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American Resistance To Empire

Obama’s Pretend Air War Against ISIS

“The Iraq-Syria war, which has already involved some 5,000 combat sorties by US and allied war planes.”

The Unserious Air War Against ISIS

world socialist

October 15, 2014 • By and Analysis • Original: Wall Street Journal

The campaign against Serbia in 1999 averaged 138 strike sorties daily. Against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: seven.

Since U.S. planes first struck targets in Iraq on Aug. 8, a debate has raged over the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s air campaign against Islamic State. The war of words has so far focused on the need to deploy American boots on the ground to provide accurate intelligence and possibly force ISIS fighters to defend key infrastructure they have seized, such as oil facilities. But debate is now beginning to focus on the  apparent failure of airstrikes to halt the terror group’s advances in Iraq and Syria—especially Islamic State’s pending seizure of Kobani on the Syrian border with Turkey.

While it is still too early to proclaim the air campaign against Islamic State a failure, it may be instructive to compare it with other campaigns conducted by the U.S. military since the end of the Cold War that were deemed successes. For instance, during the 43-day Desert Storm air campaign against Saddam Hussein’s forces in 1991, coalition fighters and bombers flew 48,224 strike sorties.

This translates to roughly 1,100 sorties a day. Twelve years later, the 31-day air campaign that helped free Iraq from Saddam’s government averaged more than 800 offensive sorties a day. By contrast, over the past two months U.S. aircraft and a small number of partner forces have conducted 412 total strikes in Iraq and Syria—an average of seven strikes a day. With Islamic State in control of an area approaching 50,000 square miles, it is easy to see why this level of effort has not had much impact on its operations.

Of course, air operations during Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom were each supported by a massive coalition force on the ground. Thus it may be more appropriate to compare current operations against Islamic State with the 78-day air campaign against Serbian forces and their proxies in 1999, or the 75-day air campaign in Afghanistan that was instrumental in forcing the Taliban out of power in 2001.

Both campaigns relied heavily on partner forces on the ground augmented by a small but significant number of U.S. troops. These air campaigns averaged 138 and 86 strike sorties a day respectively— orders of magnitude greater than the current tempo of operations against Islamic State.

Perhaps the small number of strikes in the air campaign against Islamic State is due to the lack of suitable ground targets. Yet representatives from the Pentagon have characterized forces fighting under Islamic State’s black banner as more of a conventional army than a highly dispersed, irregular force similar to today’s Taliban. Moreover, Islamic State fighters are using captured armored vehicles, artillery, mortars and other  implements of modern land warfare to seize and hold terrain. These operations require a considerable amount of movement and resupply that can be detected by airborne surveillance.

The low daily strike count could be the result of the Pentagon’s applying counterterrorism manhunting operations over the past decade to the current crisis in Iraq and Syria. These operations generally rely on detailed knowledge of the “pattern of life” of specific small terrorist cells built up over days or weeks of persistent surveillance.

The resources required on the ground and in the air to generate such high-fidelity intelligence are considerable in terms of time, money, personnel and surveillance aircraft. While the low strike count appears to support this thesis, it is unlikely that the highly competent men and women in our nation’s military, many of whom are likely to have planned and executed previous successful air campaigns, would adopt such a half-measure approach to operations against ISIS forces.

There’s another possibility: The moral imperative and strategic desire to avoid civilian casualties and gratuitous collateral damage may be constraining the coalition’s target-selection process.

While these are important factors in any conflict, they must be balanced against the reality that allowing Islamic State fighters to continue their savage aggression nearly unchecked will result in far more civilian casualties and destruction than a more aggressive air campaign that uses precision weapons to rapidly destroy the group’s heavy weapons and troop concentrations.

Finally, the daily strike count suggests that the strategy underlying the air campaign may be influenced by a desire to apply the least amount of force possible while still claiming credit for doing something about Islamic State. This rationale would fit with the administration’s claims that degrading and eventually defeating ISIS is likely to take many years. It may reflect lingering doubts by some policy makers over how serious and far-reaching the threat of an Islamic State caliphate really is to our nation’s vital interests. Or it may be a simple reluctance to begin another open-ended military operation in the Middle East.

In the end, no matter the reason, the timorous use of air power against Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria is unlikely to reduce the territory under their control, curb the brutal murder of innocent civilians, or prevent the creation of a sanctuary for an enemy that has sworn to continue its fight on a more global scale.

Black Sea Swarming with Western War Ships

Four NATO Ships Enter Black Sea for Annual Exercise, Russian Activity on Rise in the Region

USNI News

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Guided missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG-78) entered the Black Sea on Sunday — following three other NATO ships in the last several days — marking a noticeable uptick in activity in the region ahead of military exercises in Bulgaria, according to a Bosphorus Naval News ship spotting site and U.S. 6th Fleet.

Porter crossed the Bosphorus and entered the Black Sea on Sunday a day after the Dutch frigate HNLMS Tromp (F-803) and Portuguese frigate NRP D. Francisco de Almeida (F-334). Spanish minesweeper ESPS Tajo (M-36) crossed the strait on July 1.

The ships were bound for Bulgaria as part of the annual Breeze 2015 exercise that include ships from Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) and the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2). The exercise began on July 3 and is scheduled to run until July 12, according to a release from the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense.

150430-N-VJ282-685  NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain (April 30, 2015) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) arrives at Naval Station Rota, Spain. Porter is the third of four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to be forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, to serve as part of the presidentÕs European phased adaptive approach to ballistic missile defense in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian Dietrick/Released)

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) arrives at Naval Station Rota, Spain on April 30, 2015. US Navy photo.

Porter’s presence in Bulgaria reaffirms to NATO allies that the U.S. Navy shares a commitment to strengthen ties while working toward mutual goals of promoting peace and stability in the Black Sea region,” read a statement from 6th Fleet.

The exercise will include 30 ships and around 1,700 personnel from Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey as well as the U.S., according to the MoD.

Outside of the exercise, the French signals intelligence ship Dupuy de Lôme (A759) and guided missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG-58) recently left the Black Sea as part of an ongoing presence mission since Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March of 2014.

In addition to the NATO ship moves, Russia moved two Project 775 amphibious warships — Korolev (130) and Alexander Otrakovski (031) — into the Black Sea on Friday.

All warships from countries without a coast on the Black Sea operate under the 1936 Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits.
Montreux rules call for foreign warships to depart the Black Sea after 21 days.

Turkish Media On Fire Over Potential Move Into Syria

[SEE: Turkish military sends more weapons to tense Syrian border amid heated political debate ; Turkish military denies reports on commanders’ meeting on possible Syria incursion]

Report: Turkey Summons Commanders to Discuss Syria Intervention

naharnet

 

W460

The Turkish army has called a meeting of troop commanders stationed along its fortified border with Syria to discuss a possible intervention in Syria, the Hurriyet newspaper reported on Sunday.

Turkey has boosted its military defenses on the volatile border over the past week, stationing tanks and anti-aircraft missiles there as well as bolstering troop numbers, as fighting between Islamist-led groups and Syrian regime forces in the northern city of Aleppo has intensified.

The Turkish build-up has fed speculation that the government is planning to intervene in Syria to push Islamic State jihadists back from the border and halt the advance of Kurdish forces who have made gains against the extremists in the area.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday ruled out any prospect of an immediate intervention in Syria.

Bur Hurriyet said on Sunday that the Turkish Armed Forces had ordered all commanders of troops stationed along the border to attend a meeting at military headquarters in Ankara next week to discuss the details of such an operation.

The deployment of over 400 armored vehicles, which would carry military personnel and be protected by jammers against mines laid by IS militants, would be on the agenda at the meeting, Hurriyet reported on its website.

The role of the Turkish Air Force in supporting such an operation is also expected to be discussed, it added.

Turkey currently has 54,000 soldiers deployed along the Syrian border.

Special forces commander Zekai Aksakallı on Sunday inspected troops on a tour of the southern border province of Kilis as a new convoy of artillery and missile batteries was deployed, Anatolia news agency reported.

Davutoglu said on Thursday that while a unilateral intervention was “out of the question” under current conditions, Turkey would “not wait for tomorrow” to act in Syria “in the event of a threat to domestic security”.

Turkey is one of the fiercest opponents of Bashar Assad’s regime in Damascus and has taken in more than 1.8 million refugees since the war in Syria began.

Ankara also fears that the growing power of Kurdish forces there will embolden Turkey’s 15-million strong Kurdish minority.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he would “never allow” the formation of a Kurdish state along Turkey’s southern borders.

Documenting ISIS Mass-Murder of Hundreds of Civilians In Kobani, Syria

Syria: Deliberate Killing of Civilians by ISIS

human-rights-watch

Children, Women, Elderly Among Kobani Targets

(New York) – Armed militants believed to be members of Islamic State, also known as ISIS, deliberately targeted people they knew were civilians in a June 25, 2015, attack in and around the northern Syrian city of Kobani. Syrian Kurdish authorities and local human rights groups said that 233 to 262 civilians were killed and at least 273 wounded.

Mohammed, 42 and three of his relatives who were orphaned in the attack on June 25, 2015 in Kobani, Syria.

Fifteen witnesses, including eight of the wounded, described to Human Rights Watch the deliberate killing of civilians by attackers whom local authorities and residents identified as ISIS. The witnesses said that to dupe civilians and gain their confidence, the attackers wore uniforms resembling those of the groups that have been battling ISIS in Kobani, `Ayn al-`Arab in Arabic. The attackers killed civilians with weapons that included assault rifles, machineguns, and in some cases knives and grenades, witnesses and local authorities said.

Survivors describe an ISIS killing rampage whose main objective was apparently to terrorize local residents. By all accounts, this was a planned attack on the civilian population of this area.

Letta Tayler

Senior Terrorism and Counterterrorism Researcher

“Survivors describe an ISIS killing rampage whose main objective was apparently to terrorize local residents,” said Letta Tayler, senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch. “By all accounts, this was a planned attack on the civilian population of this area.”

The attack began around 4 a.m. on June 25 when fighters set off three suicide car bombs on the perimeter of Kobani, then cruised the city in white cars or by foot, shooting civilians as they fled down streets or tried to drive to safety. Some attackers followed civilians into homes to kill large numbers of family members, the witnesses, local activists, and relatives of the dead said.

The attackers were disguised in uniforms resembling those of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which are the forces controlling Kobani, and of the Free Syrian Army, an armed opposition group that has in recent months fought ISIS alongside the YPG.

Snipers also fired on civilians from rooftops, shot civilians trying to retrieve the dead and wounded, and took dozens of civilians hostage, the witnesses, as well as more than a dozen relatives of the dead, and six local activists told Human Rights Watch. Most civilians were killed between 4 a.m. and mid-morning on June 25, they said. Kobani’s population is predominantly Kurdish, and witnesses said most if not all those killed were Kurds.

Fighting between Kurdish forces and the alleged ISIS forces broke out soon after and continued until the Kurdish forces regained control of the city on June 27.

Authorities from the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) – the main political party in the area – as well as the YPG said 233 civilians died in the attack, including 23 from the village of Barkh Botan on the southern edge of Kobani district. Two survivors from Barkh Botan told Human Rights Watch the armed militants killed many in their village with knives and identified eight children among the dead.

The Syrian Violations Documentation Center, a monitoring group, released the names of 262 dead that it said were civilians, including 12 children and 67 women. A Syrian Kurdish group, the Rojava Human Rights Organization, released a partial list of 118 dead civilians that included 14 children and 18 elderly, including a 71-year-old man whose cause of the death was listed as a slit throat.

While Human Rights Watch cannot independently confirm the overall civilian death toll, witnesses and relatives gave it the names of 60 of those killed, and said all were civilians. Those interviewed gave credible statements that the armed militants attacked these civilians, even when no Kurdish fighters or other military objects were nearby. Their statements strongly suggest that the attackers’ primary aim was to kill civilians and spread terror among the local population.

Although ISIS surrounded the Defense Ministry offices of the Kobani administration and attacked checkpoints, it did not target the many other military installations inside the city, a spokesman for the Kurdish forces, Redur Xelil, told Human Rights Watch. A YPG statement on June 28 said 21 of its fighters in the city and surrounding countryside were killed, along with 14 members of the Kurdish police force. The statement said all of the attackers were killed except seven who escaped into Turkey, without giving a casualty figure.

The Kurdish authorities also took one ISIS militant, an Egyptian, into custody, Xelil told Human Rights Watch. Witnesses said most of the attackers were Syrian Arabs but that some spoke with foreign accents and that they thought others were Kurds, based on their fluent Kurdish. One witness said a fighter detaining her and other relatives said he was Moroccan.

“They shot at us intentionally – we were not fighters, we were just trying to get to the hospital,” said Fatima, 33, who was driving to a Kobani hospital with her husband early on the morning of the attack to recover the body of her father, who had died the previous night from an illness. Speaking from a hospital in the southern Turkish city of Şanliurfa, Fatima said ISIS killed her husband, Mustafa, 34, along with one of his friends, and shot her twice in the leg and once in the arm:

We saw two cars full of men and women in YPG uniforms. We thought they were YPG fighters so we did not think there was a problem. They aimed at us and started shooting. They killed my husband and his friend. My husband was shot in the head and his blood was all over the car.

Then real YPG forces arrived and fighting broke out. The fighters were shouting bad words at the YPG and calling them “infidels.” I could hear bullets and explosions all around me. I was trapped in the car, bleeding, from 5:30 in the morning until midday until YPG members rescued me.

Fatima had been nine months pregnant and told Human Rights Watch that doctors delivered her baby later that day while also treating her bullet wounds. Local human rights monitors said the surgery was performed in Turkey. Human Rights Watch is not using full names of witnesses to shield them from possible reprisal.

Many witnesses told Human Rights Watch that when they first heard gunshots before dawn, they assumed Kurdish forces were celebrating a wedding or a victory over ISIS in another area.

“When I heard shooting I went to the door and saw four clean-shaven guys in YPG uniforms,” said Hammoudi, 28, who was wounded in the attack. “I said to my father, ‘They are not Daesh [ISIS],’ but at that moment they shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ [God is Great] and shot me in the leg and groin.” Hammoud said he retreated to his house and, with a makeshift tourniquet around his thigh, helped relatives bash holes in the walls of three adjacent homes to escape.

All warring parties, including non-state groups, are prohibited from conducting attacks that deliberately target civilians, that do not distinguish between civilians and combatants, or that cause civilian loss disproportionate to the expected military gain. Planning, ordering, or carrying out unlawful attacks with criminal intent is a war crime.

The independent international Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic should investigate and promptly report on the Kobani attack, Human Rights Watch said. The United Nations Security Council should refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court so that incidents such as the June 25 massacre in Kobani, as well as violations by all other parties to the Syrian conflict, may be fully investigated and those responsible brought to justice.

In August 2014, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2170, which imposed sanctions on ISIS and called on countries to take measures to fight recruitment and financing for ISIS.

“The deliberate attacks on civilians in Kobani are an urgent reminder that all countries should strengthen measures to weaken armed militant groups like ISIS,” Tayler said. “It is equally important for all measures they take to be lawful so they don’t perpetuate the cycles of violence.”

Armed militants believed to be members of Islamic State (also known as ISIS) deliberately targeted civilians in a June 25, 2015 attack in and around the northern Syrian city of Kobani.

Witnesses Describe the Kobani Attack
ISIS previously attacked and seized parts of Kobani in October 2014. The Kurdish forces and Syrian opposition fighters, aided by US-led airstrikes, expelled ISIS in January. Much of the city was destroyed during the siege, and workers have yet to clear all ISIS-laid booby traps and unexploded ordnance from ISIS, YPG, and coalition airstrikes. Residents told Human Rights Watch that only 24,000 of the city’s 130,000 inhabitants had returned by late June. In May 2014, ISIS abducted 153 Kurdish boys from Kobani. It held and abused about 100 of them for four months.

Human Rights Watch interviewed most witnesses and relatives in Şanliurfa and the Turkish town of Suruç, which faces Kobani across the Syria-Turkey border, as well as by phone in Kobani.

Families Killed
Witnesses and activists told Human Rights Watch of three cases of armed militants dressed in YPG or Free Syrian Army uniforms going house-to-house in Kobani, throwing grenades into homes or shooting groups of family members.

Three relatives, two of whom were witnesses, said a group of ISIS gunmen killed 11 close relatives and wounded two others, both children, in and in front of three adjacent family homes near the Agriculture Bank in south-central Kobani. Two witnesses saw the shootings in two of the homes and the third, Mohammed, 42, was in a nearby home:

I heard the sound of bullets outside at about 4:30 a.m. My younger brother went outside to see what was happening; a group of armed men shot him. His wife went out to see what happened. She saw her husband lying on the ground. As she tried to lift him up they shot her as well. She had been holding her two-month-old son [but] handed her baby to my sister. Then my second brother went outside. They shot him in his leg [but] he made it back into the house. My mother went outside to get my brother and his wife but they killed her too.

The attackers followed the wounded brother into his house and killed him, Mohammed said. They then shot Mohammed’s sister, who was cowering behind the door, as she held the two-month-old baby in her arms. The infant survived. Two of Mohammed’s adult sisters were hiding in another room. “I could hear shooting, I could hear the baby crying, but I couldn’t go out,” said one sister, Berivan, 25. “I called the minister of defense [of the local Kurdish administration], whose office was nearby. He said, ‘We can’t help you, we’re surrounded, too.’”

An uncle came to help, “but they killed him as well,” Mohammed said. “Another uncle’s wife came out to see what happened. They killed her in the street. Then my cousin came in his car to rescue them. They killed him in his car. My second cousin came also and they killed him too. My uncle’s daughter-in-law was inside [the third house], they shot and killed her.”

The gunmen also shot and injured two nieces in his second uncle’s home, one 16 and the other 10 to 12 years old, before fleeing, Mohammed and the other relatives said. They said the uncle, 70, later told them the gunmen discussed whether to kill him and spared him because of his age, then killed three other relatives 55 or older.

It was the third time in three years that the family had lost relatives in Kobani in attacks attributed to ISIS. In 2013, a car bomb outside the city’s Red Crescent office killed at least 8 people including Mohammed’s 67-year-old father. In 2014, Mohammed’s sister Shireen, 19, joined the Women’s Protection Unions, the female counterpart to the YPG, and was killed in an ISIS ambush.

During a visit to one Şanliurfa hospital, Human Rights Watch saw a young woman who, friends and local human rights activists said, had seen the armed militants shoot her parents and other relatives in front of her. The militants then shot her in the face. The woman wore a bandage over her eye and was in acute emotional distress.

Women, Children, and Elderly Targeted
While the armed militants in some cases spared the youngest and oldest civilians, witnesses and human rights defenders said its gunmen nevertheless killed at least 14 civilians under 18. The Rojava Human Rights Organization listed a child as young as 3 among the dead. At least 67 of the dead civilians were women, according to the Violations Documentation Center. At least 18 of the dead were 55 or over, according to the Rojava group.

Zarga, 41, from Barkh Botan village, told Human Rights Watch that an ISIS sniper targeted her and her niece after they ran to the street after being awakened before dawn by a series of noises in quick succession: dogs barking, a girl shouting and crying, then shooting:

I was talking with my niece about the girl. We did not know what happened. Then suddenly we noticed a laser beam. We looked toward the light and saw two snipers aiming their guns at us. We began to run. My niece fell and hid behind a wall. I kept running, I was running zig-zag to try to avoid the gunmen. Then I felt a pain in my neck.

The bullet traveled from between my shoulder blades through the right side of my neck. They fired at me five times but only one bullet hit me. I fell down. I thought, “I will die before they even have time to capture me.” Then I lost consciousness.

When she regained consciousness, Zarga said, her niece had found her and they reached a car with their relatives about 250 meters away. “I was dragging myself to the car and calling for help,” she said. Braving bullets, the family members took her to a local hospital and later to Turkey. “We never learned what happened to the screaming girl,” Zarga said.

Attackers Posed as Friendly Force
Witnesses said the armed militants wore uniforms that resembled those of YPG and the Free Syrian Army. In some cases, they said, ISIS members even called out in Kurdish, “Let us in, we are YPG,” in an attempt to enter homes.

One militant in a YPG uniform shot dead Sheiko Atto, 65, when he ran out of his house to greet the gunman, a relative told Human Rights Watch.

“I hope Daesh is not here!” Atto exclaimed, according to the relative, Sheikh Nabi. The gunman shouted, “Get Back!” in Arabic, followed Atto into his house and shot him in the leg and his wife in the side, killing them both, and then shot and wounded the couple’s daughter, Sheikh Nabi said.

Shooting Rescuers
Witnesses said ISIS also shot at civilians trying to rescue wounded relatives or YPG fighters. Three witnesses said the gunmen also shot at civilians from a four-story former school building near Mishta Nur Mountain that was being refurbished as a hospital. News reports said the armed militants holed up in the building and that it was heavily damaged in fighting with Kurdish forces.

“My brother has a car; he went to help some injured people who called for help,” said one wounded resident, who asked not to be named. “On the way Daesh shot and killed him. I called my brother twice. He didn’t answer. I knew something was wrong. I went to find him but when I approached his car they shot me in the side. I lay in the street from 7 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon playing dead.”

Khalil, 40, said he was shot in the neck while driving to the hospital with a wounded Kurdish fighter he had found bleeding on the street outside his front door:

I saw groups of Daesh in YPG uniforms hiding in corners. We were just 20 meters to safety when they shot me in the neck. I saw blood splatter on the windshield in front of me. I kept driving with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the back of my neck.

Hammoudi, the wounded 28-year-old, and an uncle said one of their relatives was shot and wounded by the armed militants while rescuing his brother, a teenage boy, whom the gunmen had also shot. Hammoudi said the shooting took place near the city’s Agriculture Bank, one of the bloodiest scenes of the attack.

“My 15-year-old cousin, when he heard the shooting in the early morning, he went to the doorway,” Hammoudi said. “Daesh shot him in front of the bank and killed him. When my other cousin ran out to pull his brother’s body back, Daesh shot him and wounded him in the arm.”

Ibrahim, a 58-year-old baker, said a sniper firing from the former school building shot him in the wrist and chest in the early morning as he rushed to his bakery after receiving a call that a worker was wounded:

When I got to the bakery I heard a lot of shooting. When I got out of my car a sniper shot me in my left hand. I saw the ISIS fighters up high on the roof of the [former school] building. My hand was dangling from my wrist. I grabbed my dangling hand and ran inside the bakery. We were about 30 people inside. Some workers made holes in the bakery. We escaped to [nearby] Al-Amal hospital, crawling along the wall.

Sheihk Nabi said the attackers who shot his relative Sheiko Atto and Atto’s wife in their home then shot the cellphone out of the hand of the couple’s daughter, Dilishan, 23, as she called him for help. The gunmen then shot the daughter in the torso, injuring her spleen, one lung, and one kidney, he said. Sheikh, who is Dilishan’s brother-in-law, said he received the woman’s frantic cellphone call around 4:45 a.m.

“She was crying and saying, ‘They shot my father, they shot my mother.’ Then the line dropped,’” he said. Bleeding heavily, Dilishan took her father’s cellphone and dragged herself to the Syria-Turkish border, about 150 meters from her home in the northeastern sector of Kobani, with Sheikh on the phone line, Sheikh said. Meters from border she became too weak to proceed or to talk, but a passerby from Kobani took the phone, found Sheikh on the other end of the line, and the two men helped alert Turkish border authorities to get her into Turkey, Sheikh said.

Killing Civilians as They Fled
The militants pursued panicked civilians as they fled by foot and in cars, firing at them with assault rifles, machine guns, and even rocket-propelled grenades, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. Lezgin, 24, said he was among about 60 civilians who ran onto the street around 5:15 a.m. when he was awakened by a loud explosion at the Murshid [Murşitpınar] Gate, near his home in northeastern Kobani, that he later learned was a car bomb. When he realized the group of armed men facing him were not YPG, he warned the crowd to run:

I shouted, “People, escape! They are going to kill us! My friend Hamoudi was running behind me. He was 13. He was screaming, “They burned me!” When I looked back at him I saw he had a big hole in his stomach.

When Lezgin reached the street in front of his house, which was 30 meters long, he saw nine corpses on the ground. “They included my cousin, my brother-in-law, and my neighbors,” he said.

Outside the Haj Rashad mosque, next to his house, Lezgin said he and two relatives saw a dead man lying face down whom he recognized as an Armenian. “We carried him off the road,” he said, then pointed to a dark stain covering the left thigh of his trousers. “This is his blood.”

Lezgin spoke to Human Rights Watch two days after the attack, outside a hospital in Şanliurfa where his sister Aya, 8, was receiving intensive care for shrapnel in her head. His said his brother Jangin, 14, was shot in the leg and recovering in a hospital 60 kilometers west, in Suruç.

Detaining Civilians
Witnesses and local human rights groups provided detailed accounts of the attackers detaining civilians in at least four buildings in and near Kobani.

Two witnesses described being held by the armed militants in homes in Maqtala on the southeast edge of Kobani, as Kurdish forces began their counterattacks on June 25. One wounded man who spoke to Human Rights Watch from his hospital bed said he was one of 55 detainees – most of them women – held in two homes in the Maqtala for two hours until Kurdish forces attacked armed militant guards outside, creating an opening for them to flee.

Another Kobani resident, Rihab, 23, said two gunmen held her, her father, three nieces and nephews, and two friends at a house in Maqtala for about a half-hour. The gunmen detained them after firing on the car in which she and relatives were fleeing, shooting her sister-in-law and a family friend, and killing her brother in a separate car, she said. Rihab said one of her captors used the relatives as shields by making the entire group of civilians walk with him past a Kurdish fighter and into a house in Maqtala where an ISIS emir was holed up. She said the Kurdish fighter had his gun trained on the group.

“We were frozen. We didn’t know what would happen,” Ribad said. “We had two relatives already dead, there was shooting everywhere, we were terrified.” Kurdish forces rescued the detainees, she said, adding that she thought the fighters had killed the ISIS captors.

The Rojava Human Rights Organization said the armed militants held 30 to 40 people inside the former school building near Mishta Nur Mountain.

A Kobani-based activist, Walat, told Human Rights Watch that ISIS held 80 people, including several children, in a store on Express Street in the city center. He said one hostage told him that ISIS jumped over the wall of his house to capture him, his wife, and their four children and took them to the center, where six gunmen guarded the group. Five of the gunmen fled when clashes began nearby, leaving one ISIS guard at the doorway. He later also fled after the hostages shut the door on him. YPG forces freed the detainees 12 hours later, the activist said some of the detainees told him.

The laws of war prohibit belligerents from using civilians to keep military forces or areas immune from attack.

Jewish Oligarchs Love the Clintons

Jewish billionaires line up behind Clinton

the realist

According to a recent report published in the Jewish Telegraph Agency, Jewish billionaires George Soros and Haim Saban, two of the most politically influential plutocratic internationalists swaying American elections on the Democratic side of the political spectrum, have donated $3 million to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Other wealthy Jewish plutocrats have followed suit, greasing the wheels of the Clinton campaign.

The JTA reports:

Jewish billionaires George Soros and Haim Saban reportedly have donated a total of $3 million to the presidential campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Saban, an Israeli Hollywood mogul, has given $2 million to Priorities USA Action, Clinton’s super PAC, while Soros, a Hungary-born business magnate, has donated $1 million, according to a Politico article published Thursday.

Clinton’s super PAC, which is dedicated to airing ads supporting the Democrat’s bid for the 2016 presidency and attacking her opponents, revealed Thursday that it had raised a total of $15.6 million during the first half of the year.

Other heavy donors included DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and director J.J. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath, as well as California investor Herb Sandler and Boston philanthropist Barbara Lee.

According to an analysis published Friday, also by Politico, Clinton is privately signaling to wealthy Jewish donors that no matter the result of the Iranian nuclear negotiations, she will be a better friend to Israel than President Barack Obama, whom she served as secretary of state during his first term. […]

The non-existent “Iranian threat” is shaping up to be one of the biggest issues in the 2016 presidential campaign for the organized Jewish community and Israel-first crowd dominating American politics. Being the bloodthirsty, fanatical war-mongers that they are, they are doing everything in their power to prevent a rational and respectful diplomatic resolution to the outstanding issues between the Islamic Republic and the West. The organized Jewish community and pro-Israel lobby, not to mention the Jewish state itself, desperately want war with Iran. Needless to say, Americans will be once again supplying the capital – human, military, and financial – required to wage this war on Israel and international Jewry’s behalf.
In an effort to please her Jewish masters and convince them that she’s sufficiently pro-Israel and pro-war (pro-Israel and pro-war are essentially synonymous when it comes to American political discourse), Clinton has been hyping the purported threat to Israel and the wider Western world emanating from Tehran while on the campaign trail.
Back in May, Saban explained to The Jerusalem Post that he viewed Clinton as “the ideal candidate for Israel,” demonstrating not only how ethnocentric Jews are, but also how openly hostile they are towards the host nations they reside in. They are more concerned about Jewish interests and the Jewish state of Israel than America, and they make no bones about it. Jewish billionaires and other plutocrats openly use the American political system and mass media to promote their own agenda and to advance their own unique ethnic interests. Meanwhile, the American people continue to support candidates and political parties that are entirely traitorous and subservient to a hostile foreign entity (Israel) and people (Jews).

THE DIFFUSION OF INTRA-ISLAMIC VIOLENCE AND TERRORISM

THE DIFFUSION OF INTRA-ISLAMIC VIOLENCE AND TERRORISM: THE IMPACT OF THE PROLIFERATION OF SALAFI/WAHHABI IDEOLOGIES

idc herzliya

Parents of daughters kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram, an Islamic Jihadist and terrorist organization.

The diffusion of intra-Islamic violence and terrorism is increasing because of the empowerment of extremists based on the proliferation of Salafi/Wahhabi ideologies. The concept of “takfir,” which militants use to judge a Muslim as a “non-believer,” hence exacting the punishment of death for apostasy, serves as the justification for killing civilians. This study analyzes the Salafi/Wahhabi source of inspiration for the diffusion of intra-Islamic terrorism, and the implications for security in the Middle East and South Asia. This study posits that the primary source of the export of Salafi/Wahhabi ideology is Saudi Arabia, in the context of competing against Iran’s Shi’a ideology. The 2011 Arab Awakening in the Middle East and North Africa has also empowered some Salafists, who are asserting themselves in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and elsewhere. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as affiliated groups throughout the region adhere to the “takfiri” ideology that targets fellow Muslims. Therefore, this study exposes the dangers of the global export of Salafi/Wahhabi ideology.

INTRODUCTION

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates have done what Pakistan has done to itself: shoot themselves in the proverbial foot by creating militant jihadist “Frankenstein’s monsters” who are now running amok Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, was responsible for creating the Afghan Taliban. Now, the Taliban have metamorphosed into the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is carrying out terrorist attacks in Pakistan and challenging the government with gusto.

Some describe it as the Saudi Salafi/Wahhabi progeny “coming home to roost.” The Salafi/Wahhabi ideology has long enjoyed support in many forms from Saudi Arabia, especially in the case of the mujahidin fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Today, we see other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, like Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), also joining the game. However, unlike in previous incarnations, the primary targets of today’s Salafi jihadists have become fellow Muslims, especially Shi’a, but even fellow Sunnis are not spared. Anyone can be a victim at the hands of Salafi jihadists.  This study examines the links between the rise of intra-Islamic violence and terrorism based on the new wave of support for Salafi/Wahhabi ideologies embodied in jihadist militias especially arising from the 2011 Arab Awakening and the Syrian civil war.

This study claims that the diffusion of intra-Islamic violence and terrorism is increasing because of the empowerment of extremist ideologies based on the proliferation of Salafi/Wahhabi beliefs. Furthermore, this analysis distinguishes between material support and ideological inspiration that Salafi/Wahhabi organizations and institutions are provided globally. This material support, mainly in the form of funding charities and religious institutions that include Islamic seminaries, or madrassas, as well as money exchanges in the form of pseudo-businesses, banking, and informal transport of cash through the hawala system, often lands in the hands of sophisticated networks of jihadist groups.

Ideological support and programming are commonly interconnected with material support processes, as in the case of some madrassas. For example, radical clerics and charismatic individuals preach online through various websites and via YouTube sermons, Facebook and Twitter messaging, and also by means of satellite TV channels with full blessings from local governments. These high-tech tactics are in addition to street-corner clerics preaching Salafism, as well as from mosques known for their ultra-orthodox leanings. The good news is that moderate voices are using the same means to counter Salafism, but it has been an uphill battle.

IDEOLOGIES AND CONCEPTS PROMOTING INTRA-ISLAMIC VIOLENCE

Salafism is an ideology and reform movement calling for a return to traditional Islam as it was practiced and observed in the days of the Prophet Muhammad and his circle of Companions. In Arabic “salaf” means “predecessors; forebears, ancestors, forefathers.”[1] According to Kamran Bokhari, “From the Salafist perspective, non-Islamic thought has contaminated the message of ‘true’ Islam for centuries, and this excess must be jettisoned from the Islamic way of life.”[2] The Egyptian scholar and Islamist Muhammad ‘Abduh (1849-1905) spearheaded the Salafist reform movement, which continues to inspire present-day Salafist movements. Salafists constitute both violent and nonviolent minorities (in terms of ideology) within Muslim populations worldwide. As Bokhari explains,

Unlike members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists do not belong to a single, unified organization. Instead, the movement comprises a diffuse agglomeration of neighborhood preachers, societal groups and–only very recently–political parties, none of which are necessarily united in ideology.

In many ways, Salafism can be seen as a rejection of the political ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. For most of the movement’s existence, it shunned politics–and thus Islamism–in favor of a focus on personal morality and individual piety, arguing that an Islamic state could not exist unless Muslims first return to the tenets of “true” Islam. This means Salafism also was at odds with the concept of jihadism–itself a violent offshoot of Salafism–as practiced by groups such as al Qaeda that sought to use force to manifest their Islamist ideology.

The Salafist movement could also afford to stay away from political activism in large part because it had a political backer in the government of Saudi Arabia. While many Salafists didn’t agree with some of Riyadh’s policies, its historical role as the birthplace of Salafism and its financial role as the patron underwriting the global spread of Salafist thought kept the movement within the Saudi orbit.[3]

Following the 9/11 attacks, Salafism rapidly spread throughout the MENA region, and Salafists organized more effectively and began to run charitable organizations and social relief groups. Tunisia and Egypt in particular saw a rise in Salafist groups, and by the time of the 2011 Arab Awakening revolutions and uprisings, Salafists shifted their apolitical policy and began forming political groups.[4] Stratfor Global Intelligence describes the recent political evolution of Salafist groups as follows:

Several Egyptian Salafist groups applied for licenses to form political parties. Two prominent parties–al-Nour and al-Asala–emerged along with a host of individuals, such as Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, who ran as an independent candidate for president. The two Salafist parties banded together with the newly formed political wing of the former jihadist group Gamaa al-Islamiya–the Building and Development Party–to form the Islamist Bloc. The alliance was able to garner more than a quarter of ballots cast in the parliamentary polls (in late 2011), coming in second place behind the Brotherhood.

… The Salafist embrace of electoral politics is likely to delay and perhaps even disrupt the democratization process and destabilize Egypt and by extension the region.

Much of this chaos will stem from the fact that the move to accept democratic politics has led to further fragmentation of the Salafist landscape. Many Salafists still are not comfortable with democracy, and those who have cautiously adopted it are divided into many factions. The result is that no one Salafist entity can speak for the bulk of the sect.[5]

Wahhabism originated in Saudi Arabia, where it is still the national ideology of the theocracy:  according to a recent PBS analysis, “for more than two centuries, Wahhabism has been Saudi Arabia’s dominant faith.”[6]  Wahhabism, named after its founder Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, “is an austere form of Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Quran. Strict Wahhabis believe that all those who don’t practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies … Wahhabism’s explosive growth began in the 1970s when Saudi charities started funding Wahhabi schools (madrassas) and mosques from Islamabad to Culver City, California.”[7] Wahhabi ideology has inspired Islamic extremism and militancy worldwide, including the likes of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Salafism and Wahhabism are often viewed as synonymous ideologies, although the Saudis prefer “Salafi,” since they view “Wahhabi” as a derogatory term even though Abd al-Wahhab helped establish the kingdom’s theocratic base. Both Salafism and Wahhabism are anti-Shi’a, anti-Sufism (Islamic mysticism), and also grossly misogynistic. Moreover, both reject their perceived “adulteration” of Islam by Western lifestyles and values. These ideologies are equally puritanical and literalist in their interpretation of Islamic laws and principles in the Classical context. They do not believe in adjustments or reinterpretations to account for changes in modern life. In sum, they fiercely reject any notion of flexibility in Islam. Also, they embrace the concept of jihad as defined in the orthodox Classical context, distinguishing between dar al-Islam and dar al-harb, the “abode of Islam” and the “abode of war,” respectively. The diehard Salafi/Wahhabi jihadists view the world through this lens.

Jihad is a loaded term, well-known to the modern global public since the September 11th attacks in 2001.  Jihad is an Arabic word meaning “struggle; strife,” in the context of struggling against oneself in order to improve one’s behavior, piety, and moral character. The root of the word is the verb jahada:  “To endeavor, strive, labor; take pains.”[8]  It can also mean waging a “holy war,” as these definitions explain:  jaa hada, “To endeavor, strive, to fight (for something); to wage holy war against the infidels” and jihad, “Fight, battle; jihad (holy war against the infidels, as a religious duty).”[9]

There are two forms of jihad described in Islam, one is called the “Greater Jihad,” and the other is the “Lesser Jihad.” In the context of Classical Arabic and early Islamic history, Greater Jihad was considered the priority for Muslims, as it promotes self-improvement in one’s behavior and righteousness. The Lesser Jihad in this context was secondary, and it was viewed as warfare, and many interpreted it as a form of “self-defense,” although we know from history that it was also used as a tool of expansion for the early Islamic Empire. Throughout Islamic history, there have been cases of more justified uses of both types of jihad, as well as some blatantly distorted applications.

A mujahid is someone who conducts jihad, specifically ‘Fighter, freedom fighter; warrior.’[10] The plural of mujahid is mujahidin (with variations in the spelling). Since the birth of Islam in the 7th century, many militant Islamic groups have declared jihad in various contexts. All of them have traceable political objectives and motives. Therefore, the utility of Lesser Jihad, that is, the militant, violent form of jihad, is more complex than it appears. It is, however, grossly exploitative and manipulative, to the extent that this form of jihad in the modern world has eclipsed the actual Greater (intellectual and spiritual) Jihad. In other words, the Greater and Lesser Jihads have been reversed in the modern context, in terms of how Islamic militants and ultra-orthodox ideologies have proposed and made use of them.

Increasingly, Al Qaeda and similar terrorist groups have relied on an additional concept called takfir to render a “believer” a “non-believer,” thus rendering him/her fair game as a target. This concept of takfir, defined as ‘charge of unbelief,’[11], has historical origins in early Islam.

The roots of puritanical fanaticism that date back to the early Caliphate began to form immediately after the Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 CE. Thereafter, the lesser form of jihad was employed throughout the expansion of the Islamic empire, which included the exploits of the Seljuk Turks who overthrew the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople (Istanbul) and established the Ottoman Empire (1299 CE). In these cases, jihad was usually waged against non-Muslims, but with some internal conflicts during the Caliphate, jihad against fellow Muslims also took place. The pretext of Muslim-against-Muslim jihad usually involved one party’s subjective judgment, or takfir, of the other’s status as “non-believer.” According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the concept of takfir is defined as “the ability for one Muslim to define another as an apostate, a concept from which al Qaeda legitimizes much of its violence.”[12]

During the Cold War period, the most pivotal example of the use of the lesser form of jihad in modern history came with the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This triggered the anti-Soviet Reagan administration to launch a proxy war against the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. The Reagan administration achieved this by intensifying the call to arms of “jihadists,” or mujahidin, and providing them with weapons, funding, and intelligence. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia assisted the United States in this cause. Thus, the Cold War-motivated jihad against the Soviets spread Islamic militant fundamentalism at a fever pitch, especially at the Pakistan-Afghan border region, where ubiquitous madrassas training young boys and men in jihad and the Quran served as mujahidin “factories.” Moreover, the Reagan administration explicitly sought out the most militant and fundamentalist mujahidin factions to support, with the supposed logic that their religious fervor would be the most effective for recruiting fighters and maintaining their morale and steadfastness in fighting against the Soviets.

Many of yesterday’s “freedom fighters” are today’s militants and terrorists with greater ambitions, and they are using takfir and unabashed, ruthless violence as their weapons.

One of the global Sunni jihadists’ primary targets are the Shi’a, often labeled openly as “infidels.”

Professor Vali Nasr has described the sectarian schism between Shi’a and Sunnis as “the most important in Islam.”[13] Aside from the dispute over succession following the Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 CE, Sunnis and Shias disagree over political authority and legitimacy, and the nature of leadership of the masses. While Sunnism emphasizes social order, and hence more tolerance of even a tyrannical leader, Shi’a (the global minority) look to the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, the Prophet’s grandson in Karbala, as the model to follow; that is, to fight against tyranny and oppression. Professor Nasr says: “Shias have often invoked the Husayn story to define their conflicts in modern times: against the Shah’s forces in Iran in 1979, against Israeli troops in southern Lebanon in the 1980s, and against Saddam Hussein’s death squads in Iraq during the anti-Baathist intifida (uprising) that followed the first Gulf War in March 1991.”[14]

Today we see the same concept applied against the monarchy in Bahrain, inspired by the 2011 Arab Awakening in the MENA region. In addition, Sunni militias have been targeting Shi’i civilians, even inside mosques and during religious pilgrimages, in Iraq and Pakistan. In the latter, the term “Shi’a Genocide” is popularized among activists seeking protection for the country’s minority Shi’i population. Shi’a in Lebanon are also locked in battles against Sunnis these days over the civil war in Syria, targeting pro- and anti-Bashar al-Asad communities.

Professor Nasr reminds us that “Pakistan has the second largest population of Shias, about 30 million, after Iran.”[15] Following Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization policies in Pakistan during the era of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Sunni groups hardened against Shi’a. Plus, Saudi Wahhabi funding and support for madrassas (Islamic schools) combined with hard-line Deobandi[16] ideology that proliferated throughout the country. According to Professor Nasr, extremist Deobandi madrassas

…trained Taliban and other violent recruits for action in Afghanistan, Kashmir, and elsewhere. Militantly anti-Shia militias such as Sipah-I Sahaba (Army of the Prophet’s Companions) and Lashkar-I Jhangvi (Jhangvi’s Army) hailed from the same madrassas and maintained close ties with Taliban and terrorist organizations such as Jaish-I Muhammad (Army of Muhammad), which was active in Kashmir and is responsible for acts of terror such as the kidnapping and savage videotaped murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in January 2002. Sipah and Lashkar have cadres who trained in the Afghan camps maintained by al-Qaeda before the U.S.-led destruction of the Taliban regime following 9/11. Ahmad Ramzi Yusuf, who built the vehicle bomb that damaged the World Trade Center and killed six New Yorkers on February 26, 1991, is also alleged to have instigated a bomb attack the following year on the Shia shrine of Imam Reza in Mashad, Iran.[17]

In the 1990s, Saudi Arabia’s chief cleric, Abdul Aziz ibn Baz, issued a fatwa against the Shi’a, “reaffirming that they were infidels and prohibiting Muslims from dealing with them.”[18]

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria / Levant (ISIS or ISIL) has a Taliban-like hatred of Shi’a, as they have emerged as the most effective jihadist fighters in Syria and now Iraq, specifically targeting Shi’i.  ISIS proudly boasts about its claim of killing 1,700 Shi’a Iraqi soldiers upon their June 2014 incursion into Mosul.[19]  Professor Nasr states that, “Sectarian violence became a part of life, and has in fact become more prevalent in response to the growing Shi’a-Sunni rivalry in Iraq.”[20] With the current Nouri al-Maliki government blatantly favoring the country’s majority Shi’i population, tensions have come to a head; now Iraq is at the brink of all-out civil war as city after city falls to ISIS.

According to Steve Clemons, “two of the most successful factions fighting Asad’s forces are Islamic extremist groups: Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the latter of which is now amassing territory in Iraq and threatening to further destabilize the entire region. And that success is in part due to the support they have received from two Persian Gulf countries: Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”[21] He goes on to point out that

…As one senior Qatari official stated, ‘ISIS has been a Saudi project.’

ISIS, in fact, may have been a major part of Prince Bandar’s [former head of Saudi intelligence services and former ambassador to the U.S., recently replaced by Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef] covert-ops strategy in Syria. The Saudi government, for its part, has denied allegations, including claims made by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, that it has directly supported ISIS. But there are also signs that the kingdom recently shifted its assistance–whether direct or indirect–away from extremist factions in Syria and toward more moderate opposition groups.[22]

The militant Sunni juggernaut sweeping across these regions unchallenged, and now their proxy supporters, are starting to worry about their own national security threats emanating from their own creations. Steve Clemons cautions that

…Like elements of the mujahidin, which benefited from U.S. financial and military support during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and then later turned on the West in the form of al-Qaeda, ISIS achieved scale and consequence through Saudi support, only to now pose a grave threat to the kingdom and the region. It’s this concern about blowback that has motivated Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to encourage restraint in arming Syrian rebels.[23]

Recalling that most of the 9/11 attackers were Saudi nationals, Saudi support for terrorist organizations has been increasingly publicized in the West. According to the New York Times

Internal Treasury Department documents obtained by the lawyers under the Freedom of Information Act, for instance, said that a prominent Saudi charity, the International Islamic Relief Organization, heavily supported by members of the Saudi royal family, showed ‘support for terrorist organizations’ at least through 2006.

A self-described Qaeda operative in Bosnia said in an interview with lawyers in the lawsuit that another charity largely controlled by members of the royal family, the Saudi High Commission for Aid to Bosnia, provided money and supplies to the terrorist group in the 1990s and hired militant operatives like himself.

Another witness in Afghanistan said in a sworn statement that in 1998 he had witnessed an emissary for a leading Saudi prince, Turki al-Faisal, hand a check for one billion Saudi riyals (now worth about $267 million) to a top Taliban leader.[24]

Even former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has fingered the Saudis for supporting terrorist organizations, acutely proven by Wikileaks cables that were disclosed in the website’s publications, in which she is quoted. Saudi Arabia is, writes Declan Walsh,

…The world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba–but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton.

“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” she said.

Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The [Wikileaks] cables highlight an often-ignored factor in the Pakistani and Afghan conflicts: that the violence is partly bankrolled by rich, conservative donors across the Arabian Sea whose governments do little to stop them.[25]

Furthermore, a September 2007 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report for Congress on Saudi terrorist financing issues states that, “Saudi Arabia was a place where Al Qaeda raised money directly from individuals and through ‘charities’ and [the report indicates that] ‘charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship’ may have diverted funding to Al Qaeda. U.S. officials remain concerned that Saudis continue to fund Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.”[26] The report identifies the names of several Saudi charity organizations of which the U.S. has been suspicious and has asked the Saudi government to investigate and regulate, but with insufficient results. This important CRS report highlights the problems within Saudi Arabia involving individuals and organizations funding terrorist groups, while the Saudi government remains either unable or unwilling to stop these activities. The report also mentions government efforts to reform the banking system and regulate charity organizations, but these efforts are generally ineffective, and official results are not made public. Lack of transparency is a crucial problem, as is the alleged involvement of  a number of royal family members in these activities. The underlying crisis lies not only with the funding issues, but also with official Saudi policy of spreading Wahhabism globally. Thus, cutting the funding sources to terrorist groups does not translate into the simultaneous end of ideology proliferation.

The CRS report mentions a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) task force study that unequivocally found that, “for years, Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem,” grouping “Saudi Arabia with Pakistan, Egypt, and other Gulf states and regional financial centers as ‘source and transit countries.’”[27] Moreover, the report singles out the Saudi government for its “failure to punish, in a demonstrable manner, specific and identified leaders of charities found to be funneling money to militant Islamist organizations.”[28] A number of lawsuits, including the one called “the 9/11 Lawsuit,” have targeted Saudi Arabia for its role and responsibilities pertaining to terrorist funding and support. These legal battles are a clear indication that empirical evidence has been investigated and collected which explicitly identifies the Saudi role in supporting terrorist organizations. In fact, the CRS report also cites the Iraq Study Group report, which states that, “funding for the Sunni insurgency [in Iraq] comes from private individuals within Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.”[29] Insurgents and terrorist groups seek out Saudis specifically, says a report to to the U.S. Congress, since “Saudi young men are particularly valuable to insurgent groups because Saudis provide for their own expenses and often personally finance insurgent operations.”[30] The Salafist/Wahhabi jihadist organizations are a double-edged sword: not only do they harbor deep-seated hatred of the West and its values, but they also reject and detest the regional political leaders in the MENA and South Asia. Essentially, they wish to bite the hands that feed them, and they do not hesitate to target and kill fellow Muslims. The governments and their populations that have long supported Salafi jihadists have come full circle. Now, they are beginning to worry about their own security and survival, despite playing a definitive role in the diffusion of intra-Islamic violence. The casualties have been catastrophic, and are likely to worsen in the months and years to come.

DEATH STATISTICS FROM TERRORIST ATTACKS

The year 2013 saw numerous terrorist attacks throughout the MENA and South Asian regions. Table 1 provides a snapshot (selected list) of some of these attacks from January to June 25, 2013.[31] The list illustrates the destructive agendas and impacts of various terrorist groups, and while it lists the number of casualties, thousands more collectively have suffered life-altering injuries. The socioeconomic and security impact of these nearly daily attacks on civilians and non-civilians alike is immeasurable. Most of the perpetrators have ideological linkages to Salafism / Wahhabism.

Table 1: Terrorist Attacks, January-June 2013

Date Country Type of Attack # Dead/Target(s) Perpetrator
Jan. 1 Pakistan Motorcycle Bomb 4 / MQM HQ ?
Jan. 1 Pakistan Shooting 7 / NGO Medical Workers Islamist Militants
Jan. 3 Iraq Car Bombing, IED 32 / Shia Pilgrims Islamic State of Iraq
Jan. 3 Syria Car Bombing 11 / petrol station ?
Jan. 10 Pakistan Suicide bombings, bombings 126 / Multiple Lashkar-e Jhangvi
Jan. 13 Pakistan Rocket Attacks 14/ Pakistani Soldiers ?
Jan. 15 Syria Rocket Attacks 82 / Aleppo University ?
Jan. 15 Iraq Suicide Bombing 7 / Sunni MP Islamic State of Iraq
Jan. 16 Iraq Suicide bombings, shootings 55 / Kurdistan Democratic Party Islamic State of Iraq
Jan. 16 Kenya Shooting 5 / Restaurant Al-Shabaab
Jan. 16-19 Algeria Shooting, Hostage Crisis 69 / Gas Facility Al-Qaeda-linked AQIM Group
Jan. 20 Nigeria Shootings 6 / Troops heading to Mali Boko Haram
Jan. 21-23 Nigeria Shootings 31 / Civilians Boko Haram
Jan. 21 Syria Suicide Truck Bombing 42 / Pro-Govt Militia Al-Nusra Front
Jan. 22 Iraq Suicide bombings, shootings 26 / Multiple Islamic State of Iraq
Jan. 23 Iraq Suicide bombing 49 / Politician’s Funeral Islamic State of Iraq
Jan. 26 Afghanistan Suicide bombing, IED 20 / Counter-terrorism Officials, Police ?
Jan. 28 Yemen Suicide bombing 11 / Yemeni Army Checkpoint ?
Jan. 29 Somalia Suicide bombing 2 / Somali Presidential Villa Al-Shabaab
Feb. 2 Turkey Suicide bombing 1 / US Embassy, Ankara RPLP-F(Leftist Org)
Feb. 21 India Bombings 17 / Civilians in Hyderabad Indian Mujahidin (suspected)
Feb. 25 Mali Suicide bombing 7 / MNLA Tuareg Liberation Group MUJWA(AQIM splinter group)
Feb. 26 Afghanistan Shooting 17 / Afghan Local Police Afghan Taliban
Feb. 28 Iraq Bombings, shootings 33 / Multiple, near Baghdad Stadium Islamic State of Iraq
March 3 Pakistan Car bombings 48 / Shia Worshippers Lashkar-e Jhangvi (suspected)
March 4 Iraq Ambush 64 / Syrian Army Convoy + Iraqi Soldiers (51 Syrians, 13 Iraqis killed) Islamic State of Iraq
March 13 India(Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir) Bombings, shootings 5 / Military Camp Lashkar-e Taiba / Hizbul-Mujahidin  (suspected)
March 14 Iraq Car bombings, shootings 33 / Justice Ministry Islamic State of Iraq (suspected)
Date Country Type of Attack # Dead / Target(s) Perpetrator
March 18 Nigeria Suicide bombing 41 / Bus Station in Christian Area Boko Haram
March 19 Iraq Bombings, shootings 98 / Multiple (10th anniversary of start of Iraq War) Islamic State of Iraq (suspected)
March 21 Pakistan Car bombing 15 / Refugee Camp Lashkar-e Islam (suspected)
March 21 Syria Suicide bombing 42 / Mosque in Damascus (prominent pro-govt Sunni cleric killed) ?
March 22 Nigeria Shootings, bombings 25 / Multiple, including prison break, 127 inmates freed Boko Haram (suspected)
March 22-23 Pakistan Bombings 26 / Multiple ?
April 1 Iraq Bombings, Shootings 45 / Multiple Islamic State of Iraq
April 3 Afghanistan Assault + Suicide Attacks 55 / Courthouse Afghan Taliban
April 14 Somalia Suicide bombings 35 / Supreme Court Al-Shabaab
April 15 Iraq Bombings, Shootings 75 / Multiple (waves of attacks in cities) Islamic State of Iraq
April 15 USA Bombings 4 / Boston Marathon Tsarnaev Brothers
April 16 Pakistan Suicide bombings 22 / Multiple targets in Balochistan & Awami National Party Rally in Peshawar Tehrik-I Taliban Pakistan(TTP)
April 23-26 Iraq Bombings, Shootings 331 / Multiple Islamic State of Iraq, Naqshbandi Army, Sons of Iraq, Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police
May 15-21 Iraq Bombings, Shootings 449 / Multiple Islamic State of Iraq
May 22 Pakistan Bombing 13 / Balochistan Constabulary Convoy TTP
May 25 Philippines Shootout 12+ / Gun battle between Abu Sayyaf militants & the Army Abu Sayyaf / Philippine Army
June 3 Afghanistan Suicide bombing 13 / Military Convoy & Gov Offices Afghan Taliban
June 7 Nigeria Shooting 21 / Gov checkpoint Boko Haram (suspected)
June 10 Iraq Bombings, Shootings 94 / Multiple across Iraq Islamic State of Iraq (suspected)
June 11 Afghanistan Suicide car bombings 17 / Supreme Court Afghan Taliban
June 15 Pakistan Bombings, shootings 27 / Quetta’s Women’s University Bus carrying students; historical Quaid-e Azam Residency Lashkar-e Janghvi / Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA)
June 19 Somalia Bombing 22 / UNDP base Al-Shabaab
June 21 Pakistan Suicide bombing 15 / Shia Mosque in Peshawar ?
June 25 Afghanistan Suicide car bombing, Shooting 3 / Afghan Presidential Palace & CIA HQ Afghan Taliban

The year 2014 has been even bloodier and more diverse in the geography and intensity of attacks. The month of January alone saw a total of 531 deaths from terrorist attacks, with horrific massacres in Nigeria, which have become part of a trend there.[32] Somalia, Iraq, Syria, and Nigeria account for some of the most frequent and deadliest attacks, although Afghanistan and Pakistan also have no rest from their regional terrorists.

February 2014 witnessed a total of 588 deaths from various terrorist attacks, including the beginnings of an upward trend of attacks in Cairo and the Sinai. Also over this period, Nigeria experienced two- and three-digit statistics for fatalities, and Iraq saw nearly daily attacks. Lebanon also flared up during this time. March 1, 2014 marked the horrific train station knife attack in Kunming, China, resulting in 28 dead and 113 injured; Uighur militants are suspected of carrying out the attack. The total dead in March 2014 was 507, with 212 killed in Nigeria on March 15 alone when Boko Haram carried out a prison break.

The tally of dead for April 2014 was 208, which does not include the April 14 mass kidnapping of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls in Chibok at the hands of Boko Haram. Since then, the terrorist group has continued to carry out massacres and kidnappings. The kidnapped girls are still missing, and the leader of Boko Haram has threatened to “sell” them.

May 2014 saw 308 killed in terrorist attacks, including more militant violence in China, and the May 24th shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels which resulted in four deaths. The assailant was a “European jihadist” returning from fighting in the Syrian civil war. Bloodshed also continued in Nigeria with attack after attack by Boko Haram.

As of this publication, in June 2014, the death toll has been about 303. Boko Haram in Nigeria continued to kidnap civilians by the dozens. Terrorist attacks also continued in Somalia, Kenya, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan and Pakistan. For January through June 24, 2014, the death toll was 1,938, which, again, this is not including the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. In the latter case, Boko Haram also kidnapped 31 schoolboys in late June 2014, along with an additional 60 women and girls.[33]  They all remain captive to date.

The issue of violence against and harassment of girls and women, as in the case of the young Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai’s shooting by the Taliban, has not even been addressed. That, in and of itself, constitutes yet another dimension of the security threats and challenges to Muslim civilian populations. Again, Salafi/Wahhabi ideology is to blame for this. Taliban misogyny is directly linked to their Wahhabi programming.

Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabism represents some of the severest restrictions on the freedoms of women in the world. Women are not allowed to drive; they cannot obtain a passport or travel without the permission of a male relative; they cannot interact with men because extreme gender segregation is observed in all spheres of life; and women must observe a strict dress code, enforced by the “moral police.” Overall, Saudi women are abominably subjugated by an absolutely male-dominated society that does not hesitate to use violence against women. Thus, the parallels between Wahhabism and the Afghan Taliban’s ideology are evident. In fact, when the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in 1996, Saudi Arabia was among only three countries to recognize the regime’s legitimacy, the other two being the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

Salafism in particular poses a threat to women’s rights and freedoms, and Salafists have already violently challenged new governments in Tunisia and Egypt. Although small in number, they often hold protests in front of Western embassies and other government symbols. They have become increasingly vocal about implementing Sharia in Tunisia and Egypt, and also, correspondingly, stricter laws to restrict women’s rights and freedoms, as well as commingling of the sexes. Salafists in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria have reportedly already been bullying girls and women about dress codes and other “un-Islamic” behavior, and they continue to pressure respective governments to implement Sharia law, of course along the lines of their own literalist interpretations. ISIS has distributed leaflets in Mosul ordering women to dress Islamically, or face punishment. The 2011 Arab Awakening has not improved women’s security, especially in the streets of Egypt and Libya. Misogynist violence, sexual assaults, and slander targeting women activists and citizens continue unabated. In most cases, perpetrators have not been brought to justice.[34] The spread of Salafism/Wahhabism is detrimental to the well being of girls and women, as case after case has shown.

CONCLUSION

The diffusion of intra-Islamic violence and terrorism has steadily increased due to the empowerment of Salafi/Wahhabi-affiliated extremists throughout the MENA and South Asian regions, and even elsewhere. Since the 2011 Arab Awakening revolutions and uprisings, report after report indicates Saudi, Qatari, Kuwaiti, and Emirati support for various Islamist groups, including anti-Asad rebel militias in Syria. Lying underneath the surface is the Sunni-Shi’a sectarian rivalry, which is at the heart of the Saudi-Iranian competition for regional power and ideological domination. In addition, Saudi funding and support for Wahhabi institutions and terrorist groups have a long historical trail, which includes the 9/11 attacks.

Shutting off the funding tap will not stop the spread of Wahhabi ideology. Wars and conflicts only generates greater supply and demand for the Salafi/Wahhabi ideology and material support for jihadist organizations. Since the 2011 Arab Awakening, violent attacks targeting Muslim civilians have only increased. The diffusion of intra-Islamic violence is on a steady rising trend.

The common thread in these trends has been the role of Saudi Arabia in providing ideological and other support for terrorist outfits worldwide. Christopher Boucek writes the following for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

The real problem is that we are talking about mostly small amounts of money and often cash, so it is incredibly difficult to regulate and prevent. Saudi Arabia is good at cracking down on terrorism (domestically), but the financing is incredibly hard to control. There are people who give money that gets diverted to other purposes and groups that use similar methods to collect cash. And it’s important to remember that terrorist groups do not need large amounts of money to operate. Global terror is a cheap business to be in, so cutting funds to the point that it prevents terrorist acts is an uphill battle.

… Money coming out of Saudi Arabia reportedly goes to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qaeda central, and its affiliated groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militant group. Groups employ a variety of strategies to receive donations and support. Potential funders are often shown videos on mobile phones of direct requests from terrorist leaders operating on the ground in Yemen or other countries, even if they do not personally come to Saudi Arabia. And there have been instances where women have gathered together to raise money–it’s not entirely clear if everyone who donated money knew where the money was actually headed or if they believed it was for humanitarian or charity work.[35]

The most compelling evidence came from Secretary Clinton herself, quoted earlier as saying Saudi Arabia is “the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

Muslims themselves, at great cost, continue to cast a blind eye towards this reality, wherein intra-Islamic violence is diffused from the birthplace of Islam itself. Many blame the West, and the U.S. in particular, for their security problems, such as in Pakistan.  The narrative about supposed Western conspiracies is extremely potent in Pakistan, as well as in many other Muslim-majority countries.  Many Muslims believe that external forces (i.e., Western powers) wish to wage “a war against Islam” in order to destroy it.[36]  But the truth lies within Wahhabism and Salafism. Both ideologies have a long track record of killing fellow Muslims in the name of jihad. ISIS routinely beheads its prisoners. These prized trophies of heads, which ISIS seemingly enjoys displaying in front of the cameras, were once attached to the bodies of fellow Muslims.

* Hayat Alvi, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the US Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. The views expressed are personal.

NOTES


 

[1] Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (Arabic-English Dictionary), edited by J. Milton Cowan, third edition (Ithaca: Spoken Language Services, Inc., 1976), 423.

[2] Kamran Bokhari, “Salafism and Arab Democratization,” Stratfor Global Intelligence, October 2, 2012: http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/salafism-and-arab-democratization.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6]“Analysis Wahhabism,” Frontline PBS, WGBH, copyright 1995-2013:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saudi/analyses/wahhabism.html.

[7]“Analysis Wahhabism,” Frontline PBS, WGBH, copyright 1995-2013: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saudi/analyses/wahhabism.html.

[8] Wehr, 142.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Wehr, 143.

[11] Wehr, 833.

[12] “The Kingdom’s Clock,” Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), September/October 2006: http://www.cfr.org/middle-east-and-north-africa/kingdoms-clock/p11562.

[13] Vali Nasr, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006), 34.

[14] Ibid., 43.

[15] Ibid., 160.

[16] Deobandism is a puritanical school of Islamic thought originating in northern India, now a popular ideology in Pakistan and parts of India; it is similar to Wahhabism in its puritanical ethos. The “Deobandi interpretation holds that a Muslim’s first loyalty is to his religion and only then to the country of which he is a citizen or a resident; secondly, that Muslims recognise only the religious frontiers of their umma and not the national frontiers; thirdly,that they have a sacred right and obligation to go to any country to wage jihad to protect the Muslims of that country … Propelled by oil-generated wealth, the Wahhabi worldview increasingly co-opted the Deobandi movement in South Asia.” See “Deobandi Islam,” GlobalSecurity.org, 2000-2013: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/intro/islam-deobandi.htm.

[17] Nasr, 166.

[18] Pouya Alimagham, “The Saudi Roots of Today’s Shi’ite-Sunni War,” The Huffington Post, June 24, 2014: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pouya-alimagham/the-saudi-roots-of-todays_b_5520110.html?page_version=legacy&view=print&comm_ref=false.

[19] Simon Tomlinson, and Amy White, “’This is our football, it’s made of skin #World Cup’: After posting sickening beheading video of Iraqi policeman, ISIS boast of slaughtering 1,700 soldiers,” Daily Mail UK Online, June 13, 2014: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2656905/ISIS-jihadists-seize-two-towns-bear-Baghdad-U-S-tanks-helicopters-stolen-fleeing-western-trained-Iraqi-forces.html.

[20] Nasr, 168.

[21] Steve Clemons, “’Thank God for the Saudis’: ISIS, Iraq, and the Lessons of Blowback,” The Atlantic, June 23, 2014: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/06/isis-saudi-arabia-iraq-syria-bandar/373181/.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Eric Lightblau, “Documents Back Saudi Link to Extremists,” The New York Times, June 23, 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/world/middleeast/24saudi.html?_r=0.

[25] Declan Walsh, “Wikileaks Cables Portray Saudi Arabia as a Cash Machine for Terrorists,” The Guardian, December 5, 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/05/wikileaks-cables-saudi-terrorist-funding.

[26] Christopher M. Blanchard, and Alfred B. Prados, “Saudi Arabia: Terrorist Financing Issues,” Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for Congress, RL32499, September 14, 2007, “Summary” page.

[27] Ibid., 4.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid., 8.

[30] Ibid.

[31]“List of Terrorist Incidents, January-June 2013,” Wikipedia, March 26, 2013: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents,_January-June_2013.

[32]“List of Terrorist Incidents, 2014,” Wikipedia, June 24, 2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents,_2014.

[33] Robyn Dixon, “Nigeria Kidnapping:  60 Girls and Women, 31 Boys Said to be Abducted,” Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2014:  http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-80600474/.

[34] It’s worth acknowledging here that many sexual assaults have been perpetrated by SCAF-supported security forces (i.e., the notorious “virginity tests”) in Egypt, as well as criminal gangs and militias, not necessarily linked to any hard-line religious groups. Hence, Salafist terrorists are not the only ones to blame for violence, rape, and sexual assaults targeting women in the MENA region. Plus, government forces in Syria are also using rape as a war weapon, as did Qaddafi during the Libyan civil war. Reports of rape by rebel forces in both countries have also circulated.

[35] Christopher Boucek, “Terrorism Out of Saudi Arabia,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, September 12, 2011: http://carnegieendowment.org/2011/09/12/terrorism-out-of-saudi-arabia/8kyf.

[36] See:  “The Narrative,” 60 Minutes CBS Video, July 25, 2010: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/the-narrative/; also see Maajid Nawaz at: http://maajidnawaz.com/.

Hypocrite Obama Prevents Delivery of Heavy Weapons To Kurds, Bombing of ISIL

US blocks attempts by Arab allies to fly heavy weapons directly to Kurds to fight Islamic State

the telegraph

Middle East allies accuse Barack Obama and David Cameron of failing to show strategic leadership in fight against Isil, as MPs could be given vote on whether to bomb Syria.

President Barack Obama pauses speaks at Taylor Stratton Elementary School in NashvillePresident Barack Obama pauses speaks at Taylor Stratton Elementary School in Nashville Photo: AP

 

The United States has blocked attempts by its Middle East allies to fly heavy weapons directly to the Kurds fighting Islamic State jihadists in Iraq, The Telegraph has learnt.

Some of America’s closest allies say President Barack Obama and other Western leaders, including David Cameron, are failing to show strategic leadership over the world’s gravest security crisis for decades.

They now say they are willing to “go it alone” in supplying heavy weapons to the Kurds, even if means defying the Iraqi authorities and their American backers, who demand all weapons be channelled through Baghdad.

High level officials from Gulf and other states have told this newspaper that all attempts to persuade Mr Obama of the need to arm the Kurds directly as part of more vigorous plans to take on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) have failed. The Senate voted down one attempt by supporters of the Kurdish cause last month.

The officials say they are looking at new ways to take the fight to Isil without seeking US approval.

“If the Americans and the West are not prepared to do anything serious about defeating Isil, then we will have to find new ways of dealing with the threat,” said a senior Arab government official. “With Isil making ground all the time we simply cannot afford to wait for Washington to wake up to the enormity of the threat we face.” The Peshmerga have been successfully fighting Isil, driving them back from the gates of Erbil and, with the support of Kurds from neighbouring Syria, re-establishing control over parts of Iraq’s north-west.

But they are doing so with a makeshift armoury. Millions of pounds-worth of weapons have been bought by a number of European countries to arm the Kurds, but American commanders, who are overseeing all military operations against Isil, are blocking the arms transfers.

One of the core complaints of the Kurds is that the Iraqi army has abandoned so many weapons in the face of Isil attack, the Peshmerga are fighting modern American weaponry with out-of-date Soviet equipment.

At least one Arab state is understood to be considering arming the Peshmerga directly, despite US opposition.

The US has also infuriated its allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states, by what they perceive to be a lack of clear purpose and vacillation in how they conduct the bombing campaign. Other members of the coalition say they have identified clear Isil targets but then been blocked by US veto from firing at them.

“There is simply no strategic approach,” one senior Gulf official said. “There is a lack of coordination in selecting targets, and there is no overall plan for defeating Isil.”

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