Beyond the Cusp

June 30, 2014

Middle East War Imminent

The forces fighting under the banner of the terrorist army of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have swept across central Iraq and are only now facing any real opposition. This lack of resistance has emboldened ISIS as well as having provided them with advanced weapons systems which were abandoned by the Iraqi Army as they retreated, refusing to even engage the oncoming terrorist army. Only now has the Iraqi Army properly prepared to face the onrushing hordes by holding their ground around Baghdad. Much of the Western World has focused upon Baghdad with low expectations and have set attacking Jordan as their line in the sand. Former Israeli National Security Council director Yaakov Amidror commented on the situation Sunday expressing that, “It’s not just in Jordan’s interest, but in Israel’s as well, to work together to solve this problem.” The comments came amidst reports of Jordan deploying massive army forces on its Iraqi border Friday, including tanks, army vehicles, missile launchers and soldiers, citing the Arab news source Asharq Al-Aswat. Jordanian concerns are validated by calls from amongst the advancing ISIS forces for Jordanian King Abdullah’s execution.

 

Further aggravation has been caused by the ISIS leadership declaring themselves as a new Islamic Caliphate and defining the lands that they have taken by force as being a new Islamic State. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was given the title of Caliph which permits him to take whatever he desires and to do so by force if that is what is required. ISIS is also now declaring that they should now be referred to as simply the Islamic State and give them the deference usually reserved for recognized and established nations. Spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani released a statement to the press where he claimed, referring to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being given the title of Caliph and the establishing ISIS as the Islamic State, “He is the Imam and Khalifah for the Muslims everywhere. It is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to and support him. The legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the Khalifah’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas.” I guess that all has been said and done and we can expect any moment now for the Family Saud, the Emirs of Kuwait and the Emirates, President el-Sisi in Egypt, Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey and every other Sunni national leader to surrender their nations and pledge their troops to the new Islamic State and the great Khalifah Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Well, I guess this takes care of Jordan as obviously Jordanian King Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein will order his armies which are currently deployed in force and on high alert to stand down and take whatever is required of them by the new Khalifah al-Baghdadi including executing the King for his crimes against Islam which Khalifah al-Baghdadi has ordered. Well, then again, maybe not; and the same likely goes for Egyptian President Sisi, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, the Family Saud and any of the other “righteous leaderships” that currently rule by the will of Allah and their having most of the guns throughout the Sunni Muslim World, and we have yet to address the Shiite Islamic world which Khalifah al-Baghdadi has declared all Shiite Muslims to be heretics deserving of death.

 

So, what can we make of all this fury and bluster? Giving it some thought, we can likely conclude that ISIS has stretched their lines close to their limits without an new influx of fighters, and even more importantly, supply and logistics personnel which are more difficult to find as such positions are not the positions desired by the glory and martyrdom seekers and require intelligence and education if they are to be useful and as well organized as required. No army has ever run on all soldiers on the lines fighting and nobody bringing them supplies, food and all the other requirements for battle and survival. The age of plunder as you go is over and the only soldiers still employing such tactics are small specialized forces who are executing specific missions and targets and are not as concerned with taking and holding land. ISIS has declared their intent to transform the lands they have conquered into a state, even if it is a nonfunctional state for now, and that requires holding and defending the lands you possess and still providing for the troops to continue onward in your lust for complete power. Does this mean that ISIS is done and not going to proceed further? No, they will still likely be capable of launching attacks on the southern extremes of Iraq which they must take if only for the oil fields and a port to the open seas in order to trade that oil taking in monies they can then utilize for further conquest. They might even attempt to take on the Jordanian army. It would serve Jordan to announce if they have any assurances or agreements with Israel for their mutual defense before ISIS crosses their border and hostilities start. Warfare is easier to force your enemy to reconsider attacking you than it is to force them to end such an assault and disengage from the conflict on your front.

 

Are there any other options for ISIS if they should prove capable of capturing the southern parts of Iraq? There are basically three options, after they solidify their conquest of Iraq and have dealt with the fairly significant numbers of Shiites, they will have remaining on the lands they would then control. Demanding mass conversions to Sunni Islam would be attempted but if there are those who are respected within the Shiite community who refuse, that could result in a large segment also refusing to swear their allegiance to Sunni Islam and to follow Khalifah al-Baghdadi. Providing that either ISIS risked raising the general levels of ire towards them by murdering en-mass the Shiite population of Iraq, the option for what next would be completely taken care of by Iran who would necessarily declare Jihad against ISIS declaring them apostates, idolaters or heretics and another Iraq-Iran War would ensue and would be to the death. In such a scenario the only hope ISIS would have is if the rest of the Sunni Islamic world would answer their calls for unity against the Shiites and a final last war between these two largest branches of Islam. Should ISIS find another route whereby the Shiite population they would have conquered is not forced necessarily to convert and are not murdered en-mass, then they would face choices. Attacking Jordan runs the risk of also engaging Israel and possibly others from the Western nations though it would be very unlikely that the United States would do anything beyond perhaps some attempts to target leaders of ISIS for drone strikes, killing the head of the snake, so to speak. The other choices would be to strike either Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. These two options basically end with the same results, starting the general war between the Family Saud and the leadership of ISIS for control of the Sunni Islamic world. The Saudis would have the deeper pockets and would have the assistance of Western nations who would only likely demand a lower price on oil for some period which would help to stimulate their sluggish economies to climb out from the recession much more quickly and with less pain and austerity. At this point ISIS has the choice of which bad idea will they pursue. There still remains the final option, do nothing and consolidate their gains for the time being. Then once they have established this new Islamic State and gained recognition, and why should they not expect recognition as they are no worse a terrorist group than is Hezballah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas or Fatah and the Western nations have demanded Israel negotiate with or otherwise deal with those terror groups and give them a state of their own, why would ISIS be any different other than they are not attacking Israel yet. So, depending on the next move taken by ISIS, I’m sorry, the “Islamic State”, that will determine whether we are about to enter into a general Middle East War or continue with ever increasing terrorist strikes the world over and the first step to redrawing the Arab and Muslim world to represent reality and the tribal, clannish and sectarian differences establishing new nations which represent a pure citizenship with little or no multicultural citizenry such as was forced upon the Middle East after World War I by the Sykes–Picot Agreement which spawned much of the turmoil in the region ever since the imaginary and arbitrary lines were drawn seemingly free of any considerations or thought and completely at random as if by a child scrawling with multicolored crayons on the map of the Middle East.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

August 2, 2013

Syrian Kurds Another Victim of Hate

Just as the Kurds in Iraq were considered as the others and left pretty much on the side of the Sunni-Shiite debate, they were not accepted by either group. They were the perennial outsiders as under Saddam Hussein they were a victimized minority and now under the Iranian aligned Shiites they are those others in the far north. In many ways the Kurds in Iraq are the fortunate amongst the various Kurdish populations as they have successfully carved out their own little fiefdom and have won for themselves a near absolute autonomous region. In Iraq the Kurdish population has the protection of well-armed and well-trained militias and has gained a relative secure and peaceful region with little to fear from either the Sunnis or the Shiites of central and southern Iraq. There only trouble spot has been the occasions when Turkish military executed incursions into northern Iraq in efforts to presumably eradicate Kurdish guerrilla units which were terrorizing Eastern Turkey’s Kurdish regions. The Kurdish areas of Iraq closest to Syria have been providing refuge for Syrian Kurds who have fled the violence of the Syrian conflict.

 

But there are those Kurds who decided to remain in Syria and fight to hold and protect their areas and allow their fellow Kurds to remain in their homes and communities. These Kurds had ably cleared and protected their northeastern communities and were content to hold on to their areas where the majority of the Kurdish population resided and leave the civil war to the other groups and al-Assad’s military. For the most part the Free Syrian Army, the secular militia, had respected the Kurds leaving them to care for their own and was almost uniquely concentrating on the overthrow of Bashir al-Assad. For much of the two years the Syrian Civil War had raged, the Free Syrian Army and the al-Nusra Front were both concentrating all of their efforts against the Syrian Military and had occasionally coordinated their efforts when it suited both in clearing or liberating a critical area. This has changed over the recent past as the al-Nusra Front merged with al-Qaeda and other Sunni Jihadists who have now decided to impose a Sharia compliant area over which they claim autonomy. This has led to their declaring their intent to fight the Free Syrian Army as well as Bashir al-Assad as both are now considered to be enemies of their ideals for a Sharia state. This has obviously led to a three way civil war with the three separate combatant groups being the Syrian military loyal to al-Assad, the Free Syrian Army, and the al-Nusra Front which has aligned with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) with the new alliance assuming the new title of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). As the Free Syrian Army has slowly but inexorably been losing manpower, the ISIS has reached the decision that they no longer pose either a sizeable threat nor do they offer much in the way as an ally assisting in the war against the Syrian military so ISIS has declared hostilities against the Free Syrian Army as well as their efforts against al-Assad.

 

That leads us to the Kurdish militias and their held area in the northeast of Syria. With recent setbacks for ISIS and gains for the Syrian military, the ISIS found themselves pushed back northward and coming into contact with the Kurdish areas. This quickly became a problem as the ISIS jihadists declared the region to be part of their Sharia state which was opposed by the Kurdish forces. There has been some nasty firefights in the past week with little actual gains by either side. Late Tuesday the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) issued a “victory message”, celebrating the liberation’ of Ras al-Ain, in northern Syria. During the fighting between the two groups over the past weeks has actually spilled over the border with Turkey and into the nearby town of Ceylanpinar where a seventeen-year-old Turkish boy was killed and two other people were wounded. That may be about to change as the ISIS jihadists abducted two-hundred Kurdish civilians and is holding them as hostages. The jihadists after taking Tall Aren, a village in Aleppo province, are now laying siege to another village nearby named Tall Hassel. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that the Jihadists have taken two-hundred civilian hostages from the two villages and are demanding the Kurdish forces surrender the area and cease their resistance and comply with their demands. This has led to a call by YPG in a statement quoted by Al Arabiya requesting, “We call on the Kurdish people… to step forward… anyone fit to bear arms should join the ranks of the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG) and to face the assaults of these (jihadist) armed groups.”

 

A well-known Kurdish politician, Isa Huso, was killed in Qamishli near his place of residence. Commenting on the situation, a Kurdish spokesperson had decried that “Despite our repeated calls to the National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) command… to date these parties have failed to take a clear position. It said it was clear that FSA battalions, Al-Nusra Front and ISIS in particular, were coordinating with jihadist groups, adding that these groups and the FSA “have become one side in attacking the Kurdish people.” This grabbing of civilian hostages is presenting a threat to escalate the conflict into a new and unthinkable area. Should these likely terrified Kurdish noncombatants, which includes women and children, be tortured, murdered or otherwise come to harm an international denouncing would be in order. This might be an appropriate time to repair one of the most grievous oversights committed after World War I when the Ottoman Empire was being sliced up into nations replacing the colonial demarcations and no state was set aside for the Kurdish populations which lived mostly in one region which included southeastern Turkey, northeastern Syria, northern Iraq, and northwestern Iran. Perhaps the time for establishing a Kurdish state has arrived. Should such a state be cut from the areas of Kurdish populations, it could be minimized at the eastern and western extremes thus minimizing the amounts of land requested from Turkey and Iran in order to form Kurdistan. The advantage to Turkey and Iran would be an end to the low level but consistent problems ruling over their Kurdish minorities and the friction due to the Kurds being denied a homeland would be resolved and the Kurds would need to surrender any claims to lands beyond the agreeable borders resulting from deliberations. If the world can go to such extents in order to force the formation of a state for the make-believe Palestinian people, then there certainly should be an effort to form a Kurdish state as we know that there was a long and proud Kurdish history. This is obvious as history tells of a commander of one of the most formidable Islamic armies of all time who was a Kurdish man named Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, more famously known by his westernized name, Saladin. Certainly the descendants of the tribe of Saladin deserve a rightful place within the Islamic lands if any group is found so deserving. On the other hand, after being so unceremoniously ejected from the Holy Lands by Saladin’s army, it is no surprise that European powers would deny his descendants their rightful heritage. Talk about revenge being served cold.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

July 13, 2013

Time for American Support for Syrian Free Army has Passed

United States President Obama stalled straddling the fence on whether or not to supply weapons including heavy crew served weapons to the presumably secular Free Syria Army until quite recently. If President Obama aimed to not actually support the Free Syria Army he handled the situation perfectly but if his aim was to assist in the overthrow of Assad and replacing him with a secular democracy then his actions have produced utter failure. The beginning of the end of the Free Syria Army came in the form of the assassination of one of the leading Free Syria Army Officers, Kamal Hamami whose nom de guerre is Abu Bassel al-Ladkani, by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant with whom he was meeting to coordinate joint efforts. Qassem Saadeddine, a Free Syrian Army spokesman, gave the media a report on the incident stating, “The Islamic State phoned me saying that they killed Abu Bassel and that they will kill all of the Supreme Military Council.” This comes immediately after the beheading of a Catholic Priest, Franciscan Father Francois Murad, who was murdered with two other people in the countryside of Idlib in northern Syria on Sunday. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Islamist Sunnis have now declared Jihad against not only the Shiite and Alawite backers of Syrian Dictator Bashir al-Assad but also against the secular pro-democracy elements of the rebel forces.

 

One might seek to find out exactly what these developments will mean about the viability of the Free Syria Army and whether arming them at this point would end up indirectly but inevitably giving the arms to the al-Qaeda and other Islamist rebels. The truth is and has been almost since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War that the viability of the Free Syria Army had a limited use-by date. Unlike the Shiite and Sunni Islamist forces who are able to import reinforcements and replace those fighters who have fallen in battle, the Free Syria Army has no such luxury so as their numbers dwindled due to casualties they have been unable to replace these losses. This handicap is what made arming the Free Syria Army early in the Civil War an absolute necessity. The delay by United States President Obama in deciding to arm them was the death knell which has led to the point where their force strength has been so diluted that the Islamist forces no longer see them as a necessary force in the Civil War which is evidenced by the beheading of the Free Syria Army Officer Kamal Hamami. The efforts in Syria now have but two equally disastrous outcomes, either a Shiite run Syria with or without al-Assad but still completely under the control of and owing their allegiance to Iran or a Sunni controlled Syria under the leadership of either al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood or some combination thereof.

 

This present unfavorable situation within Syria where the possibility for a democratic state to result from the Civil War is no longer a viable option makes one curious as to why President Obama has chosen to start arming the Free Syria Army now when they have no future nor possibility of having any influence going forward. With the Civil War in Syria now solely a contest between Sunni and Shiite Islamist forces with no possibility for the pro-democracy Free Syria Army to prevail, is President Obama being given obviously false intelligence about the situation in Syria or is he intending for any arms now sent to arm the Free Syria Army to end up in the arms of the Muslim Brotherhood and/or al-Qaeda? Such a result cannot be a desirable result yet since the announcement last week of the intent of the United States to start arming the vetted members of the Free Syria Army with armaments the only reason they have yet to be shipped is because the Congress is standing in the breach preventing their being deployed. It is known that the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) has the arms stockpiled currently in Jordan in the ready to transfer across the border into Syria awaiting the ‘go’ signal in order to make the transfer. With any luck and the providence of fate the Congress, with the obvious exception of Senator John McCain who never found a battle he didn’t wish to send arms, will continue to prevent the United States making a serious tactical error by supplying arms into a situation where these very same arms will eventually become possessed by mujahidin forces currently fighting in Syria. Strike up one more for leading from behind for the Ditherer in Chief, President Obama who is once more too late to the party. The real tragedy is that had President Obama allowed American arms to be supplied to the Free Syrian Army at the onset of the pro-democracy struggle against Bashir al-Assad there may have been at least a slim possibility for a democratic result in Syria and there very well might have been far fewer innocent civilian casualties and have spared Syria from near complete destruction that has resulted in the years of the Civil War.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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