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15 June 2015

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William R. Cumming

Thanks CP for these insights!

Misanthrope

What makes you think that the US wants to prevent it, or considers it 'foul play'?
The way I see it that the US likes to cultivate Jihadis for use as berserkers against anyone they don't like. Who knows, maybe after they've overrun Syria and Lebanon, they'll be sent into the Caucasus to make trouble for Russia again. Or maybe into Xinjiang, or maybe into places in Africa where the Chinese have investments.

turcopolier

Misanthrope

1- You have an interesting IP address "Specialized bulletin board system" that is untraceable. What are you hiding?

2- CP's piece of today is an elaboration of my recent ISW pieces so I have the obligation to respond to your central point. The truth is that the US does not possess any sort of monolithic conspiratorial policy that would have generated the jihadi "reivers" as a world wide instrument of policy. If you actually believe that you live in what is either a world unexposed to how American government actually does not work or in an atmosphere in which fantasies of systematic plotting are prevalent. The truth is that the US government is divided into many parts, few of which do not work at cross purposes. pl

turcopolier

All

I will reiterate CP's point with regard to SA's goal in the Levant. To my certain knowledge it has long been SA's goal to re-impose Sunni triumphalism in all the region from Turkey south through the Levant country and down to the Yemen. What they are doing now in supporting the Wahhabi inspired jihadis of all stripes is merely the latest phase of the long term struggle. In order to use these jihadis for that purpose they must figuratively hold their wolves by the ears since the wolves think the Saudi princelings to be contemptible. As CP says the Saudies and the other trivial Gulfies will rejoice if the dhimmi and/or apostate populations of the region are treated with great severity by the "reivers." ("Serenity' film reference) pl

robt willmann

Russia is in Syria, and has (has had) a naval presence there. Some reports have said that Russia is "scaling back" its support for Assad's government; who knows whether that is disinformation or not. Regardless, the Russian position in Syria would need to be accounted for in any attempted analysis of the situation.

BostonB

"The really peculiar idea in all of this is the apparent belief that the Iranians are to bend over and take it as the Gulfies kill their co-religionists"

Isn't it sad that we have higher expectations for the Iranians, that they will come to the aid of their coreligionists in the ME, than we do for Christians in the West, who sit idly by and at most merely lament the slaughter of their coreligionists in the same region. Sadly, most Christians in the West support and promote neocon policies (Ha'aretz über alles) which lead to greater slaughter of their coreligionists (They are effectively their brother's slaughterer). But I guess the last vestiges of Christians under assault can take some solace in the fact they at least their coreligionists, who do nothing to help them and often act to destroy them, will themselves be a footnote in history. http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9555222/2067-the-end-of-british-christianity/

Babak Makkinejad

CP:

I expect this war for Levant and Mesopotamia end someday - likely in a stalemate.

Like all wars, it will leave a legacy.

The Iran-Iraq War's legacy was alienation of Iran from Sunni Arabs - for a long long time.

The legacy of EU's economic warfare against Iran would be the re-orientation of Iran towards non-Europeans for the most part; destroying a 400-year old relationship.

The legacy of this war would be the alienation of non-Sunni Arabs from the Sunni Arab world.

The the Christians (Coptic, Assyrian, Chaldean, Maronite, Armenian), the Druze, the Alevis, the Shia, and others - when meeting a Sunni Arab - regardless of the elaborate and elegant pleasantries that are exchanged - would think: "You wanted to kill me, rape my wife and sell my daughter into slavery."

In regards to Iran, I think it is a serious mistake to think of her in isolation from Shia Religion. The ayatollah's in Qum and Najaf and Isphahan and Mashahd and Tabriz and elsewhere can issue a fatwa - singly or in unison - that Islam is in danger and men are religiously required to take up arms to destroy the Takfiris and others.

Iranians have not yet played that card.

Babak Makkinejad

Patrich Bahzad states that France is the enemy of ISIS.

I should like to see a few hundred light tanks and several hundred helicopter gunships be sent to Iraq or Syria or Iran by France to fight ISIS.

Will not happen.

France only cares about Israel and then very very distantly for the Christians in Lebanon.

bth

Col. a suggestion for a future thread. To how fragment our jihadi enemies in Iraq and Syria?

You have discussed previously the tribal bounds. And it appears the split between al-Qaida and the upstart Caliphate in Syria has emerged. There must be others especially with such a fluid and chaotic leadership structure. Among them might be a split between old time Baathists and religious fanatics. Religious interpretations between fanatics. Ethnic differences between foreign fighters or between foreign fighters and locals. Tangible resource disputes - O&G, banks, cash, trade route taxes, electricity allocations, boundary markers between commanders, international aid, grain silos, food.

Our knowledge about the internal structure, number and demarcation lines of control within ISIS are so utterly poor one wonders where to start, but start we must. I submit this for your future consideration.

confusedponderer

"The ayatollah's in Qum and Najaf and Isphahan and Mashahd and Tabriz and elsewhere can issue a fatwa - singly or in unison - that Islam is in danger and men are religiously required to take up arms to destroy the Takfiris and others ... Iranians have not yet played that card."

Yes, they have shown considerable restraint. That is probably wise, since to use that card is wrought with peril.

That move would feed into the established propaganda theme that the Iranians are bent on 'exporting revolution' again.

Also, if Shia in countries in which they are a minority would arise, they would be harshly repressed by their Sunni overlords. The events in Bahrein only underline that.

I would argue that, beyond Gulfie paranoia and religious bias about and against the Shia, the assertion of that baleful Shia Crescend was and is by and large a necessity for Saudi Arbia.

It is the only thing to give their own Sunni sphere of influence (and its expansion through jihadi surrogates) legitimacy - it gains acceptance only as a result of the bogeyman it claims to reign in - Iran.

If it wasn't there, and the diversity of Shia players suggests serious doubt to begin with, one would have to invent it, to rephrase that adage.

If the people like the Israelis and their partisans were not so mindlessly unnerved (or pretend to be) about Iran (in which case they would unnerve others who believe them all the same) they would hardly accept Jihadi headchoppers merrily butchering about as a 'lesser evil'.

IMO the declared desire to 'roll back' the 'Shia Crescend' reflects a real, if not necessarily rational, fear of the Saudis and at the same time a ready rationalisation for Western consumption, that plays into themes familiar with the West, namely the Cold War.

The Saudis are rarely so open as in Prince Badar's remark to Sir Richard Dearlove as reported by Patrick Cockburn:

"The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia’. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them."

How could the genocidal aspiration be formulated clearer? As Bandar hinted, this is about Sunni and Shia, because that is how he, and how Saudi Arabia views the Middle East. The Gulfie motive is at its core religious, and about religious bias: To the Gulfies Iran is beyond the pale because it is a Shia state, something which they think must not exist on religious grounds and thus must be destroyed.

William R. Cumming

Well this may seem outrageous until you consider the source of arms and funding for the extremists. US tax deductions for charitable giving and US massive transfers indirectly of training and weapons.

Hey but Wall Street helped fund the rise of Nazi Germany.

William R. Cumming

P.L.! Fully agree that much of USA FP accidental not intentioinal but because so little disclosed in advance of that FP or reasons why that FP neither Congress or the interested public has much in the way of accurate info to go on IMO!

William R. Cumming

P.L.! Respectfully disagree. The goal of SA is survival and continued ability to have access to their wealth overseas and to escape the logic of their religion when applied to themselves.

William R. Cumming

Interesting comment IMO! Wishing one of the Presidential candidates would formally announce a la POPE URBAN a more formal CRUSADE! This would at least prompt debate even though the USA defines its RELIGIONS through TAX EXEMPTION and SCOTUS decisions.

Babak Makkinejad

You wrote:

"...Iran is beyond the pale because it is a Shia state, something which they think must not exist..."

This is the position of EU states as well, in my opinion.

William R. Cumming

Hey the US could pay for these assets and still save US lives and money!

William R. Cumming


Babak! Respectfully disagree. The IRAN/IRAQ WAR IMO about SECULARISM vis a vis RELIGION!

May well be wrong as always.

William R. Cumming

CP! IMO the trend towards MODERNISM and SECULARISM was diverted in 1979 in Iran. But that diversion generational IMO.

Patrick Bahzad

CP,

Thx for this ! Just a few comments and additional info.

It might have been interesting to look into who the leader of JaN, i.e. by extension of the "Army of Conquest" is. Abu Muhammad al-Julani, aka al-Joulani, aka al-Golani, is no other than a former associate of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi and Abubakr al-Baghdadi.

He is the man who was picked early on in the Syrian civil war to build-up an AQ franchise there. The reason he was picked was because he had remained a loyal follower of OBL and Zawahiri, who trusted him fully even though he was at that point fully affiliated with ISI. He broke with ISI/ISIS after Baghdadi had anounced his claims to being in charge of all operations in Iraq and Syria, at which point al-Golani renewed his allegiance to AQ.

In other words, the man interviewed by al-Jazeera is a known terrorist, involved in the killing of an unkwown (but probably quite large) number of US servicemen in Iraq and he is now being presented as the leader of an army that has no hostility towards the West in general, and the US in particular. I've seen the same kind of magic trick done in other places and I can only confirm that a similar scenario in Syria has disaster written all over it.

Regarding the likelihood of a take-over of Syria by these "moderate" Islamists, I don't think we're there yet ! If this was to materialize somehow, it will only happen through splitting-up the country, as i don't see the Allawis giving up their part of the country around Latakia. They still have strong defensive positions there and if they're freed from the "burden" of having to fight all over the place, they can hold their ground basically forever in that region, espcially with Russian and Iranian help.

As for the Druze, bear in mind the majority of Syrian Druze live in the South, on the border to Jordan, and not at all in Idlib province. In all likelihood, were the "Army of Conquest" to take-over Northern Syria, the Druze would be able to fall back into their area, the "Jabal ad Duruz", which is a mountain fortress that can be supplied with weapons and all sorts of goods and equipment by or from Jordan.

Regarding Lebanon, and given the unknown factors above, it's hard to say what would happen. Another Balkanisation wave is possible, but more likely fighting would be restricted to particular areas, although it could reach a very high intensity there (Tripoli, Beeka Valley, Beirut and some portions of Lebanese-Syrian border). Tripoli's Sunni groups in particular might be in a very tough spot, as they might get cut off from logistical supply routes.

Finally, I see one area that is not mentioned at all and that is in my view a prime target of both AQ and ISIS infiltration attempts at the moment: Gaza and East-Jerusalem.

confusedponderer

"it appears the split between al-Qaida and the upstart Caliphate in Syria has emerged"

I recall, JaN preyed and poached on other Islamist groups to get at their resources, suggesting that Jihadis are notoriously fracticidal.

That ISIS and JaN would compete (for recruits, financing, reputation, success etc) is thus very unsurprising. To a good extent they operate on the same turf and so fiction is probably inevitable.

That doesn't mean they differ much in releigious terms. Their disgreement is about priorities:

JaN is a task organisation which is, for now, focused on overthrowing Assad.

ISIS wants to build a Shia state in Iraq and Syria and thus has different priorities and objectives.

That should go a long way to explain the 'rift'. Having said that, despite the 'rift', for an Alawite, Christian or Druze there probably is no perceivable difference between getting captured by JaN or ISIS.

Babak Makkinejad

A fantasy, by definition, cannot be wrong.

confusedponderer

The motivation is different. IMO:

Europeans are afraid of Iran ever since the 'scary old Ayatollah'. In a sense they are scared of Iran because Iran IS RELIGIOUS and being secular they don't know how to handle it.

The Gulfies are hostile to Iran because Wahhabism commands as a religious duty hostility towards the unbeliever, i.e. Gulfies hate Iran because THEY ARE RELIGIOUS.

Babak Makkinejad

But EU hates Iran for the same reason - only the religion differs in case of Europe; it is Non-Religion.

Fred

WRC,

Where have you been the last decade? That securalism end of history viewpoint was a fundamental idea of the neoconservative policy in Iraq. How has that worked out?

confusedponderer

No, the difference is that the Gulfies hate Shia for what they are in their eyes - apostates - whereas European fears are about what Iranians did (seizing embassies, being scary etc.)

Arguably, while European fear is something that can be overcome, Gulfie hostlity isn't.

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