in front of our house.”

In the African nation of Mali, after a 2012 Islamic coup, as many as 200,000 Christians fled. According to reports, “the church in Mali faces being eradicated,” especially in the north “where rebels want to establish an independent Islamist state and drive Christians out… there have been house to house searches for Christians who might be in hiding, church and Christian property has been looted or destroyed, and people tortured into revealing any Christian relatives.” At least one pastor was beheaded.

One can go on and on:

•In Ethiopia, after a Christian was accused of desecrating a Koran, thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes when “Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes.”

•In the Ivory Coast—where Christians have been crucified—Islamic rebels “massacred hundreds and displaced tens of thousands” of Christians.

•In Libya, Islamic rebels forced several Christian nun orders serving the sick and needy since 1921 to flee and killed several Coptic Christians, causing that community also to flee.

•In Muslim-majority northern Nigeria, where hardly a Sunday passes without a church bombing, Christians are fleeing by the thousands; one region has been emptied of 95% of its Christian population.

•In Pakistan, after a Christian child was falsely accused of desecrating a Koran and Muslims went on an anti-Christian rampage, an entire Christian village—men, women, and children—was forced to flee into the nearby woods, where they built a church, to permanently reside there.

Despite all these atrocities, exoduses, and even genocides, the mainstream media seems to spend every available moment airing images of displaced Palestinians and demonizing Israel for trying to defend itself. Yet Israel does not kill Palestinians because of their religion or any other personal aspects. It does so in the context of being rocketed and trying to defend itself from terrorism.

On the other hand, all the crimes being committed by Muslims against Christians are simply motivated by religious hate, because the Christians are Christian.

It is to the mainstream media’s great shame that those who slaughter, behead, crucify, and displace people for no other reason than because they are Christian, rarely if ever get media coverage, while a nation such as Israel, which kills only in the context of self-defense, and not out of religious bigotry, is constantly demonized.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #410 on: August 08, 2014, 03:58:32 PM »



http://www.catholic.org/news/international/middle_east/story.php?id=56481
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #411 on: August 09, 2014, 12:39:42 PM »


Summary

The United States, Turkey and Iran are re-evaluating military support for Iraq's federal Kurdish region as Islamist State militants continue their attacks on Kurdish targets. Discussions of aid and direct military support for the Kurds are more complicated than similar decisions about arming and supporting the Iraqi army. The Kurdistan Regional Government's status as a federal region, along with regional concerns relating to Kurdish independence and militancy in neighboring Turkey and Iran, will limit the degree to which Washington and regional capitals are willing to arm Iraq's Kurds to engage Islamic State militants beyond limited airstrikes.

Analysis

Iraq's Kurdish region faces serious geographic challenges when it comes to defense. The territory is roughly crescent-shaped. The interior of the crescent, which faces Iraq's disputed territories, starts as flat, open desert and steadily elevates into hills, ultimately transitioning to mountains that anchor the borders with Turkey and Iran. Much of the region's critical energy infrastructure, both within the Kurdistan Regional Government proper and in the disputed regions surrounding Kirkuk, lies near areas of Iraqi territory now claimed by Islamic State militants and in open desert. Critical cities such as Dohuk, Arbil and Kirkuk are also nestled either within or close to the disputed territories on the crescent's interior border.

Any advance by the Islamic State into peshmerga-controlled territory immediately puts the militants dangerously close to these strategic areas because of the lack of geographic depth in this highly contested borderland. Major urban centers, including the regional capital, Arbil, and Sulaimaniyah, and the region's energy infrastructure already have a more robust Kurdish peshmerga defensive presence. But Islamic State militants will continue to launch opportunistic strikes along the Kurdistan Regional Government's long southern border, leveraging their mobility to launch surprise attacks where possible against Kurdish forces along the border.

Iraq's Population Density By Ethnic and Sectarian Divisions

Click to Enlarge

This puts the defending peshmerga at a disadvantage. They have to protect an arcing border that stretches for more than 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles), forcing the peshmerga to travel farther to defend their positions while the Islamic State enjoys interior lines of movement. Additionally, the open land of the desert plays to the Islamic State's strength: mobility. The militants can use their fast-traveling technicals -- pickup trucks outfitted with heavy weaponry -- and mass quickly on any weak points along the defensive perimeter. This problem is exacerbated for the peshmerga because they are defending recently gained territory and are thus readjusting their entire security presence to consolidate places in Kirkuk and Diyala provinces, which were under an immediate threat from the Islamic State earlier in the conflict. With the peshmerga overstretched, the Islamic State took advantage of these security gaps and pushed in unexpected directions from the Mosul area and areas farther west.

Turkey, Iran and the United States each have a fundamental interest in preventing a large-scale assault by Islamic State militants on Iraq's federal Kurdish region. International support for the Kurds, somewhat in conjunction with Baghdad, is likely to continue focusing on preventing a wholesale collapse of the Kurdish region or the loss of large swaths of Kurdish territory to Islamic State militants. Short of this threat, which Stratfor still considers to be unlikely at this time, additional outside assistance to Kurdish forces is likely to be limited to airdrops of humanitarian aid and targeted airstrikes against Islamic State targets.

The Americans and Turks are also likely to consider hitting Islamic State artillery positions. It will be far harder for the Islamic State to attack well-entrenched troops if it loses its artillery. There is also ongoing intelligence sharing and coordination, but support will consist of the minimum necessary to enable the Kurds to protect their core territory, and the United States and Turkey are unlikely to commit forces for combat. However, this support could expand into the realm of financial support, ammunition and logistics and combat-enabling hardware, such as night vision equipment and body armor.

Both Turkey and Iran are reluctant to give Kurdish forces heavy arms and supplies given their respective concerns regarding domestic Kurdish separatist groups. The United States is also keen to avoid alienating Iraq's Sunni and Shiite Arab groups, which are currently locked in difficult political negotiations in Baghdad. Ankara, Tehran and Washington will provide minor assistance geared toward preventing the establishment of an Islamic State launching ground in the Kurdish region for strikes against Turkish, Iranian or energy targets, but there is a clear consensus against providing enough material help to support future Kurdish independence claims or embolden the Kurds to engage Arab Iraqi competitors with more robust conventional military capabilities.

Peshmerga forces are scrambling again to reorient and establish blocking positions in critical areas. When able to concentrate forces, and with foreign support and assurances, the peshmerga will have the advantage. Moreover, deeper into Kurdish territory the terrain becomes more rugged and favors defensive positions. However, the Islamic State still has its mobility, shorter lines and a long border to take advantage of, and many oil blocks are close enough to be threatened by potential raids.       

Read more: Concerns About Emboldening Iraqi Kurds Will Limit Military Aid | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #412 on: August 09, 2014, 12:43:35 PM »

second post

 Monitoring the Islamic State's 'Flood'
Security Weekly
Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 03:03 Print Text Size
Stratfor

By Scott Stewart

The Islamic State recently released the second edition of its English-language Dabiq magazine to coincide with the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan's month of fasting. The first edition of Dabiq, released near the beginning of Ramadan, was titled "The Return of Khilafah" to celebrate the Islamic State's declaration of a caliphate by its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The second edition of the magazine was titled "The Flood" and had a twofold purpose. The first was to document the successes that the Islamic State had enjoyed on the battlefield during the month of Ramadan in both Iraq and Syria. The second was to use those successes to bolster the group's claim to be the true leader not only of the jihadist world but of all Muslims. Using the example of the prophet Noah to support its strictly dualistic ideology, the group argues that Muslims have the choice of either supporting the Islamic State or perishing as the group overwhelms the earth like Noah's flood.

A significant portion of the magazine is devoted to tying these two concepts together through a process known as mubahalah, a traditional Islamic process for resolving an intractable religious dispute in which the two parties ask Allah to bless the side telling the truth and curse the errant party. In a seven-part article titled "The Flood of the Mubahalah," the magazine outlines how the Islamic State's spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, invoked mubahalah in the dispute between his organization and its detractors, which include Jabhat al-Nusra and al Qaeda's current leadership under Ayman al-Zawahiri. The article claims mubahalah was invoked on two occasions: on Islamic dates corresponding to dates in March and April 2014. The article further claimed that Osama bin Laden and the rest of the former al Qaeda leadership had praised the Islamic state it established before the new leadership criticized it.

The editors of Dabiq argue that the Islamic State's gains on the battlefield since mubahalah was declared -- and specifically the "flood" it had unleashed on parts of Iraq and Syria during the month of Ramadan -- serve as proof that Allah blessed the Islamic State. The successes therefore prove that the Islamic State was on the right side of its conflict with al Qaeda and the other groups. Because of this, all Muslims are supposed to support the group. Obviously, such claims are sure to offend Muslims who do not support the Islamic State, but the group has shown repeatedly that it is not afraid to offend other Muslims.
Differences with al Qaeda

Even in the midst of claiming that events have proved that Allah has blessed the Islamic State, this edition of Dabiq also served to underscore some of the fundamental tactical differences between the group and al Qaeda.

In the foreword section to the second edition, the leadership of the Islamic State urged Muslims to perform hijra, or immigrate to the Islamic state from wherever they are currently living, whether in Muslim lands or lands controlled by infidels. The editors urged readers to "Rush to the shade of the Islamic State with your parents, siblings, spouses, and children. There are homes here for you and your families. You can be a major contributor towards the liberation of Makkah, Madinah, and al-Quds. Would you not like to reach Judgment Day with these grand deeds in your scales. (sic)" 

This highlights that the Islamic State in all its iterations leading up to its current form has always been a mass movement with ties to a specific section of geography. While al Qaeda was founded by a wealthy Saudi and designed to be a global, elite vanguard organization, Jamaat al-Tawhid and Jihad (the Islamic State's original name) was founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian street thug, and the organization reflected its founder's more regional focus along with his brutality and vicious hatred of Shia. The differences between the two organizations were clearly reflected in al-Zawahiri's letter to al-Zarqawi, a document the U.S. government released in October 2005.

In that letter, al-Zawahiri urged al-Zarqawi to refrain from high-profile hostage execution videos. "Among the things which the feelings of the Muslim populace who love and support you will never find palatable... are the scenes of slaughtering the hostages," al-Zawahiri wrote. "You shouldn't be deceived by the praise of some of the zealous young men and their description of you as the sheikh of the slaughterers, etc. They do not express the general view of the admirer and the supporter of the resistance in Iraq, and of you in particular."

Al-Zawahiri also emphasized taking a pragmatic approach, rather than stubborn adherence to ideology, to achieve al Qaeda's goals. According to al-Zawahiri, if al Qaeda in Iraq was going to become a sustained force in the region that was capable of eventually creating an Islamic polity, it needed to gain popular support, tolerate the Shia, use the ideology card judiciously and understand that the bulk of Muslims (especially the ulema) do not share the jihadist ideology.

Over the past month, the Islamic State has published numerous videos of its fighters executing captured Iraqi soldiers and destroying Shiite mosques and shrines. The organization clearly has not changed its approach over the past decade despite the entreaties of figures such as al-Zawahiri. This intransigence has also been a significant contributor to the group's many disputes with other rebel groups in Syria.

By urging Muslims to immigrate to the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State demonstrated another difference from al Qaeda. For several years now, the al Qaeda core and its most effective regional franchise, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have been telling jihadists in the West to stay home and conduct attacks where they live rather than risk traveling to places such as Pakistan or Yemen to receive training at militant camps. These calls for grassroots operatives to conduct attacks in the West reflect not only the pressure these groups have been under in Pakistan and Yemen but also al Qaeda's fixation on attempting to strike Western countries that support the rulers of Muslim countries.

While the Islamic State conducted a multitude of terrorist and insurgent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, it has not attempted to strike outside of its home region. Even its terrorist attacks outside of Iraq and Syria have been in places such as Jordan, al-Zarqawi's home country, or Lebanon. When U.S. forces pulled out of Iraq, the Islamic State continued attacking the Iraqi government and eventually became involved in the civil war in Syria. It has remained focused on fighting its enemies inside the region -- including the Syrian and Iraqi regimes and other rebel groups -- but has not attempted attacks in the United States or Europe.
Terrorism, Insurgency and Beyond

In the Gauging the Jihadist Movement series published in December 2013, Stratfor noted that jihadists are militants and that they use various types of military operations, including terrorism and insurgent tactics. The al Qaeda core was always heavily focused on terrorism, but as a small vanguard organization, it was never large enough to become a meaningful insurgent force or to establish an Islamic polity itself.

Many of the regional jihadist groups that joined al Qaeda's global constellation, such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have progressed beyond terrorism into insurgency. But most of these attempts have not fared well and have been put down by the host country with outside assistance. Even al Qaeda in Iraq, a predecessor of the Islamic State that was aligned with al Qaeda until February, was heavily damaged and nearly destroyed after it moved from terrorism to insurgency in Iraq and declared an Islamic state in Iraq in 2006. It was only after the U.S. drawdown and withdrawal from Iraq and the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011 that the group managed to regain its strength and again assert its claim to rule an Islamic state. It has become a formidable military force, capable not only of conducting terrorist operations and hit-and-run insurgent attacks but also of taking and holding territory, something the al Qaeda core group has never been able to do.

So far, the Islamic State has been able to claim its battlefield successes as proof of Allah's blessing. However, it has not yet received the global recognition and acceptance it hoped its declaration of a caliphate would produce. The number of jihadist groups swearing allegiance to the Islamic State has remained quite limited to date, and the publishing of the second edition of Dabiq does not seem to have changed that reality.

Political changes appear to be happening in Iraq that could very well result in increasing cooperation between the Iraqi government, the Sunni tribal sheikhs and the Iraqi Kurds. Once this happens, it will be important to watch and see if the Islamic State is able to defend the territorial gains it has made in Iraq over the past few months -- much less continue its efforts to overwhelm the world like a flood.

Read more: Monitoring the Islamic State's 'Flood' | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook
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« Reply #413 on: August 09, 2014, 05:18:37 PM »

Third post

http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140807/NEWS08/308070078/Top-U-S-officer-Iraq-We-must-neutralize-enemy-
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« Reply #414 on: August 10, 2014, 11:52:27 PM »



http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20140808/NEWS08/308080084/Why-Obama-s-campaign-Iraq-could-require-15-000-troops?sf29602611=1
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« Reply #415 on: August 11, 2014, 10:00:14 AM »

U.S. Actions in Iraq Fueled Rise of a Rebel
Baghdadi of ISIS Pushes an Islamist Crusade

By TIM ARANGO and ERIC SCHMITTAUG. 10, 2014


BAGHDAD — When American forces raided a home near Falluja during the turbulent 2004 offensive against the Iraqi Sunni insurgency, they got the hard-core militants they had been looking for. They also picked up an apparent hanger-on, an Iraqi man in his early 30s whom they knew nothing about.

The Americans duly registered his name as they processed him and the others at the Camp Bucca detention center: Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry.

That once-peripheral figure has become known to the world now as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliph of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the architect of its violent campaign to redraw the map of the Middle East.

“He was a street thug when we picked him up in 2004,” said a Pentagon official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters. “It’s hard to imagine we could have had a crystal ball then that would tell us he’d become head of ISIS.”

At every turn, Mr. Baghdadi’s rise has been shaped by the United States’ involvement in Iraq — most of the political changes that fueled his fight, or led to his promotion, were born directly from some American action. And now he has forced a new chapter of that intervention, after ISIS’ military successes and brutal massacres of minorities in its advance prompted President Obama to order airstrikes in Iraq.

Mr. Baghdadi has seemed to revel in the fight, promising that ISIS would soon be in “direct confrontation” with the United States.

Still, when he first latched on to Al Qaeda, in the early years of the American occupation, it was not as a fighter, but rather as a religious figure. He has since declared himself caliph of the Islamic world, and pressed a violent campaign to root out religious minorities, like Shiites and Yazidis, that has brought condemnation even from Qaeda leaders.

Despite his reach for global stature, Mr. Baghdadi, in his early 40s, in many ways has remained more mysterious than any of the major jihadi figures who preceded him.

American and Iraqi officials have teams of intelligence analysts and operatives dedicated to stalking him, but have had little success in piecing together the arc of his life. And his recent appearance at a mosque in Mosul to deliver a sermon, a video of which was distributed online, was the first time many of his followers had ever seen him.

Mr. Baghdadi is said to have a doctorate in Islamic studies from a university in Baghdad, and was a mosque preacher in his hometown, Samarra. He also has an attractive pedigree, claiming to trace his ancestry to the Quraysh Tribe of the Prophet Muhammad.

Beyond that, almost every biographical point about Mr. Baghdadi is occluded by some confusion or another.

The Pentagon says that Mr. Baghdadi, after being arrested in Falluja in early 2004, was released that December with a large group of other prisoners deemed low level. But Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi scholar who has researched Mr. Baghdadi’s life, sometimes on behalf of Iraqi intelligence, said that Mr. Baghdadi had spent five years in an American detention facility where, like many ISIS fighters now on the battlefield, he became more radicalized.


Mr. Hashimi said that Mr. Baghdadi had grown up in a poor family in a farming village near Samarra, and that his family was Sufi — a strain of Islam known for its tolerance. He said Mr. Baghdadi had come to Baghdad in the early 1990s, and over time became more radical.

Early in the insurgency, he gravitated toward a new jihadi group led by the flamboyant Jordanian militant operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Though Mr. Zarqawi’s group, Al Qaeda in Iraq, began as a mostly Iraqi insurgent organization, it claimed allegiance to the global Qaeda leadership, and over the years brought in more and more foreign leadership figures.

It is unclear how much prominence Mr. Baghdadi enjoyed under Mr. Zarqawi. Bruce Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer now at the Brookings Institution, recently wrote that Mr. Baghdadi had spent several years in Afghanistan, working alongside Mr. Zarqawi. But some officials say the American intelligence community does not believe Mr. Baghdadi has ever set foot outside the conflict zones of Iraq and Syria, and that he was never particularly close to Mr. Zarqawi.

The American operation that killed Mr. Zarqawi in 2006 was a huge blow to the organization’s leadership. But it was years later that Mr. Baghdadi got his chance to take the reins.

As the Americans were winding down their war in Iraq, they focused on trying to wipe out Al Qaeda in Iraq’s remaining leadership. In April 2010, a joint operation by Iraqi and American forces made the biggest strike against the group in years, killing its top two figures near Tikrit.

A month later, the group issued a statement announcing new leadership, and Mr. Baghdadi was at the top of the list. The Western intelligence community scrambled for information.


“Any idea who these guys are?” an analyst at Stratfor, a private intelligence company that then worked for the American government in Iraq, wrote in an email that has since been released by WikiLeaks. “These are likely nom de guerres, but are they associated with anyone we know?”

In June 2010, Stratfor published a report on the group that considered its prospects in the wake of the killings of the top leadership. The report stated, “the militant organization’s future for success looks bleak.”

Still, the report said, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq, then an alternative name for Al Qaeda in Iraq, “I.S.I.’s intent to establish an Islamic caliphate in Iraq has not diminished.”

The Sunni tribes of eastern Syria and Iraq’s Anbar and Nineveh Provinces have long had ties that run deeper than national boundaries, and ISIS was built on those relationships. Accordingly, as the group’s fortunes waned in Iraq, it found a new opportunity in the fight against Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria.

As more moderate Syrian rebel groups were beaten down by the Syrian security forces and their allies, ISIS increasingly took control of the fight, in part on the strength of weapons and funding from its operations in Iraq and from jihadist supporters in the Arab world.  That fact has led American lawmakers and political figures, including former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to accuse President Obama of aiding ISIS’ rise in two ways: first by completely withdrawing American troops from Iraq in 2011, then by hesitating to arm more moderate Syrian opposition groups early in that conflict.

“I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if we had committed to empowering the moderate Syrian opposition last year,” Representative Eliot L. Engel, the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said during a recent hearing on the crisis in Iraq. “Would ISIS have grown as it did?”

But well before then, American actions were critical to Mr. Baghdadi’s rise in more direct ways. He is Iraqi to the core, and his extremist ideology was sharpened and refined in the crucible of the American occupation.

The American invasion presented Mr. Baghdadi and his allies with a ready-made enemy and recruiting draw. And the American ouster of Saddam Hussein, whose brutal dictatorship had kept a lid on extremist Islamist movements, gave Mr. Baghdadi the freedom for his radical views to flourish.

In contrast to Mr. Zarqawi, who increasingly looked outside Iraq for leadership help, Mr. Baghdadi has surrounded himself by a tight clique of former Baath Party military and intelligence officers from the Hussein regime who know how to fight.

Analysts and Iraqi intelligence officers believe that after Mr. Baghdadi took over the organization he appointed a Hussein-era officer, a man known as Hajji Bakr, as his military commander, overseeing operations and a military council that included three other officers of the former regime’s security forces.

Hajji Bakr was believed to have been killed last year in Syria. Analysts believe that he and at least two of the three other men on the military council were held at various times by the Americans at Camp Bucca.


Mr. Baghdadi has been criticized by some in the wider jihadi community for his reliance on former Baathists. But for many others, Mr. Baghdadi’s successes have trumped these critiques.


The victories gained by the militant group calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria were built on months of maneuvering along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which define a region known as the cradle of civilization.


“He has credibility because he runs half of Iraq and half of Syria,” said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism researcher at the New American Foundation.

Syria may have been a temporary refuge and proving ground, but Iraq has always been his stronghold and his most important source of financing. Now, it has become the main venue for Mr. Baghdadi’s state-building exercise, as well.

Although the group’s capture of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, appeared to catch the American intelligence community and the Iraqi government by surprise, Mr. Baghdadi’s mafia-like operations in the city had long been crucial to his strategy of establishing the Islamic caliphate.

His group earned an estimated $12 million a month, according to American officials, from extortion schemes in Mosul, which it used to finance operations in Syria. Before June, ISIS controlled neighborhoods of the city by night, collecting money and slipping in to the countryside by day.


The United Nations Security Council is considering new measures aimed at crippling the group’s finances, according to Reuters, by threatening sanctions on supporters. Such action is likely to have little effect because, by now, the group is almost entirely self-financing, through its seizing oil fields, extortion and tax collection in the territories it controls. As it gains territory in Iraq, it has found new ways to generate revenue. For instance, recently in Hawija, a village near Kirkuk, the group demanded that all former soldiers or police officers pay an $850 “repentance fine.”

Though he has captured territory through brutal means, Mr. Baghdadi has also taken practical steps at state-building, and even shown a lighter side. In Mosul, ISIS has held a “fun day” for kids, distributed gifts and food during Eid al-Fitr, held Quran recitation competitions, started bus services and opened schools.

Mr. Baghdadi appears to be drawing on a famous jihadi text that has long inspired Al Qaeda: “The Management of Savagery,” written by a Saudi named Abu Bakr Naji.

Mr. Fishman called the text, “Che Guevara warmed over for jihadis.” William McCants, an analyst at the Brookings Institution who in 2005, as a fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, translated the book in to English, once described it as “the seven highly effective habits of jihadi leaders.”

American officials say Mr. Baghdadi runs a more efficient organization than Mr. Zarqawi did, and has unchallenged control over the organization, with authority delegated to his lieutenants. “He doesn’t have to sign off on every detail,” said one senior United States counterterrorism official. “He gives them more discretion and flexibility.”

A senior Pentagon official said of Mr. Baghdadi, with grudging admiration: “He’s done a good job of rallying and organizing a beaten-down organization. But he may now be overreaching.”

But even before the civil war in Syria presented him with a growth opportunity, Mr. Baghdadi had been taking steps in Iraq — something akin to a corporate restructuring — that laid the foundation for the group’s resurgence, just as the Americans were leaving. He picked off rivals through assassinations, orchestrated prison breaks to replenish his ranks of fighters and diversified his sources of funding through extortion, to wean the group off outside funding from Al Qaeda’s central authorities.

“He was preparing to split from Al Qaeda,” Mr. Hashimi said.

Now Mr. Baghdadi commands not just a terrorist organization, but, according to Brett McGurk, the top State Department official on Iraq policy, “a full blown army.”

Speaking at a recent congressional hearing, Mr. McGurk said, “it is worse than Al Qaeda.”
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« Reply #416 on: August 12, 2014, 10:58:08 AM »



Isis consolidates
Patrick Cockburn

As the attention of the world focused on Ukraine and Gaza, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) captured a third of Syria in addition to the quarter of Iraq it had seized in June. The frontiers of the new Caliphate declared by Isis on 29 June are expanding by the day and now cover an area larger than Great Britain and inhabited by at least six million people, a population larger than that of Denmark, Finland or Ireland. In a few weeks of fighting in Syria Isis has established itself as the dominant force in the Syrian opposition, routing the official al-Qaida affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor and executing its local commander as he tried to flee. In northern Syria some five thousand Isis fighters are using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army in Mosul to besiege half a million Kurds in their enclave at Kobani on the Turkish border. In central Syria, near Palmyra, Isis fought the Syrian army as it overran the al-Shaer gasfield, one of the largest in the country, in a surprise assault that left an estimated three hundred soldiers and civilians dead. Repeated government counter-attacks finally retook the gasfield but Isis still controls most of Syria’s oil and gas production. The Caliphate may be poor and isolated but its oil wells and control of crucial roads provide a steady income in addition to the plunder of war.

The birth of the new state is the most radical change to the political geography of the Middle East since the Sykes-Picot Agreement was implemented in the aftermath of the First World War. Yet this explosive transformation has created surprisingly little alarm internationally or even among those in Iraq and Syria not yet under the rule of Isis. Politicians and diplomats tend to treat Isis as if it is a Bedouin raiding party that appears dramatically from the desert, wins spectacular victories and then retreats to its strongholds leaving the status quo little changed. Such a scenario is conceivable but is getting less and less likely as Isis consolidates its hold on its new conquests in an area that may soon stretch from Iran to the Mediterranean.

The very speed and unexpectedness of its rise make it easy for Western and regional leaders to hope that the fall of Isis and the implosion of the Caliphate might be equally sudden and swift. But all the evidence is that this is wishful thinking and the trend is in the other direction, with the opponents of Isis becoming weaker and less capable of resistance: in Iraq the army shows no signs of recovering from its earlier defeats and has failed to launch a single successful counter-attack; in Syria the other opposition groups, including the battle-hardened fighters of al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, are demoralised and disintegrating as they are squeezed between Isis and the Assad government. Karen Koning Abuzayd, a member of the UN’s Commission of Inquiry in Syria, says that more and more Syrian rebels are defecting to Isis: ‘They see it’s better, these guys are strong, these guys are winning battles, they were taking territory, they have money, they can train us.’ This is bad news for the government, which barely held off an assault in 2012 and 2013 by rebels less well trained, organised and armed than Isis; it will have real difficulties stopping the forces of the Caliphate advancing west.

In Baghdad there was shock and terror on 10 June at the fall of Mosul and as people realised that trucks packed with Isis gunmen were only an hour’s drive away. But instead of assaulting Baghdad, Isis took most of Anbar, the vast Sunni province that sprawls across western Iraq on either side of the Euphrates. In Baghdad, with its mostly Shia population of seven million, people know what to expect if the murderously anti-Shia Isis forces capture the city, but they take heart from the fact that the calamity has not happened yet. ‘We were frightened by the military disaster at first but we Baghdadis have got used to crises over the last 35 years,’ one woman said. Even with Isis at the gates, Iraqi politicians have gone on playing political games as they move ponderously towards replacing the discredited prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

‘It is truly surreal,’ a former Iraqi minister said. ‘When you speak to any political leader in Baghdad they talk as if they had not just lost half the country.’ Volunteers had gone to the front after a fatwa from the grand ayatollah, Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most influential Shia cleric. But these militiamen are now streaming back to their homes, complaining that they were half-starved and forced to use their own weapons and buy their own ammunition. The only large-scale counter-attack launched by the regular army and the newly raised Shia militia was a disastrous foray into Tikrit on 15 July that was ambushed and defeated with heavy losses. There is no sign that the dysfunctional nature of the Iraqi army has changed. ‘They were using just one helicopter in support of the troops in Tikrit,’ the former minister said, ‘so I wonder what on earth happened to the 140 helicopters the Iraqi state has bought in recent years?’

Probably the money for the missing 139 helicopters was simply stolen. There are other wholly corrupt states in the world but few of them have oil revenues of $100 billion a year to steal from. The sole aim of many officials has long been to get the largest kickback possible and they did not much care if jihadi groups did the same. I met a Turkish businessman in Baghdad who said he had had a large construction contract in Mosul over the last few years. The local emir or leader of Isis, then known as al-Qaida in Iraq, demanded $500,000 a month in protection money from the company. ‘I complained again and again about this to the government in Baghdad,’ the businessman said, ‘but they would do nothing about it except to say that I could add the money I paid al-Qaida to the contract price.’ The emir was soon killed and his successor demanded that the protection money be increased to $1 million a month. The businessman refused to pay and one of his Iraqi employees was killed; he withdrew his Turkish staff and his equipment to Turkey. ‘Later I got a message from al-Qaida saying that the price was back down to $500,000 and I could come back,’ he said. This was some time before Isis captured the city.

In the face of these failures Iraq’s Shia majority is taking comfort from two beliefs that, if true, would mean the present situation is not as dangerous as it looks. They argue that Iraq’s Sunnis have risen in revolt and Isis fighters are only the shock troops or vanguard of an uprising provoked by the anti-Sunni policies and actions of Maliki. Once he is replaced, as is almost certain, Baghdad will offer the Sunnis a new power-sharing agreement with regional autonomy similar to that enjoyed by the Kurds. Then the Sunni tribes, former military officers and Baathists who have allowed Isis to take the lead in the Sunni revolt will turn on their ferocious allies. Despite all signs to the contrary, Shia at all levels are putting faith in this myth, that Isis is weak and can be easily discarded by Sunni moderates once they’ve achieved their goals. One Shia said to me: ‘I wonder if Isis really exists.’

Unfortunately, Isis not only exists but is an efficient and ruthless organisation that has no intention of waiting for its Sunni allies to betray it. In Mosul it demanded that all opposition fighters swear allegiance to the Caliphate or give up their weapons. In late June and early July they detained between 15 to 20 former officers from Saddam Hussein’s time, including two generals. Groups that had put up pictures of Saddam were told to take them down or face the consequences. ‘It doesn’t seem likely,’ Aymenn al-Tamimi, an expert on jihadists, said, ‘that the rest of the Sunni military opposition will be able to turn against Isis successfully. If they do, they will have to act as quickly as possible before Isis gets too strong.’ He points out that the supposedly more moderate wing of the Sunni opposition had done nothing to stop the remnants of the ancient Christian community in Mosul from being forced to flee after Isis told them they had to convert to Islam, pay a special tax or be killed. Members of other sects and ethnic groups denounced as Shia or polytheists are being persecuted, imprisoned and murdered. The moment is passing when the non-Isis opposition could successfully mount a challenge.

The Iraqi Shia offer another explanation for the way their army disintegrated: it was stabbed in the back by the Kurds. Seeking to shift the blame from himself, Maliki claims that Erbil, the Kurdish capital, ‘is a headquarters for Isis, Baathists, al-Qaida and terrorists’. Many Shia believe this: it makes them feel that their security forces (nominally 350,000 soldiers and 650,000 police) failed because they were betrayed and not because they wouldn’t fight. One Iraqi told me he was at an iftar meal during Ramadan ‘with a hundred Shia professional people, mostly doctors and engineers and they all took the stab-in-the-back theory for granted as an explanation for what went wrong’. The confrontation with the Kurds is important because it makes it impossible to create a united front against Isis. The Kurdish leader, Massoud Barzani, took advantage of the Iraqi army’s flight to seize all the territories, including the city of Kirkuk, which have been in dispute between Kurds and Arabs since 2003. He now has a 600-mile common frontier with the Caliphate and is an obvious ally for Baghdad, where Kurds make up part of the government. By trying to scapegoat the Kurds, Maliki is ensuring that the Shia will have no allies in their confrontation with Isis if it resumes its attack in the direction of Baghdad. Isis and their Sunni allies have been surprised by the military weakness of the Baghdad government. They are unlikely to be satisfied with regional autonomy for Sunni provinces and a larger share of jobs and oil revenues. Their uprising has turned into a full counter-revolution that aims to take back power over all of Iraq.

At the moment Baghdad has a phoney war atmosphere like London or Paris in late 1939 or early 1940, and for similar reasons. People had feared an imminent battle for the capital after the fall of Mosul, but it hasn’t happened yet and optimists hope it won’t happen at all. Life is more uncomfortable than it used to be, with only four hours of electricity on some days, but at least war hasn’t yet come to the heart of the city. Nevertheless, some form of military attack, direct or indirect, will probably happen once Isis has consolidated its hold on the territory it has just conquered: it sees its victories as divinely inspired. It believes in killing or expelling Shia rather than negotiating with them, as it has shown in Mosul. Some Shia leaders may calculate that the US or Iran will always intervene to save Baghdad, but both powers are showing reluctance to plunge into the Iraqi quagmire in support of a dysfunctional government.

Iraq’s Shia leaders haven’t grappled with the fact that their domination over the Iraqi state, brought about by the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein, is finished, and only a Shia rump is left. It ended because of their own incompetence and corruption and because the Sunni uprising in Syria in 2011 destabilised the sectarian balance of power in Iraq. Three years on, the Isis-led Sunni victory in Iraq threatens to break the military stalemate in Syria. Assad has been slowly pushing back against a weakening opposition: in Damascus and its outskirts, the Qalamoun mountains along the Lebanese border and Homs, government forces have been advancing slowly and are close to encircling the large rebel enclave in Aleppo. But Assad’s combat troops are noticeably thin on the ground, need to avoid heavy casualties and only have the strength to fight on one front at a time. The government’s tactic is to devastate a rebel-held district with artillery fire and barrel bombs dropped from helicopters, force most of the population to flee, seal off what may now be a sea of ruins and ultimately force the rebels to surrender. But the arrival of large numbers of well-armed Isis fighters fresh from recent successes will be a new and dangerous challenge for Assad. They overran two important Syrian army garrisons in the east in late July. A conspiracy theory, much favoured by the rest of the Syrian opposition and by Western diplomats, that Isis and Assad are in league, has been shown to be false.

Isis may well advance on Aleppo in preference to Baghdad: it’s a softer target and one less likely to provoke international intervention. This will leave the West and its regional allies – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – with a quandary: their official policy is to get rid of Assad, but Isis is now the second strongest military force in Syria; if he falls, it’s in a good position to fill the vacuum. Like the Shia leaders in Baghdad, the US and its allies have responded to the rise of Isis by descending into fantasy. They pretend they are fostering a ‘third force’ of moderate Syrian rebels to fight both Assad and Isis, though in private Western diplomats admit this group doesn’t really exist outside a few beleaguered pockets. Aymenn al-Tamimi confirms that this Western-backed opposition ‘is getting weaker and weaker’; he believes supplying them with more weapons won’t make much difference. Jordan, under pressure from the US and Saudi Arabia, is supposed to be a launching pad for this risky venture but it’s getting cold feet. ‘Jordan is frightened of Isis,’ one Jordanian official in Amman said. ‘Most Jordanians want Assad to win the war.’ He said Jordan is buckling under the strain of coping with vast numbers of Syrian refugees, ‘the equivalent of the entire population of Mexico moving into the US in one year’.
*

The foster parents of Isis and the other Sunni jihadi movements in Iraq and Syria are Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies and Turkey. This doesn’t mean the jihadis didn’t have strong indigenous roots, but their rise was crucially supported by outside Sunni powers. The Saudi and Qatari aid was primarily financial, usually through private donations, which Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, says were central to the Isis takeover of Sunni provinces in northern Iraq: ‘Such things do not happen spontaneously.’ In a speech in London in July, he said the Saudi policy towards jihadis has two contradictory motives: fear of jihadis operating within Saudi Arabia, and a desire to use them against Shia powers abroad. He said the Saudis are ‘deeply attracted towards any militancy which can effectively challenge Shiadom’. It’s unlikely the Sunni community as a whole in Iraq would have lined up behind Isis without the support Saudi Arabia gave directly or indirectly to many Sunni movements. The same is true of Syria, where Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to Washington and head of Saudi intelligence from 2012 to February 2014, was doing everything he could to back the jihadi opposition until his dismissal. Fearful of what they’ve helped create, the Saudis are now veering in the other direction, arresting jihadi volunteers rather than turning a blind eye as they go to Syria and Iraq, but it may be too late. Saudi jihadis have little love for the House of Saud. On 23 July, Isis launched an attack on one of the last Syrian army strongholds in the northern province of Raqqa. It began with a suicide car-bomb attack; the vehicle was driven by a Saudi called Khatab al-Najdi who had put pictures on the car windows of three women held in Saudi prisons, one of whom was Hila al-Kasir, his niece.

Turkey’s role has been different but no less significant than Saudi Arabia’s in aiding Isis and other jihadi groups. Its most important action has been to keep open its 510-mile border with Syria. This gave Isis, al-Nusra and other opposition groups a safe rear base from which to bring in men and weapons. The border crossing points have been the most contested places during the rebels’ ‘civil war within the civil war’. Most foreign jihadis have crossed Turkey on their way to Syria and Iraq. Precise figures are difficult to come by, but Morocco’s Interior Ministry said recently that 1122 Moroccan jihadists have entered Syria, including nine hundred who went in 2013, two hundred of whom were killed. Iraqi security suspects that Turkish military intelligence may have been heavily involved in aiding Isis when it was reconstituting itself in 2011. Reports from the Turkish border say Isis is no longer welcome, but with weapons taken from the Iraqi army and the seizure of Syrian oil and gasfields, it no longer needs so much outside help.

For America, Britain and the Western powers, the rise of Isis and the Caliphate is the ultimate disaster. Whatever they intended by their invasion of Iraq in 2003 and their efforts to get rid of Assad in Syria since 2011, it was not to see the creation of a jihadi state spanning northern Iraq and Syria run by a movement a hundred times bigger and much better organised than the al-Qaida of Osama bin Laden. The war on terror for which civil liberties have been curtailed and hundreds of billions of dollars spent has failed miserably. The belief that Isis is interested only in ‘Muslim against Muslim’ struggles is another instance of wishful thinking: Isis has shown it will fight anybody who doesn’t adhere to its bigoted, puritanical and violent variant of Islam. Where Isis differs from al-Qaida is that it’s a well-run military organisation that is very careful in choosing its targets and the optimum moment to attack them.

Many in Baghdad hope the excesses of Isis – for example, blowing up mosques it deems shrines, like that of Younis (Jonah) in Mosul – will alienate the Sunnis. In the long term they may do just that, but opposing Isis is very dangerous and, for all its brutality, it has brought victory to a defeated and persecuted Sunni community. Even those Sunnis in Mosul who don’t like it are fearful of the return of a vengeful Shia-dominated Iraqi government. So far Baghdad’s response to its defeat has been to bomb Mosul and Tikrit randomly, leaving local people in no doubt about its indifference to their welfare or survival. The fear will not change even if Maliki is replaced by a more conciliatory prime minister. A Sunni in Mosul, writing just after a missile fired by government forces had exploded in the city, told me: ‘Maliki’s forces have already demolished the University of Tikrit. It has become havoc and rubble like all the city. If Maliki reaches us in Mosul he will kill its people or turn them into refugees. Pray for us.’ Such views are common, and make it less likely that Sunnis will rise up in opposition to Isis and its Caliphate. A new and terrifying state has been born.
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« Reply #417 on: August 12, 2014, 11:05:45 AM »

Second post:

And now, a different POV:


http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-01-120814.html
Asia Times Online :: Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs
Caliphate puts men to the meat-grinder
By Spengler

General William Tecumseh Sherman burned the city of Atlanta in 1864. He warned: "I fear the world will jump to the wrong conclusion that because I am in Atlanta the work is done. Far from it. We must kill three hundred thousand I have told you of so often, and the further they run the harder for us to get them." Add a zero to calibrate the problem in the Levant today. War in the Middle East is less a strategic than a demographic phenomenon, whose resolution will come with the exhaustion of the pool of potential fighters.

The Middle East has plunged into a new Thirty Years War, allows Richard Haass, the president of the Council of Foreign Relations. "It is a region wracked by religious struggle between competing
 
traditions of the faith. But the conflict is also between militants and moderates, fueled by neighboring rulers seeking to defend their interests and increase their influence. Conflicts take place within and between states; civil wars and proxy wars become impossible to distinguish. Governments often forfeit control to smaller groups - militias and the like - operating within and across borders. The loss of life is devastating, and millions are rendered homeless," he wrote on July 21.

Well and good: I predicted in 2006 that the George W Bush administration's blunder would provoke another Thirty Years War in the region, and repeated the diagnosis many times since. But I doubt that Mr Haass (or Walter Russell Mead, who cited the Haass article) has given sufficient thought to the implications.

How does one handle wars of this sort? In 2008 I argued for a "Richelovian" foreign policy, that is, emulation of the evil genius who guided France to victory at the conclusion of the Thirty Years War in 1648. Wars of this sort end when two generations of fighters are killed. They last for decades (as did the Peloponnesian War, the Napoleonic Wars and the two World Wars of the 20th century) because one kills off the fathers die in the first half of the war, and the sons in the second.

This new Thirty Years War has its origins in a demographic peak and an economic trough. There are nearly 30 million young men aged 15 to 24 in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, a bulge generation produced by pre-modern fertility rates that prevailed a generation ago. But the region's economies cannot support them. Syria does not have enough water to support an agricultural population, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of farmers into tent cities preceded its civil war. The West mistook the death spasms of a civilization for an "Arab Spring," and its blunders channeled the youth bulge into a regional war.

The way to win such a war is by attrition, that is, by feeding into the meat-grinder a quarter to a third of the enemy's available manpower. Once a sufficient number of who wish to fight to the death have had the opportunity to do so, the war stops because there are insufficient recruits to fill the ranks. That is how Generals Grant and Sherman fought the American Civil War, and that is the indicated strategy in the Middle East today.

It is a horrible business. It was not inevitable. It came about because of the ideological rigidity of the Bush Administration compounded by the strategic withdrawal of the Obama administration. It could have been avoided by the cheap and simple expedient of bombing Iran's nuclear program and Revolutionary Guards bases, followed by an intensive subversion effort aimed at regime change in Teheran. Former Vice President Dick Cheney advocated this course of action, but then Secretary of State Condileeza Rice persuaded Bush that the Muslim world would never forgive America for an attack on another Muslim state.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, warned Bush that America's occupation army in Iraq had become hostage to Iranian retaliation: if America bombed Iran, Iran could exact vengeance in American blood in the cities of Iraq. Then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen told Charlie Rose on March 16, 2009: "What I worry about in terms of an attack on Iran is, in addition to the immediate effect, the effect of the attack, it's the unintended consequences. It's the further destabilization in the region. It's how they would respond. We have lots of Americans who live in that region who are under the threat envelope right now [because of the] capability that Iran has across the Gulf. So, I worry about their responses and I worry about it escalating in ways that we couldn't predict."

The Bush Administration was too timid to take on Iraq; the Obama administration views Iran as a prospective ally. Even Neville Chamberlain did not regard Hitler as prospective partner in European security. But that is what Barack Obama said in March to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg: "What I'll say is that if you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they're not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits. And that isn't to say that they aren't a theocracy that embraces all kinds of ideas that I find abhorrent, but they're not North Korea. They are a large, powerful country that sees itself as an important player on the world stage, and I do not think has a suicide wish, and can respond to incentives." Bush may have been feckless, but Obama is mad.

With Iran neutralized, Syrian President Basher Assad would have had no choice but to come to terms with Syria's Sunni majority; as it happens, he had the firepower to expel millions of them. Without the protection of Tehran, Iraq's Shia would have had to compromise with Sunnis and Kurds. Iraqi Sunnis would not have allied with ISIS against the Iranian-backed regime in Baghdad. A million or more Iraqis would not have been displaced by the metastasizing Caliphate.

The occupation of Iraq in the pursuit of nation-building was colossally stupid. It wasted thousands of lives and disrupted millions, cost the better part of a trillion dollars, and demoralized the American public like no failure since Vietnam-most of all America's young people. Not only did it fail to accomplish its objective, but it kept America stuck in a tar-baby trap, unable to take action against the region's main malefactor. Worst of all: the methods America employed in order to give the Iraq war the temporary appearance of success set in motion the disaster we have today. I warned of this in a May 4, 2010 essay entitled, General Petraeus' Thirty Years War (Asia Times Online, May 4, 2010).
The great field marshal of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648, Albrecht von Wallenstein, taught armies to live off the land, and succeeded so well that nearly half the people of Central Europe starved to death during the conflict. General David Petraeus, who heads America's Central Command (CENTCOM), taught the land to live off him. Petraeus' putative success in the Iraq "surge" of 2007-2008 is one of the weirder cases of Karl Marx's quip of history repeating itself first as tragedy second as farce. The consequences will be similar, that is, hideous.

Wallenstein put 100,000 men into the field, an army of terrifying size for the times, by turning the imperial army into a parasite that consumed the livelihood of the empire's home provinces. The Austrian Empire fired him in 1629 after five years of depredation, but pressed him back into service in 1631. Those who were left alive joined the army, in a self-feeding spiral of destruction on a scale not seen in Europe since the 8th century. Wallenstein's power grew with the implosion of civil society, and the Austrian emperor had him murdered in 1634.

Petraeus accomplished the same thing with (literally) bags of money. Starting with Iraq, the American military has militarized large parts of the Middle East and Central Asia in the name of pacification. And now America is engaged in a grand strategic withdrawal from responsibility in the region, leaving behind men with weapons and excellent reason to use them.
There is no way to rewind the tape after the fragile ties of traditional society have been ripped to shreds by war. All of this was foreseeable; most of it might have been averted. But the sordid players in this tragicomedy had too much reputation at stake to reverse course when it still was possible. Now they will spend the declining years of their careers blaming each other.

Three million men will have to die before the butchery comes to an end. That is roughly the number of men who have nothing to go back to, and will fight to the death rather than surrender.

ISIS by itself is overrated. It is a hoard enhanced by captured heavy weapons, but cannot fly warplanes in a region where close air support is the decisive factor in battle. The fighters of the Caliphate cannot hide under the jungle canopy like the North Vietnamese. They occupy terrain where aerial reconnaissance can identify every stray cat. The Saudi and Jordanian air forces are quite capable of defending their borders. Saudi Arabia has over 300 F-15's and 72 Typhoons, and more than 80 Apache attack helicopters. Jordan has 60 F16's as well as 25 Cobra attack helicopters. The putative Caliphate can be contained; it cannot break out into Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and it cannot advance far into the core Shia territory of Iraq. It can operate freely in Syria, in a war of attrition with the Iranian backed government army. The grim task of regional security policy is to channel the butchery into areas that do not threaten oil production or transport.

Ultimately, ISIS is a distraction. The problem is Iran. Without Iran, Hamas would have no capacity to strike Israel beyond a few dozen kilometers past the Gaza border. Iran now has GPS-guided missiles which are much harder to shoot down than ordinary ballistic missiles (an unguided missile has a trajectory that is easy to calculate after launch; guided missiles squirrel about seeking their targets). If Hamas acquires such rockets-and it will eventually if left to its own devices-Israel will have to strike further, harder and deeper to eliminate the threat. That confrontation will not come within a year, and possibly not within five years, but it looms over the present hostilities. The region's security will hinge on the ultimate reckoning with Iran.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. He is Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the Was Family Fellow at the Middle East Forum. His book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too) was published by Regnery Press in September 2011. A volume of his essays on culture, religion and economics, It's Not the End of the World - It's Just the End of You, also appeared that fall, from Van Praag Press.

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)
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« Reply #418 on: August 12, 2014, 02:17:19 PM »



http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/world/middleeast/suicide-bomb-instructor-accidentally-kills-iraqi-pupils.html?referrer=&_r=1
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« Reply #419 on: August 14, 2014, 10:54:02 PM »

re:  a different POV, that was interesting, tx.
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« Reply #420 on: August 16, 2014, 07:03:55 AM »

Spengler is invariably a very, very interesting writer.
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« Reply #421 on: August 18, 2014, 08:21:46 AM »

http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/stretching_the_truth_past_the_breaking_point
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« Reply #422 on: August 18, 2014, 03:46:25 PM »



http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/20150/qatar-surrendered/#Xid1YPKJc1YlMig7.97


Has Qatar Surrendered?
Much has been written in the past year about the part Qatar plays in the conflict over the status and role of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement that presents a non-tribal Islamist alternative to tribal loyalties and ideological parties in the Arab world.

For the past two years, the controversy has centered on the role of the “Brothers” in Egypt, on former president  Mohamed Morsi’s legitimacy and the legality of General Sisi’s new government as of July 2013. Qatar has been the main source of support for the “Brothers” and their Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, for the last two decades.

Leading the opposition to Qatar’s policies was Saudi Arabia, and Sisi joined that opposition when he deposed Morsi. The relations between Qatar and its opponents reached a new low in March 2014, when the Saudis, Egypt and the United Emirates recalled their ambassadors from Qatar. Later, there were reports of a Saudi armed force concentrated on Qatar’s border that would have invaded the recalcitrant emirate, had Qatar not been under the protective shade of the United States, which has its main Persian Gulf airbase in Qatar as well as strong economic and institutional ties with it.

Qatar has been the main supporter of Hamas for years, providing funds and a venue for Hamas leadership after it left Damascus, while granting political backing to the movement and its rule in Gaza. Several years ago, Turkey joined the Hamas supporters axis, sometimes joined by Iran –  the latter motivated by its hatred of Israel and/or its hostility to the Saudi regime.

When the current round of hostilities between Hamas and Israel broke out, the Qatar-Turkey Axis immediately placed itself on the side of Hamas, while on the opposing side stood the anti-Muslim-Brotherhood-and-Hamas Axis, consisting of Egypt Saudi Arabia, the United Emirates and Jordan. America attempted to help the Qatar Axis, but retreated when faced with strong criticism, both from Israel and Congress. The Palestinian Authority is torn between its desire to see Israel destroy Hamas and its pity for the Gazans who are paying with their blood for the Hamas takeover of their lives – and deaths.

When the possibility of ceasefire negotiations was broached, rivalry broke out between the two sides over who would head them and who would be able to sway the agreement in the direction he preferred. As the days went by, it became clear that the solution would depend on the result of the duel between the Saudi King and the Qatar Emir, with the winner designing the future of any agreement between Israel and Hamas.

On August 9, 2014, It became obvious that the winner was the Saudi King and the Egypt-Emirates Axis, the group opposed to Hamas, although not openly supporting Israel. Saudi victory over Qatar and its supporters was certain when last weekend, the Emir could be seen rushing to Riyadh, the capital of the country that opposes his nation’s activities.

Qatar’s surrender reached world consciousness mainly by way of Al Mayadeen, the media channel that has placed itself in opposition to Qatar’s Al-Jazeera.

For example, Al-Jazeera, Qatar’s media channel, calls the president of Egypt “El Sisi”, avoiding the title “President”, because Qatar still sees Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood champion, as the lawful president of Egypt. As opposed to Al-Jazeera, Al Mayadeen uses the title  “President Sisi”.

Al  Mayadeen was founded two years ago in Lebanon by a former Al-Jazeera reporter , Ghassan Ben Jeddou, who handed in his angry resignation from  Al-Jazeera because of the network’s political stand on Saudi Arabia and the takeover of Bahrain during the “Arab Spring.”. Al Mayadeen is suspected of being prejudiced against Qatar and its policies. However, now that there is a proliferation of Arab media channels that are free of government censorship, the only way a network can succeed is if its reports are seen as trustworthy. The above means that the information that follows reporting on the Qatari Emir’s visit to Riyadh, his meeting with the Saudi King and the words exchanged during the meeting,  is not totally reliable.

Note: My interpretations are in the parentheses.

On August 9th, Al Mayadeen reported in Arabic: “The Emir of Qatar told the Saudi King that his country is not in favor of forming alliances (i.e. Qatar is giving up the leadership of the Axis it led up to now). Gaza has become everyone’s focus (i.e. we know that Saudi Arabia does not care about Gaza’s fate)…”.

“The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Ben Khalifa El Thani, said that he has arrived (i.e. was forced to crawl) to Riyadh in order to meet the Saudi King Abdallah ben Abed Elaziz, because he (the Qatari Emir)  knows well the loyalty of the Saudi King to the Arab Nation (i.e. to Saudi Arabia, its friends and their interests alone) and the trust he places in him and he will tell him (the king) what is going on in Gaza (i.e. the catastrophe Israel is wreaking on Hamas and Qatar) out of fear that we will lose our way  (i.e.Israel will win).

“Qatar does not have a policy of forming alliances (Qatar is sorry it led an alliance against the Saudis) even though there was once someone in Qatar who acted like a megalomaniac on the subject of Qatar and its size (severe criticism of Sheikh Hamad, the present Emir’s father and of Sheikh Hamad’s Foreign Minister, who took a politically arrogant line towards the Arab world and Saudi Arabia in particular, despite the fact that Qatar is a tiny Emirate. The Qatari Emir understands that without this criticism, or true repentance, the Saudi King will give him short shrift.).

 
Al Mayadeen continues: “The Qatari Emir made it clear to the Saudi King that Qatar is worthless if it does not belong to the Gulf Emirates (here he is begging the Gulf nations to allow their ambassadors return to Qatar) or its Arab partners (i.e. we are sorry for the anti- Egypt, Jordan and PA policies we espoused). Both sides (i.e. Axes) complement one another (i.e. our Axis surrenders to yours).

“The Qatari Emir told the Saudi King in plain language: Qatar is willing to follow in your footsteps and heed your instructions (i.e. totally abrogates its independent policies of the last few years) in order to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people (i.e. to salvage Hamas’ rule over the Palestinians who serve it as human shields).

“The Qatari Emir added: ‘In the face of the immense magnitude of the crimes and war of destruction going on in Gaza (and the danger that the Gazans will rebel against Hamas rule), there is no reason for Egypt (and its backer, Saudi Arabia) to insist on an initiative (i.e. conditions for surrender) that doesn’t meet the minimum expectations and demands of the Palestinians (read Hamas), especially now that Israel needs a ceasefire (i.e. Israel can continue fighting on and on because of the Israeli public’s support for their government).

“‘I don’t see how the Egyptians can bring themselves to shut out the Hamas movement. Let us put aside, my lord (!!!), our reckoning with Hamas (and the crimes it committed against Egypt and the Palestinians) for a future date (and then we will forget about them) and stand with the Palestinian people who stand behind Hamas (bearing knives) and support Hamas’ demands (to end the siege).’”

“‘I have come to you, my lord (!!!) in order to hear good tidings (now that we have surrendered and ended our policy of supporting Hamas) that will save us from the situation we are in now (i.e. the isolation we brought on ourselves by supporting  the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, which is on the verge of collapse).’”

Al Mayadeen reports that the meeting between the Saudi King and the Qatari Emir was just ten minutes long, and does not bring the response of the Saudi King – who may have remained silent throughout.

The significance of the detailed report is in the total subjugation of Qatar to Saudi Arabia, of a young and inexperienced Emir to an older and wiser king. What brought about this abject surrender is the combination of Israeli determination and the geography of Gaza, an area under siege even if the present siege is removed, with Israel on one side, Egypt on the other and only the sea – blockaded as well – as a way to find refuge.  Qatar’s peninsula is in a similar position: one can reach the rest of the continent from Qatar only by way of hostile Saudi Arabia or by way of the sea. If not for the American presence there, Saudi Arabia could crush the Qatar regime within a few hours as it did to Bahrain in 2011.

If it is true that the Emir visited Riyadh and if the text of his monologue, as reported by Al Mayadeen, is accurate, we are about to face a new constellation of forces in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, a tribal monarchy with an Islamic cast – has become the leading force, Israel is closer to the winning axis and the US is on the losing side. The Iran-Syria-Iraq Axis is under pressure because of the IS Jihadists and the US is attempting to bolster up its status by using air power against IS.

There are voices calling on Israel to take advantage of this new situation, go ahead with the Arab peace initiative whose origin is in Saudi Arabia, leave Judea and Samaria and establish a Palestinian state with Mahmoud Abbas that will be part of the new array of forces, united against a weakened Hamas and Qatar.

The idea is a good one, except that carrying it out is problematic: coalitions and alliances in the Middle East are exactly like the sand dunes that mark this region of deserts; today they are here and by tomorrow the wind has blown them somewhere else. In the past, there were those who advised Israel to hurry to make peace with Assad while he was still powerful, even if that meant giving up the Golan Heights. And where is Assad today, pray tell? And what would have happened had Jabhat El Nusra or the Islamic State taken over the Golan, able to look down at Tiberias and aim weapons at its residents?

The Middle East seesaw is weighted on the Saudi-Egyptian side now, but it is not at all clear whether that coalition will continue directing the Middle East in another year or two. Israel must not be tempted to place its future and security in the hands of a temporary coalition, no matter how good it is.

Israel must act on the basis of long term planning that centers on Israel and its territorial possessions, not on the changing alliances of the sand dunes of the Middle East.

Reprinted with permission from Arutz Sheva

 
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« Reply #423 on: August 20, 2014, 05:47:17 PM »

U.S. Hostage Rescue Failed, White House Says
A United States Special Operations team tried and failed to rescue James Foley and other Americans held hostage in Syria during a secret mission this summer authorized by President Obama, senior administration officials said Wednesday.
A day after Sunni militants posted a video showing Mr. Foley being beheaded, officials described what they called a “complicated operation” in which several dozen commandos were dropped into a remote area of Syria where American intelligence agencies believed several hostages were being held.
But when the Special Operations team arrived on the scene, the hostages were not there. Officials said the commandos exchanged fire with militants, and one American was slightly wounded when one of the United States aircraft came under fire.
All of the team members were evacuated successfully. “It was not ultimately successful because the hostages were not present at the location of the operation,” a senior administration official said, speaking on background about the mission. “We obviously wish this had been successful.”
Officials declined to say exactly when the mission took place, saying only that it happened earlier this summer. They also would not provide the location of the mission, but noted that if it had taken place in or near a heavily populated area, it would likely to have been noticed before now.
READ MORE »
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/21/world/middleeast/us-commandos-tried-to-rescue-foley-and-other-hostages.html?emc=edit_na_20140820

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« Reply #424 on: August 23, 2014, 09:00:59 AM »



When President Barack Obama called the Islamic State a "cancer" on Wednesday, the description may have been more apt than he intended. The Sunni jihadist group is indeed a malignant tumor metastasizing in the body of the Middle East. But like cancer, it will be stubbornly difficult to defeat—and some of the cures could end up killing the patient.

The spread has been shockingly quick. In June, the Islamic State surged deeper into Iraq, taking Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, advancing close to Baghdad and threatening Kurdish territory. The group even declared a "caliphate." Only Mr. Obama's Aug. 7 decision to launch U.S. airstrikes halted its advance.

The Islamic State is stalled militarily but far from beaten. But there is a way to turn the tide.

The Islamic State's evil could almost seem cartoonish if it weren't so horrible. The beheading of journalist James Foley was only the latest in a long line of atrocities. In Iraq, the group called for exterminating male members of the minority Yazidi group and selling Yazidi women into slavery. In Syria, the Islamic State crucified those who opposed it. The group bears the blame for much of the savagery against civilians in Syria—in a conflict that the U.N. estimates has claimed more than 190,000 lives.

This humanitarian disaster is bad enough, but the Islamic State also poses a strategic threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East that even the most hardhearted realist cannot easily dismiss. Iraq's stability, precarious even before the latest Islamic State campaign, is now in serious jeopardy. Iraq could join Syria as another failed state, and a far more important one given its oil reserves. A broader conflagration could risk more intervention by Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other neighbors. West European governments fear terrorism at home from Islamic State converts. And ironically, the terrorist threat to the U.S. is now more direct: By striking the Islamic State, the U.S. has risen higher on its (long) list of enemies.

The Obama administration, which has—with some justification—tried to avoid entanglement in Iraq and Syria, has an array of "treatments" at its disposal to attack this growing cancer. They all have one thing in common: They won't work well.

The overwhelming problem is the lack of suitable allies. Forget assembling a "coalition of the willing" against the Islamic State—the best you're likely to get is a coalition of the inept, the corrupt, the fanatical and the balky.

In Iraq, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki systematically alienated the country's Sunnis and Kurds. As the Islamic State advanced, many Sunnis rose up against his government, and U.S.-trained military forces disintegrated. Mr. Maliki is out now, but the new government in Baghdad is shaky, the Kurds are openly discussing a push for independence, and sectarian divisions plague the country.


In Syria, the problem is even worse. U.S. policy is now aimed at both overthrowing Bashar al-Assad, the country's dictator, and defeating the Islamic State—one of the toughest groups fighting to overthrow Mr. Assad. Only a year ago, the U.S. was on the verge of bombing the Assad regime; now it is bombing the Assad regime's enemy, the Islamic State. The Syrian opposition is no more unified, and the radical element in its ranks is much stronger.

Some approaches are clearly disastrous. Paying ransom money to rescue brave journalists in the Islamic State's clutches will only lead to more hostage taking. Terrorist groups prefer to kidnap Westerners from countries like France, which has given terrorists more than $50 million since 2008 in ransom payments. The more the U.S. pays, the more likely terrorist groups are to kidnap Americans. We must brace for more stomach-churning, Internet-distributed beheadings.

Another problem: Americans have no appetite for a large-scale deployment of military forces. A June poll found that most Americans didn't favor airstrikes on the Islamic State, let alone ground troops.

But there is a path ahead. A combination of middle-range options—political reform in Baghdad, a limited use of U.S. military force, and efforts to build up local capacity and prevent new infections—offers the most hope, even if this cocktail will take months if not years to take hold.

Political reform in Iraq is the foundation on which all else rests. The replacement of Mr. Maliki by Haider al-Abadi earlier this month offers some hope that Iraq's Shiite-dominated government might become more inclusive and convince some of the country's minority Sunnis to turn against the Islamic State. Iran, a Shiite neighbor that backs Mr. Abadi's government, also opposes the Sunni jihadists, which could encourage Mr. Abadi to be more conciliatory than his predecessor. But at best, we're likely to go from abysmal to simply bad: Mr. Abadi is cut from the same cloth as Mr. Maliki and shares the same Shiite-chauvinist power base.

Still, splitting the Islamic State's zealots off from the rest of Iraq's Sunnis is quite doable. The Islamic State surged in June, in part, because Sunni tribes, ex-Baathists and other Sunnis had joined the fray against the Maliki government. At the height of the troop surge that began in 2007, the U.S. had turned these fighters against the jihadists. Doing so again without a significant U.S. presence on the ground will be far harder—but if Mr. Abadi's government extends a real olive branch to its Sunni citizens, the Islamic State could rapidly lose much of its support.

The best long-term hope is to help grow local military forces and build up their capacity. Iraq's forces collapsed in the face of the Islamic State's summer offensive, and their morale and cohesion must be restored. Part of this problem is technical, and the sustained deployment of U.S. advisers can improve their performance.

But the bigger problem is political. Iraqi forces had more training and far better equipment than the Islamic State (though when they ran away, the radicals found themselves with a cornucopia of advanced U.S. military hardware), but many of them have no faith in their officers and no loyalty to their political leaders. So without political reform, military reform will fail.

Pushing the Islamic State back in Iraq does little good if it remains strong across Iraq's blurry border with Syria. Syria's beleaguered moderate opposition forces must be trained far more extensively, enabling them to oppose both the killers in the Assad regime and the fanatics of the Islamic State.

U.S. air power and special operations forces can prevent the Islamic State from growing further. But airstrikes can't evict it once and for all. Lasting successes will come only when ground forces can occupy the territory after the jihadists flee. And that means Iraq's government needs to step up—and moderate Syrian rebels need urgent help.

While working on all these fronts, Washington must try to contain the contagion. The U.S. should work with Turkey, Jordan and other neighbors to meet desperate cries for aid in the tent cities of Syrian refugees and discourage self-defeating behavior.

We're in for a long slog. Syria is a failed state, and Iraq is becoming one. In the near term, the best the U.S. can do is to put the Islamic State on its back foot. It is tempting to turn around and go home, but that would risk an even worse disaster.

—Dr. Byman is a professor in the Security Studies Program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
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« Reply #425 on: August 23, 2014, 09:23:33 AM »

second post

 The U.S. Explores Options Against the Islamic State
Analysis
August 23, 2014 | 0601 Print Text Size
IS Options
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey hold a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on Aug. 21, 2014. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Summary

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Aug. 21 that Islamic State militants cannot be defeated without a comprehensive approach that takes into account the group's presence in both Iraq and Syria. While neither Dempsey nor Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel directly stated that the United States intended to carry out operations in Syria, their comments indicate that there is a potential for increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict in pursuit of the Islamic State. Were Washington to decide to strike directly in Syria, it could align itself with any number of groups. Each scenario presents different levels of risk, and with more risk comes a greater chance of success.
Analysis

The most limited U.S. option in Syria would be to carry out a set number of targeted airstrikes focused on high-value Islamic State leaders, possibly including top leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The detailed intelligence needed for such an approach would require the United States to cooperate with several regional actors. And while such strikes could degrade the Islamic State's leadership, Dempsey noted Aug. 21 that air power alone would not significantly hinder the group's capabilities. It would, however, offer a means of combating the militant group without the United States necessarily becoming entangled in the Syrian civil war, something Washington has avoided so far.

Washington could also opt for a more comprehensive approach. This could include targeting significant concentrations of Islamic State forces, their energy infrastructure or their supply depots and logistics networks across Syria and Iraq. Were the United States to pursue this course, it would need to factor in the impact of these strikes on the balance of the civil war. More directly, the U.S. Air Force would have to take into account the air power, air defenses and command and control capabilities of the al Assad regime.

In the more comprehensive scenarios, the United States would then have to choose between coordinating with the Syrian regime to determine targeting and flight parameters -- preferably covertly with the help of Iraq or even Iran -- or actively deterring regime interference. Both options are very risky politically. Cooperation with al Assad would open the U.S. administration to serious domestic and foreign political blowback, while the second option could derail critical nuclear negotiations with Iran, a key ally of the Syrian regime.

Ultimately, even a broader air campaign would serve only to weaken rather than cripple the Islamic State. In order to severely degrade the group's capabilities, the United States would need to get involved in the Syrian conflict in a manner similar to its involvement in Iraq. In Syria this would entail active partnership with one or more of the key belligerents in the civil war -- involvement that carries its own risks.

In one version of this scenario, the United States could choose to partner with the forces fighting the al Assad regime by bolstering them with air power. Washington is already working with rebels to a large degree through a CIA program that provides arms and training. The Obama administration has also sought congressional funds to transition this into a more comprehensive U.S. Special Operations Command effort. Were the United States to partner with rebels through enhanced weapons transfers, embedded special operations forces or air power, it would upgrade the relationship significantly and risk severe blowback. The Syrian rebels are not a homogenous or unified force and their affiliations are murky and in flux. Both domestic U.S. and international critics would fault the administration for potentially directly or indirectly supporting extremist forces, especially if U.S. weapons were found in jihadists' hands. The United States would also face difficulty pushing the rebels toward fighting the Islamic State because rebel combat power is currently directed against regime forces. And any U.S. alignment with rebels would embroil it in conflict with the Syrian regime, especially while Syrian air defenses and air power are still a viable force. This, by extension, could affect nuclear talks with Iran.

Conversely, the United States could elect a gradual rapprochement with the Syrian regime in mutual support against the Islamic State. This relationship would likely have to be open; a more covert working relationship would stand in the way of comprehensive operations. The United States could do this by removing sanctions against the Syrian regime, transferring select equipment or by providing air support. This has the advantage of bolstering the U.S. position in nuclear negotiations with Iran. It would also provide a more viable means of defeating the Islamic State over the long term. This option is not viable, however, because it would necessarily involve a reversal of the current U.S. position. Abandoning rebel allies would also severely degrade U.S. alliances with Turkey, Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council and would open the Obama administration to domestic political attacks.

Finally, there is an interim option: Washington could bolster the Kurdish People's Protection Units, known as the YPG, in a manner similar to its partnership with the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga. One of the advantages of the People's Protection Units is that they have already proved capable in previous combat with the Islamic State. This alliance would also be of less concern to the Syrian rebels and the al Assad regime, but it would also have a smaller impact because the People's Protection Units operate only in Kurdish-populated areas. U.S. ally Turkey is also suspicious of the group because of its ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which operates inside Turkey.

The least risky scenarios the United States can pursue -- limited airstrikes or alignment with the People's Defense Forces -- are also the least likely to damage the Islamic State in the long run. In Iraq, the United States is pursuing cooperation through longstanding relationships with the Iraqi government and the peshmerga. The Syrian situation, however, is much more complex. In upping its chances of success, Washington also opens itself to a host of secondary risks and negative side effects. Given the administration's risk-averse nature, the United States may very well elect to pursue the independent, more limited approach in Syria. Overall, however, the fact remains that the United States has no easy options in Syria.

Read more: The U.S. Explores Options Against the Islamic State | Stratfor
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« Reply #426 on: August 23, 2014, 09:27:42 AM »

Third post

 The Hard Hand of the Middle East
Global Affairs
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 03:37 Print Text Size
Global Affairs with Robert D. Kaplan
Stratfor

By Robert D. Kaplan

Reality can be harsh. In order for the United States to weaken and eventually defeat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, it could use help from both the Iranian regime and that of President Bashar al Assad in Syria. In the Middle East, it takes illiberal forces to defeat an even more illiberal force. The mullahs' Iran and al Assad's Syria sadly represent the material at hand, with which the United States must somehow work or tolerate, however surreptitiously, however much it will deny it at the same time. Ah, you might say, What about the moderate, liberal opposition in Syria? Answer: Such forces are more viable on paper than on the battlefield.

The truth is understood but cannot always be admitted, either by officials or by journalists -- the truth being that order is preferable to disorder, meaning dictatorship is preferable to chaos, even if dictatorship itself has often been the root cause of such chaos.

The Islamic State is the fruit of chaos. It arose in a vacuum of authority. That vacuum was created by both the weakening of an absolutist (albeit secular-trending) regime in Syria and the inability of a stable, power-sharing system to take hold in Iraq following America's dismantling of Saddam Hussein's own repressive rule. And the worse the chaos, the more extreme will be the reaction. Thus, from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq that together have killed many hundreds of thousands of people and have featured a plethora of armed groups, the Islamic State has emerged in all its horrifying barbarity.

This harsh moral and political reality extends beyond Syria and Iraq to the larger Levant and the Middle East. Egypt is now, once again, governed by an illiberal, Pharaonic regime, worse arguably than that of the deposed military dictator Hosni Mubarak. It has killed many demonstrators in the streets. It features a budding personality cult around its president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Yet it is a friend of Western and Israeli interests, whereas the democratically-elected government it illegally deposed, that of the Muslim Brotherhood, was demonstrably not a friend of the West or Israel. That's right, Western interests can sometimes -- often, actually -- be better served by autocracies than by democracies: that's if the autocracy in question happens to be more liberal and secular in its values than the democracy in question. It is the regime's philosophical values that are crucial -- more so than the manner of how it came to power.

As the situation now stands, if there is going to be a less violent relationship between Israel and Gaza it is more likely to occur through the auspices of the al-Sisi regime in Cairo than through the Obama administration in Washington. It might not even be an exaggeration to say that the Israeli government, for the moment at least, trusts al-Sisi more than it trusts U.S. President Barack Obama. Though Obama might like to think of himself as a realist, the fact is that a President Richard Nixon or a President George H. W. Bush -- and their secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and James Baker III -- would have openly acknowledged their friendship with the current Egyptian regime, while Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, cannot quite bring themselves to do it.

To repeat, America's friends in the region for decades have been -- and will continue to be -- autocrats. George Kennan, arguably America's greatest foreign service officer of the 20th century, pointed out that the internal nature of a regime was less important to the United States than its international posture. To wit, autocratic Egypt has been more helpful in the Gaza crisis than democratic Turkey.

Other examples:

Oman is a great friend of the United States. Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said has quietly provided temporary basing support and logistics for American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and has been among the United States' most avid diplomatic allies in the region. He rules in a liberal fashion. But he is an absolute dictator.

Morocco, like Oman, has always been among America's most dependable friends in the Middle East. King Mohamed VI has been moving in the direction of a constitutional monarchy. But Morocco remains stable and dependable precisely because power ultimately rests with the monarch; thorough democracy could undo the country.

America's worst strategic nightmares in the Arab world would be the toppling of the regimes in Jordan and Saudi Arabia -- two royal dictatorships, and in Saudi Arabia's case, an illiberal one at that. The Saudi royal family is probably the worst group of people a liberal American could imagine running that country, except for any other group in Riyadh that might replace it. In other words, there is no choice here. Again, we have to work with the material at hand. And again, let's be honest, the Islamic State is ultimately dangerous not only because it threatens a very unstable, illiberal democracy in Iraq, but also because it threatens more useful nearby autocracies whose policies are often convenient to the West.

In all of this, those who promote democracy in the Middle East with the intensity of an ideology will say over and over again, But what about Tunisia? Tunisia is a democracy, and it is pro-Western. True. But the very phrase, "But what about…," in the singular, indicates that Tunisia is the exception that proves the rule. Tunisia's democracy, moreover, is unstable. Tunisia's borders have been insecure and its hinterlands in places have been close to ungovernable since the toppling of its dictatorship in early 2011. Tunisia's democracy is a close-run affair, in other words. And Tunisia has the advantage of being a real place, an age-old cluster of civilization, without sectarian or ethnic differences and not divided internally by mountains. Because it is not geographically and historically artificial, Tunisia is not plagued by the challenges that have made Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya chaotic and largely ungovernable.

But isn't it autocracy, too, that has led to such chaos? Yes, but that does not necessarily mean that democracy is viable in the current circumstances. To say that there is no other choice but democracy is to assume there is an immediate solution to every problem, whereas there may not be.

The Israelis know all of this. Therefore, nothing of what I say is shocking or even surprising to them. Indeed, over the decades they have embraced Arab autocrats through back channels. The Israelis have actually feared popular upheavals in the Arab world, aware that Arab autocrats are more likely to be less anti-Western and less anti-Israel than the man in the street. The fight for sheer physical survival is clarifying and dissipates illusions.

American illusions are illusions in the short term, though, not necessarily in the long term. Over the span of the decades, Arab societies may yet make the tumultuous transition from autocracy to some form of truly representative government. The very fact that Iraq's outgoing prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has been removed from power in a legal process without bloodshed in Baghdad is a sign of some hope. But foreign policy, while it requires an eye on long-term historical transitions, has to be practical about the here and now. And that requires candor among officials themselves and candor in how they explain things to the American people.

Read more: The Hard Hand of the Middle East | Stratfor
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« Reply #427 on: August 23, 2014, 09:33:23 AM »

Fourth post:

For the record, at the moment my sense of things is:

A) support the Kurds-- both their independence and with arms-- with strong consideration being given to establishing the option of a military base or two there.

B) Then, play balance of power games-- let the bad guys kill each other;

C) Support the incipient Israel-Egypt-Saudi-Jordan alliance

D) CONTROL OUR FG BORDER!!! Firmly address issues related to Jihadi holders of US and Euro passports.

This are many fast moving variables in play here and as always, I reserve the right to adjust my opinion.
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« Reply #428 on: August 23, 2014, 10:01:49 AM »

Talk now of propping up Assad?  Our leaders have no clue.  With this logic they must be wishing they could bring Saddam back from the dead.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/west-poised-to-join-forces-with-president-assad-in-face-of-islamic-state-9686666.html

"For the record, at the moment my sense of things is:

A) support the Kurds-- both their independence and with arms-- with strong consideration being given to establishing the option of a military base or two there.

B) Then, play balance of power games-- let the bad guys kill each other;

C) Support the incipient Israel-Egypt-Saudi-Jordan alliance

D) CONTROL OUR FG BORDER!!! Firmly address issues related to Jihadi holders of US and Euro passports."

E would be to get Democrats out of the White House ASAP though that is not this moment.
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« Reply #429 on: August 24, 2014, 02:22:14 PM »



U.S. Journalist Held by Qaeda Affiliate in Syria Is Freed After Nearly 2 Years

An American journalist held captive for nearly two years by Al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria has been freed, according to a representative of the journalist’s family and a report on Sunday by the Al Jazeera network.
The journalist, Peter Theo Curtis, was abducted near the Syria-Turkey border in October 2012. He was held by the Nusra Front, the Qaeda affiliate in Syria, which has broken with the more radical Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Another American journalist, James W. Foley, who was kidnapped in Syria the following month, was beheaded last week by ISIS, which posted images of his execution on YouTube.
A family friend confirmed on Sunday that Mr. Curtis, originally from Boston, had been handed over to a United Nations representative.
READ MORE »
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/25/world/middleeast/peter-theo-curtis-held-by-qaeda-affiliate-in-syria-is-freed-after-2-years.html?emc=edit_na_20140824

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« Reply #430 on: August 24, 2014, 07:20:20 PM »

https://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=AwrBT0ejf_pTwJ4A4otXNyoA;_ylc=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-?gprid=1IlVXj6TTByQbuVLpXxujA&pvid=.QwtgTk4LjGu2lSBU_p7EQNGNjcuOAAAAAAOFgjH&p=abdel-majed+abdel+bary&fr2=sa-gp-search&fr=yfp-t-901
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« Reply #431 on: August 25, 2014, 12:23:25 AM »

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-strikes-in-syria-against-islamic-state-would-be-hindered-by-intelligence-gaps/2014/08/23/70f6595e-2a30-11e4-958c-268a320a60ce_story.html 
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« Reply #432 on: August 26, 2014, 12:28:31 PM »



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faisal_I_of_Iraq
Faisal I of Iraq
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« Reply #433 on: August 26, 2014, 05:10:36 PM »


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Iraq and Syria Follow Lebanon's Precedent
Geopolitical Weekly
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 03:10 Print Text Size
Stratfor

By George Friedman

Lebanon was created out of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. This agreement between Britain and France reshaped the collapsed Ottoman Empire south of Turkey into the states we know today -- Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and to some extent the Arabian Peninsula as well. For nearly 100 years, Sykes-Picot defined the region. A strong case can be made that the nation-states Sykes-Picot created are now defunct, and that what is occurring in Syria and Iraq represents the emergence of post-British/French maps that will replace those the United States has been trying to maintain since the collapse of Franco-British power.
The Invention of Middle East Nation-States

Sykes-Picot, named for French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot and his British counterpart, Sir Mark Sykes, did two things. First, it created a British-dominated Iraq. Second, it divided the Ottoman province of Syria on a line from the Mediterranean Sea east through Mount Hermon. Everything north of this line was French. Everything south of this line was British. The French, who had been involved in the Levant since the 19th century, had allies among the region's Christians. They carved out part of Syria and created a country for them. Lacking a better name, they called it Lebanon, after the nearby mountain of the same name.

The British named the area to the west of the Jordan River after the Ottoman administrative district of Filistina, which turned into Palestine on the English tongue. However, the British had a problem. During World War I, while the British were fighting the Ottoman Turks, they had allied with a number of Arabian tribes seeking to expel the Turks. Two major tribes, hostile to each other, were the major British allies. The British had promised postwar power to both. It gave the victorious Sauds the right to rule Arabia -- hence Saudi Arabia. The other tribe, the Hashemites, had already been given the newly invented Iraqi monarchy and, outside of Arabia, a narrow strip of arable ground to the east of the Jordan River. For lack of a better name, it was called Trans-Jordan, or the other side of the Jordan. In due course the "trans" was dropped and it became Jordan.

And thus, along with Syria, five entities were created between the Mediterranean and Tigris, and between Turkey and the new nation of Saudi Arabia. This five became six after the United Nations voted to create Israel in 1947. The Sykes-Picot agreement suited European models and gave the Europeans a framework for managing the region that conformed to European administrative principles. The most important interest, the oil in Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula, was protected from the upheaval in their periphery as Turkey and Persia were undergoing upheaval. This gave the Europeans what they wanted.

What it did not do was create a framework that made a great deal of sense to the Arabs living in this region. The European model of individual rights expressed to the nation-states did not fit their cultural model. For the Arabs, the family -- not the individual -- was the fundamental unit of society. Families belonged to clans and clans to tribes, not nations. The Europeans used the concept of the nation-state to express divisions between "us" and "them." To the Arabs, this was an alien framework, which to this day still competes with religious and tribal identities.

The states the Europeans created were arbitrary, the inhabitants did not give their primary loyalty to them, and the tensions within states always went over the border to neighboring states. The British and French imposed ruling structures before the war, and then a wave of coups overthrew them after World War II. Syria and Iraq became pro-Soviet states while Israel, Jordan and the Arabians became pro-American, and monarchies and dictatorships ruled over most of the Arab countries. These authoritarian regimes held the countries together.
Reality Overcomes Cartography

It was Lebanon that came apart first. Lebanon was a pure invention carved out of Syria. As long as the Christians for whom Paris created Lebanon remained the dominant group, it worked, although the Christians themselves were divided into warring clans. But after World War II, the demographics changed, and the Shiite population increased. Compounding this was the movement of Palestinians into Lebanon in 1948. Lebanon thus became a container for competing clans. Although the clans were of different religions, this did not define the situation. Multiple clans in many of these religious groupings fought each other and allied with other religions.

Moreover, Lebanon's issues were not confined to Lebanon. The line dividing Lebanon from Syria was an arbitrary boundary drawn by the French. Syria and Lebanon were not one country, but the newly created Lebanon was not one country, either. In 1976 Syria -- or more precisely, the Alawite dictatorship in Damascus -- invaded Lebanon. Its intent was to destroy the Palestinians, and their main ally was a Christian clan. The Syrian invasion set off a civil war that was already flaring up and that lasted until 1990.

Lebanon was divided into various areas controlled by various clans. The clans evolved. The dominant Shiite clan was built around Nabi Berri. Later, Iran sponsored another faction, Hezbollah. Each religious faction had multiple clans, and within the clans there were multiple competitors for power. From the outside it appeared to be strictly a religious war, but that was an incomplete view. It was a competition among clans for money, security, revenge and power. And religion played a role, but alliances crossed religious lines frequently.

The state became far less powerful than the clans. Beirut, the capital, became a battleground for the clans. The Israelis invaded in order to crush the Palestinian Liberation Organization, with Syria's blessing, and at one point the United States intervened, partly to block the Israelis. When Hezbollah blew up the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, killing hundreds of Marines, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, realizing the amount of power it would take to even try to stabilize Lebanon, withdrew all troops. He determined that the fate of Lebanon was not a fundamental U.S. interest, even if there was a Cold War underway.

The complexity of Lebanon goes far beyond this description, and the external meddling from Israel, Syria, Iran and the United States is even more complicated. The point is that the clans became the reality of Lebanon, and the Lebanese government became irrelevant. An agreement was reached between the factions and their patrons in 1989 that ended the internal fighting -- for the most part -- and strengthened the state. But in the end, the state existed at the forbearance of the clans. The map may show a nation, but it is really a country of microscopic clans engaged in a microscopic geopolitical struggle for security and power. Lebanon remains a country in which the warlords have become national politicians, but there is little doubt that their power comes from being warlords and that, under pressure, the clans will reassert themselves.

Syria's Geographic Challenge

Repeats in Syria and Iraq

A similar process has taken place in Syria. The arbitrary nation-state has become a region of competing clans. The Alawite clan, led by Bashar al Assad (who has played the roles of warlord and president), had ruled the country. An uprising supported by various countries threw the Alawites into retreat. The insurgents were also divided along multiple lines. Now, Syria resembles Lebanon. There is one large clan, but it cannot destroy the smaller ones, and the smaller ones cannot destroy the large clan. There is a permanent stalemate, and even if the Alawites are destroyed, their enemies are so divided that it is difficult to see how Syria can go back to being a country, except as a historical curiosity. Countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States might support various clans, but in the end, the clans survive.

Something very similar happened in Iraq. As the Americans departed, the government that was created was dominated by Shia, who were fragmented. To a great degree, the government excluded the Sunnis, who saw themselves in danger of marginalization. The Sunnis consisted of various tribes and clans (some containing Shiites) and politico-religious movements like the Islamic State. They rose up in alliance and have now left Baghdad floundering, the Iraqi army seeking balance and the Kurds scrambling to secure their territory.

It is a three-way war, but in some ways it is a three-way war with more than 20 clans involved in temporary alliances. No one group is strong enough to destroy the others on the broader level. Sunni, Shiite and Kurd have their own territories. On the level of the tribes and clans, some could be destroyed, but the most likely outcome is what happened in Lebanon: the permanent power of the sub-national groups, with perhaps some agreement later on that creates a state in which power stays with the smaller groups, because that is where loyalty lies.

The boundary between Lebanon and Syria was always uncertain. The border between Syria and Iraq is now equally uncertain. But then these borders were never native to the region. The Europeans imposed them for European reasons. Therefore, the idea of maintaining a united Iraq misses the point. There was never a united Iraq -- only the illusion of one created by invented kings and self-appointed dictators. The war does not have to continue, but as in Lebanon, it will take the exhaustion of the clans and factions to negotiate an end.

The idea that Shia, Sunnis and Kurds can live together is not a fantasy. The fantasy is that the United States has the power or interest to re-create a Franco-British invention crafted out of the debris of the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, even if it had an interest, it is doubtful that the United States has the power to pacify Iraq and Syria. It could not impose calm in Lebanon. The triumph of the Islamic State would represent a serious problem for the United States, but no more than it would for the Shia, Kurds and other Sunnis. As in Lebanon, the multiplicity of factions creates a countervailing force that cripples those who reach too far.

There are two issues here. The first is how far the disintegration of nation-states will go in the Arab world. It seems to be underway in Libya, but it has not yet taken root elsewhere. It may be a political formation in the Sykes-Picot areas. Watching the Saudi peninsula will be most interesting. But the second issue is what regional powers will do about this process. Turkey, Iran, Israel and the Saudis cannot be comfortable with either this degree of fragmentation or the spread of more exotic groups. The rise of a Kurdish clan in Iraq would send tremors to the Turks and Iranians.

The historical precedent, of course, would be the rise of a new Ottoman attitude in Turkey that would inspire the Turks to move south and impose an acceptable order on the region. It is hard to see how Turkey would have the power to do this, plus if it created unity among the Arabs it would likely be because the memories of Turkish occupation still sting the Arab mind.

All of this aside, the point is that it is time to stop thinking about stabilizing Syria and Iraq and start thinking of a new dynamic outside of the artificial states that no longer function. To do this, we need to go back to Lebanon, the first state that disintegrated and the first place where clans took control of their own destiny because they had to. We are seeing the Lebanese model spread eastward. It will be interesting to see where else its spreads.
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« Reply #434 on: August 27, 2014, 09:36:49 AM »

My armchair general call for support the Kurds and let the rest kill each other would seem to be supported by this from Stratfor:

 The U.S. Could Get Mired in Syria and Iraq
Geopolitical Diary
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 19:16 Text Size Print

Already having made considerable gains against a range of rebel forces, the Syrians are thrilled at the recent turn of events in the world. In a year's time, Washington has gone from nearly taking military action against the Syrian regime to targeting its most lethal opponent, the Islamic State. The al Assad regime is not only interested in seeing U.S. military action against the Islamic State. It wants to use this opportunity to try to regain its credibility abroad by being part of an international coalition against the biggest jihadist threat since 9/11.

Though the United States will likely carry out airstrikes against Islamic State assets in Syria, the Obama administration's focus will be on ousting the transnational jihadist group from Iraq. This is because there is consensus among Iraq's domestic and international stakeholders that the country's political system needs to be protected from the al Qaeda offshoot. In sharp contrast, the international community is deeply divided over the fate of the al Assad regime, a cross-border contradiction that will undermine the overall U.S. effort to defeat the Islamic State.

On Tuesday, White House and State Department officials ruled out any coordination between Washington and Damascus in the fight against the Islamic State. They were reacting to an AFP report that said the U.S. government was sharing intelligence on the group with the Syrian regime through Iraqi and Russian channels. A day earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported that the United States had begun reconnaissance flights over Syria, news that triggered a warning against unilateral action from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. He called instead for U.S.-Syrian coordination.

Despite official statements to the contrary, the United States is willing to work with Syria on tactical matters against the Islamic State, but it does not want the arrangement to turn into support for the Syrian government. In many ways the struggle against the Islamic State has distracted from the original conflict -- a civil war in Syria. For the Americans, supporting Syria's rebels gives Washington considerable leverage in its talks with Iran.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.

U.S. support for the rebels has been minimal, however, because a host of Salafist-jihadist militias have dominated the rebel landscape -- militias that Washington does not want controlling the country. It should be remembered that a year ago, Washington walked away from military action against the al Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons precisely because Washington did not want to undermine Iranian influence in the region at the cost of empowering jihadists -- and that was before the Islamic State had demonstrated its full capabilities. Therefore, the United States is not interested in getting too involved in Syria and would instead prefer to limit itself to countering the Islamic State in Iraq.

But as Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged last week, dislodging the Islamic State from Iraq will require action against the group in Syria, which offers the jihadist movement great strategic depth and access to material resources thanks to the group's control of Syria's energy production sites. The challenge for Washington is how to weaken the Islamic State in Syria without upsetting the balance between the al Assad regime and the rest of the rebels, who seemingly do not have any ambitions beyond Syria.

The fact is that the Islamic State's weakening in Syria as a result of U.S. military action would create a power vacuum that both Damascus and the other rebels would want to fill. It would be difficult for the United States to manage all the moving pieces. It can be argued that while the United States will be striking the Islamic State, it can also work with Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to mobilize the rest of the rebel constellation so as not to give the Syrian regime the upper hand.

This course of action would be very risky given the internal differences between these four Sunni states. Even when the Islamic State has been weakened, nationalist jihadist forces will still dominate the rebel movement in Syria. At the same time, the United States is engaged in talks with Iran over its nuclear program and has begun cooperating with Tehran against the Islamic State in Iraq. It is not possible for the two to achieve their common goal in Iraq while they are conflicting in Syria.

Considering all these factors, the likelihood that the United States will get mired in a complex cross-border conflict is very high, and that is precisely what the Islamic State is hoping for.

Read more: The U.S. Could Get Mired in Syria and Iraq | Stratfor
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« Reply #435 on: August 27, 2014, 09:48:34 AM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/06/16/9-quotes-from-obamas-2011-remarks-on-the-end-of-the-war-in-iraq-that-show-his-total-lack-of-foresight/
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« Reply #436 on: August 27, 2014, 10:01:47 AM »

My armchair general call for support the Kurds and let the rest kill each other would seem to be supported by this

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/25/the_islamic_state_home_field_advantage_syria_iraq_obama_airstrikes?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Flashpoints&utm_campaign=Siobh%C3%A1n%208%2F26  
« Last Edit: August 27, 2014, 10:06:15 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #437 on: August 27, 2014, 10:17:37 AM »

An effort to think things through:

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/five-step-plan-destroy-the-islamic-state-11121

Mobilize a Major Humanitarian-Relief Effort:

Catalyze Settlements to Unify Anti-IS Groups in Iraq and Syria:

Field Robust Supporting Military Operations:

Internationalize the Anti-IS Effort:

Prepare the American People for a Costly, Long-Term Mission:

Questions from me:  Is the era of Sykes-Picot over?  Can any strategy that does not address the flaws of Sykes Picot succeed?  What would moving beyond Sykes-Picot look like?  My proffered strategy of supporting an independent Kurdistan (and establishing alliance with and a base or two there) moves us in this direction.   My proffered strategy leaves Iran to pick up more of the burden of fighting ISIL and the bases in Kurdistan would add weight to our words in nuke negotiations with Iran.
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« Reply #438 on: August 27, 2014, 11:49:43 AM »

An effort to think things through:

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/five-step-plan-destroy-the-islamic-state-11121

Mobilize a Major Humanitarian-Relief Effort:

Catalyze Settlements to Unify Anti-IS Groups in Iraq and Syria:

Field Robust Supporting Military Operations:

Internationalize the Anti-IS Effort:

Prepare the American People for a Costly, Long-Term Mission:

Questions from me:  Is the era of Sykes-Picot over?  Can any strategy that does not address the flaws of Sykes Picot succeed?  What would moving beyond Sykes-Picot look like?  My proffered strategy of supporting an independent Kurdistan (and establishing alliance with and a base or two there) moves us in this direction.   My proffered strategy leaves Iran to pick up more of the burden of fighting ISIL and the bases in Kurdistan would add weight to our words in nuke negotiations with Iran.


The American people have no interest in the above. Some token strikes are about the best we are going to get.
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« Reply #439 on: August 27, 2014, 03:55:58 PM »

I agree. 

IMHO the American people correctly assess that we are led by fools; a coherent strategy led by a capable leader might well be a different thing though-- I do think ISIL's recent efforts have clarified a lot of people's thinking.

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« Reply #440 on: August 27, 2014, 04:37:40 PM »

I agree. 

IMHO the American people correctly assess that we are led by fools; a coherent strategy led by a capable leader might well be a different thing though-- I do think ISIL's recent efforts have clarified a lot of people's thinking.



I doubt we'll  have a capable leader anytime soon. Even then, we won't have a shift until IS racks up a serious domestic body count.
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« Reply #441 on: August 27, 2014, 06:08:11 PM »

Probably right.

I continue to hone/simplify my offering of a strategy:

a) Independence, alliance, and bases with the Kurds;
b) Use the bases to pressure Iran on nukes, re-establish the sanctions;
c) let the Sunnis, Shias, Assad, et al kill each other and let God sort it out;
d) Back Israel, Egypt, Jordan against the various permutations of AQ-ISIL (e.g. Hamas)
e) Fracking-- the less the planet has to count on this crazy region the better.
f) Control ingress into the US and monitor egress i.e. track and stop jihadis with US and Euro passports
g) control the borders
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« Reply #442 on: August 27, 2014, 10:38:16 PM »

http://weaponsman.com/?p=17440
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« Reply #443 on: August 28, 2014, 04:05:34 PM »

 The Islamic State's Growth Has Limits
Security Weekly
Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 03:00 Print Text Size
Stratfor

By Scott Stewart

Since the Islamic State declared the establishment of the caliphate June 29, I have been asked frequently about the group's appeal outside of its immediate area of operations and its ability to attract other jihadists. When we see crises flare up such as the current one in Yemen, people ask: Is there an Islamic State affiliate that can take advantage of this?

Because of such concerns, it seemed appropriate to take some time to examine the Islamic State's ability to spread.
Factors in the Rise of the Islamic State

When considering the Islamic State's ability to metastasize beyond its core area, we must first look at its ideology, its methodology and the environment that produced it. The Islamic State (like its predecessor organizations) is rooted in the Iraq conflict and is a product of that conflict. Although Abu Musab al-Zarqawi founded the organization Jamaat al-Tawhid and Jihad in Afghanistan, the group never amounted to much there. It was only when he relocated to Iraq following the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan that the group really found success in recruiting and on the battlefield.

Unlike the educated men from wealthy families who formed al Qaeda, al-Zarqawi is a former Jordanian street thug who was radicalized while in prison. His group's hubris, brutality and embrace of sectarianism all trace their roots back to his influence and guidance.

This brutal sectarianism was well suited for Iraq (and later for Syria) and took root in the de-Baathification programs following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. It was also fostered by the atrocities that Shiite militias committed against innocent Sunnis. De-Baathification helped Jamaat al-Tawhid and Jihad, and later al Qaeda in Iraq, attract many Sunni fighters who were former Iraqi officers and gain support from Iraq's powerful Sunni tribes.

The Evolution of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant

While the tribal support was diminished during the Anbar Awakening, the Sunni sheikhs always maintained a healthy fear and skepticism of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's sectarian bent. Because of this, the Sunni tribal sheikhs permitted a weakened Islamic State in Iraq to survive in case it was ever needed again as a tool with which to confront the al-Maliki government.

Even during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Shiite militias committed numerous atrocities against Sunnis, who were often abducted, tortured and murdered. But following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the Shiite militias' violence was joined by the sectarian policies of the al-Maliki government intended to marginalize Sunnis and undercut their power in Iraq. For example, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a very influential Sunni politician, was charged with murder and forced to flee Baghdad for Iraqi Kurdistan and eventually Turkey. The al-Maliki government also stopped its payments to the Sunni Awakening Forces and reneged on agreements to integrate thousands of its members into the Iraqi armed forces, leaving many of these men unemployed with no means of supporting their families. Such measures helped what was then the Islamic State in Iraq in its efforts to regain power and momentum.

The highly sectarian Syrian civil war also proved fortunate for the resurgent Islamic State in Iraq. A good number of Syrian Sunnis had been involved with the Islamic State in Iraq since the beginning, and the many years of experience they gained fighting coalition forces in Iraq permitted the group's Syrian surrogate, Jabhat al-Nusra, to emerge as an effective fighting force. Jabhat al-Nusra's professionalism, sectarian rhetoric and brutality allowed it to quickly attract not only Syrian rebels but also a substantial portion of the foreign fighters flocking to Syria. The Syrian-led Jabhat al-Nusra later split with the Islamic State of Iraq when the Iraqi leaders of the latter group attempted to directly integrate the Syrian fighters in their renamed group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. When al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri sided with Jabhat al Nusra in the dispute, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant ignored his admonishment and split with al Qaeda.
Frictions and Limited Cooperation

The spectacle of al-Zawahiri's criticism of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant was nothing new. The group's ideology was never all that closely aligned with al Qaeda's, and there is documentation from as far back as 2005 that al-Zawahiri criticized al-Zarqawi because his group was highly sectarian and exceedingly brutal. Al-Zawahiri noted that al-Zarqawi's policies were alienating many Muslims against the group. The degree of this alienation became readily apparent in the 2007 Anbar Awakening.

The group has gained some traction among Lebanese Sunnis, with many Sunnis in Tripoli openly supporting the Islamic State. However, outside of the highly sectarian environment in the Levant, the group's attempts to assume leadership of the global jihad since its declaration of the caliphate in June have failed. Not only have al Qaeda-linked jihadist groups such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the Islamic State's leadership, but prominent jihadist ideologues like Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi have publicly criticized the group.

One reason for this lack of support is that the leaders of jihadist groups in places like Yemen, Pakistan and Algeria view the Islamic State as a threat -- to their leadership of the global jihad and in the competition for limited resources such as men, funding and weapons. Many jihadist leaders are jealous of the way that geography has permitted their counterparts in Iraq and Syria to monopolize the financial largesse of wealthy Muslim donors in the Gulf and elsewhere. Iraq and Syria were the seats of previous Islamic caliphates and are seen as being at the heart of the Muslim world -- places like Pakistan and Yemen are not.

Even current al Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri, who is sheltering in the area along the Afghan-Pakistani border, recognized this when he laid out his vision for the global progression of the jihadist movement. In a 2005 letter to al-Zarqawi, he wrote: "It has always been my belief that the victory of Islam will never take place until a Muslim state is established in the manner of the Prophet in the heart of the Islamic world." He wrote that the first step in such a plan was to expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage was to establish an emirate and expand it into a larger caliphate. The third stage was to attack the countries surrounding Iraq, mainly Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria and Jordan, bringing them into the caliphate. The fourth step was to use the combined power of the caliphate to attack Israel. Although the Islamic State has split with al-Zawahiri's al Qaeda core leadership, they are progressing along the trajectory he laid out.

A second factor keeping the leaders of other jihadist groups from joining the Islamic State is the group's sectarian focus and its propensity to attack other jihadist groups, such as Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic Front and other rebel groups in Syria. Multiple jihadist groups operate in places like Pakistan and the Sahel region of Africa, but they have been far less combative than the Islamic State.

Third, most other jihadist leaders are repulsed by the Islamic State's brutal imposition of Sharia and believe that they have a more sophisticated view of Islamic governance than the Islamic State. This difference was clear in al-Zawahiri's letter to al-Zarqawi and in more recent letters from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Nasir al-Wahayshi to Abdelmalek Droukdel, the leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Other letters from Droukdel to his subordinates in Mali after they had taken control of a large portion of northern Mali also urged tolerance and warned against the type of strict and sudden enforcement of Sharia the Islamic State is known for.
The Islamic State's Appeal

Grassroots jihadists have been the Islamic State's main source of public support since before the declaration of the caliphate. Individual grassroots jihadists from around the world have flocked to Iraq and Syria to fight, and grassroots networks have been set up in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East to send men, funds and weapons to support the Islamic State. Jihadists in Libya and Tunisia have been especially active in these support networks in terms of sending men (and weapons from Libya), but they have not yet overtly declared loyalty to the Islamic State.

In Indonesia, Abu Bakar Bashir, the former leader of the now-defunct Jemaah Islamiyah, declared allegiance to the Islamic State, but Bashir is in prison and marginalized. Even his own sons have repudiated him (and by extension the Islamic State) and have broken off to form a new radical Islamist group in Indonesia. There have also been reports of a grassroots group in Malaysia that allegedly was discussing the launch of terrorist activity there, but this group appears to have been more aspirational than operational at the time of its members' arrests.

Given the well-publicized battlefield successes that the Islamic State achieved in July, it is quite remarkable that the group did not garner more support from other jihadist groups. We believe that with the United States and other outside countries taking action against the Islamic State in Iraq (perhaps to be followed by attacks against their infrastructure in Syria), the group is due to suffer setbacks on the battlefield. This will diminish the Islamic State's appeal to other jihadist groups whose interest might have been piqued by its successes.

Read more: The Islamic State's Growth Has Limits | Stratfor

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« Reply #444 on: August 29, 2014, 01:44:35 AM »



http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/28/found_the_islamic_state_terror_laptop_of_doom_bubonic_plague_weapons_of_mass_destruction_exclusive
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« Reply #445 on: August 29, 2014, 09:48:52 AM »


I thought this was the junior varsity. Hopefully Obama will read about this in the newspapers before it's too late.
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« Reply #446 on: September 02, 2014, 11:39:49 AM »



http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/world/middleeast/iraq.html?emc=edit_th_20140901&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193
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« Reply #447 on: September 02, 2014, 01:01:31 PM »



http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/steven-sotloff-video-appears-show-isis-execution-american/story?id=25216725
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« Reply #448 on: September 02, 2014, 01:03:14 PM »


Why, did it delay a tee time?
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« Reply #449 on: September 02, 2014, 01:22:26 PM »

Pravda on the Hudson forgets to mention that ISIS had the heavy armament that it captured from the fleeing army of the central government and that the Pesh Merga had not been supplied much at all for a long time.  That said, there are a number of points of interest in the article.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/02/world/middleeast/tarnishing-a-reputation-as-storied-warriors.html?emc=edit_th_20140902&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193
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