Since President Obama’s 2009 announcement of a ‘surge’ in Afghanistan that simultaneously announced the date of withdrawal, the western focus in Afghanistan has shifted to the exits.
The steady drizzle of bad news since then has reinforced this sense that it’s over, we’ve had enough and we’re leaving.
American and British troops quit Helmand in late October, basically ceding it to Taliban control. On Tuesday John Sopko, the head of the American auditor mechanism (SIGAR) said that efforts to promote economic growth in Afghanistan have ‘accomplished nothing.’ Continue reading →
The Islamic State released the fifth edition of its English-language propaganda magazine, Dabiq, on November 21, 2014. In it, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks: in Australia by Numan Haider on September 23, in Canada by Martin Couture-Rouleau on October 20 and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau on October 22, and in America by Zale Thompson on October 23. The Islamic State says these attacks were in response to the call on September 22 by the organization’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. The article is reproduced below with some minor editions for transliteration and some important sections highlighted in bold. Continue reading →
Abby Martin and George Galloway: Both host conspiracy-laden shows on RT
While having lunch on Saturday I got stuck for fifteen minutes in a room where the television was tuned to Russia’s English-language propaganda station, RT, formerly Russia Today. I once saw James Kirchick write that “after 20 minutes of watching RT … I did what any sensible person would do: turned RT off.” I conclude from this that he is a much braver man than I. Continue reading →
Reuters reports that since al-Qaeda in Syria has gravely weakened the nationalist rebels on the Northern Front, an effort is afoot to shift the focus for bolstering moderate insurrectionists to the south, namely Bashar az-Zoubi, his Liwa al-Yarmouk, and the wider “Southern Front”. Continue reading →
In a post yesterday I listed the operations Israel has so far carried out in Syria. Between 2007 and 2011, Israel eliminated several senior terrorists inside Syria and destroyed a nuclear-weapons facility. Since the war began in 2011, Israel has mostly carried out airstrikes in Syria to prevent Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) transferring advanced weaponry to the IRGC’s Lebanon-based branch, Hizballah. Rather than updating the prior post, which was on a slightly separate matter, this post will be kept as a rolling tally of Israeli operations in Syria, focused only on those since war broke out. Continue reading →
The research centre referred to is the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), and this event has an analogue in Syria: At the end of July 2013, a rebel mortar shell hit a bus carrying staff from the SSRC in Barzeh, killing six and injuring nineteen.
This Arab regime claims to be a one-party system but in reality a small Mafia-like cabal of military and intelligence officers have dispensed power for decades. Finally a democratic challenge erupts; people take to the streets demanding first reforms and, when the regime responds with pseudo-reforms and lethal violence, the fall of the government. Eventually the people fight back and an armed struggle breaks out. The regime builds its strategy around provocation, arresting and killing the liberals and democrats, infiltrating the insurgent groups and having the extremists attack the moderates, directing infiltrated groups to commit atrocities that discredit the whole insurgency, and using Iran’s international terrorist networks to lure Salafi-jihadists into the country who can help discredit the opposition’s cause in the eyes of the world. By presenting a binary picture—the regime or a terrorist takeover—the state tries to secure at least tacit support, if not direct intervention, from the West to defeat the insurgency.
Picture of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani from the second edition of Dabiq magazine (July 27, 2014)
A Bahraini jihadist ideologue, Turki al-Binali, who has become a cleric in the Islamic State, put out a profile of the Islamic State’s official spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, on November 1. By this account, al-Adnani took up jihadism in 2000 and was among a small cadre of people who joined the Islamic State’s founder, Ahmad al-Khalayleh, the infamous Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, when he journeyed through Syria on a recruitment-drive in 2002. Learned in Islamic jurisprudence and rigid in doctrinal literalness, al-Adnani was associated with some of the titans of the Islamic State’s legend like Abu Muhammad al-Lubnani and Abu Anas al-Shami. Appointed as emir of a small town in Anbar, Haditha, the first leader after the declaration of “the State” in 2006, Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi), worked under al-Adnani’s command. Al-Adnani then moved on to be an ideological instructor. Such was al-Adnani’s status, he did not have to consult al-Zarqawi before ordering operations; he only had to brief al-Zarqawi afterwards. Al-Adnani was arrested by the Americans in Iraq in May 2005, thereafter spending six years behind the wire, though never giving up his missionary activity. Indeed, the profile says al-Adnani developed the first full training program, academic and physical, for jihadi inmates. Upon release, al-Adnani took the post of official spokesman and has maintained it ever since. This profile is reproduced below with some minor editions for transliteration, syntax, and spelling. Continue reading →
I’ve set out the evidence at length that President Obama’s apparently haphazard and hesitant policy in the Middle East is in fact driven by one, conscious, overriding intention: rapprochement with Clerical Iran. Yesterday, I pointed out that the Syrian rebellion was being left to fight alone in its struggle with al-Qaeda because the administration never had any intention of seriously supporting a moderate opposition that could be a credible alternative to the Assad regime (Iran) and the Salafi-jihadists; in Obama’s New Middle East, Syria would be an Iranian sphere of influence.
Those points rather sharpened a few hours after yesterday’s post went up. Continue reading →
What a disaster. With American and coalition jets in the air overhead, ostensibly to do battle with Salafi-jihadists, al-Qaeda has been allowed to push rebel brigades the United States purports to support out of almost all of Idlib Province. Continue reading →