Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 04, 2015

U.S., Qatar Plan To Rebrand AlQaeda Into "Moderate" Rebels

The CIA supported and equipped "moderate" rebels in Syria are losing out against al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. The last "moderate" group active in north Syria, Harakat Hazzm, had to give up its headquarter -including a warehouse full of U.S. weapons- to Jabhat al Nusra and dissolved. Many of its members then joined Nusra.

The U.S. military plans to recruit, pay and train new "moderate" rebels but the effort is starting veeerrry slow. Just 100 have been vetted so far to be "moderate" enough for the program. There are simply too few non-Jihadi rebels and warlords available who are willing to die for U.S. dollars.

A solution to the lack of qualified "moderate" personal is the rebranding of non-moderate groups into "moderates". James Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, recently moved into that direction:

Moderate these days is increasingly becoming anyone who is not affiliated with ISIL. And so, you know, we are attempting to engage with them, and that's the whole point of the train and equip proposal -- project that the Department of Defense is gearing up for, is to vet, recruit and train and equip opposition in sufficient size and capability to actually make a military difference.

And so one of our challenges is, again, the recruiting and vetting part. So we picked people that not only are moderate, whatever that is, but also we have to be sensitive to complying with the international rules of law, which in this environment is a pretty tough order.

"Moderates", Clapper used gestural scare-quotes, is anyone who is not part of the Islamic State. That would, it seems, include Jabhat al-Nusra who three years ago parted from IS and kept their allegiance to AlQaeda. Jabhat al-Nusra has been fighting the Islamic State ever since.

That Clapper thought of Jabhat and similar Jihadi groups like Ahrar al-Sham, is obvious from his reference to international law. The United Nations Security Council classified Jabhat as an international terrorist organization. Supporting it, like Israel does in south Syria, is a violation of UNSC resolutions. As a veto wielding member the U.S. would not like to be caught doing that.

Jabhat al-Nusra is a Jihadi group following al-Qaeda. It is obviously a non-moderate groups but as it fights against the Islamic State it is now, under Clappers new definition "moderate" and thereby qualified to receive U.S. support. Still there is the damned international law issue that has to be circumvented.

Now just in time a U.S. puppet entity in the Persian Gulf, which already though silently arms and pays Jabhat al-Nusra, comes up with a solution for that problem:

Leaders of Syria's Nusra Front are considering cutting their links with al Qaeda to form a new entity backed by some Gulf states trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad, sources said.

Sources within and close to Nusra said that Qatar, which enjoys good relations with the group, is encouraging the group to go ahead with the move, which would give Nusra a boost in funding.
Intelligence officials from Gulf states including Qatar have met the leader of Nusra, Abu Mohamad al-Golani, several times in the past few months to encourage him to abandon al Qaeda and to discuss what support they could provide, the sources said.

They promised funding once it happens.
The Nusra Front is listed as a terrorist group by the United States and has been sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council. But for Qatar at least, rebranding Nusra would remove legal obstacles to supporting it.

A "rebranded" Jabhat al-Nusra would of course still fight the Syrian government as its primary enemy. Destroying the Syrian government is also the primary aim of the Wahhabi government of Qatar. New-Nusra would fight the Islamic State only after having secured enough resources and geography to be able to expand further. Its ideological essence would not change and its aim in the end would be to create its own version of an Islamic state.

[I]f Nusra is dissolved and it abandons al Qaeda, the ideology of the new entity is not expected to change. Golani fought with al Qaeda in Iraq. Some other leaders fought in Afghanistan and are close al Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahri.

Rebranding Jabhat al-Nusra to then declare it "moderate" in the new definition of DNI Clapper may be the plan. It worked in Libya. But I doubt its feasibility in the much longer Syria conflict. It would be a very difficult sale even for the mighty U.S. propaganda brigades. It would also mean that the organization Jabhat al-Nusra, as it now exists, would fall apart. Many of Nusra's fighters have joined for ideological reason and to be members of alQaeda. Should Nusra revoke its oath to al-Qaeda those fighters would leave and very likely join the Islamic State.

The only reason to stay with New-Nusra would be the Qatari and U.S. money and equipment that would flow to it. But as the demise of earlier U.S. supported "moderate" groups show money and weapons are not the decisive factor in winning the fights on the ground.

Posted by b on March 4, 2015 at 15:09 UTC | Permalink


I can only describe the violence caused by US policy from the Ukraine to the Middle East and further East as absolute Evil. From Clinton to Bush to Obama, I would estimate about three million have perished. The US must be neutralized or contained. The American people will not change the current direction of US policy. The only hope is that the East will eventually draw a line that the US and its EU vassals will dare not cross.

Posted by: Arius | Mar 4 2015 15:35 utc | 1

Thanks b, with Assad and regime change always the REAL goal, this carousel by the empire will never end as long as the dollar (or petro dollar) remains supreme. Don't anyone hold their breath til that happens. Creating money from thin air, ( like the Fed does ) has it's advantages.

Posted by: ben | Mar 4 2015 15:37 utc | 2

Case in point:

Posted by: ben | Mar 4 2015 15:50 utc | 3


It's total domination of all nations and people. The only thing that stops the Merchants of Death is mutually assured nuclear annihilation.

Nothing but lies and shit comes out of this asshole factory.

Posted by: farflungstar | Mar 4 2015 16:41 utc | 4

U.S. policy in Iraq is in trouble too. Iraqi prime minister Abadi was supposed to be a stooge willing to oversee the de facto partition of the country. But so far a U.S.-desired re-Awakening has yet to come about. Sunnis have been slow to pledge allegiance. Abadi is going to take Tikrit without U.S. assistance. If he is successful, and Iraq presses on to Mosul without U.S. guidance, the Saudis and Israelis will be making demands on Obama to curtail the assault.

U.S. policy is thoroughly schizophrenic.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Mar 4 2015 16:48 utc | 5

The US isn't even trying to hide their intentions:

So the US is handing over Iraqi battle plans to IS.

With the massive success Iraq has had mobilizing the myriad ethnic groups into a common fighting force that is rapidly pushing back and crushing IS the US appears to be more and more in an absolute panic that their self-created pretext for bombing and invading at will in the region is about to be destroyed.

Posted by: KrazyKatLady | Mar 4 2015 17:00 utc | 6

@5 Much of the apparent irrational behavior is due to Obama being an empty suit. It's essentially open season. No group or interest can win major backing, but no one is setting order in a environment with competing interests. Obama is the only point man who can drive a unifying force in DC, but Obama is concerned with Obama.

Since popular support for major MIC spending increases is dead, every interest is in competition with each other with a President who has no sense of policy goals except brand and a complete refusal now inability to reign in any particular group.

Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Mar 4 2015 17:12 utc | 7

It is sickening to look at the totality of the US and IS:

* Its leader was in US custody and released

* The US left massive amounts of military hardware just sitting in Iraq

* IS took huge amounts of this free US miliatry hardware to arm themselves

* IS territorial focus and attacks have all perfectly aligned with US interests

* The US air attacks have been caught targeting empty buildings

* Reports that the US has know the locations of IS leadership and not attacked them

* Western quality propaganda videos mixed with a social media campaign

* Terror acts that are completely disjoint from ideology but appear to be designed to generate the maximum public reaction in Western countries to support any military action the US wants to take

I don't think anyone in US intelligence ever dreamed that such a perfect plan would fall apart so quickly. Syria and Iraq are crushing IS. There have been almost no new gains by IS anywhere in Syria or Iraq in the past few months. The headlines screaming panic over new IS gains have completely stopped.

US intelligence must have never dreamed Syria would be able to take on both the US/Israeli/Gulf Dictatorships/Turkey back foreign terrorists and IS or at least would have been lured into taking a shot at a US bombing attack and opened the door to a massive US attack on Syria. Nor that the people of Iraq would unite and form such an effective combat force so quickly.

I am amazed the Iraqis have not kicked the US troops out, halted the US pretext air campaign, shut down the massive US military fortress 'embassy' now that Syria, Iraq, and Iran are forming an effective and unified military defense alliance for their mutual security.

Posted by: KrazyKatLady | Mar 4 2015 17:19 utc | 8

The dumbass Yankees have completely lost the plot. It's effing impossible to maintain a Superpower myth whilst pretending not to be pissing their pants at the thought of being nuked by Vlad. So they keep doing what brought the Superpower myth into disrepute - bombing & wrecking pissy little countries and hoping someone will believe that they're omnipotent.

Good luck with that, Yankees.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 4 2015 17:52 utc | 9

@ no. 2, Ben--

How do you think money is created?

Posted by: sleepy | Mar 4 2015 17:59 utc | 10

KrazyKatLady @ 6 said:

With the massive success Iraq has had mobilizing the myriad ethnic groups into a common fighting force...

that's one of the more incisive things i've read around here lately. yes, let's watch and empathize as the Iraqis take their country back.


hey, remember Riverbend?

Posted by: john | Mar 4 2015 18:15 utc | 11

thanks b, and the other posters comments, especially the link john provided @11 - which is worth reading if you haven't already..

@ 10 sleepy.. i'm with ben and as i understand it fiat money is created with a printing press and although based on the logic of lending money.. the imf/world bank are an important part of this lernaean hydra monster.

my thoughts - re-branding - packaging - selling snake oil - it's been going on forever.. it's about conning folks.. the usa has excelled at this. the whole political structure is built up on a huge lie.. it is like the emperor who has no clothes but is still being listened to.

so we can all watch as the world unravels and the fate that awaits us lies down the road into the distance. some of us are too young to think about it and some are too old to feel they make much of a difference and then there are the rest of us, somewhere in the middle who visit places like moa hoping to learn something and make a difference.

Posted by: james | Mar 4 2015 18:51 utc | 12

The US must be neutralized or contained. The American people will not change the current direction of US policy. The only hope is that the East will eventually draw a line that the US and its EU vassals will dare not cross.

Agreed. We need some Russian Love.

Love, Russian Style — Part 1

How on earth can b not have had a post about the Netanyahoo sidestep? I'm stunned.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Mar 4 2015 18:52 utc | 13

@ 10:Literaly or figuratively?

Posted by: ben | Mar 4 2015 19:03 utc | 14

oops! make that" literally."

Posted by: ben | Mar 4 2015 19:04 utc | 15

There are plenty of "Moderate Arabs" in Syria...
They consist of Assad and his government. Otherwise there are no others..

Posted by: adrian | Mar 4 2015 19:05 utc | 16

@16 adrian - the ''moderate'' term is re-branding terminology for what they refer to as'''rebels''' another re-branding term for ''terrorists''.. when reading western msm - you need a translator!

basically the usa/west are content to support isis if they can get them to take out assad, that being the ultimate goal in mind to move forward with resource domination and etc. etc.

Posted by: james | Mar 4 2015 19:50 utc | 17

In other words: The US still wants to overthrow the Assad government.

Posted by: Willy2 | Mar 4 2015 20:09 utc | 18

I see the US trying to do the bare minimum to appease Turkey and, with it, the cancerous little upstart that is Qatar - two regionally isolated Muslim brotherhood bedfellows. Nusra, New-Nusra...all that matters is Iran's reintegration into the global economy and to establish itself as a regional economic and military behemoth. The Shia arc will move on from Tikrit, to Mosul and then on to Aleppo before driving Qatar's man eaters into the Mediterranean sea.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Mar 4 2015 20:39 utc | 19

It seems the US is arming ISIS by default: they give weapons to the "moderates" who then fold up shop and leave the weapons to ISIS. ISIS is armed. US State Dept maintains deniability. Win-win.

Posted by: ruralito | Mar 4 2015 20:40 utc | 20


You say "In Russia love and murder mean the same thing"?

What an insane cunt piece of shit you are. FOAD slow.

Posted by: farflungstar | Mar 4 2015 20:53 utc | 21

The way I see it, American (and more widely Western) establishment is less schizophrenic than it pretends. The project of overthrowing "Assad regime" and replacing it with a stable, moderate pro-Western government that would make Syria prosperous and the regime stable was abandoned a while ago. Turkish-Qatari-Saudi project of restoring Sunnis to the position of power in Syria and Iraq is still ongoing, but with hardly any Western support. The question is if all taqfiris should be branded as terrorists and any aid to them as criminal is vexing, and the idea that moderate, non-terrorist taqfiris can be identified and aided without triggering asset freezes etc. is a convenient compromise.

The West establishment does not care much if Syrian conflagration kills, maims and ruins ever more people, but it fears the folks who return home to their country after getting military and terroristic experience, plus thoroughly crazy after the insane war. The solution is to keep all of them in prison, and that requires criminalization of that activity. But if they go to far in that direction they offend sensibilities of Turkey (so what?) and all Gulf monarchies -- and this is a problem, because the Royals are also members of the western Establishment by virtue of having a lot of properties in the West, placing huge orders for arms etc. so they have to be humored to some extent.

It would be sufficient to identify and train three moderate Syrian rebels if it would give cover for massive aid crossing the borders of Turkey, Jordan and perhaps Israel, but 5000 would sound better.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 4 2015 21:42 utc | 22

No surprise: Israel and the Mossad were very much involved in the coup in Venezuela that the U.S. attempted in February. Obama failed his coup in Venezuela.

Posted by: lysias | Mar 4 2015 22:03 utc | 23

Sorry if anyone has already posted it. I find it simply amazing
Before joining the jihad in Libya, and while he was still in Iran, ‘Urwah sent Rahman an email saying that “some of the Libyan brothers in England had talked to him about” an alleged offer.

According to Rahman’s summary of the email, which he relayed to bin Laden, the British wanted to cut a deal. “British Intelligence spoke to them (these Libyan brothers in England), and asked them to try to contact the people they knew in al Qaeda to inform them of and find out what they think about the following idea: England is ready to leave Afghanistan [if] al Qaeda would explicitly commit to not moving against England or her interests.”

Posted by: Mina | Mar 4 2015 22:30 utc | 24

It's getting repetitive
Not unlike the Palestine/Israel so called "peace process"

Posted by: Mina | Mar 4 2015 22:44 utc | 25

"Moderate" is actually meaningless among Syrian rebels. From a religious point of view, hardly anyone of them is moderate, especially not Nusra, and this won´t change if Nusra publicly says "we are not al Qaeda, we don´t give a damn about Zawahiri", etc.
All this won´t change Nusras violent sectarianism that calls Alawites "Nussayris", Shias "apostates", beheads or mass executes disarmed POWs...

So, what then is "moderate"?
A moderate rebel is probably one that (at least openly) does not say he hates the US and Israel, wishes for the establishment of an islamic emirate and Sharia, dreams of Jews being exterminated and Palestine liberated.
Most rebels in need of ATGMs, Manpads, night vision goggles, communication devices, satellite pictures etc. will manage to suppress their true attitudes and the usual CIA/MI5 "vetter" in Jordan or Turkey is more than happy to give them the "moderate" certificate:

Posted by: KerKaraje | Mar 4 2015 22:50 utc | 26

@26 kerkarage - we are just playing their stupid game when we go into the details of the use of these words.. they are flat out bullshit and anyone paying attention knows this..

Posted by: james | Mar 4 2015 23:03 utc | 27

I don't think this al Nusra move has much to do with the US pipe-dream of creating a new force in Syria to oppose the Islamic State. It seems more a way to take the pressure off of Qatar for supporting a listed terrorist group and allow them to increase their support of al Nusra and affiliated groups.

I doubt that Nusra or its affiliates will be seeking or needing US support in their fight against Assad.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 4 2015 23:13 utc | 28

As I have long argued the US/Israel/Turkey/SA/etc support IS and AN. They only got annoyed with IS going off reservaton. Provided they get back to and stick with the desired script (attack Syria, then Lebanon, then Iran, then Russia) then they will get lots of help. The US and Israel have completely thrown in their lot with Whabbi Sunnis hoping they will dominate the ME.

For example, Israel has medically treated 1,500 people in the fighting (mostly by AN) in the south of Syria...not one Syrian army person though, who they have been shelling and bombing. Some will be civilians caught up in it, but a heck of a lot of them will be AN fighters.

"Tehran alleges, on the other hand, that the US is actually dissimulating when it claims it is fighting the IS, and that in reality Washington has a nuanced approach that anticipates a future role for the IS as an instrument in its regional strategies. The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian literally ridiculed the US claims of fighting the IS, when he alleged in a speech in Tehran on Monday, “The US has created the anti-ISIL coalition with the participation of 60 countries, but the coalition’s main practical measure is confined to controlling and administering the ISIL.”

Abdollahian disclosed that the US military aircraft are ferrying supplies for the IS in Syria and Iraq by flying great distances. He asked, “How can one make a 900-kilometer mistake in distance?” Good question, indeed."

Posted by: Lisa | Mar 5 2015 1:03 utc | 29


JAN has so much direct support from Israeli and Jordanian intelligence, as well as Hariri allies in Lebanon, that it doesn't need direct US support. Israel and JAN are trying to use Israeli Druze, as well as distressed and occupied Lebanese Druze villages, as leverage to convince Syrian Druze to turn against the Syrian government. Golani Druze have resisted Israel's pressures since 1967 and they show no sign of buckling now. In fact, they just embarrassed Israel further by giving the Syrian government evidence of collusion between the IDF and JAN in the Golan Heights (which was broadcast on Syrian TV.)

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Mar 5 2015 1:03 utc | 30

To those who responded, yes I do understand that MSM and children's crusaders talk about moderate rebels, but my point is there are none if, by moderate, one means the willingness to embrace some form of pluralism. The quest for moderation in those opposed to Assad is a fool's errand. They all have the same agenda, and it's eliminationist. One group differs from the other based om who they want destroyed. It's tragicomic what schizoid motives drive those making policy in this country....

Posted by: adrian | Mar 5 2015 1:11 utc | 31

Not unlike the Palestine/Israel so called "peace process"
Posted by: Mina | Mar 4, 2015 5:44:29 PM | 25

That's Yiddish humour. The Zio-nazis are stealing Palestine piece by piece.
So when Bibi says Piece Process, gullible folks hear Peace Process.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 5 2015 1:25 utc | 32

what do you want, b? The US endeavors to save your favorite dictator.

Posted by: slothrop | Mar 5 2015 3:09 utc | 33

@KrazyKatLady - Holy shit! That news about the Mosul briefing is huge. The United States will do anything to fuck up the Iraqis doing this by themselves. The US whole plan to re-insert themselves into Iraq hinges on their being "invited back" and it sure looks like the Iraqis are having none of it. But the US, as usual, is trying desperately to flip over the checkers board.

The US press and military (and WayOutWest) have always built up ISIL. It is from them that we have always heard how "powerful" ISIL is. Recall all the Senators declaring them "the worst threat the US has ever faced" and other such ridiculous hyperbole. Just from the looks of it, the ISIS advance onto Mosul was accompanied by a US psychological warfare help which caused - first the Iraqi officers - then the Iraqi Army to flee leaving ISIL with the entire city.

I have to agree deeply with the sentiments expressed here: the best thing for the people of the region, since the US has refused to allow them peace in their countries, is to expel these invaders on their own. Of course the US is trying to prevent this by hook and by crook. But if the Iraqis and Syrians can do it, they prove that the US is irrelevant in the region.

The one missing piece, which absolutely must come, is the destruction of the Gulf regimes, including Saudi Arabia. They are by far the worst actors on the planet considering their acts vs their size. As they are nothing more than "plausibly deniable piggy banks" for the United States, these governments frankly do not deserve to exist.

These are tiny frauds of countries, run by a small claque of Royals who spend their time in London strip clubs while subjecting their populations to baffling religious strictures. "Countries" where all of the work is done by immigrants, and the people are throughly brainwashed into servitude by religious manipulation, total fear, and straight cash transfer payments. Every group that the US hypocritically grandstands for on the world stage - gay people, women, children - suffer far, far more inside these US allies than anywhere the US claims (proving the US doesn't give two farts about human rights, only oil, money, and stacking American centuries). These phony Kingdoms are the world's true totalitarian hellholes - and yet the US must keep them all very close, bow and make kissy face with these creeps all for money - like the bunch of cheap hustlers they are. Talk about a deal with the devil!

Just look at the horrific beheadings that occur in these most important allies of the US (I would suggest, the most important). Even filming these beheadings leads to arrest (and beheading?). Yet all of this pathetically swept under the rug and presented benignly in the US as "legitimate". See this article, a naked apologia for Saudi Arabia's disastrous human right record, was the SECOND Google listing from searching "Saudi Beheading". Here NBC proves their not stenographers for the US government, they're stenographers for the US government and the Saudis! How nice.

This doesn't even get into their hypocritical relationship with Israel - their disgusting selling out of the Palestinians to the settler state. Israel would be positively neutered in terms of their ability to wage war in the Middle East if these kingdoms fell, that is for sure. It is the first and best step to winning justice for the Palestinians.

Of course, I'm not blaming these characters for the crimes of the US or those of Israel, but they certainly do enable much of them. Mostly because they oversee the petrodollar and shuttle arms to wherever the US requests and foot the bill.

There would be no more positive development in global geo-politics than to see these regimes wither and die. Peace would come to so many of the world's worst conflicts almost immediately were these fiends to show up in the dock someplace.

Posted by: guest77 | Mar 5 2015 3:18 utc | 34

@33 It's Slothrowup with another inanity for us:

"Hur b. Dictator."

Good job buddy. Back to Proyect's you go.

Posted by: guest77 | Mar 5 2015 3:21 utc | 35


You might want to look at this Iranian propaganda much as you would US propaganda as they are both mostly designed for local consumption. Iran has a large Arab/Kurd population that is the target of information that makes the Islamic State appear a tool of the West, this is understandable but it is still nonsense.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 5 2015 3:26 utc | 36

This is the film made which got the man arrested who made it because of course the Saudi's crimes must be hidden from American eyes. Of course the Americans should not know that in the streets of their closest allies, screaming women are sloppily hacked to pieces. But of course we know, thanks to NBC(ia), that this sort of thing is "legitimate". Different from the hacking of people to pieces in ISIL-stan because "courts have convicted them." Riiiiight. Here is the video.

Chris Kyle, that neanderthal scumbag, fought to keep these "primitives" and "savages" on their thrones and no one should forget it.

Posted by: guest77 | Mar 5 2015 3:29 utc | 37

Lisa @29: Great link to Bhadrakumar, thanks.

Posted by: fairleft | Mar 5 2015 3:33 utc | 38

One line of Bhadrakumar I don't understand, though there is much to agree with. This is confusing though: That apart, Shi’ite Iran is leading the fight today against a Sunni Islamist enemy who poses existential threat to the Sunni Arab regimes of the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, which has otherwise no love lost for Iran.

It is impossible to see how ISIL is any more an existential threat to the Saudis than they are to the Israelis. Allies would be a more accurate term, it seems? After all, how quickly would the Gulf funders snatch away the cash if their interests were threatened?

This, though, is pitch perfect:

Finally, the fighting raging around Tikrit raises a big question: Where on earth is the US-led international coalition hiding? Iran has put the US and its coalition partners to shame by single-handedly taking the war into the IS tent. Iran is relentlessly exposing the IS as a pest that is easily squashed if gone about seriously, than the 10′ tall enemy with mythical prowess that the Western analysts made it out to be.

WayOutWest should read that very closely.

Posted by: guest77 | Mar 5 2015 4:48 utc | 39


There is a simple answer to why the US coalition is not involved in Tikrit, they were not asked to assist this Iranian venture and may not even want to be so closely associated with the Iranians.

I see you are still confused about whom is supporting whom in the ME but that is not unusual and hopefully time will answer these questions and dispel the many myths of today.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 5 2015 6:29 utc | 40

I think this is the third time Soleimani has tried to push his Shia Death Squads and Iraqi troops into Tikrit, the first two were total defeats. If this attack does succeed we may see the first true civilian bloodbath when the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis begins.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 5 2015 6:51 utc | 41

The circus: How British intelligence primed both sides of the ‘terror war’

‘Jihadi John’ was able to join IS for one simple reason: from Quilliam to al-Muhajiroun, Britain’s loudest extremists have been groomed by the security services

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Mar 5 2015 6:54 utc | 42


Interesting report but it seems to be mostly about MI5's tame Muslims and their PR campaign in England. Jihad John escaped England and joined the Islamic State and the IS followers do not go on UK Talk Shows or join their think tanks.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 5 2015 7:51 utc | 43

I wish they would stop torturing language

Posted by: Crest | Mar 5 2015 15:24 utc | 44


The PR and branding mavens in the US are usually better at their Newspeak when friend and foe are separated. If this tortured language continues we may soon read about moderately dead people and moderately pregnant women.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 5 2015 15:58 utc | 45

ditto fairleft @38: thanks, Lisa, for Bhadrakumar link

Posted by: citizen X | Mar 5 2015 16:55 utc | 46

From Indian Punchline (bhadrakumar), a link to this New Yorker article about Suleimani (many imperial talking points, but a pretty extensive bio of the man)

The Shadow Commander

Qassem Suleimani is the Iranian operative who has been reshaping the Middle East. Now he’s directing Assad’s war in Syria.

Suleimani took command of the Quds Force fifteen years ago, and in that time he has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran’s favor, working as a power broker and as a military force: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and, for most of a decade, directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has sanctioned Suleimani for his role in supporting the Assad regime, and for abetting terrorism. And yet he has remained mostly invisible to the outside world, even as he runs agents and directs operations. “Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today,” John Maguire, a former C.I.A. officer in Iraq, told me, “and no one’s ever heard of him.”

Posted by: citizen X | Mar 5 2015 17:15 utc | 47

Wayoutwest said:

I think this is the third time Soleimani has tried to push his Shia Death Squads and Iraqi troops into Tikrit, the first two were total defeats. If this attack does succeed we may see the first true civilian bloodbath when the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis begins.

this curiously elicits memories of little Bush's peddling of the great Sunni-Shia divide myth.


...the US coalition is not involved in Tikrit, they were not asked to assist...

(channeling Paul Bremer?) well, god knows that the US coalition wouldn't get involved uninvited, now would it?

you mealymouthed fuck.

Posted by: john | Mar 5 2015 21:36 utc | 48


You don't have to reinforce you're image as being ignorant of the facts in Iraq J boy. If you would read what the Iraqis are saying before you bloviate you might not look so foolish.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 5 2015 22:22 utc | 49

Wayoutwest @ 41

I think this is the third time Soleimani has tried to push his Shia Death Squads and Iraqi troops into Tikrit...

Please. How come you don't call US troops and special ops teams "Christian Death Squads" or "US Death Squads"?

Posted by: Benu | Mar 5 2015 22:42 utc | 50


When US forces are returned to this conflict I will designate them as such when they display this behavior. Many people in the ME view the US forces as Christian Crusaders and some special ops teams were certainly death squads.

The Iran trained, equipped and led Shia Iraqi militias have been carrying out ethnic cleansing and murder of Sunni civilians long before the Islamic State takeover of much of Iraq. Even the Yazidi militias in Sinjar are now behaving as death squads burning Sunni villages and murdering their neighbors many of whom helped to save them from the IS.

This is a fact that even the Iraqi government acknowledges and seeks to stop although they have little control over these groups.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 5 2015 23:46 utc | 51

"This is a fact that even the Iraqi government acknowledges and seeks to stop although they have little control over these groups."

But of course Iran controlled them. And IS is well known for its clean methods of maintaining discipline among the troops and population it controls. And the "Yazidi neighbors" universally were helping and saving them. You do not seem THAT authoritative about Iraq, dear Wayoutwest.

In any case, it seems that Iraq does not have a general who could lead a major operation, and clearly an American general would be only marginally better. That leaves Iran. In a month we will see if taqfiris will get trapped or not.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 6 2015 2:43 utc | 52


the ethnic divisions are all a part of the divide and conquer strategy of the neo con agenda which is being run out of the usa primarily.. what part of that haven't you figured out yet wow? or are you just trying to pedal more of the same bs?

Posted by: james | Mar 6 2015 3:28 utc | 53


This is not a flaw in the Iraqi Militias but a feature that has been well documented so you don't have to rely on my word for proof. Now that they are moving into The Sunni parts of Iraq and causing the IS to retreat from some towns we are seeing how they pacify these people.

I see you don't have much confidence in the Iraqi Army or the militias giving them a whole month for this operation.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 6 2015 3:42 utc | 54

Those who imagine the amerikan policy in Syria and Iraq is ignorant and/or foolish are being naive.

Seeming to give tacit support to Iran's involvement in the war against IS while seeming to do the same for Jabhat al-Nusra's takeover of resistance to the Syrian government in the north despite Jabhat al-Nusra's overt AQ connections furthers amerika's number 1 priority in the ME.

It is worth noting that the Iranian support, just like the Jabhat al-Nusra 'blind eye' has been 'under the table' and that at no stage ha anys amerikan official said anything nice or placating about either 'team'.
Oblamblam could turn around and blow the beejesus outta either mob without anyone being able to show that amerika had resiled from calling either a deadly enemy.

The real point of current amerikan foreign policy is to ensure that arab speaking people remain bitterly divided - preferably in open warfare with each other.

This policy has thus far been successful from libya through egypt and across to Syria then Iraq.

The euros may be pissed because they still haven't got their grasping paws on that sweet Libyan crude but as far is amerika is concerned leaving that liquid gold in the ground right now is a good thing. Amerika doesn't need the oil yet and won't for a decade or two so better to leave it alone and ensure that Arab people remain divided, in conflict and impoverished.

Israeli and amerikan foreign policy objectives are easy to achieve as long as Arabs would rather fight each other than the zionists.

The same goes for amerika's 'allies' in the ME, e.g. Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the execrable Sisi of Egypt the man who applauds the zionist rape of Gaza as a drunk would applaud a the rape of a stripper by the groom at an amerikan 'stag party'.

As long as the citizens of these nations fight shia on sunni, Arab citizen's dislike of current fascist regimes in Saudi, Qatar and Egypt, fades into the background.

See today where Prez Assad is claiming that his airforce killed Jabhat al-Nusra's leader.

Yet it is probable that an amerikan drone actually did the business amerika is happy to let President Assad take credit so as not to upset either the Sunni camp or house republicans.

This is how Arabs are being played when they badly need to use their heads and recognise the true enemy.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Mar 6 2015 3:48 utc | 55

Are you seeing the revival of the Moslem Brotherhood?
It seems that after the disaster that its supports for the Salafist brought to the region, Saudi Arabia is making a U-Turn about the Moslem Brotherhood.
Qatar is trying to build a Moslem Brotherhood army out of the Al Nusra fighters who , with enough cash, will reject al Qaeda.
Turkey is encouraging that move and promising a new version of the Moslem Brotherhood simila to the Turkish AKP .
Iran had supported the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt and would not mind seeing it having a role in Egypt.
It is therefore possible to see in the next few months moves in the direction of building a new Syrian opposition under Moslem Brotherhood II leadership and a new rebel army made up of the ex- Al Nusra fighters.
If it succeeds both Al Sisi and Bashar al Assad will be forced to include Moslem Brotherhood elements in their governement

Posted by: Virgile | Mar 6 2015 10:16 utc | 56

Wayoutwest says:

If you would read what the Iraqis are saying before you bloviate you might not look so foolish.

well now, tell me which Iraqis you are talking about and then tell me exactly what they are saying.

for 1,400 years Sunni and Shia have lived side by side, eating, sleeping, working, laughing, crying, fucking, and intermarrying, with millions from both sects converging on the annual Hajj pilgrimage. no, not always in perfect harmony, but more or less...

...until the 21st century, that is, when the Americans arrived. coincidence, Wayoutwest? and pray tell, mr. Wayoutwest, in a country that is over 60% Shia, what sense would it make to rub out a 30% minority, again, with whom you have lived relatively peacefully for the past millennium?

sure, if you view these people as just a bunch of savages and fanatics then your abysmal fantasies will certainly inform your opinions.

Posted by: john | Mar 6 2015 11:16 utc | 57


I agree with much of what you write but the sectarian nature of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are more political and power relationships than individual Sunni/Shia divisions. These power relationships go back to the British and French, divide and rule policies.

When and if the Islamic State completes the conquest of Syria and Iraq the complexion of their expansion will change as they move against the Sunni Monarchies of the Gulf. The Caliphate must expand to encompass all of the Muslim world and there is no place in it for Kings or Western puppet despots no matter their religious convictions.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 6 2015 16:13 utc | 58

@wow - it is more ' when and if' the usa/isreal/saudi arabia cluster fuck get their way in the region.. you are one shitty propagandist for them too!

Posted by: james | Mar 6 2015 17:45 utc | 59

"And so one of our challenges is, again, the recruiting and vetting part. So we picked people that not only are moderate, whatever that is, but also we have to be sensitive to complying with the international rules of law, which in this environment is a pretty tough order."

International rules of law? When it is legal to train, arm and otherwise help rebels in another country? Putin would surely welcome some lucid explanation, being on both sides of the issue. As it is, it is a consistent policy of USA to ignore any instruments of international law that are not controlled by regional alliances it dominates. Perhaps it means that some rebels are hard for NATO allies to swallow: moderation so far meant that summary execution was meted only to opponents while for "innocent" ransom was required, including quite a few Western journalists, but also Christian nuns etc. I would very much be ransomed rather than beheaded, but to actually pay with my tax money to arm and train my captors is a bit too much.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 6 2015 17:58 utc | 60


I see this whole Moderate Force farce as a delaying and PR tactic to prepare the Homeland for the inevitable Coalition Force that will be needed to attempt to project US policy further into the Syrian crisis.

It probably won't be long before they admit the failure of this diversion and begin to sell the, only possible solution to this problem.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 6 2015 18:26 utc | 61

Wayoutwest says:

The Caliphate must expand to encompass all of the Muslim world...

you mean that fake Caliphate, the one run by that fake Caliph, that apparently Mossad-trained Al-Baghdadi dude?

are you for real? are you paranoid? are you Jewish?

Posted by: john | Mar 6 2015 19:25 utc | 62

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 5, 2015 1:51:00 AM | 41

I think this is the third time Soleimani has tried to push his Shia Death Squads and Iraqi troops into Tikrit,
You must be projecting. Death Squads were an American speciality. It was well proven. Anyway the Shi'a militias are not that as their main function - I was watching a video of them fighting today - they're much like any of the current ME militias.

If this attack does succeed we may see the first true civilian bloodbath when the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis begins.
That's impossible. The Shi'a militias and Iraqi army are not numerous enough to move out the local population, and prevent them from returning. A deal would have to be made.

There is ethnic cleansing taking place, but by the Kurds. A number of statements by Kurds have been published which indicate that they are not going to allow Arabs to return to lands the Kurds have just conquered (on the road to Sinjar). An Arab-frei land for the new Kurdish state. No doubt it was the Israeli advisors in Erbil who suggested it.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 6 2015 20:11 utc | 63

re 58

The Caliphate must expand to encompass all of the Muslim world and there is no place in it for Kings or Western puppet despots no matter their religious convictions.
If the Caliphate is universalist, which it is, it is to demand the allegiance of every Muslim, not others. Much like the Papacy claiming to represent all Christians, which they did, but not now. Is that not milder than the US claim to dominate the world? US troops in 750 foreign bases, representing nearly all the supposedly independent countries of the world.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 6 2015 20:38 utc | 64


I agree with some part of your comment and disagree with others.

Yes the US either ignored militia excesses when they served its purposes and also supported Sunni tribal militias, Anbar Awakening, when they needed to leave Iraq without their ass on fire.

The latest number for Shia militia I read was 150,000 with an estimated 20,000 involved in the Tikrit offensive. Their function is to back the Iraqi Army, some say shoot them if they break and run, and take possession of the towns that are recaptured. This is when their Death Squad/ cleansing activities begin.

The Yazidis are Kurds and their killings and burning are documented but you are correct that some Kurds are accusing their Arab neighbors of supporting the IS and behaving badly.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 6 2015 21:08 utc | 65


I don't know about milder but the Islamic State wants to unite all of the Muslim World to finally stand with their united strength against the Imperialist Hegemon. There is no separation between State and Church in the Caliphate so I don't think the Church of Rome ever had the vision or power to compare with what is possible with the completed caliphate.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 6 2015 21:29 utc | 66

My estimate of "one month to take Tikrit" is based on attack being launched from five directions, and each day PressTV reports an advance in one of them, a few kilometers, so they have roughly 5 x 20 = 100 kilometers to go, with 3 km per day. We are not talking about blitzkrieg there for sure. I guess they concentrate some artillery on a spot, clear some sniper sites etc. and spend few days clearing mines, IEDs etc. Apparently there are more columns of troops moving onto ISIL positions, with some reports also from Anbar and Diyala (what is ISIL doing in Diyala!!!).

In the past the quality of Iraqi army proved to be mediocre, and militias had perhaps more enthusiasm, but also very mixed record at best. I guess all of them got some training, including the use of artillery and what Russian call "tekhnika", and Soleimani has some authority to enforce some discipline too.

ISIL proved to be very good at "desert warfare", modern version of cavalry attacks. This modern cavalry uses light trucks and light artillery. From what I have read about wars in Africa, one question is who can still fight when the other side can barely move due to stupefying oppressive heat. The second question is the same all year round: who can fight back when there are explosions all around. And it does not seem to be a type of warfare where troops can be send in a massive attack to clear the mines with their bodies (or vehicles) if needed. But if all prongs of Iraqi attack stay alert and have enough artillery and air support to repel lightning attacks, the turtle has a chance to overcome the hare.

I think that proper conduct of Tikrit operation, especially with reasonably fast follow up in Baiji area (next city to the north, with strategic refinery) would be a big dent in ISIL morale and huge boost in Iran's diplomatic position. But once the temperatures reach 110-120 F range (more outside the shade, i.e. in the open), it takes a fanatic to move a finger.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 6 2015 23:51 utc | 67

The last two attempts to retake Tikrit failed when the Iraqi forces reached the city proper and the conflict became urban warfare where a small IS force shredded the advancing larger force from their defensive positions. Because war is not linear we may already be seeing a repeat of the earlier offensives with a somewhat rapid advance up to the actual city followed by the real fighting.

This will probably be a much longer battle with larger forces on both sides this time and we can discuss the outcome when it ends.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 7 2015 0:50 utc | 68

Iranian TV reports projection that mopping up Tikrit will take three more days and the number of remaining rebels is under 100, The progress is slowed down by explosives.

The Iraqi command is rather cautious with projections, so I would believe them. One has to take correction for the taqfiri tactics including extensive use of bunkers, tunnel, sewer systems etc., but since those tactics are known, and the preparations were extensive. I speculate that some solutions were prepared. ISIS decided to merely slow down the advances in Tikrit direction and attack elsewhere, like Ramadi and Syrian Kurdish areas. A larger offensive will require several times more troops, so the question subject of speculation is: how many trained reliable troops does Iraq have. It seems that between Iraq and Iran, the quantities of "middle tech" weapons and ammunitions are adequate.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 14 2015 20:44 utc | 69


Iranian or Iraqi TV may not be the most reliable source of information on this conflict. The latest report I read from near the fighting is now calling the advance stalled and the head of the Bader Brigade is calling for more troops. They are also reporting heavy loses of life, dozens of bodies a day being transported to Baghdad and Najaf, this doesn't even resemble "Mopping UP"

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 14 2015 21:01 utc | 70

ISIL want to be united? They are moronic sheep that want to install a nutso theocracy.

I am for a contain/negotiate strategy to some extent with ISIL since they are in-effect serving as defenders for Sunnis in those regions, and it would spare lots of bloodshed,

but Turkey, KSA, Qatar, Jordan, the Kurds have been vultures, either actively trying to regime change, or in the kurds case trying to slide into new territory to claim as their own

the DC emperors of chaos couldn't be more pleased

Posted by: PeteCaroll | Mar 14 2015 23:26 utc | 71


I don't think you can contain or negotiate with the Idea of the Caliphate. Although the West is now involved in trying to contain this movement this is an Arab/Muslim conflict that could end with the West expelled from the region.

It's a bit late to worry about bloodshed with what the US has done in the last 14yrs.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Mar 14 2015 23:40 utc | 72

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