Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 30, 2014

The Islamic State Proudly Presents ...

The Caliphate of Caliph Ibrahim (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) and the Islamic State's Ministry of Culture is delighted to reveal its five year plan for global domination.


The Caliphate and the Islamic State's Ministry of Culture also proudly present their centerfold model for Ramadan 1435 AH.


Posted by b on June 30, 2014 at 17:46 UTC | Permalink | Comments (105)

June 29, 2014

Will The New Caliphate Unite The Middle East Against It?

There is no longer an Jihadist ISIS or ISIL in Syria and Iraq. The people leading that entity declared (pdf) today, at the highly symbolic beginning of Ramadan, themselves to be a new caliphate:

Therefore, the shūrā (consultation) council of the Islamic State studied this matter after the Islamic State – by Allah’s grace – gained the essentials necessary for khilāfah, which the Muslims are sinful for if they do not try to establish. In light of the fact that the Islamic State has no shar’ī(legal) constraint or excuse that can justify delaying or neglecting the establishment of the khilāfah such that it would not be sinful, the Islamic State – represented by ahlul-halli-al-‘aqd (its people of authority), consisting of its senior figures, leaders, and the shūrā council – resolved to announce the establishment of the Islamic khilāfah, the appointment of a khalīfah for the Muslims, and the pledge of allegiance to the shaykh (sheikh), the mujāhid, the scholar who practices what he preaches, the worshipper, the leader, the warrior, the reviver, descendent from the family of the Prophet, the slave of Allah, Ibrāhīm Ibn ‘Awwād Ibn Ibrāhīm Ibn ‘Alī Ibn Muhammad al-Badrīal-Hāshimī al-Husaynī al-Qurashī by lineage, as-Sāmurrā’ī by birth and upbringing, al-Baghdādī by residence and scholarship. And he has accepted the bay’ah (pledge of allegiance). Thus, he is the imam and khalīfah for the Muslims everywhere. Accordingly, the “Iraq and Shām” in the name of the Islamic State is henceforth removed from all official deliberations and communications, and the official name is the Islamic State from the date of this declaration.

A caliphate, in its self-conception, is the only legal entity to rule above all Muslims.

With this declaration al-Baghdadi also declared war on all monarchs and other rulers in the Middle East. He will soon likely call for offensive jihad against them. This might now unite all the notoriously discordant Gulf countries against this new Islamic State.

There are already signs of this. The Saudis are said to have now, in sight of the danger, even agreed to let the Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki go for a new term. This might set them in opposition to Washington which, as the one trick pony it is, had called again for regime change in Iraq.

It will be interesting to see the reaction from Turkey, the rearward logistic base for ISIS, now IS. Erdogan surely would not mind a new caliphate but he will have objections against one in which he isn't the Caliph ruling it. So will we now see, now confronted with a new common enemy, a real united response of all Middle East countries against this new danger?

Posted by b on June 29, 2014 at 17:01 UTC | Permalink | Comments (96)

June 27, 2014

Syria: Obama Prolongs The Conflict

Obama Requests Money to Train ‘Appropriately Vetted’ Syrian Rebels

President Obama requested $500 million from Congress on Thursday to train and equip what the White House is calling “appropriately vetted” members of the Syrian opposition, reflecting increased worry about the spillover of the Syrian conflict into Iraq.

The move is somewhat lunatic. Pumping more weapons and fighters into the Syrian conflict will only escalate it and will negatively affect the security situation in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. This is thereby certainly not about "worry" of spillovers. August last year Edwald Luttwak argued that the U.S. wins it both side continue to fight and that the U.S. should prolong the conflict as long as possible:

Maintaining a stalemate should be America’s objective. And the only possible method for achieving this is to arm the rebels when it seems that Mr. Assad’s forces are ascendant and to stop supplying the rebels if they actually seem to be winning.

It seems that Obama is, even at the cost of wider regional fallout, following this policy.

The Obama spokepersons deserve another Orwell medal:

“While we continue to believe that there is no military solution to this crisis and that the United States should not put American troops into combat in Syria, this request marks another step toward helping the Syrian people defend themselves against regime attacks,” Caitlin Hayden, a National Security Council spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The biggest danger for civilians and the Free Syrian Army, who's official heads have just (again) been fired for graft, are not the government forces but the Jihadists.

The U.S. has already trained "appropriately vetted" rebels for at least two years now and has delivered tons of weapons to them. Those weapons ended up in Jihadists hands and the "vetted" rebels are now either dead or have joined AlQaeda aligned groups. The new training will likely take some six month before those trained are somewhat ready. The Syrian government will by then be in a better position than today and the main enemy for everyone else in the field will be ISIS. It will not surprise me when those "appropriately vetted" rebels will join either the government side or ISIS as soon as they are back inside Syria.

Posted by b on June 27, 2014 at 15:49 UTC | Permalink | Comments (93)

Ukraine: The Association Agreement Is Likely To Fail

The temporary truce in Ukraine will soon be over and the Ukrainian army will then try to squash the insurgency by all possible means. It is unlikely to achieve that.

Today the coup president signed an EU association agreement in Brussels. The preferred trade status with Russia will thereby be over and the Ukraine will fall into a deep depression. Its industry is not competitive against western European ones and it can not be sustained without the Russian markets. The most knowledgeable engineers and workers, especially from the big weapon producers, will move to Russia and leave the Ukrainian industry to rot.

As Mark Adomanis correctly remarks:

The association agreement has always been seen in highly politicized and symbolic terms as a “civilizational choice” in which Ukraine would be able to leave behind its dark, eastern past and march forward into the safety and comfort of the European Union. This was a huge mistake. In reality the association agreement has nothing to do with culture or history and is much more basic: a highly technocratic bit of economic liberalization. There is no “European” way to end gas subsidies, and no “civilized” way to cut pensions. These steps are either taken or they are avoided. Since economic liberalization is not very popular in Ukraine, since Ukrainians continues to express extremely left-wing economic views, the struggle to implement free trade is likely to be long and nasty.

The agreement will still have to be signed off, and then implemented, by a new Ukrainian parliament. I seriously doubt that will happen.

Meanwhile the fighting in the east will continue and, when the coming push by the army fails as it is likely to do, will see further steps towards more independence for the eastern regions.

Posted by b on June 27, 2014 at 14:32 UTC | Permalink | Comments (225)

June 26, 2014

Israel: Advertising A Shitty Product May Cause Problems

The problem of selling turds:

Taking the risk of ruffling a few feathers, Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attributed Israel’s poor image to the possibility that too much is being done to create positive attitudes toward the country.
There is no reason for an Italian, a Spaniard, or a Frenchman to have a particular opinion about Israel, he observed, but they do have opinions, “because we endlessly reach out to them.” Then they start to think for themselves about Israel, and the effect may be quite different to what was intended.

Imagine that: People start thinking for themselves about turds and conclude that turds stink.

Who could have known ...

Posted by b on June 26, 2014 at 8:15 UTC | Permalink | Comments (63)

U.S. "Intelligence": Nothing For Something

Where $72 billion per year is the something that gives nothing:

In the same briefing, the [senior U.S. intelligence] official [who briefed reporters this week] disclosed that U.S. intelligence did not know who controlled Iraq’s largest oil refinery. And she suggested that one of the biggest sources of intelligence for American analysts is Facebook and Twitter postings.

The U.S. spent nearly $72 billion on intelligence gathering in 2013, ...

That is quite a lot of money for looking at amateur porn and digesting unintelligible short messages.

Posted by b on June 26, 2014 at 4:31 UTC | Permalink | Comments (46)

June 25, 2014

Obama's Selfmade Foreign Policy Problem

He is talking too much.

Kerry went to Egypt, delivered money and weapons and was shown the finger over his human rights laments. Kerry went to Iraq, delivered some military support and demanded a "unity government". Maliki's government already includes Kurds and Sunnis and he just won elections. So Kerry gets shown the finger. Kerry went to Erbil and demanded that the Kurds stick to Iraq. They have all the oil they want. Kerry gets shown the finger. Obama wants more sanctions on Russia but needs the Europeans to join. But why should the Europeans ruin their economies over this? Obama will be likely shown the finger.

The U.S. public dislikes Obama's foreign policies. There are two main reasons for this.

One might expect that Obama would by now have learned not to promise fancy foreign policy stuff he can not deliver on. But as there is no disincentive in Washington for being wrong on foreign policy - watch the recent neocon Iraq war revival shows - Obama can, for a while, go on doing such nonsense. There are two dangers evolving from this:

  • Obama might issue a warning or threat that is for once meant seriously and followed through but gets misjudged by an adversary because of his record (think North Korea).
  • Obama might feel, on a minor issue, to have to follow through on some of his unnecessary threats because he has to show that he is "serious".

In both cases unnecessary wars could ensue.

Someone better tell Obama and Kerry to just shut up. The U.S. public dislikes their hyperactive foreign policy. 58% do not want the U.S to take a leading role.

One does not need, even has "superpower", to have an opinion or policy position on every issue in this world. Intervening, even if only by words, in each and every minor issue is usually just an expression of a rather shallow understanding of the world.

Posted by b on June 25, 2014 at 15:45 UTC | Permalink | Comments (99)

June 23, 2014

Where Will ISIS Go Next?

Elijah J. Magnier has an interesting interview with an ISIS commander, Abu Baqr-al-Janabi, in Baghdad. There are plans for ISIS to take the city and there are apparently sleeper cells of fighters waiting for the big attack signal. But, says the commander, ISIS and the attached other forces, will first have to consolidate their positions and eliminate Iraqi government position in their back. The Iraqi government is already giving up some outer position and is consolidating its side by securing only Baghdad, the south and some economically important assets.

The 300 military "advisers" the U.S. had announced to send to Iraqi headquarters will likely never arrive. There is disagreement over their legal status and the Iraqi government, given the U.S. commitment to another regime change in Baghdad, may well conclude that these soldiers would likely be malign actors rather than trustworthy allies. The Maliki government, like the Iranians, probably sees the whole ISIS attack as the result of a U.S. conspiracy.

My hunch for now is that ISIS will not go for the big fight in Baghdad in the near term but will rather try to launch some substantial diversion elsewhere. In the introduction of the interview Magnier writes:

ISIS’s aim is not Iraq and Syria, it is the Levant and beyond. It includes Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and more. “No Limits”, as I am told.

There was a pro-ISIS demonstration today in Ma'an, "Jordan's Fallujah" (video). Just like ISIS had sleeper cells within the Iraqi military it may well have some within the Jordanian forces or secret services. The road between Baghdad and Jordan is in ISIS's hand as well as the border crossing to Jordan. Involving Jordan would certainly see a military reaction from Washington. That is something which, according to the interview, ISIS would very much want. Could ISIS go, if only as diversion, for Amman before taking on Baghdad?

Posted by b on June 23, 2014 at 16:52 UTC | Permalink | Comments (174)

Kerrry Being Shown The Finger

Kerry Says U.S. Is Ready to Renew Ties With Egypt

After a 90-minute meeting with Mr. Sisi, Mr. Kerry said at a news conference here that he had come to reaffirm Washington’s “historic partnership” with Egypt.
Mr. Kerry expressed firm confidence that the United States would soon fully restore $650 million — the first tranche of the $1.3 billion in annual aid — to the military that the Obama administration had partly withheld after the takeover.
Addressing a previously suspended shipment of 10 Apache helicopter gunships that the Egyptian military has been especially eager for, Mr. Kerry said he was just as confident “that the Apaches will come, and that they will come very, very soon.”
Mr. Kerry said they had talked about the verdict expected Monday in the case of three journalists who have been jailed since December on politicized charges without any publicly disclosed evidence of a crime.
Sounding hopeful, Mr. Kerry said that the new president “gave me a very strong sense of his commitment” to “a re-evaluation of human rights legislation” and “a re-evaluation of the judicial process.”

So that "strong commitment", payed for with hundreds of millions U.S. taxpayer dollars, some attack helicopters and the kowtowing of Kerry, was worth what?

Egyptian Court Convicts 3 Al Jazeera Journalists

A judge on Monday convicted three journalists of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast false reports of civil strife in Egypt.

Two of the journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison, and the third was given 10 years, the three additional years apparently for his possession of a single spent bullet.

I have followed the rial. It was an obvious sham. The "evidence" mostly consisted of unrelated video tapes taken in other countries by other journalists.

Sisi has publicly shown Kerry the big finger and there is nothing Kerry can or will do about it but releasing a angry statement. Israel demands that the U.S. keeps Egypt's ruler happy and the Pentagon demands continued preferred access to the Suez Canal.

The episode is a nice demonstration of for U.S. power and influence in the Middle East (not).

Posted by b on June 23, 2014 at 15:57 UTC | Permalink | Comments (27)

June 22, 2014

Iraq: The U.S. Has No Role In This

The ISIS/former Baathist/Sunni alliance in Iraq is consolidating its position in north-west Iraq. It has captured border post towards Syria and now also towards Jordan. The last item will let red lights flash in Washington and elsewhere.

The ridiculous position of the United States, supporting, arming and training Jihadi insurgents in Syria while seeing them as a danger in Iraq and elsewhere, is coming more to the front. What are we to think of such lunatic headline? Kerry Arrives in Cairo on Trip to Help Form New Iraqi Government

Nobody wants Kerry's "help". The threat thereof unites even strong antagonists. Iran as well as the Saudis are against any U.S. intervention or "help" in Iraq. The Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki would probably like some U.S. support for his disintegrating army but will rather go it alone if such support is connected with demands for him to leave his position.

And is Kerry really asking Sisi, the new brutal dictator of Egypt, for support? What could that jailer of a bancrupt nation do? He will neither be for Maliki nor will he support the Jihadists. There is no alternative to those two in sight. Sisi will simply take the bribes Kerry brings in support of Israel and leave it at that.

There is nothing Kerry can do for Iraqis. Unites States policies in the Middle East have run their course. Their impotence was shown through two lost wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its incompetence demonstrated in the contradictoriness of "promoting democracy" on one side while supporting radical religious dictatorships in the Gulf. A step out of that would be an U.S.  alliance with Iran but such a radical policy change would likely be ripped apart within Washington's polical circus.

It is not only in the Middle East where U.S. polices lead to disillusions of allies and to shaking of the head by foes. Consider what even the neoconned Polish Foreign Minister thinks of U.S. "friendship":

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, generally viewed as a leading ally of the United States in Europe, said in a mysteriously-leaked recording Sunday that the alliance between the two countries is “not worth anything.”

“The Polish-American alliance is not worth anything. It’s even damaging, because it creates a false sense of security in Poland,” Sikorski says on an excerpt of a longer conversation set to be published Monday morning in the magazine Wprost, which is reportedly between Sikorski and former finance minister Jacek Rostowski.
“We are gonna conflict with both Russians and Germans, and we’re going to think that everything is great, because we gave the Americans a blowjob. Suckers. Total suckers,” Sikorski says, according to a translation of the account for BuzzFeed.

The U.S. should stay out of Iraq. Local forces there will battle it out and the sponsors of each side will find their common interest and some agreement. They already agree on one major point. The U.S. has no role in this.

Posted by b on June 22, 2014 at 16:12 UTC | Permalink | Comments (164)

June 21, 2014

Who "Interferes" In Iraq?


a. The act or an instance of hindering, obstructing, or impeding.
b. Something that hinders, obstructs, or impedes.

This lack of self-awareness of U.S. functionaries is embarressing:

Iran has sent "small numbers" of operatives into Iraq to bolster the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, but there is no sign of a large deployment of army units, the Pentagon said Friday.
"There are some Iranian revolutionary operatives in Iraq but I've seen no indication of ground forces or major units," [Pentagon spokesman Admiral John] Kirby told a news conference, apparently referring to Tehran's Quds force, the covert arm of the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
"Their interference in Iraq is nothing new," Kirby said.
President Barack Obama announced Thursday plans to send up to 300 US military advisers to Iraq but stopped short of ordering air strikes against ISIL forces, though he left the door open to that possibility.

What is Iran hindering, obstructing or impeding?

How does the Admiral characterizes U.S. deployments to Iraq?    

Posted by b on June 21, 2014 at 7:07 UTC | Permalink | Comments (203)

June 20, 2014

Open Thread 2014-14

News & views ...

Posted by b on June 20, 2014 at 18:31 UTC | Permalink | Comments (59)

June 19, 2014

U.S. Again Gunning For "Regime Change" In Iraq

Three days ago we said:

The U.S. has conditioned any involvement on the Iraqi government side on a change in its structure towards some "unity government" that would include representatives of the rebellious Sunni strains. Prime Minister Maliki, who received good results in the recent elections, will see no reason to go for that.

As expected Maliki declined to follow orders out of Washington DC and he is right to do so. Isn't Iraq supposed to be a sovereign state?

No says Washington. It is us who are choosing a new Iraqi prime minister:

Over the past two days the American ambassador, Robert S. Beecroft, along with Brett McGurk, the senior State Department official on Iraq and Iran, have met with Usama Nujaifi, the leader of the largest Sunni contingent, United For Reform, and with Ahmad Chalabi, one of the several potential Shiite candidates for prime minister, according to people close to each of those factions, as well as other political figures.

“Brett and the ambassador met with Mr. Nujaifi yesterday and they were open about this, they do not want Maliki to stay,” Nabil al-Khashab, the senior political adviser to Mr. Nujaifi, said Thursday.

This move lets arouse suspicions that the recent insurgency against the Iraqi state, with ISIS takfiris in the front line, did not just by chance started after Maliki's party, the State of Law Coalition, won in the parliamentary elections a few weeks ago. It had been decided that he had to go. When the elections confirmed him, other methods had to be introduced. Thus the insurgency started and is now used as a pretext for "regime change".

The U.S. media and policies again fall for the "big bad man" cliche portraying Nouri al-Maliki (Arabic for Ngo Dinh Diem) as the only person that stands in the way of Iraq as a "liberal democracy". That is of course nonsense. Maliki is not the problem in Iraq:

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.

The U.S., with strong support from its GCC allies who finance the insurgency, now seems to again lean towards the Sunni minority side in Iraq and wants to subvert the ruling of a Shia majority and its candidate. Maliki doesn't follow Washington orders, is somewhat friendly with Iran and even wins elections. Such man can not be let standing.

So the program is again "regime change" in Iraq, now with the help of Jihadists proxies, even after the recent catastrophic "successes" in similar endeavors in Libya, Egypt and Ukraine and the failure in Syria.

Phil Greaves seems thereby right when he characterizes the insurgency and ISIS as a expression of Washington's imperialism:

The ISIS-led insurgency currently gripping the western and northern regions of Iraq is but a continuation of the imperialist-sponsored insurgency in neighboring Syria. The state actors responsible for arming and funding said insurgency hold the same principal objectives in Iraq as those pursued in Syria for the last three years, namely: the destruction of state sovereignty; weakening the allies of an independent Iran; the permanent division of Iraq and Syria along sectarian lines establishing antagonistic “mini-states” incapable of forming a unified front against US/Israeli imperial domination.

The best thing Maliki could now do is to shut down the U.S. embassy and request support from Russia, China and Iran. South Iraq is producing lots of oil and neither money nor the number of potential recruits for a big long fight are his problem. His problem is the insurgency and the states, including the United States, behind it. The fight would be long and Iraq would still likely be parted but the likely outcome would at least guarantee that the will of the majority constituency can not be ignored by outside actors.

Posted by b on June 19, 2014 at 16:51 UTC | Permalink | Comments (181)

June 18, 2014

Jordan, Turkey Rehabilitate The "Moderate" Jabhat Al-Nusra - Updated


There was earlier some miscommunication regarding the Turkish move to delist Jabhat al-Nusra from its terror list. Al-Nusra was removed from one list but is still on others:

The Turkish government has removed the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate fighting against the Syrian regime, from its list of terrorist organizations falling under the category of “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” and has designated the radical group as a separate terrorist organization.

The move first caused confusion and led to questions over Turkey's stance regarding the group.

Even with that in mind some of the questions asked below are still relvant.

END UPDATE (Original post follows)

Last October we detected a media campaign to introduce the moderate cuddly homegrown AlQaeda differentiating between the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as the new savages and AlQaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front in Syria as the friendly moderate gang around the local block. The campaign was running through reports in the New York Times, Washington Post and Foreign Policy. We asked:

It is well known that ISIS has [earlier] sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. But Jabhat al-Nusra has also sworn allegiance to Zwahiri. That is of course not mentioned in the above NYT piece. What is the supposed meaning of this differentiation when both groups accept the same leader and the Al-Qaeda organization's ideology and aims?

In January this year CNN followed up asserting that the Islamic Front in Syria, which is largely just an outlet of Jabhat al-Nusra and who's leaders openly consider themselves to be AlQaeda, are "moderates" but:

The leading figure of the leading group within the Islamic Front is an al-Qaeda operative. The Islamic Front does not want a democratic state but an Islamic caliphate.

Now, as ISIS is the new bad guy playing storm troopers and Einsatzkommando for tribal Iraqi Sunnis and Baath part remnants in Iraq, the AlQaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra is officially rehabilitated as a not-terrorist group.


Yesterday the leading AlQaeda ideologue Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi was released from prison in Jordan. A book about al-Maqdisi describes him:

Since 9/ll, the Jordanian Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (b. West Bank, 1959) has emerged as one of the most important radical Muslim thinkers alive today. While al-Maqdisi may not be a household name in the West, his influence amongst like-minded Muslims stretches across the world from Jordan - where he lives today - to Southeast Asia. His writings and teachings on Salafi Islam have inspired terrorists from Europe to the Middle East, including Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of al-Qa'ida in Iraq, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden's successor as the head of al-Qa'ida Central.

Why would Jordan, largely run by the CIA, release al-Maqdisi right now when ISIS is threatening to add Jordan to its targets? The Qatar run AlJazeera explains:

"Maqdesi is a supporter of al-Nusra front, one of the fighting groups in Syria, which unlike ISIL, does not have any ambitions to take over the region," said Hasan Abu Hanya, an expert on jihadist movements.

Al-Nusra, like ISIS, surely has regional ambitions:

Its goal is to overthrow the Assad government and to create an Pan-Islamic state under the Sharia (the moral code and religious law of Islam) and aims to reinstate the Caliphate.

To claim otherwise, like "expert" Hasan Abu Hanya, is a lie. Any difference between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra is only minor.

Only two weeks ago Turkey blacklisted Jabhat al-Nusra, cutting it off from its logistics in that country. But today, a day after Jordan released al-Maqdisi, Turkey took Jabhat al-Nusra off its terrorist list.

As Elijay K. Magnier comments:

Removing Jabhat al-Nusra (operational mainly in Syria) means #JAN can have access again 2Turkey support or logistic

In the last two days two U.S. allies renewed their open support for the AlQaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra to help it fight in Syria.

What is Washington going to say about these actions by its allies? What do Jordan and Turkey believe Jabhat al-Nusra will do should it win in Syria. Do they really expect that its fighters would retire and not threaten either country? These actions, prepared by earlier "moderate" claims in the media, are likely to have been cleared with Washington. Is the Obama administration hoping that the recent uproar about ISIS in Iraq will divert attention from these moves?

Posted by b on June 18, 2014 at 7:57 UTC | Permalink | Comments (157)

June 17, 2014

No, Baghdad Did Not Collapse

Yossi Melman is "an Israeli writer and journalist. He was an intelligence and strategic affairs correspondent for the Haaretz newspaper, and in 2012 he joined the Israeli news portal Walla! in a similar, more analytical role."

Melman just tweeted:

#Baghdad collapses. Shells on US & Iran Embassies Premier Maliki left. Chief of Staff escaped yo Germany. Heavy casualties to Iran forces


Pat Lang clearly believes that such an offense in Baghdad by the remnants of the Baathist Iraqi military with ISIS takfiris as its shock troops is possible. He urges immediate evacuation of U.S. personal. But I believe there is only a rather small chance that such could happen. Various Shia militia are deploying to secure Baghdad and other cities and Iranian advisers are on the ground. Iran sees the onslaught as a US/Israeli/Saudi/Qatari conspiracy and will act accordingly.

The U.S. has conditioned any involvement on the Iraqi government side on a change in its structure towards some "unity government" that would include representatives of the rebellious Sunni strains. Prime Minister Maliki, who received good results in the reecent elections, will see no reason to go for that. 

I expect a repeat in Iraq of what has happened in Syria. The government forces retreat from the first onslaughts by ISIS, the Baathists and other forces but will then consolidate and slowly, slowly regain the upper hand and ground.

Mehlman's tweet sounds to me like the "Aleppo has fallen" panic a certain Syria "expert" created 20 month ago. Funny. by the way, how none of the journalists in Baghdad confirms any point of what Yossi Melman is asserting. Maybe some Mossad commander was daydreaming and told him about it?

Posted by b on June 17, 2014 at 10:24 UTC | Permalink | Comments (105)

June 16, 2014

Neocon Kagan: Hillary Clinton Is One Of Us

Here is the reason why Hillary Clinton should never ever become President of the United States.

A (sympathetic) New York Times profile of neocon Robert Kagan has this on Clinton II:

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.”

Want more wars with terrible outcomes and no winner at all? Vote the neocon's vessel, Hillary Clinton.

Clinton, by the way, is also a coward, unprincipled and greedy. Her achievements as Secretary of State were about zero. Why would anyone vote for her?

Posted by b on June 16, 2014 at 13:09 UTC | Permalink | Comments (100)

June 15, 2014

Ukraine: Echoes Of The Third Reich - Yatsenyuk's "Subhumans"

Updated below

Wikipedia - Untermensch:

Untermensch (German for under man, sub-man, sub-human; plural: Untermenschen) is a term that became infamous when the Nazis used it to describe "inferior people" often referred to as "the masses from the East," that is Jews, Gypsies, and Slavs; including Poles, Serbs, Belarusians, Russians, and Rusyns. The term was also applied to black people and Mulattos. Jewish people were to be exterminated in the Holocaust, just as Slavs in Generalplan Ost, who were destined to be removed from European territory under German control through murder and ethnic cleansing.

Embassy of Ukraine in the United States of America - Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yatsenyuk: We will commemorate the heroes by cleaning our land from the evil:

“They lost their lives because they defended men and women, children and the elderly who found themselves in a situation facing a threat to be killed by invaders and sponsored by them subhumans. First, we will commemorate the heroes by wiping out those who killed them and then by cleaning our land from the evil”, - he said.



I: The Embassy has non changed the text quoted above and substituted "subhumans" by "inhumans". We had expected such editing and therefore provided the screenshot of the original publication.

II: We can now add "Lebensraum" to the Ukrainian government's echoes of the Third Reich:

Ukraine's Land Agency give land to soldiers in the east for free

Land parcels will be given out for free to the servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other military formations, as well as to the employees of Interior Ministry and the Security Service of Ukraine that are defending territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country in eastern and southeastern regions of Ukraine.

Wasn't Land im Osten (land in the east) what the Third Reich also promised to volunteer soldiers?

Posted by b on June 15, 2014 at 11:56 UTC | Permalink | Comments (155)

June 14, 2014

Ukraine: These Tanks ... And The State Department Lies Again

The Ukrainian coup government claims that Russian tanks crossed the border and are in use by federalists in east Ukraine. First claims talked about three Russian T-72 tanks but later claims changed the type of the tank to T-64s. The tanks can be seen driving here (vid) and here (vid).

The U.S. State Department is now endorsing that claim:

The State Department said Friday that Russia had sent tanks and other heavy weapons to separatists in Ukraine, supporting accusations Thursday by the Ukrainian government.

A convoy of three T-64 tanks, several BM-21 multiple rocket launchers and other military vehicles crossed the border near the Ukrainian town of Snizhne, State Department officials said. The Ukrainian Army reported Friday that it had destroyed two of the tanks and several other vehicles in the convoy.

“This is unacceptable,” said Marie Harf, the deputy State Department spokeswoman. “A failure by Russia to de-escalate this situation will lead to additional costs.”
The T-64 is an obsolescent tank no longer in active use by Russian forces, but still stored in southwest Russia.

“Russia will claim these tanks were taken from Ukrainian forces, but no Ukrainian tank units have been operating in that area,” the State Department said Friday. “We are confident that these tanks came from Russia.”

There are several lies in this State Department claims. Ukrainian tank units are operating in the area against federalists. Here are several photos (scroll down) from Associated Press showing them - also pic 7 here. The tanks re T-64 BV, the upgraded subtype used in the Ukrainian army.

T-64BV – Features "Kontakt-1" reactive armour and "Tucha" 81-mm smoke grenade launchers on the left of the turret.

All Soviet era T-64 tanks were exclusively build and later upgraded in Kharkov, Ukraine. The Ukrainian state dealer Ukrspecexport is still selling such upgraded tanks. Distinct features of the T-64 BV subtype are marked in picture 17 of this gallery at Two smoke grenade launchers at the left side of the turret - none on the right -, the boxes at the rear of the turret and the infrared searchlight to the left of the gun are special T-64 BV features which can also be seen on page 4-14.1 of the OPFOR Worldwide Equipment Guide (pdf) of the U.S. TRADOC DCSINT Threat Support Directorate.

Russia once had some 4,000 T-64s. It did not upgrade them but scrapped those it had.

Wikipedia, giving as source Eugene Yanko "T-64 MBT; Russian Arms, Military Technology, Analysis of Russia's Military Forces", list Russia as a "former operator" of T-64s and remarks:

Approx. 4000 in 1995. By 2013 all have been scrapped.

Another source says:

Russia (not to be confused with Ukraine which still has about ~2200 T-64'ss) has been scrapping out their for years now and completed the process mid 2012. This is from 2013 IISS the Military Balance.

I do not have access to the expensive 2013 IISS "Military Balance" but someone with U.S. library access can surely look it up and confirm that.

To me, a former Bundeswehr tank officer, the three traveling tanks reportedly driven by federalists in the videos above are T-64 BVs like the Ukrainian army uses in east Ukraine. Also - as Russia no longer has any T-64s where else could the Ukrainian federalist have obtained those three T-64 tanks than by capturing them in Ukraine?

Indeed. On June 9 the Russian news site noted: Ополченцы под Луганском захватили три танка Т-64 украинских ВС. Google translation:

Militias under Lugansk captured three of the T-64 Ukrainian Armed Forces

According to representatives of the so-called self-defense forces People's Republic of Lugansk, common in social networks, militias won another victory in the suburbs of Lugansk.

It is reported that the Ukrainian military in a serious clash with the militia not only had to retreat, but to leave some heavy equipment and weapons. It is known that in order SDF Lugansk were three T-64 tank.

Apparently three T-64 BVs from the Ukrainian army were captured by federalists some five days ago and are moving somewhere in east Ukraine. There is zero prove at all that these T-64 BVs, of which Russia has none left, came from Russia. The State Department is again lying.

Posted by b on June 14, 2014 at 11:24 UTC | Permalink | Comments (79)

June 13, 2014

NYT Frontpage Sows Confusion


Who knew? I always thought the guy is Sunni.

Posted by b on June 13, 2014 at 16:49 UTC | Permalink | Comments (23)

Iraq's "World Of Hurt"

The Jihadists of ISIS in cooperation with former Baathists continue their march onto Baghdad. Their recent surprise seizure of Mosul and further operations seem to have been well prepared for quite a long time:

“These groups were unified by the same goal, which is getting rid of this sectarian government, ending this corrupt army and negotiating to form the Sunni Region,” said Abu Karam, a senior Baathist leader and a former high-ranking army officer, who said planning for the offensive had begun two years ago. “The decisive battle will be in northern Baghdad. These groups will not stop in Tikrit and will keep moving toward Baghdad.”

The alliance between former Baathist and followers of the naqshbandiya Sufi order with the radical takfirirs of ISIS is a dangerous one. The former are professional militaries and as Pat Lang assesses:

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."

It is not clear what "Maliki's army" actually is. The Iraqi army officers of the divisions near Mosul seem to have been bought off and changed sides. Some 90,000 security forces deserted.

But its is unlikely that the Sunni forces, the Baathist and ISIS, can take Baghdad or even hold the ground they have taken so far. "Maliki's army" will be unlike the "Iraqi army". There are loyal divisions in the Iraqi military and there are many Shia now joining voluntary forces. The Shia authority in Iraq, Ayatollah Sistani, has issued a fatwa and called for war against the Sunni takfiris. Hundreds of thousand will follow that call.

Maliki's forces may be in a "world of hurt" for now but my guess it that they, in the end, will also win. They have more and better resources, access to the sea and support from Iran and likely also the United States. The Sunni positions have no defensible geographic features. The fight will be about cities on flat land and those can be starved and bombed into submission. Disunity within the Sunni forces will also evolve. In Syria ISIS did not do well with other anti-government forces, often fighting against them. The Sunni Sufi/Baathist followers of Izzat Ibrahim, a vice president under Saddam Hussein, will soon revolt against the radical life style ISIS will try to impose on the areas both groups hold. The more nasty force of those two will win internally only to be then stomped into ground by superior Shia forces.

As those two main groups struggle against each others the Kurds up north will be, for now, the laughing third. They already took Kirkuk, the oil-rich mixed Arab-Kurd city up north, and will not let it go without violence. They will be the next target when the Sunni Shia fight has been decided for either side.

All sides will bleed and, thanks to the U.S. war of terror, all Iraqis will contine to be in a "world of hurt" for years to come.

Posted by b on June 13, 2014 at 12:21 UTC | Permalink | Comments (90)