Been an awful week for a variety of reasons, perhaps the least of which is I’m getting over a nasty cold.
Posts Tagged ‘Syria’
More links from the big bucket of Jihad news:
Europe has been following the liberal, progressive, pseudo-socialist path a lot longer than we have. Instead of doing little things that make sense all along, they’ll let the problem get really big and stupid, and then it is guillotines, gulags, and cattle cars. There’s a lot of really pissed off Europeans right now, and over the centuries we’ve got plenty of examples of what masses of pissed off Europeans do when pushed.
This is not the Turkey you want to see in the headlines at this time of year…
I stopped doing the regular This Week in Jihad update because: A.) It took a lot of damn time, and B.) Sites like JihadWatch were doing it better.
But since the Paris attacks, a metric ton of Jihad-related links have come streaming out of the firehose, so here’s a new This Week In Jihad just so a I have a place to put them all:
When the Allahu Akbar boys opened fire, Paris was talking about the climate-change conference due to start later this month, when the world’s leaders will fly in to “solve” a “problem” that doesn’t exist rather than to address the one that does. But don’t worry: we already have a hashtag (#PrayForParis) and doubtless there’ll be another candlelight vigil of weepy tilty-headed wankers. Because as long as we all advertise how sad and sorrowful we are, who needs to do anything?
What it is is an attack on the west, on the civilization that built the modern world – an attack on one portion of “humanity” by those who claim to speak for another portion of “humanity”. And these are not “universal values” but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity. They were kinda sorta “universal” when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those “universal values” are utterly alien to large parts of the map today.
And then Europe decided to invite millions of Muslims to settle in their countries. Most of those people don’t want to participate actively in bringing about the death of diners and concertgoers and soccer fans, but at a certain level most of them either wish or are indifferent to the death of the societies in which they live – modern, pluralist, western societies and those “universal values” of which Barack Obama bleats. So, if you are either an active ISIS recruit or just a guy who’s been fired up by social media, you have a very large comfort zone in which to swim, and which the authorities find almost impossible to penetrate.
Over nine years, as I witnessed the neighborhood become increasingly intolerant. Alcohol became unavailable in most shops and supermarkets; I heard stories of fanatics at the Comte des Flandres metro station who pressured women to wear the veil; Islamic bookshops proliferated, and it became impossible to buy a decent newspaper. With an unemployment rate of 30 percent, the streets were eerily empty until late in the morning. Nowhere was there a bar or café where white, black and brown people would mingle. Instead, I witnessed petty crime, aggression, and frustrated youths who spat at our girlfriends and called them “filthy whores.” If you made a remark, you were inevitably scolded and called a racist. There used to be Jewish shops on Chaussée de Gand, but these were terrorized by gangs of young kids and most closed their doors around 2008. Openly gay people were routinely intimidated, and also packed up their bags.
The first, and most obvious, difference: There was no international conspiracy of German Jews in the 1930s attempting to carry out daily attacks on civilians on several continents. No self-identifying Jews in the early 20th century were randomly massacring European citizens in magazine offices and concert halls, and there was no “Jewish State” establishing sovereignty over tens of thousands of square miles of territory, and publicly slaughtering anyone who opposed its advance. Among Syrian Muslims, there is.
And after all that, I probably have another boatload of Jihad links to put up…
Hey, remember how the plight of #SyrianRefugees was suddenly The Most Pressing Moral Issue Since Cecil The Lion? At least among your liberal friends on Facebook and Twitter?
Never mind that right up until the moment Obama announced he wanted to distribute these teaming masses across America, most of those same liberals had never uttered a peep about America’s “duty” to take in Syrian refugees.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the intersection of Righteous Indignation and Moral Preening: After the Paris bombings, a whole lot of people are getting cold feet about the whole idea. Polls show that Americans oppose settling Syrian refugees by at least a 2-to-1 margin.
Among those coming around to more rigorous screening procedures: elected Democrats, especially those up for reelection in 2016.
Now the House has passed a bill that “would halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the U.S. and overhaul the screening process,” with 47 Democrats joining Republicans in a veto-proof majority.
Even Hillary’s top donor* is balking at the idea of bringing in more Syrians.
One reason Obama and other Democrats were able to win elections was that they made just enough noises about national security for independents not paying attention to go “Eh, good enough.” But Jack and Jill America, already angry about unchecked illegal immigration and made nervous by jihad attacks here and abroad, are starting to get angry at standing in line to get groped while Democrats insist on importing potential jihadists by the tens of thousands.
Democratic officeholders can certainly defy public opinion when they thinking they’re getting something concrete out of the deal (socialized medicine, graft opportunities, etc.), but aren’t so wild about losing elections for nothing more than moral brownie points. If Syrian refugees are the hill Social Justice Warriors really want to die on, we should let them, and let them take still more Democratic incumbents with them. I’m guessing most elected Democrats aren’t that eager for electoral martyrdom…
*Well, at least top on record donor, discounting all those thinly disguised bribes from Arab rulers…
The problem with doing an update on Syria is that I’m not sure anyone knows what the hell is going on there.
The motivations of the major local players are clear: Assad wants to survive and maintain power, while his paymasters in Iran want to back him and the Shia against the Islamic State and other Sunni groups. The Islamic State wants to establish its brutal medieval caliphate over first Mesopotamia and the Levant, then the entire Ummah, then the entire world, exterminating Shia and subjugating Christians and Jews to dhimmitude along the way. The Saudis want to back Sunnis (possibly including the Islamic State). The Kurds just want to survive. Etc.
However, what Barack Obama and Vladamir Putin want is considerably less clear.
Obama, after royally screwing Iraq by pulling U.S. troops out after Bush had largely stabilized it (at great expense in money and lives), seems to want to fight a pretend air war against the Islamic State and a pretend insurgency against Assad in order to keep reporters from asking him about it, thus kicking the can down the road for the next President to deal with. (Then again, perhaps this gives Obama too much credit. Maybe, like Jeremy Corbyn’s desire to give the Falklands back, Obama screwed up Iraq just for the pure leftish joy of undoing the achievements of a conservative leader he loathed…)
What does Putin want to accomplish in Syria? Prop up a military equipment-buying client state in Syria? Support a more important client state in Iran? Give Obama a black eye? Keep Russians distracted from domestic economic woes with military adventurism abroad? Make Russia the dominate political power in the Middle East, filling the vacuum Obama left with America’s withdrawal and betrayal of regional allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia? Actually destroy the Islamic State? Take the Shia side in a the wider Sunni-Shia conflict?
Here are some links on Syria:
If Russia ends up bolstering Iran’s position in Syria (by expanding Hezbollah’s influence and capabilities) and if the Russian air force effectively takes control of Iraq thus allowing Iran to exert a greater influence over the government in Baghdad, the fragile balance of power that has existed in the region will be turned on its head and in the event this plays out, one should not expect Washington, Riyadh, Jerusalem, and London to simply go gentle into that good night.
Sure enough, some experts now predict Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey will move to counter Russia militarily if Moscow continues to rack up gains for Assad.
because Vladimir Putin, with all the unpredictability of the morning sun, has invaded Syria on behalf of Assad and Putin’s more important ally Iran — Assad’s longtime string-puller. The Russian strongman’s claimed purpose is to fight the Islamic State — a pretext no more real than was the supposed need to protect indigenous Russian populations that Putin cited in invading Georgia, Crimea, and Eastern Ukraine.
The Syrian mess has gotten messier
Putin, with China’s indulgence, is obviously attempting to fortify a sphere of anti-American influence across the Middle East. Anti-Americanism in this Islamic-supremacist region long predates Putin, of course. What has changed is that the United States is governed by a man of the hard Left — a president who is sympathetic to the Islamist narrative about American imperialism, ambivalent at best about American power, and determined to diminish America’s regional commitments, and thus American influence.
The move provides a foothold in a part of the world that the Soviet Union was kicked out of four decades ago. At a moment when the United States appears to be washing its hands of the increasingly bloody and chaotic region, it gives Russia an expanding military presence in the Mediterranean on the doorstep of a NATO ally (its newly established airfield at Latakia in eastern Syria sits just 75 miles from the border with Turkey), and the gambit may yet serve as leverage with the West as Putin seeks to get out from under economic sanctions imposed as a result of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine.
The problem for America is that a logical Middle East policy is impossible as long as Obama is President and Kerry is Secretary of State.
Can Putin achieve long-term victory in Syria where Obama’s fecklessness couldn’t? Maybe. Can Iran and Russia together crush the Islamic State? If Russia wanted to commit serious ground combat forces (think Operation Iraqi Freedom), probably, but that would be an exceptionally expensive move that would spread Russian forces dangerously thin elsewhere. But considering that does not appear to be Russia’s immediate goal, which seems to be crushing the Free Syrian Army and allied forces in Western Syria, expect the war against the Islamic State to drag out indefinitely.
Except for the Kurds (which Obama’s feckless policies have refused to adequately support), the Syrian Civil War is bad guys vs. bad guys all the way down. Assad surviving, or a long-running war between Russia and the Islamic State, are far from the worst possible outcomes…
Anyone paying attention has long known what a miserable failure Obama’s Syrian strategy (such as it is) against Bashar Assad has been. But only recently has it come to light just how ridiculously expensive that miserable failure has been:
The aim was to identify reasonably secular moderate fighters in Syria, transfer them to third-party countries in the region, train them, equip them, and reintroduce them into the theater of operations. By August of this year and $500 million later, the Pentagon acknowledged that only 54 Syrian rebels had been prepared for combat. Less than a month later, almost all of them had been killed or captured.
$500 Million for 54 guys? What were they, hand-crafted artisanal rebels? Where did the money go? Did they hire Damien Hirst to make each of their 54 uniforms? Did each of the 54 make a $1 million donation to the Clinton Foundation? Even by the pathetic standards of the Obama Administration that’s a ridiculous amount of graft, fraud and waste. You could easily have trained and equipped an effective mercenary brigade for that much money.
There were actual reasons to support the removal of Assad early in the Obama Administration, but the rise of the Islamic State rendered most of them obsolete. Now that Obama and Kerry have rolled over to let Assad’s paymasters in Tehran rub their furry bellies, there’s no point in pretending to equip opposition fighters beyond Obama’s desire to keep up the facade of a Syrian policy as a sop to his wounded vanity.
Since Obama can’t topple Assad and is singularly unwilling to fight a real war against the Islamic State, at this point we should probably just let Iran, Syria and Russia try their hands at crushing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s barbaric caliphate. A long, grinding Sunni-Shia civil war in Mesopotamia is probably among the least bad outcomes available for the region after Obama’s serial bungling…
(Hat tip: Ed Driscoll on Instapundit.)
This piece in Foreign Policy Journal is certainly eye-opening:
In Al Jazeera’s latest Head to Head episode, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn confirms to Mehdi Hasan that not only had he studied the DIA memo predicting the West’s backing of an Islamic State in Syria when it came across his desk in 2012, but even asserts that the White House’s sponsoring of radical jihadists (that would emerge as ISIL and Nusra) against the Syrian regime was “a willful decision.” [Lengthy discussion of the DIA memo begins at the 8:50 mark.]
Amazingly, Flynn actually took issue with the way interviewer Mehdi Hasan posed the question—Flynn seemed to want to make it clear that the policies that led to the rise of ISIL were not merely the result of ignorance or looking the other way, but the result of conscious decision making:
Hasan: You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?
Flynn: I think the administration.
Hasan: So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?
Flynn: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.
Hasan: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?
Flynn: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.
The deeply puzzling thing about Obama’s Middle East policy is it’s sheer incoherence (except, of course, his unwavering dislike of Israel). His fixation on taking out Bashar Assad (a bad actor, to be sure, but not in the same league as the Iranian Mullahs who back Assad, and who Obama evidently has no qualms negotiating with) makes no strategic sense. In light of the above, he’s evidently funding the Islamic State in Syria, fighting it (in the most desultory manner possible) in Iraq, giving in to Iran on nuclear weapons, alienating allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, and has no discernible policy for a post-Morsi Egypt. Obama’s moves only make sense if he wants to promote a Sunni/Shia civil war, or as Obama’s personal fits of pique where he feels slighted. (Screw Syria for ignoring his red lines. Screw Israel for daring to reelect Netanyahu. Screw Iraq for Bush succeeding.)
The only certainty about Obama’s foreign policy is that future administrations will be dealing with the repercussions from his feckless, aimless foreign policy for decades to come.
(Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)