Kerry: Islamic jihad “exploits a legitimate and beautiful religion”

Posted October 31, 2014 by joopklepzeiker
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Kerry: Islamic jihad “exploits a legitimate and beautiful religion”

via Kerry: Islamic jihad “exploits a legitimate and beautiful religion” | Pamela Geller, Atlas Shrugs.

 

kerry

Sheesh.

Here again the leading scholar of Islam tells us what it is or what it’s not. Nuts.

Secretary Kerry, are these Islamic groups also exploiting a “legitimate and beautiful religion,” while they invoke the quran and Islamic texts and teachings myriad times daily?: Hamas, Hezb’allah, Boko Haram, the Muslim Brotherhood and these other designated Islamic terrorist organizations:
Abdullah Azzam Shaheed Brigade,
Abu Nidal Organization,
Abu Sayyaf,
al-Aqsa Foundation,
al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades,
Al-Badr,
al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya,
Al Ghurabaa,
al-Haramain Foundation,
Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya,
al-Qaeda in Iraq,
al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,
Al-Shabaab,
Takfir wal-Hijra,
Al-Umar-Mujahideen,
Ansar al-Islam,
Jamaat Ansar al-Sunna,
Ansar Dine,
Ansaru,
Armed Islamic Group of Algeria,
Army of Islam,
Osbat al-Ansar,
Caucasus Emirate,
Deendar Anjuman,
Dukhtaran-e-Millat,
East Turkestan Islamic Movement,
East Turkestan Liberation Organization,
Egyptian Islamic Jihad,
El Kaide Terör Örgütü Türkiye Yapılanması,
Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front,
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades,
Haqqani network,
Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami,
Harkat-al-Jihad al-Islami in Bangladesh,
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen,
Harakat-Ul-Mujahideen/Alami,
Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin,
Hezbollah Military Wing,
Hezbollah External Security Organisation,
Hilafet Devleti,
Hizb ut-Tahrir,
Hizbul Mujahideen,
Hofstad Network,
Holy Land Foundation,
for Relief and Development,
Indian Mujahideen,
Aden-Abyan Islamic Army,
Islamic Jihad – Jamaat Mujahideen,
Islamic Jihad Union,
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan,
Jabhat al-Nusra,
Jaish-e-Mohammed,
Jamaat Ul-Furquan
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh,
Jamiat al-Islah al-Idzhtimai,
Jamiat ul-Ansar,
Jamiat-e Islami,
Jemaah Islamiyah,
Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid,
Jund al-Sham,
Jundallah,
Kata’ib Hezbollah,
Khalistan Commando Force,
Khalistan Zindabad Force,
Khuddam ul-Islam,
Lashkar-e-Taiba,
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group,
Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group,
Muslim Brotherhood,
Palestine Liberation Front,
Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine,
People’s Congress of Ichkeria and Dagestan,
Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan,
Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage,
Stichting Al Aqsa,
Students Islamic Movement of India,
Supreme Military Majlis ul-Shura of the United Mujahideen Forces of Caucasus,
Taliban,
Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi,
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan,
United Liberation Front of Assam,
World Uygur Youth Congress ….

We didn’t link Islam to terrorism. The Quran does.

Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve — 8:55

Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers — 3:151

Lo! Those who disbelieve Our revelations, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed, We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment. Lo! Allah is ever Mighty, Wise. – 4:56

Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. – 9:5

Lo! those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings.– 98:6

Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the enemies of Allah and your enemies — 8:60

Muhammad is the apostle of Allah. Those who follow him are merciful to one another, but ruthless to the unbelievers. — 48:29

Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret for God’s guarding. And those you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them. — 4:34

When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads. — 47:4

 

John Kerry

“Kerry: Extremism Exploits a ‘Beautiful Religion,’” by Patrick Goodenough, CNS News, October 29, 2014:

(CNSNews.com) – The response to Islamist extremism, which “exploits a legitimate and beautiful religion,” must include offering alternatives to young people who lack opportunities and “feel oppressed,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday.

“The challenge of our generation is going to be to deal with religious radical extremism, which exploits a legitimate and beautiful religion that is being totally distorted, has nothing to do with what they purport to be pursuing, and nevertheless captures the minds of some of our young people – even in America,” Kerry told staff at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.

He noted that more than 100 Americans have traveled to the region to fight with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), while more had done so from European countries, Australia and elsewhere.

“And so we have to push back. We’re not going to win this exclusively through our efforts on the ground in this coalition with kinetic efforts,” he said, referring to the U.S.-led coalition’s military operations against the jihadist group. “We’re going to win this with ideas.”

Kerry then picked up a theme he raises periodically, linking the allure of jihadist terrorism to a lack of opportunities among frustrated young people.

“We’re also going to win it with better alternatives for a whole bunch of young people who today live in places where they feel oppressed, where they don’t have a lot of opportunity, there’s not enough education, they don’t have jobs,” he said. “But they know what the rest of the world has because they all have smart phones, they all have mobile devices, and they’re all seeing what’s going on and they trade thoughts.”

“And frankly, there have been years and years of anger and frustration building up for a whole lot of different reasons in South Central Asia, Middle East, Horn of Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and different places,” Kerry continued.

“So our challenge is to not make them think that modernity and rule of law and civil society and states that have long existed is somehow the enemy,” he said. “And what we have to do is take our values and our principles out there as never before.”

Afghanistan Going off the Rails as U.S. Withdrawal Speeds Up

Posted October 31, 2014 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Afghanistan

Tags: ,

Afghanistan Going off the Rails as U.S. Withdrawal Speeds Up, Foreign PolicyGopal Ratham, October 30, 2014

(Will today’s sideshow soon move to the circus big tent? — DM)

Insurgent attacks rise as poppy cultivation reaches a post-Taliban high in Afghanistan.

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While the world’s eyes are trained on Iraq, Syria, and the fight against the Islamic State, a new report to Congress by the government’s reconstruction watchdog warns that Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have been fighting the Taliban and other insurgent groups in the longest war in American history, remains dangerously unstable even as the American military withdrawal accelerates.

Insurgent attacks have reached the highest levels since 2011, the Afghan army has sustained heavy combat losses and is experiencing high attrition rates, and opium poppy cultivation has more than doubled from its pre-1999 levels when the Taliban ruled the country, potentially undermining the Afghan state’s legitimacy even as the nation is experiencing budget shortfalls, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, said in a quarterly report sent to Congress Thursday.

The dire warnings come as a new Afghan coalition government led by President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah —  who assumed the role of a chief executive officer — has taken power after a contentious election and political standoff. The new government signed security agreements with the United States and NATO allowing international coalition forces to remain in the country after December. The Obama administration has said it will gradually withdraw the remaining 24,000 American troops, with the last leaving the country in 2016. The NATO forces are likely to follow the same pattern, leaving Afghan military forces to take full responsibility for security after 2016.

As part of that plan, U.S. Marines and British forces on Monday ended their combat mission and vacated two of their largest bases in Afghanistan — Camp Bastion and Camp Leatherneck — in the Helmand province, the site of some of the most violent battles of the 13-year-long war. Since the arrival of forces in 2001, about 350 Marines and 407 British troops have died in Helmand, theWashington Post reported. The departure of the last remaining coalition troops there was carried out in secrecy to prevent Taliban attacks — further evidence of the coalition’s tenuous security gains.

Poppy cultivation, a barometer of the underground economy that plays a role in financing the insurgency, is soaring, the report warned. About 209,000 hectares of land were under poppy cultivation in 2013, an increase of 36 percent from the previous year, the SIGAR report said, citing statistics from the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime. The size of the crop has doubled since 1999, when the Taliban ruled the country and opium was grown on 91,000 hectares.

Afghanistan’s opium cultivation supports the equivalent of about 411,000 jobs, exceeding the overall size of the Afghan national security forces, and generates about $3 billion of revenue from drug exports, the report said.

The booming drug trade is potentially fueling the Taliban-led insurgency that still remains strong in the country’s south, southeast, and east. Citing U.N. statistics, the report said that the total number of attacks for the nine months ending Aug. 15 totaled 15,968, or 61 a day — the second-highest level since 2011 after the fall of the Taliban. Military officials and Western observers believe international terrorist groups and the Taliban took advantage of the months-long uncertainty over the outcome of Afghan presidential elections that finally ended Sept. 29 with the formation of the coalition government led by Ghani.

Afghan security forces, which have been leading the fight against the Taliban, face high rates of attrition and combat casualties, the report said.

Between September 2013 and August 2014, more than 36,000 Afghan army personnel were dropped from rolls, and between March 2012 and August 2014 more than 2,850 troops were killed in action with another 14,600 wounded, the report said.

The report, in a strong slap at the Pentagon, said the U.S.-led coalition had made it difficult to independent assessments of the capability of the Afghan forces by abruptly classifying details of the country’s military capabilities. That raises the disturbing possibility that the United States is trying to paper over significant and lingering problems with the Afghan forces already struggling to fill the security vacuum left by the departing American forces.

The inspector general’s office “is deeply troubled by the decision” of the international coalition “to classify the executive summary of the report that assesses the capability of the ANSF which were unclassified prior to this quarter,” the report said. “ISAF’s classification of the report summary deprives the American people of an essential tool to measure the success or failure of the single most costly feature of the Afghanistan reconstruction effort.”

The coalition military decided to classify the Afghan military capability “to address potential concerns about operational security,” an ISAF military official said in an email. “After careful review, it was determined that the entirety of the report was classified to include the executive summary which contained Afghan-provided readiness information.”

Providing such information openly could jeopardize Afghan security forces, the official said, adding that SIGAR will continue to get the information it needs to carry out its congressionally mandated duties.

Unlike previous years, in 2014 the Taliban has attacked Afghan forces on multiple fronts, said Omar Samad, a former Afghan ambassador to France, who is now president of Silk Road Consulting, a Washington-based geopolitical advisory firm.

Although such attacks have dealt a psychological blow to Afghan forces, it’s not clear if the Taliban has been able to retain control of territories, said Samad who just returned from Kabul.

“What will make a big difference in the next year or two is the effective use of air power,” Samad said. “We don’t know yet whether ANSF who are in training mode now will have the right equipment and training to carry out operations needed or whether they’ll have to be complemented by NATO forces after 2014.”

To make matters worse for the new Afghan government, the country’s finance ministry is facing serious budget shortfalls, the report said. For the first seven months of the Afghan financial year that began Dec. 21, 2013, the domestic revenues missed government targets by 22 percent and declined 3.8 percent compared with the same period last year, the report said.

“I don’t think it’s a surprise to Afghans and those who follow it closely that this year would be a challenging year,” Samad said. Mismanagement of the country’s economy in the last years of former President Hamid Karzai have made the challenges “bigger than expected,” he added.

Islamic State threat prompts new security warnings across U.S. military

Posted October 31, 2014 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Islamic jihad, Islamic State, U.S. Military

Tags: , , ,

Islamic State threat prompts new security warnings across U.S. military, Military TimesAndrew deGrandpreLance M. BaconJeff Schogol, October 30, 2014

bildeMilitary commands and individual service members are tightening up on security amid the growing threat posed by the Islamic State. (Tech. Sgt. Sandra Niedzwiecki / Air Force)

Perhaps the most chilling statement came from the Pentagon, where late last week officials with the building’s internal security force sent employees a memo calling service members and law enforcement officers “legitimate targets.” Such attacks, according to the memo, could involve knives, guns or bombs — and most likely would be perpetrated without warning. The memo cites unspecified sources within the intelligence and law enforcement communities.

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Military facilities around the U.S. are on alert, urging troops and their families to take precautions amid continued threats of violence from the Islamic State group.

The responses to that threat are being driven not just by the need to ensure protective measures are taken, but also to address increasing concerns being voiced by troops and family members who are worried about safety for their loved ones and themselves. It marks a shifting mindset, from one of full confidence that the military community was safe on its home turf to an unsettling sense that that is where they are newly vulnerable.

The Defense Department refuses to discuss the protective measures it has taken on behalf of the country’s 2.1 million service members, and to date Washington has not issued universal guidance. But many senior leaders and installation commanders are taking matters into their own hands, issuing clear warnings of the potential for “lone-wolf” style attacks like those carried out in mid-October on military personnel in Canada.

On Wednesday, for instance, the Marine Corps distributed a servicewide announcement instructing personnel to report “even the most minor suspicious activity” and to watch what they share on social media. Doing so, the message says, will help reduce the likelihood of an attack.

At MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, officials with the 6th Air Mobility Wing took the Marine Corps’ warning a significant step further. Troops assigned to the base, home to the headquarters of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, should downplay their military affiliation while in public. Uniforms, even military T-shirts and car bumper stickers, could put people at risk, it says.

‘Legitimate targets’

Perhaps the most chilling statement came from the Pentagon, where late last week officials with the building’s internal security force sent employees a memo calling service members and law enforcement officers “legitimate targets.” Such attacks, according to the memo, could involve knives, guns or bombs — and most likely would be perpetrated without warning. The memo cites unspecified sources within the intelligence and law enforcement communities.

“We disseminated this advisory, not because of a specific threat, but as a reminder for Pentagon employees to be vigilant at home, at work, during travel and in their communities, by using individual protective measures,” said Christopher Layman, a spokesman for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.

At installations across the country, troops and their families are increasingly on edge, sources tell Military Times. “At least a third to half of my friends in the military spouse community have changed their last names on their Facebook profiles,” said Kristine, the wife of an active-duty Marine who, like other military spouses interviewed for this report, asked that her last name not be published.

“I have chosen to leave mine as it is, but I did change my profile picture to one which doesn’t show any military association,” she said.

Bonny, spouse of an Air Force crew chief, acknowledged feeling “scared to death” by recent communication from her husband’s command at Langley Air Force Base along the Virginia coast. They have since attended a commander’s call and a meeting with leaders in the Key Spouses program. Officials told the families gathered that they could not give details on the severity of the threat but recommended they shut down social media accounts.

While it was an initial consideration, “we came to the decision that we are not going to live our lives in fear over this,” Bonny said. She and her family opted instead to max out privacy settings, remove military and location references and teach their kids to be especially careful on social media, which the parents closely monitor.

A bigger problem for her is soothing the fears of other loved ones. “Our families and friends are worried more than us, probably because we are accustomed to threats, and extremely upset that they have to lose social media ties,” Bonny said. “For military families that’s huge because of distance.”

Distance of a different kind is an issue for Brandon, a sailor whose wife also serves on active duty.

“I am not scared for myself. I’ve got the man upstairs, along with 2,000 rounds and six weapons fighting on my side,” he said. “I am only scared for those times I am on duty and my wife and daughter are alone.”

Brandon said he takes seriously the threat posed by the Islamic State. He taught his wife how to shoot weapons and they both carry sidearms wherever they go. They deleted social media accounts, as well.

“It made me realize how ridiculously accessible we are through Facebook,” he said. “Little stuff like shutting that off gets you off the map. This terrorist group is organized and they are not dumb. I would not second-guess them at all.”

Ramping up precautions

Select Navy commands also issued warnings as airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, many carried out by Navy warplanes flying from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, ramped up in October. Officials in Jacksonville, Florida, and Norfolk, Virginia, have encouraged sailors and their families to guard against common operational security mistakes like posting personnel rosters or scheduled ship movements.

And while the response varies from base to base and service to service, online safety is a consistent theme. Spokespersons for three Army posts — Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Belvoir, Virginia — each said their installations had adopted no additional security measures. Yet a recent directive published by the Army Threat Integration Center calls on troops to disable mobile apps that track their whereabouts and to avoid posting anything on social media that reveals where their kids attend school or would otherwise allow someone to know ahead of time where they’ll be.

Kristine, who runs a family support site called USMC Life, has a substantial digital presence. Her site’s Facebook community alone has more than 200,000 followers. In recent days she rechecked her privacy settings to ensure her personal profile is locked down, and she’s purged from her website the last names of her staff members.

Even so, Kristine downplayed the risk associated with one’s digital footprint, saying it would take considerable effort to target someone electronically. Military officials are using these threats as an opportunity to compel people to behave more responsibly online, she said.

“There’s a larger chance of the Islamic State targeting us through random acts of violence around local military installations, or by following people’s cars by tracking DoD stickers, or additional military decals on their vehicles,” she said. “For me, this is just one more reason to move to 100-percent ID scan at the gate and ditch the military decals on our cars.”

The growing sense of troops and family members as individual targets owes not just to domestic concerns but also to recent incidents overseas, such as a bold Islamic State kidnapping plot in Turkey that raised questions about safety for the thousands of troops and family members stationed in that country.

Earlier in October, U.S. military officials in Europe told local-level commanders they should consider instructing troops not nor wear their uniforms off base.

And inside a week in the same month, two Canadian soldiers were killed in separate attacks by individuals believed to be terrorist sympathizers.

Military Upset with White House ‘Micromanagement’ of ISIS War

Posted October 31, 2014 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Air strikes, Free Syrian Army, Iran, Iraq, Islamic State, Obama, Susan Rice, Syria

Tags: , , , ,

Military Upset with White House ‘Micromanagement’ of ISIS War, Daily BeastJosh RoginEli Lake, October 31, 2014

(The impatient (non-Islamic) Islamic State seems unwilling to play “dither along with us” with the Obama Administration while awaiting news that the You Tube video which caused the entire mess has been taken down and its creator suitably punished. Please see also U.S. strategy against Islamic State hits major hurdles. — DM)

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[M]ilitary officers and civilian Pentagon leaders tell The Daily Beast, is the ISIS war’s decision-making process, run by National Security Advisor Susan Rice. It’s been manic and obsessed with the tiniest of details. Officials talk of sudden and frequent meetings of the National Security Council and the so-called “Principals Committee” of top defense, intelligence, and foreign policy officials (an NSC and three PCs in one week this month); a barrage of questions from the NSC to the agencies that create mountains of paperwork for overworked staffers; and NSC insistence on deciding minor issues even at the operational level.

“We are getting a lot of micromanagement from the White House. Basic decisions that should take hours are taking days sometimes,” one senior defense official told The Daily Beast.

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The Pentagon brass placed in charge of implementing Obama’s war against ISIS are getting fed up with the short leash the White House put them on.

Top military leaders in the Pentagon and in the field are growing increasingly frustrated by the tight constraints the White House has placed on the plans to fight ISIS and train a new Syrian rebel army.

As the American-led battle against ISIS stretches into its fourth month, the generals and Pentagon officials leading the air campaign and preparing to train Syrian rebels are working under strict White House orders to keep the war contained within policy limits. The National Security Council has given precise instructions on which rebels can be engaged, who can be trained, and what exactly those fighters will do when they return to Syria. Most of the rebels to be trained by the U.S. will never be sent to fight against ISIS.

Making matters worse, military officers and civilian Pentagon leaders tell The Daily Beast, is the ISIS war’s decision-making process, run by National Security Advisor Susan Rice. It’s been manic and obsessed with the tiniest of details. Officials talk of sudden and frequent meetings of the National Security Council and the so-called “Principals Committee” of top defense, intelligence, and foreign policy officials (an NSC and three PCs in one week this month); a barrage of questions from the NSC to the agencies that create mountains of paperwork for overworked staffers; and NSC insistence on deciding minor issues even at the operational level.

“We are getting a lot of micromanagement from the White House. Basic decisions that should take hours are taking days sometimes,” one senior defense official told The Daily Beast.

Other gripes among the top Pentagon and military brass are about the White House’s decision not to work with what’s left of the existing Syrian moderate opposition on the ground, which prevents intelligence sharing on fighting ISIS and prevents the military from using trained fighters to build the new rebel army that the President has said is needed to push Assad into a political negotiation to end the conflict.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel himself is among the critics of Obama’s strategy in Syria. Hagel wrote a memo last week to National Security Advisor Susan Rice warning that Obama’s Syria strategy was unclear about U.S. intentions with respect to Syrian President Bashar al Assad, undermining the plan.

Hagel stood by the memo Thursday. “We owe the president and we owe the National Security Council our best thinking on this. And it has to be honest and it has to be direct,” he told reporters.

But the top uniformed military leaders in charge of the operation are also struggling to work around the White House policy constraints and micromanagement, including Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of CENTCOM, and Gen. Michael Nagata, the SOCOM lead official in charge of the Syrian train and equip program, according to multiple officials and persons briefed by those generals.

Nagata has been tasked to build a new rebel army from scratch but is not permitted to work with existing brigades, meaning he must find and vet new soldiers, mostly sourcing from Syrian refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. What’s more, the size of the program will produce only 5,000 fighters a year after the training begin, most of whom who will serve as “local defense forces” and not actually go after ISIS, according to two officials briefed on the plan. Of those forces, 500 would be given additional training in “counterterrorism.” That’s a small attack force to face an ISIS military that is estimated to have tens of thousands of fighters.

Dempsey told reporters Thursday that the recruiting and vetting of soldiers for the new Syrian rebel army has not yet begun, although sites for the training camps have been chosen.

“At this point we still don’t know how long it’s going to take to send in the trained guys,” a senior Defense official said. “The situation is changing so much on the ground it’s hard to plan it out.”

Dempsey has twice made public statements that seemed to reveal his dissatisfaction with the White House policy. Last month, he said it would take 12,000 to 15,000 ground troops to effectively go after ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Earlier this month, he suggested that U.S. ground troops might be necessary to fight ISIS in the future, a comment he later walked back.

Many military officials, including at CENTCOM’s headquarters in Tampa and their air base in Qatar (where the ISIS air campaign is run) are barred from even communicating with Syrian opposition representatives unless those rebels are on a White House / State Department approved list. Many Syrian opposition leaders complain that Free Syrian Army brigades fighting ISIS now are offering help in making the ISIS strikes effective, but are getting no response from the administration.

The international coalition against ISIS, led on the U.S. side by retired Gen. John Allen and State Department official Brett McGurk, is working with Sunni tribes in Iraq to coordinate against ISIS. But they are not working with the corresponding tribes on the Syrian side of the mostly non-existent Iraq-Syria border. ISIS has slaughtered hundreds of these tribesmen in Eastern Syria who refused to yield to the group’s demands.

Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army, largely written off by the White House, has been suffering heavy losses to ISIS as well as to the al-Qaeda affiliated al Nusrah Front, which has opened up a third fighting front against the FSA in cities like Idlib. FSA brigades that have been vetted by the U.S. government, including the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and Harakat Hazm, have seen their non-aggression pact with al Nusrah disappear.

“Al Qaeda has captured a number of villages from the FSA in Idlib and the fighting continues to be intense. The FSA needs urgent Coalition support in this fight because if Al Qaeda captures Jabal al-Zawiyeh in Idlib, extremists will be positioned to cut off a critical line of supply from the Turkish border,” said Oubai Shahbandar, advisor to the Syrian National Coalition. “So the question is: Will Coalition airstrikes help the FSA fight al Qaeda or will they allow Al Qaeda to overrun moderate forces?”

NSC Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan declined to comment on the criticisms coming from the Pentagon and military about the White House’s approach to ISIS and training the Syrian rebels. But on Wednesday, Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken, who is rumored to be Obama’s choice to replace Bill Burns as Deputy Secretary of State, defended the White House strategy but said that FSA is just not a viable partner.

“For more than two years working with and supporting the moderate opposition, we’ve made some gains in making it more effective and trying to position it as a counterweight to Assad.  Now we’re intensifying that support,” he said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The coalition can do real damage to ISIL through the air. But without forces on the ground to hold territory from which ISIL has been removed, we will not be able to shrink and eventually eliminate the safe haven.”

Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that there is no military solution to the Syria crisis and said the U.S. is reaching out to countries like Russian and Iran to seek a new political negotiation. Syrian National Coalition President Hadi al Bahra told The Daily Beast last month that there is no genuine interest in the West for a new political process, which he described as being “in a coma.”

“There have been so many things said on Syria that were not delivered, nobody thinks the President really wants to do anything on Syria. Even currently serving officials realize that you cannot bomb your way out of this and you need to have a plan for a political solution, but we don’t have it,” said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “There’s needs to be a fully thought out strategy with a political dimension that involves the opposition. If you don’t do that, you can’t solve this problem.”

Can IKEA Put Together a Middle East Peace Package?

Posted October 31, 2014 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , ,

Sweden and John Kerry would make wonderful partners to get lost in the same maze.

By: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Published: October 31st, 2014

via The Jewish Press » » Can IKEA Put Together a Middle East Peace Package?.

 

Ikea Instruction

Sweden’s foreign minister has told her Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman’s that she would be happy to send him some IKEA furniture as a model for understanding how to make peace with the Palestinian Authority.

Lieberman, responding to Sweden’s decision to recognize the Palestinian Authority as a country, said that the peace process is “more complicated than self-assembly furniture at IKEA.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom shot back, “I will be happy to send him a flat pack of IKEA furniture and he will also see that what you need to put it together is, first of all, a partner. And you also need to cooperate and you need a good manual and I think we have most of those elements,” she said in an interview with CNN.

“If we want to use them also for the conflict in the Middle East and for peace, you need the partners to actually sit down at the same table.”

It really is a simple as putting a round peg in a square hole. If they don’t fit, you simply make the hole square or the peg round, depending on which one is Arab and which one is Jewish.

Israel has been making peace, or trying to make peace, with enemies for 3,500 years, but IKEA was not around, and now Wallstrom has come up with the solution that has been lacking for so many centuries. It’s kind of weird she did not suggest her magic potion for the Ukraine and Russia, Iran and the rest of the world, Obama and Netanyahu and Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber’s, of whom perhaps you, like me, know nothing about without a Google search on “Hollywood fight.”

But, really, let’s give Wallstrom a chance to build peace following the IKEA approach. Maybe she has something going that all of the king’s men and all of the king’s horses never came up with.

Forget Rabbi Kook, whose writings include the phrase that the Land of Israel is not a piece of property.

Forget religion, which always messes up logic.

Forget culture, which ruins conformity.

Forget a future. Just put the pieces together. The worse that can happen is that you throw it out after five years and by another peace package.

But is IKEA so simple, as Wallstrom indicates?

The Digital Trends website has written, “IKEA is a place of heaven for a lot of homeowners, renters and young professionals on a budget. Its furniture pieces are modestly priced and have a minimalist design that suits every kind of lifestyle.

“The problem with IKEA never was its pricing structure or array of furniture lineup, it’s what happens when you bring the box home and realize you have to put these funky-named pieces together yourself.

“Do you fancy a game of real life Tetris?”

The report continues that IKEA is aware that maybe its instructions are not so great, so it now has YouTube tutorials

Digital Trends is not so impressed.

“The MALM bed frame instruction video has been live for about three weeks, and the public’s verdict?

“I watched this and still didn’t understand,” one commenter said.

“IKEA’s YouTube representative responded to the poor commenter… But it’s not exactly the videos that users are truly having a problem with, it’s the basic idea that these instructions are not at all intuitive…. How is someone supposed to figure out how to create a computer desk out of piles of wood with just random figures and barely any words?”

Swedish-American blogger Ken Arneson’s blog offers some helpful insights on why Rabbi Kook was so right and why the simplistic view of the West repeats the idiotic mistake of imposing one’s culture on another.

In a 2012 blog, Arneson wrote:

“Do you remember the first time you stepped into an IKEA store? How utterly confusing it was? How you were led into the display section of the store, and the store seemed to just go on and on and on forever?” In an observation that is a fantastic fit for the U.S. State Dept. and the European Union foreign policy division, Arneson noted:“[IKEA] is designed for the efficiency of the organization, not for the benefit of the customers. And IKEA isn’t alone. When I visited Sweden this summer, I found that the whole country seems to operate on this mentality. It’s a country of the bureaucracy, by the bureaucracy and for the bureaucracy…

“I went into a Burger King at one point to get some fast food… They didn’t have a menu, just some gigantic photographs of about five different value meals to choose from. What if I don’t want a value meal, just some hamburgers? What did that cost? I couldn’t find the information. So I said, forget it, I’ll just go next door to McDonalds.

“When I went to McDonalds, same thing. No list of what they sell, just five gigantic pictures of their extra value meals….

“A restaurant without a menu! The concept had never occurred to me. I guess they just assume that their customers have been there before, and already know exactly what they want, and don’t care how much any of it costs.

“Everywhere I went in Sweden, I started noticing the same thing. Buses, subways, airports, grocery stores, convenience stores…a sort of implicit assumption that everybody already knows how their crazy system works.”

Wallstrom, like Kerry, Catherine Ashton, and almost every other European know-it-all, understands how her system works for her country.

The United States was founded by colonists sent from Britain to develop big business. The culture of “Let’s Make a Deal” is ingrained in the country. If it works there it must work elsewhere, right? Don’t let history and the future get in the way of the present.

So give Sweden a chance. Let it use the IKEA approach to make peace for Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Give it a couple of days, or maybe a couple of weeks, sit back and watch the entertainment while she is so confused she doesn’t know which way to turn, and then offer her a ride to the airport.

Give her something to read on the plane back to Stockholm, perhaps a copy of Rabbi Kook’s teachings.

Israel is not just a piece of property.

It is not a piece of furniture, either.

U.S. strategy against Islamic State hits major hurdles

Posted October 31, 2014 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Air strikes, Combat troops, Free Syrian Army, Generals, Iran, Iraq, Islamic State, Kerry, Obama, Syria

Tags: , , , , , , ,

U.S. strategy against Islamic State hits major hurdles, LA Times, 

(Happy Halloween from the Obama Administration. — DM)

la-epa-epaselect-syria-homs-car-bomb-jpg-20141030Syrian police and residents inspect the site of a car bombing in Homs on Oct. 29. The U.S. plan to raise a rebel army in Syria to fight Islamic State has run into steep political and military obstacles. (European Pressphoto Agency)

The Obama administration’s plan to raise a 15,000-strong rebel army in Syria has run into steep political and military obstacles, raising doubts about a key element of the White House strategy for defeating Islamic State militants in the midst of a civil war.

Pentagon concerns have grown so sharp that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a two-page memo to the White House last week warning that the overall plan could collapse because U.S. intentions toward Syrian President Bashar Assad are unclear, according to a senior defense official who read the memo but was not authorized to speak publicly.

President Obama has called on Assad to step down, but he has not authorized using military force, including the proposed proxy army, to remove the Syrian leader.

At a news conference Thursday, Hagel declined to discuss his memo to national security advisor Susan Rice, but he acknowledged that Assad has inadvertently benefited from more than five weeks of U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State, one of the most powerful antigovernment forces in Syria’s bitter conflict.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry sought to paper over the problem Thursday, telling a forum in Washington that the proposed proxy army “can have an impact on Assad’s decision-making so we can get back to a table where we could negotiate a political outcome, because we all know there is no military resolution of Syria.”

Rebel leaders in Syria say they would reject joining a U.S.-backed force that is not aimed at defeating Assad, their main enemy.

Senior U.S. military officers also privately warn that the so-called Syrian moderates that U.S. planners hope to recruit — opposition fighters without ties to the Islamic radicals — have been degraded by other factions and forces, including Assad’s army, during the war.

It will take years to train and field a new force capable of launching an offensive against the heavily armed and well-funded Islamic State fighters, who appear well-entrenched in northern Syria, the officers say.

“We’re not going to be able to build that kind of credible force in enough time to make a difference,” said a senior U.S. officer who is involved in military operations against the militants and who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “We’ve watched the moderate opposition dwindle and dwindle and now there’s very little left.”

The Pentagon plan calls for putting 5,000 rebel fighters into Syria in a year, and 15,000 over the next three years.

It is the least developed and most controversial part of the multi-pronged U.S. strategy, which also includes near-daily airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, deployment of U.S. military advisors and other support to assist Iraqi government and Kurdish forces, along with attempts to choke off the militants’ financing from oil sales and foreign donors.

When officers involved in high-level Pentagon deliberations in the summer raised concerns about building a rebel army from scratch, they were overruled by senior commanders, who warned that airstrikes alone would not defeat the militants, one of the officers said.

But Pentagon unease has intensified in recent weeks as Jordan and Turkey, two allies that the Obama administration is counting on to help train the proposed proxy force, made it clear that they are lukewarm to the plan, two U.S. officials said.

Washington and its allies are chiefly split over whether the proposed force should focus on reclaiming Syrian territory now held by the Islamic State militants, which is the U.S. priority, or should also battle troops loyal to Assad, the allies’ main concern.

Turkey said this month that it would train a portion of the Syrian force, joining Saudi Arabia in training on its territory. U.S. officials don’t expect to assemble the first group of “moderate” rebels, drawing them from inside Syria or from crowded refugee camps in nearby countries, until early next year at the earliest.

But Turkish officials have signaled that the rebels it trains would concentrate on battling Assad’s forces, not Islamic State, once they return to Syria.

Jordan has not joined the training effort, although it hosts a separate, smaller, CIA-run operation for Syrian insurgents.

U.S. officials say greater involvement by Turkey and Jordan would allow them to increase the number who can be trained, and provide easier conduits for support and resupply when they return to Syria.

The dispute reflects the complex calibrations now in play as the Islamic State militants shake long-established political and military fault lines in the Middle East.

Most dramatically, perhaps, U.S. forces are now in at least tacit alignment with traditional enemies such as Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militant and political group, against a common threat.

Syrian rebel leaders and Arab allies complain that the U.S.-led airstrikes have helped Assad by weakening one of his most powerful foes and enabling his army to step up attacks on other rebel factions.

A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, an umbrella organization claiming to represent largely autonomous rebels in Syria, said fighters were incensed by the U.S. insistence on focusing entirely on Islamic State.

“They have forgotten that tens of thousands of civilians are suffering because of the regime,” said the spokesman, who did not want his name published because it could endanger his family. “Our main cause is the regime, and that will remain our main cause.”

A rebel commander, a defector from the Syrian army who also asked for anonymity, agreed. The U.S. plan “doesn’t work for us,” he said.

“They are concerned with ISIS … but we are concerned with the regime more than ISIS,” he said, using one of several acronyms for Islamic State.

U.S. Central Command, which is overseeing the effort to build a Syrian force, says questions about its direction will be resolved once the fledgling program is underway.

“We are early on in this and there’s much to be figured out,” said Maj. Curtis J. Kellogg, a spokesman for Central Command.

Frederic C. Hof, a former special advisor to President Obama for Syria, said the U.S. plan “is going to be a tough sell” in Syria.

“You can always get people by providing weapons, ammo and pay, but your appeal to a large number of Syrians will increase dramatically if it is a force whose goal is eventually to govern all of Syria,” not just beat one faction, he added.

The caution reflects, in part, a U.S. desire to reassure Iran, one of Assad’s closest backers, that it is not seeking to oust him by force. If the U.S. backtracked on that promise, Iran might step up military support for Assad.

Tehran also could respond by using local Shiite militias to attack U.S. personnel or facilities in Iraq. The Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq have coordinated their attacks on Islamic State with the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad.

“If we really focus on Assad, the Iranian piece of this coalition [against Islamic State] will fracture, and we will have Shia militants trying to target us,” said the senior U.S. military officer.

The U.S. experience with proxy military forces is laced with disappointment.

The Kennedy administration backed a failed invasion of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in 1961 after training a counterrevolutionary brigade. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration bankrolled the Contras in Nicaragua, who were unsuccessful against the Sandinistas’ socialist revolution.

“We’ve helped arm insurgencies before,” Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst who now is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Nearly all of them have been complete failures or marginal to the final outcome. But there was one spectacular success.”

The CIA, working with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, covertly poured $4 billion into arming a rebel force in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, helping them drive out Soviet forces. Riedel, who wrote a book about the undertaking, said the CIA operation hastened the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

The Syrian rebel forces, with their fractured leadership and rival sponsors, bear similarities to the competing Afghan mujahedin factions during that war, Riedel said. If the U.S. can secure tight-knit partnerships with neighboring countries on training the rebels, it could also see success against Islamic State.

“There’s no reason we can’t do it again,” he said. “But it doesn’t happen overnight.”

Ditching Israel, Embracing Iran

Posted October 31, 2014 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags:

Ditching Israel, Embracing Iran

Nov 10, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 09 • By LEE SMITH

via Ditching Israel, Embracing Iran | The Weekly Standard.

 

Last week, the Obama White House finally clarified its Middle East policy. It’s détente with Iran and a cold war with Israel.

Our new partners?

Our new partners?

NEWSCOM

To the administration, Israel isn’t worth the trouble its prime minister causes. As one anonymous Obama official put it to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, what good is Benjamin Netanyahu if he won’t make peace with the Palestinians? Bibi doesn’t have the nerve of Begin, Rabin, or Sharon, said the unnamed source. The current leader of this longstanding U.S. ally, he added, is “a chickens—t.”

It’s hardly surprising that the Obama White House is crudely badmouthing Netanyahu; it has tried to undercut him from the beginning. But this isn’t just about the administration’s petulance and pettiness. There seems to be a strategic purpose to heckling Israel’s prime minister. With a possible deal over Iran’s nuclear weapons program in sight, the White House wants to weaken Netanyahu’s ability to challenge an Iran agreement.

Another unnamed Obama official told Goldberg that Netanyahu is all bluster when it comes to the Islamic Republic. The Israeli leader calls the clerical regime’s nuclear weapons program an existential threat, but he’s done nothing about it. And now, said the official, “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

In other words, the White House is openly boasting that it bought the Iranians enough time to get across the finish line. Obama has insisted for five years that his policy is to prevent a nuclear Iran from emerging. In reality, his policy all along was to deter Israel from striking Iranian nuclear facilities. The way Obama sees it, an Iranian bomb may not be desirable, but it’s clearly preferable to an Israeli attack. Not only would an Israeli strike unleash a wave of Iranian terror throughout the region—and perhaps across Europe and the United States as well—it would also alienate what the White House sees as a potential partner.

The negotiations with Iran were only the most obvious part of the administration’s policy of pressuring Israel. The White House knew the Israelis would have difficulty striking Iranian nuclear facilities so long as there was a chance of a deal. Jerusalem couldn’t risk making itself the enemy of peace and an international pariah. All Netanyahu could do was warn against the bad deal Obama was intent on making.

The White House used plenty of other tools to pressure Jerusalem. For instance, leaks. Virtually every time Israel struck an Iranian arms depot in Syria or a convoy destined for Hezbollah, an administration official leaked it to the press. The White House understood that publicizing these strikes would embarrass Bashar al-Assad or Hassan Nasrallah and thereby push them to retaliate against Israel. That was the point of the leaks: to keep Israel tentative and afraid of taking matters into its own hands.

Another instrument of pressure was military and security cooperation between Israel and the White House—the strongest and closest the two countries have ever enjoyed, say Obama advocates. It allowed administration officials to keep even closer watch on what the Israelis were up to, while trying to make Jerusalem ever more dependent on the administration for its own security.

Don’t worry, Obama told Israel: I’ve got your back. I don’t bluff. The Iranians won’t get a bomb. And besides, the real problem in the region, the White House said time and again, is Israeli settlements. It’s the lack of progress between Jerusalem and Ramallah that destabilizes the region. As John Kerry said recently, the stalled Arab-Israeli peace process is what gave rise to the Islamic State.

From the White House’s perspective, then, Israel is the source of regional instability. Iran, on the other hand, is a force for stability. It is a rational actor, Obama has explained, pursuing its own interests. The White House, moreover, shares some of those interests—like rolling back the Islamic State.

The fact that Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani now calls the shots in four Arab capitals—Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, and Sanaa—makes him the Middle East’s indispensable man. Compared with the one-stop shopping Obama can do in Tehran to solve his Middle East problems, what can Israel offer?

The Obama administration’s Middle East policy, finally clarified last week, is premised on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Islamic Republic. The question is whether the White House has also misunderstood the character of a man, the prime minister of Israel, whose courage they mock.


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