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12 August 2014


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The beaver


OT: Where was that pic you have on your FB page taken, if I may ask?


Colonel, Im not sure you have noticed the fact in your response, but in the Middle East I have noticed and have a theory that this is a very "Sunni" attribute (the aversion of loyality to anything but the highest authority that they "run"). If for example we compare the Shia reponses, in Bahrain for example, they are not calling for any kind of balkanization and in Lebanon, considering their abilities, Hizballah have not attempted anything the likes of ISIS or the Sunni tribes despite the fact that they are most weakly represented by the state whilst being the largest single community. Even under Saddam, the Shia response was entirely different. That is not say the Shia respect the Sykes-Picot imposition, but I think they are less tribal in general and more nationalisitc in an Arabist way - Hence why they provide more support for the Palestinians then their Sunni brethren.


You have returned. I take your point. pl



I don't remember, somewhere north of Sanaa I think. What do you think of the painting? Bob Sawyer painted it after he retired from the Army. I am supposed to be the theme. pl

William R. Cumming

PL! As a "christian? what might Machavelli or others find dangerous in leaving Islam to sort out its internal divisions by force if necessary?



IS will expand its activities to the "house of war" (dar al-harb - us) when it can, and that will be soon. pl


Colonel, sometimes you say all that needs to be said. The Middle East is going through a vortex and trying to read the leaves of where all the peices will end up is a confusing job.


I love the irony. "[Israel] is different from all these states. It does not recognize the legitimacy of the notion of [borders] at all and seeks a world wide theocratic state beginning in the Middle East."

According to Mirriam-Webster, Israel is defined as: 1)the Jewish people, 2) a people chosen by God, 3) a country in SW Asia. Netanyahu wants Israel recognized as the Jewish state, borders TBD. And Israel's Law of Return gives Netanyahu claim to speak for all Jews.

The Sykes-Picot system was first broken by Israel, but back then the colonial powers didn't seem to care. Now when ISIS does the same thing, also led by religious fanatics, the "international community" freaks out. After all, ISIS isn't threatening to slaughter Yazidis (just as Israel slaughters Gazans)?

But instead of freaking out, maybe political elites should instead deepen their understanding by examining the similarity in worldview between ISIS and Israel. They would learn a lot about both.


In one guise or another IS has been around since 2003. It has been funded and supported by multiple states. States that shall I say are aligned with Western goals for the region. The question is has IS become independent of these states? If it has not would it turn on the hand that feeds it? Would it get that powerful?

Until they actually attack one of these states, I cannot but think that they are still under their auspices and if so the gates to dar al-harb will I think remain shut.



I do not think I am "confused." I think you have your own Shia "baggage" about this. What do you think IS's agenda is? pl

Marcy C.


This is off topic slightly because it is not about ME or
EU borders. In America, who has responsibility for the
1) The President
2) The Federal Government
3) Federal and State governments

I read about the Texas governor wanting to put National Guard at the border. Will they be helping Army troops in their work?

The beaver


That's a splendid painting - first I thought it was an old painting that you have put , the mosaic corner , the crusader and the Arab man -something pre-1800. Then I noticed the German officer and the other emblems and I realised it post WWII.

I 'googled' the name Bob Sawyer and I saw your tribute to him when he passed away. He was a man with a lot of qualities, even in his painting. He managed to translate "History" à travers his theme or subject

Do you have that painting btw?



There is no "German officer" in the picture. We have the painting. I am thinking of donating it to... pl


"ISIS isn't threatening to slaughter Yazidis (just as Israel slaughters Gazans)?"

I don't think that that is a good analogy.

Israel, for all its many faults, is acting differently than ISIS.

* The Israelis show callous or indifferent disregard for civilian casualties when shelling Gaza.

* When ISIS comes to town they commit premeditated murder against hoever they happen to object to.

The difference is between dolus eventualis and dolus directus, or put in anglo_saxon terms, recklessness and intent.



That difference is what made burning down a city from the air in full knowledge that it was full of civilians just somewhat less evil than selecting at the ramp who was to be murdered directly or to be destroyed through labour later.


Marcy C

Only the federal government has authority and responsibility for our international borders. The US Army has NO responsibility for the borders unless ordered to defend them by the commander in chief. Even then the US military is barred from law enforcement by the Posse Comitatus law in any situation short of martial law. The National Guard acting as state militia under state control has the power of law enforcement but if federal money is used to fund the operation, then the National Guard becomes a federal force and I think they would have the same Posse Comitatus problem that the Regular Army has. pl

The beaver

Oops, my apologies: I mistook the officer on the top.
My mistake (or should I say the glare on my screen skewed the details)


I did not mean to infer you are confused. I was pointing out that the examples you used were Sunni and asking if that was noticed.

Being 50/50 I have no Shia baggage. I do not even believe in the divide and do not consider myself Sunni or Shia. I read things as I see them.

Trying to figure out the IS agenda would be a game of "pin the tail" right now. The facts are:
-They have grown very quickly and no-one is following the money
-They have attempted to balkanize two states and are heading for the Iranian border
-Driven out the non-Sunni inhabitants from all their areas
-Given reason for the Kurds to be heavily armed by the West
-Not attacked states affiliated with Saudi despite a good number of them coming via Jordan and Turkey into Syria

On the face of it, they are creating facts on the ground that reduces the Sykes-Picot arrangement into smaller warring states. But if their movement remains limited to the states they are in now, then one can only draw on the conclusion that they are sent to destabalise the countries known as the Resistance Axis - And who that serves is enlightening.

FB Ali

It is a serious error to think the IS is in any way controlled by the Saudis or any of the other countries from which it originally obtained financial support (a significant portion of which came from private donations by rich individuals). Even financially, it is now independent. See:


They know full well how weak these Muslim states really are; they can take them any time they choose. Thus, they will first concentrate on their more powerful opponents in this region (Iran, Syria, Hizbullah).



There is a statue of Robert the Bruce at Sterling Castle at the top. the man in uniform wearing a kalpak cap is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who I admire greatly. I am just above him in make up for a role in "the Fantastiks." I was Mortimer the Indian. This was produced in the USIA theater in Izmir, Turkey. My wife is in the picture as a harlequin dancer. She choreographed several dance parts in the play and danced the role of the on-stage stage manager. The production was a great success. It had a run of two weeks and the thousand seat hall was full every night. pl

FB Ali


On the drawing of borders in the "modern" ME:

"At a meeting in Downing Street, Mark Sykes pointed to a map and told the prime minister: "I should like to draw a line from the "e" in Acre to the last "k" in Kirkuk."



I just logged onto this site to see my question to Col. Lang. This morning, prior to seeing this, I was drafting and sent this reply to his email and for what it may be worth for out discussions I am posting it.


I long ago came to grips with the fact that there is a disintegration of the arrangements made at Versailles after WWI and that practically nobody in the region has any loyalty to the Sikes-Picot lines or to any Sikes-Pico country national identity. Fundamentally, that is the premise of my inquiry about the two conferences.

The mainstream press and the US FP apparatus seem to be focusing on the banshees riding the pickup trucks and shooting the stolen artillery. It seems to me that such is the equivalent to the British Government and the press putting a total focus in in the early 1770's on the Minutemen in Boston, the Regulator's Battle of Alamance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Alamance in North Carolina, and the Hornet's Nest of fighting between the Southern Piedmont Patriots and Loyalists, while being completely unaware that Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Washington, and many other, real, influential people, were scheduling and conducting a Continental Congress keenly focused upon the creation of a new "Westphalian" state in North America based upon the radical and totally revolutionary idea of a democratic state without a monarch.

The concept of creating a Sunni state in the Levant today is no more extreme or unexpected than the creation a new "Westphalian" nation in North America in the late eighteenth century. If such a state is formed, and I think it is inevitable that it will be formed, while it may on the surface seem to be radical Salafist, underneath, it will be a practical and realist organization focused on controlling the oil and other natural resources of the region. It is not unthinkable that such a state would have some sort of federal system that might well include Kurdistan as a state. No "Westphalian" state can be created on a battlefield. The structure of the state must be formed in meetings and based upon compromises, regardless of how "theocratic" it is.

The Sunni Sheiks have long been frozen out of power in the region and it seems that they have a burning thirst to become sovereign of their own rights. The Sheiks appear to be trying to establish a real, new "Westphalian" state and are now hiding under the cover of the liver eaters until they can solidify their hold on the pertinent geography and organize the real power structure.

There is a significant power prize for the Sheiks who can negotiate the formation of a new state organized using a federal system that covers the Sunni parts of Syria, Iraq, and Jordan. There is a prize for the Kurds if they can carve their membership into such a state if it guarantees them some form of autonomy and control over their oil and culture. In our globalized world, a state must be "Westphalian" if it is going to successful in global commerce. There is no oil prize for the Sheiks if the new state cannot be a part of the global "Westphalian" framework. They need technology to pump the oil and the banshees and liver eaters are uneducated and in the way of getting globalized technicians present in the oil fields once the state is established. The oil must be sold abroad to capture the benefits. Once established, the Sheiks must insure that the state is be tamed and stabilized so that business can proceed. To create the state, there must be organizational meetings.

Is there a possibility that these meetings in Erbil and Jordan are the equivalent to proceedings leading up to our Continental Congress? Is Sheik Ali Hatem al-Suleiman a Sunni State Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, or Franklin? (or for that matter an aspiring dictator and oppressor, but an organizing leader nevertheless?)

Since I cannot read Arabic, I can only parse that the major Sunni power players and powerful Kurds and Jordanians are attending. Also, the meetings are licensed or permitted by the venues. The Americans, as the equivalent of the French in the 1770s, may have observers present. Obviously, for the meetings to have occurred in Erbil and everyone not been arrested as enemies planning the attack on the City or Erbil, the Kurdish power structure is in the game. My guess is that these meetings are at least forerunners to a "Continental Congress" or that they are even meetings of the Congress of the Provisional Islamic State.

Is this possible?

Are we in the Committee of Correspondence failing to see the forest for the battles among the trees? Are we missing being able to observe an important event because we are looking in the wrong direction?

I cannot read Arabic. I guess these meetings are the birthing of a new nation-state. Can you figure out what these meetings are about? Are there other meetings past and scheduled for the future?


The two conferences I referenced in my back channel email and my response post are the topics of these news stories. There are a lot of associated Arabic links to articles I cannot read and to videos I cannot understand.



Question for you who are fluent in Arabic, what is going on here?



"What is going on here?" I answered your question. Was I not clear? I leave further comment to others here. pl

nick b


Excellent story, Sir! I saw the Fantasticks many times at the Sullivan Street Playhouse. Did you do Mortimer with the cockney accent? "Die again, Mortimer! Die again!" You are a man of many surprises.

Babak Makkinejad

Respectfully, I think this statement is false:

"The concept of creating a Sunni state in the Levant today is no more extreme or unexpected than the creation a new "Westphalian" nation in North America in the late eighteenth century."

The antecedents of the Westphalian state goes back to Medieval period of European history. That intellectual and practical history does not exist in Islam.

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