Spengler (David Goldman) observes that the Muslim world is experiencing a “social unraveling on a scale not seen in the region since the Mongol invasion”. It’s at 18 million refugees and counting. “There are millions of young men in the Muslim world sitting in refugee camps with nothing to do, nowhere to go back to, and nothing to look forward to. And there are tens of millions more watching their misery with outrage. Never has an extremist movement had so many frustrated and footloose young men in its prospective recruitment pool.”
To get a daily overview of this as yet unnamed war the best source is the Long War Journal. In the LWJ universe the players are not Chelsea Clinton and Lena Dunham. They are the Haqqanis, the Basij, al Nusrah, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Badr, AQAP, the Houthis, AQIS, Hezbollah, Hamas and many, many more. It’s like a parallel reality that has everything but a name. What will it be?
One reason why it may lack a name is because the administration is still looking for a side. You can sympathize with John Kerry as ABC News writes “US Still Searching for Credible Allies in Syria”. “Despite years of diplomacy and a CIA operation to vet and train moderate rebels, the U.S. finds itself without a credible partner on the ground in Syria as it bombs the Islamic State group. That’s a potentially serious flaw in its strategy to ultimately defeat the militants.”
Fighters, fighters everywhere, and not a one to trust. And what trustworthy people can be found have got a price on their heads. ISIS nearly kidnapped an American affiliated leader near a safe house inside Turkey. The Telegraph reports:
A top Syrian rebel commander was shot and wounded in an apparent kidnapping attempt by the Islamic State in a Turkish city, raising questions about Ankara’s readiness to stop jihadists operating on its soil.
Abu Issa, the leader of Thuwar Raqqa, a Syrian rebel group who has been fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) in the town of Kobane, was ambushed by Isil extremists in Urfa in neighbouring Turkey …
Abu Issa’s closest advisor, who was driving, had been in on the Isil plot, Mr Khader said, detouring to the quiet back road where the attack happened: “When the Isil cars blocked the road ahead, Abu Issa told the driver to turn around, but he just switched the engine off, and let the kidnappers take them from the car,” he said.
Abu Issa recognised two of the attackers, who had not covered their faces, as Isil members.
The kidnappers drove Abu Issa and his son at top speed towards the border and were intending to smuggle them to Syria.
Increased Turkish military presence there made it too difficult to cross, and the kidnap attempt was ultimately failed when one of the smugglers working with the Isil jihadists bailed on the plot.
The smuggler left Abu Issa, who was reportedly shot through the side during the kidnap attempt, at a hospital in Urfa early on Saturday morning.
The Telegraph says “his death would be a massive blow for Thuwar Raqqa, whose men have been selected to receive military training in Turkey in the renewed, US-led push to defeat Isil in Syria.” Readers will recall that only last month the leadership of Ahrar al-Sham, which were rivals of ISIS, were nearly wiped out in a blast that took out a leadership meeting. The New York Times wrote of the incident that the “attack killed so many of Ahrar al-Sham’s leaders that some analysts suggested that the group might cease to exist. Others raised the possibility that many of its thousands of experienced fighters would trickle away to other groups.”
In this amorphous, shifting arena the bad guys seem very much at home. Remember the Taliban leaders who were swapped for Bowe Bergdahl? They’re back in touch with the boys back home. “The Taliban claims that two recently captured Haqqani operatives had recently met with members of the “Taliban Five” in Qatar. The Taliban Five is a group of senior Taliban leaders who were exchanged for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl earlier this year.”
The whatever-it-is movement has agents walking around in London. “One of the world’s most prolific terrorist financiers Abd al-Rahman bin Umayr al-Nuaymi has finally been banned from doing business in Britain — 10 months after he was hit with sanctions by the United States.” The Qatari has been sending a million pounds a month to the Jihad, says the Telegraph.
It may be unnamed, but it’s also untamed.
Spengler’s point was that, like Ebola, the Jihad is breeding across a massive Petri dish. Like Ebola there are no effective measures to quarantine it either. Someone from the Beltway political CDC is trying to come up a guidelines and protocols to deal with it. There’s some kind of screening program in place. Denmark, for example, has opened a counseling service for returning Jihadis, as the Washington Post explains:
In other countries, Talha — one of hundreds of young jihadists from the West who has fought in Syria and Iraq — might be barred from return or thrown in jail. But in Denmark, a country that has spawned more foreign fighters per capita than almost anywhere else, the port city of Aarhus is taking a novel approach by rolling out a welcome mat.
In Denmark, not one returned fighter has been locked up. Instead, taking the view that discrimination at home is as criminal as Islamic State recruiting, officials here are providing free psychological counseling while finding returnees jobs and spots in schools and universities. Officials credit a new effort to reach out to a radical mosque with stanching the flow of recruits.
They are veterans of something, but what? This phenomenon, when it finally gets a name, will be recognized as one of the major historical events of the early 21st century. After all, anything that can dislocate nearly 20 million people and throw a vast region into turmoil deserves an appellation of its own. But the other reason for its incognito is because to name something is to have to explain how the thing came into existence.
Recently the New York Times described president Obama’s determination to keep Congress from looking at his deal with Iran. David Sanger writes, “No one knows if the Obama administration will manage in the next five weeks to strike what many in the White House consider the most important foreign policy deal of his presidency: an accord with Iran that would forestall its ability to make a nuclear weapon. But the White House has made one significant decision: If agreement is reached, President Obama will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it.”.
Many of the details of the negotiations remain cloaked. The lead negotiator, Wendy Sherman, the under secretary of state for political affairs and a leading candidate to become the State Department’s No. 2 official next month, struck a deal with congressional leaders that enables her to avoid public testimony when the negotiations are underway. Instead, she conducts classified briefings for the key congressional committees.
So by characterizing any deal with Iran as a suspension, negotiations will technically still be in progress and Congress never needs to know anything. Names are dangerous, truly they are, in a shadow world where identities are indefinite.
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