Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 04, 2015

More Saudi Losses In Yemen, Washington Warns Riyadh To Toe Its Line

The U.S.-Saudi-UAE campaign against Yemen has failed to achieve its aims. While the bombing of Yemen continues and the nation is blockaded an all sides the losses on the Saudi side are also increasing.

The UAE attack from the south is now stuck in Taiz and skirmishes there continue. Strong UAE lobbying power in Washington does not make up for a lack of military capacity. The attack from the north-east towards Sanaa is stuck in Marib. Over the last weeks the Saudis, UAE troops and hired Yemeni tribal forces build up a huge force east of Marib. It includes Apache helicopter and now nearly two brigades of motorized troops. During the last few days these troops, while preparing to attack Sanaa, were themselves under attack from Houthi and Yemeni army forces.


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Today a SS-21 Tochka tactical ballistic missile was launched by the Yemeni army and hit the invaders camp. According to a report and tweets from Yemen two Saudi Apache helicopter, armored vehicles and an ammunition dump were blown up. The United Arab Emirates announced that at least 22 of its troops were killed. The Saudis have not yet announced their casualties.

Mortar attacks by Houthi forces also hit (vid) more Saudi border station and military outposts within Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi king just arrived for a visit in Washington. The U.S. takes part in the Saudi campaign against Yemen by providing ammunition, air refueling, intelligence and targeting capabilities. With criticism of the campaign and warning of imminent mass starvation in Yemen coming from various international organizations the U.S. would probably like to wrap up the Yemeni issue and to stop the war. But the Saudis seem so far unwilling to concede that they will not achieve their aims.

This is the context in which was has to read Wednesday's NYT column by Tom Friedman:

[I]f you think Iran is the only source of trouble in the Middle East, you must have slept through 9/11, when 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Nothing has been more corrosive to the stability and modernization of the Arab world, and the Muslim world at large, than the billions and billions of dollars the Saudis have invested since the 1970s into wiping out the pluralism of Islam — the Sufi, moderate Sunni and Shiite versions — and imposing in its place the puritanical, anti-modern, anti-women, anti-Western, anti-pluralistic Wahhabi Salafist brand of Islam promoted by the Saudi religious establishment.

It is not an accident that several thousand Saudis have joined the Islamic State or that Arab Gulf charities have sent ISIS donations. It is because all these Sunni jihadist groups — ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Nusra Front — are the ideological offspring of the Wahhabism injected by Saudi Arabia into mosques and madrasas from Morocco to Pakistan to Indonesia.

And we, America, have never called them on that — because we’re addicted to their oil and addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.

Strong stuff coming from a columnist with good direct contacts in the White House. The oil argument though fails to hit the mark. There is enough oil available on the markets and even more capacity coming online from Iran and Iraq so that the Saudi oil role is now diminished.

It is unlikely that Friedman would have written that column on the eve of the Saudi king's arrival and in such strong words without some White House nudging. This is a message to Saudi Arabia to cut back on its unilateral activities. Its unconditioned support for al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is out of line of U.S. plans and the bombing of Yemen has gone out of hand.

The message Washington is sending via Friedman is: "Stick to our line or we will move on to Iran."

Together with the losses in Yemen the warning may indeed lead to changes in the Saudi stand. A likely casualty would be the Saudi deputy crown prince, the "young general" Mohammad Bin Salman.

Posted by b on September 4, 2015 at 11:50 UTC | Permalink | Comments (66)

September 03, 2015

Who Runs The Migrant Media Campaign And What Is Its Purpose?

The current moral hand-wringing media campaign around migrants from Syria has some similarities with the propaganda campaign that accompanied the putsch in Ukraine and the attack on Libya. It includes false information, photos of unknown provenance, lame "heartbreaking" personal stories and no mentioning or questioning at all of the real reasons why people are moving.

That the U.S., Turkey and the GCC countries are actively waging war against Syria and causing the plight is not discussed at all. That these "refugees" are now mostly migrants coming from rather safe places in Turkey is left out. Instead we get, at least in Europe, a sudden barrage of the-sky-is-falling coverage in all media all the time.

There will be over time a huge backlash against European politicians who, like Merkel, practically invite more migrants. Wages are stagnant or falling in Europe and unemployment is still much too high. The last thing people in Europe want right now is more competition in the labor market. Parties on the extreme right will profit from this while the center right will lose support. Why is Merkel willing to pay this price?

Though I can not pinpoint it, the feeling I and others get is that this campaign is directed and has some certain aims.

Help me here. What is behind this campaign?

Is Erdogan pushing refugees out of Turkey towards Europe because of criticism against his policies?

Is the campaign intended to gain public support in Europe for a big intensification of the war on Syria?

@EjmAlrai
The war in #Syria is due to escalate as never seen before with #Turkish & #Arab forces are drawing plans to enter the country "2fight #ISIS"

The migrants media campaign does not feel like a normal headline rush but like a planned information operation. Who is behind this campaign and what is the intent?

Posted by b on September 3, 2015 at 14:15 UTC | Permalink | Comments (133)

September 01, 2015

Petraeus' Trial Ballon - "Let's Work With Al-Qaeda"

An ex-CIA boss, fired for divulging secrets to his lover, wants the U.S. to ally with al-Qaeda to defeat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

The former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been quietly urging U.S. officials to consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria, four sources familiar with the conversations, including one person who spoke to Petraeus directly, told The Daily Beast.

Petraeus is thus providing material support for a terrorist organization. Some judge should put him finally where he belongs.

The heart of the idea stems from Petraeus’s experience in Iraq in 2007, when as part of a broader strategy to defeat an Islamist insurgency the U.S. persuaded Sunni militias to stop fighting with al Qaeda and to work with the American military.

Yeah, because that worked so well. Many of those Sunni militias Petraeus temporarily bribed to not attack U.S. occupation forces in Iraq are now part of the Islamic State. So look up "What could possible go wrong" Volume 7 page 133 and you will find that any such alliance always ends in a worse situation. But that may the intent of Petraeus paymasters':

The concept of arming one purported enemy of the United States, which itself emerged out of a prior enemy (al-Qaeda in Iraq), in order to destroy the latest enemy ensures an environment of constant enemies, and thus warfare.

You may ask who gave Petraeus this lunatic idea? Well:

Neri Zilber @NeriZilber
Fwiw many in Israeli army-intel-media circles argue same thing as Petraeus re. Nusra. thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/…

Indeed the Israeli military has been working with al Qaeda for quite some time. It enabled al-Qaeda in Syria to take over large parts of the Golan heights by providing it with healthcare as well as artillery support against the Syrian Arab Army.

Petraeus and Hillary Clinton early on argued for arming and supporting Syrian "rebels". Much of such arming and supporting has been going on clandestinely through the CIA which Petraeus then led. Since at least 2012 the CIA  trained and payed some 10,000 anti-Syrian fighters many of whom, with their CIA provided weapons, moved on to join Jabhat al-Nusra or the Islamic State.

The U.S. has also somewhat openly worked with al-Qaeda though so far mostly unofficially and through the Free Syrian Army proxies it provides with weapons:

Whereas these multinational operations rooms have previously demanded that recipients of military assistance cease direct coordination with groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, recent dynamics in Idlib appear to have demonstrated something different. Not only were weapons shipments increased to the so-called “vetted groups,” but the operations room specifically encouraged a closer cooperation with Islamists commanding frontline operations.

But it is one thing to work clandestinely with nefarious forces and a completely different issue to do so publicly. Just think of the legal implication. The Obama administration claims to have legal backing for fighting the Islamic State on the basis of the 2003 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists which holds:

Joint Resolution [...] [t]hat the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

The Department of Defense usually uses the phrases "Al-Qaeda and associated forces" or "affiliated forces" when it describes those defined in the AUMF. How then can one legally claim to fight the Islamic State under the AUMF when an ally in that fight is the major enemy cited under said AUMF?

And what would be planned for the case that al-Qaeda would actually win?

There is no way that Obama would officially declare to work with al-Qaeda or "former" al-Qaeda forces to fight against the Islamic State. "You are either with us or against al-Qaeda" won't work. The public and Congress would rip him apart.

Petraeus and his handlers know this. But why then are they launching this trial balloon?

Posted by b on September 1, 2015 at 14:52 UTC | Permalink | Comments (75)