ISIS in Iraq and Syria, new book


This video from Britain is called Bush and Blair: The fatal attraction that killed 1m Iraqis. It says about itself:

10 June 2014

Written by Heathcote Williams. Voice and editing by Alan Cox.

By Kenny Coyle in Britain:

Book review: The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising

Monday 15th September 2014

Patrick Cockburn’s excellent book on the jihadis reveals the duplicity of the West in placating and arming the states that give them succour, says KENNY COYLE

Patrick Cockburn’s latest book is timely to say the least.

As the Western powers oversee a succession of seemingly endless bloody fiascos in the Middle East, Cockburn illuminates the intelligence illusions and diplomatic deceptions of Washington, London, Paris and Brussels that have shaped the murderous onslaught in Iraq and Syria by Islamist extremists seeking to establish a Sunni caliphate in the region.

He charts the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from a minuscule splinter group into a powerful military and political force.

Cockburn has made many visits to Syria during the recent conflict and he shows how the efforts to topple the Assad government in Damascus ran aground on the stubborn reality that the Syrian government, despite its political and economic failings, retained a bedrock of support across key communities and was never an exclusive “Alawite dictatorship” as many in the West believed.

As to Iraq, he derides the corruption and inefficiency of the Iraqi government and argues that its incompetence and greed fuelled Sunni animosity and alienation.

The West’s attempt to promote supposedly moderate forces such as the Free Syrian Army were derailed as these forces followed increasingly hardened sectarian positions and even so were still outgunned and outfunded by ever-more extreme Islamist groups.

The very term jihadi is controversial, since the Koran’s usage of the word jihad refers more often to peaceful and spiritual struggle than to violent conflict.

Yet key Western allies in the Gulf — Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — have been pushing fundamentalist Wahhabi theology at the expense of other strains of Islam for several decades. Its network of Gulf-funded mosques and madrassas has acted as an incubator for Wahhabi extremism globally.

But the US and Britain have continued to placate and arm these states in return for trade opportunities and access to military bases, while the latter’s hostility to Iran dovetails with Western foreign policy.

We can also ask why it is that these Islamist forces have spent such efforts and spilt so much blood in attacking independent and non-aligned Arab states such as Syria, while neighbouring Palestine continues to bleed.

One is left with no other conclusion than that the jihadist forces’ anti-zionism, often mixed with a poisonous anti-semitism, is largely rhetorical and kept within limits acceptable to their Gulf sponsors.

Cockburn brings an intellectual depth that is rare outside the preserve of academics and a refreshing detachment from the “embedded” journalists who inevitably become compromised by their integration into military formations.

Currently Middle East correspondent for the Independent, he is scathing about the willingness of many of his press corps colleagues to uncritically repeat atrocity propaganda but he is professionally discreet enough not to name names.

His late father, the legendary Claud Cockburn who wrote for the Daily Worker as Frank Pitcairn, famously suggested that the only way a diplomatic or foreign correspondent could do their job properly when faced with military misinformation and diplomatic misdirection was to continually ask the question: “Why are these bastards lying to me?”

It’s heartening to see that Patrick Cockburn has kept this sceptical legacy alive and his latest work is essential to make sense of the latest phases of the Middle East crises.

OR Books, £9

Britain: FOLLOWING the release of a video showing the killing of hostage David Haines by Islamic State militants, PM Cameron yesterday announced ‘five points’, for dealing with the situation: here.

Struggle against Assad and Iran more important to US-UK gangsters than defeating ISIS: here.

KERRY BUILDING UP ANTI-ISIS COALITION –Turkey has refused and the US rules out Syria and Iran: here.

The Obama administration is rapidly putting together a “coalition of the willing” to ramp up its new war of aggression in the Middle East. Using the pretext of “degrading and destroying” Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militias, Washington has revived its plans, put on hold last year, directed at ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and also aimed against Syria’s backers, Iran and Russia: here.

Britain and Iraq war re-start


This video from the USA says about itself:

Fox News: Iraq Chaos Proves Bush Right

16 June 2014

A Monday segment on Fox News asserted that President George W. Bush — who invaded Iraq under false pretenses, and then signed the agreement to withdraw all U.S. troops by 2012 — had been right all along because ISIS, an al Qaeda splinter group, was threatening to take over the country…

See also here.

By Richard Bagley in Britain:

Corbyn takes ministers to task over Islamic State

Saturday 13th September 2014

LABOUR leftwinger Jeremy Corbyn told ministers yesterday that Islamic State extremists “didn’t come out of nowhere” as war drums sounded during an emergency Commons debate.

The Islington North MP confronted junior minister David Lidlington a day after Downing St publicly slapped down Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond for suggesting there would be no British air strikes on Syria.

Mr Corbyn urged that Britain should not “automatically intervene everywhere and create the problems of tomorrow.”

But evasive Europe Minister Mr Lidlington, left in London to hold the fort for party “big guns” deployed to Scotland, pooh-poohed the idea that the rise of the brutal Islamic State (IS) is linked to the Iraq invasion and arms sales to the region.

And the minister parroted the Number 10 line that the government had not yet been “asked to take decisions about any possible military action.”

Warning bells repeatedly sounded as he evaded direct questioning in a session prompted by Tory John Baron, an ex-army captain who quit the front benches in 2003 over Iraq.

Mr Baron explained he had tabled an emergency question “given our past errors in our interventions — whether it’s going to war on a false premise in Iraq or the disastrous morphing of the Afghan mission into one of nation-building, or even Libya.”

With MPs now on a one-month break for party conference season, he said, “we must not allow Parliament to be presented with a fait accompli on our return.”

But Mr Lidlington did nothing to calm fears that Number 10 could be poised to act without MPs’ consent and sign up to bombing raids on Syria, where Britain has already spent £600 million to support rebel forces.

The scope of British involvement will become clearer next week after a Paris summit on Monday where “a detailed consideration of the part which countries can play” would take place.

“While wanting to put the matter to Parliament as rapidly as possible, it does need to have freedom to act in case of an urgent threat to the security of the UK or in case of impending human disaster,” he added.

‘Islamic State’ is a slur on our faith, say leading Muslims. Imams call on David Cameron and others to stop using phrase which they say gives credibility to a terrorist organisation: here.

The Iraqi army has killed scores of civilians by dropping illegal bombs on residential areas in its fight against the Islamic State (Isis): here.

Iraq, Syria United States military escalation


This video from England is called 15th February 2003: Stop the Iraq War, London.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Obama turns to air strikes against Isis

Friday 12th September 2014

President adopts bloody policy but ‘no boots on the ground’

It took us President Barack Obama just one TV speech to reverse the supposed central tenets of his presidency on Wednesday night.

He rose to political prominence in part because of early opposition to the Iraq war and he shied away from air strikes on Syria last year.

But now Mr Obama has picked up the war drum and beaten it resoundingly, authorising strikes in Syria for the first time in a military campaign against the Islamic State (Isis) terrorist group.

Bombing Syria with the armed opposition in Syria as allies, will help Isis. As that armed opposition consists of, apart from Isis itself, the Al Nusra Front, being the official Al Qaeda branch in Syria; and disparate supposedly ‘moderate’ groups, loosely referred to as ‘Free Syrian Army’. I write supposedly ‘moderate’ as, eg, the family of journalist Steven Sotloff, recently beheaded by Isis, accuses these ‘moderates’ of selling Steven Sotloff to Isis.

The president claimed that while there was no evidence Isis was plotting to strike the US, “if left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond the region, including to the US.”

More US troops will be sent to assist Iraqi security forces and conduct intelligence flights, bringing the total dispatched to more than 1,500.

“We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” Mr Obama said.

“I will not hesitate to take action against Isis in Syria, as well as Iraq.” And he warned: “This is a core principle of my presidency. If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

But the military would not be dragged into a ground war, Mr Obama claimed.

“American forces will not have a combat mission,” he said, and the campaign “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”

US senators seized on the president’s apparent confusion. “No boots on the ground sounds odd when 1,100 US troops have been sent back to Iraq,” commented Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both of whom are members of the Senate armed services committee.

“Additional US special forces and advisers are needed to direct precision air strikes, advise foreign partners on the ground and possibly conduct targeted operations against the Isis leadership.”

However, not all Senate views were so hawkish.

Democratic senator Mark Udall, also a member of the services committee, said: “The American people must be assured we are not pursuing another open-ended conflict in the Middle East and I will not give this or any other president a blank cheque to begin another land war in Iraq.”

Also from the Morning Star:

Bombing Isis will not work

Friday 12th September 2014

President Obama may think his Middle East strategy has gone from non-existent to coherent in just a few days, but he would be sorely mistaken.

His gung-ho message to the American people on Wednesday night was more belligerent bluster than strategic common sense.

He vows to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the throat-cutting terrorists of Isis by extending the month-long US bombing campaign in Iraq and launching air strikes in Syria for the first time.

Yet the notion that the US can bomb its way to a solution to every perceived problem has already been utterly discredited by the bloody chaos engulfing Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya in recent years.

Ah yes, the US Commander in Chief tells us, but this next military intervention will be different. The US will spearhead a coalition of European and Middle East forces without putting in any US ground troops.

Except that we’ve seen such ‘coalitions of the willing’ before. They invariably turn out to be a fig-leaf for US-directed operations which primarily serve US geopolitical and big business interests.

There is also something deeply incongruous about some of the allies being courted by the White House and the Pentagon.

The royal dictators in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait have done little or nothing to stop their compatriots arming and bankrolling the very Islamic fundamentalists who went to fight in Syria and have now ended up in Isis.

Nato member Turkey allowed these and other foreign jihadists to stream through that country and into Syria in order to try to overthrow the authoritarian but secular regime of President Bashar al Assad in Damascus.

Moreover, it appears that the Turkish “open borders” policy which did so much to strengthen Isis still operates.

Why, in their frenzy, was this issue not raised publicly at last week’s Nato summit by the participants and their media camp followers?

Belatedly, the realisation is now dawning among some politicians and military chiefs that the drive by the US and its allies — each for their own reasons — to subvert Syria was a huge mistake.

The struggle to defeat Isis needs the support of all secular, democratic, left and progressive forces in the region. Violating Syrian sovereignty with unauthorised US air strikes will make that support all the more unlikely.

As for Obama’s assurances of no US army boots on the ground, the trainers and advisers are already being sent in alongside those US and British “special forces” almost certainly in Iraq already.

The body bags will still fill up, even though some may be kept as secret as when the British SAS was hired out to shore up the dictatorship in the rotten Gulf state of Oman.

And nothing will add more lustre to bogus IS claims that it represents Muslims in a holy war against Western imperialism than the direct involvement of US and Nato forces in Iraq and Syria.

That’s why it’s vital to construct an anti-Isis coalition in which the governments of Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Iran, Syria, Syrian Kurdistan and Lebanon co-ordinate a fight against Isis in the name of equality and respect for all religious, ethnic and national groups in the region.

That would deserve support from the wider world, legitimised by the United Nations and best channelled through its agencies.

TEN Arab countries promised US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday to “do their share” in the fight against Islamic State (Isis) militants, but Nato member Turkey refused to join in: here.

Obama’s speech on ISIS: Perpetual war in Iraq, Syria and beyond: here. See also here.

VENEZUELAN president Nicolas Maduro became the spokesman for the world’s progressive voices on Thursday when he laid into US president Barack Obama’s announcement that he would authorise attacks on the Islamic State (Isis) group inside Syria. The outspoken president accurately blamed Washington’s support of President Bashar al-Assad’s foes for the emergence of the terror group: here.

Re-starting Iraq war will make things worse


This video is called 15 February 2003: The day the world said no to war [in Iraq].

By Sami Ramadani from Iraq, in British daily The Guardian:

The last thing Iraq needs is more misguided military action by the west

Past interventions helped create Isis and al-Qaida. Have Britain and the US not learned the lessons?

Thursday 11 September 2014 19.15 BST

In announcing his new strategy to tackle the terrorist insurgency in Iraq, President Obama has put the US on a dangerous collision course with Syria, the Lebanese resistance led by Hezbollah, and the biggest obstacle to US and Israeli regional hegemony: Iran.

The so-called war on Isis (Islamic State) is, in reality, the same war that the US and Britain abandoned last year due to public opposition, the anti-war vote in Britain’s parliament, and the determination of Iran and Russia to back Syria. But the savagery of Isis and the beheading of two American hostages have dampened public opposition to further military intervention in the region, and has boosted hawks in Washington and London.

A few days before Obama’s war-on-Isis speech, the former secretary of state Henry Kissinger revealed the US roadmap in much clearer terms than Obama could, stating that despite Isis occupying large parts of Iraq and Syria, the biggest danger to US interests is still Iran; Isis is vile but containable, but Iran is the really dangerous power, he stressed. This also chimes with Israel’s policies, as described by its recently departed ambassador to Washington that Iran-backed forces are more dangerous than al-Qaida. “The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut,” he said.

Broader still, Obama’s war will inevitably heighten tensions with Russia, China and their allies. If we include the confrontation lines being drawn by Nato along Russia’s borders, and US escalation of its military presence in the South China Sea, the evolving new cold war could rapidly degenerate into the greatest threat to world peace since 1939.

Following David Cameron’s agreement with Obama last week over a campaign against Isis, attention is now focusing on whether Britain should join in the airstrikes. But beyond hitching a ride on the US military juggernaut, has Cameron seriously considered the consequences of new war in Iraq and Syria? The policies of US, Britain and Nato helped to create Isis and al-Qaida in the first place. Doing more of the same could have similar consequences and cost thousands more lives.

And when the US, Britain and France decided in 2011 to back the armed groups in Syria, their goal was to bring about regime change – but the result was to strengthen the more brutal terrorist groups such as Isis and the al-Nusra Front, the “official” al-Qaida affiliate in Syria. For three years US allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia supplied billions of dollars to fund armed groups in Syria, while Nato member Turkey opened its borders for US and Nato supplies, as well as terrorists from across the world, to pour into Syria.

Have Obama and Cameron acknowledged any of that? On the contrary. The US and Britain have now decided to give even more arms and backing to Syrian “moderate” armed groups, who were the allies of Isis until recently and are still the allies of al-Nusra.

In Iraq the US and Britain created state institutions to entrench sectarian divisions with the aim of implementing the so-called Joe Biden plan to divide Iraq into three ethnic regions with, importantly, a very weak central government.

The US is now consolidating its military presence in Iraqi Kurdistan with the aim of creating yet another client force in the region. The president of the Kurdistan regional government, Masoud Barzani, is in fact harbouring former Saddam Hussein officers and allies of Isis who played a leading role in the fall of Mosul and the disintegration of three divisions of the US-founded Iraqi army, in the face of the Isis advance.

The real enemies of Isis and terror groups in the region are Syria, Iran, the Iraqi Christians, Yazidis, and Shia, Sunni, Kurdish and Turkmen people. If the US and Britain really want to fight Isis and terrorism – rather than using the Isis savagery to further their strategic aims of dominating the region and its resources – then they should reverse the policies they have been pursuing for decades. They should stop backing the armed groups in Syria and Iraq, and instruct their obedient allies in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to do the same.

Britain: SPEAKING in a House of Commons debate on Wednesday, former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke described the US-UK Iraq invasion as ‘disastrous’ and a ‘catastrophe’, which has contributed to the ‘anarchy’ in the region today. Clarke warned British Prime Minister David Cameron against launching airstrikes against ISIL and its Islamic State, IS, saying there would be ‘political outrage’ with ‘very dubious legality’ to take military action without a vote in the House of Commons: here.

ISIS terrorism, Bush’s and Blair’s legacy


This video from England says about itself:

16 June 2014

[Conservative] London mayor Boris Johnson tells Saint Tony Blair of New Labour to shut up about the current Iraq fighting mess, as it was his illegal war that started the problems.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Iraq war led to Isis mess, [First Minister of Scotland] Salmond claims

Friday 5th September 2014

THE ongoing situation in Iraq is an “inescapable consequence” of US and British military intervention

Islamic State militants have killed two US journalists and are threatening the life of a British hostage.

Mr Salmond said he was not apportioning individual responsibility in terms of the hostage situation, but was commenting on the “generality of the consequences” of the 2003 war and occupation.

Speaking to ITV Border, Mr Salmond said: “On the more general point, I believe the tragedy we are seeing unfold every night on our television screens is the inescapable consequence of the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“We have allowed that country to become a hotbed of sectarianism, of fanaticism, of violence, of murder and of terrorism.

“But even more culpability lies in the fact that they did not prepare for the aftermath of the invasion and they have allowed to happen to that country, and to the rest of us, this absolute appalling nightmare that is unfolding day after day on our television screens.”

His comments come after Prime Minister David Cameron said he will not rule out air strikes against the so-called Islamic State.