The Islamic State (Isis) is without question a very brutal extremist group with origins in the insurgency of the United States occupation of Iraq. It has rapidly ascended to global attention by taking control of swaths of territory in western and northern Iraq, including Mosul and other major cities.
Based on my experience as an all-source analyst in Iraq during the organization’s relative infancy, Isis cannot be defeated by bombs and bullets – even as the fight is taken to Syria, even if it is conducted by non-Western forces with air support.
I believe that Isis is fueled precisely by the operational and tactical successes of European and American military force that would be – and have been – used to defeat them. I believe that Isis strategically feeds off the mistakes and vulnerabilities of the very democratic western states they decry. The Islamic State’s center of gravity is, in many ways, the United States, the United Kingdom and those aligned with them in the region.
When it comes to regional insurgency with global implications, Isis leaders are canny strategists. It’s clear to me that they have a solid and complete understanding of the strengths and, more importantly, the weaknesses of the west. They know how we tick in America and Europe – and they know what pushes us toward intervention and overreach. This understanding is particularly clear considering the Islamic State’s astonishing success in recruiting numbers of Americans, Britons, Belgians, Danes and other Europeans in their call to arms.
Attacking Isis directly, by air strikes or special operations forces, is a very tempting option available to policymakers, with immediate (but not always good) results. Unfortunately, when the west fights fire with fire, we feed into a cycle of outrage, recruitment, organizing and even more fighting that goes back decades. This is exactly what happened in Iraq during the height of a civil war in 2006 and 2007, and it can only be expected to occur again.
And avoiding direct action with Isis can be successful. For instance, in 2009 and 2010, forerunners to the Isis group attacked civilians in suicide and car bombings in downtown Baghdad to try and provoke American intervention and sectarian unrest. But they were often not effective in their recruiting efforts when American and Iraqi forces refused (or were unable) to respond, because the barbarity and brutality of their attacks worked against them. When we did respond, however, the attacks were sold to the Sunni minority in Iraq as a justified response to an occupying government favoring the Shia government led by former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Based on my intelligence work in Iraq during that period, I believe that only a very focused and consistent strategy of containment can be effective in reducing the growth and effectiveness of Isis as a threat. And so far, Western states seem to have adopted that strategy. With very public humanitarian disasters, however, like the ones on Mount Sinjar and Irbil in northern Iraq, and the beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, this discipline gets tested and can begin to fray.
As a strategy to disrupt the growth of Isis, I suggest focusing on four arenas:
- Counter the narrative in online Isis recruitment videos – including professionally made videos and amateur battle selfies – to avoid, as best as possible, the deliberate propaganda targeting of desperate and disaffected youth. This would rapidly prevent the recruitment of regional and western members.
- Set clear, temporary borders in the region, publicly. This would discourage Isis from taking certain territory where humanitarian crises might be created, or humanitarian efforts impeded.
- Establish an international moratorium on the payment of ransom for hostages, and work in the region to prevent Isis from stealing and taxing historical artifacts and valuable treasures as sources of income, and especially from taking over the oil reserves and refineries in Bayji, Iraq. This would disrupt and prevent Isis from maintaining stable and reliable sources of income.
- Let Isis succeed in setting up a failed “state” – in a contained area and over a long enough period of time to prove itself unpopular and unable to govern. This might begin to discredit the leadership and ideology of Isis for good.
Eventually, if they are properly contained, I believe that Isis will not be able to sustain itself on rapid growth alone, and will begin to fracture internally. The organization will begin to disintegrate into several smaller, uncoordinated entities – ultimately failing in their objective of creating a strong state.But the world just needs to be disciplined enough to let the Isis fire die out on its own, intervening carefully and avoiding the cyclic trap of “mission creep”. This is certainly a lot to ask for. But Isis is wielding a sharp, heavy and very deadly double-edged sword. Now just wait for them to fall on it.
In a Tuesday statement, the Popular Committee for Lifting the Siege on the Gaza Strip described the situation as “catastrophic.”
Israel’s years-long blockade and recent military onslaught has led to a catastrophic situation in the Gaza Strip, raising poverty rates in the embattled enclave to a whopping 90 percent, a Palestinian NGO has said.
In a Tuesday statement, the Popular Committee for Lifting the Siege on the Gaza Strip described the situation as “catastrophic.”
According to the NGO, thousands of homes were destroyed during Israel’s 51-day assault in July and August, while thousands of Gazans now live in shelters without basic amenities following the collapse of essential services such as electricity and water.
The committee has called for allowing construction materials – and other necessities – into the blockaded strip.
It noted that building supplies were badly needed for the strip’s reconstruction so that Palestinians might immediately rebuild homes destroyed or damaged by the recent offensive, which ended on August 26 with the announcement of an open-ended cease-fire.
Israel has banned the entry of construction materials and other necessities into the Gaza Strip since Palestinian resistance faction Hamas swept Palestinian legislative elections in 2006.
The following year, the self-proclaimed Jewish state imposed an all-out blockade – by air, land and sea – on the coastal territory, playing havoc with the lives of the strip’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants.
More than 2,150 Palestinians were killed – and more than 11,000 injured – during Israel’s recent war on the Gaza Strip.
Israeli attacks also totally destroyed 9,000 Gaza homes, while 8,000 others were partially destroyed, according to the Palestinian Housing Ministry.
Palestinian and Israeli negotiators signed a temporary cease-fire deal in Cairo on August 26. Both sides will soon return to the Egyptian capital to hammer out a permanent truce agreement.
Ali Abunimah on Gaza conflict | BBC World 11/07/14
With the war in Gaza still raging, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum offered an unusual prayer for peace last month during a Friday night service at the large predominantly gay synagogue she leads in New York. Cautioning her flock not to “harden our hearts” against any who had suffered, she wove throughout the prayer the names of young Israeli soldiers — as well as Palestinian children — who were killed in Gaza.
The reaction was swift: A member of the board posted his resignation letter on Facebook, accusing Rabbi Kleinbaum of spreading propaganda for the militant Palestinian group Hamas, and three more congregants soon left.
From the other direction, Rabbi Ron Aigen heard criticism at his synagogue in Montreal this month after he gave a sermon asserting that in the recent battle, Israel had endeavored to live up to the highest standards of Jewish teaching on ethical and just war. He said that he received a letter from a member who had not heard the sermon, but announced that she was quitting because there was no room to express criticism of Israel in the synagogue, which is Reconstructionist and one of the most liberal in Montreal.
Forty-seven years after Israel’s victory in the 1967 Middle East war — celebrated by Jews worldwide — Israel’s occupation of Arab lands won in battle and its standoff with the Palestinians have become so divisive that many rabbis say it is impossible to have a civil conversation about Israel in their synagogues. Debate among Jews about Israel is nothing new, but some say the friction is now fire. Rabbis said in interviews that it may be too hot to touch, and many are anguishing over what to say about Israel in their sermons during the High Holy Days, which begin Wednesday evening.
Particularly in the large cohort of rabbis who consider themselves liberals and believers in a “two-state solution,” some said they are now hesitant to speak much about Israel at all. If they defend Israel, they risk alienating younger Jews who, rabbis say they have observed, are more detached from the Jewish state and organized Judaism. If they say anything critical of Israel, they risk angering the older, more conservative members who often are the larger donors and active volunteers.
The recent bloody outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip may have done little to change the military or political status quo there, but rabbis in the North American diaspora say the summertime war brought into focus how the ground under them has shifted.
“It used to be that Israel was always the uniting factor in the Jewish world,” said Rabbi Aigen, who has served Congregation Dorshei Emet in Montreal for 39 years. “But it’s become contentious and sadly, I think it is driving people away from the organized Jewish community. Even trying to be centrist and balanced and present two sides of the issue, it is fraught with danger.”
Israel is still, without a doubt, the spiritual center and the fondest cause of global Jewry. Many rabbis said that Hamas’s summer assaults on Israel, by rocket fire and underground tunnels, the anti-Semitism that erupted around the world and the rise of the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State in neighboring Syria left them feeling more aware of Israel’s vulnerability and more protective of it than ever.
“There’s just been a tremendous outpouring of support, a sense of real connection and identification with our brothers and sisters in Israel,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, which represents the Conservative movement, summing up what she heard during a recent “webinar” for rabbis preparing for the High Holy Days.
But many rabbis said in interviews conducted in recent weeks that, though they love and support Israel, they feel conflicted about its direction. These are rabbis in the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements — not the Orthodox, who make up about 10 percent of American Jews and tend to lean right on Israel. Some are rabbis who believe that the expansion of settlements in the West Bank is undermining the possibility for Palestinians to have a state of their own. They believe Israel must defend itself, but they questioned the Israeli bomb strikes in Gaza that killed so many women and children. Now, they said, they are more reluctant than ever to be open with their congregants about their views.
“There is the sense that the ability to criticize Israel has been diminished because of the war, because of the atrocities that Hamas perpetrates among its own people, and because Israel needs our support since the international community is so overwhelmingly anti-Israel,” said Rabbi Jonathan A. Stein, a recently retired senior rabbi at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Manhattan.
“The easy sermon for a rabbi to give this year will be on the rise of anti-Semitism across the world. That is a softball,” said Rabbi Stein, who is also the immediate past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which represents the Reform movement. “The more difficult sermon to give will be one that has any kind of critical posture.”
His sentiments were echoed by others who did not want to be identified because they felt they would risk their jobs. In a recent effort to quantify the phenomenon, one-third of 552 rabbis who responded to a questionnaire put out last year by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs said they were reluctant to express their true views on Israel. (Most who responded were not Orthodox.) The “doves” were far more likely to say they were fearful of speaking their minds than the “hawks.”
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinical Call for Human Rights, a liberal group with 1,800 member rabbis, said: “Rabbis are just really scared because they get slammed by their right-wing congregants, who are often the ones with the purse strings. They are not necessarily the numerical majority, but they are the loudest.”
One Midwestern rabbi in the Conservative movement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is raising money from Jewish donors, said he was rejected for a position at a temple after he told the board that “there’s not just one Jewish point of view” on Israel. Another rabbi’s board put a note in her file saying she cannot speak about Israel.
After she read the names of children killed in Gaza, Rabbi Kleinbaum found herself vilified on social media. But she retained the backing of her board at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the largest gay synagogue in the country, and some new members joined, she said. Her message, she said in an interview, is not so controversial. “If we as Jews don’t feel the pain for the loss of life of children,” she said, “we’re losing a piece of our soul.”
There is more space to be critical of Israel in Israel than in North America, said Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, a former president of the Union for Reform Judaism, who wrote an article for the current issue of Reform Judaism magazine on rabbis who feel “muzzled.” He said in an interview, “There are a range of opinions in Israel, and there should be a range of opinions here.”
Rabbi Yoffie suggested that synagogues draw a “red line” excluding those who support boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Few rabbis who publicly support the “B.D.S.” movement lead congregations. Rabbi Brant Rosen, one of the few, announced to his congregants in a mournful letter this month that in the coming months he will step down from leadership at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Ill., after 17 years because “my activism has become a lightning rod for division.”
Rabbi Rosen said in an interview: “For many Jews, Israel is their Judaism, or at least a big part of it. So when someone challenges the centrality of Israel in a public way, it’s very painful and very difficult, especially when that person is their rabbi.”
Last year, the Board of Rabbis of Southern California of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles tried and failed to organize an event exploring how to have a dialogue about Israel, in part because of logistics and in part because it was just too contentious, said Jonathan Freund, vice president of the board.
“It was kind of ironic,” Mr. Freund said, “because we couldn’t in the end figure out how to talk about how to talk about it.”
The Western powers that fostered Islamic extremists to incite them against Middle Eastern regimes should stop dividing terrorists into good and bad, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said in a TV interview.
In an interview to Channel 5 in St. Petersburg, Lavrov said:“Now that the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant has been appointed United States’ archenemy, I’d like to recall that [ISIS militants] are the very same people that evolved and got powerful sponsorship and material support from abroad at the time of the regime change efforts in Libya and later on when the same process was attempted in Syria.”
The Russian foreign minister recalled the no-holds-barred time when Americans and Europeans were justifying their help to Islamic fundamentalists as providing support to those opposing unpopular regimes.
“When we called their attention to the fact that there were a large number of terrorists and extremists fighting the regimes, [the Americans and Europeans] essentially told us that all such things would pass once they overthrew the regimes, and that they would deal with this later on,” Lavrov said. “But all this turned out to be wrong.”
In another example, Lavrov said that France had armed the militants fighting against Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, yet some time later faced the same people in Mali, where French troops had to oppose Islamic fundamentalists who migrated there from a ravaged Libya after Gaddafi’s fall.
“We need a general criterion: if we do fight terrorism – we do it everywhere and always. You cannot divide terrorists into good and bad, only because some of them help you to oust a legitimately elected leader of a UN member country that you don’t like,” Lavrov said.
Washington insists that it is the “bad” terrorists that are being killed by the Americans, Lavrov said, adding that Americans became agitated only after “the disgusting video of American journalists being executed was broadcasted.”
“This is unacceptable and inhumane, and such people should be battled tooth and nail, but why didn’t the Americans see the threat before that happened?” he said.
“That’s because they are used to fighting terrorism using double standards, and they never listened to us when we proposed to unite our efforts and help the Syrian government and the moderate, patriotic Syrian opposition to form a united front against terrorists swarming all over the Syrian Arab Republic – they never listened to us,” Lavrov said.
Now that the US is cobbling together an anti-terrorist coalition, Moscow has no intention of joining it, Lavrov said.
“There’s nothing that we feel ashamed of as we do help Iraq, Syria and other countries in the Arab world to strengthen their potential to fight this [terrorist] evil,” Lavrov said, adding that Russia has been sending weapons to governments in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Yemen – countries that are suffering from terrorism – and thus boosting their capability to oppose terrorists.
But Lavrov welcomed the desire of western states, with their remarkable potential, to help the legitimate Iraqi government to fight terrorism.
“It’s better late than never,” the Russian FM said, stressing that if the west intends to fight terrorism in other countries, more specifically Syria, it should get the sanction of the legitimate Syrian government for such actions.
“The Syrian government has repeatedly proclaimed its readiness to cooperate with foreign partners to eliminate terrorism on their territory,” Lavrov said.
Israel Indicted for War Crimes, Cops Caught on Tape & the Media’s Terror Mission w/ Lionel
Abby Martin Breaks the Set on Eric Holder’s Resignation, the 69th UNGA, Impunity for Israeli War Crimes, More Police Abuse Stories, and Hollow Terror Threats for NYC.
Presenters on US cable channel Fox News cracked a series of sexist jokes after reporting that a female pilot from the UAE had taken part in a bombing mission of Isis targets in Syria, describing her as “boobs on the ground”.
One presenter, Kimberly Guilfoyle, tried to pay tribute to Major Mariam al-Mansouri, 35, one of four UAE fighter pilots to take part in the operation. “Hey, Isis, you were bombed by a woman,” she said. “Very exciting, a woman doing this … I hope that hurt extra bad because in some Arab countries women can’t even drive.”
She continued: “Major Mariam al-Mansouri is who did this. Remarkable, very excited. I wish it was an American pilot. I’ll take a woman doing this any day to them.”
But after the segment, co-host Greg Gutfeld interrupted Guilfoyle, mocking the pilot. “The problem is after she bombed it she couldn’t park it,” he said. Another presenter, Eric Bolling, joined in, asking: “Would that be considered boobs on the ground or no?” The conversation between panellists, which was broadcast on Wednesday, was part of discussion show The Five on Fox News.
Embarrassed, Guilfoyle hung her head, saying: “Oh my gosh, why did they ruin my thing?” Another voice was heard afterwards saying: “Did you just say what I thought you said?”
Mansouri, who is from Abu Dhabi, graduated from the UAE air force academy in 2008 after becoming one of the first women to join after it scrapped its ban on women.
Speaking to the National of UAE, she said: “It was my aspiration. Ever since I finished high school, I wanted to learn flying because it was something that I liked in the first place.
“A woman’s passion about something will lead her to achieving what she aspires and that’s why she should pursue her interests.”
Mansouri told CNN this summer: “I put my mind to being a fighter pilot. But at that time, the doors were not open for females to be pilots, so I had to wait almost 10 years.
“Whenever a woman enters a new male-dominated field, they find the same hesitation, the same prejudice, the same stereotype thinking.
“And I had to prove myself by just being determined and having that skill and the knowledge enough to prove that I can perform as skilfully as the men in this field.”
In Case You Missed It: Meet Ronald Ritchie, The White Man Who Lied About African-American Man John Crawford In A Walmart 911 Call, That Led To Police Murdering Crawford, Who Was Holding A BB Gun Which Was Pointed To The Ground & Then Sat On The Ground, & See How Twisted This Entire Case Is: An Explainer On The Murder of John Crawford
Sunday September 7th’s Guardian story on the Beavercreek, Ohio police murder killing of 22-year-old Wal-Mart shopper John Crawford, on August 5th, brings to light new facts about the case which should make any reader’s blood curdle.
Here’s the excerpt of the opening of the story…
Doubts cast on witness’s account of black man killed by police in Walmart
Alleged to have threatened customers, John Crawford, 22, was having a phone conversation while holding an unloaded BB gun
Jon Swaine in New York
Sunday 7 September 2014 10.37 EDT
When Ronald Ritchie called 911 from the aisles of a Walmart in western Ohio last month to report that a black man was “walking around with a gun in the store”, he said that shoppers were coming under direct threat.
“He’s, like, pointing it at people,” Ritchie told the dispatcher. Later that evening, after John Crawford III had been shot dead by one of the police officers who hurried to the scene in Beavercreek, Ritchie repeated to reporters: “He was pointing at people. Children walking by.”
One month later, Ritchie puts it differently. “At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody,” the 24-year-old said, in an interview with the Guardian. He maintained that Crawford was “waving it around”, which attorneys for Crawford’s family deny.
Ritchie told several reporters after the 5 August shooting that he was an “ex-marine”. When confronted with his seven-week service record, however, he confirmed that he had been quickly thrown out of the US marine corps in 2008 after being declared a “fraudulent enlistment”, over what he maintains was simply a mixup over his paperwork….
And, here are just a few of the additional/primary pieces of information about the case covered later on in the story…
• After everything was said and done, “Crawford, 22, turned out to be holding an unloaded BB air rifle that he had picked up from a store shelf. After Ritchie said Crawford appeared to be ‘trying to load’ the gun, the 911 dispatcher relayed to an officer that it was believed the gunman ‘just put some bullets inside’…”
• Crawfords’ attorneys informed the Guardian that autopsy findings concluded Crawford was shot “in the back of his left arm and in his left side, supporting their claim that he was turned away from the police officer who shot him.”
• Crawford’s family has “pleaded” with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to release the store’s surveillance video of the shooting to the public. For all intents and purposes, it fullyundermines statements made by 911 caller Ronald Richie, who, according to the story, made the only call to the police about “the incident.” And, while DeWine is quoted stating that releasing the tape to the public “would be ‘playing with dynamite,’” someone from DeWine’s office let Ritchie review the recording (apparently, to get his fabulist story “straight”)!
• Crawford’s father notes this about the video in the article: “‘It was an execution, no doubt about it,’ alleged Crawford’s father, John Crawford II. ‘It was flat-out murder. And when you see the footage, it will illustrate that.’”
• The Crawfords’ attorneys have requested that “the department of justice…open a civil rights investigation into the Ohio incident, only the second fatal police shooting in Beavercreek’s history.”
• Aside from the reported facts dictating the greater truth that Crawford was focused upon his phone call—pretty much totally unaware that the police were approaching him with their guns drawn—it would appear that it wasn’t until after he was shot that he realized they were even speaking to him and telling him to put his gun down.
• Perhaps the most ominous new fact—and there are many, so you’ll have to read the article in its entirety to understand how truly twisted this case is—reported in this Guardian story is the following excerpt. It’s……only the second fatal police shooting in Beavercreek’s history. A white officer has been placed on administrative leave following Crawford’s shooting…
…Beavercreek police and the attorney general’s office have declined to name the officer who shot Crawford. However, after Sergeant David Darkow and Officer Sean Williams were placed on leave following the incident, Darkow has returned to work but Williams has not.
Williams was the officer behind the only other fatal police shooting in Beavercreek. In 2010, he shot dead Scott Brogli, a retired master sergeant in the US air force. According to Williams and a colleague, Brogli charged at them with a large knife after they went to investigate the 45-year-old’s drunken beating of his wife. A grand jury declined to bring any charges…
(Bold type is diarist’s emphasis)
The story concludes by informing readers that a Greene County grand jury “is scheduled to begin hearing evidence on 22 September.”
# # #
SIGN THE CHANGE.ORG PETITION TO DEMAND A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION OF THE BEAVERCREEK, OHIO POLICE KILLING OF JOHN CRAWFORD III AND TO INSIST THAT ATTORNEY GENERAL MIKE DEWINE RELEASE THE VIDEOTAPE OF THIS SHOOTING NOW!
CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION.
UPDATE (7:43 PM 9/24/2014): The grand jury has failed to indict the officers involved in John Crawford’s murder. They have also released the surveillance video of the shooting [TW: Violent Content]
UPDATE (7:46 PM 9/24/2014): The Department of Justice has announced that it is opening a federal investigation of the murder of John Crawford.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that he is turning the investigative files over to the U.S. Department of Justice for a civil rights review. The federal government has been monitoring the case and agreed to a review.
"The Civil Rights Division, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the FBI will conduct a thorough and independent review of the evidence and take appropriate action if the evidence indicates a prosecutable violation of federal criminal civil rights statutes," said Jennifer Thornton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. [Cincinnati Enquirer]
UPDATE (7:53 PM 9/24/2014): More information about the officers who shot John Crawford has been released.
Officer Sean Williams (left) and Sgt. David Darkow (right) were already on the scene, according to a statement released by Beavercreek Police on Aug. 6. They moved to the pet section, at the back of the store, where they confronted Crawford “holding a rifle,” the statement said.
“Officers gave verbal commands to the subject to drop the weapon,” the statement said. After he failed to comply with officers’ commands, police said, he was shot. [NBC News]
This post will be updated when new updates are available.
Source: Bob Swern for Daily Kos
Humanizing Palestine: Remembering Palestinians Killed During The Latest Israel/Palestine Conflict
Issa Salam Al-Qatry, 22-Year-Old Soon-To-Be Newlywed Killed By Israeli Occupation Forces In The Refugee Camp He Lived
Issa Salam Al Qatry, 22 years old, was killed on Wednesday, September 10, 2014, by the Israeli Occupation Forces when they entered and attacked Al-Ama’ari refugee camp where Issa lived. His wedding was set to be during the following week. He postponed his wedding twice, first for the massacres in Gaza and once again because his cousin was martyred.
Source: Middle East Eye
Source: Humanize Palestine
Shocking aftermath of Israeli airstrike on Gaza strip
An air strike outside a family home in Gazahas pushed the Palestinian death toll past one hundred in four days of cross-border fighting.
Medical officers say at least 75 civilians including 23 children were among 115 people killed in aerial bombardemnts that Israel began on Tuesday.
The Israeli air strike also killed 5 youths and wounded 15 other people outside a family home in the northern Gaza strip earlier today.
Their bodies were taken to Gaza city where buildings were also damaged in overnight strikes.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has urged the UN Security Council to order an immediate truce.
— Abi bin Abi Taleb (599—661 A.D.)
- Do not forget Michael Brown
- Do not forget how the media dehumanized him and tried to justify his murder
- Do not forget how peaceful protests were painted as savage riots
- Do not forget police armed with military grade weapons terrorized and arrested black civilians
- Do not forget Darren Wilson being awarded over $200,000 in fundraiser donations for murdering an unarmed black child
- Do not forget that this system was not built to defend us, but to control us
- Do not forget Ferguson