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Article: Grandmaster Putin’s Hard Lesson on Emptiness and Fullness

The ability to gain victory by changing and adapting according to the opponent is called genius. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

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Haneul Na’avi
29 November 2015

Russia’s two-month long battle against the Islamic State has proven fruitful and elevated her status as a champion against global terrorism, but while the country has much to celebrate militarily and economically, its successes eventually placed it at cross-purposes with a key strategic ally.

The “stab in the back” heard round the world—Turkey’s surreptitious downing of a Russian SU-24 as it flew in Syria’s northwestern Latakia province—not only cost pilot Sergei Rumyantsev his life and constituted a war crime under Article 51 of the UN Charter, but reveals Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s ambivalent geopolitical ambitions. Turkey has become a servant of too many masters, forcing the ruling AKP in a predicament that it may not be able to control later.

On October 6, Reuters reported that “a MIG-29 fighter jet of unknown nationality and Syria-based missile systems ‘interfered’ with eight Turkish F-16 jets patrolling along the Syrian border”, yet a Middle East Monitor article shifted focus on Ankara’s concerns to a Russian Su-24 by stating that, in a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “the military did not specify the type of plane but Turkish presidential sources and the Russian Ministry of Defense identified the aircraft as a Russian SU-24”. This created the perfect conditions for the Nov. 24 takedown of the Su-24, as the Syrian Arab Army commonly uses MIG-29 fighter jets, but Russia’s Sukhoi-24 fighters could come under Ankara’s crosshairs to escalate future provocations. In the article MEMO sources, they do not specify the type of plane which caused the provocation.

Continue reading Article: Grandmaster Putin’s Hard Lesson on Emptiness and Fullness

Episode 32: Riding the Caliphate Interstate with Jeff Steinberg

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The Last Defense
27 Jan 2015

In order to fully communicate the history of the Islamic State and its relationship with the House of Saud and Turkey, we consulted Jeffrey Steinberg, Senior Editor and Counterintelligence Director of the Executive Intelligence Review with 40 years of experience working with the LarouchePAC. He is also member of and active contributor to the Schiller Institute based in Wiesbaden, Germany. Click HERE to listen to the full interview.

HANEUL
: Can you give us a history of the Islamic State? How did they rise to power after the [2003] US-NATO invasion of Iraq?

JEFF: You have to go to 1979 when Brzezinski was the National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter, [when he] convinced the president to sign a secret authorization to begin covert operations in Afghanistan, six months before the Soviets arrived around Christmastime of 1979. Known as the Bernard-Lewis Plan, it involved promoting Islamic Fundamentalism all across the Southern tier of the Soviet Union. When the Soviets finally moved in, things became concentrated in building up a radical Islamic terrorist apparatus, sponsored by the US, British, Saudis, French, and Israelis.

The whole idea was to play Islamic Fundamentalism against the “godless Soviet Union”, but the problem this created was the emergence of groups such as al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden himself went to Peshawar in Northwest Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, as part of this Anglo-American/ Saudi project to create a terrorist organization against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. That effort succeeded somewhat, but the consequences of that was the birth of an international Jihadi terrorist apparatus that is haunting the world today.

You had the establishment of al-Qaeda [MSC] following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Some of those networks in Pakistan and Afghanistan spread to other areas, including Somalia—Chechen rebels in the Caucuses, which then moved to Pakistan and Afghanistan and became some of the leading commanders of al-Qaeda. This in turn created spin-offs such as al-Qaeda in Iraq, in the Arabian Peninsula, and the Islamic Maghreb, many splits and permutations such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and the British and French backed those networks to overthrow Gaddafi, and now we have a mess in North Africa as a result.

I was frequently on Capital Hill in the mid-1980s, and you would see well-known neoconservatives touring with these so-called freedom fighters who later became leading figures in al-Qaeda. This is a long collusion between Western intelligence agencies and radical Sunni Jihadist networks.

HANEUL: The Islamic State wants to expand its territory. How legitimate are their aims and what exactly are they trying to accomplish? Are they just controlled by the West or is this something more sinister?

JEFF: Saudi Arabia is a kingdom that shares power between the House of Saud and Wahhabi clergy, who are among the most radical fundamentalists of all the Sunni branches. In the 1960s, during the crackdown from Egyptian President Nasser against the Muslim Brotherhood, many of them fled to Saudi Arabia, joined the Wahhabis and began spreading a form of pan-Arabism around the world, with enormous financing from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. They began opening up madrasas—special Islamist schools—in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and parts of Africa as early as 1963.

You had the founding of the Muslim Worldly [League], the origins of neo-Salafism—a form of fundamentalist Islam with a messianic caliphate ideology, whom received support from Arab Gulf powers, as well as British and US intelligence services, to be used against the Soviets and China. Al-Bagdhadi, the nominal head of IS, is committed to the establishment of a universal caliphate under [IS] direction. For that reason, there’s concern between the Saudis and the IS network, whom could potentially overrun Saudi Arabia and incorporate it into their version of a caliphate.

You had a merger in Saudi Arabia of the Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabism, but later, when the MB became had democratic electoral politics in Egypt, the Saudis no longer liked that, and this created splits between different factions of Jihadism. IS inside Iraq contains members that have fought for over a decade—Chechens, Uyghyrs, Afghans, Saudis, Libyans, and Iraqis—whom have traveled around the world in this continuous battle, honing skills in asymmetrical warfare. You also have in Iraq remnants of the old Hussein military that are deeply resentful that they were removed from any power sharing in their country, and who have opportunistically joined the neo-Salafists.

HANEUL: [Turkey] wants to expand into the European Union, NATO and has one foot into the Arab world. What exactly are the aims of [Tayyip Erdogan] related to these three fronts?

JEFF: The Turks have been instrumental in the rise of ISIS [over the last two years]. There were several critical border crossings turned over to ISIS. They had training facilities inside Turkish territory, and integrated with smuggling networks that operate into Northern Syria and Iraq, and [they] are integrated into the ruling AKP party and Turkish MIT, the equivalent to the CIA, headed by [Hakan] Fidan, one of the most trusted right-hand men of Erdogan. If you look at the AKP, it’s an informal kind of Muslim Brotherhood with many parallels. There are more radical elements than Erdogan, and former presidents like [Abdullah] Gül that was a genuine moderate than him and [Ahmet] Davutoğlu. They’re playing a dangerous game; they’ve crossed swords with the US, and Washington and the Pentagon are pissed off at Erdogan.

There was a meeting between military commanders of the anti-ISIS coalition. Not only did Turkey send a deputy to the meeting, but carried out a bombing campaign against the PKK along the borders of Syria and Iraq the day before. Washington and some European leaders quietly made sure that Turkey didn’t get a seat on the UN Security Council. Frictions are becoming severe, and some American military personnel asked, “Why is Turkey in NATO if they’re on the other side”? I think that the neo-Ottoman aspirations of Turkey in MENA trump its desire to integrate into the EU and are openly promoted by Davutoğlu.

They’re not completely out of control. The Saudis are strong backers of IS and I am not convinced that they are an existential threat to the House of Saud. In the 1990s, bin Laden was protesting against the residual US military forces in Saudi Arabia after the first Iraq War, and then Head of Saudi Intelligence Turki bin Faisal sent a liaison to Afghanistan and funds once again flowed freely to al-Qaeda, granted they would attack America, but not the House of Saud. They’re perfectly capable of negotiating with IS. Things can change, but I’m not persuaded that we’re at that point yet.

You have a lot of contending forces—Gulf states—that are working with the Muslim Brotherhood, whom are training forces against Assad. What they’re attempting to do is to use militias with strong ties to Turkey and lead by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. The “elected” government in Libya has allied with Egypt against the Libyan [Walter] Dorn Movement, which is backed by Turkey and Qatar. So, within the Sunni world, you have these fault lines that are becoming militarized, especially between Sunni and Shiite, which could easily turn into a regional war or even something bigger.

HANEUL: How will this affect BRICS and Western players in the long run?

JEFF: Several prominent Russians have made statements, one from [ex-Ambassador Veniamin] Popov that said, “if the US is serious about waging war with IS, then it has to be a coalition of countries with shared interests”. This emphatically includes BRICS; particularly Russia and China, for reasons such as the targeting of the Caucuses and Xinjiang provinces of Western China, where the Uighurs are a part of this “Jihadists without Borders” apparatus. There are at least 1,000 Chechens that are fighting with ISIS in Syria and Iraq, who represents some of the most seasoned IS commanders. They’ve been in combat continuously for over a decade since the Chechen wars.

Popov continued: “A serious alignment would involve the US, Russia, China, other BRICS countries, Iran and Syria”. You can’t trust Saudi Arabia or other GCC countries to genuinely try to defeat IS. If you had an alliance amongst those countries, you would have the resources to absolutely crush IS in Iraq and Syria. The Russians have a close relationship with the Syrians and Iranians, which could have genuine, direct coordination rather than the sneaky ones we have now. Egypt is a channel for feeding intelligence to the Syrian military, and the Iranians benefit from coordinated efforts between Iraq and the US, and Shiite militias, whom are some of the most effective fighters there.

Ultimately, [IS] has approximately 30-50,000 fighters in the region, and they’re relying on former Ba’athist military personnel in Iraq and Sunni tribes in Anwar who will go where they think the winner is. They’re not ideologically committed to the Islamic State and don’t believe in a caliphate; they’re just pissed off because they’ve been cut out from the power share in their own country and are demonstrating that they have more military ability with IS than with the Iraqi government. The minute those tribes see a fairer power share and are convinced Islamists will suffer defeat… they’ll switch sides. You’ll have a replay of the Anbar Awakening from the mid 2000s, so there’s a limit to how far IS can go before overstretching themselves.

They don’t pose a threat to overthrow Putin in Russia, or Xi Jinping in China, but can make a mess of things. The problem you’re dealing with is that the British, factions in the US, and the Saudis still continue to see this as an Islamic card they can play against the Russians and Chinese. If they are freaked out by what BRICS represents since the July meeting in Brazil, that’s where you can see these asymmetric operations—the air-sea battle against China and supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine targeting Russia—you do see a situation where a general war does become a World War.

6 Ways Obama Contradicts Himself in Waging War on ISIS

priceofliberty:

A year ago, before public and congressional opposition changed his mind, President Obama planned to attack the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a brutal dictator whom he said had to go. This week Obama switched sides in Syria’s civil war by attacking the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Assad’s most formidable enemy among the rebels fighting to overthrow his regime.

Confused? You should be. Obama certainly is. Let us count the ways:

1. Obama has repeatedly promised that his war against ISIS will not involve U.S. ground troops in Iraq or Syria, but Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says they may be necessary. The White House argues that armed military “advisers” who call in air strikes, serve on the front lines, and could easily become involved in combat do not count as ground troops.

2. As proxies for U.S. soldiers in Syria, Obama is counting on the “appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition” whom Congress last week authorized the Pentagon to train and arm. On Tuesday he called them “the best counterweight to [ISIS] and the Assad regime.” But last month Obama toldThe New York Times the idea that U.S. assistance could turn “an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth” into an effective fighting force “has always been a fantasy.”

3. Obama says U.S. military assistance will be limited to “moderate Syrian opposition forces.” According to the bill approved by Congress, “appropriately vetted” rebels do not include groups linked to terrorist organizations such as the Nusra Front, a Syrian branch of Al Qaeda. But as the Times points out, “even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front.”

4. Running for the Democratic nomination in 2007, Obama declared that “the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." Although Obama admits ISIS does not pose such a threat, he says he does not need congressional authorization to wage war against it.

5. Obama brags about ending the “dumb” and “rash” war in Iraq, which he says was based on a trumped-up threat. But he also says that war has not really ended, citing the 2002 authorization for it as part of his argument for attacking ISIS in Iraq without seeking congressional approval.

6. “Our objective is clear,” Obama claims, right before showing that it isn’t. The aim, he says, is to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. But don’t get the wrong idea: Destroying ISIS does not necessarily mean destroying ISIS. It could mean that ISIS is “degraded to the point where it is no longer the kind of factor that we’ve seen it being over the last few months.” In other words, “we can continue to shrink [ISIS’s] sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities, to the point where it is a manageable problem.”

According to the president, then, acceptable outcomes of this war range from making ISIS less of a factor (whatever that might mean) to wiping it from the face of the planet. As additional insurance against failure, the administration says this effort will take at least three years, so seeing it through will be the responsibility of Obama’s successor. Don’t blame Obama if things go south after 2016!

And what about that awful Assad regime, the one Obama said must go? The arming of “appropriately vetted” Syrian rebels, according to the legislation approving it, is aimed at “promoting the conditions for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict in Syria.”

It would be terribly confusing if Assad had a place at that table, especially if he were joined by a degraded-but-not-destroyed ISIS. It is hard to believe something like that could happen—unless Obama promises that it won’t.

6 Ways Obama Contradicts Himself in Waging War on ISIS