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November 23-25 Middle East Arab language media analysis by Barry Webb

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ANTI-IRANIAN DEMONSTRATIONS
The Lebanese have been demonstrating for weeks against Hezbollah’s control of their government, which is just another way of saying that they are demonstrating against Iran’s control of their country by proxy. They are demanding a new government of technocrats not connected with any political party be appointed to run the government.
The protestors are made up primarily of Sunnis and Christians. The Iranians have ordered their proxies in both Lebanon and Iraq to do what ever is necessary to put a stop to these demonstrations. Though the violence here has not been as severe as in Iraq, there has been some shooting with live rounds, and last night Hizbollah thugs attacked a group of protestors with motorcycles.
In spite of the Hizbollah violence, the non-terrorist Shi’a Amal party has long ago sold its soul to Hizbollah and has sided against the demonstrators. Likewise the largely figurehead president, Gen. ‘Aoun, a Christian, has sold his soul to Hizbollah, thus he too has sided against the demonstrators (and against his own ethnic group).
The Iraqis have also been demonstrating for weeks. While these demonstrations ostensibly began to protest corruption in the government, lack of services, and a rotten economy that can not provide enough jobs, they quickly morphed also into anti-Iranian protests. What is most interesting about these protests is that they are taking place mostly in the southern portions of the country which is predominantly Shi’a. In other words, we have Shi’a Iraqis in huge numbers protesting Shi’a Iran’s hegemony over their country.
In fact, these Shi’a protestors are burning pictures of Khomeini and Khamenei, burning Iranian flags, and chanting “death to Khamenei.” Iranian stooges in the security forces and in the Iranian-controlled Iraqi Shi’a militias called al-heshd ash-Sha’bi (popular mobilization) militias have been using live rounds against the demonstrators. As a result over a hundred protestors have been killed and hundreds more wounded.

The past week has also seen massive anti-regime protests in Iran taking place in at least 100 cities and towns and in every region of the country. It was the regime’s sudden steep increase in the price of gasoline that allegedly touched off the nation-wide protests, but they too quickly morphed into anti-regime demonstrations with protestors chanting “death to the dictator, death to Khamenei.”
These protests lasted only a few days because the regime did not just use live rounds sporadically like in Iraq, they used live fire massively to intentionally mow down large numbers of protestors at once. Machinegun fire was used at one point. Also, as in Lebanon, thugs on motorcycles were used to terrify and break-up groups of protestors.
TURKEY/IRAN/QATAR/MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
Over the weekend, leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) met with Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leaders in MB friendly Turkey to discuss common actions against reportedly Saudi Arabia.
Today, Monday 25 November, terrorist-supporting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited MB financier Qatar to discuss regional issues. Arabic news sources are reporting that massive trade deals have been signed as a result of this Erdogan visit. Erdogan, who just happens to have 10,000 Turkish troops already stationed in tiny Qatar, said that his purpose is to guarantee the security of Qatar, and the “peace and stability” of the region. Additional military cooperation is also in the works.

LIBYA/RUSSIA
Over the weekend it was reported that the U.S. has begun flying drones over Tripoli to “assess the security situation.” One of those drones has “disappeared.”
U.S. active involvement in the Libya mess is a radical departure from the administration’s here-to-fore “hands off” approach. This radical change in policy came only after Erdogan’s visit to Washington last week. In this regard Trump had also publicly called for Gen. Haftar of the Libyan National Army (who controls most of the country) to halt his attacks against the Tripoli government, which is essentially a Muslim Brotherhood regime supported by MB-supporting states of Turkey and Qatar.
On 24 November, Trump hardened his rhetoric against U.S. double citizen and former CIA asset Haftar, claiming that he was engaging in acts “against the Libyan people,” even though Haftar is supported by the only non-MB parliament elected by the people in the aftermath of Qadhafi’s overthrow. This, now powerless parliament, resides in the city of Tobruk. The Tobruk/Haftar side of the Libyan civil war is supported by the anti-MB governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent France and Russia.
However, al-jazeera TV has reported that Russian “mercenaries” have recently been aiding Haftar’s forces. It was later revealed that these Russians are members of a Moscow-based security company “Wagner” which is close to the Kremlin.
With all of this as background, and the apparent shift in the WH’s policy from one of neutrality to one apparently favoring the MB-Triploli government (coming only after the visit of MB-supporter Erdogan), on Monday 25 November Libyan General Haftar was in Moscow meeting with high-level Russian military figures. According to al-jazeera reporting the results of these meetings will be increased Russian military aide to Haftar’s cause, including new Russian weapons and a Russian military base somewhere in Libya.
ANALYSIS
Gen. Haftar’s increased reliance on Russia might be a result of a perceived WH realigning with the Tripoli Government. On the other hand, Trump’s perceived realigning with Tripoli might well be a response to Russia strengthening its hand behind Haftar. If this is true, then one has to ask the question of “what happened to the Trump of the 2016 election campaign?” On numerous times Trump told his adoring audiences “wouldn’t it be nice to get along with Russia? To have Russia as an ally?”
That Trump is long gone. One explanation for the change is that due to the Democrats and their media lapdogs pursuing the Russia, Russia hoax 24/7, even years after the election, Trump feels compelled to constantly take the most hostile hard-line approach to Russia that he can, in hopes of deflating the Dem’s and media obsession with the non-existent Russian collusion theme, or that “Putin has something on Trump.”
This situation, and this sort of pressure from the Dems and the media has now forced Trump to side with the MB in Libya for the simple reason that Russia is supporting that anti-MB faction.
Or, perhaps both theories are wrong, and perhaps the reason for Trump’s anti-Russian and pro-MB moves in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere is done out of deference to Turkey’s Erdogan?
Certainly Trump’s controversial moves in Syria have come after phone calls from Erdogan, and his recent moves vis-à-vis Libya came only after Erdogan’s WH visit.
But something even bigger is possibly brewing in favor of the Turkish strongman Islamist. Everyone on the planet recognizes what a mess Syria is. In this context a recent editorial appeared on www.aljazeera.org claiming that Turkey is the only “rightful” ruler of Syria.
The reasoning went like this: Assad is disqualified because he used poison gas numerous times on is own people. He would never be accepted by the opposition (except for the Kurds who have allied with Assad out of physical necessity after the Trump pull back). The rest of the Syrian opposition is too divided, and mostly dominated by ISIS and al-Qaeda-associated militias.
Even without the civil war, you still have a country divided along ethnic lines with Sunni, Shi’a Alowites, Kurds, and Christians.
Therefore, Turkey is the only entity in the neighborhood capable of imposing its will on all the factions, and bringing stability back to Syria. Turkey is also less offensive to all of the factions than they are to each other (except for the Kurds who would be crushed in this deal). This, of course, is nothing more now than a reconstruction of the Old Turkish-dominated Ottoman Empire—if only partially.
But now, behold the sudden chaos erupting in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon. The demonstrations in Iran and Lebanon could be traced to Trump’s stringent economic pressure on Iran, and on its client the Hizbollah which dominates the Lebanese government. But, (non-existent) Trump embargoes cannot explain the chaos in Iraq.
Regardless of the causes, the fact of the matter is that all three countries are severely divided along sharp (and many-faceted) ethnic lines, making all three ungovernable by any domestic party. Lebanon is divided almost equally three ways between Sunnis, Shi’a, and Christians, along with a smattering of Druze.
Iraq is also divided ethnically with Shi’a, Sunni, Kurds, Christians, and Yazidis. In the “democracy” set up by the American occupation, the majority Shi’a quickly became the “government” of Iraq—and highly resented by all the other factions who felt left out. And, now, even the Shi’a in the country have turned against the Shi’a rulership due to its domination by neighboring Iran.
So, what is to prevent the Qatar-hosted al-jazeera TV and website from promoting the idea of its big ally, Turkey, from extending its “benign” neo-Ottoman rule over those counties as well? Given Trump’s recent pro-Turkish moves in Syria and Libya, and the chaos in the above-mentioned Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran—what’s to keep the Trump administration from also working towards a “NATO member” Turkish solution to all of those countries?
At first it would look like a genius stroke—the entire Middle East suddenly blanketed in peace and stability. And, theoretically at least, a part of “NATO” through Turkey’s membership.
But the long-term effects would be a total disaster for the current governments of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia—none of which want Turkish rule (but all of whose people have been seduced, and cultivated, by Turkish soap operas presented in Arabic, by Arabic actors, and which glorify the mythical Ottoman “golden age”).
Then, once all the countries around Israel have become part of this neo-Ottoman empire . . . you can kiss Israel goodbye. Then you can kiss Cyprus and Greece goodbye as well, the Balkans too. A pathetic, weakened, and already half-Islamicized western Europe would be next.
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Barry Webb had a 25-year career as an Arabic translator/analyst for the NSA, holds two MA degrees in related subject matters, and 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 Currently he is a senior fellow at Americans for Intelligence Reform at www.intelreform.org

15-18 November Arab language press Report by Barry Webb

IRAN/SHI’A CRESCENT

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.

KURDS–SYRIA

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.

QAMISHLI, SYRIA

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.

LIBYA

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.

ANALYSIS

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.

NEO-OTTOMAN EMPIRE

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?

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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

11-13 NOVEMBER Arab language press reporting By Barry Webb

LIBYA

The war in Libya, after months of stalemate, has heated up again. There is some evidence that the troops led by Gen. Haftar have been gaining some ground in Tripoli and other areas held by the Tripoli government. The reason for this turn of events appears to be Russia.

The civil war in Syria was going rapidly south for Assad’s Damascus government and their Iranian allies–until Russia stepped in and turned the tide. So, it appears that this is what Russia is now doing in Libya. A week ago there were reports that Russian special forces were aiding Haftar’s troops probably as advisors embedded within Haftar’s units.

Al-jazeera has reported on the morning of 11 November that Haftar’s forces are now being trained by Russians in Egypt on an Egyptian military base. They have also reported that Sudanese units have now been aiding Haftar’s troops as well, though the Sudanese government has denied it.

ANALYSIS:

Why is Russia taking an interest in Libya? And why did they choose Haftar’s side?

First of all, we should review for readers the who is who in the Libyan debacle. The government based in Tripoli, in the far west of the country that Gen. Haftar is fighting against, is the “official” Libyan government as recognized by the EU and the UN. As can be expected by any side of a dispute favored by the EU and the UN, it hosts a who’s who of international terrorism, including al-Qaeda lynchpin Saif al-‘Adel, the mastermind of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in east Africa. The Tripoli government is essentially a creature of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

Most of Tripoli’s fighting forces are composed of militia’s made-up of ISIS, al-Qaeda, Ansar ash-Shari’a, and MB types. It is supported militarily and financially by two of the world’s top three terrorism sponsoring states #1 Turkey, and #3 Qatar. Even #2 Iran has chipped in a little with some weapons deliveries.

Gen. Haftar’s group, based in Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi, located in the far eastern part of the country near the Egyptian border, is supported by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The French (to the chagrin of their EU neighbors) have also chipped in with a small number of advisors embedded into Gen. Haftar’s forces.

Russia, though it sells weapons to terror-sponsoring state Iran, considered Sunni terrorism to be the greater threat since most of the Muslims in the Caucasus and Russia’s soft underbelly are Sunnis. This was one of the reasons why they entered the war against ISIS in Syria. For example ISIS fighters of Caucasus origin went to Syria and Iraq to gain battle experience, then returned to join Ukraine’s war against Russian-speaking separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

Libya is also rich in oil. Russia is one of the world’s leading exporters of oil and gas and doesn’t need that resource for themselves, but Putin appears to trying to gain as much of a choke hold over that resource as possible having recently gained control of most of Iran’s oil assets, in addition to the right to build a pair of massive naval bases and an airbase in Iran. Also, as a price for aiding Assad in his war, he forced Assad to grant Russia rights to all Syrian oil rights off its Mediterranean coast. Putin’s venture in Libya might be more of the same. There is also the possibility of gaining military bases there as well, once the civil war is over.

Russia could possibly have gained these goodies regardless of which side it supported, but its dislike of Sunni terrorism, and its new-found friendship with “moderate” Arab countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia may have pushed it to support Haftar.

The Egyptian angle is interesting and raises two interesting points. After Obama helped place an MB government in power in Cairo, then after it was deposed, attempted to undermine the post-MB government down, so as to bring the MB back to power. Part of Obama’s efforts included withholding arms shipments as a quid pro quo.

The Obama experience taught the Egyptians that they could not depend exclusively on the United States for their arms purchases. So, they began to diversify, not just from the usual European suppliers, but also Russia. Trump’s recent betrayal of the Kurds scared the living devil out of all of the West-leaning countries in the Middle East, from Israel to Egypt to Saudi Arabia. It delivered a message that America just cannot be relied on in a pinch, so best to begin looking elsewhere for support and arms purchases.

Saudi Arabia has also recently grown closer to Russia in the wake of Trump’s perceived weakness vis-à-vis Iran, and his seemingly irrational, and constant, flip-flopping on Middle East issues. During the Cold War, Saudi Arabia, as a “religious” nation, considered the officially athiest Soviet Union to be enemy #1. They never recognized the USSR, and always considered it, and its representatives, to be “untouchables.” Even after the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the USSR, Saudi Arabia continued to keep Russia at arms length. This feeling of hostility has been maintained by Russia’s support of Iran.

However, Trump’s recent irrational behaviors (particularly his invitation to Turkey to invade Syria and ethnic cleanse the place) have terrified the Saudis and resulted in the aged, bent-over King Salman making a recent trip to Moscow to signify their improved relations. It was shortly after that trip that the reports of active Russian military help to Gen. Haftar began to appear in the Arabic media.

We may be seeing Saudi Arabia also begin to diversify their arms purchases to include Russia, among others.
One more interesting tidbit about the Libyan thing: Russia and Turkey, pretend allies in Syria, are openly supporting opposing sides in the Libyan war. I predict that this will soon become a more intense “proxy war” between the two. Unfortunately though, it will never escalate to the point of a full scale, direct, nation-to-nation war between Russia and Turkey as long as we are stupid enough to keep Turkey in NATO.

SYRIA

The Syrian Democratic Forces (composed of Kurds, Christians, and other minorities) whom we turned our backs on and which then allied with Assad’s Damascus Forces) have, in conjunction with Assad’s forces, retaken some areas in Hasaka, in eastern Syria, after defeating Turkish-supported terrorist groups. There have been other scattered reports of Turks and regular Syrian army units firing upon each other.

This puts Putin in a difficult position because he is allied to the Assad government, but has also made an agreement with Erdogan for joint Russian and Turkish patrols in eastern Syria. This has infuriated Assad who considered that to be a Turkish invasion of Syrian territory and a Russian surrender to Erdogan’s imperial dreams similar to Trump’s.

To further strain matters between Moscow and Damascus, Putin has also floated ideas on a new constitution for Syria which includes greater autonomy for the regions, and giving the regions more say in the Damascus government. There are rumors floating in the Middle East that Putin might be ready to offer (as part of this over all deal) a Damascus government sans Assad (the number one demand of all rebel groups) in turn for the removal of Turkish and Iranian forces.

One is tempted to see Saudi and Egyptian (and possibly Israeli) hands in that proposal, coming in the wake of Egypt and Saudi Arabia stepping up their relations with Moscow. Unfortunately, the primary stumbling block to any such “federated Syria” solution giving the regions more autonomy, and driving Iranians and Turks out, is Trump’s bromance with Erdogan and his acceptance of Turkey’s aggression and occupation of Syrian territory.

ISIS

ISIS, currently enjoying a recruiting and donations boom thanks to Trump’s irrational Syria behavior, has redefined itself as a “decentralized” organization as opposed to the “centralized” state organization it pursued as a “Caliphate.” As one of the features of the next phase ISIS has called upon its supporters in America and Europe to set forest fires where ever they can as a way to weaken the enemy’s economy.

IRAN

Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s al-quds division, and perhaps the most powerful man in Iran outside of the Mullah’s clique, recently contributed the laugher of the week. Soleimani claimed that Iran defeated ISIS won the Syrian war single handedly and that Iran has established stable states in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

The facts: As the anti-Assad revolution gained ground and looked like it was on the verge of collapse, and after Obama’s redline was crossed with no reaction from the U.S., Iran stepped in to save its ally. But even with the help of Iran’s puppet Hizbollah next door in Lebanon, and the help of Iran-subservient Shi’a militia from Iraq, Iran was totally incapable of stemming the tide.

So, it is rich to hear Soleimani talk like that when it was he who (when the Damascus government was hanging on the barest of threads) rushed off to Moscow to beg Putin to come to the rescue. It was Putin’s entry into the war, and the Russian airforce’s bombing of the ISIS oil assets (that Obama refused to touch) that turned the tide in the war. Then it was Trump’s turning General Mattis loose, and the latter’s close cooperation with the Kurd-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces that put the finishing touches on the Caliphate.

As for the “stable” governments in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria . . . as I write this the Arab Spring 2.0 is going full blast in Iraq and Lebanon with country-wide demonstrations, riots, and outright revolt taking place. The demonstrations in both countries have a decided anti-Iran flavor as the people there have grown tired of Iranian hegemony, and control of their affairs–even the Shi’as in southern Iraq. In fact, it is among the Shi’a of southern Iraq where we see the most virulent anti-Iranian protests with the protestors burning pictures of Khamenei and Khomeini.

Iran has given orders to its clients in Iraq and Lebanon to put a stop to the demonstrations at all costs. Iranian stooges in both countries have used live rounds to break-up otherwise peaceful demonstrations which has led to increased anger by the populace and violence by them in turn.

As for Syria, well there are still thousands of active ISIS fighters left in the country, and Turkey is committing genocide and demographic replacements in the parts of the country nearest to its border, with more demands for ever more territory to be forthcoming from Erdogan, the 21st century’s Hitler.

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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

ISIS AFTER AL-BAGHDADI, a report posted on Aljazeera; translation and analysis by Barry Webb

ISIS AFTER AL-BAGHDADI

By Hasan abu Hineyyah

(A report posted on www.aljazeera.net late October thru mid-November 2019).

Translated by Barry Webb

The curtain has recently come down on the episode of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s leadership of “The Islamic State,” as of the night of 17 October 2019, and by means of a sudden American air raid in which fighter jets and drones played roles. During this raid the American special forces killed al-Baghdadi in the north Syrian province of Idlib.

And, this event has raised a whole basketful of questions concerning the future of the organization after al-Baghdadi as well as the significance of the timing of the assassination operation, learning the identity of the new leader, what are the strategies and methods of killing that the organization will resort to after losing its leader, and the extent of credibility the American President Donald Trump’s claim that the ISIS Caliphate had been 100% destroyed.

Any precise, informed reading of the nature of the future scenarios for “the Islamic State” organization after al-Baghdadi must be based on an understanding of the nature of the organization’s structure and ISIS’s ideological narrative in comparison with the other jihadi organizations.

When al-Baghdadi took over the leadership of “the Islamic State” in Iraq nearly nine years ago after Abi ‘Umar al-Baghdadi (1), and inherited an organization that was beset on all sides, fragmented, weak, fragile, shaky, and on the verge of collapsing. Yet, in no time at all the organization quickly rose up within four years to become a frightening fighting force controlling wide swaths of Iraq and Syria and also expanded into numerous other countries. The demands for stopping its expansion and putting an end to its territorial control led to the formation of an international alliance of more than 75 nations under the leadership of the United States.

In the midst of an environment in which a conspiracy mentality prevails, came the widespread conviction that America, let alone any other power, was not interested in killing al-Baghdadi and that it had employed him to achieve a political agenda and strategic goals (2). The conspiracy theory explains this success of the (recent) operation to kill al-Baghdadi by the fact that his employment role had come to an end.

However, the truth is that the killing of al-Baghdadi was not an easy mission because during the time his star was rising there was one operation after another to track him down to kill him by numerous local, regional, and international entities, and Washington set a huge financial reward of 25 million dollars for anyone who can provide information on al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts (3).

Al-Baghdadi escaped from a long series of attempts to kill him by air attacks and he was wounded at least once–according to intelligence reports–and his death was announced several times. The Iraqi government alleged that it had succeeded in killing him more than once. So, the recent, successful operation to kill him came as a crowning achievement to a long series of previous failed attempts.

While the killing of al-Baghdadi was announced several times by various parties, the most famous of those was the announcement by the Russian Ministry of Defense on 16 June 2017, with information inferring that al-Baghdadi was killed in one of the air raids by the Russian air force on the Syrian town of ar-Raqqa, which then became subject to doubt. Announcements about the killing of al-Baghdadi proliferated after the organization took control of the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014, and the organization reached the zenith of its power in March of 2015.

Any precise, knowledgeable reading of the nature of the future scenarios of the “Islamic State” organization after al-Baghdadi must be based on understanding the nature of the organization’s structure and the ideological narrative of ISIS in comparison with other jihadi organizations, as well as knowing the entities affiliated with it.

The ISIS organization is considered to be the most advanced of the jihadi organizations in terms of the coherence between the organizational structure and the ideological firmness because it reached a peak of development in that regard which was previously unknown in the activities of global jihadi groups. Its structure and ideology were novel in a number of its specifics and strategies.

In spite of “the Islamic State’s” being kicked out of the regions and urban centers it had controlled in Iraq and Syria, and its recent losses of the pocket of space it had in the village of al-Baghouz in the Deir as-Zor province on the 23rd of March 2018 at the hands of the “Syrian Democratic Forces” supported by the international coalition led by Washington, the organization still possessed a fighting capability as well as a huge financial and media capability.

Facts from the field have revealed the organization’s quickness in adjusting to developments in the field and its tremendous dexterity in changing from a centralized path to a decentralized situation in a way that it was able to reorganize the organization’s structure on the military front as well as on the security, administrative, legal, and media fronts. With the termination of the organization’s political project as a “caliphate” state it returned to the status of an “organization,” and returned to depending upon its traditional fighting tactics by depending upon a pathway of a war of attrition and a war of nerves.

In this context the American President Donald Trump’s announcement of the elimination of ISIS after the killing of al-Baghdadi is nothing more than disgraceful ignorance, a bald-faced lie, and a justification for his decision to pull out from Syria. Prior to that, Trump had announced the defeat of ISIS 16 times, a view which no one on the planet shares. His claims elicited wide-scale responses.
French minister of Defense Florence Barley tweeted that “al-Baghdadi . . . was an early retirement for the terrorist, but not for the organization.” British Foreign minister Boris Johnson tweeted that “the killing of al-Baghdadi was an important moment in our fight against terrorism, but the battle against ISIS is not yet over.” As for French President Emanuel Macron, he affirmed that the killing of al-Baghdadi was a painful blow for ISIS but it represents nothing but a stage.

The widespread wave of criticism of Trump’s repetitive announcements on the defeat of ISIS are always met with condemnation, loathing, and perplexity. After the killing of
al-Baghdadi he bragged about the soundness of his view in an attempt to lighten the wave of criticisms, and to try to deflect attention from his domestic problems, because Trump’s sudden announcement to withdraw from Syria in December of 2018 created a condition of chaos and confusion and led to the resignation of former Secretary of Defense James Mattis in protest over that decision.

When Trump announced this month that he was going to withdraw the American Forces from northern Syria opening the door for the Turkish attack against the Kurds–Washington’s erstwhile allies–many people warned that Trump thereby weakened the spear point of the campaign aimed at defeating the Islamic State. According to the experts and analysts Trump gifted ISIS its biggest victory in more than four years and secured for it the horizon of its future.

Evaluations of the capabilities of the Islamic State organization and predicting the possibility of its return have proliferated recently. A new report issued last August 6th by the U.S. Defense Department (the Pentagon) points out that ISIS has reorganized its ranks and has reappeared in Syria taking advantage of the American (previous) withdrawal. The report affirmed that ISIS has also strengthened its armed capability in Iraq as well.

The American President Donald Trump’s announcement of the elimination of ISIS after the killing of al-Baghdadi is nothing more than shameful ignorance, a bald faced lie, and a justification for his withdrawal from Syria. Prior to that Trump had announced the defeat of ISIS 16 times, an evaluation not shared by a single person on this planet. His claims elicited widespread responses.

After the Pentagon’s report today, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, in a report he presented to the Security Council concerning the threat which ISIS represented, that “ISIS now owns 300 million dollars, even after the elimination of the “Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, and that the decrease in the frequency of attacks that it launches is likely to be temporary.”

He expressed his confidence on ISIS’s capability to earmark that cash to support terrorist actions inside Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere via “unofficial” companies for transferring money. In this regard he affirmed that ISIS enjoyed financial self-sufficiency via a network of supporters and subsidiary groups in other areas of the Middle East and North Africa.

Military analysts and experts have affirmed that the elimination of the “Caliphate” does not mean that the danger from ISIS has ended. The announcement of the defeat of ISIS stems from conflating between the actual defeat of the political project of ISIS as a “Caliphate” state which imposed its sovereignty over a wide swath of geographic territory and established its rule over millions of residents, and the ability of ISIS as an organization to operate in a different manner. In that regard, the ISIS organization has not been defeated as an organization.

According a report by the institute for the study of war in Washington entitled “The return of ISIS once again, an evaluation of the coming uprising of ISIS” issued at the end of June 2019, the ISIS organization today is stronger that it was during the phase of the “Islamic State of Iraq” which was the offspring of “al-Qaeda in the land between the two rivers,” because when America withdrew from Iraq in 2011, the organization in Iraq had anywhere from 700 to 1,000 fighters, while the number of fighters it had in Iraq and Syria in August of 2018–according to the evaluations of the military intelligence agency–is 30,000 fighters.

The ISIS organization had been able to build a huge army (after 2011) which enabled it to regain Falujah, Mosul, and other cities in Iraq as well as control over most of east Syria in only three short years. So, the organization will recover much more quickly this time than it did the first time and it will achieve a level of much greater power in its new manifestation.

If al-Baghdadi had inherited a weak and fragile organization from his predecessor Abu ‘Umar al-Baghdadi (5), he is bequeathing to his successor an organization with a cohesive framework and that is spread out geographically, because prior to his death he appeared in a video clip on 29 April 2019 entitled “in the hospitality of the prince of the faithful” in which he presented the expected return of the organization after completing the task of the military, security, administrative, financial, legal, and media restructuring and setting the military planning to resume the “war of attrition.”

The organization presented a monthly report on the franchises of the organization of which there are twelve, and announced its official presence in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Khorasan (Afghanistan and Pakistan), the Caucasus, East Asia, and its activities in the Philippines, Somalia, and West Africa where it is most active in Nigeria.

In statements collected by the BBC it appears that in spite of the organization’s loss of much of the territory which it had wielded control over in Syria and Iraq by the end of 2017, it was responsible for 3,670 attacks in the world during 2018 (which is about 11 attacks per day). And, this, in addition to the 502 attacks in the first two months of 2019 while al-Baghouz was being besieged.

But in spite of that (the siege) the organization was still following its preferred strategy represented by suicide operations and a variety of complex subversive operations. However, since 31 May 2019 it has depended upon new tactics in the framework of the “war of attrition,” based on the principle which has been termed “temporarily bring down the cities as a way for the Mujahedeen to work.” The organization’s magazine
al-neba’ (the news) published a series of four parts to lay out the new strategy which called for the fighting elements of the organization to avoid direct clashes with the enemy.

The “Islamic State” was able to establish a huge army that enabled it to regain Falujah, Mosul, and other cities in Iraq, as well as to gain control over most of East Syria within only three years, and the organization will recover (this time) much faster than it did in its first revival and will achieve a level of power much more dangerous than it did in its second manifestation.

This series (in the above-mentioned magazine) also showed how the fighters are able –by means of a war of nerves–to weaken an enemy without incurring losses of its own. The series also said that among the targets of the kirr w-al-firr (4) attacks is to capture hostages, free prisoners, and gain control of the enemy’s money.

A comparison of the birth of the first “Islamic State” with its rebirth shows the organization’s ability to spring forth once again. The “Islamic State in Iraq” saw, by the beginning of the year 2009, a clear reversal after Washington came to rely on the strategy of General David Petreus by pouring forces into the fight, pushing back the organization’s holdings in Iraq, and reducing the organization’s numbers down to somewhere between 700 and 1,000 fighters in remote, isolated regions.

With the advent of 2010 the “Islamic State of Iraq” issued an evaluational review and appraisal of the situation and it defined its future view in Iraq to be tied to the approaching date for the withdrawal of the American forces. So, it issued a Strategic document entitled “The Strategic Plan for strengthening the political position of the Islamic State in Iraq.”

After the American forces vacated Iraq in (Dec.) 2011 the organization announced the beginning of the “Breaking Down Walls” operation in July of 2012. Then it announced the beginning of a new plan called “Harvesting the Soldiers” on 29 July 2013, which ended with its sovereignty over Mosul in June of 2014.

The military, financial, and media capabilities of ISIS point to the fact that whoever takes over the leadership of the organization from al-Baghdadi will be in a far superior position in comparison to the situation that al-Baghdadi had when he took over the leadership of the organization, because the organizational structure is completely clear and the organization will encounter no difficulty in choosing a new leader.

It appears that ‘Abd Allah Qirdaash (5) is the most lucky person in succeeding
al-Baghdadi. According to the information available about him, he is nicknamed “the destroyer.” He is also known as al-Turkmani (6)), but in spite of his “Turkmani” ethnicity the leadership within ISIS–among whom is Isma’il al-‘Aithaawi who is currently in prison in Iraq–have affirmed the “Quraishness” of Qirdash (7).
Al-‘Aithaawi, in a phone call with him after his apprehension–said it was most likely that Qirdaash would become the leader of the organization in the event of al-Baghdadi’s disappearance.

Qirdaash held the position of “Diwan Secretary for General Security” in Syria and Iraq which is one of the most powerful Diwanates (Bureau) in the organization. Moreover, he previously supervised the diwanate of “misdeeds,” which was within the service administrations which the organization set up during its control over the cities. He also served as the official responsible for ambushes and suicide operations within the organization.

In the event that Qirdaash fails to assume the leadership of the organization, for some reason, among which might be if he gets killed, according to sources within the organization then Hajji ‘Abd an-Nasr al-Iraqi would be the second candidate. The American State Department added him to their terrorists watch lists at the end of 2018. Al-Iraqi heads what is known as the “commissariat” committee which is responsible for the administration of the organization. Previous to that he held the position of military governor general of what was previously known as the state of ash-sham (Syria), and in this capacity he oversaw the leadership of the organization’s battle in ar-Raqqa.

The Islamic State organization after al-Baghdadi will have no trouble in appointing a new leader and the organization will rally around him and support him. Since its inception the organization has exhibited a superior ability to adjust to changes and new circumstances, and it will be able–within a short period of time after being tossed out of the regions it controlled–to restructure itself and operate as a decentralized organization, and its ideological magnetism is still very high.

The person who follows al-Baghadadi as the leader of ISIS will inherit an organization that is clearly superior to the organization that al-Baghdadi himself inherited during the era of “The Islamic State of Iraq” since the numbers provided in 2018 by the UN and the American intelligence agencies and Department of Defense are all in agreement that the number of ISIS fighters left in Iraq and Syria are between 20 and 30 thousand fighters.

According to the International Center for Strategic Studies this number does not include the organization’s fighters located in its other franchises. A map of the organization’s proliferation shows its expansion into numerous regions and countries since the organization enjoys a large presence in Afghanistan, and the organization still launches attacks in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula and maintains its operational ability in Yemen, South Asia, and Central Asia.

The African continent is an alternate venue for ISIS (in align with its insistence on diversifying its fronts and sanctuaries), especially the region of Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa as well as Western and Eastern Africa. ISIS’s network, its conglomeration of harmonious groups, individual sleeper cells, and “lone wolves,” still represent a danger to America and Europe.

In sum, the Islamic State organization after al-Baghdadi will find no difficulty in appointing a new leader and the organization will rally around him and support him, because since its inception the organization has shown superior ability to adjust to circumstances and new situations, and was able–during a very short time after being evicted from regions it controlled–to restructure itself and to operate as a de-centralized organization, and its ideological magnetism is still very high. Its financial capability is good, and its ability to gather around itself fighters from local areas is growing.

In turn, the political, economic, and security situation in Iraq and Syria is still fragile and the official local forces lack the necessary competency and resources to pursue the ISIS elements in view of the organization’s switching tracks to follow a campaign of a war of attrition and the tactics of a war of nerves.

The weakened stability (in Iraq and Syria), the backsliding on reconstruction projects, as well as poor government and institutionalized corruption, the spread of despotism, and the prevalence of sectarianism, all constitute a fertile nursery sufficient for the return of ISIS. In a “squishy” region beset by foreign interventions and the clashes between regional and international forces the return of ISIS is only a matter of “when,” not “if.”

FOOTNOTES (explanitory notes by the translator not a part of the original text)

(1) The original manifestation of what was to become ISIS was “al-Qaeda in Iraq” which was headed by Abu Mus’ab az-Zarqawi, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in June of 2006. It would have been then that Abi ‘Umar al-Baghdadi took over the leadership of the remnants of this group which fled to Turkey, re-united with remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime and intelligence entities who had found safe haven there, and re-emerged as “The Islamic State of Iraq.”

(2) It is well-established that not only did ISIS incubate in Turkey with Turkish government and intelligence support to be used as a “tool” for bringing down the secular Arab states as a prelude to re-establishing the Ottoman empire caliphate, but that it did so with the approval of the Obama administration. That is the origin of those conspiracy theories.

(3) U.S. forces were able to use DNA information to verify that al-Baghdadi was the person they had killed because a brave Kurd, working for the intelligence arm of the Syrian Democratic Forces, who had penetrated the organization and had gotten close enough to al-Baghdadi to have obtained a blood sample and a pair of his dirty underwear. Another Kurd, working for Iraqi intelligence had also penetrated al-Baghdadi’s inner circle and had provided a detailed map of the exterior and interior of the safe house. According to an al-arabiyya TV report, the U.S. aircraft that had taken part in the raid took off from an airfield controlled by the Russians. This was just outside of Kobani which was previously controlled by the American-supported, and Kurd-dominated, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). With Trump’s bowing to Erdogan’s command to clear out so he could ethnic cleanse the region of Kurds, the SDF alligned with the Assad government of Damascus and its Russian ally. So, as U.S. forces pulled out, the Russians moved in to provide security and oversee the SDF withdrawal prior to the arrival of Turkish troops which were due in thanks to an agreement that Putin had reached with Erdogan during a meeting in Soschi. It was this complicated series of events that forced military commanders to scramble after the Trump announcement and move-up the timetable of the raid. Fortunately, everything worked out fine, thanks to the skills and bravery of our troops and our (former) Kurdish allies.

(4) The literal meaning of kirr w-al-firr is “repeat and flee” and refers to “hit and run” tactics, and harkens back to the tactics of the pre-Islamic Arab raids of frontier area farms and towns mentioned in Roman sources, and as far back as Babylonian and Assyrian sources. In these raids the lightly armed and very mobile Arab raiders would stage surprise attacks against a defenseless farm or town for the purpose of collecting booty, then they would disappear into the desert where the heavily armed and organized forces of the relevant political power could not follow them without being subject to ambushes and a war of attrition that they could never win in the treacherous terrain of the desert.

(5) A media recording recently issued by ISIS identified the new leader of ISIS as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. This is an obvious “movement” name trying to tie this person back to Abraham (the supposed father of the Arabs, and the founder of the Abrahamic religion of which Islam is supposedly the only “pure” example, and to the Hashimite and Qurayshi tribes, supposed guardians of the Ka’aba in pre-Saudi times and going back to pre-Islamic times, and from which Muhammad supposedly descended. This person might be the ‘Abd Allah Qirdaash mentioned in this article, or some entirely unknown individual. It might even be an avatar, a entity that will exist only on the internet.

(6) His “Turkoman” ethnicity and his rise to prominence in the organization might be linked to the Turkish patronage of the organization.

(7) Even though history shows that the stories about a tribe of Quraysh from which Muhammad supposedly sprang, any person who pretends to the “Caliphate” must link themselves back to Muhammad’s fictional “tribe” in order to be accepted as a true “Caliph,” or successor to Muhammad.

ANALYSIS:

Turkey has ordered its Muslim-Brotherhood ally, and al-jazeera-hosting Qatar to weed out writers who don’t support it’s invasion of Syria and extermination of Kurds. Therefore, hard-hitting articles like this one are likely to be fewer and further between.

This article mentioned Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal to be a gift to ISIS. This is because to the Jihadi mentality, any and all sign of weakness on the part of an enemy–even if they are actually acting from a position of strength–is considered a victory: The enemy simply did not have the moral strength to press its advantage (Qur’an 47:35). In other words, no matter how badly ISIS was battered physically, the simple truth is that Trump’s mere announcement of a withdrawal represents a huge victory for ISIS, and ISIS’s superiority over American and all other forces fighting against ISIS. This is a difficult concept for Westerners to understand, but failure to understand that basic Qur’an supported concept dooms us to eternal failures in the War against Terror.

Trump’s withdrawal announcements (even if not fulfilled) plays into the hands of Islamic prophecies as well. There is an hadeeth that claims that near the very end of time the “Romans” (prophetic stand-in for the West in general) will have crushed the believers, until only a small strand of them are left. But then Allah will intervene to drive them away and the believers shall regroup and destroy the infidels in the end.

This is why Trump’s flip-flopping on withdrawing or not withdrawing and/or “redeploying” to protect the oil, are resulting in a flood of new recruits to ISIS. Most Muslims, whether they want to admit it or not, see Trump’s behavior as a fulfillment of Islamic prophecy.

TURKEY’S ROLE IN HIDING AL-BAGHDADI

In my book named below, I document that Erdogan’s Turkey was responsible for cobbling together what was to become ISIS–with the approval of the Obama administration. And, throughout the war they helped funnel new fighters to ISIS, sold its stolen oil on the black market to help finance it, and when al-Baghdadi was wounded by an American airstrike, smuggled him into Turkey for medical treatment, then smuggled him into Libya so he could start up a new franchise there, then smuggled him back into Syria. So, it is only natural that it should be Turkey who arranged for his final hiding place when the world closed in on “the Islamic State.”

Al-Baghdadi was killed in a small village called Barisha, population 2,500. The safe house he was in was the home of one Abu Muhammad Salama. Salama is a leader of an al-Qaeda franchise called huraas ad-din (gaurdians of the religion). Huraas ad-din was part of another al-Qaeda franchise called tahreer ash-sham (the liberation of Syria) which is under the direction of Turkey.

The village of Barisha was located in Syria’s northern province of Idlib, which was controlled by the Turks, and Barisha itself was only a few miles from the Turkish border.

In other words, al-Baghdadi, a long-time client of Erdogan’s Turkey, was hiding out in the home of another Turkish terrorist client in a province controlled by the Turks, and only a few miles for the Turkish border . . . and we’re supposed to believe that the Turks had no idea that he was there? That Turkey is a loyal NATO ally?

One of al-Baghdadi’s wives and other family members sought safety in Turkey itself, but were arrested immediately after (not before) our announcement of al-Baghdadi’s death. This was an obvious face-saving move, a cover for their duplicitous behavior, a “false flag” operation to show the world that “hey, we too are fighting terrorism and the ISIS scourge.”

BOTTOM LINE: As long as there are terror-supporting Islamist states like Turkey, Qatar, Iran, and Pakistan (who sponsored and sheltered Usama bin Laden) there will be Islamic terrorism. And, as long as there is an unrepentant Islam there will be terror-supporting Islamist states. And, there will always be an unrepentant, unreformed Islam unless and until the civilized world, starting with the United States, develops enough courage to attack the true root cause of Islamic terrorism.

So, get ready for ISIS 3.0, bigger, stronger, and more dangerous than any of its predecessors.

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Barry Webb had a 25-year career as an Arabist for the NSA and hold 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.