No theme linking all this stories, but crime, police and jihad all figure predominately:
Archive for the ‘Jihad’ Category
Sure, the election is over, but Hillary Clinton’s crooked deeds weren’t magically washed away when she was defeated, and no one involved in the many corrupt organizations doing her bidding (the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, the DNC, the New York Times, etc.) has been brought to justice for their corruption.
So let’s take a look at developments in the Clinton Corruption story since the election:
As someone who had his assertions (that the Clintons enriched themselves around the Clinton Foundation) called “outrageous” by a liberal pundit on a CNN panel, I have a challenge for CNN and that liberal pundit, Bill Press. I will give $1000 to the Clinton Foundation for every million dollars raised beyond their last official filing of $330 million in donations that year, if he will give to my foundation $1,000 for every million dollars less than $330 million the Clintons raise in future years.
Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta has responded to the WikiLeaks publication of his private emails by suggesting they were stolen by the Russians to elect Donald Trump. What he doesn’t like to talk about is the business he’s done with a Kremlin-backed investment firm and the lengths he’s gone to avoid scrutiny of this relationship.
“Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer and the Trump campaign have been urging the media to pay attention to Mr. Podesta’s Russian connection and perhaps they should. The story begins in 2011 when the solar energy startup Joule Unlimited announced that Mr. Podesta had been elected to its board of directors. In a company press release, Joule’s CEO at the time lauded Mr. Podesta’s “extensive experience within the US government and internationally as well.” No one claimed Mr. Podesta was a scientific expert, but the company’s founder expressed the hope that their new associate “can help Joule build the lasting relationships needed for long-term success.”
A former White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, Mr. Podesta at the time was running the Center for American Progress, which supported the Obama administration’s “Russian reset.” Mr. Podesta personally lauded the effort to “build a more constructive relationship” with Russia at a 2009 event hosted by his think tank.
Mr. Podesta certainly seems to have made the effort to build a business relationship. About eight months after Mr. Podesta joined Joule in 2011, an investment fund backed by the Russian government, Rusnano, announced plans to invest about $35 million in the company. Several months later, Joule announced that Rusnano Chairman Anatoly Chubais was joining its board of directors. Around the same time, Mr. Podesta joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board.
Morning Editorial Report.
Read the whole thing for details of the shell game Podesta used to pretend he wasn’t involved with Joule when he worked for the Obama White House, then the Clinton campaign.
Right now, prisoner #47042-083, Abdurahman Alamoudi, sits in his cell in a federal prison in Ashland, Kentucky.
It’s a long way down from being one of Hillary Clinton’s favorite colleagues. Alamoudi organized White House events during the Bill Clinton administration. Under Hillary’s supervision, he held official positions: Alamoudi was strategically placed at the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department.
That is, until he was arrested and convicted in a bizarre Libyan intelligence/al-Qaeda assassination plot to kill the Saudi crown prince.
Later, he was identified by the Treasury Department as an Al-Qaeda fundraiser who had operated inside the United States.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit made a ruling this week in a JW case that would require Secretary of State John Kerry to seek the help of the attorney general in recovering additional Hillary Clinton emails. This means that Clinton email issue will be squarely before the Trump administration, as I highlight in our statement to the press:
Today’s appeals court ruling rejects the Obama State Department’s excuses justifying its failure to ask the attorney general, as the law requires, to pursue the recovery of the Clinton emails. This ruling means that the Trump Justice Department will have to decide if it wants to finally enforce the rule of law and try to retrieve all the emails Clinton and her aides unlawfully took with them when they left the State Department.
The appellate ruling reverses a decision in which the District Court declared “moot” a Judicial Watch’s lawsuit challenging the failure of Secretary of State John Kerry to comply with the Federal Records Act (FRA) in seeking to recover the emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other high level State Department officials who used non-“state.gov” email accounts to conduct official business (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. John F. Kerry (No. 16-5015)).
According to the FRA, if an agency head becomes aware of “any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal . . . or destruction of [agency] records,” he or she “shall notify the Archivist . . . and with the assistance of the Archivist shall initiate action through the Attorney General for the recovery of [those] records.” Kerry refused to do this, and we sued. The lower court decided Kerry had done enough. The appeals court panel disagreed:
Given the speed the federal judiciary works at, the chances the Obama Administration will be able to bury the case before the Trump Administration takes over would appear to be dim…
This could be what people call “a pretty big deal“:
The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, has been badly wounded in an armed assault in Ankara according to Turkish press. According to CNN Turk man opened fire in the air then fired twice at the ambassador, who was shot in the back. It is reported that police is still exchanging fire with the attacker.
The attack took place at the opening of the “Russia through Turks’ eyes” photo exhibition, Turkish NTV news channel reports, and adds that there is information that three other people are injured.
Karlov was immediately rushed to a hospital after the assault, according to Turkish media. The ambassador is reported to be in a critical state.
Russian Embassy in Ankara has not issued an official statement concerning the assault yet. However, soon after the news emerged, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russian Foreign Ministry would soon issue a statement. The attack comes just a day before Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s planned visit to Moscow for Syria talks with his Russian and Iranian counterparts.
No word yet on who is responsible for the attack. The Islamic State’s a good candidate, but if the Turkish government announces the PKK was behind it, there’s a 99% chance it’s a false flag operation.
Let’s hope it’s not a “Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo” big deal…
Update: The attacker evidently shouted “Allah Akbar” during the attack which is far more Islamic State than PKK.
Karlov was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored photo exhibition in the capital when a man wearing a suit and tie shouted “Allahu Akbar” and fired at least eight shots, according to an AP photographer in the audience. The attacker also said some words in Russian and smashed several of the photos hung for the exhibition.
CNN Turk reported that the gunman entered the gallery with a police ID and opened fire on the ambassador as he made a speech. CNN Turk is reporting that a brief hostage situation has ended after special forces entered the building, adding that Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu is at the scene.
Haaretz also offers this photo of the attacker:
More Russian looking than Middle Eastern, and a bit on the light-skinned side for a Chechen.
Update 2: The Russian ambassador has died. Not the sort of things those cheerful, forgiving, happy-go-lucky sorts in the Kremlin are inclined to sweep under the rug…
Update 3: “Turkish security officials identified the attacker as Mert Altıntas, who had graduated from İzmir Rüştü Ünsal Police Academy in 2014.” Also: “He said something about ‘Aleppo’ and ‘revenge’.”
Update 4: Holy fark! Footage of the shooting:
Andrie Karlov, Russian ambassador to Turkey was shot while making a speech at the opening of exhibition “Russia in the eyes of Turks.”
— Jenna Abrams (@Jenn_Abrams) December 19, 2016
Update 5: Evidently assassin Mert Altıntas has himself been slain. Graphic-ish pics in Tweet that follows:
— Michael Horowitz (@michaelh992) December 19, 2016
Update 6: Turkey’s Foreign minister is flying to Moscow of Syria talks. Meanwhile, Russian capo Vladimir Putin isn’t sounding overly belligerent over the assassinations. “This murder is clearly a provocation aimed at undermining the improvement and normalization of Russian-Turkish relations, as well as undermining the peace process in Syria promoted by Russia, Turkey, Iran and other countries interested in settling the conflict in Syria.” Notably absent from Putin’s statement: the phrases “Casus belli,” “glass parking lot” and “sew the earth with salt.”
The Syrian city of Aleppo has fallen to pro-Assad forces. This was an all-but-inevitable result, given the Russian airpower backing Bashar Assad and the disorganized nature of the opposing forces and the desultory backing those forces received from the likes of Saudi Arabia and, intermittently, a feckless Obama Administration.
The reduction of Aleppo had all the hallmarks of modern urban siege warfare: grinding, bloody and merciless. (Having advisors from a military with extensive institutional experience with it (Stalingrad, Grozny) probably helped Assad.) Many western observers wailed about the horror of it, evidently unaware either than this is the way modern urban warfare is fought, or that Bashar Assad’s father Hafez was every bit as ruthless in destroying Hama in 1982 as his son was in the investment of Aleppo. Endless heart-tugging pictures of bloody children aren’t going to change the ruthless nature of Middle East conflict, nor obscure the fact that America had no good options in Syria. Remember, there were no good sides in the Syrian civil war, and no faction worth backing.
The wider Syrian civil war still grinds on, as does the war against the Islamic State and the wider Sunni-Shia conflict (never mind that Alawites are about as Shia as Lutherans are Jewish). If Obama’s goal was to engender a Sunni-Shia civil war throughout the Middle East (and there’s a grimly Machiavellian case to be made that this might be in the best long-term interests of the United States), he’s done a bang-up job. Otherwise Obama’s policy there (like the rest of the world) has been an unmitigated disaster. Foes like Iran and Russia feel contempt for us, while erstwhile allies like the Saudis (who are, indeed, scumbags, though preferable to whatever nightmare Islamic caliphate would replace them were they to fall) no longer trust us. (And indeed, have even less reason to do so now that Obama has cut off precision munitions sales to them over targeting policy in Yemen, a position both irrationally petulant and deeply ineffectual.)
Those worried about the effect Donald Trump’s inexperience might have on our Middle East policy needn’t. How could he do worse?
The twists and turns of the election, Hillary’s corruption, liberal derangement over Trump’s triumph, etc. have pushed a lot of other news stories onto the back-burner.
One of the big ones being: What the hell is happening in the war against the Islamic State?
It looks like I’m not the only one to have taken my eye off the ball. Back when Bush was President, there was heavy mainstream media reporting on conflicts in the Middle East. But ever since Obama’s Iraq pullout engendered the rise of the Islamic State, American reporting on the conflict has been (at best) sporadic.
Which is why I was surprised to see reports that Kurdish-led fighters were closing in on the Islamic State’s de-facto capital of Raqqa:
As the Mosul offensive drags into its second month, another fight is raging 450km to the west around Islamic State’s de facto capital at Raqqa, on the Euphrates River in northern Syria. The battle is already a tragedy for Raqqa’s 320,000 civilians, who’ve suffered under brutal Islamic State occupation for more than three years. Many have fled, with thousands crowding into already overflowing refugee camps since the latest fighting began, and others fleeing across the hills towards the Iraqi border even as night-time temperatures plunge below freezing. Their lives, like those of families still in the city, are about to get even harder.
The battle for Raqqa will shape the Syrian war throughout the coming year. Though smaller than the vast offensive around Mosul, it will be even more significant. It may decide the fate of Islamic State’s “caliphate” in Syria and will set the tone for the incoming Trump administration’s dealings with Turkey and Russia, two critical relationships that will drive events in the region and beyond.
During a visit to the Middle East last week, I spoke to Syrian, Kurdish, Iraqi and American leaders involved in the campaign. They told me that while the military offensive is progressing about as well as anyone expected, the politics are proving characteristically complex.
The troops fighting Islamic State in Raqqa come from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a rebel coalition backed by the US, among other countries. SDF units have received a stream of weapons, training and advisers since last year. Supported by coalition airstrikes, they attacked Raqqa early last month, timing the offensive (known as Operation Euphrates Wrath) to coincide with the Mosul assault, to stop Islamic State shifting reinforcements between fronts.
The SDF has achieved considerable battlefield success. In the past month it has cleared 600sq km of rural terrain in Raqqa province, recapturing 45 villages and expelling hundreds of Islamic State fighters. Many recovered settlements are ruined, however, their populations massacred or driven off by Islamic State, or bombed out by Bashar al-Assad’s regime in previous fighting.
The frontline sits just north of Raqqa city, in Ayn Issa district, where heavy combat (including coalition airstrikes called in by observers on the ground) has killed as many as 200 Islamic State fighters in the past two weeks.
In the same timeframe, SDF spokesmen announced the recapture of the towns of Hazima, al-Taweelah and Tel al-Samman, north and west of Raqqa, bringing the SDF main force within 25km of the city’s outskirts, with reconnaissance teams pushing forward to the edge of town.
Islamic State resistance is increasing as SDF advances, and most commanders expect a ferocious fight against a determined enemy once they reach the fortified downtown area.
As the investment of Mosul has been going on for weeks, the battle for Raqqa will probably be at least equally slow and grinding, especially given the difficulties inherent in managing a diverse force of various factions:
More than 25,000 SDF members — by far the largest faction in a force of about 30,000 — come from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the affiliated Women’s Protection Units (YPJ, an all-female combat brigade of 7000 troops). SDF also includes a few hundred Arab fighters from the Shammari tribal confederation, plus an Assyrian Christian militia and a small ethnic Turkmen force. The Shammari have a longstanding blood feud with Islamic State, which has massacred their men and boys and enslaved women and girls as it seeks to intimidate tribes in its region of influence. Christians and Turkmen are fighting for survival against Islamic State, which has engaged in genocidal slaughter against both groups wherever it has gained control. There also is a small secular nationalist force drawn from regime military defectors, the Free Officers Union. But these are minorities, perhaps 15 per cent altogether, in an alliance that is overwhelmingly Kurdish.
Evidently the fighting is going poorly enough for the Islamic State that their spokesman urged their own soldiers not to flee Raqqa and Mosul. (That would be their new spokesman, the old one having been removed from office by a Hellfire missle.)
Some have suggested that the Islamic State is preparing to retreat to a desert stronghold, in Wilayat al-Furat near the Iraq-Syrian border if it’s ejected from both Raqqa and Mosul. (This, as far as I can figure, is about where it is.)
More far afield, Libyan militias backed by American airstrikes said they have cleared Sirte, the stronghold of the Islamic State in Libya.
One thing that may be making battlefield progress against the Islamic State possible: Cheap oil prices. Without excess petrodollars to spend, the Islamic State’s backers on the Arabian peninsula (not to mention Anatolia) may not have the spare cash to prop up their miniature caliphate.
That said, the war against the Islamic State is far from over, and expected it to drag on into the Trump Presidency.