During its conquests in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has had to come up with a method to allow all those non-Sunnis who ended up converting to Sunni Islam instead of being killed—the Christians, Yazidis, Shias, who for whatever reason remained under IS territory—to be identified as true and legitimate Muslims.
Accordingly, it has been issuing “non-infidel certificates.” Like a driver’s license, these certificates have the picture of the named convert and explain to any Islamic State soldier that the named is a Muslim now and thus it is “impermissible to lash, crucify, or rape him [portion circled in red].” The certificate is good for three months. Its text follows:
To whom it may concern,
We hereby notify you that the one named Na’il Salu bin Basaam of the people of the al-Raqa emirate took and satisfactorily passed a course on Repentance.
Based on this, we hereby grant him this certificate confirming that he is not an infidel [kafir] and that it is impermissible to lash, crucify, or rape him, unless a legitimate reason arises for the soldiers of the caliphate or if it’s been established that he has returned to apostasy and wants his freedom.
In the Wall Street Journal, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham write that we need to take out Syrian dictator Assad in order to take down the Islamic State.
The airstrikes and other actions President Obama is taking against Islamic State deserve bipartisan support. They are beginning to degrade the terrorist group, also known as ISIS, but will not destroy it, for one reason above all: The administration still has no effective policy to remove Bashar Assad from power and end the conflict in Syria.
That’s the edititorial’s first paragraph, and it goes off the rails quickly.
For starters, there is no evidence that the US-led airstrikes are actually degrading ISIS at all. The allied air campaign is barely a campaign. Call it a “CINO” — a Campaign In Name Only.
It only amounts to about four airstrikes per day, against a group that now occupies a huge and expanding territory. Even while the airstrikes have gone on, at that pitiful rate of about four per day, ISIS has edged closer to Baghdad in Iraq and is set to seize control of Kobane on the Syria-Turkey border. That battle may yet draw Turkey, and therefore NATO, into the war.
McCain and Graham write that they disagree with the administration when it says that Assad is a problem who can be dealt with later, because Assad empowers ISIS.
Administration officials have called their approach “ISIS first.” As for Mr. Assad, in the words of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the administration will “defer that challenge into the future.” This is not a luxury we get to choose. And Mr. Obama himself recently said he does “recognize the contradiction” in his own policy—which is that by confronting Islamic State but not Assad, the U.S. may unintentionally benefit the ruler whose ouster he continues, rightly, to demand.
Unfortunately, this is not the only self-defeating contradiction in the administration’s Syria policy.
After Islamic State stormed into Iraq in June, Mr. Obama argued that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ’s alienation of Sunnis had strengthened the terrorist group. Destroying Islamic State in Iraq, the administration suggested, required Mr. Maliki’s removal and an inclusive new government. Why not the same urgency about Syria?
For one thing, the US has leverage in Iraq as a nominal ally that we do not have in Syria. Assad is and will likely always be an enemy of the United States and the west generally, and an ally with our adversaries in Moscow and Tehran. The United States is simply in no position to order Assad to do much of anything, and the Obama administration demonstrated its lack of seriousness with the president’s disappearing “red line.”
Mr. Assad all but created Islamic State through his slaughter of nearly 200,000 Syrians, and he has knowingly allowed the group to grow and operate with impunity inside the country when it suits his purposes. Until we confront this reality, we can continue to degrade Islamic State in Syria, but Mr. Assad’s barbarism will continue to empower it.
We are not actually degrading them strategically; see above. We are hitting them tactically, in specific circumstances, such as the Mosul Dam and now the battle for Kobane. This is a recipe for a very long and largely ineffective war.
This points to another contradiction: How can we arm and train 5,000 Syrians and expect them to succeed against Islamic State without protecting them (and their families) from Assad’s airstrikes and barrel bombs? Or expect moderate groups in Syria fighting Islamic State to take advantage of U.S. airstrikes if we do not coordinate or communicate our operations with them? This is reportedly not happening. Instead, Mr. Assad is exploiting U.S. airstrikes to kill the very people we want as our partners. This is not just a recipe for failure; it is immoral.
Our efforts to build up a viable Free Syrian Army to liberate Syria from the evils of Islamic State and Mr. Assad will surely fail if the Syrian ruler is not dealt with. To expect Mr. Assad to sit on the sidelines as the Free Syrian Army gains capacity would be a colossal mistake and doom efforts to stop Syria from sinking further into the abyss.
It’s unlikely that the U.S. can maintain public support among Syrians for the fight against Islamic State, or succeed without their support, unless it does more to end Assad’s war against them. Syrians are already asking why America is bombing Islamic State but not stopping Mr. Assad from bombing them. This only hardens their pervasive belief that America cares only for itself. This belief threatens to strengthen Islamic State and discredit our moderate partners among the anti-Assad forces.
At this point it is unlikely that the Obama administration can even maintain public support for the war among Americans. He refuses to fight effectively and has already told the enemy that the greatest ground fighting forces in the world will not trouble ISIS. The Iraqi military remains mostly useless, and the Kurds are fighting heroically but they are outgunned by ISIS.
How moderate are the Free Syrian Army and other similar anti-Assad Syrian groups? McCain, who has consistently downplayed the jihadist element among Assad’s enemies, is hardly credible on that question.
According to Patrick Poole, the Free Syrian Army has been operating openly with ISIS and another al Qaeda-linked terrorist group.
Skipping to the end of the editorial, after the senators have rightly noted that it will take American forces on the ground in order to eventually defeat ISIS…
The reality is that defeating Islamic State also requires defeating Bashar Assad. Avoiding this reality, as Mr. Obama still tries to do, will only postpone the problem at growing risk to Syrian lives and American security. And when Syria deteriorates further, as it surely will, the U.S. will be compelled to respond once again, but our options will be fewer, worse and costlier.
And what of Russia? And Iran? Will those two allies of Assad merely cut him loose in the face of Obama’s military prowess, or will they defend him if only to make more trouble for the United States? Iran is likely to do what it did in Iraq and wage a jihadist proxy war against the US-led coalition. There is already evidence of Russian intelligence working alongside Assad’s forces in Syria. Putin knows that under Obama, American military forces have been cut to the bone. We are no longer capable of fighting two wars simultaneously, as we were from the Reagan through the George W. Bush administrations. Russia may find it useful to keep violence on enough of a boil in Syria and Iraq to to keep America’s attentions thee, and allow Russia a freer hand in Ukraine and eastern Europe.
Assad is a very bad guy, he is backed by very bad guys, but ISIS is worse, and removing him at this stage runs the strong risk of opening up a vacuum into which any number of people and groups who might be better, but will probably be worse, would step in. Without any American ground forces in the fight, the US will be in no position even to contemplate getting a leader as good/bad as Maliki was in Iraq. It’s more likely that a post-Assad Syria gets led by a puppet of Iran or Russia (or both), or by an Islamist dictator, or it becomes another Libya or Somalia — a failed feudal state in which Islamist terrorists thrive.
The strategic situation in Syria is as complex and volatile as any that the United States has ever faced. It’s a terrible moment to have one of the most ineffective, inexperienced, duplicitous and indecisive presidents that America has ever had. But that is what we have, and what we are stuck with until January 2017.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says it would be “very healthy” for the United States if members of Congress spend about two weeks getting briefings, holding hearings, and having a real debate about authorizing the use of force against the Islamic State terrorist group.
The Pennsylvania Democrat said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press that even if members believe, as he does, that President Barack Obama has the legal authority to mount an aerial bombing campaign against the terrorist group, a debate and even some votes could be helpful for his strategy.
That’s some cutting edge political thinking right there: suggesting that a deliberative body which expresses itself by voting should deliberate and maybe even vote on some stuff.
What next: a suggestion that they uphold the Constitution?
This really is just more media cover for The Idiot King but it does make Congress look absurd. Casey is actually only suggesting going through the motions so the president doesn’t appear to be acting unilaterally. He does have to hang onto that Nobel Peace Prize cred after all. That Casey’s suggestion for the Kabuki theater you-know-what covering is a description of what he and his colleagues should be doing all of the time while working is indicative of what a sad group we have populating the political class in Washington right now.
A young Muslim man from Chicago was arrested Saturday and charged today with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization — the Islamic State.
Mohammed Hamzah Khan was arrested while trying to fly from O’Hare International Airport to Vienna, then to Istanbul, from which he allegedly intended to join ISIS fighters.
Khan appeared in U.S. District Court Monday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox in Chicago and remains in federal custody pending a Thursday morning detention hearing.
According to the complaint affidavit filed Monday, a round-trip ticket was purchased for Khan on Sep. 26, from Chicago to Istanbul. He was scheduled to depart Saturday and return on Thursday.
Khan was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at O’Hare while passing through the security screening checkpoint Saturday afternoon and interviewed by FBI agents at the airport.
While executing a search warrant at Khan’s residence, federal agents found “multiple handwritten documents that appeared to be drafted by Khan and/or others, which expressed support for ISIL,” according to the affidavit.
Between 12 and 100 Americans are believed to either be currently fighting for ISIS, or to have been killed fighting for ISIS. A wealthy American is also believed to be managing the Islamic State’s social media.
Twitter reports indicate that the northern Syria town of Kobane is falling to ISIS despite the best attempts of Kurdish forces to beat back the advance.
The city of Kobane and surrounding towns normally have a population estimated at 350,000, but Kurdish news organization Rudaw reported that only 10 percent of residents were left. Some residents including Sunnis and Christians have been attempting to flee to Turkey, only to have their escape hampered by the border guards. Some villagers in towns already seized by ISIS have been raped and murdered or beheaded.
The city is so close to the border that Kurds and media in Turkey have been able to watch the battle from the hills.
The Observer reported on the story of Mostafa Kader, who had fled Kobane 10 days earlier with his wife and their two small children:
His uncle planned to join them but at the last minute changed his mind, unable to leave a village that had been his home for more than eight decades. The militants beheaded him, refugees arriving later told Kader.
“He was 85 – he could not even lift a weapon,” said the young father, baffled by the brutality. Even more haunting were stories from his wife’s village, where the fleeing family found the bodies of her sister and an eight-year-old niece lying in pools of blood.
“They had been raped, and their hearts were cut out of their chests and left on top of the bodies,” he said, struggling to hold back tears. “I buried them with my own hands.”
Kobane has been surrounded by ISIS for two weeks now, prompting Kurdish-Americans to plead for help from Washington and question why support hadn’t come earlier to help prevent a massacre.
“Obviously we – ISIL is clearly, as you noted, trying to gain control of the border crossings with Turkey by taking the opposition-held towns between Aleppo and the border. We’ve seen, of course, the comments of the Turkish leaders. As you also may know, several individual opposition groups have formed de facto coalitions which include both Kurds and Sunnis in some of these towns, including near the Turkish border, to kind of unite and work together to fight this,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday.
“We are also assisting in this. We – coalition airstrikes, some in predominantly Kurdish areas that are ongoing, we feel are helping Kurdish and opposition fighters as they exert pressure on ISIL. So this week alone, we note that CENTCOM did strikes in Kobani that hit an ISIL – hit on ISIL tanks, artillery, and armor. And obviously, this is an ongoing effort.”
Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Friday that they have been “long watching the situation around Kobane.”
“We watched as ISIL — we began to, you know, watch them as they tried to — dispersing out of Raqqa, and heading towards Kobane, we’ve been aware of the threat that they pose to that place and to the residents there,” Kirby said. “…But we’re broadly focused, not just on one city and one town. We have to stay broadly focused on the whole region and the threat that ISIL poses to both countries across what is essentially no border at all.”
— #No2ISIS (@No2ISIS) October 6, 2014
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 6, 2014
— Rami(ط) (@RamiAlLolah) October 6, 2014
— Hamo (@KekHamo) October 6, 2014
Right now, NATO’s largest security concern is Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its threats against other NATO states in eastern Europe.
But that may change very soon.
Turkey is a NATO member. While its Islamist government has become an unreliable partner for both the US and Israel, an Islamic State offensive on the Turkey-Syria border may force Turkey to call on NATO for support.
ISIS forces have advance onto and into the border town of Kobane, which is just on the Syrian side of the border.
Jenan Moussa, a reporter for Al Aan TV in Dubai, tweets that ISIS is defeating the Kurdish forces defending Kobane.
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) October 6, 2014
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) October 6, 2014
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) October 6, 2014
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) October 6, 2014
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) October 6, 2014
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) October 6, 2014
Moussa and a Wall Street Journal reporter both report that ISIS forces have pushed into Kobane and that they see the ISIS flag flying over hills on the outskirts of the city.
NATO says that it stands ready to intervene and protect Turkey if it become necessary. Kobane is barely on the Syrian side of the border, but ISIS has proven that border mean very little to it.
The US-led airstrikes appear to be having very little, if any, effect as ISIS advances.
The Times of Israel reports that there was a massive explosion at the Parchin nuclear explosives plant last night.
The BBC, citing a report from the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), reported on Monday that the incident happened in an “explosive materials production unit” at the site south-east of the capital Tehran.
According to ISNA the blast was so powerful it shattered windows up to 12 kilometers away and the glare from the explosion lit up the night sky.
Several arms facilities and military bases are located east of the Iranian capital, including Parchin. UN nuclear inspectors have been seeking to visit the site to answer concerns about Iran’s atomic program.
Parchin is one of the plants that the International Atomic Energy Agency has sought to visit, but Iran has denied access to it. IAEA inspectors are due to hold talks on Iran’s nuclear program tomorrow in Tehran.
More from Michael Ledeen:
Over a decade ago, the U.S. conquered Iraq; its military and intelligence were on the ground for years with autonomy. In other words, U.S. influence and authority was more pronounced in Iraq than probably any other Muslim country in the world.
And yet it is in this one Muslim nation, where the U.S. had most authority, where U.S. blood and treasure were spent, that the absolute worst Islamic terrorist group—the Islamic State—was born.
Or is this too related to the great “Arab Spring” failures of the Obama administration?
Consider: Obama was repeatedly warned that withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq would lead to something exactly like the Islamic State—with all the atrocities that have become synonymous with that name.
Indeed, arguing against early troop withdrawal, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, once made the following now prophetic remarks:
To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States.
It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaeda.
It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale.
It would mean we allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan.
It would mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.
The point here is not to “side” with Bush—the idea of transporting “democracy” to an Islamic country was ill-conceived from the start—but rather to demonstrate that Obama was thoroughly warned what troop withdrawal would lead to: the Islamic State. The same U.S. military and intelligence sources that allowed Bush to make that prescient statement also shared their assessments with Obama.
Yet Obama withdrew anyway. In December 2011, Obama declared the Iraq war a success and pulled out American troops. And, to the eyes of most Americans, things were relatively quiet—until, of course, the world heard that a head-chopping, infidel-crucifying, mass-murdering “caliphate” had “suddenly” arisen.
Was Iraq also part of the euphoria of the Obama-endorsed “Arab Spring”?
Recall that final troop withdrawal from Iraq occurred at the height of the Arab Spring when the Obama administration was simultaneously betraying key U.S. allies in the Islamic world such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.
If the U.S. was not going to stand by its former “secular strongmen,” but instead was willing to hold hands with their traditional enemies, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, why should it have supported Iraq’s Nouri Maliki?… Keep reading
The American official coordinating the international coalition fighting the Islamic State said on Friday that the Iraqi military would not be ready for a campaign to retake Mosul, the largest Iraqi city under insurgent control, for as much as a year.
Mosul has become a symbol of the strength of the Islamist insurgency, which has made the city its stronghold, and of the failure of the Iraqi security forces, which wilted in June as militants swept across the Syrian border and overran the city as they pushed toward Baghdad.
The broad timeline given by the official, retired Gen. John R. Allen, seemed to reflect the immense challenges facing the Iraqi military command and its international partners, including about 1,200 American military advisers deployed by President Obama, as they seek to rebuild the Iraqi security forces.
“When it’s undertaken, the right kind of planning and preparation will have been done to make sure the outcome will favor the Iraqis,” said General Allen, a retired Marine who served in the Iraq War and was the top American commander in Afghanistan.
So we have to take time to rebuild the security forces we just spent a decade building and training, got it?
If there has been a huge outcry from the anti-war left about a QUAGMIRE I’ve missed it. Google “george bush quagmire” to see what a popular word it was back when it wasn’t a Nobel Peace Prize winner committing us to long-term military action.
With peace like this, who needs enemies?
The Islamic State had threatened to behead British captive Alan Hennings. They have carried out that threat, with U.S.-led airstrikes supposedly hitting them in Iraq and Syria.
Islamic State militants have published a video that is said to depict the murder of a British aid convoy volunteer Alan Henning three weeks after warning that he would be the next to die.
If the video is found to be authentic, Henning will be the fourth western hostage to have been killed by the group, following the video-taped beheadings of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and Scottish aid worker David Haines.
The latest crime comes after the UK launched air strikes against Isis, joining the US and its Arab allies – Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – which had been targeting the group for several days.
He leaves behind a wife and two teenage children.
Henning’s is the first ISIS beheading of a western hostage to be done while the U.S. and its allies are conducting airstrikes against the group. So far, though, the U.S.-led alliance has conducted just over 300 strikes across several days. ISIS’ capabilities have apparently not been degraded at all. The group entered Kobani, Syria today and are approaching the Syria-Turkey border.
The Islamic State is now threatening to behead another American hostage.
There’s little controversy over the foreign policy screw-ups and missed opportunities that have arisen from the Obama Administration over the last two years. Not addressing the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) is perhaps one of the biggest faux pas thus far. But there are at least nine other epic-scale gaffes that continue to plague Obama’s administration like Benghazi and its evil step-child contrived out of sheer stupidity: the cover-up video pack of lies.
So now we’re faced with the stark reality and collective baggage of how to prevail over ISIS as the terrorist group continues making headway and head-chopping videos in Iraq, Syria and beyond. President Obama recently addressed the UN National Security Council and finally outlined a set of criteria to stave off ISIS. Yet there is much more needed to win a war against an unscrupulous and formidable enemy fighting an ideological war that goes against everything we believe in as Americans. Fighting an enemy whose firm belief is deeply rooted in Wahhabism is not exactly second nature to Americans yet now we are faced with the grim reality that our national security (and that of other countries) is in jeopardy if we don’t act fast.
So what’s Obama doing right and what does he need to do better? Plenty. For instance, acknowledging that these four criteria must occur is a decent start:
1) ISIS must be degraded and ultimately destroyed
2) World support (especially support from Muslims) must reject ideology adopted (and spread) via al Qaeda and ISIS (and other main or fringe terrorist groups).
3) Intervention by various countries’ governments and military to stop the cycle of conflict, especially sectarian conflict in the Middle East, which attracts terrorist groups to invade weakened war-torn nations.
4) Arab world must renew a greater focus on their people, particularly their youth, which often makes up 60 plus percent of the population.
Yet this alone is not enough. Obama has received regular intelligence for the last two years that ISIS not only existed but was a growing threat and more is needed. At this point, its going to take not only ground forces (something the Pentagon has continually repeated) but five to eight years to undue gains made by ISIS in Iraq and Syria and beyond. Unfortunately, ground troops and a lengthy war also means countless lost American lives and treasure.
As Reagan’s national security advisor Robert (Bud) MacFarlane and senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research Lt. Col. Anthony (Tony) Shaffer indicated in a recent audiotaped call on Obama’s UN address not every country is capable of carrying out the responsibilities required by true democracies, and this was clear from our dealings with Libya. It takes very special circumstances for democratic rule to take root, and it’s exactly why many countries fall short of the real definition and succumb to invading terrorist factions who force tyrannical rule under the guise of “democracy.”
After my article “Islamic State Atrocities: Products of Grievances’?” appeared, a reader sent me the following email, which makes similar points, specifically about Obama’s use of the word “expediency” to explain away Islamic State savageries:
Dear Mr. Ibrahim,
You are so correct to find Obama’s real point of view by paying close attention to his phraseology and vocabulary, something I find too few commentators take the time to do. Often one word, such as “grievances,” gives the whole show away. I read the transcript of Obama’s remarks made after the beheading of Mr. Foley — after which Obama returned to his old game – and came upon this transcript from WSJ:
[ISIS] may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.
Expediency! This is an extremely revealing word. ISIS only hates America because they find it expedient to do so– I suppose for PR or recruiting reasons or some such thing in Obama’s mind.
Obama refuses to recognize the spiritual (i.e. religious/jihadist) motivation of the ISIS terrorists, because of the sympathy he and his advisers have for the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood, his contempt for America and because Obama only thinks in material — that is non-spiritual — terms.
The same applies to his usage of the word “grievances.” These words denotes a fatal weakness in Obama’s conception and handling of terrorism both at home and abroad — in his eyes, there is no real or serious underlying threat or problem of jihadist terrorism with regard to the USA, and in particular none that he will allow to get in the way of his overriding goal of transforming America and its place in the world.
In effect, what this means is that he is willing to put the whole USA and all Americans on the same chopping block as other countries such as Israel and the Christians in Muslim lands, either out of gross negligence, or for ideological reasons, or out of incompetence, or (most likely) a combination of all three. A rather novel way of viewing the motivation for a brutal public beheading: an act of mere expediency.
The following is an envisioning of what might eventually unfold if the Islamic State is left to flourish. Although it is only one of several possible scenarios, due to its ostensibly implausible nature, it requires some delineation.
The Islamic State (IS) continues expanding its territory and influence through jihad. Religious minorities that fall under its sway—at least the fortunate ones—continue to flee in droves, helping make the Islamic State what it strives to be: purely Islamic.
Left unfettered, with only cosmetic airstrikes by an indecisive Obama administration to deal with, IS continues growing in strength and confidence, as Western powers again stand idly by.
More and more Muslims around the world, impressed and inspired by what they see, become convinced that the Islamic State is in fact the new caliphate deserving of their allegiance. Such Muslims—the most “radical” kind, who delight in the slaughter and subjugation of “infidels”—continue leaving Western nations and migrating to the Islamic State to wage jihad and live under Sharia.
In other words, a sizable chunk of the world’s most radicalized/pious Muslims all become localized in one region. There they openly and proudly display their anti-infidel supremacism.
Throughout, Western media have no choice but to report objectively—so thoroughly exposed for its barbarity has IS become that it is an insurmountable task to whitewash its atrocities. The world has seen enough about IS to know that this is a savage, hostile, and supremacist state without excuse. Even Obama, after originally citing “grievances” as propelling the Islamic State’s successes, recently made an about face, saying “No grievance justifies these actions.”
Put differently, the “Palestinian card” will not work here. Western media, apologists, and talking heads cannot portray IS terror—including crucifying, beheading, and raping humans simply because they are “infidels”—as a product of “grievances” or “land disputes.”… Continue reading
Administration Criticism That Israel ‘Poisons Atmosphere’ with Jerusalem Construction Is ‘Deplorable,’ Says Senator
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) slammed as “deplorable” the White House’s condemnation of Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was visiting, for housing construction in Jerusalem.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters yesterday that the U.S. is “deeply concerned by reports that Israeli government has moved forward with the planning process in the sensitive area — or in a sensitive area of east Jerusalem.”
“This step is contrary to Israel’s stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians, and it would send a very troubling message if they were to proceed with tenders or construction in that area,” Earnest continued. “This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere, not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations.”
“It also would call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”
Earnest said the construction issues “did come up in the conversations” between President Obama and Netanyahu.
Netanyahu told MSNBC today that the Obama administration “should get acquainted with the facts first.”
“I find that curious, because the criticism was leveled at a new neighborhood that was mixed. It had a substantial part of the apartments apportioned — parceled out to Arabs, to Palestinians alongside Jews. So it’s — why not have them live together?” Netanyahu said.
“The second part of the criticism was actually baffling to me, because it criticized individual Jews who bought apartments in an Arab neighborhood. Now Jews buy apartments, private property, in Arab neighborhoods. Arabs buy apartments in Jewish neighborhoods. And I find that that’s the right thing to do.”
The prime minister stressed that he and Obama did not get into these specific issues, even though the White House and State Department press secretaries began slamming Israel over the construction.
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki was asked to clarify her criticism today.
“We’re talking about settlement activity and the fact that there are multiple stages in the process and the fact that it continued, and that’s why we expressed our concern,” Psaki said. “Our position is not changing. I was answering the question broadly. Obviously, as we stated yesterday, we’re also referring to provocative actions that can make it more difficult to move forward in a peaceful manner in the region.”
“Israel remains an important partner, a security partner, a friend and ally. That has not changed… I think we’re talking about what the – what we’ve already seen to be the response from the international community to ongoing activities such as these.”
Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and the United States should not be condemning zoning and permitting decisions made by Jerusalem’s municipal government.”
“Finally, the Obama Administration’s view of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts suggests that it has learned nothing from its six years of failed efforts. The administration can continue to live in a fantasy world where we are always just one step from a renewal of the peace process and the achievement of a comprehensive agreement, but the fact of the matter remains that Israel does not have a viable negotiating partner. Palestinian ‘leaders’ who make false accusations of genocide, partner with a terrorist group, and constantly peddle hateful rhetoric, rather than take the tough decisions required to create a lasting peace, are not seeking peace with Israel,” the senator continued.
“This is another case of President Obama’s bizarre logic of tearing down our closest partners while building up those who do not share our values. Especially now, when Israel and moderate Arab states in the Middle East are facing terrorist attacks, the president should begin to treat Israel as the invaluable and reliable friend it truly is.”
Hundreds of U.S. lawmakers pressed Secretary of State John Kerry to lean harder on Iran in talks over its nuclear program in a letter released on Thursday after Israel warned Washington not to go easy on Tehran.
Three hundred and fifty-four members – four-fifths – of the U.S. House of Representatives signed the letter sent to Kerry on Wednesday night, expressing concerns that an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program might not require sufficiently strict inspections of its nuclear facilities.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Sept. 5 that Iran had failed to address concerns about suspected atomic bomb research by an agreed deadline.
Finally, something with overwhelming bipartisan support. Whether that will be enough to get Kerry to stop his laser-like focus on climate change as our greatest threat remains to be seen. Once someone has slipped into that kind of detachment from reality it’s often difficult to bring him back.
It is comforting to see so many U.S. lawmakers paying attention to Benjamin Netanyahu, a leader who does attend his security briefings.
354 House Members Appeal to Kerry to Pay Attention to Iran’s ‘Dangerous’ Lack of Cooperation with Inspectors
A huge majority of House lawmakers have appealed to Secretary of State John Kerry to take note of Iran’s refusal to cooperate with inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency as the P5+1 tries to forge a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
The letter was led by the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) — and the 352 other signatories included House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
“As you know, the IAEA has sought information on the ‘potential military dimensions’ of the Iranian nuclear program, in particular information about Iran’s extensive research and development of a nuclear explosive device,” the letter to Kerry states, noting that in its Sept. 5 report the IAEA said Iran “had failed to meet its latest deadline.”
“We believe that Iran’s willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran’s intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement,” the lawmakers wrote. “…The only reasonable conclusion for its stonewalling of international investigators is that Tehran does indeed have much to hide.”
“We are concerned that an agreement that accepts Iran’s lack of transparency on this key issue would set the dangerous precedent that certain facilities and aspects of Iran’s nuclear program can be declared off limits by Tehran, resulting in additional wide-ranging restrictions on IAEA inspectors, and making effective verification virtually impossible.”
A “resolution” of the issue of IAEA inspections is “essential to establishing a baseline regarding the status of the Iranian nuclear program,” they stressed.
“Accurate predictions of the period of time needed by Iran to assemble a weapon and assessments of Iran’s compliance cannot be made without highly reliable information obtained from an unrestricted inspection and verification regime. Such a baseline is also critical to developing more precise estimates on the time it would take Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability without detection.”
The lawmakers added that they would like to see a negotiated solution to the crisis, but urged Kerry to “carefully monitor Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA’s inquiry.”
“As you have written, there is a ‘discrepancy…between Iran’s professed intent with respect to its nuclear program and the actual content of that program to date.’ We agree with your assessment that ‘these issues cannot be dismissed; they must be addressed by the Iranians if a comprehensive solution is to be reached.’ An agreement that effectively prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability demands transparency on the extensive research and development work that Iran has undertaken in the past.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed to President Obama before their bilateral meeting Wednesday at the White House that he “fervently” hopes a bad deal with Iran isn’t brewing.
The Obama administration continued the P5+1 talks with Iran during the UN General Assembly last week.
“As you know, Mr. President, Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you’ve worked so hard to put in place, and leave it as a threshold nuclear power,” Netanyahu said with Obama at his side. “I fervently hope that under your leadership that would not happen.”
In his remarks before the prime minister’s, Obama said they would “have an opportunity to discuss the progress that’s being made with respect to dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, which obviously has been a high priority for not only Israel, but also the United States and the world community.”
“It’s challenging I think for an Israeli Prime Minister to have to work so hard during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but I know that the Prime Minister’s utmost priority is making sure that his country is safe during these difficult times,” Obama added.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest stressed “there are statements from leaders in Iran indicating that they don’t have designs on a nuclear weapon.”
“And what we need to do is we need to reach an agreement between the Iranian regime and the general international community, a verifiable agreement to demonstrate that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon,” Earnest said. “…Previous interactions with Iran about their nuclear program have drawn the expressions of frustration from some in the international community because they have observed Iran using ongoing diplomatic conversations as cover to make advances on their nuclear program. That is not the case in the context of these talks. Rather, the opposite has occurred.”
Netanyahu told NPR this morning that Israel and Washington have “a difference of emphasis between the nuclear weapons themselves or the capability to make them in short order.”
“To the extent that an agreement emerges that is close to our position which says, no enrichment capability, no centrifuge. You don’t really need in Iran because there are 17 nations in the world that have civilian nuclear energy without centrifuges. Centrifuges are only used for one thing – to make bomb-grade material,” he continued.
Netanyahu would not promise acceptance of any agreement that comes out of the talks.
“Well, I hope very much that it approaches as close as possible our position,” he said. “Depends what it is. But I’ve often said and I’ve heard it echoed from the president, no deal is better than a bad deal. And a deal that would leave Iran with capacity to arrive in short order to nuclear weapons would be a very bad deal.”
As the Islamic State rose to become the terrorist mass that it is today, President Barack Obama ignored warnings and reportedly skipped about half of his presidential daily briefings. He downplayed the threat, calling ISIS “jayvee.”
Those briefings that the president reportedly skipped included “specific” intelligence about ISIS and its capabilities even before the 2012 election.
At that time, Obama was publicly campaigning on having “decimated” “core al Qaeda” and sent it “on the run.”
So was Obama reading his briefings or not? It’s an important question that aims directly at how the president is performing his duties. Obama tossed the intelligence community and his own Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, under the bus on 60 Minutes when he blamed them for “underestimating” ISIS. That comment has sparked a sort of cold war between the president and his intelligence agencies, as the nation grapples with the Islamic State’s rise and threat, and what to do about it.
But if you are concerned about this, former Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean thinks that you’re a kook.
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked Dean about the skipped briefings on his show this morning. “Howard Dean, you get 42% of the briefings face-to-face, 42% in the second term, missed the rest. Is that a big deal? Are there sometimes you’d rather read something than have people talk?”
Dean wasn’t subtle in dismissing the question: “This rises to the level of Obama was born in Kenya and is a right wing Muslim. I saw Crossroads did this, he has no credibility whatsoever. The presidents, leaders, governors do things differently, I just think this is ridiculous. I can’t even believe we are talking about this. This is silly.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with President Barack Obama today at the White House in a bid to find common ground on Iran talks after a year of disputes over making peace with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu said he would stress to Obama the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, amid concern in Israel that the U.S. may lose focus on the issue because of its military campaign against Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria.
“We all support the effort led by President Obama to stop and defeat ISIS,” Netanyahu told a gathering of American Jewish community leaders in New York yesterday, using an acronym for Islamic State’s former name. “But to defeat ISIS, and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power, is to win the battle and lose the war.”
World powers are negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program as a U.S.-led military alliance strikes Islamic State, an al-Qaeda splinter group that has seized parts of Iraq and Syria and gained notoriety for beheadings and crucifixions. Although Iran isn’t part of that coalition, it’s also helping its Iraqi and Syrian allies to fight the militant group, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said it has a role to play in defeating Islamic State.
Kerry didn’t clarify exactly what Iran was offering to combat climate change, which he still maintains is our most pressing threat.
The adults in the room, however, face quite the conundrum. ISIS and its antics have made it impossible for even a detached golfer who moonlights as president of the United States to ignore. ISIS is beheading Americans but Iran hates ISIS too, and we can be safe in assuming it is not because of the way they’re treating U.S. citizens. So, if you want to play “the enemy of my enemy…” here it gets confusing.
The protracted way we’re going about dealing with ISIS just gives the Iranians more time to dupe the rest of the world when it comes to the nuclear negotiations.
We might actually welcome Ebola soon.
Has the US State Department learned anything from the rise of ISIS? Such as, should the Obama administration have pushed harder to leave a residual US military presence in Iraq after the war? Should the US have pushed Maliki harder for a status of forces agreement? Would that have helped stop ISIS before it became the threat that it is?
The AP’s Matt Lee tried pressing spokeswoman Jen Psaki for an answer on that in today’s press briefing. He didn’t get anywhere, at least, anywhere that’s not covered in Psaki’s approved talking points.
So Psaki does what she normally does — stick to the talking points, and treat reporters as if they’re children.
If you’d never heard of the “Khorasan Group” prior to September 23, 2014 — when the US-led airstrikes on Syria began — you’re not alone. The obscure name had not come up very much at all in terrorism reports or studies, in press reports or much of anywhere else. Most of us who have written about terrorism since shortly after 9-11 had never heard of the group.
Until, that is, President Obama named the Khorasan Group in the letter he sent to Congress justifying bombing Syria. In the same letter, Obama omitted any mention of the Islamic State, ISIS, or ISIL at all.
That curious omission generated some head-scratching. Were we baited and switched into bombing Syria? And just who is this “Khorasan Group” that seems to have materialized out of the Middle East’s desert sands?
Glenn Greenwald has gone through media reports in the days leading up to the bombing of Syria, which began on September 23. The ISIS beheading of American journalist James Foley on September 9 grabbed the world’s attention and forced Obama to step off the golf course and take some action.
There were scant mentions of the Khorasan group at all until an AP story appeared on September 13. That story, in which several US intelligence officials are quoted anonymously, painted the group as more dangerous than ISIS, and planning an “imminent” attack on US soil.
That word — “imminent” — turns out to play a key role, if Greenwald is right. If a terrorist group is planning an imminent attack and has the capability of carrying it out, then their target — in this case, the US or Europe — has not only the right but the duty to stop the terrorists.
The 9-13 AP story paved the way for a CBS News story and then numerous others leading up to September 23. But all along that period, Americans were focused on the Islamic State. It was the “jayvee” team who had butchered Americans and would butcher a British and a Frenchman, while swallowing up parts of Iraq and Syria, stranding the Yazidis on a mountaintop, engaging in mass killings and crucifixions of Christians, selling women into sex slavery, and becoming the world’s richest terrorist group by selling Iraqi oil on the black market to Turket at cut prices. In fact, ISIS’ oil piracy gave OPEC nations a reason to fight them beyond terrorism.
American citizens’ attentions were focused on ISIS from September 9 all the way through September 23. President Obama was compelled by polls to act after two Americans were beheaded and videos of their executions by ISIS broadcast on the Internet. But Obama did not want to take the issue up to Congress or to the UN. There also existed the complication of bombing on Syrian soil without Assad’s input or permission. Assad remains the head of government in a sovereign, albeit piecemeal, Syria, despite Obama’s calls for him to leave power.
According to Greenwald’s theory, the Obama administration made up the Khorasan threat and dubbed it “imminent” in order to conduct the bombing of Syria as a necessary move in American self-defense. As soon as the bombings had started, however, the Khorasan threat has receded in the Obama administration’s communications, and the ISIS threat has returned to be called the top threat. The “imminence” of the Khorasan threat has been downplayed and downgraded, and some in the media are starting to question the emphasis on that group in the run-up to bombing Syria.
All tolled, the people of the United States and the world may have been bamboozled through anonymous sourcing in willing media outlets into bombing a terrorist group that doesn’t actually exist.
CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield Rips Obama for Getting Numerous Warnings About ISIS Yet Calling them ‘Jayvee’
CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield hammered President Obama today over the rise of the Islamic State. Obama blamed his own intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for “underestimating” what ISIS could do.
Banfield was having none of that. She pointed out that the US-led airstrikes are not having much of an effect.
“Want to talk about this with James Reese and Bobby Gauche. Lieutenant Colonel, first to you, air strike after air strike and yet town after town after military base continues to fall to ISIS. This cannot just be because ground troops aren’t calling in the air strikes?”
The guests agreed, and noted that the Iraqi military continues to fail in the face of ISIS assaults. They also noted that the Maliki government neglected Sunni units and favored Shiite units.
Banfield refused to let Obama off the hook: “It’s complicated, I get it. But, Colonel, ultimately, it can’t be that complicated when back in July of 2013, October of 2013 and February of 2014, we had people like the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency warning that these guys are a problem. This didn’t just come out of nowhere. They weren’t just a j.v. team back then. Why is it that we’re now sort of seeing President Obama saying, ‘We underestimated things?’”
Our new partners in the battle against terrorism are the same old Islamic supremacist theocrats. The Guardian reports that Iran has executed Mohsen Amir-Aslani, 37, for holding heretical views.
His crime? He held that the story of Jonah is allegorical.
The story of Jonah, the Jewish missionary sent by God to sinful Nineveh, is told in the Bible and mentioned in the Koran. Nineveh is in present-day Iraq, and is now held by the Islamic State. ISIS destroyed Jonah’s tomb in July and are become entrenched in Nineveh’s governance and daily life.
Mr. Amir-Aslani was arrested for questioning the Jonah story nine years ago. Iran’s judiciary sentenced him to death for heresy, and he was hanged last week.
The Iranian judiciary is now claiming that Aslani was really killed for having illicit sex with some of the clients of his psychotherapy practice. But human rights groups say that the government has produced little evidence of any such relationships.
Totalitarian governments often smear their victims after murdering them.
He came to chew gum and kick you-know-what. And he never even brought any gum.
According to a report in Another Western Dawn News, the Islamic State is set to open its first foreign consulate.
The report says that the Islamic State’s facility will be in Istanbul, Turkey.
Abu-Omar Al-Tunisi, the ISIS de facto head of foreign relations issued a statement, saying that the Islamic Caliphate is determined to launch its first diplomatic mission in a friendly and Muslim country. He further noted that the ISIS hopes that the bilateral relations with Ankara will witness more developments under the aegis of newly-elected president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
ISIS also claims that its consulate in Istanbul will pay the hospital bills of all wounded Islamist militants who traveled to turkey [sic] to receive medical treatment.
Under President Recep Erdogan, Turkey has gone in an increasingly Islamist direction. Turkey now tilts toward Hamas rather than Israel.
If the above report is correct, Turkey may be playing both sides in the ISIS war. Erdogan speculated today that the Turkish army could be used to protect its territory and to fight ISIS in it neighbor Syria.
Erdogan said negotiations are underway to determine how and by which countries the air strikes and a potential ground operation would be undertaken and that Turkey is ready to take part.
“In the distribution of responsibilities, every country will have a certain duty. Whatever is Turkey’s role, Turkey will play it,” he said, adding that an air operation alone was not sufficient.
“You can’t finish off such a terrorist organisation only with air strikes. Ground forces are complementary … You have to look at it as a whole. Obviously I’m not a soldier but the air (operations) are logistical. If there’s no ground force, it would not be permanent,” he said.
He is certainly right about that. He added that a nation should protect its borders. Fancy that.
In an exchange that is sure not to make it on ABC’s evening newscast tonight, reporter Jon Karl went through several warnings regarding the rise of ISIS with White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
Karl grilled Earnest, and Earnest’s response is that “everyone” underestimated ISIS and was surprised at their ability to sweep across from Syria into Iraq and take and hold a huge amount of territory.
Earnest brings up DNI James Clapper, and Karl hits back that Clapper is not the only person who deals with intelligence in the US government. Karl brings up Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk’s warning from November 14, 2013, and a military warning from February 2014. In between both warnings, President Obama gave his infamous “ISIS are JV” interview.
Karl lists three times that President Obama was warned, or should have been, about the rise of ISIS. They include McGurk’s warning, US Ambassador to Iraq Robert Beecroft’s warning on January 23, 2014, and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s warning on February 11, 2014.
Obama ignored them all. Now he claims that the intelligence community got it wrong.
The president clearly doesn’t care about the truth, which is that he missed clear warnings as ISIS rose. He chose to downplay the threat.
The next question that needs to be asked is why did he miss them? Or did he choose to ignore them?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the United Nations General Assembly today about “militant Islam” and chided those who don’t see the connections between ISIS and Hamas or Iran.
“Last week, many of the countries represented here rightly applauded President Obama for leading the effort to confront ISIS. And yet weeks before, some of these same countries, same countries that now support confronting ISIS opposed Israel for confronting Hamas,” Netanyahu said.
“They evidently don’t understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree. ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control. Listen to ISIS self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” he continued. “This is what he said two months ago. ‘A day will soon come when the Muslim will walk everywhere as a master. The Muslims who caused the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism and destroy the idol of democracy.’”
“Now listen to Khaled Mashal, the leader of Hamas. He proclaims a similar vision of the future. ‘We say this to the west: by Allah, you will be defeated. Tomorrow our nation will sit on the throne of the world.’”
Netanyahu stressed that even if these groups operate in different lands, “they all seek to create ever-expanding enclaves of militant Islam where there is no freedom and no tolerance; where women are treated as cattle; Christians are decimated; and minorities are subjugated, sometimes given the stark choice: convert or die.”
“The Nazis believed in a master race. The militant Islamists believe in a master faith,” he said. “They just disagree who among them will be the master of the master faith.”
The prime minister said “the Islamic State of Iran” is where militant Islam could soon “have the power to realize its unbridled ambitions.”
“Iran’s president, Rouhani, stood here last week and shed crocodile tears over what he called the globalization of terrorism. Maybe he should spare us those phony tears and have a word instead with the commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He could ask them to call off Iran’s global terror campaign, which has included attacks in two dozen countries, on five continents since 2011 alone,” Netanyahu said.
“You know, to say that Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees.”
Netanyahu, who will meet with President Obama on Wednesday at the White House, warned everyone to not “be fooled by Iran’s manipulative charm offensive.”
“It’s designed for one purpose and for one purpose, only, to lift the sanctions and remove the obstacles to Iran’s path to the bomb,” he said.
“…It’s one thing to confront militant Islamists on pickup trucks armed with Kalashnikov rifles. It’s another thing to confront militant Islamists armed with weapons of mass destruction.”
The Israeli leader presented a stark comparison with the terror group that has captured Washington’s attention as of late.
“Would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Would you let ISIS build a heavy-water reactor? Would you let ISIS develop inter-continental ballistic missiles? Of course you wouldn’t. Then you mustn’t let the Islamic state of Iran do those things either, because here’s what’ll happen,” Netanyahu said. “Once Iran produces atomic bombs, all the charms and all the smiles will suddenly disappear. They’ll just vanish. And it’s then that the ayatollahs will show their true face and unleash their aggressive fanaticism on the entire world.”
“Make no mistake, ISIS must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.”
Netanyahu also defended Israel from attacks from the UN Human Rights Council — he dubbed it the “Terrorist Rights Council” — and stressed that “Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries may be forced to fight tomorrow.”
“For 50 days this past summer, Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, many of them supplied by Iran,” he said. “…Israel justly defended itself against both rocket attacks and terror tunnels… Israel was doing everything to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas was doing everything to maximize Israeli civilian casualties and Palestinian civilian casualties.”
“Israel’s soldiers deserve not condemnation but admiration, admiration from decent people everywhere.”
Netanyahu held aloft a photo of Hamas rocket launchers nestled in a civilian neighborhood, images captured by French journalists.
“I say to President Abbas, these are the crimes, the war crimes, committed by your Hamas partners in the national unity government which you head and you are responsible for,” he added. “And these are the real war crimes you should have investigated or spoken out against from this podium last week.”
“…Hamas, which both targeted and hid behind civilians, that’s a double war crime, Hamas is given a pass. The Human Rights Council is thus sending a clear message to terrorists everywhere: Use civilians as a human shield. Use them again and again and again. And you know why? Because, sadly, it works.”
NBC Report: Kurds Frustrated Because US Airstrikes Are Not Hitting ISIS Hard Enough (Update: ISIS Agrees)
NBC’s Richard Engel is embedded with Kurdish fighters on the ground in the Iraq-Syria-Turkey border region. He reports that the Kurds are becoming frustrated with the lack of power that the US is showing in the fight against ISIS.
Engel appeared with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC today. He said that Kurds in Syria are “very eager” to get into the fight. He also described what he is seeing.
“Right now i’m on a hill overlooking an ongoing battle between ISIS fighters and Syrian Kurds,” Engel said. “The ISIS fighters are operating in the open. They have an open field and they are dressed in black and have been exchanging gunfire and we are watching the battle unfold and we have been talking to other Kurds who have been watching the same thing and they are very frustrated because they say if the US wants to carry out air strikes and wants to attack ISIS, there they are. They are operating not in a hidden way. They are easy to find. Obviously the US is carrying out air strikes, just not on a scale that the Kurdish fighters would like to see.”
Engel said that many of the Kurdish fighters decided that they couldn’t wait for US airstrikes any longer, so they charged the ISIS fighters despite the fact that the Kurds didn’t have any weapons to fight with.
Update: CNN interviewed an ISIS fighter who agrees — the US-led airstrikes are not hitting the group very hard. They were prepared for the strikes, and hid themselves and their equipment ahead of time.
When asked on CBS 60 Minutes Sunday night if the battle against ISIS was really a war or not, President Obama called it ”assisting Iraq in a very real battle that’s taking place on their soil, with their troops, but we are providing air support.”
“And it is in our interests to do that because ISIL represents sort of a hybrid of not just a terrorist network but one with territorial ambitions and so some of the strategy and tactics of an army,” Obama continued. “This is not America against ISIL.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said this morning that Obama is framing it wrong: “This is ISIL against America.”
“When Mr. Baghdadi left our prison after spending four years, he walked out and said I’ll see you in America,” McCain said of the self-proclaimed caliph. “All you have to do is watch what they’re saying. And, again, I am just puzzled by the president, some of his statements, for example, he left behind a stable Iraq. We have predicted exactly what would happen.”
“…It is a direct result of our failure to leave a residual force behind. And when they say we couldn’t, they are not telling the truth, because I was over there with Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman and we know it for a fact. So — and this here idea that somehow we didn’t know that this was happening, of course we knew it. We saw it happening.”
McCain then turned to Obama’s strategy of training 5,000 Free Syrian Army in Saudi Arabia and sending them back, a process expected to take many months.
“But are we going to do anything about Bashar Assad’s air attack? Dropping these horrible air bombs on them? Are we going to ask young men to train and equip and we send them back to be slaughtered by Bashar Assad’s air power? We need a no-fly zone,” the senator said. If Assad breaches it, “we take on his air force.”
“Assad in my view has been responsible for 192,000 Syrians dead. There are 150,000 Syrians in his prison. He has used chemical weapons. He uses these barrel bombs. Yes. And he’s directly supported by the Iranians who sent in 5,000 Hezbollah and changed the whole momentum on the battlefield. Of course, are you going to ask these young people, by the way, we’re going to train and equip you, but you are going to fight against ISIS, but not against Assad? It’s not only unworkable. It’s immoral.”
McCain called the unwillingness of legislative leaders to come back and vote on the military action “an act of cowardice on the part of Congress.”
“They didn’t want to vote before the election,” he added. “…Air power alone does not win wars. I was in one when they tried that. So air power alone, we’re going to have to have boots on the ground if we’re really going to succeed.”
“ISIS has wiped out the boundary between Iraq and Syria. What is the difference between it now? They have a caliphate larger than the size of the state of Indiana. So for us to say, well, and our British friends, we’ll bomb them in Iraq but not in Syria. Why? There is no boundary anymore. ISIS goes back and forth between. In fact, now they will go into the populated areas.”
During his appearance on 60 Minutes Sunday, President Barack Obama had the chance to admit that he got a whole lot about Iraq wrong.
He could have admitted that he got the surge wrong in 2007, when he denounced it and declared that there is no military solution to the problems in Iraq and never was. That was wrong. Obama opposed that surge, which worked and bequeathed a quiescent Iraq to him in 2009. He later implemented a surge of his own in Afghanistan — half-hearted though it was.
Obama could also have admitted that he withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq too soon, a decision made for politics that ended up creating the conditions for ISIS to swallow up a large chunk of Iraq and Syria.
Obama could have also admitted that he got ISIS wrong, when he called them the “JV” of terrorism. They are in fact an offshoot of al Qaeda, just as the so-called Khorasan group is an offshoot of al Qaeda — the jihadist group that he claims to have “decimated” and sent scurrying “on the run.” He could have admitted that none of that was true, that al Qaeda is mestasizing from the border regions in Pakistan-Afghanistan to Iraq and Syria to Yemen to Somalia to Boko Haram in Nigeria. And possibly to Oklahoma and New Jersey and Portland.
Instead of admitting any of that, Obama blamed one of his subordinates.
Steve Kroft: I understand all the caveats about these regional groups. But this is what an army of 40,000 people, according to some of the military estimates I heard the other day, very well-trained, very motivated.
President Obama: Well, part of it was that…
Steve Kroft: What? How did they end up where they are in control of so much territory? Was that a complete surprise to you?
President Obama: Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.
“They” work for you, Mr. President.
This isn’t the first time that James Clapper has made a monumental, deadly screw-up, as you’ll see on the next page.
The J Street PAC is trying to raise funds to push Democrats to victory in two of the tightest Senate races in the country.
In the latest Real Clear Politics poll average, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) takes a slim, statistically insignificant lead of 0.8 points over Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.). In a Quinnipiac poll earlier this month, Gardner bested Udall by 8 points.
In the race to fill retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) seat, state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) has a small lead of 2.2 points in the latest Real Clear Politics polling average on Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa).
In an email to supporters of the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization, J Street political director Dan Kalik calls Udall and Braley “two of J Street’s strongest allies on the Hill.”
“We can’t afford to lose these two races,” Kalik writes. “Mark’s opponent has spoken out strongly against President Obama’s diplomatic effort to halt Iran’s nuclear program. Bruce’s opponent has called on Congress to defund the Palestinian Authority.”
“If Mark and Bruce don’t have the resources they need in these last few weeks, you can expect their opponents’ dangerous, neoconservative ideas to gain momentum in the Senate.”
The email asks for $18 donations ahead of Tuesday’s “crucial” FEC quarterly fundraising deadline.
J Street has also been fundraising for Michelle Nunn in Georgia and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who is getting hit on foreign policy issues from former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R).
“It’s bad enough when any senator from New Hampshire has the reputation of a partisan follower,” Brown said in a speech last week. “But when our senator, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, just goes along like another naïve follower of Barack Obama, missing obvious realities and opportunities to lead in the current security environment – that’s when you’ve really got to worry.”
Nunn, the former CEO of the Points of Light Foundation, has come under fire for the fact that the charity encouraged donations to Islamic Relief USA, the U.S. affiliate of World Islamic Relief that has been banned in Israel for supporting Hamas.
A campaign memo leaked over the summer showed the Nunn campaign’s strategy for courting the Jewish community.
“Michelle’s position on Israel will largely determine the level of support here,” the memo said. “There is tremendous financial opportunity, but the level of support will be contingent on her position. This applies not only to PACs, but individual donors as well.”
An evangelical Zionist friend of mine sent me a link to pro-life Catholic Lisa Graas’s response to Ted Cruz’s shock-speech at the IDC Summit held earlier this month. Her opinions are illustrative of exactly how theology continues to impact politics in America. Threatening Cruz with the loss of the Catholic vote, Graas writes:
In Catholicism, Israel doesn’t have to be a “Jewish state.” We can accept it as a Jewish state, but we are in no way bound to it being so because we see the Church as the New Israel, theologically.
Graas is a believer in supersessionism, a.k.a. replacement theology. Replacement theology is an old school church teaching that the Christian Church replaces Israel in God’s eyes, that after Jesus, God was done with the Jews and has summarily dubbed the Church his “New Israel” to be the recipients of all the blessings Biblically directed to Israel. It is a nasty idea that was used to defend Crusades, expulsions, and pogroms. Now, Graas is using replacement theology to defend what she defines as the “high church”/Muslim relationship at the sake of Catholic support for the Jewish State.
In saying “no greater ally than the Jewish state,” he [Cruz] stepped over into theology and insulted Catholics who see the Church as the New Israel theologically. We can, and desire to be, friends with Israel, even as a Jewish state, but we cannot pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state in the manner that people of Ted Cruz’s religion pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state. We cannot say that if suddenly everyone in Israel converted to Catholicism and turned Israel into a Catholic state, that this would be a “bad” thing. Protestants, of course, would be horrified if that happened because they have some deeply-held theological views that Israel MUST BE a Jewish state. We can take it or leave it as a Jewish state, but they can’t take it or leave it. Catholics can be your friend, Israel, even as a Jewish state, but we cannot pledge unfailing loyalty to “a Jewish state” like Ted Cruz and evangelicals do. You ask too much there.
Graas rambles on about the evils of Protestant ideology, him-hawing over whether or not Israel should be considered a Jewish state with arguments that boil down to a valley girl’s, “Uh, yeah, well, I guess…whatever,” in her theological defense of Catholic replacement theology. Then, oddly enough, she comes out with this whopper:
Another thing is that many Christians in the Middle East see his statement “Jewish state” as being bad not because it’s “Jewish,”, per se, but because it is a “sectarian” statement. They distrust the advancement of ideas that promote theocratic rule over religious minorities who are in disagreement with that particular theology.
An old-school, Pope is “lower than man, but higher than God,” replacement theologian Catholic decides that Cruz isn’t to be trusted because he’s the sectarian one in the room. Apparently there hasn’t yet been an edict issued against irony.
State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf appeared on MSNBC this morning to discuss the US airstrikes in Syria and the Khorasan group. That group, not ISIS, is President Obama’s stated reason for launching air strikes inside Syrian territory. The president’s letter to Congress doesn’t even mention ISIS at all, despite the fact that the group beheaded two Americans and has broadcast its intent to attack America itself on social media.
So Harf turns up on MSNBC to deal with two primary questions. The first, are the US airstrikes actually degrading ISIS?
The question is relevant, because the FBI director has said that he doesn’t think the airstrikes have degraded ISIS.
Watch as MSNBC host Kristen Welker seems to lose patience with Harf’s non-answer.
The second question, does the Khorasan group actually have the capacity to attack America? Pay close attention to how Harf answers.
HOST Kristen Welker: Are there any credible threats that you know of right now coming from that group that Americans need to know about?
Harf: Well, as many of us have said, we are watching that group. We know they have the intention to strike at the United States. that’s something that’s ongoing right now. That process of looking at what the actual threat is. But what I will say is the action we’ve taken against them already has had an impact.
The Obama administration’s spokespeople have their talking points: These groups have the intention of attacking America, and we have the intention of degrading them. Afghanistan, Yemem and Somalia are, according to Harf, examples of the success we’re aiming for in striking Syria.
If that’s really where we are strategically, then we have a recipe for endless, pointless war that will achieve nothing — other than to eventually bankrupt America.
During his United Nations address, President Barack Obama went out of his way to heap praise on a particular Muslim cleric.
The ideology of ISIL or al Qaeda or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed, confronted, and refuted in the light of day. Look at the new Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies – Sheikh bin Bayyah described its purpose: “We must declare war on war, so the outcome will be peace upon peace.”
A fine sentiment, but one that Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah probably does not mean in the way that Obama thinks he means it.
The Washington Free Beacon first noticed the reference to bin Bayyah. It turns out that President Obama’s exhibit moderate peaceful Muslim backed a fatwa in favor of killing American troops in 2004, in Iraq.
This isn’t even the first time that Obama’s government has promoted Bayyah. It promoted him back in May 2014, only to backtrack and apologize later.
Bayyah has recently released a fatwa against the Islamic State. That doesn’t make him a moderate.
His detractors say he’s anti-Semitic and that he has called the killing of American soldiers in Iraq justified. Those criticisms are linked to his role as a vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, an organization headquartered in Qatar and headed by Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Al-Qaradawi is an Egyptian theologian who has close links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
And while bin Bayyah has never formally broken with al-Qaradawi, he said he left the International Union of Muslim Scholars a year ago because he didn’t agree with many of the group’s positions. He added that he tried to change the group from the inside and decided he could be more effective starting his own organization to promote peace.
While Bayyah was a member, the group issued a 2009 fatwa against normalizing relations with Israel. Does he agree or disagree with that?
Bayyah visited the Obama White House in June 2013, while he was still working with Qaradawi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Interestingly, in that meeting Bayyah called for the US to get more involved in arming the Syrian rebels. That’s what Obama is doing now, in response to the Islamic State.
Iran’s president brought an unsettling message to the United Nations on Thursday: Middle Eastern terrorism has been globalized, in part thanks to mistakes made by Western powers, and the threat cannot be eliminated by outside force alone.
President Hassan Rouhani, feted at last year’s U.N. General Assembly as a welcome change from his combative predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told the world body that his part of the world is “burning in the fire of extremism and radicalism.”
He said the world now faces terrorism from “New York to Mosul, from Baghdad to Damascus … from al-Qaida to Daesh,” using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which calls itself the Islamic State.
The only thing the West has done to help spread terrorism is educate the terrorists and teach them to fly and funnel money internationally. The terrorism spreads through that, not because of it. It spreads because this is a religiously inspired hatred that will never stop spreading on its own. It has to be stopped by the people it seeks to destroy.
Here is hoping the world, especially the US, one day soon gets leaders who have to stomach for it.