Beyond the Cusp

September 20, 2014

Potentially Righteous Cause but ISIS is the Wrong Group and Wrong Method

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The extremist Islamist terrorist groups, ISIS, released a video (See Below) presumably laying out their grievances and the plan they claim is their goal and the means by which to accomplish their desired end. First and foremost we want to make clear that in no way does our presenting reasons why their grievances have merit mean we support their actions or even the end result such a resolution would produce. ISIS is claiming that their fight is to undo the subversion and sabotage inflicted on the Arab and Muslim causes as a result of the Sykes-Picot agreement. The Sykes-Picot agreement was a treaty entered into by the victors of World War I and initiated for the most part by the British and French whereby the lands of the Ottoman Empire were broken into the countries which currently still exist across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The borders of these countries ignored tribal lands, family potentates and other logical and binding areas and intentionally broke these groups such that the borders placed parts from each existing community in separate countries. In some cases these borders ignored promises made with Arabs and other groups made by the British and French in order to gain additional forces fighting with them against the Ottoman Empire. Where the reasons which caused the Ottoman Empire to enter World War I can be debated ad-nauseum, the validity and merit matter little as their choice was made and they chose poorly. What also should be mentioned about the results of World War I is that many of the borders drawn in Europe that broke up the Austria-Hungarian Empire were also formed with little concern for existing communal groups and appears to have used a similar design as the borders of Sykes-Picot had done to MENA peoples.


Should video not play, try this source here.

The basic design behind Sykes-Picot was to form nations which would, by design, suffer from internal rivalries and violence requiring the ruling government to allot much of their time and resources to quelling these rivalries and maintaining order. The method setup by the French and British with the endorsement and confirmations of the allied powers was to place compromised and controllable dictators in power over these fragmented and often rivalrous sectarian segments of the society which would tend to have hostile relations causing breakouts of violence which would require the governance to quell the fractious groups which might require assistance from the European power each would be paired with. The demarcation of responsibility lines between France (Blue Area and Area ‘A’ under French Mandate will become Syria and northern Iraq), Britain (Pink Area and Area ‘B’ under British Mandate will become Transjordan and southern Iraq), Russia (Yellow Area), Italy (Green shaded and Area ‘C’ under Italian Mandate) and International Area under League of Nations and Allied control (Tan Area which was the area from which Israel was formed and was left mostly to British control) are displayed in the map below.

Sykes-Picot Map

ISIS claims that their desire is to erase the false borders imposed by the Western powers after the end of World War I with the defeat of Germany, Austria-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Their claim is that the dividing of the lands which were united under the Ottoman Empire denied the Muslim peoples of their Caliphate and that wrong must be nullified and erased by the formation or renewal of the Caliphate with its borders erasing the Western imposed individual states with the unified Caliphate. What the leadership of ISIS is intentionally ignoring is the right of the victorious powers after a conflict, especially one in which they were the responding powers fighting a defensive war against the aggressors who initiated the hostilities. They are enabled to disposes those lands as they desire even to incorporating them under their banner and retaining rule over those areas. Initially this was what the allied powers did with the conquered lands of the Ottoman Empire and in time drew their arbitrary lines and established puppet states. The argument the allied powers probably made was by setting the borders as they did, it fulfilled the majority of their promises which were given those who cooperated and assisted their efforts against the Ottoman Empire. Whatever the reasoning, the allied powers had legal rights to do as they chose with the lands in question under International law applicable at that time.

That leads directly to the question, how could the Caliphate be reestablished other than by force of arms? The most obvious answer is that the peoples of the individual nations could elect new leadership and petitions the other nations, those would need to likewise elect leadership so inclined and reestablish the Caliphate uniting one nation after the other through elections and new treaties. This method would take time, effort and a uniting of peoples from different tribes and other differentiating alliances within each nation and then do the same with even more peoples, groups, tribes, and religious sects within Islam as they added additional nations to the reestablishing Caliphate. Of course there is the downside of not being able to pillage cities and towns, pilfer and rob banks and financial institutions, destroy ancient religious and cultural sites from antiquity selling off the precious items located to black market thieves, murder those who might disagree with your plans or methods or simply because they worship in a different form of Islam or religion other than Islam under the banner of righteous cleansing and establishing the one true form of Islam, and simply butchering and raping your way as you go marauding across the entire Middle East should you succeed at your quest for a new Caliphate. Hopefully you have kept an idea in the back of your tiny little brains that should you murder all who fail to measure up to your particular ideas and ideals then you will not have many people in your caliphate and that could cause some real difficulties along the way and potentially ally so many against your idea of how to populate your caliphate that you will utterly fail. Perhaps if ISIS was being a little more compassionate and inclusive, they might find the world somewhat concerned about the issues ISIS claims to be fighting for; but doing so would take a bite out of their taking pleasures as they present themselves in any opportunity.

That is the first of many problems being caused by ISIS and the methodology they are pursuing to form their dreamed of Caliphate. Add to those problems there are also those same Western nations which came together and so carefully; all-right, so carelessly and with little effort or thought; crafted their divisions of the land establishing borders as they saw fit, or by a bump of an elbow assisting in drawing parts of the border for Jordan as it has been alleged. Then there is the violence which you have displayed which included direct threats to the Western nations as you flagrantly performed the inhuman act of beheading thus far three citizens of these nations, freelance reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff from the United States as well as aid worker David Haines from Britain with another British victim threatened to be beheaded presumed to be Alan Henning who was delivering aid such as medical supplies and other necessities. Where ISIS claims they are performing acts of righteousness and are being guided by the Quran, the Hadiths and practicing Islam in the manner of Muhammad; the rest of the world even including many of the Islamic faith (even a spokesperson claiming to represent al-Qaeda) have denounced ISIS because of their limitless brutality and inexcusable actions against the innocent including children. There have been comparisons equating ISIS plundering, malevolence and slaughtering of innocents to that of the Mongol Hordes, though the brutalities committed by ISIS may make the Mongols acts pale by comparison. The worst is accusing ISIS of such criminal malevolence would be received as if a compliment, and there lies the base reason that their defeat, nay, evisceration is necessary. Some actions can only be interpreted as a cancerous tumor which murders everything precious and valuable that falls within its grasp and as such must be excised and expunged simply to restore the return of civilized behavior and peoples.

Forces such as ISIS have aspects that though disturbing to most still attracts a segment of society, mostly outcasts and mentally defective souls who, when able, will ally with ISIS willingly, even anxiously, as has Boko Haram, another terrorist entity which practice similar traits that ISIS performs such as rape and selling of young women into slavery, even sexual slavery, beheading and murdering those who worship in other manners than exactly the prescribed manner of Boko Haram ideas of Islam. One must consider that ISIS was denounced and rejected by al-Qaeda as being too extreme even for those extremists. ISIS has announced their intention in their video to erase all the lines, the borders imposed, presumably illegally according to ISIS claiming they were forbidden by Islam, by the Western powers starting with the one the spokesperson is standing upon, the Syrian-Iraqi border. The spokesperson points out the border police station building just before it is detonated and destroyed, claiming that just that form or marking of any borders currently in existence will face the same degree of violation. Such fortuitous and infantile savagery is a refusal of the Western ideals of civility and as thus is simply the conflict between the Islamic lands within MENA and Western civilization of Europe and North America. One could almost draw a similarity to the divided world in Orwell’s 1984 with some alterations but still with three major divisions and the threats from each on Oceania. That aside, the threat from ISIS is a direct threat placing their perception of Islam and the teachings from Muhammad and the stated expectations from Allah as interpreted from the Quran and Hadiths. What is necessary and will be of great interest are the reactions from the Islamic nations, especially those who face the most immediate threat from ISIS. The Western nations who take part in the coalition should and must have the Islamic nations of MENA who elect to join the efforts to deter and hopefully eliminate the threats posed by ISIS to state their purpose. Where it is acceptable for their reason to be self-preservation; it would be far more preferable if their reasoning was to eliminate this malignant form of Islam as it is unacceptable and goes against the teachings of the Quran, Muhammad, and most of all Allah. Their reason, if it should become known, will tell the world much about the real teachings in the Quran and how they are viewed by those who make up the body of Islam, namely the Muslim nations around the world. If ISIS is claimed to be acting properly as viewed by the Islamic world and they join the coalition, assuming they will, simply for the reason of maintaining their rule and not because ISIS is blaspheming Islam, then the rest of the world should expect at some future date for the Islamic world to attack the rest of the world demanding as ISIS has that all believe exactly as they do or face a genocidal cleansing. This is the most frightening thing about ISIS, that they are acting exactly as an obedient Muslim should act once they have surrendered their will to Allah.

Beyond the Cusp

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March 26, 2014

The Unspoken Winners in the Ukraine and Crimea

The news is loaded with claims, depending on your sources, that the Ukraine was robbed of land and their main naval port, the Crimean citizens were denied a fair vote, the United States has lost all credibility, and Russia is facing debilitating sanctions. None of these reported truths are quite as valid as they are being represented. Let’s take each in turn starting with the United States. President Obama did not lose any credibility from the events in the Ukraine and Crimea as he had none to lose. Russian President Putin would not have moved to take the Crimean Peninsula if he thought there was any possibility it would have caused a military faceoff with the United States as both sides are fully aware that such a situation does not serve either nations’ future. The fact that Putin waited until well into President Obama’s second term and after watching Obama’s total lack of gravitas and credibility starting with his leading from behind in Libya through the waffling on every change of direction and presidents in Egypt, the disaster in Benghazi of the assassination of the American Ambassador and three other American citizens, through to the timid, feckless and insipid enforcement and the retrenching backing off of his Red Lines repeatedly concerning Syrian Dictator Bashir Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Putin likely concluded after pwning President Obama, having to school him on what it takes to be a world leader, over the continuing disaster where the world witnessed the shrinking of an American President as Obama was unable to hold his position against Assad appearing beyond simply weak as he displayed a complete lack of backbone, pride or self-confidence despite being Commander in Chief over the most powerful military force possibly in the history of the world. The United States was simply once again confirmed that its President was all promises and no delivery, something which had been displayed and proven repeatedly to such an extent that of the promise used by President Obama as his original campaign slogan of “Hope and Change” had been proven to be Hopeless Change which had compromised the credibility of the United States for as long as President Obama occupies the White House. After that, well, we will need to see who wins the Presidency in 2016 and take the measure of the next American President.

 

Putin sending Russian troops into the Crimean Peninsula was a no brainer. The Crimean Peninsula was populated largely by Russians who had been injected by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin as a means to pacify the area including the Ukraine. Russian President Putin was claiming an area which was more Russian than it was Ukrainian in attitude and majority population. The revolt which removed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was perceived correctly by Russian President Putin as a move against a strong ally of Russia and the loss of an exclusive trading partner. Even that was not sufficient motivation but was a mitigating factor which may have tipped the scales in addition to the threat the coup in the Ukraine possibly posed to the Russian sole warm water port in Sevastopol located in southern Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea. Russia also was fully aware, as should have other nations with an emphasis on the United States Administration, but their being clueless on any foreign policy matter is completely unsurprising, that under a treaty between Russia and both Crimea and the Ukraine they had legal rights to protect their access to the Sevastopol port using military forces and even setting up bases and using existing facilities if the need presented itself. Further, it is actually credible that the semi-autonomous Crimean governance had requested Russian intervention as they may have felt threatened by the change of government from a pro-Russian and friendly to the majority Russian population in Crimean populace to a Western leaning government which desired a complete break from Russia and was expected to present a problematic future for the residents of the Crimea. The final reason that Russia had little to fear from the Western nations mainly due to once they had taken complete and militarily uncontestable control of the entire Crimean Peninsula that there would be little Western nations could do to pursue removing the Russian presence. The possibility that any European nation would risk jeopardizing their gas supplies which the Russians could easily have reduced or completely cut off was absolutely nil. This was enforced even further by the fact that since World War II most European nations have cut their military forces back to the point where they are nothing more than an internal security force capable of handling many potential emergencies which are completely contained within their borders or to send small forces to troublesome hot spots, as the French did with Mali and the Central African Republic, thus were unlikely to enter any confrontation with the Russians over the Crimea. Russia held all the cards and as long as Russian President Putin remains satisfied with annexing the Crimean Peninsula and goes no further in reconstituting the former Soviet sphere of influence, then this entire affair should blow over and the current status quo will become the new normal.

 

The Crimean population also has gained exactly what they likely desired as soon as their man in Kiev was removed and anti-Russian-pro-Western influences took control in Kiev. They feel more secure as a Russian province and, as noted above, as long as Russians simply settle for annexing the Crimean Peninsula then there will likely be no further problems. The primary immediate unresolved situation would be concerning the use of the port at Sevastopol by the Ukrainian navy going forward. This should be worked out between the Russians and the new leaders in the Ukraine after their upcoming elections. As long as President Putin permits the Ukrainian Navy use of the port as stipulated in the agreement by which both nations had previously shared the port, then this should not become an issue. Still, it might be prudent to watch this and lend any assistance necessary to extend the provisions of that treaty into the future. The Ukraine also gained something because with the predominantly Russian aligned population of Crimea no longer voting in Ukrainian elections, the possibility of another pro-Russian President being elected to sit at the top of the government in Kiev has become remote. This allows the Ukrainian pro-Western political forces to now have the majority they desired and as long as the path to open relations with the European Union is not impinged by the Russians, then they should realize their ambitions. The question remains as to whether they will also seek at least acceptance of relations with Russia and the two sides can work to resolve any future problems. That begs the question as to what might rear itself and challenge the hope for a peaceful coexistence between the Russians and the new Ukrainian governance.

 

The one item which could pose a threat to peaceable relations would be the two main natural gas pipelines which pass through the Ukraine on into Europe which also provide much of the Ukrainian energy supplies. Russia could cut off or minimize the flow of natural gas through these pipelines restricting the flow to the two more northern pipelines which do not pass through the Ukraine. Such a move might have further ramifications during winter months should European demand be greater than what the northern pipelines are capable of supplying. Needless to point out but should Russia disable the pipelines which transverse the Ukraine then the Ukraine would need to find an alternative supplier of natural gas or other compatible fuels. The best hopes would be for the Russians and the future leaders of the Ukraine to meet at the earliest possible time and work through the renormalization of relations and renegotiate or confirm the stipulations of current treaties and arrangements to their mutual satisfaction. Hopefully the fears that Russian President Putin is formulating plans by which to reassert Russian hegemony over the former Soviet Warsaw Pact nations in an effort to reverse the end of the Soviet Union are unfounded. These fears have some validity when one considers what Putin’s statement concerning that collapse where he stated, “Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.” Responding to that possibility the Polish Government took the unprecedented step of calling up their reserve forces and placed them into an immediate training regimen as a preparation for what has to be the Polish government’s worst fears, a repeat, at least from the Russian side, of the events which triggered World War II. Let us all hope that the Polish reservists get to return home at the earliest possible moment and the driving trepidation which drove their call-up prove to be unnecessary and remain unfulfilled.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

March 2, 2014

Russia and Ukraine Face-Off

A face-off between Russia and the Ukraine would have been more welcomed on the ice at the Olympics in Sochi a few weeks back. Instead the world is facing a heated and anxious situation as Russian troops have entered the port city of Sevastopol, Ukraine which serves as the home port for both the Ukrainian Navy and the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The Russians are claiming these troops are within agreed upon levels by treaties they have with the Ukraine and have nothing to do with the recent changes in the Ukrainian governance. For obvious reasons, the new government in Kiev is viewing this other than normal infusion of Russian troops in the areas of the Ukraine populated largely by Russians who were placed there by Stalin during his rule over the Soviet Union. A underlying level of animosity has existed between the Russian and native Ukrainian population which has only intensified as a result of what those Ukrainians who feel a close affinity to Russia feel has been an illegal coup by those who have recently claimed to have replaced the former government of President Viktor Yanukovych after months of protests. Further aggravating what is definitely a delicate situation are the rumors that the Russians are also providing a safe haven for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych who has yet to actually fully accept and acquiesce to the fact that there is a new governance going to be elected come May 25th unless something alters the current situation.

 

United States President Obama has expressed concern and warnings to Russian President Putin not to interfere with the “natural progression” currently evolving in Kiev and across the Ukraine. It is highly doubtful that President Putin will be anything other than mildly amused by President Obama issuing warnings as he has had more than enough experiences with the United States President’s Red-Lines. This begs the question why President Putin would only send in a limited force and whether the restraint is due to modest goals or a test to discern what the reactions will be from the rest of the world. Our guess doubts that Putin cares one whit about how the rest of the world, the United Nations included, will react to his placing troops in the Russian areas of the Ukraine. What is far more likely is Putin is only interested in the safety of the southern port at Sevastopol, Ukraine which allows for the Russian entrance to the Mediterranean Sea and from there the Atlantic Ocean and through the Suez Canal to the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean and beyond. There are more than sufficient Russian reserve troops poised on the Ukrainian border along with a fleet of aircraft should a larger assault prove necessary. The fact that the Russian presence is limited in both scope and numbers and basically simply holding two airports in the eastern and southern regions and the port city of Sevastopol, one is led to believe that the Russians are simply protecting critical infrastructure and military infrastructure and may have no intent to challenge the evolving politics in the Ukraine. On the other hand, we may be witnessing the first stages of a repeat of the Russian intervention into Georgian Republic where Russian military forces took by force the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which have large ethnic Russian populations similar to the eastern and southern areas of the Ukraine.

 

The responses available to the nascent leadership in Kiev will be completely dependent upon the support or lack thereof from the Ukrainian military. One can expect that the Ukrainian military would not be overly anxious to test their abilities against the Russians, and it is no wonder why. The basic truth is that whatever Putin decides he wants to do, he has the military power and resources to accomplish and this includes reversing the overthrow of President Yanukovych’s government. This has been further enabled as the Russian parliament unanimously voted to grant President Putin permission to mobilize the country’s military to utilize in the Ukraine. The European Union does not actually have sufficient military to enforce anything and are likely to at most sound some bluster and noise that will have little effect. As far as President Obama, he is far more interested in disassembling and paring down the United States military forces and capabilities than he is about preventing Putin from having his way in the Ukraine. The truth is that the United States under the auspices of President Obama has no international intentions and has basically surrendered all foreign policy decisions to the rest of the world. President Obama has decided to vote “Present” on all things beyond the maritime borders of the United States and maybe not even that far out to sea. His entire foreign policy can be summed up in one goal, force Israel to capitulate to as much of the Palestinians demands as possible and hoping that is sufficient to get a Palestinian state founded and he and Secretary of State Kerry a Nobel Peace Prize. Everything and everyone else, best of luck without us, the US. As we said when President Obama was first elected, welcome to Jimmy Carter on steroids. Jimmy Carter gave us the Ayatollahs ruling Iran and Barack Obama is giving the Ayatollahs a free run at manufacturing their own nuclear weapons. Russia imposing their will on the Ukraine, though a sad affair and unfortunate for those who fought so long to win a fresh start for their nation without corruptocratic rulers, a nuclear armed Iran will result in a far more damaging future and it is all thanks to Barry.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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