US Mideast relationships get stranger every day. The US has come to the defense or has given aid to three rather unlikely groups in the past few weeks.
- Iranian Revolutionary Guard
- Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which directly supports the YPG, on Washington’s list of proscribed terror groups
- “Moderates” fighting to overthrow Syrian president Assad. Those moderates just signed a non-agression pact with ISIS
70,000 Kurds Seek Refuge in Turkey
The Guardian reports Kurds Flee into Turkey to Escape Isis Offensive
More than 70,000 Kurds fled from northern Syria into Turkey at the weekend and tens of thousands more are trying to cross the border as the terror group Islamic State (Isis) intensified its assault on a crucial Kurdish safe haven near the border.
Previous attacks have targeted Yazidis, Christians, Kurds and Shia Turkomans in Iraq, and Alawites, Shias and Christians in Syria, forcing most to flee. Those captured have been given the stark choice between converting to the jihadists’ hardline view of Sunni Islam or being killed.
The refugee agency UNHCR said it was preparing for up to several hundred thousand more refugees to cross into Turkey in the coming days and called on Ankara to provide space for the Kurds to shelter. The global aid body said its staff were helping provide refugees with immediate needs.
The Kurdish YPG militia now defending Kobani crossed into Iraq in mid-August to help rescue up to 50,000 Yazidis who were besieged by Isis on Mount Sinjar. That escape was aided by US airstrikes, which scattered the jihadis from the northern base of the mountain.
YPG forces say they are being outgunned by Isis, which is using heavy weapons supplied by the US to the Iraqi military, who surrendered them when they abandoned northern Iraq in June.
The Isis rampage through Iraq has already led to some unlikely alliances being formed, with US jets flying air cover over the Shia Turkoman town of Amerli earlier this month in support of Shia militias led by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. An elite leader of the guards, General Qassem Suleimani, was on the ground in Amerli as the US jets attacked Isis positions.
Potentially complicating US support for the Syrian Kurds is the fact that the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which directly supports the YPG, is on Washington’s list of proscribed terror groups.
Obama’s “Moderate Rebels” Sign Deal With ISIS
Inquiring minds may also wish to consider Obama’s “Moderate Rebels” Sign Deal With ISIS.
The supposed “moderate” rebels fighting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad — self-styled jihadists whom the Obama administration and Congress plan to supply with even more support under the guise of battling the Islamic State (ISIS) — recently signed a non-aggression pact with ISIS (also known as ISIL), according to reports from human-rights groups and French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP). Lawmakers on Capitol Hill pointed to the news as yet another reason why supplying U.S. arms and support to Islamic forces to battle Islamic forces was a dangerous idea. The foreign-policy establishment, however, plans to proceed with arming and training jihadists anyway.
Following a vote earlier this week in the House to approve Obama’s plan to arm jihadists in Syria, the Senate just gave the administration a green light for the half-baked plot as well. Despite bipartisan opposition to the plan, senators voted overwhelmingly (78-22) to approve a broader $1 trillion appropriations bill that included authority to back what the establishment refers to as “moderate” forces in Syria. Those same allegedly “moderate” jihadists, according to the AFP and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, inked a deal with ISIS outside Damascus last week. The agreement was reportedly brokered by the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria known as Jabhat al-Nusra.
The non-aggression pact between ISIS and elements of Obama’s “moderate” opposition states that “the two parties will respect a truce until a final solution is found and they promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime,” AFP and other media outlets quoted it as saying. The term “Nussayri” is a slur used to describe the Islamic Shia denomination Alawite to which Assad and many Syrians belong. A spokesman for the Obama-backed Sunni “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) rebels had previously vowed on television to exterminate all Shia Muslims, not just Alawites.
In an almost surreal interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity this week, leading congressional warmonger Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) demanded even more support for what he calls “moderate” rebels. Sounding confused, McCain lashed out at Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), angrily noting that the senator from Kentucky did not personally know the jihadists fighting in Syria. “Has Rand Paul ever been to Syria? Has he ever met with ISIS? Has he ever met with any of these people? No, no, no,” McCain fumed on national television, presumably meaning the FSA rather than ISIS.
Ironically, McCain himself faced an embarrassing scandal after it was revealed that Syrian “rebels” he met and posed with for photographs were actually involved in kidnapping pilgrims. The Arizona senator’s spokesman later claimed McCain did not really know whom he was meeting. Calling the incident “regrettable,” the spokesman was forced to explain that his boss does not “in any way condone the kidnapping of Lebanese Shia pilgrims.” He does, however, condone providing even more weapons to his “moderate” rebels, as he made clear again in the recent Fox interview.
Hannity Interviews McCain
Listen to this confused, embarrassingly tortured response by McCain to Hannity’s questions. The best word to describe McCain’s performance is “pathetic”.
McCain Meets Rebels Accused of Kidnapping
Flashback May 31, 2013: Oops! Sen. McCain Met Syrian Rebels Accused of Kidnapping.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz., shown) and his goal of openly intervening in the Syrian conflict on behalf of the foreign-backed rebels — many of whom openly fight under the banner of al-Qaeda — suffered a major setback this week after a public relations stunt backfired in spectacular fashion. Media reports that surfaced Thursday claimed some of the opposition fighters he met and posed for pictures with during a recent trip to Syria were actually extremists. In fact, the radicals are accused of kidnapping Lebanese pilgrims from a village in Aleppo province.
The news, first reported by Al Jadeed and The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon, sparked widespread ridicule and criticism of the senator as his office scrambled to deal with the embarrassing negative publicity. It also further confirmed long-held suspicions among lawmakers and analysts that, contrary to claims made by Sen. McCain and others pushing for another open U.S. war in the Middle East, rebel forces might be just as bad as the Assad regime — maybe worse.
Rand Paul vs. McCain
McCain fumes Rand Paul did not go to Syria. McCain did, and had his picture taken with extremist kidnappers.
Which makes more sense?
Strangest of All Bedfellows
Arguably the strangest set of bedfellows in this mess is Hillary Clinton and Senator McCain. Both argue we should have armed the “moderates”.
Questions of the Day
- Do the al-Qaeda “moderates” wear signs that say “I am a moderate”?
- If McCain cannot tell the difference without such a sign, how can Obama or Hillary?
“You Have to Begin Somewhere”
“I think the President’s concern, and I understand it, was that he had a fear that if we started providing weapons, we wouldn’t know where those weapons would wind up,” said Panetta, defence secretary when the US pulled out of Iraq in 2011.
“My view was: you have to begin somewhere,” added Panetta, also a former CIA director.
- We cannot tell the moderates from the extremists but “you have to begin somewhere“.
- And by overthrowing Assad, with extreme al-Qaeda rebels aligned with “moderate” Al-Qaeda rebels, things would be better now, not just in Syria but also Iraq!
- We “began somewhere” quite a bit ago, having removed Hussein and spending trillions of dollars to do it.
- ISIS formed in the vacuum.
- Getting moderates to overthrow Assad in Syria would not have done a damn thing to stabilize Iraq.
Judging from recent US geopolitical stupidity in the Mideast, in Ukraine, and historically everywhere else, there’s a high probability things would be even worse now had we done what McCain and Hillary wanted.
Just remember … To make matters worse, you have to begin somewhere.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock