Beware the threat of Iran’s Shi’ite extremists, warns Netanyahu

Posted February 26, 2017 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Beware the threat of Iran’s Shi’ite extremists, warns Netanyahu


Foreign Minister Julie Bishop meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Sydney.
  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM February 27, 2017

The Sunni extremist terrorists of al-Qa’ida and Islamic State could be replaced by Shi’ite extremist groups manipulated by Iran, who would be just as dangerous to the world, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In an exclusive interview as he prepared to leave Australia after a four-day visit, he said an Iran with nuclear weapons would threaten Australia as well as the Middle East, and called for greater ­military-to-military co-operation between Jerusalem and Can­berra. “When I look at Syria and Iraq, I think that the danger of ISIS has been greatly reduced,” he said, “but the possibility now looms that the militant Sunnis of ISIS and al-Qa’ida may be ­replaced by the militant Shi’ites of Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah.” Mr Netanyahu is confident that the new Trump administration in Washington will take tougher ­action against Iran.

He says the US is considering “as we speak” a range of new sanctions against Iran.

He remains a critic of the ­nuclear deal that the Obama ­administration enacted with Iran.

“If the deal can’t be changed, it should be cancelled,” he said. “The problem with the deal is that it guarantees that in 10 or 15 years, Iran will have the capacity for a breakout not of one or two bombs but up to 100 bombs. To have such a rogue nation with such vast atomic power will threaten the peace and stability of the entire world. Iran’s cause is the domination of, first, the world of Islam, and then the world, by its revivalist Shi’ite doctrine.”

Mr Netanyahu’s call for closer military co-operation between Australia and Israel is one of the few areas where the two nations have not grown closer. Canberra sources suggest that while the Australian Defence Force has no objection to closer co-operation with Israel in principle, it fears this could damage or jeopardise the relationships it has in the Arab Gulf world, which allow Australia to deploy forces in Iraq and Syria.

Mr Netanyahu denied point black that he had torpedoed a peace plan devised by former secretary of state John Kerry, which would have involved Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish state in return for substantial Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

The Israeli leader put the talks he had with Egypt’s President Abdel El-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein in a completely different context.

He told The Australian he had initiated the meeting.

“This is one of the initiatives I had undertaken,” Mr Netanyahu said. “The fact that it didn’t succeed, yet, does not discourage me because we’re engaged in many, many other initiatives.

“These are in the hope of getting broader normalisation between Israel and the Arab countries and from there to seek the advancement of peace between us and our Palestinian neighbours. This is what we call the outside-in path to peace.”

Looking back on his four days in Australia, longer than he spent on his recent trip to the US and the third time he has visited Australia, though the first as Prime Minister, Mr Netanyahu said he saw great progress in a joint approach between Israel and Australia to the two greatest global dynamics at work today.

“There is a great convulsion in the world today,” Mr Netanyahu said, “a great hope and a great challenge. The hope is the advent of the information age. The ­advantage will clearly tilt towards innovation nations. We’re both geared towards innovation.

“This will define our competitive advantage in the global economy. We can do a great deal more together, and that’s been strengthened by this week.

“The second main fact of our times is the challenge to modernity by the forces of savage med­ievalism, represented by the forces of militant Islam. Co-operation on counter-terrorism has been strengthened this week as well.”

Mr Netanyahu said his country’s recent diplomatic advances in Asia had been driven by its success as a start-up, hi-tech nation.

“It’s a direct function of our ­capacities in technology and innovation,” he said.

“Israel’s small in size but it’s a world leader in many areas, for example, cyber-security and now in automobile technology, especially driverless cars, in digital health, in sophisticated agriculture and in many other areas.

“All areas of life, and all economic areas, are becoming rapidly technologised. The distinction between hi-tech and low-tech is disappearing rapidly.

“The other area that attracts countries to Israel is intelligence and counter-terrorism. All countries need civilian technology and all countries need defences against terrorism.’’

Mr Netanyahu rejected the idea that Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which he says take up only 3 or 4 per cent of West Bank territory, are a roadblock to peace.

“This is not what drives the conflict,” he said.

“The Arab and Palestinian ­opposition to the state of Israel preceded the settlements by half a century. When we dismantled the settlements from Gaza, it didn’t make a whit of difference — they continued to attack us from those areas we handed over.

“The settlement issue is a problem to be resolved, but it’s not the (main). It doesn’t really gobble up land the way people describe — that’s another misrepresentation. So they’ve taken a minor issue and turned the conflict on its head.

“The question is not whether the Palestinians will get a state but whether that state will recognise Israel or will continue to try to seek Israel’s destruction.

“No one in their right mind would say to the Palestinians: here, have a state which will ­reduce Israel to a width of 10 miles and have them continue to seek our annihilation, to continue to seek the flooding of Israel with millions of descendants of refugees and use the territory of a Palestinian state as the launching ground for thousands of rockets and endless terrorist attacks on the Jewish state.”

Mr Netanyahu had the warm­est praise for Australia, and for Malcolm Turnbull.

He also praised the bipartisan nature of the support that he ­described as “valuable and important to sustain”.

This could be read as a message to the friends of Israel in Australia not to give up on the Labor Party, despite attacks on Israel last week from several retired Labor politicians.

Mr Netanyahu said he had received a very warm reception in Australia, including several hours on Manly Beach interacting with, he said, more than a thousand Australians, of whom only two made critical comments.

“This tells me there’s a natural sympathy in a country that identifies similarities with Israel. We’re both immigrant nations. We’re both champions of democracy and champions of diversity,’’ he said.

“Beyond that, we have both shown a capacity to stand up and defend our way of life.

“We in Israel have a special bond with Australia.”

McMaster breaks with Trump on “radical Islamic terrorism,” claims terrorists are “un-Islamic”

Posted February 26, 2017 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

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The adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, told the staff of the National Security Council on Thursday, in his first “all hands” staff meeting, that the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic.”

By – on February 25, 2017

Source: McMaster breaks with Trump on “radical Islamic terrorism,” claims terrorists are “un-Islamic” – Geller Report

 

This is a throwback to the politically correct lies and half-truths that deformed our response to the Islamic jihad threat during the Obama years. President Trump had vowed to correct this. Now he has appointed a national security adviser who is just as willfully ignorant as Obama and his team. This has to be sorted out, and quickly.

“H.R. McMaster Breaks With Administration on Views of Islam,” by Mark Landler and Eric Schmitt, New York Times, February 24, 2017:

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s newly appointed national security adviser has told his staff that Muslims who commit terrorist acts are perverting their religion, rejecting a key ideological view of other senior Trump advisers and signaling a potentially more moderate approach to the Islamic world.

The adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, told the staff of the National Security Council on Thursday, in his first “all hands” staff meeting, that the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic,” according to people who were in the meeting.

That is a repudiation of the language regularly used by both the president and General McMaster’s predecessor, Michael T. Flynn, who resigned last week after admitting that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about a phone call with a Russian diplomat.

It is also a sign that General McMaster, a veteran of the Iraq war known for his sense of history and independent streak, might move the council away from the ideologically charged views of Mr. Flynn, who was also a three-star Army general before retiring.

Wearing his Army uniform, General McMaster spoke to a group that has been rattled and deeply demoralized after weeks of upheaval, following a haphazard transition from the Obama administration and amid the questions about links to Russia, which swiftly engulfed Mr. Flynn.

General McMaster, several officials said, has been vocal about his views on dealing with Islamic militancy, including with Mr. Trump, who on Monday described him as “a man of tremendous talent, tremendous experience.” General McMaster got the job after Mr. Trump’s first choice, Robert S. Harward, a retired Navy vice admiral, turned it down.

Within a day of his appointment on Monday, General McMaster was popping into offices to introduce himself to the council’s professional staff members. The staff members, many of them holdovers from the Obama administration, felt viewed with suspicion by Mr. Trump’s team and shut out of the policy-making process, according to current and former officials.

In his language, General McMaster is closer to the positions of former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Both took pains to separate acts of terrorism from Islamic teaching, in part because they argued that the United States needed the help of Muslim allies to hunt down terrorists.

“This is very much a repudiation of his new boss’s lexicon and worldview,” said William McCants, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of “The ISIS Apocalypse.”

“McMaster, like Obama, is someone who was in positions of leadership and thought the United States should not play into the jihadist propaganda that this is a religious war,” Mr. McCants said.

“There is a deep hunger for McMaster’s view in the interagency,” he added, referring to the process by which the State Department, Pentagon and other agencies funnel recommendations through the National Security Council. “The fact that he has made himself the champion of this view makes people realize they have an advocate to express dissenting opinions.”

But Mr. McCants and others cautioned that General McMaster’s views would not necessarily be the final word in a White House where Mr. Trump and several of his top advisers view Islam in deeply xenophobic terms. Some aides, including the president’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, have warned of a looming existential clash between Islam and the Judeo-Christian world….

Free speech foe Perez beats out Muslim Brotherhood Congressman Ellison for DNC Chair

Posted February 25, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Democrat National Committee, Keith Ellison, Tom Perez

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Free speech foe Perez beats out Muslim Brotherhood Congressman Ellison for DNC Chair, Jihad Watch

In July 2012, Perez — then the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, was asked by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ):

Will you tell us here today that this administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?

Perez could have simply answered yes, and maybe even cited the First Amendment. Instead, Perez refused to answer the question directly. Franks persisted, ultimately asking it four times.

Perez at one point responded that it was a “hard question.” He simply refused to affirm that the Obama Justice Department would not attempt to criminalize criticism of Islam.

So this was the choice for Democrats: a Congressman with many connections to an organization dedicated in its own words to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within” or a foe of the First Amendment right to the freedom of speech. The foe of the freedom of speech won.

That’s today’s Democratic Party.

tom-perez

“Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez elected DNC chair,” by Ryan Struyk and MaryAlice Parks, ABC News, February 25, 2017:

Former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez has been elected the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, grabbing the reins of the political wing of the party and emerging as a key figure in the party’s opposition to President Donald Trump’s agenda.

More than 400 party insiders gathered in Atlanta this weekend to cast their ballots. The former Obama appointee will try to rally the party of Democrats still reeling from its presidential election defeat and crippled by down-ballot losses across the country over the last decade.

Many in the party’s progressive wing had rallied around Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, expressing their frustration with the status quo of the party. They felt strongly that Ellison better identified with the grassroots movement growing across the country in opposition to Trump.

Perez had fallen one short shy of victory in the first round of voting.

“We need a chair who can not only take the fight to Donald Trump, make sure we talk about our positive message,” Perez told the crowd before the vote. “We also need a chair who can lead turnaround and change the culture of the Democratic Party and DNC.”

The next chair will be key in trying to unify and rally a party still reeling from its presidential election defeat and crippled by down-ballot losses across the country over the last decade.

“We’re in this mess because we lost not one election but a thousand elections,” Ellison said before the vote. “We gotta go to the grassroots, ya’ll. Unity is essential. We gotta walk out of here with unity.”…

A Muslim Woman’s Fight Against Radical Islam

Posted February 25, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Countering Islamic Extremism, Female Islamic terrorists, Islam and females, Moderate Muslims, Pakistan, Radical Islam, Religious tolerance

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A Muslim Woman’s Fight Against Radical Islam, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abigail R. Esman, February 23, 2017

1990

If one were to find a single question that defines the geo-politics of our age, it might well be the question Farhana Qazi has been asking herself for almost 20 years: why do so many Muslims kill in the name of their religion?

If she has not found all the answers, Qazi has done much to facilitate our understanding of the issues, primarily as they relate to Muslim women and the rise in women extremists. A Muslim herself, she has worked largely behind the scenes: at the Counter-Terrorism Center in Washington, D.C.; at the Rand Corporation think tank; as an instructor on terrorism for the U.S. military; and as an author. Her work has taken her back to her native Pakistan, where she has immersed herself in the lives of Muslim extremist women, met with the mothers of suicide bombers, come to know women who have endured imprisonment, and shared stories with women who, in her words, “have tried to break the barriers of patriarchy and patrilineal traditions.”

Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Qazi came to America with her mother at the age of 1, joining her father who was already working in Tennessee. Soon after, the family moved to Austin, Texas, which Qazi considers her hometown. Her work since then, both in the service of her country and as a beacon for moderate Muslims seeking to reconcile their beliefs with the violent extremism facing the world, has received lavish praise and numerous awards. She is now working on a book that examines why Muslims turn violent, and the ways in which recent political events contribute to violent extremism.

She told us her story in a recent interview, and shared her crucial insights on radical Islam, women terrorists, and where we stand now in the face of the radical Islamist threat.

Abigail R. Esman: Why did your family move to the U.S., and how old were you at the time?

Farhana Qazi: My father came to the U.S. because it was his dream since he was a child. He admired Western values and later, he worked with American clients when he was a young accountant in Lahore, Pakistan. He came to the U.S. (to the rolling hills of Tennessee to pursue an MBA), and thanks to Al Gore, my father was allowed to stay in this country to work after his student visa expired. Gore wrote a letter on my father’s behalf. I was a year old when I moved here with my mother. I barely remember my birth city, Lahore – the cultural nerve of Pakistan. I lived in a small town in Tenn. before moving to the capital city of Austin, Texas, my childhood home.

ARE: How important was religion to you growing up?

FQ: My parents were born Muslim but their practice was liberal, almost secular. My father is an intellectual and philosopher who admires all religions; he values the Ten Commandments that came from Moses. He idolizes the principles of Buddhism and he believes in the Christian concept of charity. My father has raised me to be a “humanist” rather than a Muslim. I embraced Sunni Islam later in life

ARE: Many women in Pakistan face oppression, forced marriage, and family violence. How do you explain the freedom you have had in your life?

FQ: I am blessed to be an American Muslim woman. My father often tells me he came to the U.S. for me; because I am a girl from a middle-class family in Pakistan who would not have had the same opportunities in life had I lived in a country with patriarchal norms, age-old customs, and traditions, most of which deny girls and women their basic rights in Islam. Culture trumps religion in Pakistan. But it’s not true in America, where I can practice faith openly or privately. Because I am free in America, I chose a male-dominated field – in the 1990s, counter-terrorism work was dominated and dictated by men mostly. Often, I was the only female speaker at international conferences and addressed why Muslims kill in the name of my religion. Now, there are more women in the CT field, but at the time, I was not only female, American, but also Muslim – the combination of the three made me stand alone, which is a blessing in disguise. I welcome the opportunity (and attention) for speaking on a subject that I understood. And that’s how my father raised me: to be a bridge between the East and the West. To learn from both worlds, both cultures and to close the gap of misunderstanding.

ARE: Was having that freedom part of what has guided you in your work?

FQ: Yes, my unique cultural and linguistic background made me marketable for the intelligence community. There were no female Muslims in the Counter-Terrorism Center. I believe I was hired to help the Center understand the extremists’ narrative, rhetoric, and recruitment patterns. Later, upon leaving the Center, I joined the RAND Corp as a policy analyst-researcher and traveled to the Muslim world to engage local communities. Because I understand both cultures, I have been able to speak to women who might have not been accessible to other American men or women. When I trained the U.S. forces as a senior instructor, I received the highest honor – the 21st Century Leader Award from The National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) in 2012 for my service as an American Muslim woman – when I was presented with the award, I was told that because I knew how to serve the U.S. government as a woman and Muslim is the reason why I was chosen for the award.

ARE: You in fact began working in the area of counterterrorism and issues surrounding the lives of Muslim women very early in your career. What motivated this?

FQ: My mother is a war hero to me. She joined the Pakistani Army when she was barely 20 years old to fight for Kashmir. In the 1960s, Pakistan was at war with India for the second time to fight for the valley of Kashmir. My mama, barely five feet tall and a petite frame, volunteered for the Army and trained at Qaddafi stadium in Lahore, holding a British .303 rifle which was taller than she was. She often told me, “I wanted to prove to my country that women can fight, too.” She was raised in a country at a time when women and girls had few career choices and were often bound by familial responsibilities. But not my mother, who dreamed of being a politician had she not married my father and then settled in the U.S.

ARE: Mostly, you’ve focused your work on women.

FQ: I’d say my work focuses on understanding radical Islam and the divisions in the Muslim world today – a broken mass of billions blinded by age-old customs, traditions, and patriarchal norms steeped in ancient cultures. I’m trying to understand the way that Islam has been destroyed by splinter groups, religious fanatics, and hardline conservatives, issuing fatwas that oppose women’s rights. I’ve come to learn has that while terrorists claim to empower women, the reality is that women are cannon fodder or a ‘riding wave of terrorists’ success.’ In the end, women don’t matter, which begs the question: why do they join?

ARE: Then for many years you worked at Rand. What did you do there?

FQ: Research on Al Qaeda networks and the female suicide trend that began to capture headlines in the conflict in Iraq. I was the first to predict that there would be a series of bombings by women – I wrote my first op-ed on the subject in The Baltimore Sun, predicting more attacks. Women were an anomaly so no one paid attention, until females strapped on the bomb. And then a Newsweek piece caught the attention of multi-national forces in Iraq and the U.S. embassy. Suddenly, we began to pay attention to a trend that would continue to this day, though I have been saying this for the past 17 years: women are deadly, too.

ARE: And the Counter-Terrorism Center.

FQ: I was the first American Muslim girl to be hired. I was 25 years old.

ARE: How serious is the problem of Muslim women extremists right now? Is it a threat that is growing?

FQ: This is an ongoing threat that is shielded by men. We don’t hear of attacks by women because it is unreported. For example, I know from my U.S. military contacts that there were a number of Afghan women strapping on the bomb and I am writing about this in a chapter for my next book on female terrorists, but that phenomenon was not reported. Because we don’t hear of it in the news doesn’t mean it’s not happening. The real concern is women who support extremist men – women have done this since the Afghan jihad. Women write in jihadi magazines. Women raise their children to be terrorists. And women stand by their radical men. This is nothing new.

ARE: Are Muslim women in the West generally more or less likely to radicalize than their counterparts in the Islamic world?

FQ: Western women have different challenges; the main concern for a Muslim girl or woman in the West has to do with identity. Often, girls who join ISIS are trapped between two opposing cultures and societies – the life at home and their life outside the home (at school, for example).

One of my chapters in my new book is called “The Denver Girls” – I remember visiting with the community that was affected by the three East African girls who boarded a plane to join ISIS but were brought back home (the father of one of the girls reported his daughter missing). A Sudanese woman I interviewed told me that ISIS empowers our girls, and I can see why. Because many Muslim girls living in the West are still bound by cultural (read controlled) rules and have little freedom outside of their home environment; they aren’t allowed to ‘hang out’ with Western friends and these girls certainly don’t have the same opportunities as their brothers or male cousins. In these cases, girls look for alternatives, which terrorism provides.

Further, I believe the teachings of Islam (which I live by: peace, compassion and mercy) are not preached or taught at home. When Muslims have spiritual pride and believe that God’s love is only for the select few, then this teaching restricts children in many ways: they are unable to cope in a Western society and compelled to stay within their own communities, which makes girls more vulnerable to extremist recruitment and makes them feel they do not belong.

ARE: What are some of the major reasons you’ve found that explain the phenomenon of female Muslim terrorists?

FQ: No two Muslim female terrorists are alike. And while the motives will vary, I do believe that patterns don’t lie. Contextual clues are important indicators for violence, and by context, this would include a girl’s home (private) and public life; her exposure to violence or trauma or abuse; her access to violent messaging online and the time she spends reading and engaging with violent individuals in the digital space; a personal tragedy (did she lose someone to violence?); and much more. I’ve learned that there is no “aha” moment or trigger point but a sequence of triggers and “aha” moments that lead to the path of violence.

ARE: Based on your expertise, what do you think of Trump’s “Muslim ban” or travel ban?

FQ: The travel ban may have the adverse effect. I believe in protecting our country from external threats. What worries me is that the threat is already here. If we look back at attacks or attempted attacks over the past decade, radical Muslims have been living in our midst. [Orlando shooter] Omar Mateen, [San Bernardino killers] Syed and Tashfeen Farook, [Chattanooga shooter] Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, [Fort Hood shooter] Nidal M. Hassan, and more. Many of these terrorists were not from the countries listed in the travel ban. What we need is greater civic involvement and community policing.

ARE: Have you experienced threats of any kind in relation to your work?

FQ: I have been warned to change careers and not talk about Muslim terrorists. But to do that would be to ignore the realities of our time. As a devout Muslim woman, who still believes in Islam’s core message of peace, I have to acknowledge that there are Muslims who kill in the name of Islam, manipulating the faith for political or personal reasons. And these individuals, male or female, need to be stopped and countered by Muslims, too.

ARE: In the now-infamous words of Mitch McConnell, “she persisted.” Why do you persist?

FQ: My father taught me the word “persistence’ when I was a young girl in Texas. He often said, “every challenge is an opportunity,” which made the word “persist’ a positive term in my mind. To persist is to succeed and to succeed is to make a difference. I live by the maxim: lead a life of service – and the only way to do that is to persist.

Dr. Jasser participates in a panel discussion about the state of the Middle East & ISIS

Posted February 25, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: America vs Russia, Countering Islamic Extremism, Europe and Islam, Foreign policy, Freedom, Iran, Iran scam, Islam and human rights, Islamist objectives, Middle East prospects, Muslim nations, Muslim Reform Movement, Obama and US military, Obama's foreign failures, Trump agenda, Trump and Iran, Trump and Islamists, US Military under President Trump, Zuhdi Jasser

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Dr. Jasser participates in a panel discussion about the state of the Middle East & ISIS, AIFD via YouTube, February 24, 2017

(It’s an about thirty-five minute long video about Middle East related topics, including America’s relations with Russia, Islamist terrorism, Islamist nations, the clash between Judeo-Christian and Islamist cultures and what the Trump administration can and should do. — DM)

 

How is Mass Islamic Immigration Working Out in Europe?

Posted February 25, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Antisemitism in America, Antisemitism in Europe, Islamic invasion

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How is Mass Islamic Immigration Working Out in Europe?, Power Line, John Hinderaker, February 25, 2017

(Please see also, Anti-Semitism in Canada skyrockets. — DM)

Poorly, to put it briefly. This is why immigration-skeptic parties have cropped up and prospered across the continent. Why is it that so many Europeans think mass Islamic immigration is a bad idea? Incidents like this one in Paris:

Two Jewish brothers said they were abducted briefly and beaten by several men in suburban Paris in an incident that ended with one brother having his finger sawed off by an assailant. …

The kippah-wearing brothers, whose father is a Jewish leader in Bondy, were forced off the main road by another vehicle on to a side street, according to the BNVCA report. While the vehicle was in motion, the driver and a passenger shouted anti-Semitic slogans at the brothers that included “Dirty Jews, You’re going to die!” …

The vehicle forced the brothers to stop their car, and they were surrounded by several men whom they described as having a Middle Eastern appearance. The men came out of a hookah café on to the side street, according to the case report published by the news website JSSNews.

The alleged attackers surrounded the brothers, then kicked and punched them repeatedly while threatening that they would be murdered if they moved. One of the alleged attackers then sawed off the finger of one of the brothers.

Just don’t tell the Parisian tourism board.

Here in the U.S., there is an upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents, including coordinated telephone threats against Jewish organizations and desecration of Jewish cemeteries. Liberals try to pretend that these incidents are perpetrated wholly or in part by Trump supporters, notwithstanding the fact that Trump’s own family is partly Jewish. (Logic has never been a liberal strong point.) I would gently suggest that the problem lies principally elsewhere, and that Europe’s experience is instructive.

Iraq hits ISIS in Syria – with Russia, without US

Posted February 25, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: America and Russia, America vs Russia, Russia and Iran, Syria war, Trump agenda, Trump and Russia, Trump and Syria

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Iraq hits ISIS in Syria – with Russia, without US, DEBKAfile, February 25, 2017

If indeed President Donald Trump gave a quiet nod to the four-way Russian-Iranian-Syrian-Iraqi military partnership for fighting this enemy, it would signify the start of US-Russian cooperation for the war on Islamic terror in the Middle East and mean that the two powers were running local forces hand in hand.

But if the Iraqis chose to work in conjunction with Moscow and Tehran, cutting America out, that is a completely different matter. It would indicate that President Vladimir Putin, having noted Trump’s difficulties in lining up his team for a deal with Moscow – and the opposition to this deal he faces from his intelligence agencies – had given up on the US option and was going forward in Syria and Iraq with Tehran instead.

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The Iraqi air force Friday, Feb. 24, conducted its first ever bombardment of the Islamic State in Syria. The target was the southeastern town of Abu Kemal near the Iraqi border, to which ISIS has removed most of its command centers from its main Syrian stronghold in Raqqa. Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Tahseen Ibrahim stated that Baghdad had coordinated the attack with Moscow, Damascus and Tehran using shared intelligence.

When he was asked if the United State military was involved, he said he did not know.

Likewise, in referring to the Abu Kemal attack, Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi said: “We are determined to follow the terrorism that is trying to kill our sons and our citizens everywhere.” He made no mention of the United States, despite ongoing US support for the Iraqi army’s long offensive to retake Mosul from ISIS.

This omission is of pivotal importance for the future of the war on the Islamic State and America’s involvement in that campaign.

If indeed President Donald Trump gave a quiet nod to the four-way Russian-Iranian-Syrian-Iraqi military partnership for fighting this enemy, it would signify the start of US-Russian cooperation for the war on Islamic terror in the Middle East and mean that the two powers were running local forces hand in hand.

But if the Iraqis chose to work in conjunction with Moscow and Tehran, cutting Ameica out, that is a completely different matter. It would indicate that President Vladimir Putin, having noted Trump’s difficulties in lining up his team for a deal with Moscow – and the opposition to this deal he faces from his intelligence agencies – had given up on the US option and was going forward in Syria and Iraq with Tehran instead.

The Iraqi prime minister’s actions in this regard must have been critical. He may be playing a double game – working with the US commander in Iraq and Syria, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, for the capture Mosul from the jihadis, while at the same time, using Russian and Iranian partners on other anti-ISIS fronts.

DEBKAfile’s military and counterterrorism sources say that in any event the Iraqi air strike presented a major affront to President Donald Trump’s avowed determination to fight radical Islamic terror to the finish. Its timing is unfortunate: Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford are due Monday to submit the review the president commissioned from the Pentagon on policy planning for Syria and the war on terror. Trump’s foreign policy address to Congress is scheduled for the next day.

If the Pentagon’s recommendations hinge on the enlistment of regional military strength for the campaign against ISIS, then Moscow will be seen to have snatched the initiative first.

There are more signs that the war on ISIS may be running away from Washington. The Trump administration has made it clear that it objects to any role for the Turkish army in the offensive to capture Raqqa from ISIS. However, on Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, after hailing the victory of the Turkish army over ISIS in the northern Syrian town of Al-Bab, announced that Turkey was planning to lead an operation for the recovery of Raqqa, in cooperation with… France, Britain and Germany, after holding consultations with their representatives. America was not mentioned.