Tag Archives: Islamic State

A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria, by Jeffrey St. Clair

From Jeffrey St. Clair at counterpunch.org:

Poor ISIS. Try as they might, the men in black still can’t out-terrorize their enemies or, more pointedly, even their patrons. For the past three years, decapitations have served as the money shots for ISIS’s theater of cruelty. Then on New Year’s Day the Saudis upstaged ISIS by audaciously chopping off the heads of 47 men, including a prominent Shia cleric.

This act of brazen butchery is made all the more horrific by virtue of the fact that the Saudi head-slicers recently landed a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, largely at the insistence of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who personally vouched for the petro-autocracy’s acute sensitivity to matters of civil liberties and the humane treatment of prisoners. Then again the drone-troika of Britain, France and the U.S. also enjoy seats on the council, so perhaps the Saudis have earned their slot after all.

With his peculiar fondness for porcine heads, Cameron is probably the Kingdom’s most un-kosher ally, but he is far from Saudi Arabia’s only political cheerleader. Showing a stunning lack of judgment, Comandante Bernie Sanders says his Syrian strategy relies on the Saudis taking the lead in the fight against ISIS. “They’ve got to get their hands dirty,” Sanders inveighed to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. “They’ve got to get their troops on the ground. They’ve got to win that war with our support. We cannot be leading the effort.”

Apparently Sanders skipped the briefing on how ISIS’s apocalyptic ideology has been fueled by fire-breathing Wahhabi preachers financed by the Saudi royal family. The red senator also seems ignorant of the fact that ISIS functions as shock troops for the House of Saud in its proxy war against Iran, now raging in Yemen and Iraq, as well as Syria. You’d think that Bernie would be getting better advice from his friends in Israeli intelligence.

Sanders’ policy on Syria is naïve to the point of doltishness. But Hillary’s Syrian war plan—shared by most of her Republican rivals—borders on the pathological. Having not missed a minute of sleep haunted by the corpses of Libya, Mrs. Clinton is now stumping for the dismantling of Syria, using the carefully cultivated domestic anxiety over ISIS as the pretext. The cornerstone of Hillary’s rogue scheme is the imposition of a no fly zone over that embattled country.

Sounds like a relatively benign plan, right? But wait. ISIS doesn’t have an air force. They don’t even a have drone. Russia, of course, is flying daily sorties in Syrian air space, at the invitation of the Syrian government, such as it is, and some kind of confrontation would be inevitable. Still, Hillary doesn’t flinch. She has zealously vowed to shoot down any Russian plane that violated her unilateral ban.

To continue reading: A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria

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The Saudis Go Full ISIS, by Dan Sanchez

From Dan Sanchez at antiwar.org:

Saudi Arabia has perpetrated a mass execution that puts ISIS’s beach beheadings to shame. Forty-seven heads rolled on Saturday. One of them belonged to Nimr al-Nimr, a revered Shi’ite cleric who had been sentenced to death for sermons in which he criticized the government (especially for its persecution of the country’s Shi’ite minority). His brother has been sentenced to be crucified.

This was done as the Saudis continue to drop American bombs on Shia in Yemen (boosting Al Qaeda there) and to hire jihadis to help ISIS and Al-Qaeda kill Shia in Syria.

It is no mystery why the Saudis are such brothers in arms with the Bin Ladenites, sharing both their hyper-sectarian aims and their gruesome methods. The Wahhabist Saudis and the Salafist terrorists are both “Takfiris”: theocratic, fundamentalist Sunnis who justify sectarian persecution and bloodshed on the grounds that their victims are not true Muslims, but apostates.

To continue reading: The Saudis Go Full ISIS

How The Public Get Suckered, by Eric Zuesse

From Eric Zuesse at strategic-culture.org:

The US aristocracy’s control over all the mainstream ‘news’ is ironclad – and this includes the political magazines, such as National Review, and The Nation; as well as ‘intellectual’ magazines, such as Harpers and The Atlantic. American ‘news’ media stifle democracy in America; they’re not part of democracy, in America. They’re like poison that’s presented as being ‘medicine’ instead. Suckers don’t just swallow it; they come back for more.

Here was the shocking admission that was made by the US Defense Department’s press-spokesman at his 18 November 2015 presentation, in which he voluntarily acknowledged that the US had not previously destroyed any of the thousands of oil tank-trucks that were transporting ISIS’s stolen oil out from Iraq and from Syria – the stolen-oil sales that bring $2 billion per year into ISIS coffers:

«This is our first strike against tanker trucks, and to minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike. We did a show of force, by – we had aircraft essentially buzz the trucks at low altitude.

So, I do have copy of the leaflet, and I have got some videos, so why don’t you pull the leaflet up. Let me take a look at it so I can talk about it.

As you can see, it’s a fairly simple leaflet, it says, «Get out of your trucks now, and run away from them». A very simple message.

And then, also, «Warning: airstrikes are coming. Oil trucks will be destroyed. Get away from your oil trucks immediately. Do not risk your life».

And so, these are the leaflets that we dropped – about 45 minutes before the airstrikes actually began. Again, we combine these leaflet drops with very low altitude passes of some of our attack aviation, which sends a very powerful message».

So: not only had the US previously avoided destroying ISIS’s main source of income (other than multimillion-dollar donations made by members of the royal families of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait – all of whom are protected by the US), but, when the US now started to bomb those tank-trucks filled with stolen oil, the US warned in advance the drivers, who were also assets to the jihadist cause the US pretended to oppose, and thus were enemies of the public (and were participants in the evils of ISIS). The US Department of Defense (DOD) wanted to protect them – not to kill them. Wow!! And the US totally ignored the need to choke off the financing of ISIS, which pays their fighters etc. Can any hypocrisy exceed this? If the United States were a democracy, its press would have been focusing on this issue for a week. The US protecting ISIS’s financial base, and assets, has mind-boggling implications.

Did any of the major US news media, all of which have reporters attending those press conferences, report the US Government’s open admission there, that the US Government had protected ISIS all along, not bombed any of ISIS’s oil tank-trucks? None of them reported it. None of them conveyed to their audience this astounding information – essentially, that the US was protecting the money-flow to the jihadists in Syria, and was even protecting their truckers.

To continue reading: How the Public Get Suckered

“Secret” Norwegian Report Details ISIS-Turkey Oil Trade As UN Vows To “Cut Off” Terrorist “Funding Sources, by Tyler Durden

From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

“The resolution gives us more flexibility to go after those who are helping Isil [Isis], whether to move funds, to store funds or to earn funds”.

That’s from Adam Szubin, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the US Treasury. Szubin is referencing a Security Council resolution proposed by Washington and Moscow that calls for a crackdown on Islamic State’s access to the international financial system.

As FT reports, the “rare meeting of Security Council member finance ministers also resolved to press other nations to enforce more rigorously existing rules that are designed to limit the flow of revenues, fighters and equipment to the Islamist militant group.”

And here’s a bit of largely meaningless rhetoric from the UN itself:

At its first ever meeting at Finance Ministers’ level, the United Nations Security Council today stepped up its efforts to cut off all sources of funding for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIL) and other terrorist groups, including ransom payments, no matter by whom.

The Council also called on Member States to promote enhanced vigilance by persons within their jurisdiction to detect any diversion of explosives and raw materials and components that can be used to manufacture improvised explosive devices or unconventional weapons, including chemical components, detonators, detonating cord, or poisons.

“They (the terrorists) are agile and have been far too successful in attaining resources for their heinous acts,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Council at the start of the debate. “As Da’esh (another name for ISIL) and other terrorist groups disseminate their hateful propaganda and ratchet up murderous attacks, we must join forces to prevent them from acquiring and deploying resources to do further harm,” he stressed.

Yes, “we must” keep the terrorists from “acquiring and deploying resources to do further harm.” The reason we call that “meaningless” rheotric is that it’s an insult to anyone who knows anything about the role some UN members play in financing and supplying ISIS.

Take this statement for instance: “The Council also called on Member States to promote enhanced vigilance by persons within their jurisdiction to detect any diversion of explosives and raw materials and components that can be used to manufacture improvised explosive devices or unconventional weapons, including chemical components.”

Well, for starters, we know that ammonium nitrate flows from Akcakale across the border to the Syrian town of Tel Abyad which has fallen into ISIS hands on a number of occasions. From a The New York Times piece published in May:

Ammonium nitrate has been a vital ingredient in some of the world’s most notorious terrorist attacks, including the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 and the bombings of the United States Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998.

It has also been widely used by militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by the Islamic State.

A bomb filled with about 45,000 pounds could damage 16 city blocks, Dr. John Goodpaster, a forensic chemist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis said, adding that there appeared to be at least 55,000 pounds in the pile of sacks waiting to enter the crossing [between Akcakale and Tel Abyad].

“That is a definite concern,” he said.

Turkish officials failed to explain why the substance was allowed to cross.

To continue reading: “Secret” Norwegian Report Details ISIS-Turkey Oil Trade

Did Saudi Arabia Just Clear The Way For An Invasion Of Syria And Iraq? by Tyler Durden

From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

And now, a further turn for the absurd…

While it’s still far from common knowledge among the Western public that Washington’s closest allies in the Mid-East are funding, arming, and otherwise enabling the Sunni extremists (including ISIS) battling for control of Syria and working to destabilize Iraq, the massacre that unfolded earlier this month in San Bernardino has managed to focus some much needed attention on the role Saudi Arabia plays in promoting extremism.

As we noted in the immediate aftermath of the California mass shooting, the fact that Tashfeen Malik spent 25 years in Saudi Arabia living with a father who, according to family members who spoke to Reuters, adopted an increasingly hardline ideology as time went on, underscores the fact that the puritanical, ultra orthodox belief system promoted by the Saudis is poisonous. That’s not a critique of Islam. It’s a critique of Wahhabism and the effect it has on the minds of those who are inculcated by Saudi culture.

Here’s an excerpt from “Saudi Arabia Is Underwriting Terrorism. Let’s Start Making It Pay,” by Charles Kenny:

For years since 9/11, U.S. and Western officials have mostly looked the other way at all this ideological support for extremism: Saudi oil was just too important to the global economy, even though many of these Saudi petro-dollars were underwriting repression at home and the growth of Salafist fundamentalism abroad.

This support for radicalism abroad should come as little surprise given that Islamic State is an ideological cousin of Saudi Arabia’s own state-sponsored extremist Wahhabi sect—which the country has spent more than $10 billion to promote worldwide through charitable organizations like the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. The country will continue to export extremism as long as it practices the same policies at home.

More, from “Saudi Arabia: An ISIS That Has Made It,” by Kamel Daoud:

Black Daesh, white Daesh. The former slits throats, kills, stones, cuts off hands, destroys humanity’s common heritage and despises archaeology, women and non-Muslims. The latter is better dressed and neater but does the same things. The Islamic State; Saudi Arabia. In its struggle against terrorism, the West wages war on one, but shakes hands with the other. This is a mechanism of denial, and denial has a price: preserving the famous strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia at the risk of forgetting that the kingdom also relies on an alliance with a religious clergy that produces, legitimizes, spreads, preaches and defends Wahhabism, the ultra-puritanical form of Islam that Daesh feeds on.

Consider that, and consider the following headline from Reuters which surely qualifies as the most tragically ironic thing you’ll read all day: “Saudi Arabia announces 34-state Islamic military alliance against terrorism”

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, you no longer have anything to fear from Sunni extremists because the undisputed king of promoting Sunni extremism is on the case. “The countries here mentioned have decided on the formation of a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism, with a joint operations center based in Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations,” a statement from state-ruun SPA said.

But it gets better. Much better.

To continue reading: Did Saudi Arabia Just Clear The Way For An Invasion Of Syria and Iraq?

Who Will Fight the Islamic State? by Peter Van Buren

Valuable additional insight augmenting With Friends Like These… and Who Needs Enemies? from Peter Van Buren at TomDispatch, via antiwar.com:

In the many strategies proposed to defeat the Islamic State (IS) by presidential candidates, policymakers, and media pundits alike across the American political spectrum, one common element stands out: someone else should really do it. The United States will send in planes, advisers, and special ops guys, but it would be best – and this varies depending on which pseudo-strategist you cite – if the Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Sunnis, and/or Shias would please step in soon and get America off the hook.

The idea of seeing other-than-American boots on the ground, like Washington’s recently deep-sixed scheme to create some “moderate” Syrian rebels out of whole cloth, is attractive on paper. Let someone else fight America’s wars for American goals. Put an Arab face on the conflict, or if not that at least a Kurdish one (since, though they may not be Arabs, they’re close enough in an American calculus). Let the U.S. focus on its “bloodless” use of air power and covert ops. Somebody else, Washington’s top brains repeatedly suggest, should put their feet on the embattled, contested ground of Syria and Iraq. Why, the U.S. might even gift them with nice, new boots as a thank-you.

Is this, however, a realistic strategy for winning America’s war(s) in the Middle East?

The Great Champions of the Grand Strategy

Recently, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton openly called for the U.S. to round up some Arab allies, Kurds, and Iraqi Sunnis to drive the Islamic State’s fighters out of Iraq and Syria. On the same day that Clinton made her proposal, Bernie Sanders called for “destroying” the Islamic State, but suggested that it “must be done primarily by Muslim nations.” It’s doubtful he meant Indonesia or Malaysia.

Among the Republican contenders, Marco Rubio proposed that the U.S. “provide arms directly to Sunni tribal and Kurdish forces.” Ted Cruz threw his support behind arming the Kurds, while Donald Trump appeared to favor more violence in the region by whoever might be willing to jump in.

The Pentagon has long been in favor of arming both the Kurds and whatever Sunni tribal groups it could round up in Iraq or Syria. Various pundits across the political spectrum say much the same.

They may all mean well, but their plans are guaranteed to fail. Here’s why, group by group.

To continue reading: Who Will Fight the Islamic State?

 

Iraq Seeks To Cancel Security Agreement With US, Will Invite Russia To Fight ISIS, by Tyler Durden

From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Most Iraqis, be they civilians, military personnel, or government officials, do not trust Americans.

At a base level, that makes all kinds of sense. After all, the US did launch what amounted to a unilateral invasion of the country just a little over a decade ago, and when it was all said and done, a dictator was deposed but it’s not entirely clear that Iraqis are better off for it.

ISIS controls key cities including the Mosul, the country’s second largest, and security is a daily concern for the populace. The Americans are still seen – rightly – as occupiers, and Washington’s unwillingness inability to effectively counter ISIS has created a culture of suspicion in which most Iraqis believe the US is in cahoots with the militants for what WaPo described as “a variety of pernicious reasons that have to do with asserting U.S. control over Iraq, the wider Middle East and, perhaps, its oil.”

Some of the distrust, the US contends, is fostered by Iran. Tehran wields considerable influence both within the Iraqi military and in political circles in Baghdad. When Ash Carter announced that the US was set to send an “expeditionary targeting force” to the country to assist in raids on Islamic State targets, PM Haider al-Abadi flatly rejected the proposal, saying that “Iraq does not need foreign ground combat forces on Iraqi land.” Abadi rejected a similar Pentagon trial balloon involving Apaches helicopters last month.

To continue reading: Iraq Seeks To Cancel Security Agreement With US