Category Archives: Syria

Noam Chomsky: “US created the conditions from which ISIS arose”

Dutch and German biker gangs join the Kurds in the battle against ISIS

David Charter reports for The Australian:

Biker gangs join the fight against ISIS‘It is not just air strikes that the jihadists of Islamic State have to watch out for. Kurdish forces have received a boost from an unlikely source — Dutch and German Hell’s Angels.

Western governments avoided putting boots on the ground but that has not deterred Ron from the Netherlands, one of several members of the No Surrender biker gang who have joined the anti-Isis struggle.

A group has reportedly also travelled to the region from the Cologne-based Median Empire biker gang, made up of Kurdish Germans.’

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Ex-chief of CIA’s bin Laden unit says Islamic State needs U.S. to intervene

Will Porter reports for Antiwar:

‘In recent media appearances, ex-chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, came out strongly against the latest American military campaign in Iraq. Echoing past criticisms, thoroughly voiced in his books Through Our Enemies Eyes, Marching Toward Hell, and Imperial Hubris, Scheuer offers a case against the new Iraq intervention based on his 20+ years of experience as a US intelligence officer, as well as an intimate and detailed knowledge of Islamic extremism.

In Scheuer’s view, another US military intervention in the Middle East against groups such as the Islamic State (IS) will not meet its stated objectives, and will fall into the same errors made in past operations of a similar character. Continuing this policy, he says, will only help to motivate and radicalize Muslims the world over, and will provide exactly the impetus IS needs to step up their drive to establish a long-sought Islamic caliphate in the Levant region.’

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Does Arming Rebels Ever Work? CIA Study Says No

Mark Mazzetti reports for The New York Times:

‘The Central Intelligence Agency has run guns to insurgencies across the world during its 67-year history — from Angola to Nicaragua to Cuba. The continuing C.I.A. effort to train Syrian rebels is just the latest example of an American president becoming enticed by the prospect of using the spy agency to covertly arm and train rebel groups.

An internal C.I.A. study has found that it rarely works.

The still-classified review, one of several C.I.A. studies commissioned in 2012 and 2013 in the midst of the Obama administration’s protracted debate about whether to wade into the Syrian civil war, concluded that many past attempts by the agency to arm foreign forces covertly had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict. They were even less effective, the report found, when the militias fought without any direct American support on the ground.’

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Nafeez Ahmed on the ‘inevitability’ of a ground war against ISIS

War against ISIS: US air strategy in tatters as militants march on

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

‘[...] In the face of a likely Isis victory at Kobani, senior US officials have been trying to explain away the failure to save the Syrian Kurds in the town, probably Isis’s toughest opponents in Syria. “Our focus in Syria is in degrading the capacity of [Isis] at its core to project power, to command itself, to sustain itself, to resource itself,” said US Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, in a typical piece of waffle designed to mask defeat. “The tragic reality is that in the course of doing that there are going to be places like Kobani where we may or may not be able to fight effectively.”

Unfortunately for the US, Kobani isn’t the only place air strikes are failing to stop Isis. In an offensive in Iraq launched on 2 October but little reported in the outside world, Isis has captured almost all the cities and towns it did not already hold in Anbar province, a vast area in western Iraq that makes up a quarter of the country. It has captured Hit, Kubaisa and Ramadi, the provincial capital, which it had long fought for. Other cities, towns and bases on or close to the Euphrates River west of Baghdad fell in a few days, often after little resistance by the Iraqi Army which showed itself to be as dysfunctional as in the past, even when backed by US air strikes.’

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From Pol Pot to ISIS: “Anything that flies on everything that moves”

John Pilger writes:

In transmitting President Richard Nixon’s orders for a “massive” bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, “Anything that flies on everything that moves”.  As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger’s murderous honesty.

As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery – including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields – I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.’

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Key Democrats, Led by Hillary Clinton, Leave No doubt that Endless War is Official U.S. Doctrine

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Key Democrats, Led by Hillary Clinton, Leave No doubt that Endless War is Official U.S. Doctrine‘[...] At this point, it is literally inconceivable to imagine the U.S. not at war. It would be shocking if that happened in our lifetime. U.S. officials are now all but openly saying this. “Endless War” is not dramatic rhetorical license but a precise description of America’s foreign policy.

It’s not hard to see why. A state of endless war justifies ever-increasing state power and secrecy and a further erosion of rights. It also entails a massive transfer of public wealth to the “homeland security” and weapons industry (which the US media deceptively calls the “defense sector”).

[...] It was designed from the start to be endless. Both Bush and Obama officials have explicitly said that the war will last at least a generation. The nature of the “war,” and the theories that have accompanied it, is that it has no discernible enemy and no identifiable limits. More significantly, this “war” fuels itself, provides its own inexhaustible purpose, as it is precisely the policies justified in the name of Stopping Terrorism that actually ensure its spread (note how Panetta said the new U.S. war would have to include Libya, presumably to fight against those empowered by the last U.S. war there just 3 years ago).’

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Hillary Clinton: US-ISIS fight a ‘long-term struggle’

David McCabe reports for The Hill:

‘Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that military force is a necessary part of the “long-term struggle” between the U.S. and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), according to a report.

Clinton said at an event in Ottawa that because ISIS’s mission is “expansionary” in nature — and because the group seems interested in embedding militants in the countries it opposes — she supports military action.’

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Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Predicts ’30-Year War’ Against ISIS

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was harshly critical of President Obama’s handling of the new ISIS war, saying the US could have sustained the 2011 Iraq occupation and started arming Syrian rebels even sooner than they did.

But perhaps the most eye-opening comment in has new book tour was that he believes the conflict is a “30-year war” that will extend across the world, including campaigns in Nigeria, Somalia, and Libya, among other places.’

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The Impending Fall of Kobani Reveals Failure of U.S. Bombing Campaign: Interview with Patrick Cockburn

Editor’s Note: Patrick Cockburn writes a regular column for the The Independent and CounterPunch. His new book ‘The Jihadis Return‘ is available from OR Books. You can read his article related to the below interview here.

Beheading has a multicultural past

History professor Jonathan Zimmerman writes for the Star Tribune:

‘[...] After two American journalists were beheaded by ISIL fighters, President Obama vowed to dismantle the organization, and he has joined with five Arab allies to launch airstrikes on ISIL targets.

But one of our allies, Saudi Arabia, still practices beheading. So does the Free Syrian Army, which Obama pledged to assist in its battle to unseat dictator Bashar Assad. Unlike Assad’s “extremist” foes, the argument goes, the Free Syrian Army is a “moderate” force. But it still beheaded six captives in September.

Beheading is as old as human civilization itself. So it also reminds us how close we remain to savagery, which is what makes decapitation so repulsive and alluring at the same time. We don’t want to behold our own brutal natures. But we also can’t look away, as the millions of YouTube hits illustrate.’

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Costs of Obama’s New War in Iraq and Syria Set to Explode, say Analysts

Lauren McCauley reports for Common Dreams:

‘The U.S. government’s new war in Iraq that now also includes Syria has already cost American taxpayers between $780 and $930 million, and could amount to over $1 billion a month if U.S. efforts intensify on the scale demanded by war hawks in Congress, according to a think tank analysis published this week.

[...] On an annual basis, CSBA estimates, the U.S. military’s operation against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (or ISIS) could cost as much as $22 billion dollars a year.

The Pentagon is currently funding the attack through a controversial war fund, dubbed the Overseas Contingency Operations account, which is exempt from federal budget caps. The fund was originally created to fund the previous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan though defense officials say it will likely be around for the “long-term.”

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Jeremy Scahill on Obama’s Orwellian War in Iraq: We Created the Very Threat We Claim to be Fighting

‘As Vice President Joe Biden warns it will take a “hell of a long fight” for the United States to stop militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, we speak to Jeremy Scahill, author of the book, “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.” We talk about how the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 that helped create the threat now posed by the Islamic State. We also discuss the role of Baathist forces in ISIS, Obama’s targeting of journalists, and the trial of four former Blackwater operatives involved in the 2007 massacre at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square.’ (Democracy Now!)

Moazzam Begg: ‘MI5 gave me the green light to go Syria’

Why the Showdown with Islamic Extremists Is the War the Pentagon Was Hoping For

Nicolas J.S. Davies writes for AlterNet:

‘As the U.S. escalates its bombing campaign against ISIS (or IS or ISIL), U.S. officials seem to have found an enemy we can all love to hate and fear.  ISIS beheads hostages, conducts brutal ethnic cleansing and has links to Al-Qaeda.  DC power players have eagerly embraced a small war made to order to restore America’s wounded military pride after the first Iraq debacle.

The contrived nature of the narrative presented by U.S. officials was evident from the outset if one cared to look behind the propaganda screen.  As the U.S. bombing campaign began, German Left Party MP Ulla Jelpke told a  press conference in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) on August 11th that the Yazidis on Mount Sinjar were rescued by the Kurdish PKK, who the U.S. government classifies as “terrorists.”  Refugees told Jelpke that they were saved by “Allah and the PKK,” not by U.S. bombing.’

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The Khorasan Group: The Fake Terror Threat Used to Justify Bombing Syria

Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain write for The Intercept:

Featured photo - The Fake Terror Threat Used To Justify Bombing Syria‘As the Obama Administration prepared to bomb Syria without congressional or U.N. authorization, it faced two problems. The first was the difficulty of sustaining public support for a new years-long war against ISIS, a group that clearly posed no imminent threat to the “homeland.” A second was the lack of legal justification for launching a new bombing campaign with no viable claim of self-defense or U.N. approval.

The solution to both problems was found in the wholesale concoction of a brand new terror threat that was branded “The Khorasan Group.” After spending weeks depicting ISIS as an unprecedented threat — too radical even for Al Qaeda! — administration officials suddenly began spoon-feeding their favorite media organizations and national security journalists tales of a secret group that was even scarier and more threatening than ISIS, one that posed a direct and immediate threat to the American Homeland. Seemingly out of nowhere, a new terror group was created in media lore.’

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War Photographer Benjamin Hiller On His Time In Syria

Clear as mud: The war against Islamic State explained

The Impotence of Air Power: Why Bombing ISIS Will Fail

Patrick Cockburn writes for CounterPunch:

‘The US plan to weaken and ultimately destroy Isis has several political and military weaknesses undermining its long-term success. Air campaigns not supported by ground forces can damage the other side but they do not win wars on their own. Isis has already faced bombardment by US planes in Iraq since 8 August, but it is still fighting the Iraqi army around Baghdad.

Some of the weaknesses of the air war are already apparent since Isis had evacuated its leaders, fighters and heavy equipment from buildings that were targeted. Its fighters avoid large gatherings and mix with the civilian population. The shock effect of being bombed will be the less because the Syrian air force has long been bombing rebel-held cities and towns.

Isis expertise is in guerrilla warfare and it is only recently that it has used columns of vehicles packed with gunmen and heavy infantry weapons. Air superiority over the fruit groves of Diyala province or the palm trees of northern Hilla is difficult to use effectively. Of course, in Syria and Iraq there are ground troops capable of taking advantage of the air strikes, but they mostly belong to armies and militias with whom the US is not meant to be co-operating.’

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How the Pentagon Exploits ISIS to Kill Surveillance Reform and Re-Occupy Iraq

Nafeez Ahmed writes for CounterPunch:

‘As the US, Britain and France are maneuvering to escalate military action in Iraq and Syria against the ‘Islamic State’ in an operation slated to last “years,” authorities are simultaneously calling for new measures to tighten security at home to fend off the danger of jihadists targeting western homelands. Intervention abroad, policymakers are arguing, must be tied to increased domestic surveillance and vigilance. But US and British military experts warn that officials have overlooked the extent to which western policies in the region have not just stoked the rise of IS, but will continue to inflame the current crisis. The consequences could be dire – while governments exploit the turmoil in the Middle East to justify an effective re-invasion of Iraq along with intensified powers of surveillance and control – the end result could well be accelerated regional violence and increasing criminalization of Muslims and activists.’

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The Iraq and Syria airstrikes are popular. But so is every military action — at first.

Aaron Blake writes for The Washington Post:

ptflzwhesum4gdejsebywg‘Over the past few weeks, poll after poll has shown the just-launched American airstrikes in Syria and the weeks-long campaign in Iraq are quite popular. And that remains the case.

But actually, it would be more unusual if that wasn’t the case. And in fact, the actions in Iraq and Syria have a lower initial level of support than almost every major U.S. military operation over the past three decades.’

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How John McCain Wound Up Canoodling With Terrorists

Justin Raimondo writes for Antiwar:

ISIS-McCain‘Did Senator John McCain, a leading advocate of arming Syria’s Islamist revolutionaries, meet with members or allies of the Islamic State in al-Sham [the Levant] (ISIS) during his trip to Syria on May 27 of last year?

McCain and his defenders deny it, and McCain’s longtime advisor, Mark Salter, is accusing Sen. Rand Paul – who, in a recent interview with the Daily Beast, said McCain had met with ISIS – of “smearing” McCain and indulging in “conspiracy theories,” rendering him “unfit” for the office of the presidency. The Washington establishment, unsurprisingly, is siding with McCain, one of their own: theWashington Post’s Glenn Kessler, in a scathing piece, gives Sen. Paul “four Pinocchios,” and regrets that’s the maximum allowed. Josh Rogin, of the reliably neoconnish Daily Beast, joined in the pile-on with his colleague Olivia Nuzzi, ex-aide to Anthony Weiner, who accused Paul of “repeating a thoroughly debunked rumor.”

Now, however, it’s time to debunk the “debunking,” because the truth is finally coming out – and it’s worse for McCain than even Sen. Paul imagined. It turns out the frenetic Arizona warmonger met with members of the Northern Storm Brigade – the group that handed US journalist Steven Sotloff over to ISIS as he crossed the border into Syria.’

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‘Tony Blair is a crusader’ says former deputy PM John Prescott

Islamic State battle could take years, Pentagon says

BBC News reports:

‘US-led air strikes have disrupted Islamic State (IS) militants but the fight against them will take years, a Pentagon spokesman has told the BBC. The comments came as activists reported new strikes around the town of Kobane, near Syria’s border with Turkey.

[...] Speaking in Washington, Rear Adm John Kirby said the air strikes in Syria had successfully degraded IS capabilities. “We think we have hit what we were aiming at,” he said. However, IS was good at adapting and reacting to changes, he said, adding that the group presented a “serious threat” that would not be eliminated “within days or months.” “It’s going to take a serious effort by all involved. We do believe that we’re talking about years here.”‘

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Operation Tomahawk the Caliph

Pepe Escobar writes for the Asia Times:

‘The Tomahawks are finally flying again – propelled by newspeak. 42 Tomahawks fired from a Sixth Fleet destroyer parked in Mare Nostrum, plus F-22s raising hell and Hellfires spouted by drones, that’s a neat mini-Shock and Awe to honor Caliph Ibrahim, aka Abu Bakr al -Baghdadi, self-declared leader of Islamic State.

It’s all so surgical. All targets – from ”suspected” weapons depots to the mayor’s mansion in Raqqah (the HQ of The Caliph’s goons) and assorted checkpoints – were duly obliterated, along with “dozens of”, perhaps 120, jihadis.

And praise those “over 40″ (Samantha Power) or “over 50″ (John Kerry) international allies in the coalition of the unwilling; America is never alone, although in this case mightily escorted, de facto, only by the usual Gulf petrodollar dictatorships and the realm of King Playstation, Jordan, all none too keen to engage in “kinetic activities”.

Aseptic newspeak aside, no one has seen or heard a mighty Gulf Cooperation Council air force deployed to bomb Syria. After all the vassals are scared as hell to tell their own populations they are – once again – bombing a fellow Arab nation. As for Damascus, it meekly said it was ”notified” by the Pentagon its own territory would be bombed. Nobody really knows what the Pentagon is exactly telling Damascus.

The Pentagon calls it just the beginning of a ”sustained campaign” – code for Long War, which is one of the original denominations of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) anyway. And yes, for all practical purposes this is a coalition of one. Let’s call it Operation Tomahawk the Caliph.’

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Jimmy Carter: US Bombing of ISIS ‘Likely to Kill More Civilians’ Than Fighters

The Associated Press reports:

‘A U.S. bombing attack against the Islamic State forces in Iraq could end up killing more civilians than militants unless there are American spotters on the ground, former President Jimmy Carter said Monday during an appearance at a community college in western Michigan.

[...] “When ISIS forces go into a city and take it over, and then the United States goes over there with bombers and drops bombs, we are very likely to kill more civilians than ISIS members. That’s why it’s very necessary for us to have our own people on the ground that can give us accurate information about exactly where to let a missile land or a bomb land to make sure that it kills the ISIS terrorists instead of normal civilians.”‘

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Kerry’s rhetoric on ISIS insults our intelligence and conceals the reality of the situation in Syria

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

‘[...] Anyone who has studied Syria from afar, let alone those who go there, know that the fictional “moderate opposition” – supposedly deserters from the Syrian government army – does not exist. Corrupted, disillusioned, murdered or simply re-defected towards Isis or some other al-Qaeda outfit, the old “Free Syrian Army” is now a myth as ridiculous – and as potent for the Kerrys of this world – as Mussolini’s boast that the Italian army could defeat the British in North Africa. Any Syrian soldier will tell you that they are happy to fight the FSA because these warriors of the “moderate opposition” always run away. It is the al-Qaeda-Nusra-Isis “terrorists” who fight to the death.

But Kerry, like the generals of the First World War, is in an ornate chateau of his own imagination. “In Syria, the on-the-ground combat will be done by the moderate opposition, which is Syria’s [sic] best counterweight to extremists like [Isis],” he told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “And we can talk more about that moderate opposition – what it looks like, who it is, what they’re capable of today, what they could be doing – as we go forward.” Like Generals Haig and French, Kerry dreamed on.’

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Syria Becomes the 7th Predominantly Muslim Country Bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Syria Becomes the 7th Predominantly Muslim Country Bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate‘The U.S. today began bombing targets inside Syria, in concert with its lovely and inspiring group of five allied regimes: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan. That means that Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama—after Afghanistan,Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iraq.

The utter lack of interest in what possible legal authority Obama has to bomb Syria is telling indeed: Empires bomb who they want, when they want, for whatever reason (indeed, recall that Obama bombed Libya evenafter Congress explicitly voted against authorization to use force, and very few people seemed to mind that abject act of lawlessness; constitutional constraints are not for warriors and emperors).

It was just over a year ago that Obama officials were insisting that bombing and attacking Assad was a moral and strategic imperative. Instead, Obama is now bombing Assad’s enemies while politely informing his regime of its targets in advance. It seems irrelevant on whom the U.S. wages war; what matters it that it be at war, always and forever.’

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First Germany, Now France Folds On Syrian Airstrikes

From Zero Hedge:

‘In yet another rather embarrassing event for The White House, just days after President Obama praised the French for helping in the fight against ISIS, and General martin Dempsey noted “the French were our very first ally and they’re with us again now,” French officials have, according to Reuters, ruled out participation in airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria. With the fall of France (and Germany already saying “nein”), it appears the broad coalition is now a “coalition of none,” as Obama has stated the US would not go it alone…’

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