Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Policy’

Middle East News Roundup for 11/19/17

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

Want to know what’s happening in the Middle East and why?

Ha! Good luck with that.

But this roundup will should at least elevate you to a slightly higher level of informed incomprehension.

  • Syrian Army takes Abu Kammal again.

    The Syrian army and its allies took complete control over Albu Kamal, Islamic State’s last significant town in Syria, a military news service run by Hezbollah said on Sunday.

    The army had declared victory over Islamic State in Albu Kamal earlier this month but the jihadists then staged a counter-attack using sleeper cells hidden in the town.

  • What’s going on in Lebanon? Even Michael Totten doesn’t seem to know.
  • Saudi Arabia and its allies are meeting in Cairo to talk about what to do about Iran, Lebanon and Hezbollah. “The emergency Arab foreign ministers meeting was convened at the request of Saudi Arabia with support from the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait to discuss means of confronting Iranian intervention, Egypt’s state news agency MENA said.”
  • “The Trump administration said Friday it will shut down the Palestinian Liberation Office (PLO) in Washington, D.C., unless the Palestinians get serious about peace talks with Israel.”
  • Iraqi Kurds are backing down off their demands for independence.
  • No link, but suddenly the entire Washington MSM seems to be wringing their hands about the Saudi blockage of Yemen in precisely the way they weren’t when Iran was destabilizing the country with a proxy war the last three years.
  • Confused? You probably will be, even after this week’s episode of Soap

    Venezuela Officially Bankrupt

    Thursday, November 16th, 2017

    The inevitable has happened: The Magic Power of Socialism™ has officially bankrupted Venezuela:

    Milton Friedman once joked that if you put the government in charge of the Sahara Desert in five years there would be a shortage of sand. He could have been talking about Venezuela and its oil wealth. But it is no joke.

    On Monday Caracas missed interest payments due on two government bonds and one bond issued by the state-owned oil monopoly known by its Spanish initials PdVSA. Venezuela owed creditors $280 million, which it couldn’t manage even after a 30-day grace period.

    Venezuela is broke, which takes some doing. For much of the second half of the 20th century, a gusher of oil exports made dollars abundant in Venezuela and the country imported the finest of everything. There were rough patches in the 1980s and 1990s, but by 2001 Venezuela was the richest country in South America.

    Then in 2005 the socialist Hugo Chávez declared that the central bank had “excessive reserves.” He mandated that the executive take the excess from the bank without compensation. Today the central bank has at best $1 billion in reserves.

    Falling oil prices are partly to blame, but the main problem is that chavismo has strangled entrepreneurship. Faced with expropriation, hyperinflation, price controls and rampant corruption, human and monetary capital has fled Venezuela.

    As of Tuesday evening, the Investment Swaps and Derivatives Association still had not declared Venezuela in default. That matters because this will trigger the insurance obligations inherent in the credit default swaps. But S&P Global Ratings declared the country in default Monday. On Tuesday morning the Luxembourg Stock Exchange issued a suspension notice for the bonds with missed payments.

    From the richest nation in latin America to one where people have to eat their own pets to stave off starvation.

    Followup: Islamic State Defeated in Battle for Marawi City

    Saturday, November 11th, 2017

    Here’s news from (mostly) a few weeks ago: Islamic State fighters have been defeated in the Philippines:

    The Philippines has declared an end to five months of fighting in southern Marawi City between the armed forces and militants loyal to Islamic State, the country’s defence minister says.

    “There are no more militants in Marawi,” Delfin Lorenzana told reporters in Clark during a meeting of regional defence ministers.

    The announcement comes as Philippine troops captured a building where pro-Islamic State militants made their final stand, and found dozens bodies of suspected gunmen inside, two security officials said.

    The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to make public the latest developments in Marawi, where government forces have begun a gradual withdrawal as the fighting eased in recent days.

    Armed forces chief General Eduardo Ano said at least 42 bodies of rebels had been found in two buildings and a mosque in the battle zone.

    Despite the battle being “over,” mop-up operations continued into this week when 11 remaining militants were killed in the harbor area of Marawi City. “More than 900 militants, 165 troops and policemen and 47 civilians were killed in the fighting in Marawi.”

    Other good news from that battle: Islamic State leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute (AKA Omarkhayam Maute) were both killed, as was Omar’s brother Abdullah Maute a bit earlier.

    From the ABC report:

    National police chief Ronald dela Rosa told reporters that there was intelligence that a Malaysian militant, Amin Baco, survived and has assumed leadership of the militants, but military officials said they believe Baco was killed in Sunday’s fighting or in recent weeks, and that troops were searching for his body.

    “Contrary to recent pronouncements by some officials that it is now headed by a certain Amin Baco, the Armed Forces of the Philippines strongly believes that the group is now leaderless and without direction,” [Maj. Gen. Restituto] Padilla said.

    This probably means that the Maute group is effectively defunct, although Abu Sayyaf, of which Hapilon was the head, appears to still be active in Basilan, a smaller island south of Mindanao.

    (Previously.)

    Deir Ez-Zor Falls

    Sunday, November 5th, 2017

    The Syrian army just ousted the Islamic State from their last urban stronghold in Syria.

    Syrian government forces have liberated the last remaining Isis stronghold in the country as the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate continues to crumble.

    The Syrian military said it had driven extremist fighters from Deir Ezzor and regained full control of the eastern city on the west bank of the Euphrates following weeks of fighting, state media reported.

    Isis had held most of the city since 2014, except for one large pocket where Syrian army troops and 93,000 civilians were trapped for three years.

    Syrian forces and pro-government allies first broke the militant group’s siege on the city in a Russian-backed offensive in September and have been advancing against Isis positions ever since.

    The recapture of the city, the largest in eastern Syria, leaves Isis militants isolated and encircled in the region’s countryside.

    In a statement issued on Friday through state TV, army spokesman General Ali Mayhoub said the military had “completely” liberated the city and declared it had entered the “last phase” of its fight to annihilate Isis.

    Isis is estimated to have lost 90 per cent of its territory since 2014, including key urban strongholds Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in northern Syria.

    Deir Ezzor was strategically significant to the extremist group due to its location near the Iraqi border and its importance as the capital of the oil-rich province which shares its name.

    The city’s liberation all but reduces Isis’s self-proclaimed caliphate to a pair of border towns on the Iraq-Syria frontier.

    Iraqi forces and allied Shia militia are chasing remnants of the terror group inside the town of al-Qaim, on the Iraqi side of the border.

    Deir ez-Zor, rumored to be the Islamic State’s backup capital after the encirclement of Raqqa, was fully invested by the Syrian Army and Syrian Democratic Forces one month ago.

    And here’s the same territory today:

    (Pictures, as usual, from http://isis.liveuamap.com/.)

    Elsewhere in the war against the Islamic State, Iraqi forces have taken Qaim on the border between Iraq and Syria. That leaves Rawa City, a town of some 20,000 east of Quim in western Anbar province, as the last populated Islamic State stronghold in Iraq. That’s expected to fall soon as well.

    In Abu Kammal, one of the last towns in Syria held by the Islamic State, security checkpoints have been abandoned as both civilians and Islamic State fighters are fleeing the area to due to Russian Air Force bombardment.

    What remains of Islamic State territory after that is largely uninhabited.

    After the falls of Raqqa and Mosul, there may be no true “Last Stand” for the Islamic State, no Fuhrer bunker end for al-Baghdadi, just the rest of the supposed caliphate’s territory melting away as onetime fighters flee into the night and try to melt back into the civilian population. Meanwhile, expect the Islamic State to turn into just another stateless jihadist terror network like al Qaeda, blowing people up across the world but holding no territory, and thus no moral authority upon which to demand the allegiance of Muslims worldwide:

    Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding.

    It’s possible that the failure of the Islamic State will take wind out of the sails of Islamic fundamentalism for a generation. This wouldn’t mean an end to Islamic terrorism and attempts to Islamicize the west in general and Europe in particular, only a lessening of it.

    But the fall of the Islamic State’s last remaining territory is still a cause for celebration among the millions once enslaved by its brutal medieval death cult.

    Podesta Lawyer Tries To Silence Tucker Carlson

    Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

    No sooner do I post the Tony Podesta resignation story than I read everybody talking about this Tucker Carlson video, in which he reveals that a lawyer working for Podesta tried to silence him:

    “If you’re looking for a summary of all of this, here’s the one sentence cliff note of the whole affair: the chairman of one major presidential campaign colluded with the brother of the chairman of the other major presidential campaign to enrich themselves by secretly advancing the interests of a foreign adversary. That happened. That’s the swamp they told you needed to be drained.”

    Six days ago Carlson said that the Podesta brothers and Paul Manafort were the targets of the Mueller investigation, not Trump. So far, his sources seem a lot better than those of the Washington Post or the New York Times.

    Happy Halloween!

    LinkSwarm for October 27, 2017

    Friday, October 27th, 2017

    Let’s take a break from talking about Hillary Clinton’s scandals so we can talk about Barack Obama’s scandals. At the end of the day, though, there’s a significant chance they all tie up together in one giant knotted scandal tangle…

  • “‘Smoking gun’ email reveals Obama DOJ blocked conservative groups from settlement funds“:

    While Eric Holder was U.S. attorney general, the Justice Department allowed prosecutors to strike agreements compelling big companies to give money to outside groups not connected to their cases to meet settlement burdens. Republican lawmakers long have decried those payments as a “slush fund” that boosted liberal groups, and the Trump DOJ ended the practice earlier this year.

    But internal Justice Department emails released Tuesday by Goodlatte indicated that not only were officials involved in determining what organizations would get the money, but also Justice Department officials may have intervened to make sure the settlements didn’t go to conservative groups.

    In one such email in July 2014, a senior Justice Department official expressed “concerns” about what groups would receive settlement money from Citigroup — saying they didn’t want money going to a group that does “conservative property-rights legal services.”

  • The IRS has finally admitted that it illegally targeted conservatives:

    In an unprecedented victorious conclusion to our years-long legal battle against the IRS, the bureaucratic agency has just admitted in federal court that it wrongfully targeted Tea Party and conservative groups during the Obama Administration and issued an apology to our clients for doing so. In addition, the IRS is consenting to a court order that would prohibit it from ever engaging in this form of unconstitutional discrimination in the future.

    In a proposed Consent Order filed with the Court yesterday, the IRS has apologized for its treatment of our clients (36 Tea Party and other conservative organizations from 20 states that applied for 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) tax-exempt status with the IRS between 2009 and 2012) during the tax-exempt determinations process. Crucially, following years of denial by the IRS and blame-shifting by IRS officials, the agency now expressly admits that its treatment of our clients was wrong.

  • House Republicans manage to pass something resembling a budget. Is it a good or bad budget? “Answer cloudy, ask again later.”
  • How Democrats committed political suicide passing the assault weapons ban in 1994.

    “So mostly everybody is like jumping for joy. And I’m walking around like a zombie. But nobody really gave a damn what my feelings were. So I went back to the office and I got a call from Congressman [Jack] Brooks who is the congressman from Texas and Chairman of [the Judiciary] committee and he said, ‘Well you just lost me my seat.’ And he and I had a good relationship. I said, ‘Well, you voted against it. The president doesn’t want you to do anything going forward that would jeopardize you. And if we come back from the conference and all that stuff…’ And he was just really down, down, down… He said, ‘my seat is done.’”

    Snip.

    In all, eight Democratic Senators lost their races and 54 Democratic House members too. The list included those who opposed the assault weapons ban but reluctantly voted for it (like Speaker Tom Foley) and those who had tried to strip the crime bill of the assault weapons ban, like Brooks.

  • Left-wing heroes that treat women like garbage. In addition to Harvey and Teddy, there’s Bill Clinton, Andreas Baader, several Black Panthers, and assorted “male feminists,” though it occasionally veers into the weeds.
  • What Harvey Weinstein tells us about the liberal world.”

    Harvey Weinstein seemed to fit right in. This is a form of liberalism that routinely blends self-righteousness with upper-class entitlement. That makes its great pronouncements from Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons. That routinely understands the relationship between the common people and showbiz celebrities to be one of trust and intimacy.

    Countless people who should have known better are proclaiming their surprise at Harvey Weinstein’s alleged abuses. But in truth, their blindness is even more sweeping than that. They are lost these days in a hall of moral mirrors, weeping tears of admiration for their own virtue and good taste.

    You know what’s really shocking? That piece is from liberal commentator Thomas What’s the Matter With Kansas Frank…

  • Besides Hollywood, you know what other powerful liberal establishment is full of sexual harassers? The EU Parliament.
  • Joe Bob Briggs on how illegal aliens knock Americans off the lowest rungs of the economic ladder:

    One of the cruelest things we do to prisoners is pump them up with the idea that, if they educate themselves in prison and learn a trade, they will be able to work when they get out. This is a lie. They probably won’t be able to work, because, aside from typical job-interview demerits like too many nasty facial tattoos, that felony conviction automatically eliminates them on most application forms. As late as the ’70s, in Arkansas, it was considered a badge of civic pride if you hired a couple of convicts and a couple of blind, deaf, or wheelchair-bound citizens at your business—which is why we didn’t use the term “hardcore” for any of the unemployed.

    Would it be a stretch to say all these convicts have been replaced by young able-bodied illegals? I don’t think so.

    Snip.

    “Get rid of the illegal Mexicans and see how fast that wage goes up to $15 on its own, no government intervention needed.”

  • “Tucker Carlson: If Robots Are Killing Jobs, Why Allow 1M Low-Skilled Workers To Immigrate Legally?” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Flake flakes.
  • Boston “fair wage” pizza shop dedicated to “economic justice and healthy food” fails. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Young Chinese are taking a pass on Communist propaganda.
  • Evidently actually reading the Constitution is not a requirement to be head of the DNC. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Another week, another fake hate crime. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • The “sexual assault” allegation against George H. W. Bush is just silly.
  • Program automatically produces Slashdot headlines. Too bad these are fake, as I would totally read “Sun Sues New Star Trek To Stop The Math.”
  • Evergreen cartoon:

  • Ted Cruz on North Korea

    Monday, October 23rd, 2017

    Ted Cruz has an editorial about North Korea in Sunday’s New York Times.

    On Oct. 31, the State Department faces a critical decision in our relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Iran-Russia-North Korea sanctions bill enacted in August included legislation I introduced that requires the secretary of state to decide whether to relist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism within 90 days.

    Look at the accusations against Pyongyang: the unspeakable treatment of Otto Warmbier; the assassination of a member of the Kim family with chemical weapons on foreign soil; collusion with Iran to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles; cyberattacks on American film companies; support for Syria’s chemical weapons program; arms sales to Hezbollah and Hamas; and attempts to assassinate dissidents in exile. Given this, the decision should be easy. In fact, Americans could be forgiven for wondering why North Korea is not already designated as a sponsor of terrorism.

    Cruz then reiterates the decades of unsuccessful “engagement” various Presidential administrations have attempted with North Korea, to no avail. He then lays out the reasons that North Korea should be re-added to the list of terrorist nations:

    It is time to acknowledge that North Korea may never be interested in negotiating away its nuclear deterrent. Of course we should continue to leave the door open for serious discussions if the situation changes, but the United States government does our citizens — and the world — a disservice if it continually discounts the centrality of nuclear weapons to the Kim regime.

    They are not a mere insurance policy for survival. They are a means to a more sweeping end: reunification of the Korean Peninsula on Pyongyang’s terms. We must seriously consider the possibility that the North’s current leader, Kim Jong-un, is preparing to use nuclear weapons to drive American forces out of South Korea and coerce Seoul — even at the risk of fighting a limited nuclear war.

    Given this, the United States must approach North Korea with sobriety and urgency. The Trump administration has the opportunity to join both houses of Congress in acknowledging the truth about North Korea and using it to open new opportunities to maximize pressure.

    Among North Korea’s many significant forms of illicit financing are foreign slave labor and money laundering. From Africa to Europe, North Korean diplomats exploit their consular posts to launder money at the expense of international comity. If North Korea is relisted, these nations would face a significant decision: Is continuing diplomatic and economic relations with a state that uses diplomacy and finance to export and foment terrorism in their interest?

    It would pose an even deeper question to the United States: Will we continue our diplomatic overtures to the Kim regime on the flawed assumption that it is interested in a future without nuclear weapons? It is because of America’s bipartisan belief in North Korea’s potential amenity in a political settlement, captured in the 2008 delisting, that North Korea can now marry a miniaturized warhead to an intercontinental ballistic missile. Relisting Pyongyang is the first step toward a strategic vision based on facts rather than aspirations.

    We must tell the truth about the dangerous ambitions of North Korea and once again list it as a state sponsor of terrorism, a move that only strengthens our hand and weakens that of Kim Jong-un. I strongly urge the State Department to relist North Korea, and to meet this challenge with the resolve it has long demanded.

    There’s not a whole lot here that will be new to anyone paying attention, but since a Washington establishment gripped by Trump Derangement Syndrome seems incapable of clear thinking or action on a wide host of issues, including North Korea, maybe we need to remind people that a communist scumbag dictatorship is, in fact, still a communist scumbag dictatorship…

    Clinton Corruption Update for October 17, 2017

    Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

    There’s a bushel of news on Hillary Clinton scandals, both old (uranium!) and new (Harvey Weinstein!):

  • Remember the Russian uranium sale scandal? It’s back!

    Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

    Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

    They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

    The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later.

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    Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefitting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.

    The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.

    When this sale was used by Trump on the campaign trail last year, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman said she was not involved in the committee review and noted the State Department official who handled it said she “never intervened … on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.”

    In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.

    “The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.

    The Obama administration’s decision to approve Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One has been a source of political controversy since 2015.

    That’s when conservative author Peter Schweitzer and The New York Times documented how Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees and his charitable foundation collected millions in donations from parties interested in the deal while Hillary Clinton presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

    The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.

    But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.

    So the Obama Administration knew Russia was illegally bribing American officials in relation to the uranium deal, including the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, and did nothing. (Read the whole thing for more details on Russia’s kickbacks and bribery schemes.)

  • Surprise, surprise, surprise! Judicial Watch managed to unearth yet another treasure trove of emails Hillary Clinton sent from her illegal homebrew serve:

    Judicial Watch today released 1,617 new pages of documents from the U.S. Department of State revealing numerous additional examples of classified information being transmitted through the unsecure, non-state.gov account of Huma Abedin, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, as well as many instances of Hillary Clinton donors receiving special favors from the State Department.

    The documents included 97 email exchanges with Clinton not previously turned over to the State Department, bringing the known total to date to at least 627 emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over, and further contradicting a statement by Clinton that, “as far as she knew,” all of her government emails had been turned over to department.

  • Speaking of Judicial Watch, they also forced the discovery of “30 pages of documents related to the June 27, 2016, tarmac meeting between former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton.” You know, notes the FBI swore didn’t exist. Judicial Watch said they want copies of the docs no later than late November.
  • “According to the FEC, Clinton received exactly $1,492,673.45 from Weinstein since 1999.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • So how much of Harvey Weinstein’s money will the Clinton Foundation be returning? Let me do a quick little calculation here…add it all up…carry the one…and the answer is…zero. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Just as Hollywood looked the other way for the sake of career advancement so too did Hillary Clinton as she rode her husband’s attained coattails to political prominence. So her recent expression of disgust over Weinstein’s activities ring hollow.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “With everyone saying that Weinstein’s behavior was an open secret, it is impossible to believe that Hillary Clinton a) didn’t know, b) that she gave any more of a flying f*** about the women Weinstein victimized than about those molested by her husband, c) and that she’s sorry for anything other than the minor humiliation this has caused her…though after November 8th’s events this is damned small potatoes.”
  • You may remember the many, many questions raised about Hillary’s health during the 2016 Presidential campaign. In London as part of her book tour for All You Losers Let Me Down, Clinton managed to fall down and break her toe. She claimed the fall stemmed from “apparently running down the stairs in heels and falling backward.” Yeah. First off, I don’t think Hillary is up for “running” these days, or anything beyond a fast waddle. Second, why would a woman who had multiple documented falls in 2016, and who frequently needed assistance to make her way up even small stairs, be walking up or down stairs in heels? Wouldn’t she be thinking “Yeah, unless it’s a formal event and I have someone to lean on, it’s flats from here on out?” Or she could, of course, be lying yet again, which seems to be her default mode.
  • If there’s a wrong side to an issue, Hillary will find it.
  • “Chelsea Clinton runs from questions about handing back Harvey Weinstein’s tainted $250,000 donations – and her father deploys security to keep the Press away.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • If I’m married to Bill Clinton, the last thing I would want to do (well, OK, behind “stay married” and “not flee to a country with no extradition treaty”) is slam President Donald Trump by saying there’s a sexual assaulter in the White House. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Also calling Hillary Clinton out: Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. “Bourdain is dating Asia Argento, who is one of the actresses who have accused Weinstein of rape.”
  • A tweet:

  • Raqqa’s Fall: “Hours or Days”

    Saturday, October 14th, 2017

    Islamic State is on the verge of defeat in Syria’s Raqqa and a deal has been reached to evacuate civilians and Islamic State fighters, but not foreign militants, the U.S-led coalition fighting ISIS said on Saturday.”

    Here’s the Syria LiveMap screencap from October 8:

    And here’s a screencap from today:

    It looks like the already compacted Islamic State pocket in Raqqa has already been reduced by 80% in that time.

    Here’s some video of the most recent push:

    I look forward to putting up the “Raqqa Liberated” post in a day or two…

    Islamic State Update: Hawija Falls, Final Push for Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor Fully Invested

    Monday, October 9th, 2017

    Quick update on the ongoing destruction of the Islamic State.

    First, “Iraqi forces have driven Islamic State fighters from the northern city of Hawija, the militants’ final urban stronghold in Iraq, three years after they seized control of nearly a third of the country, the Iraqi government said Thursday.”

    There’s still lots of fighting along the Euphrates, but the Islamic State doesn’t control any cities outside that region any more.

    Second, the the final offensive against Islamic State holdouts in what remains of their territory in besieged Raqqa just began, with commanders of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces estimating that all of Raqqa will be liberated this week.

    Third, like Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor has been completely cut off from the rest of the Islamic State by both SDF and Assad’s Syrian army. SDF also captured the Islamic State’s Deir ez-Zor headquarters.

    (Pictures, as usual, from http://isis.liveuamap.com/.)

    In western Syria, there are conflicting reports about the remaining Islamic State pocket near Hama there. The Syrian government claims it has destroyed the last elements of the Islamic State there, while the Islamic State claims that it is attacking and gaining ground from the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the rival Islamist group in the Syrian civil war that incorporates former elements of the al-Nusra Front.

    In 2014, the Islamic State took and ruled vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. Now they struggle to hold on to what few cities they still control, and soon will rule over nothing at all.