— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for September, 2014

Obama’s Speech at the UN General Assembly Address, 2014

‘President Barack Obama dinged Russia and declared the extremists in Syria and Iraq a “cancer” in his U.N. General Assembly speech on Wednesday (24 September 2014)’.

 

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Wilful Blindness, Climate Corporatism and the Underground Revolt

‘Abby Martin speaks with journalist and author, Chris Hedges, going over where the recent mass climate change demonstrations in New York fall short, as well as why he believes revolt is the only solution to restoring a functioning American democracy (321 Sept 2014)’.

The Khorasan Group or Who is Muhsin al-Fadhli???

The economics and politics writer Tim Fernholz, on the ‘digitally native news outlet’ that is Quartz, established in 2012 by Atlantic for ‘business people in the new global economy’, confides that “US intelligence officials have spent the last week dropping hints about another al Qaeda off-shoot that does aim to attack Western countries at home, and it operates in ISIL’s backyard. The organization is known as ‘the Khorasan group’, a reference to a historic territory encompassing modern Afghanistan and Iran. Like ISIL, it has has roots in al Qaeda, but unlike the militants attempting to seize territory in Iraq and Syria, the Khorasan group is still within al Qaeda’s hierarchy and focused on terror attacks in the West”.[1] Now that the Islamic State (or ISIL or ISIS, if you will) has finally emerged as the West’s new bogeyman, it turns out that America is not content and feels the need to come up with yet another one for good measure . . . Fernholz continues that the “US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said this group [. that would be the Khorasan group] could be a more direct threat than ISIL and mentioned the leader’s name publicly for the first time: Muhsin al-Fadhli, a Kuwaiti who was a 20-year-old member of Osama bin Laden’s inner circle at the time of the 9/11 attacks. By 2012, he was al Qaeda’s top man in Iran, financing terror operations in Iraq as a go-between for Gulf state donors, and earning a $7-million price on his head from the US. According to [a] CIA source who spoke with the New York Times following Clapper’s revelation, the now-33-year-old al-Fadhli is working with a cell of Afghan and Pakistani fighters in Syria to recruit Muslim extremists with US and European passports for attacks in their home countries. His organization is collaborating with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni offshoot of the extremist movement that has a reputation for attempts at sophisticated bomb-making designed to slip explosives past airport security procedures. Three have made it onto airplanes, but none of the plots have succeeded. It’s not clear why intelligence officials chose to reveal their concerns about the Khorasan group now. Some in the US government have been accused of exaggerating the threat of ISIL to the United States, but these revelations are a reminder that some of its ideological siblings are still focused on attacks in the West”.[2]

Does this mean that the U.S. does not see the Islamic State as a direct enough threat to America??? According to Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (a neoconservative Washington-based think tank) and writing about five months ago, “Muhsin al Fadhli, a senior al Qaeda leader who once headed the organization’s network in Iran, relocated to Syria in mid-2013, according to a report in The Arab Times on March 21 [, 2014]. Citing anonymous sources, the publication reports that al Fadhli has joined the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. He was apparently sent to the country after a dispute broke out between Al Nusrah and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS). Al Fadhli was one of the trusted operatives who reported back to Ayman al Zawahiri on the dispute, according to the Arab Times, and he influenced al Qaeda’s decision to eventually disown ISIS. Today, al Fadhli reportedly recruits European Muslims to join the jihad in Syria and ‘trains them on how to execute terror operations in the western countries, focusing mostly on means of public transportation such as trains and airplanes’. The Arab Times account does not identify its sources and parts of it do not ring true. For example, al Fadhli’s ‘four main targets’ inside Syria are supposedly Bashar al Assad’s forces, the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front, and ISIS. However, only two of these targets make sense in the current operational environment”.[3] So, it seems the man at the head of the group was an already well-known terrorist, but the name Khorasan Group had not been coined till recently. Joscelyn continues that “Al Fadhli became the leader of al Qaeda’s network inside Iran after a senior al Qaeda leader known as Yasin al Suri was detained by Iranian authorities”.[4] As the good folks of Wikipedia remind us: “Khorasan in its proper sense comprised principally the cities of Balkh, Herat, and Taloqan (now in Afghanistan), Mashhad, Nishapur, and Sabzevar (now in northeastern Iran), Merv and Nisa (now in southern Turkmenistan), and Samarqand and Bukhara (now in Uzbekistan)”.[5] And so it came about that Muhsin al Fadhli suddenly emerged on the scene as the leader of the Khorasan Group, a shadowy, even possibly non-extant organisation, with ‘clear’ links to the bogeyman of yesteryear, Al Qaeda . . . or to employ that nifty Escobarian phrase once more, the name that is a “catch-all ghost entity” . . . And now Obama has once again released genie from the bottle that Junior handled or even prepared in the aftermath of 9/11.

 

 

[1] Tim Fernholz, “Meet the terror group in Syria that could actually threaten the US” Quartz (22 September 2014). http://qz.com/269198/meet-the-terror-group-in-syria-that-could-actually-threaten-the-us/.

[2] Tim Fernholz, “Meet the terror group in Syria that could actually threaten the US”.

[3] Thomas Joscelyn, “Report: Former head of al Qaeda’s network in Iran now operates in Syria” The Long War Journal (28 March 2014). http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/03/report_former_head_o.php#ixzz3E9n7jGQn

[4] Thomas Joscelyn, “Report: Former head of al Qaeda’s network in Iran now operates in Syria”.

[5] “Greater Khorasan” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Khorasan.

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The Bush Legacy: Junior’s Years in Power, 2001-2009

“The Bush-Cheney era weighs heavily on America. Its divisions and disappointments help to explain much about today’s politics, from public war-weariness to the anti-establishment contempt that seethes among the Republican grassroots and the Tea Party. Insiders have already penned enough don’t-blame-me memoirs and score-settling biographies to dam the Potomac. [Peter Baker’s Bush biography Days of Fire] concentrates on relations between the two men at the top of the executive branch. His shrewd, meticulous reporting offers a useful corrective to tales of a puppet-master deputy manipulating an inexperienced boss”.[1]

 

[1] “Bush’s legacy” The Economist (26 Oct 2013). http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21588363-best-account-yet-failed-presidency-bushs-legacy.

Air Strikes against the IS: The War against the Caliphal Army is On!!!

Helen Cooper and Eric Schmitt write in the New York Times that the “United States and allies launched airstrikes against Sunni militants in Syria early Tuesday [, 23 September 2014], unleashing a torrent of cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs from the air and sea on the militants’ de facto capital of Raqqa and along the porous Iraq border. American fighter jets and armed Predator and Reaper drones, flying alongside warplanes from several Arab allies, struck a broad array of targets in territory controlled by the militants, known as the Islamic State. American defense officials said the targets included weapons supplies, depots, barracks and buildings the militants use for command and control. Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from United States Navy ships in the region. The strikes are a major turning point in President Obama’s war against the Islamic State and open up a risky new stage of the American military campaign. Until now, the administration had bombed Islamic State targets only in Iraq, and had suggested it would be weeks if not months before the start of a bombing campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria”. Significantly, “Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates took part in the strikes, American officials said, although the Arab governments were not expected to announce their participation until later Tuesday [, 23 September 2014]. The new coalition’s makeup is significant because the United States was able to recruit Sunni governments to take action against the Sunni militants of the Islamic State. The operation also unites the squabbling states of the Persian Gulf. The strikes came less than two weeks after Mr. Obama announced in an address to the nation that he was authorizing an expansion of the military campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS”.[1]

Cooper and Schmitt continue that “the salvo on Tuesday [, 23 September] in Syria was the beginning of what was expected to be a sustained, hourslong bombardment at targets in the militant headquarters in Raqqa and on the border. The strikes began after years of debate within the Obama administration about whether the United States should intervene militarily or should avoid another entanglement in a complex war in the Middle East. But the Islamic State controls a broad swath of land across both Iraq and Syria”.[ii] President Obama’s cautious consideration of all the options available has now led to a more direct engagement, but still apparently lacking the boots on the ground deemed necessary by so many. In the NYT, Cooper and Schmitt add that the “strikes in Syria occurred without the approval of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whose government, unlike Iraq, did not ask the United States for help against the Sunni militant group. Mr. Obama has repeatedly called on Mr. Assad to step down because of chemical weapons attacks and violence against his own people, and defense officials said Mr. Assad had not been told in advance of the strikes. But administration officials acknowledge that American efforts to roll back the Sunni militant group in Syria cannot help but aid Mr. Assad, whose government is also a target of the Islamic State. The United Arab Emirates announced three weeks ago that it was willing to participate in the campaign against the Islamic State, and administration officials have also said they expect the Iraqi military to take part in strikes both in Iraq and Syria. If both nations are in fact participants, the strikes on Tuesday [, 22 September] could mark a rare instance when the Shiite-dominated Iraqi military has cooperated in a military operation with its Sunni Arab neighbors”.[3]

As such, a Syrian Twitter user named Abdulkader Hariri “is believed to have broken news of US air strikes in Syria 30 minutes before the Pentagon confirmed the military had launched attacks on the Isis stronghold of Raqqa alongside other countries”.[4] In the Independent, Heather Saul comments that the “air strikes are a major escalation of the US military response to Isis and come after President Barack Obama stressed it would not coordinate with the government of President Bashar al-Assad in any way in its fight against the group”.[5]

 

[1] Helen Cooper and Eric Schmitt, “Airstrikes by U.S. and Allies Hit ISIS Targets in Syria” The New York Times (22 September 2014). http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/23/world/middleeast/us-and-allies-hit-isis-targets-in-syria.html?emc=edit_na_20140922&nlid=68990308&_r=0.

[2] Helen Cooper and Eric Schmitt, “Airstrikes by U.S. and Allies Hit ISIS Targets in Syria”.

[3] Helen Cooper and Eric Schmitt, “Airstrikes by U.S. and Allies Hit ISIS Targets in Syria”.

[4] Heather Saul, “Syria air strike: Twitter user Abdulkader Hariri live tweets US Islamic State attack ‘before Pentagon breaks news'” The Independent (23 September 2014). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/twitter-user-live-tweets-attack-before-pentagon-breaks-news-9749973.html.

[5] Heather Saul, “Syria air strike: Twitter user Abdulkader Hariri live tweets US Islamic State attack”.

Climate Week NYC 2014

‘U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announces U.S. plan to help fund new World Bank program to counter climate change (22 September 2014)’.

Also on Monday, 22 September, the Washington Post‘s Adam Taylor declares that this “week, the United Nations will host a huge and well-publicized one-day summit on climate change. The public is likely to be watching it closely: It comes just days after thousands of people in New York and around the world took to the streets, demanding more political action to help fight global warming. The climate summit’s organizer, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, took part in the New York march, and for Tuesday’s event, he is promising to bring together some of the most powerful people in the world with a common purpose. “I have invited leaders from government, business, finance and civil society to present their vision, make bold announcements and forge new partnerships that will support the transformative change the world needs,” he wrote in a blog post on the summit for the Huffington Post. It’s certainly true that the climate summit has an impressive guest list: More than 120 world leaders are heading to the United Nations in New York for the event, including President Obama and many big names from the private sphere. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio will give one of the opening speeches. But as impressive as that guest list is, what’s more interesting is who is missing. Notably, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are skipping the event. In empirical terms, it’s hard to think of two more important leaders in the world right now: Together they lead more than 2.5 billion people, more than a third of the world’s population”.[1]

 

 

[1] Adam Taylor, “U.N. climate summit is high-profile, but some of world’s most important leaders will skip it” The Washington Post (22 September 2014). http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/09/22/u-n-climate-summit-is-high-profile-but-some-of-worlds-most-important-leaders-will-skip-it/.

The Murdoch empire: Phone hacking exposed

‘An interview with Nick Davies, the reporter who exposed the British phone hacking scandal. He exposed one of the biggest scandals in recent British political history. Nick Davies, the journalist who laid bare a political controversy that reached into multiple British institutions and painted a picture of a news organisation so powerful that those institutions, including parliament, police and the rest of the British media, dared not take it on. Richard Gizbert sat down with Nick Davies to discuss the story, the power of fear and the future of the Murdoch media empire, which lies disgraced, but by no means defeated (20 September 2014)’.