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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Iraq, Israel, Syria, and the US War on Islam

5:30 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the ever intrepid, Pepe Escobar…

Meet a moderate Syrian insurgent

Hi, my name is Mostafa and I’ll be your moderate insurgent today. I’m addressing you all because we badly need your help. We could have started a Facebook page, like We Need Your Weapons or something, or ask the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to make a YouTube video, but I prefer to speak straight to your heart.

Our Supreme Commander, the blessed General Salim Idriss, has acknowledged we are now receiving many new weapons from many friendly Arab countries, which helped us “destroy more than 90 armored vehicles” of the Syrian regime. And Amrika helped us to get the guns, of course. But we need more.

Your President Mr Obama told the Blessed King of Saudi Arabia last Friday that he is committed to providing more support for us. Your Secretary of State Mr Kerry said on Saturday there must be more support for us “in order to have an impact on the ground”. Your CIA said they will make sure only moderate insurgents get the weapons, and not the bad guys.

But your Congress is blocking our weapons. Oh people from Congress!

Don’t be such a spoiler! We have such a brotherhood of nations here. People from 29 different countries! OK, there are a lot of Salafis, a bit hot headed. But for us they are all brothers. In fact most of us are moderate insurgents…

Let’s look at some of the recent spillover effects from the Syrian Fiasco…

First, from the UN Envoy to Iraq, today…

UN: Iraq and Syrian conflicts merging

Iraq’s escalating violence can no longer be separated from the civil war in neighbouring Syria because “the battlefields are merging,” the UN envoy to Iraq warned yesterday.

Martin Kobler told the UN Security Council that Iraqi armed groups have an increasingly active presence in Syria. As a result, he said, the Syrian conflict is no longer just spilling over into Iraq, but Iraqis are reportedly taking arms against each other inside Syria, he said.

“These countries are interrelated,” Kobler stressed. “Iraq is the fault line between the Shia and the Sunni world and everything which happens in Syria, of course, has repercussions on the political landscape in Iraq.”

Kobler said the last four months have been among the bloodiest in Iraq in the last five years with nearly 3,000 people killed and over 7,000 injured. He said the perpetrators are taking advantage of the ongoing political stalemate in the country and the Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011 and has killed over 93,000 people.

Kobler did not give any figures of Iraqis killed in fighting in Iraq but warned that the violence in both countries “could easily spiral out of control if not urgently addressed”.

What’s critically important, he said, is to address the roots of the conflict in Iraq and find a political solution to the civil war in Syria…

Now, it seems Kuwait is wading into the fracas…

Money, guns flowing from Kuwait to Syria’s most radical rebel factions

Syrian rebels have a new source of weapons and cash from inside Kuwait, and their benefactors in the oil-rich state are sending the aid to the most militant and anti-West factions involved in the fight to topple Bashar al-Assad.

The role of Saudi and Qatari governments and individuals in the funding and arming of Islamist fighters in Syria has been well known since the civil war began more than two years ago. But now, guns and money are flowing from private sources and Salafist-controlled NGOs based in Kuwait, and they are going to rebel factions aligned with Al Qaeda.

“We are collecting money to buy all these weapons, so that our brothers will be victorious,” hard-core Sunni Islamist Sheikh Shafi’ Al-Ajami announced on Kuwaiti television last month, listing the black-market prices of weapons, including heat-seeking missiles, anti-aircraft guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Days later, Al-Ajami addressed a small throng outside the Lebanese Embassy in Kuwait and gleefully described slitting the throat of a Shiite Muslim in Syria…

Btw, those ‘Rebels’ are getting mighty brazen…

…Rebel fighters from an unidentified faction have crossed the “disengagement line” between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, capturing an unmanned army post and sparking a clash with Israeli patrols nearby.

The rebels are speculated to have taken the post to provoke Syrian troops to return fire against them across the ceasefire line, sparking an Israeli retaliation. The rebels fled the base before the Israeli troops arrived.

A precautionary tale… Don’t mess with the Kurdish ladies…!

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

The Syrian Strife and ‘The Mouse That Roared’

7:13 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Time magazine’s Rania Abouzeid, from within Syria’s Idlib Province, recently painted a bleak picture…

Going Rogue: Bandits and Criminal Gangs Threaten Syria’s Rebellion

“They (the FSA) get more support than we do, but our support is delivered to us, theirs doesn’t make it to them. That’s the truth,” he says. “Their support stays in Turkey, it doesn’t make it to the revolutionaries here. If our supporters send us 100 lira, we get 100 lira. This is the reality.” He wouldn’t say who his supporters were, if they were state sponsors or individuals. “Whether it is official or unofficial doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “We have enough.”

It’s a statement many of the FSA units operating around these parts can only aspire to utter. Most blame the so-called commanders in exile for their situation, for not providing them with the weapons, ammunition and funds they need, leaving them to scrounge for supplies, and some units to resort to criminal means to secure them. {…}

…Some FSA units are snatching loyalist soldiers from military buses and demanding a ransom from their families for their return. The amount varies, and can be anywhere between 100,000 Syrian pounds ($1,550) to 200,000 SYP ($3,100) for a regular soldier, although the family of a lieutenant colonel reportedly recently paid one million SYP for his release…

“Some people have reasons for not defecting, they should not be punished for protecting their families,” one man said, referring to the fact that retribution by loyalist troops is sometimes exacted on a defector’s family or property. “If they are going to their hometown on leave, they can defect,” countered an FSA member, “and we need the money.” The consensus was that if a loyalist was picked up on leave, on his way home it was wrong, because he may be using his leave to defect. If he was heading back to his barracks, however, it was a different story, the men said. “It means he’s coming back to kill us,” said Abu Amjad, whose son Amjad heads a rebel FSA unit, “so he has to be stopped.”

The ever intrepid, Pepe Escobar, raises the very same concerns that I have of the Kurdish Question…

Welcome to the Kurdish Spring

Follow the oil
This Swedish report [1](PDF!) contains arguably the best breakdown of the hyper-fragmented Syrian opposition. The “rebels” are dominated by the exile-heavy Syrian National Council (SNC) and its Hydra-style militias, the over 100 gangs that compose the Not Exactly Free Syrian Army (FSA).

But there are many other parties as well, including socialists; Marxists; secular nationalists; Islamists; the Kurdish National Council (KNC) – an 11-party coalition very close to the Iraqi Kurdistan government; and the PYD. {…}

Show me your terrorist ID
Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani told al-Jazeera [2] that yes – they are training Syrian Kurds who defected from the Syrian Army to defend their de facto enclave. It was Barzani who supervised the key deal sealed in Irbil on July 11 that led to Assad forces retreating from Syrian Kurdistan.

What is being described as “liberated cities” [3] is now being “jointly ruled” by the PYD and the KNC. They have formed what is known as a Supreme Kurdish Body.

One can never underestimate the Kurdish capacity to shoot themselves in the foot (and elsewhere). Yet one can also imagine all this cross-country Kurdish frenzy terrifying quite a few souls in Istanbul and Ankara. This [4] columnist for the daily newspaper Hurriyet got it right; “Arabs are fighting, Kurds are winning.” The Kurdish Spring is at hand. And it is already hitting Turkey’s borders. {…}

…Especially when you start itching to kill “terrorists” living in your neighbor’s territory – even though your Western allies may view them as “freedom fighters”. Meanwhile you actively support Salafi-jihadis – “insurgents” formerly known as terrorists – back and forth across your borders.

An increasingly erratic Erdogan has invoked a “natural right” [5] to fight “terrorists”. But first they must produce an ID; if they are Sunni Arab, they get away with it. If they are Kurdish, they eat lead…

Now, I’d like to delve into some of the inner-most thoughts of a true Neocon under Shrub…

Rumsfeld’s Intel Chief: Iraq War ‘Greatest Decision of the Century’

There’s a broad consensus in the U.S. defense establishment today that the choice to invade Iraq was ill-considered and that the initial plan to stabilize the country was even worse. But for Donald Rumsfeld’s one-time intelligence chief, the Iraq war wasn’t just the right call at the time. It was “one of the great strategic decisions of the first half of the 21st century, if it proves not to be the greatest.”

Stephen Cambone, who served as the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence from 2003 until 2007, surprised the audience at the Aspen Security Forum this weekend when he hailed the Iraq war as an alloyed triumph that paved the way for the rebellions now sweeping the Middle East. “It will be one of the greatest strategic victories of the United States because…. of the aftershocks that you see flowing through the region, whether it be in Libya, or in Egypt, or now in Syria,” he said…

“There was a preponderance of evidence that led one to believe that it was reasonable to suppose that there was in fact weapons of mass destruction in that country,” he told the Forum (where, full disclosure, I served as a panel moderator). “The conclusion was mistaken. To draw the conclusion might not have been a mistake… You only know what you know at the time and you have to fill in the rest. So was it reasonable to draw that judgement at the time? I think the answer — based on what people, the judgement they did draw — yeah it probably was. In retrospect, was it accurate? No.’”

Cambone also offered a prediction: that the wave of unrest unleashed by the Iraq war would soon hit American allies in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. This was an extremely positive thing, Cambone added: “After Syria comes Lebanon and after Lebanon come Jordan, and after those come Saudi Arabia; this place is in motion in a way that it hasn’t been for a century — and we have an opportunity to shape that.”

Well, f*ck me and the entire ME, Cambone…!

Here’s a great Intel update on Syria… The Syrian Intelligence War: A Tale of Two Security Headquarters… And, here’s more sober analysis… Shias and Sunnis battle it out for Mideast control… Btw, Adana is ground zero of F/U(c)K/US-GCC…

Exclusive: Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels

…Turkey has set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria’s rebels from a city near the border, Gulf sources have told Reuters.

News of the clandestine Middle East-run “nerve centre” working to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underlines the extent to which Western powers – who played a key role in unseating Muammar Gaddafi in Libya – have avoided military involvement so far in Syria.

“It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main co-ordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom,” said a Doha-based source.

“The Americans are very hands-off on this. U.S. intel(ligence) are working through middlemen. Middlemen are controlling access to weapons and routes.”

The centre in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 100 km (60 miles) from the Syrian border, was set up after Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud visited Turkey and requested it, a source in the Gulf said. The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations, he added…

Now, Angry Arab, in an excellent Al Akhbar Op-Ed, completely eviscerated our Western Lame Stream Media reporting on Syria…

Syria: Shameful Performance of Western Media

The performance of the Western media (American, British, French and others) regarding the Syrian conflict has been quite shameful. One does not expect much from American media. Ill-informed foreign editors and correspondents and political cowardice turn American media into tools of US foreign policy.

This is especially true when it comes to coverage of the Middle East, where extra political courage and uncharacteristic level of knowledge and expertise are rather rare, even though they are essential to challenging US foreign policy. But when it comes to Syria, British media – including the liberal Guardian which has often been brave in challenging Western foreign policies and wars – have been indistinguishable from American media…

He goes on to list 22 specific reasons, and, it’s quite the litany…!

In winding down, Philip Giraldi penned another must-read…

The Mouse That Roared

Iran is again front-page news, on this occasion for threatening the United States Navy. A lengthy featured article in the Washington Post describes how Iran has obtained new sophisticated anti-ship missiles and has added fast attack boats and submarines. It has also adopted new tactics involving swarming attacks that would put US vessels in a 360-degree battle environment, testing the ability of the conventional warships to maintain effective defense in all directions simultaneously.

None of this is really new. Wargames in 2002 and Pentagon studies in 2009 and again earlier this year confirmed that the US Navy would have considerable difficulty in dealing with the Iranian tactics. I reported the same in April of this year in my Deep Background column in the print edition of The American Conservative. Not surprisingly, the Post and I are viewing the same development in slightly different ways. For me, Iran’s capabilities are just one more reason why a war with all its unintended and unanticipated consequences would have the potential to turn catastrophic with one or more US Navy ships going to the bottom and oil going past $200 a barrel. {…}

…Actually, it is naïve to believe that Iran is some kind of Islamic superpower able to project itself worldwide. If Iran’s capabilities were as described by Warrick and Pletka it would be a good reason to be hesitant about going to war. Warrick clearly wants to promote and not spoil the more favorable narrative that Tehran threatens all of us. In reality, Iran is far behind Israeli and US military capabilities in every significant area and its sponsorship of terrorism is far from proven. Washington’s right to have a massive military and naval presence in the Middle East is unquestioned by the Post as is Israel’s right to attack Iran preemptively. But defensive measures by Iran in the face of five years of increasingly specific threats from Washington and Tel Aviv are somehow sinister.

I’d only add that Congress and the Oily Bomber, have just upped the ante on Iran… Obama’s New Sanctions Target Banks that Help Iran

President Barack Obama announces new U.S. sanctions against foreign banks that help Iran sell its oil.

*gah*

by CTuttle

Tensions Continue To Escalate Between The Kurds and Maliki

6:25 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

It really is a travesty that nobody in the Western MSM is covering the growing escalation in hostilities between the Kurdish authorities and Maliki. There are a few exceptions like Leila Fadel of McClatchy…

Kurdish forces have detained Murad Kashtu al Asi three times in the isolated district of Sinjar in Nineveh province. First, they beat him and accused him of being a terrorist and a member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a mostly Sunni Arab political party. The second time, they detained him for several hours, he said.

The third time, they hit him in the face with the butts of their guns. "If you leave alive this time, then work with us or we will kill you," he said his captors told him. He was held six days and released Sunday after U.S. forces intervened on his behalf, he said.

The Kurds never charged him with a crime and even called him their "brother." His offense was working with an Arab party in territory that the Kurds covet. "We don’t want you to be with Arabs anymore . . . if they controlled the area (the existence of the) Yazidis will end," Asi recalled.

Asi is a member of the Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

The Kurds Are Split On Hosting US Troops.

9:43 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

During Saturday’s Book Salon with Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith I asked what he thought of the Kurdish Regional Government’s Barzani’s offer…

Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government, told The Times on Wednesday evening that he would be happy to host U.S. troops if the central government in Baghdad refuses to do so.

"The people of Kurdistan highly appreciate the sacrifices American forces have made for our freedom," Mr. Barzani said at a reception in Washington after meetings with President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The good Ambassador replied…

I think we have a moral obligation to the Kurds who fought on our side in the 2003 war and have made enemies in the region by being our friend. We also have a political interest in the success of the one part of Iraq that has turned out the way the Bush administration hoped for all Iraq–stable, pro-western, secular and moving toward democracy.

Basing troops in Kurdistan is one way to protect the Kurds and the Kurdistan experiment. So, I would accept Barzani’s offer if the SOFA fails–as I suspect it will.

I disagreed, along with several other pups, and I further pointed out that both the Turks and the Iranians Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

Kurds And The Violence In Kirkuk

6:52 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Part 2 of Inside Iraq

First, as Erdla of Gorilla’s Guides and Lady Bird of Roads to Iraq pointed out…

Al-Arabiya reported that Syria reduced its military forces and border guards on the Syria – Iraq border [cutting diplomatic ties with Iraq also], but what I heard [from my own sources] is that Syria withdrew all its forces from the border [which means giving the green light to armed groups to cross to Iraq].

And…

They’ve(Syria) just thrown their border wide open and broken all contacts with Baghdad,

Expect some painful blowback.

Erdla
Gorilla’s Guides

That doesn’t bode well…

Nor does the Kirkuk issue as the International Crisis Group stated in their recent report; "Oil for Soil: Toward a Grand Bargain on Iraq and the Kurds…"

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

A long-festering conflict over Kirkuk and other disputed territories is threatening to disrupt the current fragile relative peace in Iraq by blocking legislative progress and political accommodation. Two events in particular stand out: a two-month stalemate in July-September in negotiations over a provincial elections law in which Kirkuk’s unresolved status was the principal obstacle and, during this period, a campaign by the Iraqi army in and around the Kurdish-controlled disputed district of Khanaqin. To avoid a breakdown over the issue of Read the rest of this entry →