Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

LinkSwarm for December 22, 2017

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Welcome to a pre-Christmas LinkSwarm! (Pro-tip: The week before Christmas is the bad time to try rolling out a new diet.)

  • Female Kansas City Democratic congressional candidate drops out of race after sexual harassment charge. I’m betting this is the point when Democrats start going “Now wait a minute, this has gone on long enough…”
  • Occam’s Razor and why sunspots explain observed climaite changes better than CO2.
  • EU files formal article 7 complaint against Poland for “undermining the independence of the judiciary” (read: de-communizing it). They’ve also started action against “Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic for blocking the EU migrant relocation plans to settle some 160,000 migrants among its member states.” The more they tighten their grip, the more member states will slip through their fingers…
  • Jews Flee Paris Suburbs over Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism.” (Hat tip: RS McCain’s Twitter feed.)
  • Public: “Hey, we’re sure like to see a list of all those secret sexual harassment payouts.” Office of Compliance: “Get stuffed!”
  • McConnell Backs Trump on Chain-Migration.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • 12668 buildings have been damaged in Raqqa city due the battles between ISIS and SDF supported by Coalition. 3289 building in the red colour are completely destroyed. 3924 building in the orange colour are heavily damaged. 5444 building in the yellow colour are partially damaged.”

  • Lefty journalist Juan Thompson given a a five-year prison sentence for phoning in bomb threats at Jewish community centers. But you have to read the full piece to find out what a real sweetheart he was…
  • Another lefty alternative weekly paper in financial trouble. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Scott Adams offers suggestions on actually fighting crime.
  • California’s Lt. Gov Gavin Newsome admits that Democrats are coming for your guns.
  • Women love the sexual interplay they experience with men, and they relish men desiring their beauty. Why? Because it is part of their nature.”
  • Mistrial declared in the Cliven Bundy case due to the government not turning over evidence. Hmmm….
  • All other things being equal, it’s generally best not to commit federal felonies on Twitter.
  • “Long Island Iced Tea shares went gangbusters after changing its name to Long Blockchain.” I need a filter that changes every mention of “Bitcoin” to “Tulips”… (Hat tip: Stephen green at Instapundit.)
  • I’ve checked out of the NFL, but this is worth noting: Houston Texans offensive lineman David Quessenberry has been promoted to the active roster, and will step on the field for a regular game for the first time ever after beating cancer.
  • I would say this week has been a bear, but it’s more like a bear claw…

    Merry Christmas!

    Islamic State All But Destroyed

    Sunday, December 10th, 2017

    After having secured the Syrian border, Iraq has declared the war against the Islamic State over. Syria strongman Bashar Assad’s patrons the Russians have likewise declared Syria liberated from the Islamic State as well. Both of these statements are slightly premature, but not by much.

    Right now isis.livemap shows the Islamic State disjointed into five enclaves, two in sparsely populated desert areas in Syria, one similar area in Iraq, and two small enclaves along the Euphrates in Syria southeast of Deir ez-Zor, both of which are being systematically crushed by the forces of Assad’s Syrian government of the Kurdish-led and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

    Once those small pockets are crushed, the military war against the Islamic State is effectively won, though expect it to linger on as yet another international jihadist terrorist organization, a tiny shadow of its former self, until the last of it’s many affiliates are either crushed or pledge allegiance to another leader.

    More Islamic State news:

  • Is would-be Islamic State caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi still alive?
  • Deradicalization efforts begin.
  • BBC roundup of all the territory the Islamic State has lost.
  • This Los Angeles Times editorial by Max Abrahms and John Glaser points out that many critics (from John Bolton to John McCain and Lindsey Graham) were wrong when they stated that Assad’s ouster was a precondition for the defeat of the Islamic State.
  • “Meet Mosul Eye, the secret chronicler of Islamic State ‘killing machine.'” Omar Mohammed spent years under Islamic State occupation documenting their brutality. Including this nugget of atrocity: “IS is forcing abortions and tubal ligation surgeries on Yazidi women,” he wrote in unpublished notes from January 2015. A doctor told him there had been between 50 and 60 forced abortions and a dozen Yazidi girls younger than 15 died of injuries from repeated rapes.”
  • “Why Did Islamic State Kill So Many Sufis in Sinai?” “Since declaring itself a caliphate in June 2014, the self-proclaimed ‘State’ has conducted or inspired over 140 terrorist attacks in 29 countries in addition to Iraq and Syria, where its carnage has taken a much deadlier toll. Those attacks have killed and wounded thousands of people.” Also how Sufism was the predominant mode of Islamic thought in Egypt before the rise of Salafism and the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Israel Hits Iranian Base in Syria, World Shrugs

    Monday, December 4th, 2017

    Remember how every time Israel committed an act of self-defense, a chattering array of The Usual Suspects would freakout and accuse Israel of “risking war,” “escalating tensions,” “derailing the peace process,” or whatever standard platitudes the global political establishment use to make anytime Israel did something other than pretend to make nice with those Arabs trying to kill them?

    Those days appear to be over.

    In a follow-up to last week’s story about Israel threatening to hit Iranian bases in Syria, guess what happened? Israel hit an Iranian base in Syria.

    Israeli warplanes attacked an Iranian military base near the Syrian city of ​​Al-Kiswah early Saturday morning, according to Sky News Arabia and other Arab media outlets. The construction of the base, which was the target of the airstrike, began last year and had accelerated in recent months.

    According to the reports, the Israeli fighter jets fired from Lebanese airspace and the Syrian defense systems responded by firing anti-aircraft missiles. It was also reported that the Syrian missiles were fired from Damascus’ Mezzeh base and that the Israeli aircraft were flying at a low altitude above the Lebanese city of Baalbek. Media outlets affiliated with the Syrian regime confirmed that several missiles were fired at the Iranian base, which was apparently used for storing ammunition.

    Israel has an extraordinarily good air force, and they usually hit what they aim at. And like most Middle East operations since the U.S. withdraw from Iraq in 2011, reporting is so sparse that it’s hard to judge how successful the operation was.

    But Israel’s latest strike is most notable for all the dogs that didn’t bark after it occurred. This is the sort of story that used to dominate media cycles for a day or two, but this time around, if you blinked, or weren’t scanning Twitter shortly after it happened, you very likely missed it.

    So what’s changed? I can think of two possibilities:

    1. America’s liberal media is so consumed with Trump Derangement Syndrome that they can’t expend the usual time, space and energy on reflective anti-Israel/pro-Arab pieces anymore. Call it Freakout Fatigue.
    2. Maybe all Mohammed bin Salman’s actions in Saudi Arabia has sidelined various royal family factions that were actively bankrolling anti-Israeli agitation among the chattering classes.

    Mark this down as yet another thing that the Trump Administration has changed, though most likely indirectly. Less indirect is the fact that relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel are probably the warmest they’ve been since Israel’s founding (having common enemies will do that for you).

    There appears to be more real reform afoot in the Middle East right now than the “Arab Spring” ever unleashed…

    LinkSwarm for December 1, 2017

    Friday, December 1st, 2017

    Welcome to another LinkSwarm! December already! I didn’t do enough to get ahead in 2017, because I was working hard merely to survive 2017…

    Think I’m going to do a separate “Democrats Behaving Badly” roundup tomorrow, by which time there should be another half-dozen accusations…

  • Donald Trump, champion deregulator?
  • The Al Franken scandal is hitting Democrats right where it hurts most: in their pocketbooks.
  • Harry Reid kills the judicial filibuster. Result? “Trump will get to fill the most federal judiciary vacancies in 40 year.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “WaPo reporter to Project Veritas: There may be no evidence of Trump collusion with Russia.” Now you tell us… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The welfare state should be abolished.
  • “McDonald’s Bun-Supplier Loses 35% Of Staff To Immigration Raids.”
  • He was just a Dreamer, dreaming of coming to America and stabbing someone in their chest 100 times and ripping out their heart.
  • John Hindraker: “Roy Moore for Senate! Enthusiastically.”
  • Professor: the fewer competitive congressional districts, the better.
  • China To Deploy Elite Troops In Syria To Fight Alongside Assad’s Army.”
  • Once again, liberals are outraged at a compact to cut down on voter fraud.
  • Philadelphia city councilwoman wants to see more constituents murdered.
  • ESPN lays off 150 people. How is that “All Social Justice Warrior, All the Time” format working out for you?
  • 100 Buzzfeed employees laid off. What happened next will shock you! (Hat tip: NolteNC’s Twitter feed.)
  • And the hits keep coming! “Music Mogul Russell Simmons Accused of Rape by Model, Then 17 Years Old; Now Accused by Second Woman.”
  • Time Inc. will be sold to Meredith Corporation for $2.8 billion in deal partly funded by Koch brothers.” Can the Koch Brothers make it suck less? Probably not, since they evidently won’t have any influence. I think Meredith overpaid by about $2.8 billion…
  • Croatian war criminal R. Bud Dwyers himself in court, albeit less dramatically.
  • Let colleges die.
  • Imagine being so unhinged and so geeky that you issue death threats to congressmen and their families over the “net neutrality” debate. Hope the 10 years in prison and the $250,000 fine were worth it for knocking $5 off your Netflix bill…
  • Social Justice has now reached the point in Olympia, Washington that police won’t even evict trespassers from railroad tracks. (Hat tip: Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit.)
  • Philly officer sold drugs stolen by corrupt Baltimore police squad.” Remind me again which party has controlled those two cities the last half century…
  • Feminist satire website to shutdown because it can’t out-crazy actual feminists.
  • Dogs > Cats.
  • Germany’s top 10 most surreal sites to visit.” (Last photo is NSFW.)
  • How hippies put on the worst music festival in history.
  • Israel Threatens to Destroy Iranian Positions Near Its Border

    Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

    If you’re tired of all this Arab-on-Arab fighting, Israel is indicating it may have to do some direct clobbering itself:

    Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida revealed on Sunday that an Israeli source disclosed a promise from Jerusalem to destroy all Iranian facilities within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of Israel’s Golan Heights.

    The source, who remains unnamed, said that during Syrian President Bashar Assad’s surprise visit to Russia last week, Assad gave Russian Premier Vladimir Putin a message for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Damascus will agree to a demilitarized zone of up to 40 kilometers from the border in the Golan Heights as part of a comprehensive agreement between the two countries, but only if Israel does not work to remove Assad’s regime from power.

    The report also claims that Putin then called Netanyahu to relay the message, and that the Israeli prime minister said he would be willing to accept the deal, but that Israel’s goal of eradicating Iran and Hezbollah from the country would remain.

    According to the source, Jerusalem sees Assad as the last president of the Alawite community, indicating that a change of regime in Syria – at least towards a government less-linked to Iran – would be favorable for Israel. The Alawites are a minority Shi’ite community in Syria, and have long been supported by Iran, which seeks to extend its influence from the Gulf across the region to the Mediterranean.

    Here’s your regular reminder that Alawites are Shiite in the same sense that Mormons are Jews.

    The source also commented that after the defeat of the Islamic State, the conflict in Syria would become ”more difficult,” likely pointing towards a vacuum that would be left without the group. Russian, Syrian and Iranian-backed forces have been fighting against ISIS, while also seeking to knock out rebel groups that oppose the current regime. Russia’s stated interests have been in line with Iran’s in wanting to keep Assad in power.

    Israel has participated mostly on the periphery of the war in Syria, responding to fire on the northern border and occasionally bombing positions, including a weapons depot and scientific research center that allegedly produces chemical weapons. Damascus and Jerusalem have exchanged heated remarks as well, with Netanyahu threatening to bomb Assad’s palace, and Syrian officials warning of ”dangerous repercussions” to Israeli strikes on Syrian targets.

    Naturally Hezbollah says it’s perfectly willing to fight if its Iranian masters snap their fingers:

    The head of a large Iranian-backed Iraqi militia that has been fighting in Syria said his group was “fully prepared” to fight Israel if Damascus asked it to.

    Sheikh Akram al-Ka’abi, the leader of Iraq’s Hezbollah al-Nujaba, told the Lebanese news network Al Mayadeen Friday night his group would participate in a Damascus-led attack on Israel’s Golan Heights.

    “We are fully prepared to participate in any war with the Syrian Arab Army to liberate the Golan if the Syrian state agrees or requests so,” Ka’abi said.

    He said this would be done through the militia’s newest branch, the Golan Liberation Brigade, which was formed in March of this year.

    Hezbollah al-Nujaba is reportedly controlled by Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite foreign operations unit, the Qods Force.

    Ka’abi, who controls a reported 10,000 men in Syria, also said his group was prepared to defend the Lebanese terror group and fellow Iranian proxy Hezbollah from any Israeli attack.

    I doubt either Assad or Russia wants to tangle with Israel right now, especially with the Saudi’s making threats and President Donald Trump being both far more pro-Israel (and unpredictable) than the previous occupant of the White House.

    Meanwhile, Israel’s leadership is openly talking of war with Hezbollah and bumping off its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

    Interesting times…

    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

    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.

    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.

    Islamic State Near Collapse?

    Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

    That’s what this headline implies. The truth is a little less dramatic: Raqqa is on the edge of full liberation and the Islamic State is in retreat everywhere else.

    Static lines of control that held for months in northern Raqqa have collapsed, as seen in this Syria Livemap screen cap:

    Compare that to this map from September 5:

    Islamic State fighters are running out of territory in Raqqa to defend.

    Here’s a video from the battle of Raqqa:

    Southeast of Raqqa, Syrian government forces and the SDF are both pushing toward Deir ez-Zor.

    SDF also say they have captured Syria’s largest oilfield from the Islamic State near Deir ez-Zor.

    Elsewhere in the theater, “Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces have cleared ISIS out of about 50,000 square miles and liberated more than 6 million people who were living under Islamic State occupation.”

    Here’s a map of Iraqi forces collapsing the pocket of Islamic State forces to the southwest of Kirkuk that have been cut off from the rest of the Islamic State at least since the investment of Mosul.

    Everywhere within it’s supposed caliphate, the Islamic State is in retreat, and nowhere is it counterattacking successfully. But it still holds a lot of territory, and there’s a lot more fighting left before declaring it dead.

    Bonus video: Royal Air Force drone stops Islamic State public execution: