An “Arab Spring” 2.0 revolt of sorts has been taking place in both Iraq and Lebanon for the past several weeks. These massive, country-wide demonstrations in both countries have taken on an anti-Iran flavor–even in the Shi’a-dominated regions of Iraq. These demonstrations, particularly in southern Iraq have become rather violent with live rounds being used to shoot protestors. An estimated 300 have been killed and 15,000 wounded.
Meanwhile, the protestors are burning pictures of Khamenei and Khomenei.
With Syria also in a mess, it appeared that the Mullah’s dreams of a “Shi’a Crescent” (connecting Iran with the Mediterranean Sea via Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon) were heading south. Then things got even worse for them this week. The demonstrations in Iraq have spilled over into Iran itself. The Iranian demonstrations were touched off by the regime’s 50% hike in fuel prices last week, but they also demonstrate a deep-seated disaffection with the rule of the Mullahs. Previous demonstrations have called for the regime to step down and have even been accompanied by shouts of “Death to Khamenei” in mockery to the regime’s usual orchestrated “Death to America” chants used on other occasions. The demonstrators of this current round are also chanting “death to the dictator, death to the dictator.”
These current rounds of demonstrations, which began on Friday 15 November, have spread throughout the entire country.
Compounding the problem for the Mullahs are the huge non-Persian ethnic groups in distinct regions of the country. In the northwest are the Kurds, who can’t help but be at least somewhat affected by the semi-autonomy of their Kurdish brethren across the border in northern Iraq. In the north east are the Ajerbaizanis. It is estimated that fully 25% of Iran’s population of 85 million are Azeris. The Azeris also, can look across Iran’s northern border and see the fully independent state of their brethren in the nation of Azerbaijan.
In the south east of Iran are the Baluchis who have more in common with their fellow Baluchi’s who dominate southwest Pakistan right across the border. There have already been a number of Baluchi terrorist actions in Iranian Baluchistan directed against the Iranian regime.
In Iran’s far west is the predominantly Arabic-speaking region of Ahwaz where an IRGC patrol was ambushed some months ago. The Saudis have been cultivating this region for years, so there might be some truth to the Iranian regime’s accusing Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States for the current nation-wide demonstrations taking place.
The Iranian regime last week announced the discovery of a new oil field in Ahwaz containing 50 billion barrels of oil. To be sure, other people besides the Iranian regime would like to get their hands on that oil–perhaps even the people of Ahwaz.
In Iran as a whole, some 36 have been killed by live fire and hundreds wounded. Some of the protestors are calling for the “international” community to do something.
BOTTOM LINE: Things are not looking very good for the Mullahs right now. These demonstrations include not only the non-Persian ethnic regions mentioned above, but also the predominantly Persian areas such as the capital city of Tehran. I believe it would be safe to say that Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear “deal” and the subsequent embargoes the Trump administration has placed on Iran the country, and on the leading Mullahs, and the pressure these embargoes have placed on Iran economically have helped to fuel the discontent in the country. Whether or not it will result in a regime change or not remains to be seen.
The leader of the Syrian Democratic Forces Kurdish General Mazloum Kobani Abdi has slammed Trump’s cease fire agreement with Turkey–only days after he was forced to read a statement written by Trump in a quid pro quo. The Trump statement had Gen. Abdi praising Trump and thanking him for arranging the cease fire. The quid pro quo was that Gen. Abdi had to read that prepared statement in order to get the 50 million dollars for his group that Trump had promised. But, then, on 19 October, Gen. Adbi was quoted by NPR as saying that the deal was “really terrible.”
The Kurdish General’s name is significant because it indicates that he came from the city of Kobani. When ISIS was at its peak they had besieged the city. The people of Kobani stood alone while the world watched them beat back the ISIS thugs–at great loss of lives to themselves. Men, women, every able-bodied person in that city fought for their lives while the Turkish army, just a hundred yards of so across the border cheered on the ISIS terrorists yelling allahu akbar and denigrations of the Kurds.
Afterwards, most of the survivors in Kobani having recognized ISIS as the real Islam, converted to Christianity. The people of this city are thus on Turkish President Erdogan’s list for extermination.
After obtaining the ceasefire with Turkey, Trump celebrated it on Twitter tweeting: “think of how many lives we saved in Syria and Turkey by getting a ceasefire yesterday. Thousands and thousands, and maybe many more.’
FACT: Turkey began breaking this celebrated “ceasefire” before the ink was even dry, as predicted by myself and virtually everyone else on the planet who is familiar with Turkey’s behavior. In the month that has passed, Turkey and its al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) militias (all rolled into what Turkey calls the “Syrian National Army”) have killed over 500 Kurdish, Christian, and Yazidi civilians and forced over 300,000 more out of their homes. These are also results predicted by myself and everyone else on this planet familiar with Turkey’s behavior.
ERDOGAN’S VISIT TO WASHINGTON (13-14 November)
During the press conference wrapping up Erdogan’s Washington visit, Trump claimed that the “cease fire” was firm, and holding. As he was reading that statement the Turkish regular army was busy shelling a Christian city, according to Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) leader Gen. Abdi during an interview aired during a regular news report by the Saudi-owned al-arabiyya TV channel.
When Trump announced he was pulling American troops out of Syria, leaving our allies there high and dry, the Kurdish-dominated SDF immediately made peace with the Assad regime in Damascus, and by extension, their Russian patrons. SDF then, in conjunction with the Syrian army and probably Russian air force participation, retook the Christian city of Qamishli from the terrorist gangs that had been running the place.
The Trump administration then did another policy 180 degree flip-flop and instead of pulling all 1,000 American troops out of Syria as he had announced, he rushed 500 of them to Qamishli where they took over the oil fields. Rumors have it that the actual number of American troops there are closer to 800. In other words, this represents more of a redeployment than a withdrawal . . . an effort to protect oil resources rather than allies and civilians.
While the Americans were moving into the oil fields, the Russians moved to take over the Qamishli air port. American and Russians troops are thus close enough to play soccer with each other. Al-jazeera reported that the Americans and Russians coordinated with each other so as to avoid accidentally getting into a skirmish.
Arabic TV channels are also reporting that the Russians have beefed up their presence at the airport this past week, bringing in a number of attack helicopters.
During an al-jazeera TV talk show, the host queried a Russian guest speaking from Moscow, about Russia’s recent move at the Qamishli airport. The Russian, who was rather along in years, but spoke superb Arabic (meaning he was probably ex KGB), currently works for a Moscow think tank close to the Kremlin. The Russian responded to the talk show’s host saying that the Russian troops are not occupation troops, they are there to protect and defend the region for the legitimate government of Syria.
The al-jazeera host kept pressing the Russian with “defend it from whom?” This went on several times with the Russian swerving and dancing away from the question until at the very end of the program he admitted with some irritation that they were there to protect Syrian territory from the Turks.
The day after Erdogan left Washington Trump called Fayez Sirraaj, the head of the UN and EU-recognized government of Libya which is based in Tripoli. In this conversation, he indicated that he supported the Sirraaj government as the legitimate government of Libya, and called upon General Haftar, who heads an opposing “government” to halt his attacks against Tripoli.
This represents another 180 degree policy flip flop by the Trump administration, because Trump had previously offered verbal support to Gen. Haftar. So, it begs the question as to why?
A couple of weeks ago there were reports that General Haftar’s forces were beginning to tilt the fortunes of battle in their favor, and after over a year of stalemate were making some serious progress in Tripoli. People wondered why the sudden change of fortune?
The answer came a few days later. Russian advisors were embedded in General Haftar’s forces, attempting to have the same success there that they had in Syria.
This past week contributed reports that the Russians were not only advising Gen. Haftar’s forces, but were heavily financing the project as well. Al-jazeera TV reported that Sudanese “volunteers” were bring trained in Egypt, on an Egyptian military base . . . by Russians! On 15 November, al-Jazeera TV reported that the Russian advisors active in Libya were “mercenaries” working for a company called “Wagner” which is reputedly close to the Kremlin.
“Wagner” is sort of a Russian version of the American Company “Blackwater” and is composed of ex-Russian military. Members of this outfit have been used in both Ukraine and Syria, allowing Moscow to claim it had nothing to do with the matter when and if they get into a situation causing an international row.
So, what do the Russians want in Libya? A share of the oil wealth for starters, but beyond that a couple of military bases might sure be nice–especially given that their bases in Syria might be on shaky ground if things there go south.
The White House has given the Russian moves in Libya as the reason why it has shifted its (at least emotional) support to the Sirraaj government in Tripoli.
I could buy the WH reason for this shift in policy . . . had it come prior to Erdogan’s visit to the WH. The fact that this decision, this phone call to Sirraaj (and a subsequent Pompeo call to Haftar ordering him to cease and desist) came just one day after Erdogan’s visit, makes it impossible to believe that Russia was the real reason.
The circumstances, and Trump’s history of complying with Erogan requests, about a half dozen times over the past year, make me suspect that this is just more of the same.
WHO IS GENERAL HAFTAR?
Born Khalifa BilQaasim Haftar in a small town near Benghazi in eastern Libya, in 1943. As an adult, he worked his way up the army becoming a Colonel when he, and other officers, aided Col. Qadhafi in overthrowing the corrupt, aging King Idris. In the late 1980s, Qadhafi and Haftar had a serious falling out and Haftar began working with the American CIA in several attempts to bring Qadhafi down, none of which bore fruit until 2011. Haftar, like most Arab military officers of that era, was always a strong secularist and anti-Islamist.
In the meantime Haftar helped the CIA train anti-communist Latin American troops at a base in Chad, to be used against communist governments in Central America, as well as Libyan and Chadian troops to be used against Qadhafi. In addition to the CIA, the Israelis, Saudis, and other countries intelligence organizations were involved in these projects, according to a program aired on al-jazeera TV on 18 November 2019.
Haftar also lived in Virginia as a “guest” of the CIA long enough to obtain dual U.S. citizenship.
Therefore, if Trump is truly turning against this long-time American ally (and citizen) in favor of the MB terrorist state in Tripoli, it would have to be interpreted as more blatant submision to Erdogan and his dreams of world conquest. We can always hope that Trump is just asking for a cease fire, but coming on the heels of Trump’s recent moves in Syria and his feting of the planet’s number one sponsor of terrorism in Washington this past week, it does not look good.
In my book listed below I noted that Obama’s Foreign Policy for the Middle East had two major prongs. One was to set up Iran as a minor hegemon in the region. The other was the re-establishment of the old Ottoman Empire led by Turkey, but allied this time with a series of MB-led Arab states ringing he eastern and southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. This is why the Obama administration favored MB movements during the original Arab Spring.
Fast forward to the Trump administration and as we move towards the end of his third year it appears that Trump has trashed one of Obama’s Foreign Policy pillars (that based on Iran), while adopting the other (that based on Turkey and the MB). This is the only explanation that fits all the facts, including Trump’s behavior vis-à-vis Erdogan, Trump’s giving Erdogan the green light to invade Syria and ethnic cleanse the Kurdish and Christian-dominated regions. The icing on the cake came the day after Erdogan’s Washington visit and the above-mentioned call of support by Trump to the Tripoli government.
Why is this important? A look at the who’s supporting whom score card will tell you all you need to know:
–Supporting Gen. Haftar’s Libyan National Army are: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, France, and now Russia–as well as the first non-Qadhafi, and non-Muslim Brotherhood parliament elected in Libya, which is now sitting in exile in the eastern coastal city of Tabruk.
–Supporting Sirraaj’s Tripoli government are: Turkey, Iran, and Qatar, the world’s top three state sponsors of terrorism (in that order). The Tripoli government is also home to many of the worlds most wanted list of terrorists, including Saif al-‘Adel, al-Qaeda’s mastermind of the East Africa embassy bombings in 1998. Tripoli’s “army” is mostly a collection of al-Qaeda, ISIS, MB, and Ansar ash-shari’a militias.
So, the question once again is: Why would Trump suddenly shift the administration’s favor from Haftar to Sirraaj? And, why did this happen the very day after the Erdogan visit? Why support the same side of the Libyan mess that Turkey does–infested with terrorists as it is?
Again, the only answer that fits all the facts is that Trump, over the past year, has bought into the notion that the best solution for the Middle East and its “endless wars,” and the scourge of terrorism, is to bring back the Ottoman Empire Caliphate headed by NATO “ally” Turkey.
Indeed, things are looking good for Turkey right now. Erdogan has been successfully playing Putin and Trump off of each other, with one trying to woo him to leave NATO so he can cut him down to size, and the other trying to woo him to remain in NATO so as to prevent his being cut down to size. This has resulted in Erdogan being able to land weapons deals with both powers (if we should sell him patriots and F-35s) which will make him impervious to attack by either power, or any lesser power on the planet. This in turn will give him a free hand to carve up the Middle East as he sees fit.
And, Turkey has prepared the ground well. For years now Turkey has been seducing the Arabic-speaking populations of he Middle East with soap operas using Arabic actors and glorifying the “golden age” of the Ottoman Empire. This has been so successful that Arabs throughout the Middle East have been giving their children Ottoman Turkish names taken from these soap operas.
If we assume that the Trump switch to the support of the Sirraaj government means full scale recognition leading to the Mb-dominated Tripoli government becoming the de facto ruler of Libya . . . score one more for Erdogan, because any MB government would be favorable to a reconstitution of the Ottoman Empire headed by Erdogan.
In Tunisia, a pro-MB government has just been elected to power, so score one more. That gives Erdogan two key North African allies as potential provinces in a new Caliphate. Election-starved Algeria is leaning that way if they ever do get elections.
But first steps first. Erdogan must first complete the conquest of Syria before any of the other dominoes fall. He has made no secret of his mission. That’s why he changed the name of his “Syrian Free Army” terrorist militia to the “Syrian National Army.” This why al-jazeera.net recently published an editorial by Yaseen Aqtaai, on 06 November 2019, in which the author made the case that because the Assad regime has used poison gas, and because all of the other factions fighting in Syria are supported by outside powers, that Turkey is the only force capable of preserving the territorial integrity of Syria, re-uniting it, and establishing stability and a peaceful future going forward.
In favor of that viewpoint is that the ruling Assad gang, are composed of Shi’a offshoots called “Alowites,” and they are a tiny minority of the population. The vast majority of Syria’s population has always been Sunni. Turkey is Sunni.
Finally, this brings us to this weekend’s edition of the sin’at al-mawt (industry of death) program aired on the Saudi-owned al-arabiyya TV channel. In closing this weekend’s episode, the show’s host rhetorically asked: “What will be the next iteration of the
al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Mus’ab az-Zarqawi-come-ISIS organization which has multiplied in size, power, and wealth with each new iteration?
My answer to that question is that a good case could be made that Turkey’s “Syrian Free Army”-come “Syrian National Army” will be that next iteration. Indeed, it already contains elements from ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the MB. What more could one jihadist ask for? Once Erdogan has completed the conquest of Syria he will likely change the name of that group once again to reflect the next stage of his conquests for the sake of the Neo-Ottoman Empire.
Putting all of these facts together is why I believe that Trump has adopted the Turkey-Muslim Brotherhood platform of the Obama Foreign Policy. Indeed the upper echelons of the CIA, State Department, and most of the NSC are Obama holdovers. Virtually all members of Trump’s inner circle who might have been against the Turkey/MB platform have been eliminated from the administration.
But, Mr. President, I do have to ask you . . . do you really think that a terrorist-supporting Islamist super state controlling the entire Middle East and large chunks of Central Asia headed by a meglomaniac who believes that Allah has chosen him to lead the Islamic world in that final “End of Times” war to destroy the Christian West . . . is really in the best U.S. interests?
Erdogan has a long history of contracting terrorist groups to conduct terrorist acts against his political opponents/enemies, then blaming these acts to justify “revenge” against whatever organization (or state) that he wants to take out. A prime example of that happened just this weekend. There was a car bomb at a civilian bus terminal in the town of al-Bab in North Syria which killed 18 people and wounded 30. Turkey immediately blamed the Kurdish YPG (which formed the backbone of the “Syrian Democratic Forces” that we used to crush the Islamic State). Erdogan will then use this car bomb as justification for his further expansion into Syrian territory and additional extermination of Kurds and other minorities.
However, no one in al-Bab, a primarily Kurdish town, is buying Erdogan’s blaming the YPG for the car bomb. Only the American media and WH will fall for that ruse. The YPG would never car bomb their own people, or any other people for that matter. Even the PKK has always limited their actions to Turkish military, intelligence, and governmental entities.
The entire town has been demonstrating today demanding that the Turks leave Syria. They know what Erdogan is up to.
Erdogan wallows in history. He also wallows in Islamic prophecies. When he was elected mayor of Istanbul/Constantinople, he declared that his election was the “reconquest” of Constantinople–thus fulfilling a key Islamic prophecy about the “Last Days.” He obviously believes that he will be the fulfillment of numerous other Islamic prophecies about destroying the Christian West.
So, Mr. President Trump, I ask you again, do you really want to unleash this monster, this 21st century neo-Hitler, upon the world?
Barry Webb had a 25-year career as an Arabic translator/analyst for the NSA and holds two MA degrees in related subject matter. He is also the author of Confessions of an (ex) NSA spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror. His website is: www.barrywebbauthor.com. Currently he is a senior fellow for Americans for Intelligence Reform at www.intelreform.org