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June 27, 2016 / 21 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Something Big Is Happening In Syria But Despite Warnings By 51 US Diplomats Obama Refuses To See It

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

[Initially published at Western Journalism]

On Thursday last week, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal revealed that 51 American diplomats had signed an internal State Department memo that harshly criticized President Obama’s Syria policies. The diplomats also called for airstrikes against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, the papers reported.

Robert Ford, America’s former ambassador to Syria, said that there has never been a “dissenting message” that was signed by so many diplomats within the State Department.

“The normal number for a dissenting message is two, three, four, five people. So it’s really remarkable. It says that a large number of people who work on different parts [of Washington’s policy on the Syrian conflict] are all in agreement that it’s failing. I see American diplomats who are frustrated like I was when I resigned in 2014,” Ford told France 24.

Ford thinks the diplomats’ memo won’t cause Obama to change his ways or adjust his policies in Syria. He said he was sure the message was directed at Obama and not at Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kerry seemed to prove Ford right when he was questioned about the protest letter by reporters during a visit to Copenhagen in Denmark. The secretary of state even seemed to side with the diplomats when he said, “It’s an important statement, and I respect the process very, very much.”

The New York Times, citing unnamed diplomats, reported that Kerry “has told President Obama that he is operating without any leverage in Syria and that unless the United States increases the pressure on Mr. Assad, the embattled leader will simply wait out the end of Mr. Obama’s term.” Kerry wants the administration to “consider a wide range of military operations to alter the equation in Syria’s civil war,” the Times wrote.

The internal dissent within the Obama administration over the president’s policy toward al-Assad in Syria has been brewing since August 2013, when Obama stunned his staff, Kerry and then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel by suddenly reversing an earlier decision to order airstrikes on al-Assad’s forces after the Syrian dictator used chemical weapons against his citizens, killing 1,400 Syrians.

“That decision destroyed any credibility the administration had with Russia, Iran or Assad himself,” Reuters reported Friday, citing a former Defense Department official involved in Syria policy.

But Obama seems to be unfazed by the unprecedented criticism of his diplomatic corps.

Jennifer Friedman, his deputy press secretary, told reporters that the president is “always open to new and different ideas when it comes to the challenges in Syria” but that he does not see a “military solution to the Syrian crisis, and that remains the case.”

State Department spokesman John Kirby was even blunter on Obama’s refusal to listen to the recommendations of his diplomatic staff.

“There isn’t any U.S. efforts to target Bashar al-Assad. That’s not part of the calculus,” Kirby said during apress briefing Friday, while it had become clear that the U.S.-backed rebel groups in Syria are systematically being wiped out by al-Assad and his allies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin showed this weekend he understood the ramifications of Obama’s stubborn refusal to take action against al-Assad’s brutal regime.

Putin poked Obama in the eye by ordering his air force to bomb positions of U.S.-backed Syrian rebels near the al-Tanaf crossing on the Syrian-Iraqi border last Friday.

The attack on the New Syrian Army and the Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Brigades led to condemnation by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who thought that perhaps the Russians had made a mistake and acted on poor intelligence.

If Carter would have been willing to open his eyes and to read the latest updates on what is happening in eastern Syria, he would have understood that the Russian action is part of a new plan that has been concocted by Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and the al-Assad regime.

The Russian-led coalition is gearing up for a major offensive that aims to retake eastern Syria from the Islamic State and other rebel groups. The Lebanese news site NOW reported this weekend that “Iran, Russia and Syria have agreed on a ‘large action plan’ for a ‘very big battle in the Deir Ezzor’ province in which Hezbollah will play a ‘central role.’”

On Monday NOW reported that Hezbollah had “established a new military faction called the Zayn al-Abidin Brigade, named after the fourth Shiite Imam, who survived the Battle of Karbala in 680.”

NOW thinks that the move is related to the Syrian war only. However, when one takes a good look what is happening in Iraq where Iranian-backed militias have just opened the gateway to the Anbar province by driving Islamic State out of Fallujah, a different picture emerges.

Iran has a vested interest to capture the eastern Syrian desert because that would open a pathway from the Iranian-Iraqi border via Fallujah and the Anbar Province all the way to southwest Syria, where it wants to establish a new beachhead close to the border with Israel on the Syrian Golan Heights.

As Western Journalism reported Monday, Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, has been spotted in the vicinity of Fallujah, where he oversaw the battle against ISIS.

Soleimani is now on his way to Syria, where he will oversee the imminent new offensive in eastern Syria that was first reported by the Hezbollah-linked website Akhbar.

As astute observer Jennifer Dyer pointed out on Liberty Unyielding, the Russians have no intention to head home after the Syrian war is over. They need control over Tartus and the coastal plain in northwest Syria. The Iranians, on the other hand, are very much interested in eastern Syria.

The Russian airstrikes therefore could very well be a payback for the Iranian assistance in consolidating al-Assad’s rule over western Syria, including the port city of Tartus that is home to a Russian naval base.

This brings us back to the leaked memo of the disgruntled State Department diplomats.

It could be that by leaking this document to the press, they issued a last-minute warning that without American intervention something bigger than the survival of al-Assad’s regime will be at stake.

If nothing is done, Iraq and Syria may cease to be independent states and instead could become satellite states controlled by the two new powers that seek to dominate the Middle East: Russia and Iran.

Yochanan Visser

Orlando Terror Shooting Preceded by ISIS Call for Local Attacks During Ramadan

Monday, June 13th, 2016

The worst shooting attack in the history of the United States came after call to Muslims by ISIS official Abu Mohammed al Adnani, urging a “month of hurt” in America and in Europe.

In the wee hours of Sunday, a gunman armed with an assault weapon and a handgun walked into the Pulse Orlando nightclub in downtown Orlando, Florida and shot to death 50 people, wounding 53 more. He held 30 people hostage for at least three more hours until an Orlando police SWAT team finally stormed the building and freed the captives, killing the terrorist in the process.

But the scene for that Florida nightmare was set at least a month earlier, when the spokesperson for Islamic State told the terror group’s supporters in an internet audio recording: “The smallest action you do in the heart of their land is dearer to us than the largest action by us, and more effective and more damaging to them.” The message, released by ISIS on May 21, was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Adnani continued in the statement: “And if one of you wishes and tries hard to reach the Islamic State, then one of us wishes to be in your place to hurt the Crusaders day and night without sleeping, and terrorize them so that the neighbor fears his neighbor.”

In this way, ISIS (also known as Da’esh) is nurturing and building homegrown terror networks around the world, thus encouraging those who live “abroad” to launch attacks locally ‘as their religious duty.’

According to CNN, Adnani is believed to have been the ISIS official tasked with command responsibilities over the attacks that were carried out in Brussels and Paris.

The raised level of intensity in the call for action, however, also signifies the desperation with which the group views its current status in Syria and Iraq. ISIS is beginning to lose ground in those areas due to the gradual gains made by the U.S.-led coalition forces and also by Russian air strikes on their positions in Syria.

New York Police Department officials have raised the alert level in the Big Apple in response to the events that took place over the weekend, as did Los Angeles police, who arrested and took into custody a heavily armed suspect when he appeared to be intent upon targeting a local “gay pride” parade.

Hana Levi Julian

Analysis: Jews Vs. Arabs May Yet Blow Up the DNC Convention this Summer

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Against her best judgment and because she’s been slipping in the polls in trying to capture the support of her opponent’s followers once she is crowned Queen of the Democrats, candidate Hillary Clinton agreed to give Bernie Sanders 5 out of the 15 spots on the Democratic party’s platform committee. She took 6, and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz got 4. So then Senator Bernie Sanders went ahead and appointed his peeps, and now two of them, Cornel West and James Zogby, on Wednesday condemned Israel for its “occupation” of Judea and Samaria and Gaza (Gaza? Really?) and let the world know they plan to get their views into the platform at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July, the NY Times reported.

“Justice for Palestinians cannot be attained without the lifting of the occupation,” West said in an interview, adding that with all due respect to thousands of years of persecution, the platform should reflect “the plight of an occupied people.”

Nothing there about the plight of half a million Syrians being butchered by everyone and their uncle only a fee miles away. Nothing about weekly hangings in Iran, flogging and beheading in Saudi Arabia, the tyranny of Islamic terrorism in Syria and Iraq, those are not the important injustices in Cornel West’s Middle East, it has to be a defunct plan from 1993 that has been rejected so many times by the PLO leadership, it brought to near-tears three, count them, three US presidents.

Dr. Zogby, who is the president of the Arab American Institute and a career advocate of “rights of Palestinians,” said in an interview, “Any honest assessment would say that the debate on this issue has shifted over the last 30 years and the platform has reflected that but lagged slightly behind, and it’s now time to catch up. Clearly most Democrats agree. But we will see what happens.”

Republican candidate Donald Trump has good friends in Cornel West and James Zogby, who will surely rattle and shake one of the Democratic party’s most third-ralish third rail issues, in public, while Clinton is trying to unify the troops against Trump. There’s no other issue more likely to turn away middle class voters than the Democrats criticizing US support for Israel. But the left is not concerned. In fact, the NYT cites an April Pew Research Center survey showing liberal Democrats are twice as likely to sympathize with Palestinians over Israel than they had been two years ago. 40% of liberals sympathized more with Palestinians, only 33% sympathized more with Israel.

In the Wednesday interview, Dr. West, who once called President Obama a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface,” accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of “war crimes.” He also blamed “the role of money and lobbies” for the absence of “a candid dialogue” on Israeli-American relations.

Of course, Hillary will do the only sensible thing and ignore the party platform as best she can. Otherwise, as Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations told the NYT, the party could be perceived as adopting “positions that could be seen as hostile to Israel.” (You think?)

Hoenlein was unhappy not just with the presence of Zogby and West on the DNC platform committee, but also with a third Sanders appointee, Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a Muslim. It’s as if Sanders had decided to force Hillary to touch that rail, or look bad jumping over it. “For us, the concern is that it legitimizes and potentially puts into a major party platform” the extreme left’s view “that undermines the principles of the Israeli-US relationship that have been bipartisan for decades,” Hoenlein warned.

And all Donald Trump has to do is sit back and watch his opponent disintegrating on an unwinnable issue. Former Florida congressman Robert Wexler, a Clinton supporter, who served on the platform committee back in 2012, told the NYT, “My concern is that the Democratic platform is not the venue in which to litigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Ah, a lucid voice in a sea of crazy. How refreshing.

JNi.Media

58 Dead, 110 Wounded in 3 Terror Attacks on Baghdad

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

At least 58 people died and 110 were wounded Tuesday in three separate terrorist attacks in Baghdad, all carried out by Da’esh (ISIS).

Two car bombings and a third bombing on an outdoor market took place in the Iraqi capital, all in Shi’ite neighborhoods, according to ABC News.

The worst attack was one that took place in the northeastern Sha’ab neighborhood where 38 were killed; more than 70 were wounded.

That was preceded by a car bombing at a produce market in the Dora section in southern Baghdad, where eight died and 22 others were wounded.

The day began with a roadside car bombing outside an open air market in Sadr City, immediately followed by a suicide bomber who detonated his explosives as rescue workers and others came running to help victims of the first attack. A total of 14 people died in that attack; more than 20 others were wounded, according to Iraqi security officials.

On Sunday, a Da’esh suicide bomber in the town of Taji, 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Baghdad attacked a natural gas plant, killing 14 people and wounding at least 27 others. The flames consumed the facility and destroyed at least one of the gas-processing units.

Hana Levi Julian

Does an ISIS Affiliate Have Chemical Weapons on Israel’s Syrian Border?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Israel is currently investigating the possibility that the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, an ISIS-affiliated group fighting in Syria’s civil war in the southern Golan Heights region, possesses chemical weapons, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 10.

Israel’s concern is largely based on reported chemical weapons attacks by ISIS in eastern Syria and western Iraq, two regions where the border is porous between both countries. However, there is also some concern that the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade might have also been able to get hold of remnants from the Syrian government’s chemical weapons arsenal.

The Syrian government had agreed to relinquish its chemical weapons as part of an arrangement initiated by Russia in September of 2013. In return, the US agreed to abort a potential strike against Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack by regime forces a month earlier.

There is speculation that the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade intends to conduct tests with tactical chemical weapons such as artillery shells with mustard gas.

The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigades continues to concentrate its focus on fighting with the other rebel groups in the surrounding areas, including the Al-Qaeda Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

However, the prospect of an ISIS affiliate possessing weapons on the Syrian-Israeli border is no doubt concerning to Israel’s defense establishment, which reportedly intends to prepare for the possibility that the group will shift its attention towards Israel.

ISIS has repeatedly threatened to attack Israel. In a menacing video released in October, a masked ISIS fighter speaking fluent Hebrew warns that the terror attacks Israel has suffered from the Palestinians will be “child’s play” compared with what ISIS is planning, and that “not one Jew will remain in Jerusalem or the entire country.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Israeli Upgrade to Turkish Tank Protects Soldiers from ISIS Anti-Tank Missile

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

An Israeli upgrade on a U.S.-made M60T tank used by Turkish military forces in Mosul helped save those soldiers from death in a missile attack by Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists last week (April 19).

The attack, seen in a video released April 19 by the terror group, involved a Russian-made 129K9 Kornet ATGM (anti-tank guided missile) fired at a Turkish tank that was on a hilltop.

The missile struck the tank but it did not explode, nor did it burn. The upgrades made to the tank by Israel were sold to Turkey a decade ago.

None of the crew were injured and the tank sustained only minimal damage, according to a Turkish military official quoted by the Andalou Agency.

The tank was deployed by Turkey to Bashiqah, 30 kilometers northeast of Mosul in northern Iraq. The Turkish military source said Da’esh attacked the tank at Bashiqah, incurring minor damage but no casualties.

The source added the Turkish forces immediately returned fire and killed 32 Da’esh fighters.

The Iraqi government was apparently unaware of the presence of Turkish forces in the country until December 2015, according to a report on Thursday (April 21) by Jane’s defense magazine. The government allegedly demanded at that time that Ankara withdraw all of its troops from Iraq, but Turkey ignored the directive. Ankara insisted the base in Bashiqah was established for the purpose of training a militia to expel Da’esh from Mosul.

Hana Levi Julian

US Deploys B-52 Bombers to Attack ISIS in Syria, Iraq

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

For the first time in 25 years, America has sent B-52 bombers to the Middle East to fight the war on terror: this time, against Da’esh (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq.

The U.S. Air Force based the massive, deadly aircraft at Udeid Air Base in Qatar on Saturday.

It appears the U.S. is finally serious about deploying a heavy military effort into fighting Da’esh (ISIS) forces in Iraq and Syria just as President Barack Obama reaches the last stretch in his final term, with him facing few political risks. But his Democratic party faces an uphill race to win his place in the White House for another four-year term, and the Republican party is equally challenged as it faces a possible split at its upcoming nominating convention.

The U.S.-led coalition’s Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC) which is responsible for running the air campaign against the terror group also based there.

The American B-52 bombers were last seen in the Middle East when they were deployed against Iraq from Saudi Arabia, in Operation Desert Storm, the 1991 Gulf War.

B-52 bombers are long-range aircraft. They were last used operationally in a U.S.-led military drill with Jordan in May 2015.

Prior to that, they were used in May 2006 during the war in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

“The B-52 demonstrates our continued resolve to apply persistent pressure on Da’esh (ISIS) and defend the region in any future contingency,” said Air Force Lieutenant General Charles Brown, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

The bombers will enable U.S. forces to drop precision weapons, according to Brown. In addition, it will enable a range of other missions, including strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, and maritime operations.

The B-52 will also allow the U.S. forces to avoid carpet bombing, which spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Chris Karns told Reuters would not be “effective” because “Da’esh doesn’t mass as large groups. Often, they blend into population centers. We always look to minimize civilian casualties.”

Brown added the B-52 bombers could be ready to bomb “elsewhere” in the region, if needed.

The B-52s, although older, also have more stamina on the battlefield than the B-1 bombers they are replacing. The B-1 bombers are supersonic and can hang over a battlefield for up to 10 hours at a time – those aircraft dropped nearly 40 percent of all the bombs in the strike missions against Da’esh in Iraq and Syria, according to Fox News.

The B-1 Lancer “swing-wing” bombers left the Middle East in January for maintenance and a series of upgrades, according to the U.S. Army’s Stars and Stripes.

But the B-52 bombers can hang over a battlefield for nearly 12 hours and can carry more than a dozen satellite precision-guided bombs – or up to 50 500-pound bombs.

More to the point, if necessary, the B-52 bomber can carry nuclear weapons. It was a B-52 bomber that dropped one of the first hydrogen bombs in the South Pacific in 1956.

It’s been more than 60 years since the first B-52 bombers were built during the Eisenhower administration but they still comprise the bulk of the U.S. Air Force long-range bomber fleet.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-deploys-b-52-bombers-to-attack-isis-in-syria-iraq/2016/04/09/

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