Archive for the ‘Iran – Iraq war’ category

Mosul assault – a military Tower of Babel

October 17, 2016

Mosul assault – a military Tower of Babel, DEBKAfile, October 17, 2016

mosul_offensive_declaration_16-10-16

The underlying US rationale for embarking on this high-wire operation is President Barack Obama’s aspiration to achieve Mosul’s liberation before his departure from the White House in January, in the hope that this landmark success will provide a major distraction from his administration’s failed policies in Syria.

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Sunday night, Oct. 16, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, supported by a bevy of generals, announced that the military operation to recapture Mosul from its two-year occupation by the Islamic State had begun.

Three formally approved participants are taking part in the operation, DEBKAfile’s military sources report:

1. American special operations, artillery and engineering units – equipped with floating bridges for crossing the Tigris River – plus the US air force for massive bombardment to crush enemy resistance.

2. Iraqi army armored divisions, special ops forces, regular troops and anti-terror police units.

3. The Iraqi Kurds’ Peshmerga.

The Iraqi prime minister pledged formally that only Iraqi fighters would enter Mosul, i.e. no Americans, Kurds or other non-Iraqi forces.

It was a pledge that neither the Iraqi Sunni and Shiite combatants nor the Kurdish and Turkmen fighters trusted him to uphold, after similar promises went by the wayside in the US-led coalition battles fought in the past two years to retake the Iraqi towns of Ramadi, Tikirit, Baiji and Fallujah from ISIS.

The first forces to enter those cities were by and large pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias, especially the Bader Brigades and the Popular Mobilization Units, under Iran’s supreme Middle East commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Nonetheless, despite the ravages they wrought in those Sunni cities, US air support was forthcoming for their advance, while in Washington US officials pretended they were helping Iraqi government army units.

With regard to the Mosul campaign, Obama administration officials and military officers, like the Iraqi prime minister, insist there will be no repetition of the Iranian-backed Shiite invasion and conquest of yet another Sunni city, where a million inhabitants still remain.

mosul_offensive_17-10-16

They don’t explain how this will be prevented when those same pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite forces are already massing northeast of Mosul, near the Iraqi-Syria border, and standing by for the order to advance into the city.

Tehran quite obviously has no intention of being left out of the epic capture of Mosul.

Neither is another uninvited party, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. He too has positioned a Turkish military concentration in Iraq, in defiance of strong objections from Washington and Baghdad. Turkish troops stand ready to move forward to do Erdogan’s will and achieve three strategic goals:

a) To actively frustrate Kurdish Peshmerga entry to Mosul, although its 15,000 fighters out of the 25,000 invasion force are a vital element of the spearhead thrust into the city. Ankara has warned that if Kurds set foot in Mosul, Turkish troops will follow.

b)  To block the path of Syrian Kurdish YPG militiamen from entering Iraq and linking up with their Iraqi brothers-in-arms.

c) To provide backing, including Turkish air support, for the Iraqi Turkmen militias still present in the Turkmen quarter of Mosul.

DEBKAfile’s military sources count six assorted military groupings taking part in the liberation of Mosul. They have nothing in common aside from their determination to drive the Islamic State out.

They are utterly divided on the two main aspects of the offensive: How to achieve their common goal and what happens to Mosul after the Islamist invaders are gone.

The underlying US rationale for embarking on this high-wire operation is President Barack Obama’s aspiration to achieve Mosul’s liberation before his departure from the White House in January, in the hope that this landmark success will provide a major distraction from his administration’s failed policies in Syria.

The Islamic State might have been expected to take advantage of the prior warning of the offensive for a stand in defense of the Iraqi capital of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s caliphate and so exploit the conflicting interests of the invading force.

But ISIS leaders decided against waiting for the combined offensive. Indeed, according to DEBKAfile’s sources, thousands of jihadis made tracks out of the city two or three months ago, relocating the bulk of their combat strength and institutions in two new locations: in the western Iraqi desert province of Anbar at a site between the Jordanian and Saudi borders and eastern Syria. Several hundred fighters were left behind in Mosul to harass the US-Iraq-Kurdish armies as they advance into the city and exploit the invaders’ discord to retain a foothold in Mosul.

Iran’s Chess Board

June 3, 2016

Iran’s Chess Board, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, June 3, 2016

official_photo_of_hassan_rouhani_7th_president_of_iran_august_2013

Even if Obama’s successor disavows his actions, by the time Obama leaves office, America’s options will be more limited than ever before. Without war, his successor will likely be unable to stem Iran’s rise on the ruins of the Arab state system.

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Reprinted from jpost.com.

Strategic thinking has always been Israel’s Achilles’ heel. As a small state bereft of regional ambitions, so long as regional realities remained more or less static, Israel had little reason to be concerned about the great game of the Middle East.

But the ground is shifting in the lands around us. The Arab state system, which ensured the strategic status quo for decades, has collapsed.

So for the first time in four generations, strategy is again the dominant force shaping events that will impact Israel for generations to come.

To understand why, consider two events of the past week.

Early this week it was reported that after a two-year hiatus, Iran is restoring its financial support for Islamic Jihad. Iran will give the group, which is largely a creation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, $70 million.

On Wednesday Iranian media were the first to report on the arrest of a “reporter” for Iran’s Al-Alam news service. Bassam Safadi was arrested by Israel police in his home in Majdal Shams, the Druse village closest to the border with Syria on the Golan Heights. Safadi is suspected of inciting terrorism.

That is, he is suspected of being an Iranian agent.

There is nothing new about Iranian efforts to raise and run fronts against Israel within its territory and along its borders. Iran poses a strategic threat to Israel through its Hezbollah surrogate in Lebanon, which now reportedly controls the Lebanese Armed Forces.

In Gaza, Iran controls a vast assortment of terrorist groups, including Hamas.

In Judea and Samaria, seemingly on a weekly basis we hear about another Iranian cell whose members were arrested by the Shin Bet or the IDF.

But while we are well aware of the efforts Iran is making along our borders and even within them to threaten Israel, we have not connected these efforts to Iran’s actions in Iraq and Syria. Only when we connect Iran’s actions here with its actions in those theaters do we understand what is now happening, and how it will influence Israel’s long-term strategic environment.

The big question today is what will replace the Arab state system.

Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Libya no longer exist. On their detritus we see the fight whose results will likely determine the fates of the surviving Arab states, as well as of much of Europe and the rest of the world.

Israel’s strategic environment will be determined in great part by the results of Iran’s actions in Iraq and Syria. While Israel can do little to affect the shape of events in these areas, it must understand what they mean for us. Only by doing so, will we be able to develop the tools to secure our future in this new strategic arena.

Until 2003, Saddam Hussein was the chief obstacle to Iran’s rise as the regional hegemon.

US forces in Iraq replaced Hussein until they left the country in 2011. In the meantime, by installing a Shi’ite government in Baghdad, the US set the conditions for the rise of Islamic State in the Sunni heartland of Anbar province on the one hand, and for Iran’s control over Iraq’s Shi’ite-controlled government and armed forces on the other.

Today, ISIS is the only thing checking Iran’s westward advance. Ironically, the monstrous group also facilitates it. ISIS is so demonic that for Americans and other Westerners, empowering Iranian-controlled forces that fight ISIS seems a small price to pay to rid the world of the fanatical scourge.

As former US naval intelligence analyst J.E. Dyer explained this week in an alarming analysis of Iran’s recent moves in Iraq published on the Liberty Unyielding website, once Iranian- controlled forces defeat ISIS in Anbar province, they will be well placed to threaten Jordan and Israel from the east. This is particularly the case given that ISIS is serving inadvertently as an advance guard for Iran.

In Syria, Iran already controls wide swaths of the country directly and through its surrogates, the Syrian army, Hezbollah and Shi’ite militias it has fielded in the country.

Since the start of the war in Syria, Israel has repeatedly taken action to block those forces from gaining and holding control over the border zone on the Golan Heights.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprising recent announcement that Israel will never relinquish control over the Golan came in response to his concern that in exchange for a cease-fire in Syria, the US would place that control on the international diplomatic chopping block.

A week and a half ago, Iran began its move on Anbar province.

On May 22, Iraqi forces trained by the US military led Iraq’s offensive to wrest control over Fallujah and Mosul from ISIS, which has controlled the Sunni cities since 2014. Despite the fact that the lead forces are US-trained, the main forces involved in the offensive are trained, equipped and directed by Iran.

As Iraqi forces surrounded Fallujah in the weeks before the offensive began, Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds forces, paid a public visit to the troops to demonstrate Iran’s dominant role.

The battle for Fallujah is a clear indication that Iran, rather than the US, is calling the shots in Iraq. According to media reports, the Pentagon wanted and expected for the forces to be concentrated in Mosul. But at the last minute, due to Soleimani’s intervention, the Iraqi government decided to make Fallujah the offensive’s center of gravity.

The Americans had no choice but to go along with the Iranian plan because, as Dyer noted, Iran is increasingly outflanking the US in Iraq. If things follow their current course, in the near future, Iran is liable to be in a position to force the US to choose between going to war or ceasing all air operations in Iraq.

On May 7, Asharq al-Awsat reported that the Revolutionary Guards is building a missile base in Suleimaniyah province, in Iraqi Kurdistan.

A senior IRGC general has made repeated visits to the area in recent weeks, signaling that the regime views this as an important project. The report further stated that Iran is renewing tunnel networks in the region, built during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

Dyer warned that depending on the type of missiles Iran deploys – or has deployed – to the base, it may threaten all US air operations in Iraq. And the US has no easy means to block Iran’s actions.

To date, commentators have more or less agreed that US operations in Iraq and Syria make no sense. They are significant enough to endanger US forces, but they aren’t significant enough to determine the outcome of the war in either territory.

But there may be logic to this seemingly irrational deployment that is concealed from view. A close reading of David Samuels’s profile of President Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes published last month in The New York Times, points to such a conclusion.

Samuels described Rhodes as second only to Obama in his influence over US foreign and defense policy. Rhodes boasted to Samuels that Obama’s moves toward Iran were determined by a strategic course he embraced before he entered office.

A fiction writer by training, Rhodes’s first “national security” job was as the chief note taker for the Iraq Study Group.

Then-president George W. Bush appointed the group, jointly chaired by former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton, in 2006, to advise him on how to extricate the US from the war in Iraq.

In late 2006, the ISG published its recommendations.

Among other things, the ISG recommended withdrawing US forces from Iraq as quickly as possible. The retreat was to be enacted in cooperation with Iran and Syria – the principle sponsors of the insurgency.

The ISG argued that if given the proper incentives, Syria and Iran would fight al-Qaida in Iraq in place of the US. For such action, the ISG recommended that the US end its attempts to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

Responsibility for handling the threat, the ISG recommended, should be transferred to the US Security Council.

So, too, the ISG recommended that Bush pressure Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria in the framework of a “peace process.”

Such action too would serve to convince Iran and Syria that they could trust the US and agree to serve as its heirs in Iraq.

Bush of course, rejected the ISG’s recommendations.

He decided instead to sue for victory in Iraq. Bush announced the surge in US forces shortly after the ISG published its report.

But now we see, that through Rhodes the Iraq Study Group’s recommendation became the blueprint for a new US strategy of retreat and Iranian ascendance in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

The chief components of that strategy have already been implemented. The US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 left Iran as the new power broker in the country. The nuclear pact with Iran facilitated Iran’s transformation into the regional hegemon.

Against this strategic shift, the US’s minimalist campaigns in Iraq and Syria against ISIS make sense.

The US forces aren’t there to defeat ISIS, but to conceal Iran’s rise.

When ISIS is defeated in Anbar and in Raqqa in Syria, its forces are liable to turn west, to Jordan.

The US is currently helping Jordan to complete a border fence along its border with Iraq. But then ISIS is already active in Jordan.

And if events in Iraq and Syria are any guide, where ISIS leads, Iran will follow.

Iran’s strategic game, as well as America’s, requires Israel to become a strategic player.

We must recognize that what is happening in Iraq is connected to what is happening here.

We need to understand the implications of the working alliance Obama has built with Iran.

Even if Obama’s successor disavows his actions, by the time Obama leaves office, America’s options will be more limited than ever before. Without war, his successor will likely be unable to stem Iran’s rise on the ruins of the Arab state system.

In this new strategic environment, Israel must stop viewing Gaza, Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights and Lebanon as standalone battlefields. We must not be taken in by “regional peace plans” that would curtail our maneuver room. And we must bear in mind these new conditions as we negotiate a new US military assistance package.

The name of the game today is chess. The entire Middle East is one great board. When a pawn moves in Gaza, it affects the queen in Tehran.

And when a knight moves in Fallujah, it threatens the queen in Jerusalem.

Iran’s Soleimani leads US-backed attack on Fallujah

May 24, 2016

Iran’s Soleimani leads US-backed attack on Fallujah, DEBKAfile, May 24, 2016

Qassem_Soleimani_overseeing_Fallujah_ops_1Exclusive photo of war conference.

For months, US President Barack Obama and the Pentagon opposed the participation by pro-Iranian militias in the war against ISIS in Iraq.

The main objection were to the Popular Mobilization Army commanded by Iranian Gen. Abu Mahdi al Muhandis who has been named as a “specially designated global terrorist” by Washington.

The US was also against the Badr Organization (formerly the Badr Brigade) commanded by Hadi Al-Amiri from Iran’s Al Qods Brigades. These militias slaughtered the Sunni residents of cities that they recaptured from ISIS during the last year. As a result, many Sunni Iraqis preferred to be ruled by ISIS, and did not trust the coalition of US, Baghdad and Tehran.

But on May 22, with the start of the Iraqi attack on Fallujah, the capital of Anbar province in western Iraq, it became clear that the participation of pro-Iranian forces is no longer taboo for the US.

Even though Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that 35,000 Iraqi troops launched an attack to liberate Fallujah from ISIS, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that most of these forces are not participating in the assault.

It is spearheaded by the Popular Mobilization Army and the Badr Organization, and they are under the direct command of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iranian forces in Iraq and Syria, who is operating from a field command center.

The US air force is helping Soleimani’s attempt to capture Fallujah.

In a new exclusive photo showing the Iranian war room on the front, Soleimani is seen smoking a thick cigar with al-Muhandis on his left, leaning on a US map of the area of the battle.

Our military sources report that by assisting the offensive, which the Obama administration opposed for a long time, the Americans have actually given up on attacking Mosul, the ISIS capital in Iraq, any time soon.
Instead of liberating Mosul, Washington now prefers to place it under siege and gradually cause the collapse of ISIS rule.

The American decision to support Soleimani’s operation shows the central role played by Iran for the past few weeks in the wars carried out by the US and Russia in the Middle East.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Iranian general came to Fallujah from northern Syria, near the city of Aleppo, where he commanded the Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah armies. At this stage, it can be concluded that he has failed against the Syrian rebels on the Aleppo front.

Following that failure of that campaign, which was backed by Russian air power, Soleimani has relocated to the Fallujah front where his troops are operating under the protective umbrella of the US air force.

Bipartisan consensus: Stop Iran and its missile attacks on Iranian dissidents

October 31, 2015

Bipartisan consensus: Stop Iran and its missile attacks on Iranian dissidents, The Hill, Raymond Tanter, October 31, 2015

Fox News reports a missile attack occurred on Camp Liberty Iraq on October 29; residents include 2,400 members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK). About 80 missiles made holes as deep as 7 feet and wide as 8 feet—including 122 mm Katyushas and those Tehran produced—the NB24 Russian missiles. 

Why is Iran targeting its opposition? Dissidents block the goal of Tehran—to control Baghdad and Damascus where we are fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Washington’s evolving strategy is DOA on the Hill unless the administration reaches out to the opposition and sees Iran as a threat across the porous border.

How to counter the threat from Iran? Align with others opposing Tehran and the bipartisan congressional coalition sharing that view.

Saudi Arabia’s alignment against Iran includes Israel as a silent partner. Saudis view Tehran and Damascus unfavorably. A potential partner for Riyadh and Washington is the Iranian Resistance that rejects clerical rule in Tehran. All define the threat as Islamist.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir asked, Is Iran a “state or a revolution?” If it wants to export its 1979 revolution and revive the Persian Empire “we cannot deal with it.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his UN speech on October 1 that shifting alliances in the Middle East drew Arab countries like Saudi Arabia closer to Israel in confronting Iran and ISIL. His speech before the Congress stated that, “Iran’s regime poses a grave threat…to the peace.”

On April 29, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing, “ISIS: Defining the Enemy.” Maryam Rajavi is President-Elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the coalition of which the MEK is the largest unit; she testified from Paris. Her written testimony showed how Tehran is an Islamist epicenter of terrorism to establish an Empire without borders and called for empowering the democratic tolerant Islam she represented.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), garnered bipartisan criticism on the Hill. At a May 5, 2014 press conference, Senate Committee on Armed Services (SCAC) Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced completion of markup of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. That Act had language to counter Iran’s influence in Iraq and protect the MEK, now in Camp Liberty. An SCAC hearing on Iranian Influence in Iraq and the Case of Camp Liberty focused on resettlement of the MEK from Camp Liberty outside Iraq.

Bipartisan statements by over a dozen senators indicated Secretary Kerry should protect the MEK in Iraq and waive regulations to permit MEK members to enter the USA and contribute to the economy in alignment with our humanitarian values, as stated by several senators and General James Jones, USMC (Ret.), first National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama.

“The U.S. government and military made a commitment to protect thousands of people [MEK] who surrendered their weapons and came under our protection as a result,” McCain said. “Clearly, this commitment has not been sustained.”

Ranking member, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), expressed a desire to help these oppositionists. “The Iranian dissidents at Camp Liberty are in an increasingly perilous situation, having repeatedly come under attack. These horrific attacks, which have killed more than 100 MEK members since 2009, clearly indicate the threat to this group from Iran and Iranian-backed militia seeking to eliminate and silence these dissidents.” Add about 30 others from the attack on Oct 29, 2015.

McCain described the MEK as a group that received “protected persons” status in 2004 under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Col Wes Martin, former Commander, Forward Operating Base Ashraf until 2006, testified that the United States provided ID cards for each Protected Person under the authority of the American military on behalf of the U.S. Government.

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), invited by former colleagues to attend as witness, testified that America would be “disloyal to our…national values if we did not find better ways–overt and covert–to support the democratic opposition to the dictatorial regime in Iran.”

Senators backed the moderate pro-democracy tolerant Islam of the MEK instead of allowing the Islamist regime in Tehran to suppress that organization. With such bipartisan backing, there is enhanced likelihood the MEK can expand the NCRI coalition for regime change from within and broaden its base in Iran given that expectations will be higher in a post-nuclear-agreement Iran.

The way forward: Alignment with those opposing Tehran, congressional allies sharing that view, and prevention of attacks like the missiles on Camp Liberty.

US praises role of Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Baiji operation

October 22, 2015

US praises role of Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Baiji operation, Long War Journal, October 22, 2015

Over the past several days, US officials have celebrated the capture of Baiji from the Islamic State. While doing so, they have praised the role that Iranian-supported Shiite militias have played in capturing the strategic central Iraqi city. These are the same militias that are responsible for killing hundreds of US soldiers just a few years ago, and many of these militia leaders are listed as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Additionally, the US is continuing to provide air support to aid these groups.

Both the US military and the Obama administration’s Deputy Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (the outdated acronym for the Islamic State) issued statements that praised the role the Shiite militias played in recapturing Baiji.

Brett McGurk, the Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL [another acronym for the Islamic State], tweeted that the “US commends progress by Iraqi Security Forces and popular mobilization forces [emphasis ours] against ISIL terrorists in Baiji.” He also confirmed that the US has launched around 130 airstrikes in support of these groups since August.

McGurk’s plaudits for the role that the “popular mobilization forces” have played in Baiji was echoed by the US military, which called these units “Shiia [sic] security forces.”

Army Major Mike Filanowski, an officer in the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), said that “The people who did the heavy lifting [in Baiji] were the Iraqi special forces.” He continued by saying, “they not only secured the [Baiji] oil refinery, but also the power plant to the north all the way up to the al-Fatah Bridge.” While the Iraqi special forces did help capture the refinery, they were not the only forces doing the “heavy lifting.”

The Department of Defense press release that quoted Filanowski admitted that the Popular Mobilization Committee (also called Popular Mobilization Units or Popular Mobilization Forces), was conducting operations.

“In the last three days, a special operations team from the elite Counterterrorism Service spearheaded the attack,” the DoD statement said. “The team worked with Iraqi army soldiers, Popular Mobilization Front forces — essentially Shiia security forces — and federal police” [emphasis ours].

So while the US commends the Iraqi Security Forces and the Popular Mobilization Committee, it is also lauding designated terrorists and a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Popular Mobilization Committee is led by Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, a former commander in the Badr Organization who was listed by the US government as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in July 2009. The US government described Muhandis, whose real name is Jamal Jaafar Mohammed, as “an advisor to Qassem Soleimani,” the commander of the Qods Force, the external operations wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The Iranian-backed Shiite militias that played a prominent role in the assault on Baiji include: Asa’ib al Haq (League of the Righteous), whose leader Qais al Khazali is thought to be involved in the murder of five US soldiers in Karbala in 2007; Hezbollah Brigades, which is listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US government; Harakat al Nujaba, which recently called for the expulsion of US troops from Iraq; Harakat al Nujaba, which is led by Akram Abbas al Kaabi, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist; Kata’ib Imam Ali, led by Shebl al Zaydi, who is close to Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani; Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada, which is commanded by Mustafa al Sheibani, who is also a Specially Designated Global Terrorist; and Badr Corps, another large militia supported by Iran. For more information the role these militias played in the retaking of Baiji, including photographs and video of Iraqi forces operating alongside these militias, see LWJ report, Iraqi Army, Shiite militias report success in Baiji.

Sadly, this behavior by US officials is nothing new. Earlier this year, General (retired) John Allen, the former Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, claimed that the US is only supporting so-called moderate Shiite militas, and not the “extremist elements.” Allen’s statement is below:

With regard to militias, it’s really important to understand that the militias are not just a single monolithic entity. There are the militias that you and I are used to hearing that have close alignments with Iran. Those are the extremist elements, and we don’t have anything to do with that. But there are elements of the Shia militias that volunteered last year to try to defend Iraq from the onslaught of Daesh [Islamic State] who were called to arms by Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and those elements, or the Popular Mobilization Force, as they are known, have been subordinated to the Iraqi higher military campaign or command. And they will provide maneuver capacity and additional firepower to the Iraqi Security Forces as we continue to build them out, as we continue to build the professionalization of the Iraqi forces.

So the fact that militias are involved and tribes are involved in this part of the campaign, this part of the implementation of supporting Iraq ultimately to recover the country, should not alarm us. We just need to ensure that we manage the outcome of this. Prime Minister Abadi’s been clear that these organizations within the Popular Mobilization Force, the Shia volunteers, will eventually either transition into the security forces themselves or go home. That’s the solution that he intends and I think that that’s a supportable outcome. So for now – this goes back to the point that you made about urgency – urgency is an important factor here in helping us to focus on supporting the Iraqis, the tribes, and the Popular Mobilization Force to take those actions necessary to defeat Daesh locally.

Allen said that the fact that the US is supporting the Popular Mobilization Committee “should not alarm us.” Except it should alarm us. Because as we detailed, the organization’s operational leader is a Specially Designated Terrorist, and its most effective militias are Iranian pawns that are responsible for killing hundreds of US soldiers and remain openly hostile to the US.

At the U.N., Obama refuses to see the chaotic world he has made,

September 29, 2015

At the U.N., Obama refuses to see the chaotic world he has made, BreitbartJohn Hayward, September 28, 2015

ISIS-beheading-Christians-Libya-ap-640x480

President Obama’s address to the U.N. General Assembly on Monday morning was a rambling journey through a fantasy world where his foreign policy hasn’t been an unmitigated disaster.

Perhaps the most bizarre moment came when he tried to tout his Libyan adventure as a success.

There was plenty of tough-guy posturing that intimidated absolutely no one.  The Russian and Iranian delegations were especially good at looking bored and unimpressed when he called upon them to do this-or-that because The World supposedly demanded it. Obama hasn’t figured out he’s the only leader at the U.N. eager to sacrifice his nation’s interests to please The World.

Obama made the weird decision to vaguely threaten Russia over its invasion of Ukraine by claiming that The World would not stand idly by and allow it… when that’s exactly what The World, and especially First Citizen of the World Barack Obama, has been doing.  He essentially pleaded with Iran to stop supporting terrorist proxies and pursuing its aggressive regional ambitions, and focus on their economy instead.  (Of course, in Obama’s vigorous imagination, the U.S. has been enjoying an economic boom under his stewardship, instead of an endless grinding non-recovery and limp, sporadic growth, after Obama’s spending doubled the national debt in a single presidency.)

It was bad enough that the President talked about American troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan as the triumphant conclusion of an effective policy, rather than the hideous blunder that allowed ISIS to create a terror state, al-Qaeda to rise from the ashes, and the Taliban to begin planning its return to power.  At the same moment Obama was speaking, the Taliban was conducting a major offensive in Afghanistan, on par with the importance of ISIS taking Mosul in Iraq.  Obama’s pitifully small “New Syrian Force” of U.S.-backed rebels just handed a good deal of its American equipment over to al-Qaeda, and no one really knows what became of the unit itself.  Their predecessors were destroyed by al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria, with less than half a dozen survivors still on the field.

When Obama boasted of the Libyan operation as the successful removal of a tyrant, jaws must have hit the floor around the room.  Libya is an unholy disaster, a wasteland of warlords fighting to keep ISIS off their turf.  It’s a key gateway for the incredible migratory tide blasting out of Africa and the Middle East and now surging across Europe.  And yet, Obama portrays it as [a] laudable example of tyrant removal… while modestly admitting that “our coalition could have, and should have, done more to fill a vacuum left behind.”

Of course he blamed everyone else in the “coalition” for the disaster in Libya. He’s Barack Obama.  The day may come when he takes responsibility for something, but today is not that day, and tomorrow isn’t looking good either.

The scary thing about Obama is that he believes so completely in the power of his own rhetoric.

He thinks he can reshape reality with his words.  When he scolds the Iranians for their “Death to America!” rhetoric by saying bloodthirsty chants don’t create jobs, he’s asking Iran to live up to the silly talking points he foisted off on the American people to cover the Iranian nuclear deal.  He’s commanding Iran to act like the enlightened, responsible nation-state he gambled the future of Israel, America, and much of the Western world on.

The Iranians, on the other hand, see no reason to knock off the “Death to America!” chants, disband their theocracy, and begin spending their days arguing about stimulus bills.  Belligerence has gotten them everything so far.  They’ve been rewarded for it… by Barack Obama.  They’ve got $150 billion in sanctions relief coming their way.  They can afford to send a few guys to sit in the U.N. General Assembly with pissy expressions on their faces while Obama rambles on about how geo-political crime does not pay.  They know for a fact it pays, quite handsomely.  The Iranians are already using their Obama loot to reinforce terror proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah, and secure Bashar Assad in power.

Ah, yes, Bashar Assad… the dictator Obama still blathers on about removing from power, even as his own diplomatic apparatus gets used to the idea Assad is not going anywhere.  The only really good part of Obama’s speech was when he spent five seconds glaring at the Syrian ambassador before launching into his denunciation of barrel bombs and chemical weapons.  But you know what?  That Syrian ambassador gets paid enough to take a few seconds of hairy eyeball from the ineffectual American president.  The Russians are smoothly replacing American influence across the Middle East, in partnership with Iran.  The new order is taking shape.  Obama isn’t going to reverse that process by telling aggressive, bare-knuckle conquerors they should be ashamed of themselves.

The other dangerous thing about this delusional President is his belief in the “judgment of history.”

He’s constantly hitting on the idea that all of the world’s villains are on the wrong side of history, and will find themselves buried in the sands of time any day now.  It’s a dodge, a way of Obama evading responsibility.  Bashar Assad is going to remerge from the Wrong Side of History in pretty good shape.  ISIS is very comfortable there, as is Iran.  Qaddafi didn’t assume room temperature because History caught up with him. Vladimir Putin has a lovely view of Crimea from the wrong side of history.  The history of Europe is being reshaped by the tramping of a million “refugee” feet.

In every example, Obama clings to the idea that he can change the world by talking and scoring debate points, while his adversaries seize territory and control the course of events.  It’s not as though Obama has some deep-seated reluctance to use deadly force – there have been a lot of deaths by drone strike since he won that Nobel Peace Prize.  What Obama lacks is commitment.  His foreign policy is all about gestures and distractions.  He cooks up half-baked plans that will blow up a terrorist here and there, so he can’t be accused of doing “nothing,” but he won’t do anything that could cost him political capital at home.  Even Libya was half-hearted and calculated for minimum risk, which is why the place went to an even deeper Hell after Qaddafi was overthrown.

Obama talks as if he’s taken action against numerous crises, but all he ever did was talk about them.  The men of action are stacking up bodies, and raising flags over conquered cities, while this President is writing speeches and trying to win applause from editorial boards.  The men of action know that Obama’s promises all have expiration dates, his vows of action always have escape clauses, and no matter how he loves to boast that he heads up the most powerful military the world has ever seen, he’s done everything he can to make it weaker.

President Obama is still clinging to a romantic vision of the “Arab Spring” as a flourishing of democracy, despite all evidence to the contrary.  He’s giving the same foreign policy speeches he gave in 2009 because he can’t bear to live in the world he made.  He talks about filling vacuums and voids… but those voids are already filled, by hard characters with plans to make the most of the extraordinary opportunity Barack Obama afforded them.

(Video of Obama’s UN address — DM):

 

Khamenei sacks Qassem Soleimani from command of the Syrian war

June 24, 2015

Khamenei sacks Qassem Soleimani from command of the Syrian war, DEBKAfile, June 14, 2015

Qassem_Suleimani_Tal_Ksaiba_in_Salahuddin_6.15Gen . Qassem Soleimani on the Iraqi warfront

Uproar in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has relieved Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the  Al Qods Brigades chief and supreme commander of Iranian Middle East forces, of his Syria command after a series of war debacles. He was left in charge of Iran’s military and intelligence operations in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. This is revealed by DEBKAfile’s exclusive Iranian and intelligence sources.

Since Soleimani last visited Damascus on June 2, in the aftershock of the historic town of Palmyra’s fall to the Islamic State, the situation of President Bashar Assad and his army has gone from bad to worse.

The Iranian general’s bravado in stating then that “In the next few days the world will be pleasantly surprised from what we (the IRGC) working with Syrian military commanders are preparing,” turned out to be empty rhetoric. The thousands of Iranian troops needed to rescue the Assad regime from more routs never materialized. Since then, the Syrian forces have been driven out of more places. Hizballah is not only stymied in its attempts to dislodge Syrian rebel advances in the strategic Qalamoun Mountains, it has failed to prevent the war spilling over into Lebanon. There is strong evidence that the high Iranian command in charge of the Syrian and Lebanese arenas are stuck.

These reverses have occurred, our military sources report, owing to Tehran’s failure to foresee five developments:

1.  The launching of a combined effort by the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE – among the wealthiest nations in the world – in support of rebel groups fighting Bashar Assad. Their massive injections of military assistance, weapons and financial resources have thrown Iran’s limitation into bold relief.

2.  The ineptitude of the Shiite militias mustered by Soleimani in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight Iran’s wars in Syria and Iraq. None of those imported troops met the combat standards required in those arenas and become liabilities rather than assets.

3.  Those shortcomings forced Tehran to admit that it had come up short of military manpower to deploy in four ongoing warfronts: Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.  Soleimani took flak for the over-ambitious plans he authored which pulled Iran into military commitments that overtaxed its resources and did not take into account the messy political and military consequences which followed.  Above all, he miscalculated the numbers of fighting strength needed on the ground for winning battles in those wars.

4. In the final reckoning, Iran finds has been drained of the strategic reserves that should have been set aside for the contingency of a potential  ISIS encroachment of its territory.

Is Obama Supporting a Shiite ISIS?

June 12, 2015

Is Obama Supporting a Shiite ISIS?, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, June 12, 2015

Asaib-ahl-alhaq_logo-450x300Asaib Ahl al-Haq logo.

Obama had campaigned vocally against the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment which designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the hidden force behind Asaib Ahl al-Haq and much of the Shiite terrorist infrastructure, a terrorist organization. He had accused its sponsors of “foolish saber rattling.”

While we focused on ISIS, its Shiite counterparts were building their own Islamic State by burrowing from within to hollow out the Iraqi institutions that we had put into place. ISIS is a tool that Iran is using to force international approval of its takeover of Iraq and its own nuclear program.

Like ISIS, its Shiite counterparts envision an apocalyptic struggle in which the other branch of Islam will be destroyed, along with all non-Muslims, leading to regional and global supremacy. Iraq is only one of the battlefields on which this war is being fought and Obama’s inept mix of appeasement and regime change, abandoning allied governments while aiding enemy terrorists has helped make it possible.

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Staff Sgt. Ahmed Altaie was the last American soldier to come home from Iraq. His body was turned over by Asaib Ahl al-Haq or The League of the Righteous; a Shiite terrorist group funded and trained by Iran.

Altaie had been kidnapped, held for ransom and then killed.

It was not Asaib Ahl al-Haq’s only kidnapping and murder of an American soldier. A year after Altaie’s kidnapping, its terrorists disguised themselves as Americans and abducted five of our soldiers in Karbala. The soldiers were murdered by their Shiite captors after sustained pursuit by American forces made them realize that they wouldn’t be able to escape with their hostages.

Asaib Ahl al-Haq’s obsession with American hostages was a typically Iranian fixation. Iran’s leaders see the roots of their international influence in the Iran hostage crisis. Its terrorist groups in Lebanon had abducted and horrifically tortured Colonel William R. Higgins and William Francis Buckley.

Higgins had been skinned alive.

Most Americans have never heard of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, sometimes referred to as the Khazali Network after its leader, even though it has claimed credit for over 6,000 attacks on Americans. Its deadliest attacks came when the Democrats and their media allies were desperately scrambling to stop Bush from taking out Iran’s nuclear program. Asaib Ahl al-Haq’s ties to Iran were so blatant that the media could not allow it to receive the kind of coverage that Al Qaeda did for fear that it might hurt Iran.

Obama had campaigned vocally against the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment which designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the hidden force behind Asaib Ahl al-Haq and much of the Shiite terrorist infrastructure, a terrorist organization. He had accused its sponsors of “foolish saber rattling”.

Nancy Pelosi joined the Democratic Party’s pro-Iranian turn, rejected a vote on the amendment and sneered that if the kidnapping and murder of American soldiers was “a problem to us and our troops in Iraq, they should deal with it in Iraq.” Earlier that year, she had visited Syria’s Assad to stand with him against President Bush even while Assad was aiding the terrorists massacring American soldiers.

Once Obama took power, coverage of the war was scaled down so that Americans wouldn’t realize that the rising power of ISIS and Asaib Ahl al-Haq were already making a mockery of his withdrawal plans.

But Asaib Ahl al-Haq was not merely an anti-American terrorist group; it was an arm of the Shiite theocracy. As a Shiite counterpart to what would become ISIS, it had most of the same Islamic goals.

While Obama was patting himself on the back for the end of the Iraq War and gay rights, Asaib Ahl al-Haq was throwing those men and women it suspected of being gay from the tops of buildings.

When buildings weren’t available, it beat them to death with concrete blocks or beheaded them.

Its other targets included shelters for battered women, which the Islamist group deemed brothels, men who had long hair or dressed in dark clothing. And even while its Brigades of Wrath were perpetrating these atrocities, Obama and the Shiite Iraqi government embraced the murderous terrorist group.

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and his brother Laith al-Khazali along with a hundred other members of the terror group were freed during Obama’s first year in office. (But to provide equal aid and comfort to the other side, Obama also freed the future Caliph of ISIS in that same year.)

“We let a very dangerous man go, a man whose hands are stained with US and Iraqi blood. We are going to pay for this in the future,” an unnamed American officer was quoted as saying. “This was a deal signed and sealed in British and American blood.”

“We freed all of their leaders and operatives; they executed their hostages and sent them back in body bags.”

The releases were part of Obama’s grand strategy of reconciliation for Iraq. The miserable reality behind the upbeat language was that Obama was handing over Iraq to ISIS, Iran and its Shiite militias.

Last year, Maliki had made Asaib Ahl al-Haq and other Shiite terror groups into the Sons of Iraq that were to protect and defend Baghdad. Asaib Ahl al-Haq and its leader were now the Iraqi security forces. The Shiite death squads were in charge even while they continued carrying out ISIS-style massacres.

Obama belatedly decided to respond to ISIS, but his war strategy depends on Asaib Ahl al-Haq.

Officially his strategy is to provide training and air support for the Iraqi military. But the Iraqi military’s Shiite officers conduct panicked retreats in the face of ISIS attacks while abandoning cities and equipment. The goal of these retreats is to make Asaib Ahl al-Haq and other Shiite militias into the only alternative to ISIS for the United States. Even though he pays lip service to Sunni and Kurdish resistance to ISIS, Obama shows that he has accepted Iran’s terms by refusing to arm and support them.

While we focused on ISIS, its Shiite counterparts were building their own Islamic State by burrowing from within to hollow out the Iraqi institutions that we had put into place. ISIS is a tool that Iran is using to force international approval of its takeover of Iraq and its own nuclear program.

An Iraqi official last year was quoted as saying that Asaib Ahl al-Haq’s men give orders to the police and military. “Before they were just around, now they are high-ranking officers in the military.”

Some defense experts wonder if the Iraqi military even exists. The bulk of the forces in Tikrit were Shiite Jihadists and they are armed with American weapons that they receive from the Iraqi government. Asaib Ahl al-Haq boss Qais al-Khazali claims that soldiers and Shiite militia members both wear Iraqi military uniforms.

The capture of Tikrit became an opportunity for the Shiite terrorist groups and Qasem Soleimani, their Iranian terror boss, to boast about their victory and loot and terrorize the local Sunni residents.

Obama’s official plan to arm and train the Iraqi military and security forces is a dead end because like the mythical moderate Syrian rebels, they are fronts for moving money and weapons to Jihadists. We are arming ghost armies and funding fake political institutions and the money and weapons end up going to bands of Islamic terrorists, militias and guerrillas that are actually calling the shots.

By aiding Shiite militias in Iraq and Sunni militias in Syria, we’re backing both sides of an Islamic civil war.

Obama turned over Iraq to the Shiites and then backed the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts to force the Shiites out of power in Syria. The Sunni-Shiite civil wars tearing the region apart were caused by those two decisions. His solution to the wars is to continue backing the same forces responsible for them.

Despite assorted denials, Obama’s real ISIS strategy is to have Iran do the fighting for him in Iraq.

But Obama is backing one ISIS against another ISIS. Why is a Shiite Islamic state that kidnaps and kills Americans, throws gays off buildings and massacres women better than a Sunni Islamic state that does the same things? Not only is the Obama strategy morally dubious, but it’s also proven to be ineffective.

The rise of ISIS has helped Iran tighten its hold on Shiite areas in Iraq and Syria. Iran does not need to beat ISIS. Its interests are best served by maintaining a stalemate in which ISIS consolidates Sunni areas while Iran consolidates Shiite areas. The more Obama aids Iran and its terrorist forces as a counterweight to ISIS, the more Iran sees keeping ISIS around as being vital to its larger strategy.

By aiding Iran, Obama is really aiding ISIS.

Despite depending on our air support, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and its leaders are threatening to attack American planes and soldiers making it clear that they view the fight against ISIS and for Assad as part of a larger struggle for achieving Iran’s apocalyptic Shiite ambitions for the region and the world.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently gave a speech in which he warned that, “We must prepare the country’s conditions, the region’s conditions, and, Allah willing, the world’s conditions for the reappearance [of Imam Mahdi] will spread justice.”

Like ISIS, its Shiite counterparts envision an apocalyptic struggle in which the other branch of Islam will be destroyed, along with all non-Muslims, leading to regional and global supremacy. Iraq is only one of the battlefields on which this war is being fought and Obama’s inept mix of appeasement and regime change, abandoning allied governments while aiding enemy terrorists has helped make it possible.

Shoshana Bryen: The Kurds: A Guide for U.S. Policymakers

June 7, 2015

Shoshana Bryen: The Kurds: A Guide for U.S. Policymakerssecurefreedom via You Tube, June 5, 2015

Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director, Jewish Policy Center; Former Senior Director for Security Policy, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA):

 

Two major Mid East escalations: Yemeni rebels fire Scuds at Saudi air base. ISIS warns Syrian rebels

June 6, 2015

Two major Mid East escalations: Yemeni rebels fire Scuds at Saudi air base. ISIS warns Syrian rebels, DEBKAfile, June 6, 2015

us_patriot_missiles_saudi_arabia_6.6.15US Patriots stationed in Saudi Arabia

Saudi military sources reported Saturday, June 6, that Patriot air defense batteries had intercepted Scud missiles fired by Yemen Houthi rebels against the kingdom’s largest air base at Khamis al-Mushait in the south west. It is from there that Saudi jets take off to strike the Yemeni rebels. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Patriot anti-missile systems, which were activated for the first time, were manned by American teams. This was the first direct US military intervention on the Saudi side of the Yemen conflict.

It was also the first time that Houthi rebels or their allies had fired Scud missile into the oil kingdom. Our sources add that the launch was supervised by Hizballah officers. They were transferred by Tehran to Yemen to ratchet up the conflict – although US, Saudi, Yemeni government and Houthi representatives meeting secretly in Muscat Friday agreed to attend a peace conference in Geneva this month.

Nonetheless, through Friday night and Saturday morning, Houthi forces and allied military units kept on battering at Saudi army and National Guard defense lines, in an effort to break through and seize territory in the kingdom’s southern provinces. The insurgents were evidently grabbing for strategic assets to strengthen their hand at the peace conference.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is also juggling his chips on the deteriorating Syrian warfront. In the coming hours, he is widely expected to announce the activation of the mutual defense pact signed between Iran and Syria in 2006, under which each signatory is committed to send military troops if necessary to defend its partner.

Thursday, June 4, Khamenei fired sharp verbal arrows at the Obama administration: “The United States tolerates extremist groups in Syria and Iraq and even helps them in secret,” he charged.

Our military sources add that although various Mid East publications, especially in Lebanon, are reporting that Iran has already sent units in numbers ranging from 7.000 to 15,000 troops to Syria, none have so far landed, except for the Shiite militias brought over at an earlier stage of the Syrian conflict. The expected Khamenei announcement may change this situation.

ISIS was not waiting. Saturday morning, the group issued a warning to the Syrian rebel forces fighting in the south – the Deraa sector of southern Syria near the meeting point of the Jordanian and Israeli borders and the Quneitra sector opposite the Israeli Golan. They were ordered to break off contact with the US Central Command Forward Jordan-CF-J which is located north of Amman, and the IDF operations command center in northern Israel. Any Syrian rebels remaining in contact with the two command centers would be treated as infidels and liable to the extreme penalty of beheading, the group warned.

The impression of ominous events brewing in the regime was rounded off Friday night by an unusual announcement by the Israeli army spokesman that Iron Dome anti-missile batteries had been deployed around towns and other locations in the south, although no reference was made to any fresh rocket attacks expected from the Gaza Strip. DEBKAfile adds: The first batteries were arrayed Thursday night, June 4, at vulnerable points in southern Israel – from the southernmost Port of Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba to the western Port of Ashdod on the Mediterranean.