LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation For Today/"I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!"
Luke 19/29-40/As he drew near to
Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent
two of his disciples. He said, "Go into the village opposite you, and as
you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
And if anyone should ask you, 'Why are you untying it?' you will answer, 'The Master has need of it.'" So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying this colt?" They answered, "The Master has need of it." So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. 7 Peace in heaven and glory in the highest." Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He said in reply, "I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!"
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 18 and 19/14
Islamic State Atrocities: Products of ‘Grievances’/By
Raymond Ibrahim/September 19/14
Your ‘to do’ list to save America/By: Ann Coulter/Human Events/September 19/14
There's No Difference between ISIS and ISIL/By: Daniel Pipes/National Review Online/September 19/14
Why Rouhani loves NY /By CAROLINE B. GLICK/J.Post/September 19/14
U.S. boots are already on the ground against ISIS/By: David Ignatius/The Daily Star/September 19/14
Obama moves on Syria: Are strikes imminent/By: Joyce Karam /Al Arabiya/September 19/14
Lebanese Related News published on September 18 and 19/14
Prominent Shiite scholar Hani Fahs dies
Geagea: No solution to Presidential deadlock near
Assailants Threaten Parish of Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Sydney
Army: Israeli tapping devices violate res. 1701
Israeli Army Fortifies Posts Facing Adaisseh to Conceal Movements
Hezbollah's deputy leader Qassem: Hezbollah inspired by Wilayat al-Faqih
Jumblatt, Gemayel launch ‘modest’ initiative to back institutions
PM: Australia thwarts ISIS plot in Sydney
Salameh: Bank sector immune to security threats
Fatfat: Berri hiding his desire for extension
New Information Add Mystery to al-Sayyed's Beheading
Fears of Rise in Extremism in Tripoli over IS, al-Nusra
Cabinet Signs Decrees after Resolving Bassil-Harb Dispute
Lebanese Man Rents Out Car to Syrians to Transfer Drugs
Qahwaji Says Army Well-Equipped to Engage in Fierce Battles with Terrorists
EU States Not in Favor of Holding Parliamentary Elections
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 18 and 19/14
Syria's Assad broke chemical arms pact with chlorine
West warns Iran it must address nuclear bomb fears
British MPs to vote on calls for Palestinian state
Moroccan journalist accuses senior Islamic Jihad official of sexual assault
Israeli official: Syria kept 'significant' chemical weapons
UEFA lifts ban on international soccer games in Israel
Latest Islamic State video shows captive British journalist
Saudis commit $500m for Gaza rebuilding
France to provide air support in Iraq
Barghouti lauds Gaza 'victory,' urges boycott
IDF: Code Red sounded in south was false alarm
UN's flight marks new era on Israel-Syria front
Yemen clashes kill nearly 40 as UN envoy presses rebel
US set to aid Syria rebels as ISIS advances
IS Jihadists Close in on Syria Kurd Town
'Slow Progress' in Troops Case as Families Urge Captors to Stop Death Threats to Facilitate Talks
Paris Says Ready to Conduct Air Raids in Iraq, U.S. Lauds Move
Bahrain warns Qatar over citizenship dispute
Yemen: Iran, Oman pressure Houthis to accept government deal
Iran rules out cooperating with US in Iraq
ISIS no threat to Erbil: Peshmerga official
Report: Kuwait detains ISIS suspects
Prominent Shiite scholar Hani Fahs dies
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Sayyed Hani Fahs, a prominent Shiite religious figure known for his open opposition to Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian conflict, died Thursday, succumbing to a long illness. He was 68.Fahs had been admitted to the hospital a few days ago, and had been in a coma.A moderate figure commanding wide respect inside and outside the Shiite community, and an advocate of cultural and religious rapprochement, Fahs was a founding member of the Permanent Conference for Inter-Lebanese Dialogue, and the Arab Team for Muslim-Christian Dialogue.A member of the Shariah Council of the Higher Shiite Islamic Council, Fahs was an outspoken critic of Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war on the regime’s side and had reportedly developed and maintained strong relations with the Syrian opposition. In 2012, Fahs issued a statement with another anti-Hezbollah Shiite scholar, Sayyed Mohammad Hassan al-Amin, calling on Lebanon’s Shiites to support the popular uprising in neighboring Syria. A graduate from the school of theology of Najaf in Iraq, Fahs ran for parliamentary elections in 1992, without success. He lived in Iran between 1982 and 1985, during which he worked at the press office of the school of theology in Qom. A writer and a poet, he published at least 13 books on religion, politics and society.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri hailed Fahs' role in Lebanon. Fahs’ “rich experiences and positions will remain imprinted in our national memory,” Hariri said in a statement. “The absence of Sayyed Hani Fahs is a great loss to the values of moderation and dialogue, which he defended and devoted his life to." Hailing Fahs as a “wise” man, Hariri said “I personally feel the magnitude of this loss since I knew Sayyed Hani in the most difficult circumstances.”
Army: Israeli tapping devices violate res. 1701
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army urged the head of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) forces to consider Israeli tapping devices installed along Lebanon’s border as a violation of resolution 1701, according to an Army statement released Thursday. The Head of Mission and Force Commander of the UNIFIL, Major-General Luciano Portolano, chaired a regular tripartite meeting with senior officers from the Lebanese and Israeli armies at the UN Position at the Ras Al-Naqoura crossing Thursday.
Representing the Lebanese Army, the government coordinator over the armed forces Maj. Gen. Mohammad Janbeh headed a delegation of military soldiers at the tripartite meeting. Citing Israeli violations, Janbeh spoke about the installation of "Israeli telecommunication equipment" along the Blue Line that is being "used to eavesdrop on Lebanese communications."Janbeh asked that such measures be "deemed a violation of resolution 1701" as Israeli forces work to increase the number of telecommunication devices installed along the border. The Army official argued that such devices are related to a tapping device that was blown up in the area of Adloun earlier this month. The Lebanese delegation stressed the need to respect resolution 1701- the agreement that ended Lebanon’s 2006 war with Israel by dispatching UNIFIL forces along the border between the two countries. Janbeh also highlighted continuous Israeli air violations, saying that on average "Israeli planes fly over Lebanese territory for fifteen hours a day." The Lebanese delegation also condemned the “acts of intimidation practiced by the Israeli enemy” on Lebanese citizens both by land and sea and demanded a “halt to all violations” and “an immediate withdrawal" from the Lebanese part of the occupied border village of Ghajar.
Jumblatt, Gemayel launch ‘modest’ initiative to back
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt and Kataeb Party leader Amine Gemayel announced that they are preparing an initiative of simple steps to safeguard political and military institutions. “We will attempt with former President Gemayel to launch a modest initiative to immunize the institutions,” Jumblatt said after the two met at Gemayel’s Bikfaya residence. Gemayel also mentioned an initiative, but neither of the two gave any details on the content of the plan. “We are trying to prepare some steps, modest steps, that could serve the citizens and immunize institutions, starting with the Army,” Gemayel said, stressing that citizens should not be affected by the inaction of politicians. The PSP and Kataeb chiefs mentioned both political and military institutions in their comments. “There is a necessity to protect the institutions that are suffering from vacuum,” Gemayel said. In response to a question on his view toward former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s statement that he would not participate in parliamentary elections before electing a president, Jumblatt ruled out boycotting the polls, while seemingly agreeing on the need for an extension of Parliament's term. “We cannot jump into void,” he said, “and although arriving to presidential elections is necessary, we cannot just abstain from participating in the elections.” “The extension has many side effects, but we need to protect the institutions,” he then said. Earlier Thursday, PSP MP Ghazi Aridi said the party agreed on the need for the extension. “There is a must to extend the Parliamentary term,” he said. “Despite the fact that it is harmful, it is however a necessity.” Aridi stressed that there was no agreement yet on extending Parliament's mandate or the duration of any such extension. Also attended by Jumblatt’s son Taymour, Thursday’s meeting came a day after the Druze leader hosted Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun. The two said they discussed everything except the presidency, in statements after the meeting. Lebanon has been without a president since May 25, when the term of former President Michel Suleiman ended. The Parliament expires in November, 17 months after its term was controversially extended in a quick parliamentary session last year. Before the May 2013 extension, all major political leaders had strongly dismissed extension, but 98 MPs, all those who attended the 15-minute session, voted for the term renewal. As for the anticipated 2014 extension, Speaker Nabih Berri and the Aoun have explicitly opposed it, while the PSP and the Future Movement have supported it as the "only feasible choice." The Lebanese Forces and Hezbollah have yet to announce final stances on the extension although they both have condemned its underlying principles, or lack of principles. Although the Kataeb Party has not yet voiced any official support for a second renewal, media reports say that Gemayel indirectly announced support for such an action in a chat with reporters following his meeting with Jumblatt. "Holding parliamentary elections before presidential elections is a marginalization of the mother institution, and is a sign of adaptating to the presidential vacuum, which is dangerous,” he said according to the reports. Asked about the necessity of reactivating Palriamentary legislation, Gemayel reportedly said that there is “no necessity above that of electing a president for the republic.”
Hezbollah's deputy leader Qassem: Hezbollah inspired by Wilayat al-Faqih
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s war with Israel and its intervention in Syria stem from a moral view inspired by the controversial Wilayat al-Faqih doctrine, the party's deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem argued Thursday during a signing of his book titled, “The Modernizing Wali.” Under the Wilayat al-Faqih doctrine, which was introduced in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the supreme ayatollah, or highest religious authority, has final say in political as well as religious matters. Hezbollah has remained evasive about its adherence to Wilayat al-Faqih and its level of support for the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon inspired by that doctrine. “ Hezbollah has abided by the general guidelines of Wilayat al-Faqih,” Qassem said, which allowed the party to “distinguish between right and wrong." He said that it was Hezbollah’s moral compass that had driven them to war with Israel and takfiris in Syria. “ Hezbollah realized from the start that America is an imperial entity whose main interest is ensuring the continued existence of the state of Israel,” said Qassem, arguing that the party’s war with Lebanon's southern neighbor was meant to prevent it from controlling the region. Justifying the party's intervention in Syria, Qassem said Hezbollah pre-emptively sensed the takfiri threat and was facing the danger in Syria in order to protect Lebanon and the resistance. “ Hezbollah has achieved great feats that minimized the takfiri threat to Lebanon,” he said, and had it not been for the party’s “holy jihad in Syria,” Lebanon would have seen more takfiris “erecting checkpoints in Beirut, and spreading their killing and crime." “ Hezbollah is committed to the thesis of Wilayat al-Faqih both in its Islamic understanding and its practical application,” he added. Qassem said that he had written a book about the famous doctrine “because a generation of young people did not witness the beginning of the [Iranian] revolution, and have not seen its intellectual, political and ideological, social and ethical foundations.”These people, argued Qassem, must be provided with concise material that briefs them on the idea of Wilayat al-Faqih. The book deals with 26 themes discussed in the doctrine, said Qassem, clarifying that he had chosen samples he saw as suitable “for intellectuals and those who want to know about the mandate of Waliyat al-Faqih.”
Geagea: No solution to Presidential deadlock near
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: A solution to Lebanon’s presidential deadlock is not near, Lebanese Forces Chief Samir Geagea told the Deutsche Press Agency Thursday, rejecting the suggestion to reduce the presidential term to a period of three years. As long as Hezbollah and Free Patriotic Movement Leader Michel Aoun remain adamant on boycotting elections, “then there would be no solution on the horizon” the Lebanese Forces chief said Thursday. Some March 8 coalition parties have boycotted eleven electoral sessions after the first attempt on May 22 failed to elect a president. They argue that the sessions are futile unless lawmakers agree beforehand on a consensus candidate. The boycott by MP Michel Aoun, the undeclared March 8 candidate, along with Hezbollah and some of their allies, is meant to put pressure on lawmakers to come to an agreement on a future president. “I have announced my readiness over selecting a consensus candidate,” Geagea said, highlighting that his political rivals from the March 8 coalition rejected the option of looking for a candidate other than Aoun. In an attempt to resolve the presidential vacancy, Progressive Socialist Party Leader Walid Jumblatt proposed an amendment that would reduce the presidential tenure from a period of four years to a three year term last month. “I reject the suggestion of giving Aoun the presidency, even if it’s only for a two year [term]” he said, stressing that he rejects any form of tampering with the term of the president. “I don’t think Aoun is the most suitable president for Lebanon” said Geagea, arguing that the candidate’s political agenda and the current events in the region swayed him away from considering Aoun as an appropriate choice. Geagea’s outspoken criticism of the March 8 coalition did not fall short of criticizing Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria. “Hezbollah’s refusal to withdraw from Syria contradicts the Lebanese constitution and the will of the majority of the Lebanese population” the Lebanese Forces chief said. Hezbollah is dragging the Lebanese people in to the Syrian crisis and is prompting the Syrian opposition to target Lebanon internally, Geagea added.
Separately, he stressed the necessity of holding parliamentary elections on their designated date, arguing that timely elections would “revitalize political life.” Contrary to widespread rumors, the international coalition is targeting ISIS and not the Syrian regime, said Geagea, after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry won backing for a "coordinated military campaign" against ISIS from 10 Arab countries - Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf states including oil-rich rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Critics of the U.S led initiative questioned whether the coalition would target the Syrian Army especially after Iran and Syria were left outside of the talks. Iran can't join the international coalition tasked with attacking ISIS, said Geagea, arguing that the presence of Iranian affiliated units fighting in Syria prevented the move. However, the Lebanese Forces leader forecasted little success for the international coaltion, arguing that the root of the extremism problem continues to be Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. The continuity of Assad’s regime means the continuation of militarization and extremism, said Geagea, claiming that a crackdown on ISIS today would only result in the emergence of a new group after a year or two. Geagea stressed that “Assad should leave power”, the same way Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki did in Iraq in order to make way for an inclusive government.
Fears of Rise in Extremism in Tripoli over IS, al-Nusra
Naharnet /There are rising fears that the northern city of Tripoli will become a hub for Islamic State and al-Nusra Front fighters, who have engaged in gunbattles with the Lebanese army in a border town and beheaded two soldiers. As Safir daily on Thursday quoted security officials as saying that extremists have been spending huge amounts of money to lure young men and encourage them to be armed. Tripoli is back to the “point of disorder” after the “infiltration” of the extremists, the officials said. The city has been relatively calm since the army and security forces implemented a plan to end gunbattles between rival groups earlier this year. Scores of civilians, soldiers and fighters have been killed and injured in dozens of rounds of fighting between the impoverished neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh, which is majority Sunni, and Jabal Mohsen, whose residents are from the Alawite sect of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The security officials told As Safir that the army, security agencies and al-Mustaqbal movement ministers are preparing “preventive steps” to stop Takfiris from expanding in Tripoli and to thwart their plans. Militants from the IS and al-Nusra Front have already engaged in deadly clashes with the Lebanese army in the northeastern border town of Arsal. They took with them hostages from the army and security forces last month and later beheaded two of them. On Tuesday, gunmen crossed the border from Syria and kidnapped a soldier from his parents' farm on the outskirts Arsal. The IS also threatened to behead another army soldier over what it described as the Lebanese government's “lies” and “procrastination” in the negotiations over the abducted troops. The presence of the militants on the border and among the more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees across the country has raised fears over Lebanon become another Syria and Iraq where the IS has controlled thousands of square kilometers of territory.
Why Rouhani loves NY
By CAROLINE B. GLICK/J.Post
Ahead of US trip, media continues to present Iranian president as a moderate, and natural ally for the US. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s trip to New York next week will be a welcome relief for the Iranian leader. Finally, he’ll be somewhere where he’s appreciated, even loved. Ahead of his trip to America, the US media continued its practice of presenting Rouhani as a moderate, and a natural ally for the US. NBC News’ Anne Curry interviewed Rouhani in Tehran, focusing her attention on his dim view of Islamic State. Rouhani told Curry, “From the viewpoint of the Islamic tenets and culture, killing an innocent people equals the killing of the whole humanity. And therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people in fact is a matter of shame for them and it’s the matter of concern and sorrow for all the human and all the mankind.” The US media and political establishment’s willingness to take Rouhani at his word when he says that he’s a moderate is one of the reasons that Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz was in such a desolate mood on Wednesday. During a briefing with the foreign media, Steinitz described the state of negotiations between the US and its negotiating partners – Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – and Iran regarding its illicit nuclear weapons program. The briefing followed the latest round of the biennial Israeli-US strategic dialogue. Steinitz led the Israeli delegation to the talks, which focused on Iran, the week before nuclear talks were scheduled to be renewed.
One of Steinitz’s chief concerns was the US’s insistence that Rouhani is a moderate.
In his words, “The only thing that has changed [since Rouhani replaced president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] is the tone. The only difference is that the world was unwilling to hear from Ahmadinejad and [his nuclear negotiator Saeed] Jalili, what it is willing to listen to from Rouhani and [Iranian Foreign Minister Javad] Zarif.”Unlike the Americans, the Iranian people are through with the fiction that Rouhani is a moderate, which is why he no doubt will be happier in New York than in Tehran. Rouhani’s trip to New York coincides with his one-year anniversary in office. Since he took power, a thousand Iranians have been executed by the regime.
Forty-five people were executed in just the past two weeks.
According to Iranian scholar Majid Rafizadeh, the public’s tolerance for regime violence has reached a breaking point. In an article in the Frontpage Magazine online journal, Rafizadeh described how 3,000 people descended on regime executioners as they were poised to kill a youth in Mahmoudabad in northern Iran. The protest forced them to call off the show. They murdered the young man the next day, when no one was looking. As Iran scholar Dr. Michael Ledeen has explained, the rise in regime brutality is directly proportional to the threat it perceives from the public. And the regime has good reason to be worried. Anti-regime protests and strikes occur countrywide, every day. For instance, from September 9-14, MEK, an Iranian opposition group, documented public protests against security forces and attacks on regime agents in Tehran, Zanzan, Bane, Qom, Karaj and Bandar Abbas. These actions ran the gamut from a strike by a thousand gas workers in the Aslaviyah gas fields who protested searches of their dormitory rooms by regime agents, to two separate assaults on military vehicles in Zanzan, to youth responding violently in cities throughout the country when regime agents tried to enforce Islamic dress codes on women and girls. Under the same Rouhani who waxed so poetically against beheadings when speaking to an overeager NBC reporter, not only have state executions have massively intensified. Public floggings, public hand amputations and other public demonstrations of regime brutality have also expanded to levels unseen in recent years.
Rouhani promised to protect women’s rights. Yet since he took office, women’s rights have been severely curtailed. Last month, the Revolutionary Guards barred women from working as waitresses. In July, Tehran’s mayor barred women from sharing workspace with men. These moves and others like them, aimed at enforcing gender apartheid in all public places in the country, force millions of women into poverty. The official unemployment level for women is already hovering around 20 percent. Then there are Iran’s other social ills, for instance drug addiction. Iran has the highest level of drug addiction in the world. According to Babak Dinparast, a senior Iranian drug enforcement official, some 3.5 million Iranians, or 4.4% of the population, are drug users. In April, Dinparast made the stunning claim that 53% of drug users are government employees.
According to the Iranian parliament’s research institute, the average productive hours of Iranian workers is 22 minutes a day. In Transparency International’s ranking of administrative and economic corruption, Iran ranks 144th out of 177 countries. In other words, Iran is coming apart at the seams. The people cannot stand the regime. The regime, incompetent and unwilling to tackle any of Iran’s problems, responds to the public’s outrage with massive, brutal repression. If left to its own devices, in all likelihood, the Iranian regime would have been toppled five years ago when it falsified the results of the 2009 presidential elections, and so fomented the Green Revolution But the people of Iran didn’t bet on the regime’s ace in the hole: the Obama administration.
The same Obama administration that supported the overthrow of US allies in the war on Islamic jihad – Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi – stood by the Iranian regime as it massacred its people in the streets of Iranian cities for daring to demand their freedom. If the 2009 Green Revolution was the gravest threat the regime had faced since the 1979 revolution brought it to power, today the regime is also imperiled. On Monday, Iran’s dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was released from the hospital after undergoing prostate surgery. Several strategic analyses published since then claim that his days are numbered and that as a consequence, the regime faces a period of profound uncertainty and instability.
The Iranian people are watching all of this, and waiting. As was the case in 2009, the disaffected Iranians, who hate their regime and want good relations with the US and the West, remain the greatest threat to the regime. Beyond its borders, Iran is also under stress. With its Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah forces committed to Syria in defense of Bashar Assad, Iran finds its position in Iraq threatened by the rising power of Islamic State.
Yet, as happened in 2009, in the midst of this gathering storm, the Obama administration is rushing to the mullahs’ rescue, begging Iran to support US efforts to fight Islamic State, indeed claiming that securing Iran’s support and cooperation is a necessary precondition for the mission’s success.
To say that this US policy is madness is an understatement. As Michael Weiss documented in Foreign Policy in June, Iran and its puppet, the Syrian regime, played central roles in facilitating the development and empowerment of Islamic State both in Syria and Iraq. A defector from the Syrian Military Intelligence Directorate reported in January that the regime helped form Islamic State.
First, it sprang Sunni jihadist leaders from Sednaya prison in 2011. Then, it facilitated in the creation of the armed brigades that became Islamic State.
The idea was that through Islamic State, it could tarnish the reputation of all of its opponents by claiming they were all jihadists. US military officers with deep knowledge of Iran’s role in Iraq told Weiss that Islamic State’s leadership entered Iraq from Iran. A key al-Qaida financier, Olimzhon Adkhamovich Sadikov, was charged in February by the US Treasury Department with “provid[ing] logistical support and funding to al-Qaida’s Iran-based network.”
US Army Col. Rick Welch, who served as the military liaison to both the Sunni tribes and the Shi’ite militia in Iraq during the 2007-2008 US military surge, told Weiss that the assessment of Iraqi Sunnis and Shi’ites alike was that “Iran was funding any group that would keep Iraq in chaos.”Iran sought chaos in order to prevent the establishment of a stable Iraqi government allied with the US while incrementally establishing Iranian control over the country.
Iran’s actions in Iraq and Syria, in other words, have for the past decade been focused on expanding Iranian power at the expense of the US and the Iraqi and Syrian people. This behavior of course is in line with Iran’s global strategy. From its support for Hamas to its control over Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, from developing a strategic alliance with Venezuela to expanding its presence throughout South and Central America, through its closely cultivated relationship with Russia, Iran’s every move involves expanding its power and influence at America’s expense.
And yet, despite this, the Obama administration has made strengthening the Iranian regime and appeasing it the centerpiece of its Middle East policy.
President Barack Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg in March that Iran is a rational actor that the US can do business with.
He said, “If you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they’re not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits.”
As Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry now perceive things, Iran opposes Islamic State, and therefore it will play a supportive role in the US campaign against Islamic State. Moreover, by participating in the campaign, Iran will demonstrate its good faith and so make it possible for the US to cut a deal with the mullahs that will legitimize their illicit uranium enrichment – because really, how big a threat can a country that opposes Islamic State be? As for Iran, it sees its interest as having the US destroy Islamic State, and if possible, having the US pay Iran for the privilege of fighting Iran’s war – against the foe Iran did so much to create.
And this brings us back to Steinitz’s gloomy assessment of the talks with Iran. Steinitz warned against the growing prospect of the US caving in to Iran’s nuclear demands as a payoff for Iranian support against Islamic State.
In his words, “Some people might think, ‘Let’s clean the table, let’s close the [nuclear] file,” in order to get Iran on board against Islamic State. Unfortunately for Steinitz, and for the rest of the world, including the US, the Obama administration seems bent on proving him right. Today the Iranian regime is weaker than it has been since it violently repressed the Green Revolution. And that is why Rouhani is happy to be coming to New York.
He knows that now, as then, the Obama administration will save the regime. This, even as the mullahs advance their goal of becoming the hegemons of the Middle East at the US’s expense, and completing their nuclear weapons program, which will secure the regime for decades to come, and threaten America directly.
Caroline Glick is the author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.
West warns Iran it must address nuclear bomb fears
By REUTERS / 09/18/2014 21:08
VIENNA - Western powers told Iran on Thursday it must step up cooperation with a UN watchdog's investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by the country if it wants to get a broader nuclear deal that would ease sanctions. The warning was issued at a board meeting of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, as chief negotiators from Iran and six world powers prepared to resume talks in New York after a two-month hiatus. Iran's envoy, Reza Najafi, dismissed accusations about his country's atomic activities as "mere allegations ... without any substantiation" but also said a new meeting with the IAEA to discuss the matter was expected to be held soon. A stalled IAEA inquiry could further complicate the powers' parallel efforts to reach a settlement with Iran on curbing its nuclear program in exchange for a gradual phasing out of financial and other punitive measures hurting its economy. The United States and the European Union said they were concerned about the slow headway so far in the IAEA's long-running probe into suspicions that Iran has worked on designing a nuclear weapon. Iran denies the charge and says it is Israel's assumed atomic arsenal that threatens Middle East peace. An IAEA report in early September showed Iran had failed to answer questions about what the UN agency calls the possible military dimensions of the country's nuclear program by an Aug. 25 deadline.
In a statement to the IAEA meeting, the EU said it was disappointed with the "very limited progress" in that inquiry. "The EU underlines that resolving all outstanding issues (between Iran and the IAEA) will be essential to achieve a comprehensive, negotiated long-term settlement," it said. That was a reference to the push by the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany to negotiate a resolution to the wider, decade-old dispute with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program. Iran did not address two key issues by late August as agreed with the IAEA: alleged experiments on explosives that could be used for an atomic device, and studies related to calculating nuclear explosive yields. They were part of a landmark report published by the IAEA in 2011 with intelligence indicating Iran had a nuclear weapons research program but halted it in 2003 when it came under increased international pressure. The intelligence suggested some activities may have resumed later. The report identified about 12 specific areas that it said needed clarification.
Najafi said the two issues had not yet been completed because of "their complexity and the invalidity" of the IAEA's information. "The so-called 'missing the deadline' is totally inaccurate," Najafi told reporters. US envoy Laura Kennedy urged Iran to "intensify its engagement" with the IAEA. "Concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program must be addressed as part of any comprehensive solution," she said. Western officials say that although there is no chance of the IAEA inquiry being completed before the scheduled end of the six-power talks, some of the sanctions relief Iran is seeking would probably depend on its cooperation with the UN agency.
There's No Difference between ISIS and ISIL
By: Daniel Pipes/National Review Online
September 12, 2014
The ISIL/ISIS flag with "The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham" written under the shahada.
Some conservatives make an issue of the fact that President Barack Obama routinely refers to the organization that seized the Iraqi city of Mosul and declared a caliphate not as the "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria," or ISIS, but as the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant," or ISIL. In his televised address about the group on Sept. 10, for example, he used the acronym ISIL twenty times.
The ISIS vs. ISIL controversy first emerged, as far as I can tell, when FoxNews.com published "Obama's Use of ISIL, not ISIS, Tells Another Story" on Aug. 24, an analysis of the two acronyms by Liz Peek of the Fiscal Times. Peek argued:
both describe the same murderous organization. The difference is that the Levant describes a territory far greater than simply Iraq and Syria. It's defined as this: The Levant today consists of the island of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey
In other words, Levant inflates the group's ambitions from merely two countries to significantly more. Some go even further; Phyllis Chesler tentatively adds Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf emirates.
Peek sees in this a cunning sleight of hand by Obama de-emphasizing his failures in Syria and Iraq. Others suspect him of gratuitously yanking Israel into the equation. For example, Now The End Begins website claims to have discovered a "really nasty, diabolical" plan:
When Barack Obama refers over and over to the Islamic State as ISIL, he is sending a message to Muslims all over the Middle East that he personally does not recognize Israel as a sovereign nation, but as territory belonging to the Islamic State.
But there is no meaningful geographic or political difference between the two translations.
Greater Syria as portrayed in Da'sh's map of the umma
In Arabic, the organization (at least until it was renamed in late June 2014) is Ad-Dawla as-Islamiya fi'l-Iraq wa'sh-Sham (الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام, known in Arabic by the acronym Da'sh). All but the final word are simple to translate; Sham, usually translated as Greater Syria, has no exact equivalent in English. Greater Syria is a amorphous geographic and cultural term like Middle West or Middle East that lacks official boundaries: it always includes the modern states of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, as well as the Palestinians territories, but some also consider it to include parts of Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, and even all of Cyprus.
Inasmuch as there has never been a sovereign country called Sham, the term's geographic meaning remains a theoretical debate. For most of the twentieth century, from 1918 to 2000, politicians (such as King Abdullah I of Jordan and Hafez al-Assad of Syria) and movements (notably the Syrian Social Nationalist Party) aspired without success to create and dominate Sham. (I wrote a book on this topic, Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition, published by Oxford University Press in 1990.)
Because "Greater Syria" is heavy on the tongue, Da'sh's name gets simplified to "Syria." But that name being so easily confused with the existing state of Syria which first came into existence in 1946, others choose to translate "Sham" as "Levant." Although Levant has the distinct advantage of not being thus confused, it is an archaic word dating to the fifteenth century full of gentle and exotic connotations utterly inappropriate to the murderous Da'sh. Its borders are also imprecise, referring vaguely to the countries of the eastern Mediterranean, where the sun rises (levant is French for "rising").
In short, both translations are accurate, both are correct, both define a similar area, and both have deficiencies – one refers to a state, the other has an archaic ring. For reasons unknown to me, the executive branch of the U.S. government adopted the ISIL nomenclature and its staff generally use this term, even though members of Congress, the media, and specialists (including me) generally prefer ISIS.
So, let's not worry how to translate Da'sh and concentrate our efforts instead on ridding the world of this barbaric menace.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum.
Your ‘to do’ list to save America
By: Ann Coulter/Human Events
The most important words printed in the New York Times since “REAGAN EASILY BEATS CARTER” were from a front-page article last Sunday about how, after six years of Obama, the federal judiciary is now dominated by Democratic appointees. Edward Whelan, head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, responded to this by saying: “The best way for conservative voters to prevent further damage to the courts is to swing the Senate to Republican control in the elections this November.”
He’s absolutely right. Turn that into a mnemonic, sew it on needlepoint pillows, include it in your wedding vows, right-wingers. For the next six weeks, nothing matters more to the country than Republicans taking a majority in the Senate. When it comes to politics, conservatives need to learn one thing from liberals: All that matters is winning.
Here’s a preliminary report on where the election stands and my assignments.
First, we need to hold all 45 seats currently in Republican hands. The ones Democrats have been salivating over because of primary challenges aren’t looking like cakewalks for them anymore.
(Take a moment to notice something, Republicans: No incumbent Democrat had to deal with a primary challenger this year. That’s one reason why Democrats win more elections than their insane ideas would seem to dictate. Liberals understand that you can’t do anything if you don’t win, so Democrats don’t stage primary fights against other Democrats.)
Even the Times is admitting that Sen. Mitch McConnell is probably going to be re-elected in Kentucky now that the Ashley Judd juggernaut has been dispatched. McConnell has a history of winning come-from-behind victories — and he’s up in the polls right now.
Georgia seems to have decided it’s going to be Republican, so I say David Perdue wins that open seat.
Sen. Pat Roberts is likely to win in Kansas as soon as the “Independent” candidate, Greg Orman, is forced to take a position on something — anything — and conservative Kansas voters realize he’s the Democrat. Orman’s been able to hide behind limpid nonpartisanship so far, but a candidate can’t refuse to answer basic questions forever.
Will you vote to repeal Obamacare?
I don’t know.
Are you going to caucus with the Democrats or Republicans?
That’s a personal matter.
Assignment No. 1: Sen. Pat Roberts needs to spend every day from now until Nov. 4 campaigning in Kansas. Roberts is smart, personable and engaging — he’s always voted “funniest senator”! He’s certainly no John McCain. (Rand Paul is John McCain.) I don’t know why Roberts got a primary challenge at all. Please stop doing that, Republicans.
Even liberals admit that Republicans are likely to win seats currently held by Democrats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. Assuming we hold Kentucky, Georgia and Kansas, Republicans will be at 48.
That means Republicans need to flip three Democratic seats to take a majority in the Senate. Hopefully, the GOP will take more than three, and store them like chestnuts for a long, cold winter. These are the races that matter: New Hampshire, Iowa, North Carolina, Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan.
Assignment No. 2: Everyone reading this column has got to donate to Scott Brown immediately. He’s running in New Hampshire against a slick incumbent Democrat, Jean Shaheen, but he’s a very strong candidate. Brown won the primary only last week, and he’s already tied in the polls. He just needs to catch up to Shaheen’s $11.2 million war chest.
Shaheen is talking about nothing but global warming because she can’t very well talk about Obamacare. She was a major proponent of the bill that destroyed Americans’ health care, which is no more popular in New Hampshire than it is anywhere else people need health care.
Not only was Brown “the 41st vote” against Obamacare — forcing Nancy Pelosi to pull that sleazy, unconstitutional “deem and pass” move to push it through — but more than any other Senate candidate this year, Brown is running against amnesty. Even with a tidal wave of new welfare cases pouring across our border, Brown is one of the few candidates smart enough to make immigration an issue.
Donate. Right now!
The biggest current danger for Republicans is that idiots will vote for Libertarian candidates in do-or-die Senate elections, including Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and Colorado. (That’s in addition to the “Independent” in Kansas who’s a Democrat.) Democratic candidates don’t have to put up with this crap — they’re even trying to dump the official Democrat in Kansas to give the stealth Democrat a better shot.
When we’re all dying from lack of health care across the United States of Mexico, we’ll be deeply impressed with your integrity, libertarians.
Which brings me to my final assignment for this week: If you are considering voting for the Libertarian candidate in any Senate election, please send me your name and address so I can track you down and drown you.
Islamic State Atrocities: Products of
By Raymond Ibrahim on September 17, 2014
While many have rightfully criticized U.S. President Obama’s recent assertion that the Islamic State “is not Islamic,” some of his other equally curious but more subtle comments pronounced in the same speech have been largely ignored.
Consider the president’s invocation of the “grievances” meme to explain the Islamic State’s success: “At this moment the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL—which calls itself the Islamic State.”
Obama’s logic, of course, is fortified by an entire apparatus of professional apologists who make the same claim. Thus Georgetown professor John Esposito—whose apologetics sometimes morph into boldfaced lies—also recently declared that “The “primary drivers [for the Islamic State’s violence] are to be found elsewhere,” that is, not in Islam but in a “long list of grievances.”
In other words and once again, it’s apparently somehow “our fault” that Islamic State Muslims are behaving savagely—crucifying, beheading, enslaving, and massacring people only on the basis that they are “infidels”: thus when IS herds and slaughters “infidel” and/or Shia men (citing the example of the prophet)—that’s because they’re angry at something America did; when IS captures “infidel” Yazidi and Christian women and children, and sells them on the sex-slave market (citing Islamic teachings)—that’s because they’re angry at something America did; when IS bombs churches, breaks their crosses, and tells Christians to convert or die (citing Islamic scriptures)—that’s because they’re angry at something America did.
Although the “grievance” meme has always flown in the face of logic, it became especially popular after the 9/11 al-Qaeda strikes on America. The mainstream media, following the Islamist propaganda network Al Jazeera’s lead, uncritically picked up and disseminated Osama bin Laden’s videotapes to the West where he claimed that al-Qaeda’s terror campaign was motivated by grievances against the West—grievances that ranged from U.S. support for Israel to U.S. failure to sign the Kyoto Agreement concerning climate change.
Of course, that was all rubbish, and I have written more times than I care to remember about how in their internal Arabic-language communiques to fellow Muslims that never get translated to English, al-Qaeda and virtually every Islamist organization make it a point to insist that jihad is an Islamic obligation that has nothing to do with grievances.
Consider Osama’s own words in an internal letter to fellow Saudis:
Our talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue — one that demands our total support, with power and determination, with one voice — and it is: Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually?
Yes. There are only three choices in Islam:  either willing submission [conversion];  or payment of the jizya, through physical, though not spiritual, submission to the authority of Islam;  or the sword — for it is not right to let him [an infidel] live. The matter is summed up for every person alive: Either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die. (The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 42)
Conversion, submission, or the sword is, of course, the mission of the Islamic State—not alleviating “grievances.”
Worst of all, unlike al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, from day one of its existence, has made it very clear—in Osama’s words, “with power and determination, with one voice”—that its massacres, enslavements, crucifixions, and beheadings of “infidels” are all based on Islamic law or Sharia—not silly “grievances” against the West. Unlike al-Qaeda, the Islamic State is confident enough to avoid the grievances/taqiyya game and forthrightly asserts its hostility for humans based on their religious identity.
Yet by slipping the word “grievances” to explain the Islamic State’s Sharia-based savageries, Obama apparently hopes America has been thoroughly conditioned like Pavlov’s dog to automatically associate Islamic world violence with the word “grievance.”
What Obama fails to understand—or fails to mention—is that, yes, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and countless angry Muslims around the world are indeed often prompted to acts of violence by “grievances.” But as fully explained here, these “grievances” are not predicated on any universal standards of equality or justice, only a supremacist worldview.
PM: Australia thwarts ISIS plot in
Kristen Gelineau| Associated Press
SYDNEY: Counterterrorism raids in Sydney Thursday were sparked by security intelligence that ISIS was planning a random, violent attack in Australia as a demonstration of its reach, the prime minister said. Australian police detained 15 people and raided more than a dozen properties across Sydney in the country's largest counterterrorism operation, saying intelligence indicated an attack was being planned on Australian soil. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he had been briefed Wednesday night about the operation that was prompted by information that an ISIS movement leader in the Middle East was calling on Australian supporters to kill.
Abbott was asked about reports that the people detained were planning to publicly behead a random person in Sydney."That's the intelligence we received," he told reporters. "The exhortations - quite direct exhortations - were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL [ISIS] to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country."
"This is not just suspicion, this is intent and that's why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have," he added.
Abbott did not name the Australian.
Police have issued an arrest warrant for a former Sydney nightclub bouncer, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, 33, who is suspected to be Australia's most senior member of ISIS.
About 800 federal and state police officers were involved in the Sydney operation - the largest in Australian history, Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin said. Police also conducted raids in the eastern cities of Brisbane and Logan.One of those detained, 22-year-old Omarjan Azari of Sydney, appeared briefly in a Sydney court Thursday.
Prosecutor Michael Allnutt said Azari was involved in a plan to "gruesomely" execute a randomly selected person - something that was "clearly designed to shock and horrify" the public. That plan involved an "unusual level of fanaticism," he said.Azari is charged with conspiracy to prepare for a terrorist attack. The potential penalty was not immediately clear.
In court documents, Azari was accused of conspiring with Baryalei and others between May and September of this year to prepare for a terrorist attack. Allnutt said the charge stemmed from the interception of a phone call a couple days ago.
Azari did not apply for bail and did not enter a plea. His next court appearance was set for Nov. 13.
The arrests come just days after the country raised its terror warning to the second-highest level in response to the domestic threat posed by supporters of ISIS.
"Police believe that this group that we have executed this operation on today had the intention and had started to carry out planning to commit violent acts here in Australia," said Colvin, who is also the acting Federal Police Commissioner. "Those violent acts particularly related to random acts against members of the public. So what we saw today and the operation that continues was very much about police disrupting the potential for violence against the Australian community at the earliest possible opportunity."Police declined to reveal exact details of the attack they believe was being plotted. New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said only that it was to be carried out against a member of the public on the street and was at "a very high level."
"Right now is a time for calm," Scipione said. "We need to let people know that they are safe, and certainly from our perspective, we know that the work this morning will ensure that all of those plans that may have been on foot have been thwarted."
Last week, Australian police arrested two men in Brisbane for allegedly preparing to fight in Syria, recruiting jihadists and raising money for the Al-Qaeda offshoot group the Nusra Front.
Colvin said the raids conducted in Brisbane Thursday were a follow-up to that operation. It was not yet clear how the investigations in Sydney and Brisbane were linked, he said.
The government raised its terrorism threat last week from "medium" to "high" on a four-tier scale on the advice of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. The domestic spy agency's Director-General David Irvine said the threat had been rising over the past year, mainly due to Australians joining the Islamic State movement to fight in Syria and Iraq.
When announcing the elevated threat level, Abbott stressed that there was no information suggesting a terror attack was imminent. Police said raids were conducted in a dozen suburbs of Sydney and in three suburbs across Brisbane and adjoining Logan. A Muslim book shop and community center in Logan was at the center of counterterrorism raids on several properties last week.
Police said at the time there was no terrorist threat to the Group of 20 leaders' summit to be hosted by Brisbane in November that will bring President Barack Obama and other leaders of the world's 20 biggest economies to the Queensland state capital.
Australia has estimated about 60 of its citizens are fighting for ISIS and the Nusra Front in Iraq and Syria. Another 15 Australian fighters had been killed, including two young suicide bombers.
The government has said it believes about 100 Australians are actively supporting extremist groups from within Australia, recruiting fighters and grooming suicide bomber candidates as well as providing funds and equipment.
US set to aid Syria rebels as ISIS
Salam Faraj| Agence France Presse
BAGHDAD: Washington was set Thursday to approve plans to train and arm Syrian rebels in the fight against the ISIS group, as jihadist fighters gained ground in the north. ISIS posted a video of a captive British journalist, in the latest demonstration of a Western hostage seized by the jihadists in their advance through Syria and Iraq. But unlike in previous grisly postings by ISIS in which they beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker, captive photojournalist John Cantlie was only shown speaking to camera in the style of a news report. The U.S. Senate was expected to back a plan, approved by the House of Representatives Wednesday, to train and equip anti-jihadist rebels in Syria, a key part of President Barack Obama's strategy against ISIS. Who exactly will benefit from the program is unclear, as the rebels battling President Bashar Assad lack a clear command structure and range from secular nationalists to Al-Qaeda-backed extremists. But Obama hailed the House approval as "an important step forward," and Senate leaders are confident it will pass Thursday for his signature. Obama met military commanders Wednesday and, in a speech at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, insisted the jihadists will be defeated.
"Our reach is long. If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven. We will find you eventually," Obama said, also standing firm on his pledge that a U.S. ground combat mission is not on the cards. ISIS holds significant territory in Syria and seized large areas of Iraq in a lightning offensive in June, declaring a cross-border "caliphate" and imposing its brutal interpretation of Islamic law. It has carried out widespread atrocities including crucifixions and reportedly selling women into slavery, and in recent weeks beheaded two U.S. reporters and a British aid worker in chilling online videos. The group posted a new video on YouTube showing Cantlie in an orange jumpsuit like those worn by the hostages in the previous postings, but with no immediate threat to execute him. In the footage, Cantlie promises to reveal in a series of programs the "truth" about the jihadist group.
Cantlie, who had contributed to British newspapers including The Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph, as well as to Agence France-Presse, said he was captured after traveling to Syria in November 2012. He had previously been detained along with a Dutch photographer by extremists in Syria in July 2012 but was reportedly released after nine days. It was not clear when the video was shot, but in it Cantlie referred to recent events including ISIS taking control of large parts of Iraq in June. In Syria, ISIS fighters were closing in on the country's third-largest Kurdish town of Ain al-Arab, or Kobani, on the Turkish border, cutting off its Kurdish militia defenders, an activist group said. " ISIS fighters have seized at least 21 villages around Kobani," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel-Rahman said. " ISIS is using heavy weaponry, its artillery and tanks."
The town is one of three Kurdish majority districts where Kurdish nationalists have proclaimed self-rule and its capture would give the jihadists control of a large swath of the Turkish border. The exiled opposition National Coalition warned of "the danger of a massacre" in the area, where Kurdish militia have put up protracted resistance to the jihadists. The U.S. estimates that ISIS has 20,000 to 31,000 fighters, including many foreigners, and there are concerns that returning jihadists could carry out attacks in Western countries.
As fears grew over the international reach of ISIS, Australia said it had detained 15 people in connection with a plot to behead random civilians, in the country's largest ever counterterrorism raids. Prosecutors said the plan, coordinated with a senior ISIS militant with Australian citizenship, would have seen random people abducted to "gruesomely execute" them on camera. But analysts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies warned against overestimating the ISIS threat, saying that Al-Qaeda's global network was still the bigger danger worldwide. "Despite its spectacular acts of violence, including against Westerners, (ISIS's) short- and medium-term objectives appear to be local and transnational rather than global," the London-based think-tank said. Analyst Emile Hokayem told a news conference: "We shouldn't exaggerate its potency. It is a very serious security threat to the region - as a global threat it's still limited." Iran, a key Assad backer and powerful player in Iraq's internal politics, has criticized its exclusion from international talks on combating ISIS. In an interview with NBC television before heading to the United Nations for next week's General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Wednesday slammed Washington for refusing to send troops. "Are they afraid of their soldiers being killed in the fight they claim is against terrorism?" Rouhani asked in an interview with U.S. network NBC. "Is it really possible to fight terrorism without any hardship, without any sacrifice?"
U.S. boots are already on the ground against ISIS
By: David Ignatius| The Daily Star
Here’s a national-security riddle: How can President Barack Obama provide limited military support on the ground to help “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS without formally violating his pledge not to send U.S. combat troops? The answer may lie in the legal alchemy known as “Title 50.”
Title 50 of the U.S. Code regulates the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. An often-cited passage is section 413b, which deals with presidential approval and reporting of “covert actions.” In essence, this statute gives the president authority, with a proper “finding,” to send U.S. special forces on paramilitary operations, under command of the CIA. The best-known example was the 2011 raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden.
Talking with U.S. and foreign military experts over the past week, I’ve heard two consistent themes: First, the campaign against ISIS will require close-in American training and assistance for ground forces, in addition to U.S. air power; and, second, the best way to provide this assistance may be under the command of the Ground Branch of the CIA’s Special Activities Division, which traditionally oversees such paramilitary operations.
There are some obvious drawbacks with this approach: These “special activities” may be called covert, but their provenance will be obvious, especially to the enemy; they will build irregular forces in Iraq and Syria that may subvert those countries’ return to a stable, transparent system of governance and military operations; and history tells us (from Vietnam to Central America to the Middle East) that black operations, outside normal military channels, can get ugly – opening a back door to torture, rendition and assassination.
Though these paramilitary operations are rarely discussed, the United States has extensive experience with them, especially in Iraq and other areas of the Middle East. The 2001 campaign to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan was led by the CIA, using teams of special operations forces to mobilize fighters from the Northern Alliance. In 2002, before the invasion of Iraq, Kurdish special forces were brought to a base in the Western U.S. and trained in insurgency tactics. They conducted fierce attacks as the war was beginning.
To undermine ISIS, the U.S. and its allies must mobilize Sunni tribal fighters. The CIA and the U.S. military have considerable experience here, painfully learned from their efforts to combat the Sunni insurgency that arose after the 2003 Iraq invasion. The agency mobilized Sunni commandos known as the UTPs; the initials stood for “Under the Table Program.” The head of Iraqi intelligence, Gen. Mohammad Shahwani, also recruited an irregular Sunni force, which came to be known as the “Shahwani Brigades.” These Sunni commandos fought with the U.S. Marines in the battle of Fallujah in late 2004.
The ISIS commanders know that these Sunni fighters pose a potent threat. Before moving into northern Iraq last spring to prepare their breakout offensive in Mosul, they assassinated former Republican Guard officers who had worked with the U.S. But that only deepened many Sunnis’ secret hatred of the jihadists.
Gen. John Allen, the retired Marine general tapped as Obama’s special envoy in combating ISIS, brings several advantages. He coordinated contacts with Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar during the Sunni Awakening, which crushed the insurgency there. He was also one of the most effective U.S. commanders in Afghanistan. In recent weeks, he has been contacted by Iraqi and Syrian Sunni leaders who want U.S. help.
Iraqis and Syrians tell me that U.S. special forces will be decisive in training the Sunni fighters who can carry the battle into the streets of Mosul, Fallujah and Raqqa. Obama must decide whether this mission is better performed overtly or covertly – but the Americans who will be doing the training will be the same warriors, drawn from such units as the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group.
The decisive issue is whether these U.S. special forces should be embedded with the Iraqi and Syrian forces they train – and accompany them into battle, where they can coordinate tactics and call in air support. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joints chiefs of staff, said in congressional testimony Tuesday that “where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific [ISIS] targets, I will recommend that to the president.”
Let’s be honest: U.S. boots are already on the ground, and more are coming. The question is whether Obama will decide to say so publicly, or remain in his preferred role as covert commander in chief.
*David Ignatius is published twice weekly by THE DAILY STAR.
Obama moves on Syria: Are strikes imminent?
Joyce Karam /Al Arabiya
With U.S. House of Representatives giving the stamp of approval for the Obama administration to train and arm a force of Syrian rebels and with military briefings concluding at the Central Command (CENTCOM) headquarters, it is likely that the U.S. action in Syria targeting ISIS is imminent as air strikes expand in Iraq.
The legislative branch voted with a majority last night (273-165) to train and arm a Syrian rebel force of 5000 fighters, while Obama rallied his troops and the American public once again behind the strategy after a meeting with his generals at CENTCOM in Tampa, Florida. The Congress vote, albeit with constraints, and the public debate supporting the air strikes offer Obama a legislative and political cover to expand the campaign from Iraq to Syria.
Air strikes imminent
Obama’s meetings, in conjunction with a marathon of hearings in Congress this week on ISIS, indicate that “air strikes in Syria are likely to be starting soon” says Jeff White, a defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East policy. The “war plan and the air plan are ready” he says, pointing out that meetings with generals are usually the last pitch before execution.
“The U.S. is determined to hit ISIS in Syria in order to deal a severe blow to the group”
Strategically, the U.S. is determined to hit ISIS in Syria in order to deal a severe blow to the group. “Two-thirds” of ISIS fighters are in Syrian territory, U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services committee on Tuesday. In numbers, according to the U.S intelligence estimates, that is almost 21,000 ISIS fighters in Syria, and nearly 10,000 in Iraq. White tells Al Arabiya News that “there is a general recognition among the U.S. political and military elite that ISIS’ infrastructure, heavy weaponry and leadership are in Syria” and not Iraq. The three videos released by ISIS publicizing the execution of hostages were likely taken in Syria, and it is also believed that the head of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is in the Syrian province of Raqqa while making occasional trips to Mosul across the border in Iraq, according to sources.
The air strikes will target ISIS’ weaponry and vast infrastructure in Syria says White. While air power alone does not stand a chance at defeating ISIS in Syria, Washington is coupling its air strikes strategy with an arming and training program for the Syrian rebels.
A Hezbollah impact?
The recognition of the threat and the speedy rise of ISIS was a game changer in Washington’s approach to Syria. The vote this week in Congress could not have materialized without the ISIS threat. This is something that both the legislative and executive branches have avoided and dreaded in the last three years out of concern that these arms might end up in the hands of extremists or abort the chances of a political settlement.
Today in Syria, extremists in the form of ISIS and the al-Nusra Front are better funded and armed than the more moderate opposition, and the political process is on its deathbed with the regime unwilling to transition without Assad, and as Russian-U.S. relations take a turn to the worse after Ukraine.
White expects the air strikes to start before the arming program, and sees it as a long term component for the strategy. “It will take months” he says, anticipating in the near term that tribal elements in Deir Azzor and the strong contingent of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo to help in immediate air strikes and in the event that ISIS retreats from certain areas. But in the medium term, utilizing a capable moderate rebel force is key as a counterterrorism force, while it is unclear if it will also help shift the balance against Assad. It is also worth noting that appointment of retired General John Allen to oversee the ISIS strategy, was another sign of the seriousness of the administration and a shift to military tracks. Allen is someone with firsthand knowledge of the tribal elements on the Syrian-Iraqi border, who helped defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq’s al-Anbar in 2007.
While the proposed rebel force number might not be enough to “turn the tide,” White says it should not be “dismissed” especially if “they are well trained and protected by air power.” The 5000 fighters is almost what the U.S. intelligence estimates Hezbollah’s force to be in Syria. The Lebanese group’s intervention in the war in May 2013 was instrumental, says White, in keeping the regime afloat and winning territory in Qusayr and Homs as wells as maintaining control of the capital Damascus.
Obama has ruled out any combat troops on the ground against ISIS, but that does not exclude special operations by U.S. commandos especially if the target is in the ISIS leadership. Washington already exercised this option in a failed rescue attempt of U.S. hostages in Raqqa in Syria last July.
The events of the last few weeks in Washington leave little doubt that the administration is embarking on a long fight in Syria, with an ambitious goal of defeating ISIS and shifting the ground balance to pressure Assad into accepting a Geneva-based political settlement.