January 24, 2020

17 – 21 January Arabic language media update By Barry Webb

IMAM for ISIS Abu ‘Abd al-Baari

On January 18th, 2020, the Saudi-owned www.alarabiya.net reported that the Iraqi security forces last Thursday (Jan. 16) arrested the ISIS mufti whose movement name is Abu ‘Abd al-Baari. According to Iraqi security, this individual served as the Imam and Friday sermon speaker at several of the mosques in Mosul, northern Iraq. He was thought to be one of the first rank of ISIS leaders and allegedly oversaw the executions of religious leaders who refused to swear allegiance to ISIS. He also allegedly oversaw the blowing-up of the prophet Jonah’s mosque during the days that ISIS controlled the city. This mosque is located at the southern base of the Jonah tell, the mound of ruins where Jonah is supposedly buried.

Abu ‘Abd al-Baari was allegedly still involved in delivering sermons at various mosques around Mosul in which he lambasted the Iraqi security forces and continued to urge people to join ISIS and swear allegiance to it.

The security forces had to use a truck to haul him away because of his size and great weight. They somehow got him loaded into the bed of a large pick-up.

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IRAN AND THE UKRAINE PLANE

While the official line has become one of an “accidental” shoot down, which, of course, is believable and quite possible—since it has happened before. The United States mistakenly shot down an Iranian civilian airliner over the waters of the Arabian/Persian Gulf many years back, and just a few years ago the Russian-speaking separatists in Eastern Ukraine shot down a civilian Malaysian airliner that they mistook for a Ukrainian troop transport or bomber heading their way.

But, to mistake a large Civilian airliner taking off from your own airport for a tiny cruze missile coming from the other direction does stretch credulity a bit.

To add more possible intrigue to the issue, the Ukraine has said that they have not ruled out the possibility that Iran shot down the airliner on purpose! And, that would explain their real reason for trying to maintain the lie that it was a mechanical failure that caused the “crash.”

COMMENT:

The majority of the passengers on the aircraft were Iranians, and most of those were students and academics returning to European universities after the holiday breaks. But could the passenger list also have included a highly placed Iranian or two trying to defect? Maybe even someone from the inner circle with sensitive intelligence that could be very damaging to the regime? That is where my line of thinking is going. Perhaps we will never know, but I do think it is safe to bet that things will continue to get ever more interesting in Iran going forward.

SYRIA

Also, on the 18th of January, www.alarabiya.net reported that the Iranian-supported and directed terror group Lebanese Hizbollah has been steeling goat herds from the local shepherds in eastern Syrian, near Deir az-Zor. And, when the shepherds protest and try to defend their only livelihood the Hizbollah thugs executed them en masse.

The report added that Hizbollah has also seized private homes to use as their headquarters.

Increasing the danger for the locals in the area is that ISIS is also active in the region once again.

TURKEY/RUSSIA/SYRIA

There is an unconfirmed report that Turkey, Russia, and Syria may have reached on agreement on Syria. This comes on the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Damascus and meetings in Moscow with Erdogan, both of which in turn came on the heels of the Trump administration’s elimination of Khameni’s “right hand man” Qasim Solaimani.

According to the rumored stipulations of this agreement, Turkey is to withdraw from Syrian territory and pay reparations because it was Turkey’s support of ISIS and other terror groups that led to so much death and destruction and the subsequent flood of refugees.

In turn Turkey would get Syrian and Russian promises to “keep the Kurds under control” to prevent Kurdish attacks on Turkish soil and positions.

Iran would also be forced out of Syria, and the Kurds get nothing except the Turk boot off their necks.

ANALYSIS:

If these reports are true, the obvious winners are Russia and the Assad regime. The losers are Iran (which is now in a weak position vis-à-vis the other powers with the loss of Solaimani and the loss of regional “prestige” that went with it, as well as their internal problems), and Turkey.

But this raises the question of why and how could Turkey be convinced to withdraw from territories that It had worked so hard to change the demographics in, and pay reparations to help rebuild Syria? What would Turkey be getting in return? It would have to be a lot more than just a promise from Putin to keep the Kurds under control. Could it involve Putin’s support for a Turkish foothold in Libya? Or, could Putin be offering Erdogan something of the sort only to pull the rug out from him in the end while keeping Russian gains in both Syria and Libya?

LIBYA/RUSSIA/BERLIN CONFERENCE

While virtually all of the world leaders, including Turkey’s Erdogan, are meeting in Berlin to discuss a Libyan cease fire along with the contending Libyan parties, Erdogan continues to send plane loads of Syrian and other terrorists into Libya and publicly brags about sending in regular Turkish troops as well as additional weapons.

Erdogan is telling the other world leaders that if the Tripoli government of Fayez Sirraaj falls, Europe will be flooded with terrorists. He has also told the world that the road to peace in Libya goes through Turkey.

Meanwhile, on January 19th al-Arabiyya TV interviewed Gen. Mismari, the spokesman for the Haftar-led Libyan National Army (LNA). Gen. Mismari took serious issue with Erdogan, saying that Turkey, rather than being the road to peace in Libya, is the main conduit for the destabilization and war.

According to Gen. Mismari, since December of 2019 Turkey’s intervention in Libya has increased and has included ever more “mercenaries” from Syria and other countries. He noted that the 2,000 Syrians who recently arrived by the plane load (reported on this site last week) arrived wearing military uniforms. He added that these Syrians were former ISIS and an-nusra (an al-Qaeda franchise) prisoners that Turkey released, retrained, armed and sent to Libya.

Gen. Mismari claimed that Turkey needs the Sirraaj government in Tripoli to survive because he wants to use Libya as a conduit to convey terrorists to other countries such as Mali, Boko Haram, and al-Qaeda franchises in Niger and Chad.

He stressed that as long as Turkey is in Tripoli and as long as the militias there are not disarmed there will be no peace and stability in Libya. And, should peace and stability come to Libya (meaning by the removal of the Turks and their puppet Sirraaj government), then Turkey would lose its ties to its cells in Africa. Therefore, he added, the LNA will not withdraw to the situation of last April and Haftar will not meet directly with Sirraaj in Berlin, unless it is to accept a Sirraaj surrender.

ANALYSIS:

We reported previously on this site that Gen Haftar has allegedly said that he will not stop until he has killed every single Islamist in Libya. Probably not a bad idea. As for Europe being flooded with terrorists if Tripoli falls, the opposite is more likely true. While Tripoli is being used by Turkey as a conduit for funneling weapons and battle-harden terrorists from Syria into Africa and Turkey’s cells and franchises there, once the over populated sahel countries have acquired sufficient battle hardened terrorists themselves, Turkey can then use Tripoli as the conduit for funneling millions of desperate, and trained, Sahelians into Europe via Turkey and the pro-Ottoman Islamic State in the Balkans that NATO created out of the old Yugoslavia in the mid-90s.

IRAQ DEMONSTRATIONS

The four months-long anti-government, anti-Iranian protests are continuing in Iraq without let up. If anything they have become more intense and widespread. Previously all the demonstrations were concentrated in a handful of Shi’a-dominated cities in the Shi’a-dominated southern portion of Iraq, but also included Baghdad which has become a Shi’a majority city. The demonstrations now appear to be spreading to areas north east of Baghdad, and westward towards the Sunni areas, according to an early 21 January, al-arabiyya TV report.

There are also reports not only of the security forces using live rounds against the demonstrators, but in Baghdad live rounds being used against security personnel. Two security personnel and four demonstrators were reportedly killed in Baghdad. Security forces also used “Iranian tear gas bombs.”

LIBYA

Early on 21 January, Egyptian talk show host ‘Amru Adeeb. on his al-hakaya (the story) show aired on MBC-Egypt, reported that both French and Russian intelligence have confirmed that Erdogan and Sirraaj (the Muslim Brotherhood leader of Tripoli) have been coordinating with ISIS in Libya. Adeeb repeated the word “confirmed, confirmed” numerous times to drill home the point.

ANALYSIS:

Talk show host ‘Amru Adeeb stressed the French and Russian intelligence confirmation of Erdogan’s and Sirraj’s ISIS connections over and over because Libyan (LNA), Egyptian, Saudi, and UAE sources have been claiming for months that the Sirraaj government in Tripoli is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and that their armed forces are merely militias made up of ISIS, al-Qaeda, ansar ash-shari’a, and MB elements. Egyptian, Saudi, and numerous other sources (including U.S. intelligence satellite photos) had also long before connected Erdogan’s Turkey with ISIS in Syria and Iraq, while Egyptian and Saudi sources had long been pounding the table about the ISIS and al-Qaeda elements in Tripoli.

Having these facts confirmed by major powers from outside of the region is considered a watershed moment.

In a related note, a recent guest on al-arabiyya TV commented that with virtually the entire world knowing of Turkey’s ISIS connections, and with Turkey having been using its Tripoli, Libya connections to funnel weapons to terrorists throughout the entire sahel region, there is no way that the American administration does not know about this. The guest then went on to say that with Turkey’s NATO membership, and the American administration’s total silence on this issue, people have to assume that the U.S. approves of Turkey’s actions here.

My take on this is that while Trump won immense praise throughout the Middle East from Arabs, Israelis, and Iranians alike for taking out the al-Quds IRGC leader Qasim Solaimani, he will quickly lose all the brownie points he gained and then some if he does not take a very strong stand against Erdogan and Erdogan’s support of terrorism throughout the Middle East and Africa.

OTHER ERDOGAN NEWS

Erdogan has just boasted that Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil and gas in their territorial waters. This development will further inflate Erdogan’s ego, and expand his imaginary neo-Ottoman empire which also already includes a terrorist ”Islamic (pseudo) State” in Africa many times larger in square miles than the previous Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

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Barry Webb has logged a 25-year career as an Arabist for the NSA, has two MA degrees in related subject matter, and is currently a Senior Fellow with Americans for Intelligence Reform www.intelreform.org. He is 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

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