Monday, September 29


Last summer, Tariq Khdeir, a 15-year-old American citizen from Baltimore, accompanied his parents to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat for a six-week visit with relatives. The first friend Tariq made when he arrived was his cousin, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, whom Tariq had not seen since he was four years old. “We had so much fun,” Tariq told a gathering at the national conference of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation in San Diego on Sept. 19, 2014.

One night while he was in Jerusalem, Tariq saw some police with Muhammad. Tariq thought they had kidnapped Muhammad. Tariq wondered, “Is he gonna come back? Is he gonna come back alive”? But Muhammad did not come back alive. In retaliation for the deaths of three Israeli teenagers, Muhammad was beaten and burnt alive by three Jewish extremists. After Muhammad’s murder, people took to the streets in protest. Israeli Defense Force soldiers began firing rubber bullets at them. Incredulous, Tariq thought, “Is this really happening in front of me”? Then Israeli soldiers began to run after Tariq. Panicked, Tariq ran.

“There was a 10-foot drop in front of me. Everyone jumped, but they tackled me, zip-tied me, and punched me in the face,” Tariq said. “I was like a punching bag until I became unconscious.” The image of Tariq’s badly swollen, deformed face appeared on media reports throughout the world last July. When Tariq awoke, his face felt “like a bubble, it hurt so much.” He wondered, “Are they gonna kill me”? After six hours in jail, Tariq was finally taken to the hospital. His father and his uncle told him he might come home or go to jail. Tariq thought, “How could I go to jail? They beat me up.” Tariq told the group, “I’m just a kid.”

Tariq was taken back to jail after he left the hospital. He had to remove the hospital gown and put on his bloody clothes. There were nine people in a tiny cell; it was impossible to sit down. Two days later, Tariq was released. He thought, “I’m finally going home.” But he was placed on house arrest. No charges were ever filed against him. “That’s what they do to all the Palestinians,” Tariq said. “They took my cousins, and they’re still in jail, because they’re not American and they didn’t have a video that showed the brutality of the Israelis,” Tariq reported. “It’s inhumane.”

Tariq’s mother, Suha, said, “I cannot begin to describe the pain of seeing my dear son in prison after his viscous beating.” When she first saw Tariq, unconscious, with his swollen face in the hospital, “I didn’t recognize him; I didn’t know if he was alive. I didn’t know if he would survive.” Tariq was handcuffed to the hospital bed. Suha worried whether they would give him his antibiotics, whether they would take care of her son while he was in their custody. “The same people that beat him were now caring for him,” she said. “They told us 300 Palestinian teenagers would be killed for the three Israeli teens.”

Suha noted, “None of this would have happened if Israelis valued the lives of Palestinian Muslims and Christians as much as Israeli Jews.” Keynote speaker Ali Abunimah followed Tariq and Suha at the conference. He mentioned that of the more than 2,100 Palestinians the Israelis killed in Gaza last summer, 521 were children. Most of the fatalities were civilians. More than one of every 1,000 Gazans were killed, and one percent of the entire population of Gaza were killed or injured. Most of the weapons the Israelis employed in Gaza were artillery shells, which were used in unprecedented quantities. They are very inaccurate.

In response to Israeli demands that the Palestinians surrender their weapons, Abunimah asked, “Why talk about demilitarizing the oppressed? Let’s talk about demilitarizing the oppressor.” After Mummahad was killed, the Israelis called it an “honor killing.” Muhammad’s father said, “they’ve killed my son twice.” Two hundred Palestinian children are still in jail. Abunimah cited the “racist mentality” of many Israelis who chant, “Death to the Arabs.” Abunimah recalled President Barack Obama’s remark about “the shared values of the United States and Israel.”

Do those shared values include slaughtering civilians, torturing children, and holding people in custody indefinitely without charges? Tariq did come back alive, but only because his beating was caught on tape and because he was a U.S. citizen.


The Air Forces of Gulf States are well suited to cooperate within a US-led coalition since they are all equipped with Western combat aircraft and weaponry. Coordination with their American counterparts will have been made substantially easier by the fact that most Gulf State Air Force aircrew have been trained by, and alongside, American and British pilots with extensive combat experience in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. This experience has been bolstered by US-led multilateral military exercises involving Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain in recent years.

Overnight airstrikes conducted on ISIS positions in at least five different locations in Syria point to a step change in the US led multinational operation to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ the militant organisation. Aware that defeating the group would always involve some form of military operation in Syria, the US has acted swiftly and decisively in concert with five Arab nations: Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. 

In addition, the US appears to have acted alone against an Al-Qa’ida affiliated group known as the Al-Khorassan Brigade, comprised of individuals from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Iran who were under instructions to recruit fighters to conduct terror attacks in the West. Although legally ambiguous and lacking any approval from the UN Security Council, the strikes seem to have met with the approval of Bashar al-Assad, and thus do not appear to have caused any great uproar across the region at the present time.

Even the fact that Sunni Arab states (who have been fiercely opposed to Bashar’s rule in Syria since 2011) have undertaken airstrikes inside Syrian territory does not seem to have resulted in any formal protest from Damascus. The Gulf States in particular are very hesitant to discuss military matters and so it will be difficult to assess with any degree of accuracy what role they have, and will play in the military operations being conducted in Syria at the present time

It is clear that the Jordanians and Emiratis took an active military role in last night’s attacks, which aligns with their reputation as small but highly capable military regional actors. In truth the scope of the engagement of all five Arab states is a secondary issue.

On a purely military level, the United States does not need the military support of any country in the region, it possesses the resources and manpower to comfortably deploy overseas and deal with the ISIS threat alone. But in a post-Iraq invasion world, the US cannot go it alone, and politically the support of the five Arab states is a vital component to extending military operations into Syria, a country for which the US possesses no legal mandate to intervene militarily. Any state which aligns with the US on this issue can expect a high degree of political capital in exchange for the assistance provided in preventing America’s biggest state building project in the region from collapsing.

Intervening against ISIS is not as simple for a Gulf State as it might appear. Gulf Countries have a history of getting cold feet when deploying far afield, and with the exception of the UAE which has contributed significantly to combat operations in Afghanistan, and more recently in Libya, none possess much experience of recent combat. Saudi Arabian operations in Yemen in 2009 and Qatari operations in Libya in 2011 have been both qualitatively and politically questionable. 

As such, the track record is not a happy one, and gives cause for concern in a highly fluid theatre of war such as Syria. Secondly, although they may deny it vehemently, the Gulf States have a highly problematic relationship with extreme Islamist groups in the region. Gulf citizens actively travel to Syria and certain individuals have transferred millions of dollars to groups with close links to Al-Qa’ida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and Al-Qa’ida affiliates in Iraq. 

Indeed the region’s clerics have exhorted followers to fight a Jihad in Syria, using sectarian slogans to describe their enemy and to whip up support for the fight against Assad and Iran. Standing up against  ISIS is difficult in a region in which there is deeper support among the general populous than many care to admit.

Even cursory reading of Gulf chit chat through the favoured medium of instant messaging reveals that not a few Gulf states consider that despite its faults, ISIS is standing up for Sunnis against a Shia oppressor, and being punished once again by the USA, who is eager as ever to interfere in Arab affairs. Although a highly problematic ideological threat to the Gulf, ISIS does not actually an existential military threat to the Gulf at the moment. 

The Saudis have mobilised 30,000 troops to their northern border as a contingency, but with no naval or air assets the Islamic State would find invading the Gulf tough. It certainly could not replicate its spectacular military gains in Iraq and Syria against the far better equipped Gulf militaries, who are backed by cast iron US security guarantees. Given that there are internal social cohesion issues at play here with no immediate strategic benefit, the decision by Gulf states to intervene is quite a brave one.

The additional problem of course will be that participating in this coalition will also be serving the interests of Iran and its ally Bashar al Assad, who would like nothing more than to see the ISIS and its vehement hostility to Shia Islam wiped from the region root and branch.

Some political realignment between Saudi Arabia and Iran already appears to have taken place. Firstly both countries coalesced around Hayder al-Abadi as the new Prime Minister of Iraq, after Iran’s Supreme Leader withdrew his support for Nouri al Maliki, a figure of hate in Saudi Arabia. Additionally the two countries’ Foreign Ministers met in New York on Sunday, with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif noting that ‘we believe that the meeting will be the first page of a new chapter in our two countries’ relations’.

It is difficult to assert with any confidence that this is anymore than a convenient convergence of interests, and it should not be expected that because the Gulf’s bitter rivals have found common cause against ISIS that their enmity, or indeed the causes of it, has disappeared. But whilst the Iranians may not be comfortable with an American Sunni backed coalition operating in their back yard, the prospect of ISIS expanding onto Iran’s territory is far worse.

As for the Gulf states’ themselves, internecine squabbling over the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar’s outsized role in the region appears to have been sidelined in favour of a unified stance against the ISIS menace. Again perhaps a temporary alliance, but it is encouraging that 18 months of vitriolic intra-GCC debate appears to have abated, and a unitary security outlook governs the GCC’s outlook on the region.

We should not rush to herald a new dawn in regional affairs. A myriad of problems still exist, most notably if Iran drives toward the threshold of nuclear weapons in the next twelve months. But a multilateral alliance emerging from a divided and fractured region is a positive development that should be welcomed in Western capitals. The Gulf appears to be stepping up to its role in regional security affairs. If it is up to the task, a whole new range of options for regional stability in the post-ISIS world become available.

With Arab states also taking part in strikes against ISIS on September, are we witnessing a new dawn of Middle Eastern multilateralism that may one day involve Iran? Wow, never could be.

Sunday, September 28


Stralci di un messaggio di Sheikh Abu Mohamed al Adnani al Shami, portavoce dello Stato islamico.

Barak Obama, sei un mulo degli ebrei, sei spregevole, spregevole, spregevole. E sarai deluso, Obama. E’ questo tutto quello che sei stato capace di fare in questa tua campagna militare? L’incapacità e la debolezza dell’America sono arrivate fino a questo punto? L’America e tutti i suoi alleati crociati e atei siete incapaci di combattere giù a terra? Non avete capito, crociati, che le guerre per procura non vi porteranno nulla di buono e non lo faranno mai? Non avete capito, muli degli ebrei, che la battaglia non può essere decisa via aria? O pensate di essere più intelligenti di Bush, quando ha portato gli eserciti della croce e li ha messi sotto il fuoco dei mujaheddin sul terreno? No, voi siete più sciocchi di lui.


Obama, hai annunciato il ritiro dall’Iraq quattro anni fa. Noi vi abbiamo detto che stavate mentendo, che non vi eravate ritirati, e che se anche vi foste ritirati sareste tornati – anche se dopo qualche tempo, sareste tornati. Ed eccovi qui. Non vi siete ritirati. Piuttosto avete nascosto parte delle vostre forze nel nord dell'Iraq e dietro ai vostri delegati e avete ritirato il resto. Le vostre forze torneranno più grandi in numero di quanto fossero prima. Voi tornerete e i vostri delegati non vi saranno d’aiuto. E se voi non tornerete, allora verremo noi nella vostra terra, con il volere di Allah.


Americani, europei, lo Stato islamico non ha iniziato una guerra contro di voi, come i vostri media e i vostri governi tentano di farvi credere. Siete voi che ci avete attaccato, voi ne avete la colpa e voi pagherete un prezzo enorme. Pagherete il prezzo quando le vostre economie collasseranno. Pagherete il prezzo quando i vostri figli saranno mandati in guerra contro di noi e torneranno come disabili amputati, o dentro alle bare, o con traumi mentali. Pagherete il prezzo quando avrete paura di viaggiare in qualsiasi terra. E pagherete il prezzo quando camminerete per strada, guardandovi intorno, temendo i musulmani. Non vi sentirete sicuri nemmeno nelle vostre camere da letto. Pagherete il prezzo quando questa vostra crociata collasserà, e noi colpiremo nelle vostre terre, e da quel momento non sarete più in grado di fare danno a nessuno. Pagherete il prezzo, e quello che abbiamo preparato per voi vi porterà dolore.


L’America e i suoi alleati si sono levati per salvare il mondo dal “terrorismo e dalla barbarie dello Stato islamico”, come dicono. Hanno coinvolto tutti i media globali, dando loro falsi argomenti per ingannare le masse e portarle a pensare che lo Stato islamico sia la radice del male e la fonte della corruzione, e che sia lo Stato islamico a uccidere e a far scappare le persone, ad arrestare e assassinare popoli “pacifici”, demolire case, distruggere città e terrorizzare donne e bambini che prima erano al sicuro. I media hanno mostrato i crociati come persone buone, misericordiose, nobili, generose, onorevoli e passionali che si preoccupano per l’islam e i musulmani davanti alla “corruzione e alla crudeltà della khawarij (setta) dello Stato islamico”, come dicono. Tanto che Kerry, quel vecchio non circonciso, all’improvviso è diventato un giurista islamico, e ha emesso una sentenza secondo cui lo Stato islamico sta distorcendo l’islam, che quello che sta facendo è contro gli insegnamenti dell’islam, che lo Stato islamico è un nemico dell’Islam. Tanto che Obama, il mulo degli ebrei, all’improvviso è diventato uno sheikh, un mufti e un predicatore islamico e ha ammonito e fatto prediche in difesa dell’Islam, dicendo che lo Stato islamico non ha niente a che vedere con l’Islam. Questo è successo in sei differenti discorsi nel giro di un solo mese, tutti dedicati alla minaccia dello Stato islamico.


Per questo o muwahhid, musulmani devoti, non lasciate andare questa battaglia ovunque voi siate. Dovete colpire i soldati, i capi e le truppe degli infedeli. Colpite la loro polizia, le loro forze di sicurezza, i membri dell’intelligence, così come i loro agenti infidi. Distruggete i loro letti. Rendete amare le loro vite e gettateli nella preoccupazione. Se potete uccidere un americano o un europeo miscredente – soprattutto gli schifosi e immondi francesi – o un australiano, un canadese, o un qualsiasi altro miscredente tra i miscredenti che ci fanno guerra, compresi i cittadini dei paesi che sono entrati in coalizione contro lo Stato islamico, allora affidatevi ad Allah e uccideteli in ogni modo possibile. Non chiedete il consiglio di nessuno o non aspettate nessuna sentenza. Uccidete il miscredente che sia civile o militare, perché hanno lo stesso governo. Entrambi sono miscredenti. Entrambi sono colpevoli di aver fatto guerra (il civile perché appartiene a uno stato che ha dichiarato guerra ai musulmani). E’ legale per voi versare il sangue e distruggere la salute di entrambi, perché non sono i vestiti indossati che rendono versare il sangue legale o illegale. I vestiti civili non rendono illegale versare il sangue, e l’uniforme militare non rende legale versare il sangue. Le uniche cose che rendono legale o illegale versare il sangue sono l’islam o un patto (un trattato di pace, una dhimma, ecc.). L’essere miscredente rende versare il sangue legale. Allo stesso modo il sangue e la salute di tutti i musulmani sono sacri. Ed è legale per un musulmano prendere la salute e versare il sangue di chiunque sia miscredente. Il suo sangue è come il sangue di un cane: non è peccato versarlo e non bisogna pagare nessuna ammenda per averlo fatto.


Se non siete in grado di trovare un esplosivo o un proiettile, allora isolate il miscredente americano, francese o della coalizione. Colpite la sue testa con una pietra, o sgozzatelo con un coltello, o investitelo con la vostra macchina, o gettatelo da un luogo elevato, o soffocatelo, o avvelenatelo. Non deludete. Non siate codardi. Fate in modo che il vostro slogan sia “Che io non sia salvato se l’adoratore della croce e taghut, colui che governa secondo le leggi fatte dall’uomo, sopravvive”.


Se non riuscite a fare questo, allora bruciate la sua casa, la sua macchina, il suo negozio. O distruggete i suoi raccolti. Se non riuscite a nemmeno fare questo, allora sputategli in faccia. Se la vostra coscienza si rifiuta di farlo, mentre i vostri fratelli sono bombardati e uccisi, e mentre versare il loro sangue è ritenuto legale dai loro nemici, allora ripensate alla vostra religione. Siete in una posizione pericolosa perché la religione non può darsi senza il “wala e bara”, l’obbligo di solidarietà tra musulmani.


Se a qualcuno la recente campagna statunitense contro la Siria sembra un deja-vu del tentativo della scorsa estate di lanciare attacchi contro Bashar al-Assad, bloccato all’ultimo minuto, è perché lo è, scrive il blog ZeroHedge. E proprio come lo scorso anno, il più grande jolly in questo intervento diretto in territorio siriano sovrano, o come alcuni lo chiamano: invasione o addirittura guerra, non sono gli Stati Uniti, ma l'Arabia Saudita. Bin Sultan, artefice della campagna del 2013 per sostituire la leadership siriana, è stato ufficialmente rimosso poco dopo, ma le ambizioni saudite riguardo la Siria sono rimaste.   

La campagna aerea dell’America contro lo Stato islamico è cominciata anche in Siria, dopo i quasi trecento bombardamenti sparsi e quasi niente in Iraq dove bombardano gli inglesi della RAF. L’espansione delle operazioni al paese vicino attraverso un confine che in certi tratti non esiste più era ormai considerata scontata ed era attesa da un mese. 

Il Pentagono ha usato aerei da guerra, droni Predator e Reaper e anche missili Tomahawk sparati dalle navi della marina, e ha colpito assieme ai jet di cinque Paesi arabi, che si sentono minacciati dai sunniti di Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Arabia Saudita, Emirati Arabi Uniti e Giordania ci hanno messo quattro F-16 ciascuno, il Bahrein due F-16, e il Qatar ha mandato alcuni jet Mirage che non hanno bombardato.

In altre parole, John Kerry ha promesso tutto quello che poteva, fino ad includere il pezzo mancante del puzzle -la Siria stessa su un piatto d'argento- al fine di prevenire un’altra umiliazione diplomatica statunitense

Ma a disturbare queste vergognose e tragiche sottotracce diplomaticheecco arrivare nel golfo, due navi da guerra cinesi: un caccia-torpediniere e una fregata. Prima volta nella storia.

Il governo cinese l’ha denominata una “visita amichevole” quella del cacciatorpediniere Changchun e della fregata Changzhou. Ambedue attraccate nel porto iraniano di Bandar Abbas, nel golfo Persico, per iniziare una serie di esercitazioni militari congiunte tra Pechino e Teheran. Come anticipato, é la prima volta che navi da guerra cinesi si fanno vedere nel golfo Persico insieme a quelle iraniane (le esercitazioni saranno concentrate sulle missioni di recupero), ed è un segnale importante perché di solito, con altri partner, a dominare i mari mediorientali sono le fregate degli USA, con una base in Bahrein e una portaerei nella regione.

Pechino protesta da tempo contro la presunta invadenza delle flotte americane nel mar Cinese, e le esercitazioni fanno parte di una strategia volta a rispondere alla sorveglianza americana con maggiore aggressività. La scelta del partner, poi, è un modo per mandare a dire all’occidente che non c’è nessuna sanzione e nessun embargo che possa dissuadere Pechino dall’organizzare dei war game con l’Iran degli ayatollah, bomba o non bomba, e dal fare affari con la Russia di Putin (un nuovo contratto multimiliardario per le forniture di gas è in arrivo)

La Cina è il più grande importatore di petrolio iraniano, e i commerci con Pechino, seppure resi difficili dal sistema di divieti messo in piedi dall’occidente, sono una spina nel fianco della strategia di Washington contro Teheran. E’ proponendosi come alternativa al sistema strategico occidentale che la Cina cresce in potenza e pericolosità. E sotto il presidente Xi Jinping, la minaccia è ancora più concreta.

Mentre il Gruppo di Shangai si allarga, Russia, Cina e Iran si preparano per le esercitazioni navali congiunte nel Golfo Persico. L'Economist ha descritto come "altamente inquietante dal punto di vista dell'Occidente" spaventa l'occidente, la possibile adesione di nuovi Paesi all’Organizzazione di Shangai per la Cooperazione. E fanno bene a temere scenari che ribalteranno la storia millenaria occidentale. 

Wednesday, September 24


Ad inizio mese, una fonte diplomatica turca commentò la posizione del governo di Ankara con il gruppo jihadista in questo modo: “Al liceo i bulli delle classi superiori facevano questo scherzo pesante: prendevano i ragazzi più piccoli per le palle, li alzavano e li costringevano a cantare l’inno nazionale però con le parole a rovescio partendo dal fondo. Ecco, la Turchia è in questa posizione. Lo Stato islamico è in posizione di vantaggio, ha in mano i nostri ostaggi e potrebbe fare da un momento all’altro quello che ha fatto con i reporter americani, dei video con le decapitazioni”. 

La fonte si riferiva a un impasse dall’apparenza irrisolvibile: i jihadisti avevano in mano da tre mesi 46 turchi e tre iracheni catturati dentro il consolato di Mosul durante la conquista della città e disponevano di un enorme potere di ricatto. 

Per questo motivo la Turchia ha sì partecipato all’incontro di Jeddah, in Arabia Saudita, tra i Paesi che hanno formato una coalizione di guerra -sotto la guida americana- contro il gruppo di Abu Bakr al Baghdadi ed era presente anche alla conferenza di Parigi sulla stabilizzazione dell’Iraq, ma lo ha fatto da semplice osservatore esterno, sostenendo che non parteciperà ad alcun intervento militare e negando l’uso delle sue basi aeree vicine alla Siria e all’Iraq. 

Anche a luglio 2014, quando le Forze Speciali americane tentarono un catastrofico raid a Raqqa, in Siria, a pochi chilometri dalla Turchia, per liberare gli ostaggi occidentali, Ankara negò le sue basi militari

Sabato scorso, dopo l’alba, gli ostaggi sono stati tutti liberati ed è stato un trionfo nazionale in Turchia. Il console emaciato ha detto di essersi opposto ai suoi carcerieri che volevano girare un video con lui, i media hanno tutti lodato il ruolo dei Servizi segreti (il MIT), che hanno ottenuto il rilascio dei 49 senza un blitz militare dall’esito incerto e senza pagare un riscatto

Il presidente turco, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ha detto che la liberazione è stata frutto di “uno scambio politico e diplomatico”.

Tutto questo è avvenuto nel migliore dei modi perchè la Turchia ha fatto un "accordo segreto" con lo Stato islamico per liberare il personale del suo Consolato a Mosul, tenuto in ostaggio da giugno. Al centro dell’accordo c’è stato uno scambio di prigionieri e siamo in grado di spiegare chi è almeno una di queste persone che lo Stato islamico teneva molto a riavere indietro.

La moglie di Haji Bakruno dei personaggi più significativi e meno noti nella storia dello Stato islamico. Haji Bakr era un colonnello dell'esercito iracheno e lavorava nell’Intelligence di Saddam Hussein ma qualche anno dopo l’invasione americana – e dopo essere stato imprigionato e torturato dagli americani (CIA) fuggì e decise di farla pagare ai bastardi "yankees". Cosi è stato.

Nell’aprile 2010, quando il gruppo subì un colpo quasi mortale con l’uccisione del leader Abu Omar al Baghdadi (da non confondere con Abu Bakr al Baghdadi). Il colonnello dei Servizi segreti si reinventò e divenne principale artefice dello Stato islamico -conosciuto come ISIS e in Siria come ISIL-. Portò al vertice dell'ISIS Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, divendone influente consigliere e responsabile delle strategie. Grazie anche alla sua esperienza d'Intelligence, creò l’apparato di Sicurezza e protezione che - ancora oggi - protegge il Califfo.

I ribelli siriani (filo-americani) hanno ucciso il colonnello Haji Bakr il 5 gennaio scorso, e hanno fatto prigioniera la moglie. Un contatto confidenziale disse che i ribelli consideravano la donna un "asset" prezioso: “Il comandante militare dello Stato islamico, Umar il ceceno, chiedeva di lei in ogni negoziato che si apriva

I ribelli siriani (John McCain) offrirono anche altri 60 prigionieri, ma al sanguinario ceceno Umar non interessavano, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi insiste per avere indietro la moglie di Haji Bakr. Ha la priorità su ogni cosa”. Perché? 

Perchè temono che lei possa parlare di cosa sa e cosa ha visto, di come suo marito è passato da essere uomo fedele e intimo di Saddam Hussein ai vertici dell'ISIL e dell'ISIS

La fonte quel giorno di inizio settembre disse:"Credo che se sarà rispedita indietro, la uccideranno”. Sabato la donna è stata restituita allo Stato islamico a fronte della liberazione degli ostaggi turchi. 

I ribelli siriani (John McCain) che la tenevano da mesi "prigioniera" , difficilmente potevano dire ancora una volta di no al governo turco. Per il semplice motivo che i turchi controllano ogni metro della frontiera e quindi conoscono "tutto il viavai di armi e logistica così vitale per i ribelli siriani in guerra contro il regime siriano di Bashar Hafez al-Assad."  

Ieri un giornale turco pro-governo confermava che c’è stato uno scambio di prigionieri di alto livello con lo Stato islamico, grazie anche a una nuova legge che dà facoltà all’Intelligence di fare scambi di prigionieri che non abbiano la nazionalità turca (la legge è citata dal giornale). La moglie di Bakr farebbe parte di questo patto trilaterale fra Turchia, ribelli siriani e al Baghdadi, che secondo il sito turco Tavka Haber – vicino ai jihadisti – ha dato in persona l’ordine di restituire gli ostaggi del consolato.


Il Presidente Emerito della Repubblica italiana Senatore Francesco Cossiga -pochi mesi dopo la nomina a presidente degli Stati Uniti- definì Barak Obama: "pericoloso" per il mondo intero. Mai sue parole furono così appropriate.

Cin­que anni fa, nell’ottobre 2009, il pre­si­dente Barack Obama fu insi­gnito del Pre­mio Nobel per la Pace in base alla «sua visione di un mondo libero dalle armi nucleari, e al lavoro da lui svolto in tal senso, che ha poten­te­mente sti­mo­lato il disarmo». Moti­va­zione che appare ancora più grot­te­sca alla luce di quanto docu­menta oggi un ampio ser­vi­zio del New York Times: «L’amministrazione Obama sta inve­stendo decine di miliardi di dol­lari nella moder­niz­za­zione e rico­stru­zione dell’arsenale nucleare e degli impianti nucleari statunitensi».

A tale scopo è stato appena rea­liz­zato a Kan­sas City un nuovo enorme impianto, più grande del Pen­ta­gono, dove migliaia di addetti, dotati di futu­ri­sti­che tec­no­lo­gie, «moder­niz­zano» le armi nucleari, testan­dole con avan­zati sistemi che non richie­dono esplo­sioni sot­ter­ra­nee. L’impianto di Kan­sas City fa parte di un «com­plesso nazio­nale in espan­sione per la fab­bri­ca­zione di testate nucleari», com­po­sto da otto mag­giori impianti e labo­ra­tori con un per­so­nale di oltre 40mila spe­cia­li­sti

I lavori sono stati però ral­len­tati dal fatto che il costo del pro­getto di Los Ala­mos è lie­vi­tato in dieci anni da 660 milioni a 5,8 miliardi di dol­lari, quello di Oak Ridge da 6,5 a 19 miliardi.

Viene così avviato dall’amministrazione Obama un nuovo pro­gramma di arma­mento nucleare che, secondo un recente stu­dio del Mon­te­rey Insti­tute, verrà a costare (al valore attuale del dol­laro) circa 1000 miliardi di dol­lari, cul­mi­nando come spesa nel periodo 2024–2029. Essa si inse­ri­sce nella spesa mili­tare gene­rale degli Stati uniti, com­po­sta dal bilan­cio del Pen­ta­gono (640 miliardi di dol­lari nel 2013), cui si aggiun­gono altre voci di carat­tere mili­tare (la spesa per le armi nucleari, ad esem­pio, è iscritta nel bilan­cio del Dipar­ti­mento dell’Energia), por­tando il totale a quasi 1000 miliardi di dol­lari annui, cor­ri­spon­denti nel bilan­cio fede­rale a circa un dol­laro su quat­tro speso a scopo militare.

L’incredibile accelerazione sotto ogni punto di vista -compreso etica e morale- della corsa agli arma­menti nucleari, impressa dall’amministrazione Obama, vani­fica di fatto i limi­tati passi sulla via del disarmo sta­bi­liti col nuovo trat­tato Start, fir­mato a Praga da Stati uniti e Rus­sia nel 2010. 

Sia la Rus­sia che la Cina acce­le­re­ranno il poten­zia­mento delle loro forze nucleari, attuando con­tro­mi­sure per neu­tra­liz­zare lo «scudo anti-missili» che gli Usa stanno rea­liz­zando per acqui­sire la capa­cità di lan­ciare un first strike nucleare e non essere col­piti dalla rappresaglia.

Viene coin­volta diret­ta­mente nel pro­cesso di «ammo­der­na­mento» delle forze nucleari USA anche l’Italia: le 70–90 bombe nucleari sta­tu­ni­tensi B-61, stoc­cate ad Aviano e Ghedi-Torre, ven­gono tra­sfor­mate da bombe a caduta libera in bombe «intel­li­genti» a guida di pre­ci­sione, cia­scuna con una potenza di 50 kilo­ton (circa il qua­dru­plo della bomba di Hiro­shima), par­ti­co­lar­mente adatte ai contestati (tecnicamente) cac­cia Usa F-35 che l’Italia si è impe­gnata ad acqui­stare e spenderà tra i 13 e i 17 miliardi di euro. Ma di tutto que­sto non si parla e non si scrive.

Tuesday, September 23


His real name was SAMIR ABD MOUHAMMAD AL-KHLEIFAWI alias HAJI BAKR. He was a former high officer in Iraqi's Secret Service of Saddam Hussein’s Army.

He was arrested by the US Army and delivered to CIA. Bakr was held in prison "Camp Bucca", where four of the six current most senior ISIS figures, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, were also incarcerated. 

In the shadows of the watchtowers of the US prison, the nexus between Saddam's henchmen and Islamic extremists began. No better contemporary evidence of the union — born from Iraqi Sunni hatred of US forces and the Shia-led government — exists than the alleged appearance two days ago of one of Saddam's few surviving henchmen.

The Al-Nusra Front, another Al-Qaeda affiliate, follows the same ideology as ISIS, the only difference is that it gets its support from jihadist leaders in Morocco and the Gulf. As for Haji al-Bakr sent ISIS members to Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Gulf States and East-Europe, to recruit and rally students to jihad.

No one is controlling ISIS and no one has been able to stop them although the forces opposing them in Iraq and Syria are eight to nine times larger! This is a proof of the highly efficient military organization of ISIS. The core of its army is former officers of Saddam Hussein, members of the so-called ISIS Military Shura led by Haji Bakr.”

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri — the King of Clubs in the "Deck of 55" Iraqis most wanted by the USwas seen in Tikrit with victorious ISIS fighters. Locals were filmed raising pictures of Saddam alongside black Islamic flags. By last year, Haji Bakr had the trust of al-Baghdadi and given the command of ISIS's all-Iraqi military council. 

While al-Baghdadi, real name Ibrahim al-Badri, cemented his power through a cult of personality and a series of savage internal purges, behind the scenes in Iraq and Syria, Haji Bakr developed the core organisational structure of ISIS, directing its ascent to become the most powerful jihadist fighting force in the region.

Haji Bakr, an Iraqi, the dead man defied every cliche written about ISIS — Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (greater Syria) — in his life and manner of death. He was killed early in January this year with a machinegun in his hands, he died in a shootout alongside his gun-toting 40-year-old Iraqi wife, after their house at the edge of the town was surrounded by local Syrian rebels as fighting between ISIS and their erstwhile allies raged.

This is a factor that further complicates the entire scene. For if it is so easy to join a terrorist jihadist group, and also to rise within its ranks, then surely local or foreign Intelligence Agencies (CIA) can easily infiltrate those ranks as well. This, therefore, is something that further raises suspicion about such groups. 

It is also just as easy, therefore, for people with warped ideology and moralities to join these groups for their own ends, namely sowing greater chaos and violence. The fact of the matter is that this entire phenomenon is like a monstrous hydra, as soon as you cut off one head, two more grow in its place.

What is particularly interesting is how a former senior Ba’athist member joined a group that claims to be fighting in the name of God to establish an Islamic State. In an anonymous grave in a rural cemetery in northern Syria marks the final resting place of the mysterious Haji Bakr, mastermind whose legacy is tearing Iraq apart. Under the sun-bleached soil outside Tal Rifat, marked only by a pair of breezeblocks and a wild poppy, lies the right hand man and military mentor of the ISIS commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Yet he never lived to see the fruits of his labour. He died epitomising the most terrible flaws of the US-led invasion: a Baathist turned jihadist, heavily bearded, blood in his mouth, and a bottle of whisky cached alongside his ammunition.

"We didn't know who we had killed at first," said a Syrian commander with the rebel group which shot Haji Bakr. As well as the documents in his house, they found disguises, passports, coloured contact lenses and wads of dollars. It was the start of an evidence trail that was to reveal how Saddam Hussein's former henchmen had re-emerged to fight alongside the jihadists who this week invaded much of northern Iraq. "We didn't know who we had killed at first," said a Syrian commander with the rebel group which shot Haji Bakr.

As well as the documents in his house, they found disguises, passports, coloured contact lenses and wads of dollars. It was the start of an evidence trail that was to reveal how Saddam Hussein's former henchmen had re-emerged to fight alongside the jihadists who this week invaded much of northern Iraq. "Among the documents were also references to 15 trucks containing a secret French supply of anti-aircraft missiles to the rebels, which had been seized by ISIS after they crossed from Turkey at Bab al-Hawa," the Syrian rebel commander said.

The documents Haji Bakr left behind, combined with an illuminating set of internal leaks from within ISIS, afford a unique insight into the internal affairs and motivations of the ultra-radical organisation. Confirming the worst consequences of the British and American invasion of Iraq, Haji Bakr was an unlikely jihadist.

This is certainly an interesting topic, and these leaks focus particularly on the figure of Haji Bakr, an Iraqi who rose to become a senior member of ISIS and a close aide to Emir Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the group, despite having no prior history of jihadist activism. Haji Bakr did not fight in Afghanistan or Chechnya or Bosnia as a youth, nor did he have any contact with jihadist figures such as Osama Bin Laden or Ayman Al-Zawahiri or Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi or others.

Sunday, September 21


It was Friederich Nietzsche who wrote that “insanity in individuals is something rare but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” The wisdom in the german philosopher’s words which has been reflected in the messages emanating from the Pentagon and White House in recent days, with talk of airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and the possible redeployment of ground troops in Iraq – without the prior cooperation or permission of either the Syrian or Iraqi governments in either scenario – has come as stark evidence of the madness bordering on insanity which pervades the US political class.

That joyous mass revolutionary upsurge which toppled the West’s dictator Ben Ali in Tunisia, followed by their man in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, before being turned into a counter revolutionary and reactionary process courtesy of the West's intervention in Libya under the auspices of NATO? It now seems a million miles away, the sunshine of hope supplanted by a dark night of barbarism descending on the region like a shroud. Terror is the product of terror, and the cycle of terror that has engulfed Libya, Syria, and now Iraq could have been averted if but for the lack of statesmanship in Washington.

You might think the continuing and unfolding disaster that has engulfed Syria and latterly Iraq – thousands of jihadists with a medieval-type attachment to brutality in service to the objective of turning the region into a graveyard for minorities, both Muslim and non Muslim alike – would give policymakers in the West cause to reflect on the part played by their disastrous intervention in the region over the past decade and more. Syria is not the enemy of the West; it is a victim of the West and must be regarded as such.

Syria is a nation and a people whose resistance to the forces of barbarism these past three years is resistance that history will record as heroic. This makes it all the more depraved to listen to the blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty being contemplated by the Obama administration and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron

President Assad’s recent letter to Obama, which called for an alliance to defeat ISIS, was a plea for sanity. A beleaguered but unbowed government, reaching out on behalf of its people to a government whose responsibility for the crisis that has engulfed their country is beyond dispute, is redolent of Carthage reaching out to Rome in a last ditch attempt to forestall its destruction.

The colonial attitude towards Syria and the entire region we can trace back to the "1916 Sykes Picot Agreement", probably the most tawdry imperialist lash-up in history, which divided up the Middle East between the Allied powers as the Ottoman Empire approached its collapse as part of the losing side in the First World War. Ever since the West’s orientation towards the Arab world has involved propping up any government willing to do its bidding, while subverting those who dare resist its domination. The human suffering that has resulted as a direct consequence is impossible to quantify, but it has been of biblical magnitude.

Instead, what we are witnessing is yet more evidence of the cognitive dissonance that has underpinned the actions of Washington and its allies when it comes to the Middle East since 9/11. Hard power has succeeded in sowing chaos and carnage while nourishing the roots of radicalism and extremism, from which has sprouted ISIS and various other millenarian Islamic extremist groups in recent years. Imperialism is a disease which in the words of Frantz Fanon, “leaves germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove from our land but from our minds as well.”

The Middle East has suffered from this rot over many decades, a state of affairs responsible for the social, political, and economic dislocation of a part of the world that sits on a sea of oil. Western leaders and ideologues have proved time and again that when it comes to trying to exert control over the region, there is no lie they will not tell, no act of hypocrisy they won’t engage in, and no violation of international law they won’t commit. Even so, the eruption of ISIS across Syria’s eastern border and Turkey’s southern border into northern Iraq these past two months has exposed the aforementioned to a degree never witnessed previously.

Panic has been the order of the day in Washington and London and Paris, as men in expensively tailored suits – rich men who carry in their hearts the morals of the gutter – have scrambled to respond to the emergence of a monster created by their own perfidy. It has given rise not to sober reflection, but yet more reactive measures guaranteed to deepen rather than alleviate what is now an enveloping crisis.

If the United States was serious about tackling ISIS in Syria and Iraq, it would be seeking an alliance between both governments, along with the Iranians, in order to do so. Instead, the most powerful nation on earth is behaving like a drunken giant staggering around a China shop, causing mayhem as he goes.

When Nobel' Prize for Peace Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in 2008, he came to power pledging a change in US foreign policy, involving a return to diplomacy and respect for international law. Six years on, the only thing that has changed are the curtains in the White House. They began his presidency spotlessly clean. Now they are covered in blood.


Il COMFOSE, ha spie­gato nel discorso inau­gu­rale il gene­rale Nicola Zanelli che lo comanda, «è nato per assi­cu­rare la dispo­ni­bi­lità imme­diata di uno stru­mento dedi­cato, ido­neo ad assol­vere l’intero spet­tro delle OPERAZIONI SPECIALI­».

Il COMFOSE è stato operativo, soprat­tutto, in Afgha­ni­stan, fa ora un deci­sivo passo avanti nel loro poten­zia­mento. Alla caserma Gamerra di Pisa, sede del Cen­tro adde­stra­mento para­ca­du­ti­smo, si è appena costi­tuito il Comando delle forze spe­ciali dell’esercito (COMFOSE), il primo del suo genere in Ita­lia.

Vi sono stoc­cate anche enormi quan­tità di bombe e mis­sili per aerei, insieme ai «kit di mon­tag­gio» per costruire rapi­da­mente aero­porti nelle zone di guerra. Que­sti e altri mate­riali bel­lici pos­sono essere rapi­da­mente inviati in zona di ope­ra­zione attra­verso il porto di Livorno e l’aeroporto di Pisa. Serve quindi alla pro­ie­zione di forze U.S.A. nei vari tea­tri bellici.

Esso riu­ni­sce sotto un comando uni­fi­cato il 9° Reg­gi­mento d’assalto Col Moschin e il 185° Reg­gi­mento acqui­si­zione obiet­tivi Fol­gore di stanza a Livorno, il 28° Reg­gi­mento comu­ni­ca­zioni ope­ra­tive Pavia di stanza a Pesaro e il 4° Reg­gi­mento alpini para­ca­du­ti­sti Rangers con sede presso Verona. A que­sti si aggiun­gerà tra poco il 26° Reparto eli­cot­teri per ope­ra­zioni spe­ciali, desti­nato a tra­sfor­marsi in 3° Reg­gi­mento eli­cot­teri per ope­ra­zioni spe­ciali Aldebaran.

Per­ché è stata scelta Pisa quale sede del COMFOSE? Per­ché l’aeroporto mili­tare della città è stato tra­sfor­mato in «Hub aereo nazio­nale dedi­cato alla gestione dei flussi di per­so­nale e di mate­riale dal ter­ri­to­rio nazio­nale per i tea­tri ope­ra­tivi, e vice­versa, con tem­pe­sti­vità e effi­ca­cia» (come lo defi­ni­sce il Pro­gramma plu­rien­nale dello Stato mag­giore della Difesa appro­vato dalle Com­mis­sioni Difesa del Senato e della Camera).

L’altra ragione della scelta di Pisa quale sede del COMFOSE è sicu­ra­mente la pre­senza della limi­trofa base U.S.A. di Camp Darby (praticamente le due basi sono "tutt'uno"), che rifor­ni­sce le forze ter­re­stri e aeree nell’area medi­ter­ra­nea, afri­cana, medio­rien­tale e oltre

È l’unico sito dell’esercito U.S.A. in cui il mate­riale pre­po­si­zio­nato (car­rar­mati, ecc.) è col­lo­cato insieme alle muni­zioni: nei suoi 125 bun­ker vi è l’intero equi­pag­gia­mento di due bat­ta­glioni coraz­zati e due di fan­te­ria meccanizzata.

Cosa fanno i militari specialisti del COMFOSE? Semplice, si infiltrano not­te­tempo in ter­ri­to­rio nemico senza essere visti, indi­vi­duano gli obiet­tivi da col­pire, li eli­mi­nano con un‘azione ful­mi­nea para­ca­du­tan­dosi dagli aerei o calan­dosi dagli eli­cot­teri, quindi si riti­rano senza lasciare trac­cia alcuna, salvo i morti e le distru­zioni dietro di loro: sono le Forze Speciali, sem­pre più impie­gate nelle «guerre coperte».

In altre parole, una volta adde­strati «sono in grado di soprav­vi­vere e com­bat­tere in ogni ambiente ope­ra­tivo con­tro avver­sari estre­ma­mente deter­mi­nati e insi­diosi», gli spe­cia­li­sti delle Forze Speciali potranno essere imme­dia­ta­mete pro­iet­tati attra­verso l’HUB aereo di Pisa nei vari tea­tri bel­lici. Quali siano quelli imme­diati lo ha spie­gato, a mar­gine della pre­sen­ta­zione del COMFOSE il Capo di stato mag­giore, gene­rale Claudio Gra­ziano: «Nell’Est Europa l’Italia deve essere pre­sente, così come si è ripro­po­sto il fronte mediorientale».

Come ha chia­rito il gene­rale Zanelli, il COMFOSE man­terrà un «col­le­ga­mento costante» anzi­tutto con lo «U.S. Army Spe­cial Ope­ra­tion Com­mand», il più impor­tante comando sta­tu­ni­tense per le ope­ra­zioni spe­ciali che, for­mato da 26mila com­man­dos, for­ni­sce circa il 70% delle forze spe­ciali al Comando cen­trale nella cui «area di respon­sa­bi­lità» rien­tra il Medio Oriente.

Appare dun­que chiaro che le forze spe­ciali del COMFOSE, in parte già for­ma­tesi nella guerra in Afgha­ni­stan sotto comando U.S.A. sono desti­nate ad ope­rare, sem­pre e solo, sotto comando U.S.A. in Iraq e Siria. Segre­ta­mente. Tenendo all’oscuro lo stesso par­la­mento della Repub­blica italiana che, nella sua Costi­tu­zione, ripu­dia la guerra. Come ripudia la guerra, il Premio Nobel per la Pace Barak Obama.

Thursday, September 18


Officials in Washington are inadvertently providing some insight into the strange logic of their nebulous war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, in contradictory and puerile statements about whether the military action should be called a war, or perhaps something else.

Backtracking on an earlier statement that the action against ISIS is simply a “counterterrorism operation,” Secretary of State John Kerry clarified in an interview that it is, in fact, a “war.”

In terms of al-Qaeda, which we have used the word ‘war’ with, yeah, we are at war with al-Qaeda and its affiliates,” Kerry said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.

“And in the same context if you want to use it, yes, we are at war with ISIL in that sense. But I think it’s a waste of time to focus on that,” Kerry said, adding that there’s “kind of tortured debate going on about terminology.”

On one hand, Kerry may be right that these semantic arguments are something of a distraction, since the debate should be more properly focused on whether the policies of airstrikes are effective, legal, moral and justified, not whether they are called a “war” or a “counterterrorism operation.”

On the other hand, the very fact that we are having this public dispute about which of our military actions qualify as “wars,” which ones are “counterterrorism operations,” and which ones are just run-of-the-mill bombing campaigns should sound the alarm that our political culture of perpetual war is out of control, having reached a bizarre and perilous point about which Americans are increasingly confused and the Constitution is ill-equipped to handle.

Indicative of this strange new normal was a poll released Sept. 4 revealing that few Americans actually know which countries the U.S. is currently bombing. Only about one-third of Americans, according to the YouGov survey, knew that the U.S. has not yet conducted strikes in Syria, while 30 percent thought that it has, and the remainder admitted they were unsure. At the same time, just a quarter of Americans knew that the U.S. military has carried out strikes in Somalia and Pakistan during the past six months, and only 16 percent were aware of strikes in Yemen.

It’s hard to imagine another country on earth in which the citizens could be so confused about which countries were currently being bombed by their government, but then again, no other country on earth is bombing so many other countries so regularly.

When it comes to the strikes targeting ISIS, when administration officials are not arguing about what to call the operation, they seem to be crafting flimsy legal foundations for the strikes by dusting off the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force.

These rationales have not been terribly convincing, with the New York Times pointing out that the 2001 law applied specifically to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and al-Qaeda more broadly, but since ISIS is not affiliated with al-Qaeda, the law clearly doesn’t apply to the current situation.

The fact that al-Qaeda has disavowed ISIS, deeming it too radical, does not seem to prevent the administration from ignoring the logic of the law,” the Times noted.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has not even bothered to provide a justification for the strikes under international law. It has instead asserted without elaboration that borders present no constraints to U.S. military action.

“We are lifting the restrictions on our air campaigns,” a senior administration official told reporters during a recent background briefing. “We are dealing with an organization that operates freely across a border, and we will not be constrained by that border.”

Under international law, however, borders most certainly do pose constraints. The sanctity of borders is enshrined in the UN Charter in fact, which states, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

One reason for the administration’s silence regarding the international legal basis for the possible use of force against ISIS in Syria is that none exists, since the Bashar al-Assad regime has not consented to the use of force in its territory.

As John Bellinger writes at Lawfare, “This will leave the administration to cobble together a variety of international legal rationales.” Some of these might include the argument that ISIS is part of al-Qaeda and therefore part of the U.S. armed conflict, or perhaps some sort of co-belligerency theory, or perhaps collective self-defense.

“Ultimately,” Bellinger speculates, “the administration may choose not to articulate an international legal basis at all, and instead to cite a variety of factual ‘factors’ that ‘justify’ the use of force, as the Clinton administration did for the Kosovo war.  But it would be much preferable for the administration to provide legal reasons.”

This is especially true considering the fact that the administration has recently been waving around “international law” as a rallying cry to confront and isolate Russia over its alleged meddling in eastern Ukraine in recent months. As Secretary of State John Kerry said following the Russian annexation of Crimea last spring, “What has already happened is a brazen act of aggression, in violation of international law and violation of the UN Charter.”

President Obama touted principles of international law in a speech last May at West Point at which he emphasized the importance of the U.S. setting the standard for upholding legal principles and international norms. “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example,” he said. “We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.”

Now that international law is being cast aside by the United States, it is Russia who is emerging as one of the strongest critics of the threatened actions against the territorial integrity of Syria. Moscow said Thursday that air strikes against militants in Syria without a UN Security Council mandate would be an act of aggression.

“The U.S. president has spoken directly about the possibility of strikes by the U.S. armed forces against [ISIS] positions in Syria without the consent of the legitimate government,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.“This step, in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law.”

Then there is the fundamental issue of whether the war – or counterterrorism operation – would even achieve its stated goals of degrading ISIS and eliminating the threat that it allegedly poses to U.S. security. The morning after President Obama made his case to the American people as to why the nation’s security depends on decisive military action against ISIS, the New York Times again called into question the administration’s strange logic with a front-page story announcing that “American Intelligence Agencies have concluded that [ISIS] poses no immediate threat to the United States,” but that attacking the group could lead to substantial blowback.

“Some American officials,” according to the Times, “warn of the potential danger of a prolonged military campaign in the Middle East, led by the United States, and say there are risks that escalating airstrikes could do the opposite of what they are intended to do and fan the threat of terrorism on American soil.”

As Andrew Liepman, a former deputy director at the National Counterterrorism Center who is now a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, explained: “It’s pretty clear that upping our involvement in Iraq and Syria makes it more likely that we will be targeted by the people we are attacking.”

So, on just about every front, the case for war seems to defy all logic. But at the same time, so too does the entire premise of perpetual war. Perhaps that is what the administration hopes we forget as we debate the proper terminology for this particular operation.

Wednesday, September 17


After trying hard to downplay policy in Syria and Iraq, the Obama White House has dived in. The recorded beheadings of two Americans seem to have crystalized a whole new policy approach, creating an open-ended U.S. military commitment against the so-called “Islamic State.” While the new U.S. policy is more than merely a military strategy, it is much more military than it should be. Recalibrating the policy should be an immediate priority of the administration.

Passions following the murders of two Americans allow and some might say advance a military response, but the United States and its allies cannot win the battle against the Islamic State militarily. Defeating the organization requires a strategy that stresses diplomacy, intelligence, and economics. There must be a large ideological component, a large law enforcement component, and an even larger political component. 

These latter tools are not easily visible, and many of them take years to show impact. Over time, though, they present the only path to victory: crippling the organization’s networks, denying the group safe haven, and undermining the conditions that make it attractive to potential recruits.

Instead, the United States seems to have succumbed to the seductions of a campaign with a military focus. After all, the U.S. military can destroy things with precision and completeness like no other military in the world, and it can often do it from a safe distance. Further, the United States commands its own military, and the space between deciding and doing is sometimes mere hours. Military attacks feel bold, decisive, and satisfying. Yet, as an organization, the Islamic State must be delighted with the prospect of confronting a superpower. The imagery of their murders last month is perfect: they can slaughter Americans like sheep. It is all part of a bizarre fantasy of empowerment and efficacy.

What makes the fantasy work is that the Islamic State is its own editor. It broadcasts its victories, not its defeats. Setbacks on the battlefield melt away, and tightly edited sequences omit the squalor and rubble of their daily surroundings.

The Obama administration also should be taking a lesson from Israel’s latest experience in Gaza. There, too, a government used military means to squash an organization with substantial local support. There, too, a guerrilla force committed to asymmetrical warfare proved an elusive target, and more than a thousand innocent civilians lost their lives. Notably, when a New York Times photographer was asked in July why he had no photos of Hamas fighters in Gaza, he said, “We don’t see those fighters. They are operating out of buildings and homes and at night. They are moving around very carefully….If we had access to them, we would be photographing them. I never saw a single device for launching the rockets to Israel. It’s as if they don’t exist.”

The answer is not a reversal of strategy, but rather a recalibration. The first task is to articulate the objectives more clearly: to force the collapse of the Islamic State from within rather than defeat it on the battlefield. Doing so will necessarily require progress toward political settlements to bloody conflicts that have been raging in Iraq and Syria. The fact is, the Islamic State draws support from Sunnis who feel persecuted, betrayed, and scared. 

In both Iraq and Syria, they fear slaughter, and for some this justifies the slaughter of others. One need not be sympathetic to the Islamic State to appreciate its base of support in the Sunni community. Shaking that support requires providing both protection and a pathway to better livelihoods to millions of Sunnis including many who have supported the Islamic State, actively or passively, in the past. 

It requires, perhaps, the opposite of military activity. The second task is building an effective coalition that binds allies to U.S. strategic goals. Doing so requires being clearer about what end state the current U.S.-led action is seeking to accomplish, and what each country’s role will be in accomplishing it. The Obama administration appears to be accepting an assortment of contributions, which are often fundamentally military and don’t seem to fit especially well together. In fact, the military contributions are but a small piece. More amorphous tasks for allies, such as delegitimizing the ideology of the Islamic State and of radicalism more generally, are vitally important. They feel like more of an afterthought.

Much of what needs to be done will be secret and involve intelligence and law enforcement. Still, surely there are some ways that a country such as Turkey which has reportedly hosted numerous networks connected to extremist fighters in Syria and Iraq—can signal its support for cracking down on radical fighters. To date, there are few signs among allies either of strategic convergence or of deeper coordination where it matters.

The third part is ensuring that the U.S. supported rebels fit the appropriate role. In part, arming and equipping them is symbolic for the United States, demonstrating concrete commitment to the cause after a long period of seeming indifference. The perceived lack of U.S. engagement has made it hard for the United States to shape others’ involvement. But it is equally important—for rebels and allies alike—to understand that rebels are there to fight a limited war, not achieve total victory. They need to turn into a group with both the power and credibility to negotiate an end to hostilities.

Fourth is having some vision of how the United States can use this conflict to improve its position with two regional foes, Iran and Syria. It is certainly important not to chase either party, offering concessions for cooperation. At the same time, one could use activities in parallel against the Islamic State to build toward a more positive relationship. Doing so requires all sides to have a stronger conception of the end state that they are seeking.

While the Obama strategy is more than merely a military strategy, it appears militarily focused. The president’s speech on Iraq and Syria focused on military instruments, and it used the language of the military, twice promising to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State. Perhaps the president was seeking to capitalize on the urgency of this month’s murders, and only military instruments seemed urgent enough. As General Martin Dempsey suggested before the Senate, they may beget even more military action. Military instruments are enough to fight, but in this battle, they are not nearly enough to win.

By Jon B. Alterman holds the Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy and is director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.