This excellent report from what used to be Iraq and Syria highlights the very strange bedfellows that conflict in the Middle East can produce:
It is great to see reportage like this as watching CNN or the BBC is often like watching a weird Disney version of reality. Highly recommended.
The Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq decries the abduction of women for a life of rape and servitude under the black banner of the Islamic State, doomed to supply jihad al-nikah, or “sex for the pursuit of struggle,” but the organized feminists, so eager to complain of abuse, such as having to pay for their own birth control, are strangely silent.
- from a Washington Times editorial.
My reaction upon reading this story was “wow, this would make a hell of a movie!”
When Mohammed Abu Ali went to bed on August 8, he was living in Makhmour, a Kurdish-populated town near the border of Iraqi Kurdistan. When he woke up the next day, he was in Makhmour, an abandoned town under the control of the Islamic State
Time to stay calm and think very carefully before saying anything!
I recommend the five part video series on the Islamic State over on VICE News. Very factual with a minimum of ‘interpretation’. VICE News is often a haven of fluorescent idiocy and tedious Guardian-speak, but in this case it has been a while since I have seen such good old fashioned journalism relating to the Middle East.
UPDATE: they have posted the series in one full length video, so I have adjusted the link accordingly. Highly recommended.
“It is striking, however, that you have more than 170,000 people dead in Syria. You have the vacuum that has been created by the relentless assault by Assad on his own population, an assault that has bred these extremist groups, the most well-known of which, ISIS—or ISIL—is now literally expanding its territory inside Syria and inside Iraq. You have Russia massing battalions — Russia, that actually annexed and is occupying part of a UN member state—and I fear that it will do even more to prevent the incremental success of the Ukrainian government to take back its own territory, other than Crimea. More than 1,000 people have been killed in Ukraine on both sides, not counting the [Malaysia Airlines] plane, and yet we do see this enormous international reaction against Israel, and Israel’s right to defend itself, and the way Israel has to defend itself. This reaction is uncalled for and unfair. You can’t ever discount anti-Semitism, especially with what’s going on in Europe today. There are more demonstrations against Israel by an exponential amount than there are against Russia seizing part of Ukraine and shooting down a civilian airliner. So there’s something else at work here than what you see on TV… And what you see on TV is so effectively stage-managed by Hamas, and always has been. What you see is largely what Hamas invites and permits Western journalists to report on from Gaza. It’s the old PR problem that Israel has. Yes, there are substantive, deep levels of antagonism or anti-Semitism towards Israel, because it’s a powerful state, a really effective military. And Hamas paints itself as the defender of the rights of the Palestinians to have their own state. So the PR battle is one that is historically tilted against Israel. …”
These comments are from a very senior US politician with close connections to a recent occupant of the White House. There are pretty close to my own thinking on all this. Which, assuming the quotes are accurate, is quite perplexing. I do, however, wonder how sincere the author of these words is about all this. Can you guess who I am talking about?
Ok, so a third of the country has been over run by blood thirsty Sunni Einsatzgruppen, but you know what? The Really Important Thing is not getting the national shit together, it is holding onto personal power in Baghdad! Forming pragmatic coalitions in wartime is for sissies!
Thank goodness for all those years of democratic nation building!
As I expected, the usual suspects are happy to take to the streets of western cities to protest against Israel and the USA, ostensibly for killing or being a party to killing people, but I have yet to see large scale demos in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Dublin on behalf of the Yazidis and Chaldean Christians being murdered by Islamists.
I look forward to this changing but I will not be holding my breath in the meantime.
I expect many afflicted with Obama Derangement Syndrome will be dismayed to see Obama praised for anything, but the actions in Iraq seem to be pretty much correct, at least so far.
My views on Iraq (and Afghanistan) are well know and can be summarised thus: it was right to go in and topple the governments, whereupon the US (and its allies should have) should have declared victory and got the hell out many many years ago, saying only “now that you have seen what will happen to any government who annoys us enough, keep that in mind when you sort it out amongst yourselves who will be your subsequent rulers. Our armies have gone home now but we own your sky any time we wish to, so you need to realise we will not tolerate any jihadi lunatics running the country.” No futile democratic nation building.
So Obama is right to not put any substantive forces on the ground beyond the barest advisers who are there now (and perhaps some forward air controllers). And he is right to strike this most deranged lunatic strain of jihadis yet seen from the air. If I have any criticism, it is that as the IS nutters are currently exposed targets out in the open, having transitioned from guerilla war to out-in-the-open war, the intensity of strikes should be increased rapidly whilst the opportunity presents itself. Kill as many of these islamo-fascist barbarians as possible as quickly as possible.
Just as Kabul was actually taken by the Northern Alliance with US air support, so too can people like the Peshmerga do the ground work with US assistance from the air.
But so far at least, well done Obama. That is the first time I have ever said that particular combination of words.
The rage metre has been in the red for a while now, with Baroness Warsi, a Muslim in case you did not know (or Baroness Token as she is known in some parts), quitting over the UK’s policies towards Israel (yes it is said the UK actually has a policy on the subject). Strangely she did not quit the government in protest over UK support of Pakistan, at a time when several hundred thousand people have been displaced by strikes against the Taliban in Waziristan. Go figure! I wonder why? Actually, no I don’t.
So what will be the reactions and suggestions from within the BBC/Guardian Bubble to the rapidly building catastrophe in Iraq amongst the Yazidi and Christian communities, I wonder? I realise these communities are being ethnically cleansed (i.e. murdered and dispossessed) but as it is not being done by Jews or Westerners, does it really matter? Indeed can it even be said to be truly happening? It will be interesting to see and contrast I think, in a nightmarish kind of way.
Thousands of Christians are reported to be fleeing after Islamic militants seized the minority’s biggest town in Iraq. The Islamic State (IS) group captured Qaraqosh in Nineveh province overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces. An international Christian organisation said at least a quarter of Iraq’s Christians were leaving Qaraqosh and other surrounding towns.
So my question is why were rifles and RPGs and a few truckloads of ammunition not deposited in these communities weeks ago? The Yazidi and Christian communities should have been armed to the teeth by now. If 100,000 people from the region have been displaced, at least 10,000 of them should be viable militia, no? Why leave such things to various state armies?
Warsi dismissively described Osborne as “a good friend of the Israeli government”. The more subtle truth is that Osborne, along with a handful of other senior politicians, is prepared to step back historically and geographically, and to remember that the state of Israel was founded by a people that had heard the approaching silence of absolute extinction, and resolved never again to face that void.
Israel is bigger than Gaza and the West Bank, but it is smaller than almost everywhere else. Less than a century old, it is a democracy surrounded by hostile nations and under permanent attack by terrorists who wish to see it wiped from the surface of the Earth. What is a “proportionate” response to a hydra-like enemy who sees the Final Solution as work in progress? All terrorism aimed at Israel is genocidal in spirit. What would a “proportionate” response to that ambition look like?
- Matthew d’Ancona
From a couple days ago, I just noticed a story from Breitbart Network claiming the government of Israel was being criticised for not sharing Iron Dome technology with Gaza’s government (i.e. Hamas) so that Hamas could defend its population from bombardment… presumably by Israeli attacks.
Please read the article and then tell me if I have misunderstood this. It seems rather like criticising the government of the United Kingdom in the 1943 for not sharing centimetric radar technology with the German government so that the German government could better protect their population from bombardment… by the RAF.
Either Breitbart Network have got the story wrong or the world is an even more absurd place than even cynical old me realised.