Concealed By U.S. Airstrikes Israel Opens Nusra Path To Lebanon
Screenshot from the current NYT homepage:
The first piece is about the U.S. air attack last nights against various targets in east Syria. The second piece right next to it explains that such strikes in Iraq have had little effect. The juxtaposition demonstrates the futility of today's bombing campaign, part of the ongoing wars of proxy in Syria. As a result the Islamic State will only gain further legitimacy.
The U.S. and some "coalition" of Arab dictatorships bombed various targets related to the Islamic State in east Syria. The Syrian government was informed about the attack and did not overly protest against it.
The U.S. did not attack IS positions around the northern Syrian city Kobane where the IS is fighting against Kurdish militia in an attempt to open up a new logistic path for the IS to Turkey. Agreeing to this new logistic path was probably part of the price Turkey paid for recently getting its diplomats freed from IS internment.
The U.S. alone additionally bombed targets related to the group Jabhat al-Nusra in north west Syria. It claims that it hit the "Khorasan group". But that groups is just a Pentagon FUD invention. It is nothing but the long established leadership group of al Nusra. While ISIS had prepared for the announced U.S. air attacks and dispersed its personal and material Jabhat al-Nusra was unprepared and lost some 50 of its fighters. One of the Nusra leaders, Mohsen al-Fadli al-Kuwaiti, was killed in this attack.
Also today the Syrian airforce wanted to bomb Jabhat al-Nusra positions in the Golan heights where Nusra is, as first reported here, opening a corridor from Jordan towards Lebanon and for attacks on Damascus right along the demarcation line between Israel and Syria. Israel, in quite open support effort for the Nusra plan, shot down the Syrian SU-24 using U.S. provided Patriot missiles. While Israel claims that the plane violated its border the reported crash site was far from the border near Kanaker, Syria which is halfway between the demarcation line and Damascus.
Under the protection of the U.S. attack on IS and other targets Israel now practically established a no-fly-zone next to the Golan which will allow Jabhat al-Nusra to safely use the corridor and to attack Hizbullah in Qalamoun and in south Lebanon. It also opens space for new attacks on Damascus.
The U.S. attack on the IS in Syria will, as the NYT headlines express, have as little effect as such attacks have in Iraq. Without coordinating air attacks with a capable, available ground force like the Syrian army such strikes on IS will make no conceivable difference. I have yet to see any report that the U.S. planes have hit some of the major weapons or ammunition depots the IS captured from the Iraqi army. There are some 50 main battle tanks and lots of heavy artillery pieces in the hands of IS. What is done to disable those?
Why The Islamic State Announced Retaliation
One Shaykh Abū Muhammad al-‘Adnānī ash-Shāmī, allegedly the number two of the Islamic State, gave a speech today (English translation, pdf) and asked Islamic State followers everywhere to attack the countries that promised to wage war against the IS.
One can argue that this is in attempt by the Islamic State to deter any additional attacks on it. But if that was the intend then it is likely to fail. The "west", i.e. the U.S., is much too aggressive and secure to be deterred and such threats will merely increase the push for another decade of wars. The military machine is already reeving up and by now nearly impossible to stop. The U.S. is rebuilding its former Forward Operating Base Speicher north of Tikrit as operations center for the next phases and coming escalations.
The Obama's administration argument that the IS was a threat to the "west", and those foggy "interests" it always claims to have, was false. The Islamic State did not start this war as a war against the "west". That happened for two reasons. One is obvious - it was attacked and it had to respond:
[E]fforts to establish its version of an Islamic caliphate unsettled the wider region, prompting U.S. airstrikes aimed at stemming its advance.
The Islamic militant group has responded by beheading three of its Western hostages in recent weeks
The killings of Foley and Sotloff took place after the U.S. military began airstrikes against ISIS positions in Iraq ..
Now, after nearly 200 U.S. and French airstrikes against it, a real threat of retaliation for these has been made.
To probably the surprise of many readers I had argued for airstrikes. But I was quite specific. Those airstrikes should have been against the heavy equipment the IS seized from the Iraqi and Syrian armies. It is that mountain of heavy equipment, not the running loons, that make IS dangerous to everyone in the Middle East.
It would take the U.S. air-force supported by special operation groups on the ground only a few weeks to reduce the Islamic State to an infantry force incapable of larger geographic actions.
This video of the recent IS attacks on the (Kurdish) Syrian city of Kobane show the IS fighters successfully using main battle tanks and several pieces of heavy artillery. The Syrian air-force for now stopped that attack on the city by destroying a bridge which the attackers needed. But it is the heavy equipment (and the ammunition for it) that needs to be destroyed.
But back to that speech. Shaykh al-Adnani claims another reason for his call to war:
U.S. Launches New FUD Campaign
Dear Americans, last week we told you to be very, very afraid of this Caliph guy. You know the one that may blow up your car tires or something else. We were all wrong with that.
Now look there, no there, THERE! Notice that other guy you never, ever heard about? He is the real menace. He will really blow things up. May be even your car engine!
As the United States begins what could be a lengthy military campaign against the Islamic State, intelligence and law enforcement officials said another Syrian group, led by a shadowy figure who was once among Osama bin Laden’s inner circle, posed a more direct threat to America and Europe.
American officials said that the group called Khorasan had emerged in the past year as the cell in Syria that may be the most intent on hitting the United States or its installations overseas with a terror attack. The officials said that the group is led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, a senior Qaeda operative who, according to the State Department, was so close to Bin Laden that he was among a small group of people who knew about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks before they were launched.
Scarry stuff, ain't it? 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. Now why care about the hundreds of Syrians, Kurds and Iraqis ISIS is killing with weapons we provided. Look at this new guy and his group who are a much better bogeyman because:
There is almost no public information about the Khorasan group, ...
That's right. No one ever heard of them. It's only us who tell you they are there. Now bend over already! Why?
Members of the cell are said to be particularly interested in devising terror plots using concealed explosives. It is unclear who, besides Mr. Fadhli, is part of the Khorasan group.
Bend over already! Open up! Can't let anyone fly without a thorough inspection. Now fear, Fear FEAR!
Fear, doubt, uncertainty. That's how we rule!
Open Thread 2014-22
News & views ...
CIA Anti-Syria Program Finances Wahhabi Headchoppers
The picture of the man above is cut from a one that accompanies a NYT piece about the CIA support for the Syrian "rebels". The caption says the man is "A rebel leader, Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin, right, on Monday in Reyhanli, Turkey."
The type of beard (no mustache) and the cloth clearly identify the man as a Salafi/Wahhabi who believes that everyone should live like in the times of Mohammed.
As Ben Hubbard, one of the more reliable NYT journalists, writes:
In a secret office near the Syrian border here, intelligence agents from the United States and its allies are laying the groundwork for what they hope will become an effective force of Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops in the international battle against the extremist Islamic State.
The office, the Military Operations Command, has slowed funding to Islamist groups, paid salaries to thousands of “vetted” rebels and given them ammunition to boost their battlefield mettle.
most of the support from governments who back the rebels is now channeled through the Military Operations Command. [...] the military command has built direct ties with rebel leaders it deems moderate and active inside Syria.
It is now paying monthly salaries of at least $100 to about 10,000 fighters in northern Syria, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a covert program.
Now here comes the guy in the picture, very likely taken in the CIA run "secret office" Ben Hubbard visited:
“The international position has to be to fight all kinds of terrorism, both ISIS and the regime,” said Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin, the head of the Nureddin Zengi Movement. “You can’t treat only one part of the disease.”
This Salafi nutjob is paid by the CIA. That he is no "moderate" is not only obvious from his outer appearance but also from the name he has chosen for his movement, Nureddin Zengi:
Nūr ad-Dīn Abū al-Qāsim Maḥmūd ibn ʿImād ad-Dīn Zangī (February 1118 – 15 May 1174), also known as Nur al-Din (from Arabic: نور الدين, "Light of the Faith") or Nur ed-Din, was a member of the Turkic Zengid dynasty which ruled the Syrian province of the Seljuk Empire. He reigned from 1146 to 1174.
In 1146, Nur ad-Din massacred the entire Christian population of [Edessa] and destroyed its fortifications, in punishment for assisting Joscelin in this attempt. Although according to Thomas Asbridge, the women and children of Edessa were enslaved. He secured his hold on Antioch after crushing Raymond of Poitiers at the Battle of Inab in 1149, even presenting to the caliph, Raymond's severed head and arms.
That, dear U.S. taxpayer, is the cause the CIA finances with your money.
The Dishonest Reporting Of Anne Barnard
Anne Barnard reports from Beirut for the New York Times on the war on Syria. The Angry Arab has several times called out her biased and misleading writings. But today's report on Syrian air attacks is probably the worst she has ever written:
In Talbiseh and across Syria, insurgent fighters who oppose the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the foreign-led militants of the extremist group called the Islamic State are being pummeled by a new wave of attacks and assassination attempts.
Insurgents of all stripes, except for the Islamic State group, say the Syrian government appears to be stepping up its attacks on them ahead of the threatened American air campaign. Pro-government and antigovernment analysts say Mr. Assad has an interest in eliminating the more moderate rebels, to make sure his forces are the only ones left to benefit on the ground from any weakening of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
Mr. Assad has maintained from the start of the conflict that he and his allies are the only force in Syria capable of battling the extremists effectively. But Islamic State activists in Homs said on Wednesday that there had been no recent government airstrikes against the group, adding to opposition suspicions that Mr. Assad prefers to focus on attacking his other opponents while letting the Islamic State’s unchecked brutality argue the case to Syria and the world that his rule is the best alternative.
Barnard is insinuating, not for the first time, that the Syrian government is not hitting ISIS but is solely hitting other insurgents. The "moderate", human liver eating insurgent groups the U.S. supports have claimed several times that there is some truce between ISIS and the government.
But that is a lie and Anne Bernard knows it is one because even her paper, the New York Times, reported on intensified Syrian air force attacks against ISIS targets only some ten days ago:
Raids by Syrian warplanes killed at least 25 people, most of them civilians crowding into a bakery, in the northeastern province of Raqqa on Saturday as government forces continued air attacks on territory controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the extremist Sunni militant group.
The Syrian government has increased airstrikes on the group in recent months after it took over government military outposts in Raqqa in a series of newly assertive attacks.
Guess who wrote that report, just ten days ago, about "increased airstrikes on the group in recent months". Yes, the same Anne Barnard who now quotes and supports the false claims that the Syrian air force does not hit ISIS.
If there is something like journalistic honor Anne Barnard surely lost it.
There is of course a reason why Barnard is lying about the Syrian air-force attacks on ISIS.
Those attacks have indeed intensified and have become much more precise. During the last months Russia delivered new Yak-130 traing jets to Syria which are modified to enable ground attacks. The Syrian air-force MIG and Suchoi jets were update too and are now much more capable of precise targeting. The Syrian air-force is by now said to fly more than 100 sorties per day.
These new capabilities make it, of course, completely unnecessary for U.S. planes to attack ISIS targets in Syria. The Syrian air-force is quite capable of doing that on its own. Where it could need additional help is in intelligence on ISIS targets.
But the U.S. aim is "regime change" in Syria by whatever means and with total disregard of the consequences. Admitting that the Syrian air-force is capable and willing to attack ISIS would take away the pretense for those U.S. air strikes that are meant to destroy the Syrian government and to achive "regime change".
The Scottish Independence Vote
It would be quite astonishing if the "Yes" vote would be allowed to win. There are too much money, personal political reputations and too many strategic assets involved for the "powers that are" to allow or accept a result that would not fit their plans.
Then again - why not hope for some really game changing event like Scottish independence, and the end of the big perfidious Albion, would be for Europe, NATO and the whole world?
Confirmation Of Southern Damascus Attack Plans By Jabhat al-Nusra/CIA
The National newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates confirms our earlier report about the new Syrian insurgency positions in Quneitra at the Israeli Golan border as the launching pad for southern attacks on Damascus:
Western and Arab military advisers based in Amman have quietly stepped up their role on Syria’s southern front, helping win recent advances for opposition factions.
After weeks of heavy fighting, rebel groups announced the seizure of 80 per cent of Qunietra province on Saturday, including areas along the border with Israel. The territory could prove to be a key link between opposition forces in the south and those fighting in and around the Syrian capital.
Qunietra borders the south-west side of rural Damascus and rebel commanders say they will now be able to work on establishing a reliable supply chain to besieged opposition units in districts on the western and southern sides of the capital, areas that have been largely cut off by regime troops since last summer.
This is exactly what we, scooping The National, wrote about this plan.
What the new report misses though is the role Israel plays in protecting the insurgents in the Quneitra zone, mostly Islamists from Jabhat al-Nusra, from Syrian government attacks.
But The National does confirm the role of the joint Arab-American operations room in Amman, Jordan:
Rather than a dramatic increase in training or influx of weaponry [...] the growing role of a secretive Military Operations Command (MOC) centre in Amman has been subtle but distinct, in the form of increasingly focused, hands-on planning and coordination for rebel operations.
The organisational changes put in place by the MOC have helped clear jams in the chain of command that rebels complained had hamstrung their attempts to effectively work with international backers, in particular when it came to intelligence-sharing and coordinating units for attacks on regime forces.
McClatchy reporters recently interviewed the military commander of the Fee Syrian Army who claims that CIA is cutting him out and is, especially in the South, directly working with the insurgent groups on the ground:
Some 12 to 14 commanders receive military and non-lethal aid this way in northern Syria and some 60 smaller groups are recipients in southern Syria, al Bashir said. They report to the CIA.
“The leadership of the FSA is American,” says the veteran officer, who defected from the Syrian army two years ago and won respect for leading rebel forces in southern Syria. “The Americans are completely marginalizing the military staff. Not even non-lethal aid comes through this office.”
The National notes:
This timing coincides with the rapid rise of Jabhat Al Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliate, on the southern front.
But The National report then makes it look, without evidence, as if the CIA/MOC involvement is a counter move to the Jabhat al-Nusra rise
Bolstered by an increase in fighters and funding, Al Nusra, once considered a bit-player in southern Syria, suddenly seemed poised to become its most influential actor.
That prospect appears to have galvanised the western and Arab states involved with the southern front into more concerted action designed to better organise moderate factions.
The last paragraph is a rather wild assertion. Facts on ground, especially the Israeli protection for JAN in Queintra, are inconsistent with that claim. Instead the rise of Jabhat al-Nusra in the south and its prominent role in the Quneitra launching pad operation seem to be a consequence of the greater CIA involvement.
This conclusion is also supported by the earlier campaign in U.S. media which falsely established JAN, despite its sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda, as Your Moderate Cuddly Homegrown Al-Qaeda which is, so it is claimed, much less evil than the savages of ISIS.
Israel Introduces Iran Bogeyman To Cover Up Its Military Help For
Below I described the Islamist fighters covered by Israel in the Golan area as "ISIS". The sole source for qualifying those fighters as "ISIS" was from the UNDOC report quoted below: "the appearance of “black flags”—a symbol associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham".
"Black flags", associated by the UN report with ISIS, are also used by Jabhat al-Nusra and some other Islamic groups fighting in Syria. Current reports of insurgency activities in Quneitra do not mention ISIS at all but only Jabhat al-Nusra, Islamic Front and the Syrian Revolutionary Front which all have a different ideologies and are under different command chains than ISIS. It is therefore likely that these groups, not ISIS, were the ones observed by the UN forces in the area.
I have therefor now replaced the "ISIS" description in the original piece below.
In yesterday's post about attack plans against Damascus I mentioned Israeli cover fire for anti-Syrian Islamists occupying the Syrian side of the Golan demarcation zone:
This movement, [...], was supported by Israeli artillery strikes against Syrian units that tried to prevent it.
In what looks like an attempted to cover up the obvious Israeli military help for Islamist anti-government fighters the Jerusalem Post today quoted Israeli intelligence using the Iranian Revolutionary Guard bogeyman to justify such attacks (original link seem unreliable, copy here - Israeli Intel: Iranian Revolutionary Guards Directed Attacks On Israeli Border From Syria):
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which is present in Syria, directed a number of attacks by pro-Assad regime militias on Israel in recent months, according to Israeli intelligence evaluations.
In one such attack in June, a number of shells were fired by Syrian militias at IDF posts on Mount Hermon. There were no injuries or damages on the Israeli side, and the IDF responded by returning artillery fire.
That is quite a laughable tale. The story of that June incident is also definitely not what Israel told the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) which covered the area at that time:
On 17 June, Council members met to consider the 10 June UNDOF report, which detailed continued violations of the ceasefire line. [...] This report indicated that UNDOF had begun to observe that the more violent aspects of the conflict were now evident in its area of operations, including the use of airstrikes by the government, the use of heavy weapons and captured military equipment by armed opposition groups and the appearance of “black flags”—a symbol associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
On 23 June, Israel targeted nine Syrian army positions with tank fire and air strikes after mortar fire from the Syrian side the previous day killed an Israeli civilian. Israel’s assessment is that most of these incidents are due to errant fire resulting from fighting in Syria. Israel said that armed opposition groups were probably responsible but that its forces fired on Syrian military positions to stress that Syria was responsible for security on its side of the ceasefire line.
There were ISIS "black flag" forces in the area fighting the Syrian army and some "errant fire" hit Israel. Israel suspected that ISIS "black flag" forces had fired the shells but responded by firing on Syrian government forces thereby helping ISIS "black flag" forces in its fight.
There were no ICRG force and no regime militias, only regular Syrian army troops. It were these troops that Israel attacked after ISIS "black flag" forces fired onto Israeli ground.
Similar happened on March 19:
Syria said one of its soldiers was killed and seven were injured when three army positions near the town of Quneitra were struck on the Syrian side of the cease-fire line between the two countries in the Golan Heights.
Israel said that the targets were an army training facility, a military headquarters and an artillery battery, and that the raid was a response to a bombing along the line Tuesday that injured four Israeli soldiers.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman, said Israel did not know whether the Syrian army, its ally Hezbollah or the rebels they are fighting may have been responsible for planting the bomb. But Israel holds the Syrian army responsible, he said.
The New "Regime Change" Plan - Attack Damascus From The South
There are serious active preparations for a new attack on Damascus. Anti-government forces, including the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, have been trained and equipped in Jordan and are now moving into their starting position in Quneitra governate in south-west Syria. (A similar plan in spring 2013 was only partially executed and later aborted,)
Quneitra governate is a strip next to the Israel occupied Golan heights with a southern border to Jordan and a north western border with Lebanon.
The anti-government forces cooperating for this operation are the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF), which is backed by the United States, assisted by the Islamic Front, backed by Saudi Arabia, and al-Qaeda's Jabhat al-Nusrah which just received some $20 million from Qatar. These forces infiltrated from Jordan through Daara and then up north-westward along the border with Israel. This movement, during which some UN observers were kidnapped by these forces, was supported by Israeli artillery strikes against Syrian units that tried to prevent it. The sole border station between Israel and Syria is now in the hands of the anti-government forces. The Israeli military is also providing medical support to these anti-government forces. The UN has pulled out all peacekeepers from the Syrian side of the Golan height demarcation line.
The anti-government forces now control a 40 miles (70km) long, three miles (5km) wide strip from Jordan along the Golan frontier up to Lebanon. This strip can be used to infiltrate into Hizbullah territory in south Lebanon but its main purpose is likely an attack on Damascus from the south. The Syrian military would have great difficulties to dislodge the anti-government forces from this strip as it is covered by Israeli anti-air and artillery fire.
There are rumors that Jabhat al-Nusra is leaving positions it has been holding in Hama governate in north Syria. It's groups are pulling back into Turkey to be transferred to Jordan and then as reinforcements into Quneitra.
The rather empty Quneitra area makes little sense to conquer except to be used as a launching pad for an attack from the south towards Damascus. The distance to the capital is only some 40 miles (60km). While two Syrian army divisions are stationed between Quneitra governate and Damascus coordinated air attacks against them could open and secure a route from Quneitra governate into the capital. Recent truce agreements between the U.S. supported Syrian Revolutionary Front and ISIS in the area south of Damascus may have been concluded with these attack plans in mind.
The U.S. military in the joint Arab-American operations room for the Syrian insurgency in Amman Jordan may well plan to use the murky new "war on ISIS" as pretext for attacks on the Syrian army divisions protecting Damascus from the south. Coordinated with a ground attack by Jabhat al-Nusra and others from Quneitra such air attacks would seriously degrade the Syrian forces and enable a destructive push into Damascus.
(update) Obama already announced the escalation path for such air attacks:
He made clear the intricacy of the situation, though, as he contemplated the possibility that Mr. Assad might order his forces to fire at American planes entering Syrian airspace. If he dared to do that, Mr. Obama said he would order American forces to wipe out Syria’s air defense system, which he noted would be easier than striking ISIS because its locations are better known. He went on to say that such an action by Mr. Assad would lead to his overthrow, according to one account.
The stampede to attack ISIS may have been pure maskirovka to hide this violent regime change attack plan against Syria under some "anti-terrorism" label. This at the same time as the plan is coordinated with and actively supported by Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and made possible through truce agreements with ISIS.
The Caliphate's Anti-Imperial/Imperial Dualism
A bit more on the tweets by Peter Lee aka Chinahand I had quoted:
Westerners mock pretensns of IS Caliphate bt it seems 2 strike chord among quite a few Muslims: effort to reestablish theocratic rule in 1/3heartland of Umayyad/Abbasid caliphates, turn page on disastrus century of colonial/postcolonial rule, replace fragmented/corrupt states 2/3w/ united Islamic power. West passivty validates the caliphate & its transnational strategy. May be PRC/Rus that try 2 draw the line. 3/3
(BTW - Denigrating those ideas because of shortened spelling in a Tweet(!) is petty.)
After further thinking about that I believe that Peter is right. ISIS, the group now claiming a Caliphate, might have had roots in some sectarian scheme the CIA and the U.S. Special Forces were running in Iraq. But it has by now far exceed that realm. The Caliphate is based on original Wahhabi ideas which were in their essence also anti-colonial and at first directed against the Ottoman rulers.
See Alastair Crooke's essays, You Can't Understand ISIS If You Don't Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia and Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia, on the origin and history of these thoughts.
After 1741 the minor Ibn Saud Bedouin tribe collaborated with the radical cleric Abd al-Wahhab to justify its expansion. Several decades later they became too successful and the Ottoman rulers, with the help of their Egyptian army, exterminated the movement and the first Saudi proto-state. When a hundred years later the Ottoman empire fell apart the Wahhabi ideas and the Saudi movement sprang back to life. But the Saudi rulers were now under British imperial influence and that required to put their Puritans down:
Abd-al Aziz, however, began to feel his wider interests to be threatened by the revolutionary "Jacobinism" exhibited by the Ikhwan. The Ikhwan revolted -- leading to a civil war that lasted until the 1930s, when the King had them put down: he machine-gunned them.
Wahhabism survived after that but in a crippled form subordinated to the ruling Saud family.
The new Caliphate followers are copies of the original Wahhabis who do not recognize nation states as those were dictated by the colonial "western" overlords after the end of the Ottoman empire. They do not recognize rulers that deviate, like the Saudi kings do, from the original ideas and subordinate themselves to "western" empires. It is their aim to replace them. As there are many people in Saudi Arabia educated in Wahhabi theology and not particular pleased with their current rulers the possibility of a Caliphate rush to conquer Saudi Arabia and to overthrow the Ibn Saud family is real.
In that aspect the Caliphate is anti-colonial and anti-imperial. That is part of what attracts its followers. At the same time the Caliphate project is also imperial in that it wants to conquer more land and wants to convert more people to its flavor of faith.
Both of these aspects make it a competitor and a danger to imperial U.S. rule-by-proxy in the Middle East. That is, I believe, why the U.S. finally decided to fight it. To lose Saudi Arabia to the Caliphate, which seems to be a real possibility, would be a devastating defeat.
Espousing a (reactionary) anti-imperial, anti-colonial ideology while at the same time furthering an imperial project is not as strange as it appears. The U.S. itself is of anti-colonial heritage and is now trying to establish a global empire. This dualism requires some serious doublethink. Billmon wrote a short Twitter essay yesterday on how the originally anti-colonial U.S. and its officials now have to lie to themselves to justify their imperialism. See also Guest77's comment on the unconscious doublethink of U.S. officials. They lie to a New York Times reporter one day then read their lies the next morning, believe them and feel confirmed in their false views.
There is not that much difference between the unaltered Wahhabi ideology ISIS espouses and the puritanical believes of the first white conquerors in North America. The anti-imperial/imperial duality is only one commonality. Indeed I believe that there are quite a lot parallels between both movements.
Some Links On That "War On ISIS"
Just some snippets and headlines on that non-war on ISIS.
On training, arming the "moderate rebels" there is pessimism all around:
- Obama strategy in Iraq, Syria hinges on long shots
- Syria rebels, IS in “non-aggression” pact near Damascus
- Syrian Rebels: We'll Use U.S. Weapons to Fight Assad, Whether Obama Likes It or Not
- Turkish aid to al Qaida-linked group shows finding allies in Syria is tough
- ISIS Starts Recruiting in Istanbul's Vulnerable Suburbs
- Islamic State Smuggles Oil Into Turkey—With Hostages as Insurance - Bomb the ISIS oil wells?
“We need to do everything we can to figure out who the non-ISIS opposition is,” said Ryan C. Crocker, a former United States ambassador to Iraq and Syria. “Frankly, we don’t have a clue.”
That's right. No clue at all. From a White House Briefing by a "Senior Administration Official":
"ISIL has been I think a galvanizing threat around the Sunni partners in the region. They view it as an existential threat to them. Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria."
These clueless folks can't even read a map. But we saw that before with those neocons who didn't know that there were Shia in Iraq before they invaded it. There is anyway not much difference between those and the "liberal interventionist" in Obama's administration. As Melkulangara Bhadrakumar notes:
Obama’s presidency has come full circle by reinventing the neocon dogmas it once professed to reject. On the pretext of fighting the IS, which the US and its allies created in the first instance, what is unfolding is a massive neocon project to remold the Muslim Middle East to suit the US’ geopolitical objectives. Call it by whatever name, it is an imperial war – albeit with a Nobel as commander-in-chief.
Westerners mock pretensns of IS Caliphate bt it seems 2 strike chord among quite a few Muslims: effort to reestablish theocratic rule in 1/3
heartland of Umayyad/Abbasid caliphates, turn page on disastrus century of colonial/postcolonial rule, replace fragmented/corrupt states 2/3
w/ united Islamic power. West passivty validates the caliphate & its transnational strategy. May be PRC/Rus that try 2 draw the line. 3/3
Is ISIS an anti-Imperial movement?
Ukraine: As Economic War Escalates, Fighting May Resume Soon
The ceasefire of Minsk between the Ukrainian coup-government and the federalists of east Ukraine was something both sides needed.
The Ukrainian army was on the verge of completely loosing it. It was temporarily defeated and needed to rearm and reorganize. While the federalist insurgents were successful and probably able to continue their fight for a few days their forces were overstretched and needed to consolidate.
But many on the insurgent side did not like the ceasefire. It did not give them the federal autonomy they demanded. The neo-nazi "national-guard" battalions on the other side also criticized the ceasefire. They want the total destruction of their enemy and ethnic cleansing of all Russia-affine Ukrainians.
Russia had pressed for the ceasefire to avoid further sanctions. It was an offer to the "western" side to step back from the cliff of an economic war. Obama and NATO tried to sabotage the ceasefire through false claims of a Russian invasion and other propaganda. But the Ukrainian president had to ignore the pressure from Washington and Brussels or he would have lost another city, Mariupol, to the insurgents.
The main Russian reason to support the ceasefire, to hold back sanctions, has now vanished. Three days ago the EU, against the will of several of its members, decided on new sanctions on Russia:
The European Union adopted new sanctions against Moscow on Monday despite the leaders of Russia and Ukraine vowing to uphold a truce aimed at halting a devastating five-month war.
In Brussels, the EU formally approved fresh sanctions against Russia but said they would not come into force for a few more days, effectively delaying the measures to see if the current truce will hold.
The truce held and despite that facts and its earlier claims the EU today announced that the new sanctions will be implemented immediately:
The European Union has agreed to impose further sanctions on Russia on Friday over its role in the Ukraine crisis, diplomats say.
The move is aimed at maintaining pressure on Russia, the sources said.
Russia says it is preparing a response "commensurate with the economic losses" caused by the EU sanctions.
This is another catastrophic and escalating EU move with regards to Ukraine and Russia. This turns the conflict into an economic war between the EU and Russia in which no side can win. Only the United States and China will profit from it.
Additonally Poland had the crazy idea of supplying gas which it purchases from Russia to Ukraine which is not willing or able to pay for direct deliveries from Russia. This is a breach of contract as the deliveries from Russia to Poland are not allowed to be resold to other Russian gas customers. Russia allegedly responded by lowering the volume of gas it supplies to Poland and Poland immediately folded and stopped the reverse gas flow to Ukraine:
Russia’s OAO Gazprom limited natural gas flows to Poland, preventing the European Union member state from supplying Ukraine via so-called reverse flows.
Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo SA, or PGNiG, got 20 to 24 percent less fuel than it ordered from Gazprom Export over the past two days and is compensating flows with alternative supply, the company said today in an e-mailed statement.
Poland halted gas supply to Ukraine at 3 p.m. Warsaw time today, according to Ukraine’s UkrTransGaz.
We can be not sure that this is the whole story though. Gazprom says it provides all the gas Poland ordered through its pipelines but hints that Ukraine, where those pipelines cross, may be the party which is taking the gas:
Russia has denied that its state-run gas giant Gazprom has been limiting flows to Poland.
"Reports by news agencies on the reduction of volumes of gas supplies by Gazprom to Poland's PGNiG are incorrect,” Itar-Tass reported Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov as saying. “The same volume of gas as in previous days – 23 million cubic meters a day – is being supplied to Poland now."
Before Gazprom issued its statement, Uktransgaz’s Prokopiv blamed Russia for trying to “derail” the plan for Poland to supply Ukraine with “reverse” gas, while Ukraine refused to pay its debt to Gazprom and is currently cut off from Russian supplies, and accused Russia of limiting the supply of gas.
In August, Russia’s energy minister, Aleksandr Novak, warned that in the upcoming winter Ukraine may begin siphoning off Russian supplies intended for Europe if it fails to build up its reserves.
There is more conflicting news. The Ukrainian president Poroshenko claimed that most of the "Russian troops", which no one, including the OSCE observers in the area, has ever seen, have left Ukraine:
“Based on the latest information I have received from our intelligence services, 70 percent of the Russian troops have moved back across the border,” Poroshenko said. “This bolsters our hope that the peace initiatives enjoy good prospects.”
NATO, likely fearing that Poroshenko was again moving towards a peaceful solution, disputed the claim:
"The reported reduction of Russian troops from eastern Ukraine would be a good first step, but we have no information on this. The fact of the matter is there are still approximately 1,000 Russian troops in eastern Ukraine with substantial amounts of military equipment and approximately 20,000 troops on the Russian border with Ukraine," the NATO military officer said.
Push, push, push for war ...
But some parts of the "western" media are slowly waking up to the fact that not all is well with Ukraine and the "western" strategy. They note that Ukraine can not afford the IMF's 'Shock Therapy' and needs money without conditions which it will likely never pay back:
Absent this "bail-in" of foreign creditors, Ukraine will simply be taking on more debt that it lacks the capacity to service, risking a long-term compound debt spiral for the country and practically guaranteeing a wholesale default down the road -- and continuing political instability.
Russia best reason to hold the insurgents in east Ukraine back from further fighting has vanished. The economic war is escalating no matter what Russia does or does not do. As the media have more time to look into the real issues in Ukraine the state of the sorry affair will become more clear and "western" public support for Ukraine will decline. This is a threat to "western" warmongering and to again escalate to fighting is the best method to suppress such news.
Hawks on both sides now have reason to restart the fighting. Expect the ceasefire to completely fail very soon.
The Stampede Towards War On ISIS
The stampede towards waging war on ISIS and whoever else is quite weird. I see no real discussions of the sense of it all. How much will this cost? What are possible unintended consequences? How long will it take? How will we know when it is over?
No one seems to ask these questions. Instead this is considert to be journalism and reporting on teh issue:
Over a dinner of D’Anjou pear salad and Chilean sea bass, Obama, Vice President Biden and the outside experts engaged in a deep discussion of the options to combat the Islamic State, those who participated said.
"D’Anjou pear salad" - how interesting. But what are the options discussed, what are their up- and downsides and what are their costs? There is nothing about that in the Washington Post. The fourth estate is gone, nowhere to be found.
But what about the parliament. Isn't the United States supposed to be a democracy? What about those people who were voted into Congress? Cowards:
Democratic leaders in the Senate and Republican leaders in the House want to avoid a public vote to authorize force, fearing the unknown political consequences eight weeks before the midterm elections on Nov. 4.
“A lot of people would like to stay on the sideline and say, ‘Just bomb the place and tell us about it later,’ ” said Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, who supports having an authorization vote. “It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.”
Obama would be crazy to let Congress get with this position. A war on ISIS will certainly have some very bad consequences, as any war does, and he will be solely blamed for all of them should Congress be allowed to dodge its responsibility.
Should Congress be forced to vote the real discussion, missing now, would have to take place and the vote in the end would likely be a resounding "No!"
These are the two groups. Which one would have, after an open public discussion, more support with the people?
some lawmakers in both parties will team with conservatives who do not want to support Mr. Obama on anything to oppose or limit any authorization of force, Mr. Kingston said. Hawks in the Republican Party will team with pro-Israel lawmakers and humanitarian interventionists in support.
The warmongers are of course trying to avoid the discussion and the vote and that is why they are pressing the stampede and hope that everyone else will panic with them and jump off the cliff.
The reporting today makes it look as if Obama has already taken the decision to, illegally by the way, bomb Syria. I sense a lot of hawkish spin in that and will not be surprised should Obama kick the problem over to Congress and demand a vote.
Why Fight ISIS? And How Fight ISIS When There Are No Allies?
Why is there this artificial panic about ISIS in the United States? Why would a majority agree to air-attacks on ISIS, a "strategy" that is very likely to fail and that will certainly create more aggrieved people willing to fight the "west"?
The whole issue does not make sense. Yes, ISIS is dangerous as it is build on a brutal and strict ideology that can attract many, many followers. It was created in the aftermath of the U.S. attack on Iraq. The U.S. czar Bremer disbanded the Iraqi military creating a jobless army of several hundred thousand military men. Additionally his de-Baathification campaign send tenths of thousands of Sunni state employees and technocrats into poverty. The U.S. written Iraqi constitution enshrined sectarianism.
"Western" propaganda tales about the Syrian government "slaughtering Sunnis" - even when the majority of the government was and is Sunni - never made sense. But such claims, repeated over and over again together with empty words about "freedom" and "democracy" helped to mobilize an exceptional force of foreign fighters that has now joined ISIS.
ISIS is dangerous for the people living in Iraq and Syria. It is a threat to some of the governments in the area. But it is neither a threat to the U.S nor to Europe. Even if some ISIS influenced people would blow up something somewhere in Europe it would be jsut another minor event in a decades old series of various homegrown terror incidents. Why is there then a necessity to fight it?
And fight ISIS together with whom?
In Iraq the U.S. pressed for prime minister Maliki to go. The new prime minister Abadi is no less sectarian that Maliki. His cabinet now has 11 Sunni members while Maliki's had fifteen. The Kurds joined the new government only for a trial period of three month and the two most important ministries, interior and defense, will be, like under Maliki, in the hands of the prime minister himself. How then did this "regime change" move against Maliki change actually anything? Any Iraqi help against ISIS will be sectarian mass slaughter. Any foreign help to the Kurds or the Shia will be abused to create gains solely for that community.
The "moderate rebels" of the "Free Syrian Army" which the CIA is feeding with Saudi dollars and weapons are just a sham. They are criminals and/or religious fanatics and the difference between them and ISIS are tiny. In Lebanon the FSA is openly cooperating with ISIS:
“We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in ... Qalamoun,” said Bassel Idriss, the commander of an FSA-aligned rebel brigade.
Some FSA group seems to have kidnapped the journalist (and Mossad spy?) Steven Sotloff and sold him off to ISIS. The later beheading of Sotloff by ISIS was marketed by the Obama administration as one reason to bomb them. Why then not bomb the FSA who kidnapped him in the first place? Weapons delivered through the CIA to FSA rebels are now in the hands of ISIS fighters. Any thought that FSA groups, certainly thoroughly infiltrated by ISIS sympathizers, can somehow help in a campaign against ISIS is pure lunacy.
Then there is the lack of international cooperation in the area. The only two countries who have actually offered help are Iran and Syria. Jordan has asked not to be (officially) involved in the campaign for fear of internal revolt. Turkey, led by an Islamist, is giving comfort and logistic help to ISIS. It has not even labeled ISIS a terrorist group. Israel just helped the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra to take the Syrian border station on the Golan by shelling the Syrian government position that was trying to prevent that. The Kurds are busy defending their home turf in the mountains against ISIS incursions. They are neither capable nor willing to go on a military offense. The Saudi Arabia dictators fear ISIS because it is more truly Wahhabi then the sham Wahhabi Islamic State construct in Saudi Arabia. Ironically ISIS will likely soon target the Saudi state which ideology and money helped its birth in the first place. The Saudis will not help against ISIS, their spiritual kin, out of fear of such internal strife.
None of the local allies the U.S. wants to use against ISIS is willing or capable to help. The only three forces that offered and could (Syria, Iran, Hizbullah) help against ISIS are seen as hostile by the United States.
How then please can anyone in the U.S. think of a military campaign against ISIS? Without any local allies? With no boots, not even friendly foreign ones, on the ground?
The U.S. now wants some kind of UN Security Council resolution against ISIS. Russia and China should be very, very careful about this. The U.S. is likely to abuse any such resolution to justify a new attack on Syria.
Open Thread 2014-21
News & views ...
"Moral" Interventions In Syria And Ukraine
When one reads the incredibly vague ceasefire agreement for Ukraine (in Russian, various English versions) it is immediately clear that this can not and will not hold. Russia had pressed for the ceasefire, despite battle advantage of the Novorossiya forces it supports, to avoid a further round of sanctions from the EU and in the hope that some of the warmongers in the "west" might come to their senses and listen to sane people. The Ukrainian president needed the ceasefire because his forces were defeated and, without reorganisation, would not have been able to defend against any further onslaught.
As soon as the forces on both sides have reorganized the battle will continue beyond the small skirmishes that are already taking place today. Neither side has full control over the various groups involved in the fighting and any flare up can immediately escalate.
Meanwhile NATO continues a increase its forces in East Europe for "troop training" and in the black sea. Military people in Moscow will certainly interpret this NATO build up as the threat that it is meant to be.
It was the "west" that provoked the war in Ukraine by organizing a coup against the democratically elected government. It is also the "west" that created the civil war in Syria. There the "west" and its various Arab poodles feed the war in Syria through money, weapons and substantial propaganda for the cause of the Jihadis fighting the Syrian government. It now wants to fight the Syrian government as well as the head choppers of ISIS by supporting the FSA organ eaters who are allied with the 9/11 plane hijackers of Nusra and Al Qaeda. That is seen as morally good even though no "western" country has any case for an involvement in Syria except for some very vaguely defined "interests".
Russia has an very important security interest in Ukraine. It is its immediate neighbor and the cradle of the Rus civilization. Several large attacks on Russia, by Napoleon as well as Hitler, used the plains of Ukraine as their concentration area and for their marches on Moscow. Many of the forces of the Ukrainian government now fighting against their Russia affine compatriots in the east are outright Nazis. 70 years ago over 20 million Russian lost their life to defeat that ideology.
Why is it seen as morally wrong when Russia, with much more immediate interest, is helping forces in Ukraine when similar intervention by the "west", much less, if at all justified, is depicted as morally right?
The sole answer one can get to that question is that whatever "we" do, no matter what, is right and whatever those oppose to what "we" do do is automatically wrong. That position is the recipe for much bigger conflicts than the ones we currently sees.
Obama Administration (Re-)Starts Marketing Campaign For Bombing Syria
White House officials said today that the administration was following a meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein.
"From a marketing point of view," said Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff who is coordinating the effort, "you don't introduce new products in August."
It is September 2014 and we are past the summer and past Labor Day. Time to roll out the (old) new product:
- NY Times: Syria May Have Hidden Chemical Arms, U.S. Says
- ABC News: US: Terrorist Could Get Syria Chemical Weapons
- HuffPo: US Warns Terrorist Could Get Hold Of Syria's Chemical Weapons
United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power says the United States is concerned that the most dangerous terrorist groups could get a hold of chemical weapons if Syria is hiding any stockpiles.
We know of course that Syria has disposed of all its chemical weapons and that these were destroyed under the eyes of the OPCW. But Iraq had also disposed of all its WMD and that it has none left was in fact one reason why it could be and was easily attacked.
So is Obama is doubling down (again) on Syria? Hoping that the mystical "Free Syrian Army" (Jihadis in disguise) heavily supports by the U.S. will fight the Islamic State and the Syrian government?
The chronic warmonger Juan Cole is already searching for flimsy legal excuses, using the false pretense of fighting ISIS, to bomb whatever in sovereign Syria even without a UN Security Council resolution. Maybe Syria should invite the Russian air force to help against ISIS. A few Russian jets in Damascus would likely keep despicable nuts like Juan Cole away.
The new big international enemy is the Islamic State which is fighting the Syrian government. It would likely replace it should the government fall. But the Obama administration is not willing to draw the consequences and to ally with the Syrian army. It still wants to dispose the Syrian government under president Assad. It hopes that more weapons given to its mystic "moderate rebels" will somehow enable those to win.
But for that they will need at least additional air support and to enable such some "legal" reasoning - ISIS, Al-Qaeda, WMD - must be found and marketed to the war tired public.