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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$400 Billion Iranian Lobby in the U.S.? By Barry Webb

US and World News | NBC New York

 

THE NATIONAL IRANIAN AMERICAN COUNCIL

On the 14th of January, the Saudi-owned al-arabiyya satellite TV channel aired a special on an Iranian Lobby organization in the United States which goes by the name of the “National Iranian American Council,” or NIAC.

If that looks, sounds, smells, and feels similar to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) front group the “Council on American Islamic Relations” CAIR, don’t be surprised. It is no accident.

The primary function of CAIR and other MB front groups is to whitewash Islam in general and the MB in particular while pretending to be a “civil rights” organization–all for the purpose of acting as a cover for their lobbying efforts and Civilization jihad, stealth jihad, and cultural jihad efforts.

The NIAC appears to be performing the same role on behalf of the Iranian regime. According to the al-arabiyya program the NIAC got its start during the Clinton era, has good relations with the Iranian regime, and had a strong representation within the Obama administration.

During the course of the program, the host traced the sometimes cozy relationships that U.S. administrations beginning with the Carter administration, and going right on through to the Obama administration, have had with Iran. For example, the Carter administration knew perfectly well that the so-called “students” who had taken over the U.S. embassy in 1979 were not students, but were thugs acting directly under the orders of Khomeini. Carter then chose the “easy way out” of pretending to go along with the fiction so as to not have to take the difficult decision.

(NOTE: These embassy-trashing thugs then became the nucleus of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps which was formed as a “counter-army” to prevent the regular military from staging a counter-revolution. The IRGC then formed the al-quds brigade which came to be led by Qasim Solaimani and which has spread terror throughout the Middle East since its founding).

According to the al-arabiyya TV host Reagan also did nothing about the Iranian regime, nor did Bush 1, Clinton, or Bush 2, but under Obama they were the Administration, figuratively speaking, because their influence was so heavy and prevalent. The host also noted that the “Iranian community” has $400 Billion dollars. However, it was not clear whether it is the NIAC that has $400 Billion at its disposal, or if that just represents the net worth of all the Iranians within the United States, most of whom do not support the Iranian regime.

The al-arabiyya TV program claimed that the NIAC helped Obama’s rise to power, though whether this was through monetary donations, or help on the campaign trail was not made clear. The program also noted that some Republican senators have asked Attorney General Barr to look into the actions of the NIAC and its possible influence on American politics.

After catching these morsels from the TV program I googled the “National Iranian American Council,” and in looking at the NIAC website, they claim that they receive no funding from the Iranian government or the U.S. government. They, like CAIR, claim that they are a “Civil Rights” organization, and their mission is to guard against “ethnic discrimination,” promote “peace,” and “human rights.”

These are all noble sounding ideas that sends liberals into tremors of ecstasy, as a result of which the NIAC receives donations from a wide variety of American entities, as well as from Iranian Americans, many of whom probably do not know the underlying sinister goals of the NIAC.

Guarding against “ethnic discrimination” to groups like the NIAC, and CAIR, means to verbally attack, demonize, and shut down anyone who dares to speak the truth about Islam, Muhammad, shari’a law, and/or jihadism. Promoting “peace” means applying heavy lobbying pressure on members of Congress to stave off any and all potential American military action(s) against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Supporting “Human Rights,” of course, means supporting Islamic shari’a law which contains the only human rights recognized by devout Muslims, and is the law code of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

To give readers a sense of how the NIAC plays the game, I have attached here their official statement regarding the Iranian missile attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq, which occurred in response to our taking out their top terror master Qasim Solaimani.

In between paragraphs I will add my comments in bold on their comments.
NIAC Statement on Iranian Missile Attacks on U.S. Bases in Iraq
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 7, 2020
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org
Washington DC – In response to reports that Iran had launched missiles targeting U.S. military bases in Iraq, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:
“NIAC is deeply concerned by reports of Iranian missile attacks against U.S. military bases inside Iraq. We condemn all military escalations by both the Iranian and U.S. governments that have led us to this tragic and avoidable point. It is not too late to pull back from a full-blown war. However, that window is closing rapidly. Congress must act immediately to halt hostilities and prevent Trump’s threats of massive retaliation, including bombing of Iranian cultural sites.
Notice how they start out sounding fair and balanced, while ending the paragraph with a plea to the Democrat controlled House to prevent Trump from retaliating.
“Donald Trump owns this 100%. He inherited a working nuclear deal and a tense but stable situation with Iran. He has deeply wounded the first major diplomatic initiative between the U.S. and Iranian government in decades, and listened to ideologues who convinced him to assassinate an Iranian general. At every step of the way, he has been warned he risked moving back on the path to war. Now that day may be here.
Now it is all Trump’s fault. Iran had nothing at all to do with it. The “working” nuclear deal was “working” fine for Iran because it allowed them to continue developing nuclear bomb technology on military sites which were off limits to UN inspectors, according to the treaty. The “stable” situation with Iran, meant that Iran was free to continue sowing terror and chaos around the Middle East which they were doing long before Trump came along.
Notice how they refer to the killing of Solaimani as the “crime” of assassinating an Iranian “general” with no reference at all to Solaimani’s long resume of terrorism including the murder of over 600 Americans, and thousands of Arabs in Arabian countries, and thousands more Iranians inside of Iran, as well as the targeted assassination of Iranian dissidents in Europe.
“Our thoughts are with all the people who will be harmed by this senseless and needless conflict. It is ordinary Iranians, Iraqis, and people across the region who will bear a profound cost that can’t be justified. So too will American soldiers, and their families here at home, who will bear the consequences of yet another war that was thrust upon them by callous leaders.
Here again they try to sound like good, peace loving liberals, but end up by calling Trump a “callous leader” for daring to protect American lives.
“We call on the international community and the United Nations to do everything in its power to find a diplomatic resolution to these hostilities before the entire region erupts in war.
“We also remain deeply concerned about the Trump administration’s detainment of Iranian Americans at the border on the basis of national heritage and additional discriminatory actions against our community. We will remain vigilant amid the looming specter of war and safeguard our community’s rights.”
These “Iranian Americans” detained at the border were reportedly attempting to smuggle in explosives.

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ANALYSIS:

In my book Confessions of an (ex) NSA spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror, I document how the Iranian regime, using 3rd and 4th party entities registered in the United States have been partially funding the U.S. Democrat Party and some of its candidates since 1998 (pp. 386-388). The possible involvement of the NIAC is a new one on me, and would provide yet another lucrative avenue for the Iranian regime to fund Democrats for the purpose of influencing American policy.

However, America’s policy of colluding with America-hating jihadists far predates Obama and Iran’s financing of the Democrat Party. On 04 June 2016 al-arabiyya TV reported on “recently declassified CIA material claiming that The Carter administration plotted with France to return Khomeini from his exile in France back to Iran to replace the shah (Webb, Confessions, p.376).

Iranian dissidents have claimed that in 2008, months before Obama took office, he was already colluding and collaborating with the Iranians, signaling his desire to sign a nuclear deal with them at any cost and to bring them back into the fold of the community of nations.

However, the most recent, and most blatant example of Democrat Party subservience to the NIAC and the Iranian regime came in the wake of the elimination of the terror master Qasim Solaimani. There was not a single word of praise from any of the leading Democratic politicians. Instead, there was implied condemnation of “recklessness,” “war mongering,” and even attempts by the Democrat-controlled House to restrict Trump’s ability to protect American lives by similar acts in the future.

The Democrats have also blocked a resolution put forward by Republicans for offering moral support to the Iranian protesters, many of whose bodies are being hauled away by the truck load by the IRGC,

The so-called Main Stream Media was also complicit in this either from the innate left-leaning ideologies of most “journalists” and/or some payola being passed under the table.

ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR’S OBLICATIONS

Hopefully at some point Attorney General Barr will find the time to look into some of the issues raised in this article, among these are:

How large exactly is the NIAC bank account?

Do any of their funds come from front entities connected with the Iranian government, Hizbollah, or any of their entities?

How much of the NIAC money goes into the DNC coffers, and how much into the accounts of individual Democrats?

Why were the Democrats against the killing of Solaimani?

Why did the Democrats try to block support for the Iranian dissidents?

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Barry Webb had a 25-year career as an Arabist for the NSA and holds two MA degrees in related subject matter. He is the author of the book Confessions of an (ex) NSA Spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror. His website is: www.barrywebbauthor.com. He is currently a senior fellow at Americans for Intelligence Reform at www.intelreform.org.

 

 

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11-15 JANUARY Arabic language press coverage By Barry Webb

 

LIBYA/TURKEY

The head of the Libyan parliament in exile in the eastern Libyan city of Tabruk, ‘Aqeela Salih, visited Egypt on 12 January and delivered a speech to the Egyptian Parliament. During his speech, after lambasting Turkey’s moves in Libya, he formally requested the Egyptian army to intervene if “any foreign nation” (i.e. Turkey) intervenes. This request was met with a thunderous standing ovation, indicating a shift in Egyptian attitudes from that of providing aid from a distance (while pretending to not be intervening) to one of favoring direct military intervention to keep the Turks out.

At the same time the military forces of General Haftar, who supports and is supported by the Tabruk parliament, reportedly signed a Putin-sponsored “cease fire” agreement with the Tripoli government of Fayez Sirraaj, after which, the two sides were supposed to negotiate a final settlement. This truce was a result of Erdogan’s visit to Putin and Putin’s attendance at a conference with Merkel.

This “cease fire” truce provided Erdogan with a face saving way to pull out of Libya if he wants to (after being politically rebuffed by both Tunisia and Algeria), or an opportunity to rearm and reinforce his Muslim Brotherhood ally in Tripoli to further his imperial designs. Middle East analysts doubted whether this truce will hold.

It didn’t.

The “truce” didn’t last even 24 hours. International pressure continued, though, to call for a truce so General Haftar submitted a list of conditions that must be met before a truce could be possible. These conditions included the disarming of all militias (which constitute the entire military forces and allies of Sirraaj’s Tripoli government). This in turn was rejected by Sirraaj and his Turkish master, Erdogan.

January 15th news has Haftar returning from Moscow to Libya without a signed deal.

On January 13th, the Saudi-owned al-arabiyya TV program Panorama interviewed a Libyan ex-pat currently in Beirut who was billed as an expert on Libyan affairs. This individual said that the terms being suggested by Tripoli and Turkey could never be accepted by the Libyan National Army (LNA), which is headed by Haftar. He claimed that the LNA has gained control over 65% of Libyan territory which they won through lots of bloodshed and hard work, and for them to be expected to give it back is ridiculous. “There is no way that the LNA will retreat when the militias will not disarm.”

On the 15th of January, al-arabiyya TV and www.alarabiya.net quoted a report from Britain’s Telegraph that Turkey has recently sent 2,000 additional fighters from Syria to Libya to support the Muslim Brotherhood Tripoli government. These mercenaries are trained by Turkey, paid $2,000.00 a month (a good sum for those from a broken country like Syria with no functioning economy), and are promised Turkish citizenship.

COMMENT: I see the “Turkish citizenship” angle to be an Erdogan plot to set up a future 5th column situation in the event these individuals are returned to a Syria whose future is as yet undetermined, or if they remain in Libya whose future is also as yet undetermined.

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LEBANON

The Lebanese TV station al-mustaqbil (the Future) has been airing eulogies almost every night for the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Some of these programs feature interviews with notables who knew him way back when, along with photos and film clips of some of his accomplishments. Other programs feature symphony-like orchestras with vocal accompaniment playing traditional Lebanese music. In between the musical productions, an attractive young lady recites (with piano accompaniment) eulogies about Rafiq Hariri, telling about the dreams he had for Lebanon.

Readers may wonder why a website like this, dedicated to current events as related to American national security, would be so interested in Lebanese TV programs eulogizing a Lebanese Prime Minister who served as PM from 1992 to 1998, and again from 2000 to 2004? And why is this figure so important that a Lebanese TV station in 2020 would air, almost nightly eulogies for a long gone Prime Minister?–and more specifically why did this programming suddenly begin appearing in the fall of 2019?

The answer to all three questions is the same. But to understand the significance, a little history of Rafiq Hariri is in order. He was born in Lebanon in 1944, but as an adult moved to Saudi Arabia to participate as a contractor in the Arabian oil boom of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Building things for the Saudis who were throwing vast amounts of their oil windfalls on trying to modernize their country made Mr. Hariri a multi billionaire.

After returning to his native Lebanon with dual Saudi and Lebanese citizenship he used some of his billions to help rebuild his home country after the devastating Lebanese civil war 1975-1990. During his first tenure as Prime Minister in the 90s, he concocted a scheme with the Saudis to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem for good by throwing so much money at it that the Palestinian issue would disappear from the Middle East arena.
This scheme was revisited during his second term as PM in the early 2000s.

It was for that reason that he was assassinated in 2004 by Hizbollah. If there is no more Palestinian problem, and there is, instead, a general Arab-Israeli peace with mutual recognition, then Hizbollah no longer has an excuse to hang on to its role within the Lebanese political sphere as a legitimate armed militia “resisting Israeli aggression.”
Hizbollah, of course, took out Rafiq Hariri under orders from Iran and Qasim Solaimani.

Therefore, a Lebanese TV station by playing almost nightly eulogies of Rafiq Hariri is making a silent, yet in-the-face protest against Iranian domination of Lebanese politics and against Iran’s puppet militia Hizbollah . . . at the same time that the non-Shi’a residents of Lebanon have taken to the streets to more physically protest the Iranian hegemony.

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IRAQ

Over the weekend the Iranian-supported and Iranian-directed heshd ash-sha’bi (popular mobilization) Iraqi-shi’a militia groups launched missiles into military bases where Americans are stationed. No Americans were killed, but several Iraqi servicemen were.

ANALYSIS

This sort of attack is in line with Iran’s threats that their “revenge” for our taking out the late al-quds force leader Qasim Solaimani, will continue for some time. Their stated policy going forward is to not attack Americans directly, but to use their militia groups and terror cells in countries that host American military units against those host countries. The idea being that even if they fail to kill Americans, they can cause pain and disruption to these host countries which will then cause them to expel the Americans for their own safety. This policy has already worked in Iraq with the Iraqi government passing a bill demanding that all foreign forces leave the country.

With the Americans gone, Iran will be free to dominate Iraqi politics through their local Iraqi Shi’a militias, and their bribery of Iraqi Shi’a politicians.

The above-mentioned missile attack against military bases in Iraq could also be a result of the new commander of the IRGC’s al-quds force, Ismail Qaani, doing a little muscle flexing to show their allies around the Middle East that the al-quds force still “has it.”

However, there are signs that the effort may have failed in its purpose. www.alarabiya.net is reporting a rumor that the leaders of the Iranian-supported militia groups in Iraq are “fleeing” their positions out of fear they’ll receive the “Solaimani treatment.”

The proposed departure of “all” foreign troops from Iraqi soil, means NATO, and primarily American forces. This will leave Iraq totally helpless before Iran on the one side and a revived ISIS on the other. While Iran does not maintain boots on the ground in Iraq, they can still dominate Iraqi affairs through their armed militias on the one hand, and their “ownership” (through bribes, payoffs, and physical threats) of most, if not all, of the majority Shi’a members of the Iraqi parliament.

IRAQ IN THREE PARTS

From almost the day that Bush invaded Iraq back in 2003, I have been predicting that no matter how much money and troops we poured into that country demographics and history have destined it to break up into its three constituent parts: A Shi’a state in the south, a Kurdish state in the north, and an Arab Sunni state in the west.

Ironically or not, this geographical division roughly corresponds with the ethnic divisions of the world’s earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia where the Sumerians and later the Khaldeans, dominated in the marshy south, the Assyrians dominated in the north mostly along the Tigris river and into the mountains of eastern Anatolia from where both the Tigris and the Euphrates originate. From the west came the Amorites out of Syria and from 1900 B.C. on they made Babylon the capital of their new kingdom and were henceforth known as “Babylonians.” These Semitic speakers dominated the area from Babylon west to the foothills of eastern Anatolia. This region roughly corresponds to today’s Anbar province.

During the Ottoman empire days, the Ottomans always considered “the Land between the Two Rivers” to be three distinct regions, three separate provinces, and ruled the region as such with a separate capital for each. Basra was the capital of the southern (Shi’a) dominated region, Mosul was the capital of the northern (Kurdish) dominated region, and Baghdad, which is near to the ancient site of Babylon, was the capital of the Sunni Arab-dominated central and western region.

Over time, as the Shi’a populations have outpaced the other segments, Baghdad has become more Shi’a than Sunni, but go just west of the capital and you enter the Sunni Arab regions. So, the old, ancient geographic divisions of Iraq remain, and are still based on ethnic differences, though the ethnicities have changed over time.

Significantly, when the Shi’a-dominated Iraqi parliament voted to expel the American forces from Iraq, the Kurd and Sunni Arab representatives boycotted the meeting, signaling possibly a first step in the future de facto political division of Iraq into three independent countries.

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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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Virginia Now at the Forefront of Gun Control Battle by Brad Johnson for The Epoch Times

Gov. Ralph Northam delivers the State of the Commonwealth address at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 8, 2020. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Gov. Ralph Northam delivers the State of the Commonwealth address at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 8, 2020. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Gun control proponents have moved the battlefront to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The local political winds have shifted, and the previously Republican-controlled Virginia legislature will become Democratic controlled as new delegates are sworn in this month. Two years earlier in January 2018, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam was sworn in and became the 73rd governor of Virginia.

In July 2019, Northam proposed the gun control laws that are at the center of the current controversy. Even though the gun control laws failed at the time, Northam has been clear that once the Democratic Party assumed the majority, he would resubmit the new gun control laws.

In recent years, handguns had been prohibited within certain jurisdictions, but this was overwhelmingly overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. What we see is a change of tactics on the part of the anti-gun movement, not a change in goal. The goal remains to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.

While the legislation is still in a draft form, the intent is made perfectly clear. For example, the draft legislation states that owning any semi-automatic handgun that has the capacity to accept a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds would be a felony.

This is fundamentally important and shows this to be a political move rather than anything related to safety.

There are smaller semi-automatic handguns, generally used for concealed carry, that are made to hold 10 or fewer rounds in their magazines, but these are few in number. The vast majority of semi-automatic handguns are produced to hold a magazine of more than 10 rounds. This is the trick that’s buried in the proposed legislation.

Even buying magazines that hold only 10 rounds wouldn’t bring a law-abiding citizen into compliance with the law. The legal issue is how the gun is made, not the exclusive use of a magazine that holds less than 10 rounds.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The meaning is clear and we have seen over and over in communist totalitarian states where—soon after taking power—they confiscate weapons from the hands of citizens.

Venezuela is most assuredly a recent example, but this has been repeated all through history, particularly since World War II, as we have seen in such places as China, Cuba, and many other locations. This is why our founders tried to make it clear that all citizens had the right to own and bear arms and form an armed citizen’s group.

Everyone recognizes that the new laws as proposed likely won’t stand up to the scrutiny of the Supreme Court and certainly will make it that far. As a result, more than 120 jurisdictions in Virginia, such as counties and municipalities, have taken a page from the left-wing political handbook and declared themselves to be sanctuary zones that won’t waste valuable law enforcement resources on enforcing strict gun control laws that will very likely be overturned in a higher court anyway.

There are only 95 counties in Virginia to begin with, and the new laws as proposed would almost exclusively impact law-abiding citizens who are guilty of nothing more than owning a gun.

We can all understand the alarm on the part of liberals and all leftists who believe the government has the right to full power and control over the citizenry. A free, independent spirit and the ability to protect and defend that spirit is a sharp limit to government power exactly as intended. This is the fundamental reason the Second Amendment is under attack from the left.

At the same time, the First Amendment is under similar attack from the left. The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Again, the intent of the founders was that we are all free to speak our minds openly without regard to how it might make others feel. Yet, today the First Amendment is also under full assault with liberals and the left arguing that to verbally disagree with them is a hate crime and must be prohibited.

If the First and Second Amendments are overwhelmed by this assault from the left, the Constitution will, in essence, be abandoned. The rights of the individual will be subordinated to the rights and power of the government and will no longer rule at the sufferance of the people but will rule in place of the people.

Brad Johnson is a retired CIA senior operations officer and a former chief of station. He is the president of Americans for Intelligence Reform.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

 

 

 

 

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