Monday, June 30, 2014

A new dawn

"... The group announced that it was now called the "Islamic State". According to the statement, the new caliphate stretches from Iraq's Diyala province to Syria's Aleppo."The Shura [council] of the Islamic State met and discussed this issue [of the caliphate] ... the Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims, said Adani."The words 'Iraq' and 'the Levant' have been removed from the name of the Islamic State in official papers and documents."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Senior Qatari Official: "Jabhat al Nusra are our pets but ISIS is a Saudi project!"

"... Qatar’s military and economic largesse has made its way to Jabhat al-Nusra, to the point that a senior Qatari official told me he can identify al-Nusra commanders by the blocks they control in various Syrian cities. But ISIS is another matter. As one senior Qatari official stated, “ISIS has been a Saudi project.”
ISIS, in fact, may have been a major part of Bandar’s covert-ops strategy in Syria. The Saudi government, for its part, has denied allegations, including claims made by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, that it has directly supported ISIS. But there are also signs that the kingdom recently shifted its assistance—whether direct or indirect—away from extremist factions in Syria and toward more moderate opposition groups..."

Obama can't name the 'moderate rebels' because he can't: they 'decomposed'!

"... Confusing? You bet. So first steps first. Who are the “moderate” rebels whom Obama wants to train and arm? He doesn’t name them – and he can’t, because the original “moderates” whom America swore to arm (with the help of the CIA, the Brits, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey) were the so-called “Free Syrian Army”, mostly composed of deserters from Assad’s government forces. But the FSA – briefly beloved of John McCain until he discovered a pro-al-Qa’ida fighter sharing a photo-op with him in northern Syria – has decomposed.Its men have gone home, switched to the bearded Islamists of the Nusrah or Isis – or Isil if we heed the latest acronym – or re-deserted to the government army and taken up arms for Assad again...."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

"John Kerry made clear the priority in helping the 'vetted' rebels was to fight ISIL"

Need we say more
"BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian rebels that the U.S. now wants to support are in poor shape, on the retreat from the radical al-Qaida breakaway group that has swept over large parts of Iraq and Syria, with some rebels giving up the fight. It is not clear whether the new U.S. promise to arm them will make a difference.Some, more hard-line Syrian fighters are bending to the winds and joining the radicals.The Obama administration is seeking $500 million to train and arm what it calls "moderate" factions among the rebels,.... The U.S. also faces the difficult task of what constitutes a "moderate" rebel in a movement dominated by Islamist ideologies...Meeting with Syrian opposition leader Ahmed al-Jarba in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made clear the priority in helping the rebels was to fight the Islamic State ................."

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ankara: 'US drones against ISIS, not from our territory!'

My, my, my. What a creature this Erdogan!
"... Aaron Stein, an analyst with the Royal United Services Institute, explains in a phone interview that the Turkish political factions are united in a desire to avoid involvement in what is widely seen as a quagmire in Iraq. Moreover, Erdogan “despises” Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, according to Stein, and has little desire to put Turkey at risk to prop up his government.More significantly for the United States, Ergodan has made it clear that he opposes U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. This matters, Stein says, because if the United States chooses to combat ISIS and other Iraqi militants through drone strikes launched from outside Iraq, the Incirlik Air Base near Adana in southern Turkey would be an ideal launching point.
“The Turks have an incredible amount of control if the United States goes the drone route,” Stein says, and
will want to avoid being seen as “complicit” in air strikes on the group holding their diplomats and citizens hostage..."

Israeli Officials: 'Israel prepared to take military action to save the Hashemite Kingdom'

"... But behind the scenes, Israeli diplomats have told their American counterparts that Israel would be prepared to take military action to save the Hashemite Kingdom.“I think Israel and the United States would identify a substantial threat to Jordan as a threat to themselves and would offer all appropriate assets to the Jordanians,” he said.Thomas Sanderson, the co-director for transnational threats at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Israel and the United States view the survival of the Jordanian monarchy as a paramount national security objective.Sanderson, who is a former contractor for the Defense Intelligence Agency, said those assets would include air power and intelligence resources, but he stressed that whatever Israel and the United States offered Jordan would be tailored to the kind of threat ISIS posed. “It’s impossible to rule out boots on the ground from Israel or the United States, but that is the least likely scenario. Amman would have to be under siege for that to happen,” he said..."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

'The US urges Syria to open talks'

... and does anyone dare call Reagan a weak pres.?
We clearly remember what Secretary of State George Schultz told our ambassador then, Abdallah Bouhabib, at the WH, during President Gemayel's soliciting visit:
"Assad (Hafez) has reached his zenith. From today on it's all downward for him!" 

That was in 1983!

Reagan urges Syria to open talks, June 25, 1987

"... The White House letter marked the administration’s most ambitious effort to improve relations with Damascus since October 1986, when the United States withdrew its ambassador and ordered American businesses to leave. Washington ordered those actions after asserting that Syria supported international terrorism.An administration official said Reagan had raised several areas in which “we feel Syria can be constructive.” In addition to the hostage issue, they included reviving the Middle East peace process and ending sectarian turmoil in Lebanon...."

'Not so fast ... Punch some more!'

"... In a post-American Middle East, this kind of concert of powers is the only way to stop the bloodshed. But my instinct — after talks with Iranians and Saudis over the last few months — is that the prospects for a grand bargain are some way off. Although both sides are frightened of an uncontrolled escalation, they have both gained power and prestige from a Middle East split along sectarian lines. Neither side is yet exhausted by the proxy wars or satisfied with the current balance of power. The potential rewards still outweigh the risks of the struggle, particularly for Saudi Arabia, which sees the conflicts as a means of reversing Iranian hegemony in Syria and Iraq..."

Is the BBC correcting itself in its 'Update'?

"... Speaking to the BBC's Arabic service in his first interview for an international broadcaster since the crisis started, Mr Maliki said: "Yes, Syrian jets did strike Qaim inside the Syrian side of the border."There was no co-ordination involved. But we welcome this action. We actually welcome any Syrian strike against Isis... But we didn't make any request to Syria. They carry out their strikes and we carry out ours and the final winners are our two countries."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

AIPAC/Winep; rooting for Saddam (well, his number 2 man) to save Iraq!

"... Regardless of al-Douri’s fate, this month's uprising puts JRTN in a considerably stronger position. It may be that the Baath can achieve a partial, qualified return to powerperhaps with a deal between the federal government and JRTN-led Sunni Arab military councils over the formation of one or more federal regions in Sunni Arab Iraq, each with its own constitution and parliament, akin to the Kurdistan Regional Government..."

"The Lebanese army was exchanging valuable security information with Hezbollah that allowed it to respond effectively to a number of threats"

Mona seems to forget (or was too young to remember) New Year's Eve 2000' when Jihadists from North Lebanon attacked LAF checkpoints killing scores of soldiers and civilians. President Emile Lahoud ordered a (then) commander of the LAF, Michel Sleiman, to strike back, to which Sleiman used the 'foul weather' pretext trying to postpone the operation (in reality to check with his invisible 'foreign patrons'). He was proded to 'move' when Lahoud reminded him of certain perimeters of command!
LAF moved quickly, and swiftly. 
The US ambassador then (David Sutterfield) was outraged and demanded 'explanations' because one of the Jihadis was a 'US citizen', ... This vas-et-viens with the Americans subsided in the immediate aftermath of ......September 11, 2001! I rember these things well: I was there!
Then, and only then, did they start asking us for intelligence about the Jihadis!
"...Facing greater threats from the escalating war in neighboring Syria, the army sought aid from Hezbollah, especially over the past few months. By 2013, the Lebanese army was exchanging valuable security information with Hezbollah that allowed it to respond effectively to a number of threats. According to an army source, the shared intelligence contributed to the army’s successful dismantling of a terror ring responsible for dozens of attacks in February and March. However, Sunni fears of the LAF’s bias toward Hezbollah were made worse by the latter’s statement that its involvement in Syria is to protect Lebanon against the takfiri threat from jihadis (a foe that the army had fought for several years). This narrative has allowed both the party and the army to identify Lebanese and Syrian jihadis as a common enemy...."

The Washington Post: Your trusted source, fanning sectarian flames!

Look at the title in the WaPo!It maliciously ignores the fact that the 'Sunnis' in question are convoys of al Qaeda's horrific franchise ISIL with their loot of US weapons. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

'Syrian Air Force had bombed ISIS troops on the Iraq side...'

"... Witnesses from another border town, Al Waleed, said the Syrian Air Force had bombed ISIS troops on the Iraq side who were trying to capture it.
If Al Waleed fell, that would leave the Iraqi government without control of a single border crossing to Syria and would deal a blow to both Syria and Iraq. A loss of control over the border would allow ISIS, which has been fighting the Syrian government for months, to move fighters and equipment more freely between the two countries.
The militants are trying to create an Islamic caliphate in a vast area of both countries, wiping out the border in between. Syria’s reported involvement on Saturday was the manifestation of the increasingly convoluted politics surrounding the region.
Although the United States argues that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must step down, he and the United States now have a shared enemy in ISIS..."

Al Arabiya/ INEGMA: "Riyadh now appears to see Assad's presidency 'cemented' and critical for Syria’s stability!""

IMPORTANT piece by Theodore Karasik, in a column for the Saudi al-Arabiyya, is Director of Research at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) in the UAE. GOOD contacts with all GCC rulers:
"... The Kingdom and the Kremlin agreed to return to the Geneva 1 process which is to find a political transition in Syria. This is a significant development that signals that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s election on June 3 for another term is cemented as Russia wants and which Riyadh now appears to see as critical for Syria’s stability. Iran will be happy with this outcome because their efforts supporting Assad with military and financial aid are paying off. Iran is close to the Kremlin, and Russia will be able to negotiate between Riyadh and Tehran in a way to please both parties in the Syrian outcome. ..."

'Britain and US 'neglected alert to Iraq jihadist takeover’

"... "Head of Kurdish intelligence in Iraq says MI6 and CIA were warned of impending Isis-Baathist attack on Mosul and Baghdad but British and US governments failed to act...."

"Obama has to fashion strategic alliances with Iran, Russia & Assad to deal with ISIL effectively and immediately!"

"... In sum, President Obama must start addressing the jihadi threat not just in Iraq, but in Iraq and Syria. Second, he has to fashion strategic alliances with Iran, Russia and Assad to deal with the threat effectively and immediately..."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

CNN: 'ISIL just 60 miles away from Saudi/Jordan border with Iraq'

ISIL & Naqshbandis turning on each other!

"... Relations between the diverse Sunni groups have not been entirely smooth. On Sunday morning, clashes raged for a third day between ISIL and Sunni tribes backed by the Naqshbandi Army, a group led by former army officers and Baathists, around Hawija, local security sources and tribal leaders said.More than 10 people were killed in the clashes in the area, southwest of the northern oil hub of Kirkuk, the sources said.
On Friday evening,
ISIL and Naqshbandi fighters began fighting each other in Hawija, where a crackdown on a Sunni protest over a year ago triggered unrest leading to the current insurgency. Iraqi and Western officials believe that as ISIL and other Sunni factions start to consolidate their control of newly won territories, they may start turning on each other...."

Iran rejects US action in Iraq

 World News | IOL News 

"... Anbar, Iraq - Iran's supreme leader condemned US intervention in Iraq on Sunday, accusing Washington of seeking control as Sunni insurgents drove toward Baghdad from the Syrian border and consolidated positions in the north and west.The statement by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was the clearest statement of opposition to a U.S. plan to dispatch of up to 300 military advisers in response to pleas from the Iraqi government and runs counter to speculation that old enemies Washington and Tehran might cooperate to defend their mutual ally in Baghdad..."

'Little or no accountability in the U.S. political system!'

"... The zombie-like ability to maintain influence and status in the face of overwhelming evidence tells you that F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong: There are in fact an infinite number of "second chances" in American life and little or no accountability in the U.S. political system. The neocons' staying power also reminds us that the United States can get away with irresponsible public discourse because it is very, very secure. Iraq was a disaster, and it helped pave the way to defeat in Afghanistan, but at the end of the day the United States will come home and probably be just fine. True, thousands of our fellow citizens would be alive and well today had we never listened to the neoconservatives' fantasies, and Americans would be more popular abroad and more prosperous at home if their prescriptions from 1993 forward had been ritually ignored. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis would be alive too, and the Middle East would probably be in somewhat better condition (it could hardly be worse)....."

'Senior US & Iranian Officials hold talks on stabilizing Iraq'

'The capture of the alleged ringleader of the 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi where four Americans, including the Ambassador to Libya, were killed has come as welcome relief to the Administration at a difficult time in its foreign policy. White House officials are hoping that will this take some of the sting out of the ongoing Congressional investigations of the episode. However, there is little sign to date that President Obama’s reputation for foreign policy decisiveness earned after the 2011 capture of Osama bin-Laden is recovering. This has been flagging following hesitations over Syria, Ukraine and, most recently, Iraq. What it will not do is solve the US dilemma over how to respond to the ISIS advances toward Baghdad. While there is much talk of airstrikes against ISIS targets, State Department and, especially, Pentagon officials are more conscious of the difficulties. These concerns lie behind the response to date being confined to the deployment of a modest number of military advisors. On the political side, officials note that ISIS enjoys significant support from the Sunni population, thus risking the perception that the US is taking anti-Sunni action. On the military side, the problem is that accurate targeting of airstrikes requires intelligence from on-the-ground spotters, thus increasing the risk to US personnel. This dilemma remains the subject of active debate. One of the more intriguing by-products of the crisis in Iraq are signs of a tentative opening to a broader relationship with Iran. Against the background of the P5+1 nuclear talks, senior State Department officials have held bilateral exchanges with their Iranian counterparts about what both sides perceive as a shared interest in stabilizing Iraq. The Administration is proceeding very cautiously on this front as opinion is divided about the wisdom of this approach. The Iraq crisis has diverted attention fromUkraine, but Administration officials are now hopeful that the exchanges between Presidents Putin and Poroshenko are laying the groundwork for a peaceful de-escalation of tensions, although reports ofnew Russian troop movements near the Ukraine border are leading to new sanctions.'

Saturday, June 21, 2014

After success in Iraq & Syria, ISIL moves on Jordan

'Solidarity with ISIL from Ma'an, Jordan'
 The National

"... Emboldened by its impressive gains in Iraq and southern Syria, the former Al Qaeda affiliate took to social media to announce that it would “soon bring the Islamic state” to “brothers in Jordan”.
According to senior ISIL-linked Jordanian jihadists, the former Al Qaeda affiliate has reportedly pumped $3 million (Dh 11m) into Jordan in the past month for “recruitment purposes” and to fund the medical treatment of its fighters returning from Syria.
Sharing a 370-kilometre border with Syria to the north and 180 kilometres with Iraq to the east, ISIL has identified Jordan as a vital “linchpin” to uniting its young caliphate, whose position would allow the movement to open up new routes for fighters and arms between Iraq and Syria – a move that has been singled out by its leadership as key to widening its wars on Baghdad and Damascus....."

Friday, June 20, 2014

الموساد: "جماعات مسلحة تأتمر بكتائب عبدالله عزام تخطط لاغتيال اللواء عباس ابراهيم"

"... وكانت "النهار" قد انفردت بخبر عن كشف الاعلامية اللبنانية الأصل جولي أبو عراج (تحمل الجنسية الاسرائيلية، منذ لجوئها الى الاراضي المحتلة خلال العام 2000)، وتعمل محررة في نشرة أخبار التلفزيون الاسرائيلي"24 I" عن وثيقة قالت إنها حصلت عليها من جهاز الاستخبارات الاسرائيلي (الموساد) تفيد بأن جماعات مسلحة تأتمر بكتائب عبدالله عزام تخطط لعمل إرهابي كبير في لبنان يستهدف شخصية أمنية رفيعة، يرجح أن تكون المدير العام للأمن العام اللواء عباس ابرهيم.
وقالت إن "الموساد" حصل على هذه المعلومات من عملائه داخل مخيم عين الحلوة في جنوب لبنان، ورصد مجموعة اتصالات من داخل المخيم تخلص في محتواها الى وجود مخطط كبير لعملية اغتيال من تجهيز سيارة مفخخة داخل المخيم على أيدي ارهابيين محترفين من الخبراء الشيشانيين، ثم وضعها في تصرف وفد فلسطيني رسمي اعتاد لقاء ابرهيم في بيروت لبحث مواضيع أمنية، من دون علم أعضاء الوفد بالأمر، لتفجيرها لاحقاً أثناء انعقاد اللقاء.

وأشارت الوثيقة الى أن كتائب عزام والجماعات المتطرفة التي تدور في فلكها تسعى الى اغتيال ابرهيم منذ احداث عبرا، لانها تعتبره الرأس المدبر الذي أدار من وراء الكواليس عملية القضاء على ظاهرة الشيخ الفار أحمد الأسير.

Suicide attack target Head of 'General Security' in Lebanon, Ge. Abbas Ibrahim

ISIS' & friends' long arm.

'Negotiate a settlement with the Assad regime'

"... Instead of prolonging a destabilizing civil war out of protest, the United States needs to show real leadership in Syria. Our focus should be to coordinate with regional partners to combat ISIL, stem the flow of arms to insurgents and negotiate a settlement with the Assad regime. .."

In Iraq, a 'frantic scramble by U.S. military, diplomatic, & intelligence agencies'

"... The outreach to Chalabi is part of a frantic scramble by U.S. military, diplomatic, and intelligence agencies to respond to the growing violence in Iraq before the country collapses. On Thursday, Obama announced that he was sending up to 300 U.S. special operations forces to Iraq—in addition to the 275 such troops already in country. Manned and unmanned aircraft are also now in the region. The U.S.S. George H.W. Bush, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, has been dispatched to the Persian Gulf. Senior U.S. military officials say they have the capability to launch airstrikes within a matter of hours against the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the terror group that has seized control of several key Iraqi cities..."

It's not really about the 'Boogeyman Maliki'

"... The most significant factor behind Iraq’s problems has been the inability of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs and its Sunni neighbors to come to terms with a government in which the Shias, by virtue of their considerable majority in Iraq’s population, hold the leading role. This inability was displayed early on, when Iraq’s Sunnis refused to take part in Iraq’s first parliamentary elections, and resorted to insurgency almost immediately after the US invasion and fall of Saddam Hussein. All along, the goal of Iraqi Sunnis has been to prove that the Shias are not capable of governing Iraq. Indeed, Iraq’s Sunni deputy prime minister, Osama al Najafi, recently verbalized this view. The Sunnis see political leadership and governance to be their birthright and resent the Shia interlopers..."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

RAND: "Assad could help NATO & other willing partners focus time and resources on ISIS"

"... Assad has much to gain from this proposal, as do Tehran and Baghdad. In turn, Assad could help NATO and other willing partners focus time and resources on ISIS, which poses the greatest threat to the Middle East, the United States, and Europe."

Iraqi Army losses (Jane's)

JANE defence:
"... The penetration of a tank's armour by a shaped-charge warhead increases the likelihood of crew casualties, but does not necessarily result in the destruction of the vehicle, especially if it has a dedicated ammunition compartment, as in the case of the Abrams.However, the US official said the Iraqi Army has problems maintaining its Abrams, suggesting it will struggle to get damaged tanks back into service.At least one video has emerged showing an Abrams 'brew up' after being hit by an ATGM during fighting this year in the western province of Al-Anbar. Militants operating in Al-Anbar have also released images of numerous attacks on other Abrams tanks, including ones involving a 9K11 Kornet ATGM, RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and a M70 Osa rocket launcher. The latter is a Yugoslavian weapon that has been widely used by insurgents in neighbouring Syria, but is rarely seen in Iraq...."

You should've said so earlier ... Thank You for caring!

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wishes to see the defeat and destruction of all Al-Qaeda networks and the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham (ISIS) operating in Iraq. Saudi Arabia does not provide either moral or financial support to ISIS or any terrorist networks. Any suggestion to the contrary, is a malicious falsehood.
Despite the false allegations of the Iraqi Ministerial Cabinet, whose exclusionary policies have fomented this current crisis, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supports the preservation of Iraq's sovereignty, its unity and territorial integrity. We wish to see the protection of all civilians and the alleviation of their current suffering. We oppose all foreign intervention and interference in the internal affairs of Iraq. Instead, we urge all the people of Iraq, whatever their religious denominations, to unite to overcome the current threats and challenges facing the country.

Turkey will be rebranding 'Gucci al Qaeda' to enable support!

"... Turkey made an amendment to its decree and listed al-Nusra as a terrorist organization in early June. [Al-] Nusra is still a terrorist organization for Turkey but it is no longer listed under al-Qaeda in Iraq,” the official said, adding that the changes were made after an amendment of the UNSC resolution regarding the al-Nusra Front in early June. The official said al-Nusra is still defined under al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations according to the UNSC lists.
The Official Gazette said the decision to update the terror list and exclude al-Nusra from the chapter on al-Qaeda in Iraq came into force on Wednesday..."

'The unraveling of Iraq is of little consequence to the US in economic terms'

" The unraveling of Iraq is of little consequence to the United States in economic terms. More than a decade after the U.S.-led invasion, Iraq’s economy remains in shambles ..."

Read more here:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Jumblatt: 'All colonial rule is better than this ...'

"...BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt Monday questioned if the region was truly better off since the end of European rule in the Middle East.
What if the French or the British mandates, or even the rule of the Ottoman Empire had continued? Was it not better than the sectarian strife that we see worsening day by day, the latest of which is in Iraq?...Didn’t that era that we cursed back then provide the institutions that performed at the bare minimum, some form of constitution and a general system? ...What if the mandate – which established departments, public institutions and made basic laws for the many administrative and institutional structures – had continued?” Jumblatt went on to say...."

US State Dept: 'The Muslim Brotherhood are our people!'

"... Knowledgeable sources have informed MEB that the U.S. Government began the policy shift in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, including the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, over a decade ago.  On February 16, 2011, a White House internal assessment prepared by Dennis Ross, Samantha Power and Gayle Smith concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood had “large ideological differences” with Al Qaeda and warned “If our policy can’t distinguish between Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, we won’t be able to adapt to this change” now underway throughout the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Spraking from both sides of her mouth: Clinton: 'I was wrong, but i would have done it again, & maybe ended up wrong again!'

Remember the 'i was wrong when i did iraq, but everyone was doing it!'?
Well, Clinton comes back with, 'i would've done syria, and ended up wrong again!', but who's keeping tabs? Pfft!
"... Clinton said it is not clear whether arming moderates in Syria would have prevented the rise of al Qaeda splinter group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has swept toward Baghdad aiming to build a Muslim caliphate across the Iraqi-Syrian border.
"It's very difficult, in retrospect, to say that would have prevented this," she said. She said it is too soon to tell whether American policy in Syria was a failure...."

Americans on edge, as QATAR warns the United States!

Qatar to the US: 'ISIS are our people, and you are messing with them!'
MacClatchy's:"... A former Qatari ambassador to the United States offered up a warning to the Obama administration Monday that any military intervention on behalf of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki would be seen as an act of “war” on the entire community of Sunni Arabs.Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa also warned against the United States working with Iran to repulse the advance by the radical Sunni group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)...  Khalifa tweeted..."

On Turkish collusion with ISIS

The Guardian:
"... Foreign jihadists, many from Europe, were among those who stormed into Mosul and have spread through central Iraq ever since. Most of their names were already known to the intelligence agencies which had tried to track their movements after they arrived in Turkey, then disappeared, initially across the Syrian border. But noms de guerre given to the new arrivals had left their trails cold. Now officials had details of next of kin, and often phone numbers and emails..."

British embassy Tehran, to reopen

"... William Hague has announced that Britain's embassy in Iran will be reopened as the West looks to Tehran to help ease the crisis in neighbouring Iraq.The Foreign Secretary said the "circumstances are right" to restore the diplomatic base after a significant thawing in relations over recent months...."

Neocon Kagan: 'Hillary is our best hope!'

"....But Exhibit A for what Robert Kagan describes as his “mainstream” view of American force is his relationship with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who remains the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes. Mr. Kagan pointed out that he had recently attended a dinner of foreign-policy experts at which Mrs. Clinton was the guest of honor, and that he had served on her bipartisan group of foreign-policy heavy hitters at the State Department, where his wife worked as her spokeswoman.“I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy,” Mr. Kagan said, adding that the next step after Mr. Obama’s more realist approach “could theoretically be whatever Hillary brings to the table” if elected president.If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue,” he added, “it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”..."

Iraq: 'Saudi Arabia financing ISIS!'

 'The Islamic State of Iraq & Syria'
"... Saudi Arabia should be held responsible for militant financing and crimes committed by insurgent groups in Iraq, the Baghdad government charged on Tuesday.
Comments from Riyadh indicates it is "siding with terrorism", the cabinet said in a statement issued by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office."We strongly condemn this stance," the statement read."We hold it (Saudi Arabia) responsible for what these groups are receiving in terms of financial and moral support."

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Washington must finally confront Saudi Arabia over its longstanding support for jihadi militants as a policy tool"

".... It is also imperative that U.S. policymakers rethink—and rebalance—their Middle East diplomatic strategy, in at least three critical respects.  First, Washington needs to acknowledge the mistaken premises of its Syria policythat Assad has lost the support of most Syrians and can be overthrown by externally-supported oppositionists—and recognize that ending the anti-Assad insurgency is essential to cutting off ISIS’s base in northeastern Syria.Second, Washington needs to accept Tehran as an essential player in containing and rolling back ISIS’s multifaceted challenge and—as we have been advocating inside and outside government for over a decade—embed that acceptance in a broader realignment of U.S.-Iranian relations.  It is crucial, though, that America engage Iran over ISIS politically—not, as some suggest, by U.S. warplanes covering Iranian foot soldiers in Iraq.  (Most responsible officials and politicians in Tehran appear too smart to fall for such a “trap,” which would also play into al-Qa’ida’s grand strategy.)Third, Washington must finally confront Saudi Arabia over its longstanding support for jihadi militants as a policy tool.  Riyadh’s resort to this tool has proven serially damaging for U.S. interests; time has come for U.S. leaders to make clear to Saudi counterparts that their tolerance for it is at an end."

The Iraq Crisis and America’s Double-Edged Partnership with Saudi Arabia

"... U.S.-armed Sunnis needed a catalyst for resurgence, however.  In the first two years of Obama’s presidency, they grudgingly co-existed with central governments grounded in coalitions of Shi’a Islamist and Kurdish parties.  The Islamic State of Iraq—formed in 2006 from Zarqawi’s Al-Qai’da in Iraq—seemed on the wane.  Then, in spring 2011, Obama decided to support largely Sunni militias and forces willing to collaborate with them in trying to overthrow incumbent leaders in Libya and Syria.  This was motivated partly by dysfunctional aspects of Washington’s strategic co-dependency with Riyadh, and partly by a longstanding delusion that America could orchestrate a de factoaxis of Saudi Arabia and other “moderate” Sunni states with Israel to check Iran’s rise and bolster a pro-U.S. regional order under threat from the Arab Awakening.  But, by reigniting the flames of Sunni militancy, the decision proved profoundly inimical to American interests...."

US Official: 'Drafting of deal with Iran began in May'

"... "Actually there was some drafting... at the last round," the official said. "A little bit of that was done the last time, and it was expected more will take place during this round." While stressing that "significant" differences remain, the official indicated that progress was made at bilateral talks between the United States and Iran in Geneva last Monday and Tuesday.
We not only understood each other better after those two days but I think we both can see places where we might be able to close the gaps," the official said...."

'Can Obama pull a Nixon with the Iraq crisis?'

"... Unfortunately, signs of Obama repeating Nixon's trick — offsetting failure in Iraq by securing compensatory advantage elsewhere — are hard to find. Instead, the roster of countries across the Islamic world that Washington views as problems or threats has grown appreciably.As shrewd as he was amoral, Nixon contrived a way to limit the damage that Vietnam had done to U.S. interests. Obama has yet to demonstrate any comparable ability to limit the damage done by the Iraq war.One glimmer of opportunity remains, in terms of daring and audacity the closest thing to a Nixonian gambit: Ending the U. S. diplomatic estrangement from Iran could yield a strategic realignment comparable to that produced by the opening to China, its effects rippling across the greater Middle East. There, rather than in misguided proposals for renewed U.S. military action, lies Obama's chance to demonstrate that he has grasped the lessons that Iraq (along with Vietnam) has to teach. One can imagine Nixon himself relishing the prospect."

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Daily Star: 'Syrian Arab Army retake Kasab, pound ISIS bases'

"... Government forces flushed opposition fighters from their last strongholds in northwestern Syria near the Turkish frontier Sunday, seizing the Armenian town of Kasab and restoring government control over a nearby border crossing, activists and state media said.The developments came as regime airstrikes pounded bases in eastern Syria belonging to the Al-Qaeda splinter group ISIS in coordination with the Baghdad government, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.The military’s advances fully reversed the gains rebels had made during their three-month campaign in Latakia province, the rugged coastal region that is the ancestral heartland of President Bashar Assad." 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

"State Department officials are in fact in dialogue with their Iranian counterparts about how to turn back ISIS"

'After a slow start caused by a number of domestic political distractions and the continuing reverberations of the return of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the Administration is beginning to formulate its response to the surging advances of the ISIS in Northern Iraq. The Pentagon is preparing a list ofmilitary options, but President Obama has made clear that he is reluctant to intervene unless the Iraqi government provides concrete assurances of its intention to undertake political reform in Iraq. While US officials do not underestimate the seriousness of the ISIS advances, they are also fault Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki for his sectarian manner of governance. The Intelligence Community is reporting that Sunni leaders in Anbar province have given their blessing to ISIS. At the Pentagon, there is deep resentment against him for his failure to allow a basing agreement for a residual US force. Any US intervention will therefore be heavily conditioned. There are even some at high policy making levels who are dusting off former ideas about partitioning Iraq. Our White  House sources advise us that they have "polled" questions about Iraqi intervention extensively and their public statements reflect the current mood of the American public on this issue. The events is Iraq are throwing the spotlight on Iran. Secretary of State Kerry has been publicly cautious about whether last week’s talks with Iran about nuclear issues also included discussion of Iraq. However, we understand that, with evidence ofongoing Iranian operations in Iraq, State Department officials are in fact in dialogue with their Iranian counterparts about how to turn back ISIS. They remain anxious not to conflate the Iraq and nuclear problems and thus give the Iranians the sense that by being helpful on the former they can  extract concessions on the latter.  Iran experts advise us, however, that this goal will prove elusive. Iraq has taken attention away from Ukraine, but US officials hold Russia responsible for the continuing resilience of the pro-Russia militants. While talk of a third round of sanctions has eased recently, these could readily activated unless Moscow takes action to calm the situation in Eastern Ukraine. Finally, on China preparations for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue to be held in early July are in train, but divisions between the two sides are hindering agreement about the agenda.'

Lebanese Army moves against Jabhat al Nusra

'The Lebanese army intensified its security measures near the country’s borders with Syria’s Qalamoun region amid a crackdown on al-Nusra Front militants fleeing Syria. The military operation will in fact take some time, and is expected to further intensify if the Syrian army decides to regain control over al-Zabadani....'

'The potential for de facto coöperation between the United States & Iran'

"... "... Twitter pundits are already speculating about the potential for de facto coöperation between the countries. Among the scenarios: U.S. drones striking ISIS targets and, in effect, providing air cover for Iranian Revolutionary Guards dispatched to help hold back the ISIS jihadis, who have been pushing toward Baghdad. In our conversation, Zarif denied reports that Tehran has already dispatched battalions of Revolutionary Guards to aid and protect Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government, but its élite Quds Force has long had a presence—in various forms—inside Iraq......Today, Tehran, like Washington, seems preoccupied with the rise or return of Sunni militants, from Syria to Afghanistan. “Everybody is threatened by this extremism,” Zarif told me in March. “It has changed the strategic calculations and considerations for everybody who is interested in peace and stability in this region…. I think we all must take cognizance of the fact that this is a threat and work on it together—not against one another.”

Friday, June 13, 2014

'A combined Iraqi-Iranian force has now taken control of 85% of the city'

'Iranian troops have helped Iraqi government forces re-take the town of Tikrit, the Wall St Journal reports Iranian security sources as saying.The source said that two battalions of Iran's Quds force, the overseas branch of the country's Revolutionary Guard, helped battle ISIS Islamist militants in the city.A combined Iraqi-Iranian force has now taken control of 85% of the city, the sources added.'

IRGC' Suleimani in Baghdad?

"... There were reports Thursday that Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards special forces, was in Baghdad to help the Maliki government mount a counterattack and protect the capital..."

Read more here:

Spreading Bad American Policy from Iraq to Syria…and Back Again

"... In Iraq, the resurgence of sectarian violence stems not from the 2011 American withdrawal. It is, rather, the fruit of America's 2003 invasion of Iraq, the subsequent U.S. occupation, and the much vaunted "surge" of 2007-2008. The U.S. invasion and occupation destroyed the Iraqi state and ignited tensions among Iraq's sectarian and ethnic communities. The surge sought to empower certain Sunni militias while paying them (temporarily) not to kill American soldiers; this ended up giving Sunni militants the means to press their grievances through escalating violence once U.S. forces were no longer around.Unfortunately, Washington seems determined to compound its appalling policy choices in Iraq with equally grievous choices regarding Syria..."

FP: 'The carnage in Iraq is a Saudi dream come true'

"... Such a setback for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been the dream of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah for years. He has regarded Maliki as little more than an Iranian stooge, refusing to send an ambassador to Baghdad and instead encouraging his fellow rulers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman -- to take a similar standoff-ish approach. Although vulnerable to al Qaeda-types at home, these countries (particularly Kuwait and Qatar) have often turned a blind eye to their citizens funding radical groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the most active Islamist groups opposed to Assad in Syria. This perspective may well confuse many observers. In recent weeks, there has been a flurry of reports of an emerging -- albeit reluctant -- diplomatic rapprochement between the Saudi-led GCC and Iran, bolstered by the apparently drunken visit to Tehran by the emir of Kuwait ... The merit, if such a word can be used, of the carnage in Iraq is that at least it offers clarity. There are tribal overlays and rival national identities at play, but the dominant tension is the religious difference between majority Sunni and minority Shiite Islam. This region-wide phenomenon is taken to extremes by the likes of ISIS, which also likely sees its action in Iraq as countering Maliki's support for Assad. ISIS is a ruthless killing machine, taking Sunni contempt for Shiites to its logical, and bloody, extreme....."

Human Rights Watch timid praise of al Qaeda!

"Well, we were going to wage jihad to establish an Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, but the U.S. is arming moderates so I guess we’ll stay home.”

 'ISIS in full regalia'
'...  The absence of U.S. troops because of the 2011 withdrawal is an extremely minor part of the story at best. The intense interaction between the Syrian and Iraqi insurgencies is certainly an important accelerant, but again is only part of the story. Nor is the U.S. reluctance to provide more arms to “moderate” Syrian rebels really the key to the growth of ISIS in Syria or in Iraq. It’s a bit hard to believe that the jihadists who have joined up with ISIS would have been deterred by the presence of U.S.-backed forces – “Well, we were going to wage jihad to establish an Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, but the U.S. is arming moderates so I guess we’ll stay home.” In reality, the shift to an externally fueled insurgency and the flow of money and weapons to a variety of armed groups is what created the conditions that allowed ISIS to thrive in the first place...."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

'Maliki's army is in a real "world of hurt."'

'The Iraq crisis becomes more and more interesting.  Today we are learning that ISIS has made some sort of temporary common cause with former Iraqi Army (sadddam period) people to include a large number of men who are members of the "Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order." The naqshbandiya is the largest Sufi order in the Islamic World .  Izzat Ibrahim, the redhead who was Saddam's VP is a member and is reputedly recognized at least temporarily by ISIS as something like field coordinator for the campaign.  Izzat's nephew is an Iraqi Republican guard general who commanded an armored division and a mechanised infantry division in the war with Iran as well as holding the post of chief of military intelligence during that war.  His name is Sabr Abd al-Aziz Al-Douri.Contrary to public delusion in the USA, the former Iraqi Army had many capable and well trained officers. The speed and effective direction of this offensive seems to me to show the participation of such officers as Sabr- Abd al-Aziz al-Douri.If that is the case, then Maliki's army is in a real "world of hurt."  pl

How do you say 'finally' in Turkish? Nihayet!

"... Despite such indirect acknowledgements of Jabhat al-Nusra’s status as a terrorist group, it took nine months for Ankara to finally designate it as a terrorist organization by a government decree published in the Official Gazette.The question arises as to why the Erdogan government decided to blacklist Jabhat al-Nusra now, after having resisted doing so for so long. The simple answer seems to be that its Syria policy is in tatters, after all the horses it bet on lost one by one.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has proved to have staying power, and his latest election gambit shows that he will remain in place for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, it has become apparent that there will be no direct Western-led military intervention against the Syrian regime, which continues to get major backing from Russia and Iran.
The Erdogan government has no choice at this point but to also accept that as far as the United States and Europe are concerned, the emphasis in Syria has shifted from toppling Assad to combating the al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadist groups in that country..."

'Regime Change in Iraq': It worked beatifully the first time! Let's do it AGAIN!

 'ISIS controlled in red. (AsSafir)'
Cordesman in CNN:"... Yes, the United States might have to help in spite of his total unfitness to rule and Iraq's desperate need to expel him and his cronies from the country, but U.S. aid must be conditional and tied to the fact that al-Maliki is an authoritarian thug. The United States should also quietly do everything possible to push him out of power and into exile..."


'How can the West hope to contain the monster it helped to create? Call Tehran!

"... In order to understand this new phenomenon, it is essential to grasp what brought it into being. Its emergence can be traced straight back to the Iraq invasion. Some of its fighters (who bring formidable military capability) are former Ba’athist soldiers. Others learnt their trade with the so-called “Awakening fighting” groups created by the US to head off an all-out Iraqi civil war back in 2007.The Western campaign to dislodge President Assad of Syria was another contributing factor. While our leaders were ready to call for Assad to go, they were unwilling to intervene directly to dislodge him. Instead, mainly through allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the West supported militant rebel groups which have since mutated into Isis and other al‑Qaeda connected militias.The comparison with the terrible mistakes made by Western intelligence agencies during the Afghan war against the Soviets is startling. We supported al‑Qaeda, which later turned on us. Thanks to this policy, Pakistan now faces a permanent terrorist insurgency bordering on civil war. It is very likely that Turkey (and probably Jordan and Saudi Arabia) will face the same problem in due course as a result of the Syrian backlash. Meanwhile, jihadists have found a new terror base from which they can mount attacks on the West. All this was predictable at the start of the Syrian war – indeed, President Assad warned of it.How can the West hope to contain the monster it helped to create? The countries we formed at the stroke of a pen in the Sykes-Picot treaty 98 years ago are being washed away. Only Egypt and Iran, states whose history stretches back for thousands of years rather than decades, are certain to survive intact.With Egypt facing grave problems, Iran has emerged as the most stable and powerful country in the Middle East. Again and again since the 9/11 attack on the twin towers in 2001, the Iranians have offered cooperation against al-Qaeda and its allies. These entreaties have repeatedly been turned down. It is time for President Obama and David Cameron to acknowledge that we have been helping to sponsor terror for the past few decades. We have to choose new allies, and they must include Iran. If we carry on with our present deluded course, the threat to the West will only grow more dangerous."

'The next generation of "al-Qaedism"'

"... The Bush surge in 2007 did not destroy Zarqawi's empire. A residual US ground force would not have eliminated it, either. Decapitating the group and buying the Sunni tribes only forced it deeper into the angry Sunni underground. Only sustained good and smart governance could kill it, and that was something post-Saddam Hussein Iraq could not produce, with or without the United States.The Syrian civil war was a gift to ISIS. At first, ISIS created Jabhat al-Nusra as its agent in Iraq that could be portrayed as an independent party under one of Zarqawi's former deputies, Mohammad al-Golani. Then, ISIS demanded al-Nusra accept its loyalty to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and not bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahri. The protege had turned on his leader's heir. Ironically, Zawahri had long warned bin Laden of this eventuality. In his last days, bin Laden told Zawahri he had always been right about the upstart Jordanian. Too late...."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Russia & the 'color revolutions': Better listen!

CSIS' Cordesman:  
"... Key Russian officers and officials presented a view of the US and the West as deliberately destabilizing nations in North Africa, the Middle East, and the rest of the world for their own ends. They describe such actions as having failed, and been a key source of terrorism. They see the West as rejecting partnership with the West as a threatening Russia along all of its borders with Europe.... Western experts can argue the degree to which this represents Russian anger over the West’s reaction to events in Ukraine, Russian efforts at persuading developing nations and Asia to back Russia in a reassertion of its strategic role in the world, propaganda to cloak the character Russian actions in the Ukraine and near abroad, an effort to justify Russian action in Syria, very real Russian concern over US and European actions that have destabilized key MENA and Central Asian states, and a host of other possible motives and intentions.What is critical is that the US and Europe listen to what Russian military leaders and strategists are saying. These are not Russian views the US and Europe can afford to ignore...." 

"The Obama Administration has been pursuing a policy of covert support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other insurgent movements in the Middle East since 2010..."

"... The Obama Administration has been pursuing a policy of covert support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other insurgent movements in the Middle East since 2010.  MEB has obtained a just-released U.S. State Department document through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that confirms the Obama Administration’s pro-active campaign for regime change throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.
The October 22, 2010 document, titled “Middle East Partnership Initiative: Overview,” spells out an elaborate structure of State Department programs aimed at directly building “civil society” organizations, particularly non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to alter the internal politics of the targeted countries in favor of U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives..."

Abandon the diplomacy of lies and fear

"... The common thread here is the total lack of accountability or restraint in how global, mostly Western, powers focus on an issue related to a powerful Middle Eastern country, and then take action, from sanctions to warfare and regime change, to achieve the goals they set. Clinton writes that she thought she had acted “in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong.”
And with that mild public admission of her mistake, we are asked to wipe clean the slate of moral accountability and open the way for Clinton to seek the American presidency. The immense and continuing dark consequences of the 2003 war on Iraq are not relevant, according to this approach. We are supposed to forget the trillions of wasted dollars, the hundreds of thousands of people who have died, the millions displaced, and the continuing aftershocks of the war in the form of lawless zones that have given rise to a flourishing expansion of Salafist-takfiri Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria....."

Critiquing America’s Brain-Dead Foreign Policy “Debate”

"... “Nobody seems to be happy with U.S. foreign policy these days.  It’s not hard to see why.  Relations with Russia are frosty and could get worse.  China is throwing sharp elbows and looking for opportunities to shift the status quo in Asia.  The NSA is out of control.  Afghanistan and Iraq were failures.  Libya is a mess, Syria is worse, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s quixotic effort at Middle East peacemaking was a farce.  Al Qaeda keeps spreading and morphing no matter how many leaders our drones and Special Forces kill.  With criticism mounting, U.S. President Barack Obama defended his basic approach at West Point and hardly anyone came away feeling any better.  And now we are having a pointless squabble over repatriated POW Bowe Bergdahl.With nearly everyone—from Afghanistan War veterans to former envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to former Ambassador Robert Ford to—upset about how things are going, it’s time for our premier foreign-policy institutions to step up with some outside-the-box thinking on how the United States could do better. ..."

Iraq has been Broken

What were you saying on the weaponization of the events in Syria? I repeat: weaponization happened on DDay -1!

"...On Sunday in Syria, ISIL fighters clashed with the al-Qaida-affiliated al Nusrah Front in eastern Syria, while its Iraq wing fought to capture Mosul in Iraq. This is a formidable group. Only the Syrian Kurds stand in the way of ISIL consolidating large areas in Iraq and Syria under its control.
Mosul's capture reinforces the judgment that Iraq has re-entered civil war. ISIL is more than an insurgency because it has an effective organization and is conquering territory. By force of arms, it has created a power-sharing arrangement with the government in Baghdad and fragmented the country. A statement by the Muslim scholars association today encouraged ISIL to hold Mosul and to set up an administration. It urged the youth of the city to defend it against the Baghdad government.ISIL's control in Syria seems tenuous and contested by other opposition groups. In Iraq, it is the dominant anti-government force and it has broken Iraq, for now."

ISIL' "a threat to the entire region"

"... The United States, which pulled its troops out from Iraq to and half years ago, pledged to help Iraqi leaders "push back against this aggression" as the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked parliament to declare a state of emergency.
It said Washington would support "a strong, coordinated response", adding that "
ISIL is not only a threat to the stability of Iraq, but a threat to the entire region"..."