Is You Is, Or Is You Ain't?
To understand the advance of ISIS in Iraq it may be necessary to go back to Benghazi, because Iraq is connected to Syria and Syria may be connected to events in Libya. As Simon Henderson of Foreign Policy says, "the ISIS invasion of Iraq is really a war between Shiites and Sunnis for control of the Middle East." The men advancing on Baghdad are connected to the Syria rebels we've heard so much about. That's why the rebels are called ISIS or ISIL, The "S" is for Syria or "L"evant. Henderson writes:
Be careful what you wish for" could have been, and perhaps should have been, Washington's advice to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have been supporting Sunni jihadists against Bashar al-Assad's regime in Damascus. The warning is even more appropriate today as the bloodthirsty fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) sweep through northwest Iraq, prompting hundreds of thousands of their Sunni coreligionists to flee and creating panic in Iraq's Shiite heartland around Baghdad, whose population senses, correctly, that it will be shown no mercy if the ISIS motorcades are not stopped. Such a setback for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been the dream of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah for years.
He has regarded Maliki as little more than an Iranian stooge, refusing to send an ambassador to Baghdad and instead encouraging his fellow rulers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman -- to take a similar standoff-ish approach. Although vulnerable to al Qaeda-types at home, these countries (particularly Kuwait and Qatar) have often turned a blind eye to their citizens funding radical groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the most active Islamist groups opposed to Assad in Syria.
You will recall that Obama has been offered ground level entry in this Syria enterprise for a long time. But if Pakistan is the godfather of the Taliban, then Saudi Arabia is in a similar position regarding the various incarnations of al-Qaeda, perhaps in Syria as well. It exports the revolution in order not to be consumed by it, unleashing a Frankenstein monster on the world in the hopes of distracting it so it will not turn on its creator. Right now this monster is rampaging through Iraq.
In their path is a cornucopia of oil.
The Washington Post reports that the biggest success of of Iraq was the revival of its oil industry. "In February, Iraq's production surged to an average of 3.6 million barrels a day – the highest level since 1979, the year Saddam Hussein took power. Since Iraq has the world’s fifth largest proven oil reserves, it has the potential to expand output much further." Now all of that lies in the middle of a war zone.
The swift collapse of the Iraqi army in Mosul and other northern towns and the advance of extremist militants toward Baghdad has shaken the country’s stability just as Iraq, now the second largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, was starting to bring stability to oil markets. Oil prices were virtually unchanged on Wednesday, but on Thursday they climbed. The price of Brent crude oil, the international benchmark grade, for delivery in July rose to $112.61 a barrel, up 2.4 percent, on the London-based commodity exchange. Oil prices are already at their highest level this year, though they were slightly higher at a couple of points last year, partly in response to supply disruptions in Libya. This is the fourth consecutive year in which crude oil prices have bounced along all-time highs. (In 2011 and 2012, Brent hit peaks of about $125.)
It is almost blasphemous to think the "Holy Joes" of Sunni Islam are doing it for the money, even though that's what it looks like. Thank Allah that only the perfidious west goes to war for oil.
Also in the way of the clacking knives of the Jihad are 20,000 American civilians and contractors, according to Foreign Policy. These guys are prime targets for beheading, whippings and shark cages.
Maliki in his desperation has turned to Iran, which has reportedly supplied two battalions of Revolutionary Guards to help stiffen Baghdad's collapsing forces. Meanwhile Washington, which earlier half-heartedly rejected a request to provide airstrikes, is reconsidering the proposal. Russia's RT has suggested, not implausibly, that Maliki's salvation may lie in a combination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops supported by US airpower.
Two battalions of the Quds Forces, which is the overseas branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, moved to Iraq on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported. There they worked jointly with Iraqi troops to retake control of 85 percent of Tikrit, security forces from both countries told the Journal. Iranian forces are also helping guard the Iraqi capital of Bagdhad, as well as two Shiite holy cities that the Sunni jihadists are threatening.
Meanwhile, on Thursday morning, US President Barack Obama declared that he doesn't rule out any options with regards to the ISIS takeover of cities in the northern region of Iraq. The administration and its national security team are discussing military options. “We do have a stake in ensuring these jihadists don't get foothold in either Iraq or Syria,” Obama said. Later in the day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney clarified that US will not send ground troops to Iraq, but is seriously considering airstrikes that would help to drive jihadist militants out of their strongholds.
Can you just hear it now? "OK infidel, what does your Satan F-16 have for me?"
"This is Buick Flight. I have two aircraft each with 4 two thousand pound JDAMs and a full load of 20 mike mike."
"On my smoke, infidel. North to south."
This scenario would border on the absurd. But as Roger Simon has pointed out, Barack Obama's foreign policy is already straight out of bizarro theater. What's a little more strangeness?
As I pointed out in The Day Obama's Presidency Died, everything becomes clear if you are willing to consider the absurd. The Benghazi scandal is only comprehensible is you open yourself to the possibility that that the Obama administration was "buying in" on al-Qaeda and somehow got double-crossed in the process. Suppose:
Benghazi had its roots in an alternative theory of foreign policy formed in Obama’s team at around the time of the Surge in Iraq. From that experience, Obama’s advisers persuaded him that it would be possible to “turn” America’s enemies by taking control of them instead of fighting them. It was a dazzling prospect which offered victory on the cheap.
It was to be built on three pillars: covert action, targeted assassinations and diplomacy. The idea was simple, instead of relying on the regular military, the Obama administration would take over the most dangerous jihadi groups through intelligence agencies. Through this mechanism they would become their patrons and cement the relationship with diplomatic deals with their Gulf funders. Drones and hunter killer squads would be employed to promote chosen intelligence assets — American agents — to positions of responsbility in the terror cells. The drones would clear the way for designated jihadis to rise within the ranks. Eventually America would own the jihad and neuter it from within.
America would out ISI the ISI.
But of course there had to be a genuine political component as well. A bone needed to be thrown to genuine Muslim aspirations. Why not give the Muslim Brotherhood Egypt and hand over Syria to al-Qaeda? And why not use American diplomatic muscle to force a deal between Palestine and Israel. That way al-Qaeda could have their own countries and presumably be satisfied with that.
This scheme has a certain superficial attractiveness. It sounds wildly daring, incredibly smart and its formulators must have felt like Cortez on a Peak in Darien. “Boy are we cool to have thought of this.”
There is only one problem with this scenario. It could never be sold to a public who had given their sons to fighting the Jihad in Iraq and Afghanistan. It could never be peddled to crusty old guys who’d see it as a crazy-ass scheme. The solution to meeting the objections was simple. Don’t tell anyone and conduct a secret foreign and counter-terrorist policy, which when it succeeded could be unveiled as proof of Obama’s genius.
What makes Benghazi such dynamite is the outre chance that ISIS was somehow armed and supported in the first place by the Obama administration or its allies in a cockamamie scheme to advance the Arab Spring. In which case the ISIS offensive in Iraq is a supersized version of the Benghazi consulate treachery. The Revenge of Frankenstein. Now before you say "that's incredible!" think of Iranian Revolutionary Guards operating under US air cover. Now that's incredible.
Something is not quite right in the state of Denmark. John McCain has just taken to the Senate Floor to demand president Obama fire his entire national security staff.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) took to the floor of his chamber Thursday morning and called upon President Barack Obama to replace his entire national security staff in the wake of Islamic militant victories in several large Iraqi cities. “I say to the President of the United States, get a new national security team in place,” McCain said. “You have been ill-served by the national security team you have in place now, and the decisions you have made. Have that new national security team come up with a strategy to do whatever we can to prevent this direct threat to the national security of this nation.”
It is even worse than McCain implies. If ISIS is a Saudi proxy army advancing on Baghdad which can only be opposed by the legions of the Ayatollahs under American air strength, then Obama has been double-crossed again. He is being flipped from side to side in this sectarian battle. The problem with "leading from behind" is that other people lead you by the nose. You fit in where you can, carrying other people's water for their own purposes. It's a shambles. How is the administration going to spin it?
Calling Susan Rice, calling Susan Rice. A video producer wants to speak to you on the white courtesy telephone.
But the president's fingers are in the vise. Can he risk one fifth of the world's oil reserves falling under ISIS? Can he risk leaving thousands of Americans to the tender mercies of ISIS? He must do something in Iraq. Obama is between Iraq and a hard place.
The key to untangling this skein is in getting at the truth. What is Obama's foreign policy? Things don't add up. John McCain should have copied Bryan Cranston's Godzilla rant and said instead in the Senate "You're not fooling anybody ... You're lying! ... because what's really happening is that you're hiding something out there. And it is going to send us back to the Stone Age!""
Recent items of interest by Belmont readers based on Amazon click-throughs.
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