What The “Experts” Get Wrong

Ever noticed that many of the “experts” on the Middle East have Anglo-Saxon surnames?  Most could not find the Middle East on a map……

When in my younger years I was employed by a Spanish newspaper and spent much of my time in North Africa and the Middle East……for 2 years I worked in Iraq beginning just after Saddam came to power and I got to know the people and the region as well as a Westerner could in that amount of time.

I have tried to tell my story about the people and region but usually I am met with the ignorance that most Westerners show…..most seem to think they are experts and that they get the expertise from people with names like Smith, Jones, Strickland and Schmidt and most have never set foot in the region to get this false expertise…

It is not that these people are stupid…..but rather they just do not want to hear or believe that the info they have on the Middle East is flawed….it minds me of one of my fave quotes….”Stupidity Is The Deliberate Cultivation Of Ignorance”….

A very good site, War On The Rocks, has a great 2 part series and then a rebuttal, if you will,  about what is happening in the Middle East written by someone who is there….on the ground…..

If you read Western media outlets, includingWaronthe Rocks, you might think that most of the problems in the Middle East can be traced to Sunni disenfranchisement, especially in Syria and Iraq. The broader Western debate about the ongoing civil wars in the Middle East is plagued by a false understanding of sectarian identities. Washington elites imagine a broader Sunni sense of identity that does not exist outside the confines of Saudi Arabia and territories held by jihadist groups. This has the malign effect of encouraging polices that add fuel to the fires consuming Syria and parts of Iraq. Alongside this narrative exists another that portrays Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces as bloodthirsty sectarian militias engaged in constant abuses against Iraq’s Sunni Arabs — but this is simply not the case.

Source: Washington’s Sunni Myth and the Civil Wars in Syria and Iraq

And the second part of the series……

I was not surprised to see my first article greeted with so much outrage by those who adhere to the conventional Western narrative of the civil wars in Iraq and Syria as well as the larger tumult of the Middle East. In truth, these conflicts are not so easily defined by the easy sectarian narrative offered in the Western press.  I argued that Western elites were surrendering to and even embracing the Saudi definition of what Sunni identity should mean. And I provided accounts of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq that do not comport with what you likely have been reading in the newspapers.

Source: Washington’s Sunni Myth and the Middle East Undone

This will probably fall on deaf ears….but that is okay….for those same deaf ears are the reason that we are destined to fight in Iraq for a generation….maybe longer….all because of ignorance and stupidity….and sadly it could have been avoided….

To be fair….War On The Rocks published a rebuttal to this series…..

The smug implication, of course, was that Syria under the Assad regime was different: Contrary to the fractured polities of Lebanon and Iraq, it had achieved a superior sense of national belonging and purpose, a genuine supra-confessional identity. Sectarianism was not an issue, I was told. Syria was no democracy, to be sure, but Bashar Al-Assad had married a Sunni woman who wore stylish Western clothes, women could walk around unveiled, and alcohol was available (that’s a lifestyle liberalism of the kind that appeals to Western audiences but actually obscures more than it reveals). Many Sunnis populated the high spheres of business, politics, and the military, and minorities could worship at will as long as they remained loyal to the Assads. No wonder that this image of Syria, marketed ad nauseam, partially hid the country’s unraveling during the previous 15 years. While admitting it was not perfect, many of those who bemoan the Syria of yesterday cannot seem to find the link between this romanticized narrative and the current catastrophe.

Source: “Assad or We Burn the Country”: Misreading Sectarianism and the Regime in Syria

It is always best to have both sides of an argument…..that is if one wants the whole picture and not just a corner……

Turkey and Iran Reach Agreement on Conditions for Syria Peace

Yes sports fans Turkey and Iran have come top an agreement on the Syrian civil war…..

I know that countries and pundits alike have been looking for a way to end the death and destruction in Syria….among other countries….and it appears that Turkey and Iran have come to some sort of agreement on how to proceed…..

In a stunning diplomatic surprise, Turkey and Iran have announced a preliminary agreement on fundamental principles for a settlement of the Syrian conflict.

The dramatic turn in the diplomacy of the Syria War was revealed in Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s regular weekly speech to the ruling AKP Party in the parliament and confirmed by a senior Iranian foreign ministry official Tuesday.

Both Yildirim’s speech and the Iranian corroboration were reported Tuesday by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Al-Hayat, Arabic-language newspapers published in London, but the potentially pivotal development has been unreported thus far in Western news media.

Source: Turkey and Iran Reach Agreement on Conditions for Syria Peace – Antiwar.com Original by — Antiwar.com

This is all well and good…..just I have one problem with this idea……

Where is the input of the Syrian people?  After all it is their country…..well at least for now…..I believe they should have a voice in any solution offered.

They had NO input in 1918 and look where that eventually came to…..maybe they should have the lead voice on any solution that involves their country…..just a thought.

Whatcha think?

But I guess since that plan is not what everyone wanted…….bullets are always easier then words……

Hillary’s Neoconservatives

Yes I know I have been railing against a Clinton presidency because of her ties with the hawks in Washington….I am hoping that some will read and understand just how important it is to NOT vote for a pro-war candidate….granted I am a small voice but I will not give up.

As much as I have written I still find some good articles about Clinton and her ties with the neocons……like this one in The American Conservative……

The Hillary Clinton campaign has recently been trumpeting endorsements from neoconservatives. The candidate’s embrace of figures such as Robert Kagan, Max Boot, and Eliot Cohen—all once regarded as anathema to the contemporary left—has engendered a wave of pushback from progressive critics.

Jane Sanders, wife of Bernie, is the most recent high-profile objector, publicly expressing queasiness about Clinton’s perceived allying with “architects of regime change.” Now, predictably, the pushback has been met with its own pushback, including from Brian Beutler of The New Republic, who cautions progressives not to fret.

Source: Hillary’s Neoconservatives | The American Conservative

Please for the sake of your country and your military….learn everything about the candidates and their plans for the use of force…..it may effect someone in your family…is that too much to ask?

This Is What Politically Correct Looks Like

If you have any Right Wing friends or if you read Right Wing articles or if you listen to the more Right leaning news sources then you will have heard their favorite term over and over and over……Political Correct.

They use it as a catch all for anything that they cannot agree with and it is usually followed by other such adjectives as “apologist”….it is their most popular argument for whatever the subject maybe….after all it is easier than having an actual rebuttal to the issue.

I have the perfect example of what “political correctness” is…..

After warning Syria not to fly planes in the Hasakeh Province or risk getting them shot down by US planes in the area, the Pentagon is struggling to convince reporters that there is some sort of distinction between this zone you can’t fly in and a “no-fly zone.”

…….

The Pentagon has since expanded this to declaring the area “an exclusion zone,” which is distinct from a no-fly zone because the Pentagon says it is a different thing. Spokesman Peter Cook insisted the US has warned Syria not to fly planes in the area for a long time now.

(antiwar.com)

That my friends is the best example possible for what politically correct is……not the off-hand insult that some Righties regurgitate ad nauseum….

I must end my posting day…I am off to eat stuffed grape leaves, olives, figs, blue cheese with a little honey…..try it…….. you will like it!

Clinton and Syria

According to most pundits Clinton will win this election in a landslide…..(God help us)…..if true Clinton’s biggest problem will be….what to do with Syria……does she have a plan?

The American Conservative has a couple of good pieces about Clinton and Syria…….and her possible plan/s………

In a seemingly full-throated promise to voters in Scranton, Pa. on Monday, Hillary Clinton said adding “American ground troops” in the war against ISIS in Syria “is off the table.”

But every message coming from her surrogates in the media and in the Washington defense establishment has been that she will “lean in” harder in Syria, and whether you want to call it “added ground troops” or something else, everyone in her orbit is calling for expanded U.S. intervention—including personnel and firepower—in the region, even at the risk of confrontation with Russia.

Source: Clinton’s Syria War Plans | The American Conservative

She may go full-throat into Syria to appease her M-IC handlers……in true neocon fashion…..

Kelley Vlahos reminds us why Clinton is likely to be very hawkish as president:

But every message coming from her surrogates in the media and in the Washington defense establishment has been that she will “lean in” harder in Syria, and whether you want to call it “added ground troops” or something else, everyone in her orbit is calling for expanded U.S. intervention—including personnel and firepower—in the region, even at the risk of confrontation with Russia.

We have good reason to believe this because Clinton and her supporters repeatedly keep saying that this is the kind of foreign policy her administration will have. Clinton has made no secret of her support for “no-fly” and safe zones in Syria, and she has chosen a running mate who shares her views on these issues. While Democrats overall might be divided on Syria policy, the Democratic ticket is not: both nominees favor a more aggressive, militarized U.S. role in the Syrian conflict. That is the policy a Clinton administration is very likely to start implementing next year if, as seems likely, she prevails in the fall. A vote for Clinton is almost certainly a vote for an expanded war in Syria, and the public needs to understand that this is what we will get by entrusting her with the presidency.

Source: A Clinton Win Means An Expanded War in Syria | The American Conservative

Something the military has to look forward to…..a bigger and wider footprint for the US troops…..

A Clinton win will be bad for the country but a windfall of profits for the M-IC………

The voters and the people of this country deserves better than a continuous war for a generation…..but will we step up and tell the candidate that this all MUST stop?  (He asked knowing full well the answer is NO!)

The Name Game

Most Americans are well aware of a group named Al-Qaeda….in case the mind is going….that is the group founded by Osama and was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.  Keep that in mind……

Now we move to Syria…..there is an affiliate of AQ operating in the country…Jabbat al-Nusra…at times they are at odds with the barbarous bunch called ISIS…..there is also reports that sya as horrible as ISIS is al-Nusra is more dangerous……

Hardly a day goes by without news of the progress being made in the war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. In recent months, American-backed forces have secured much of the Syrian-Turkish border, recaptured Ramadi, and stemmed the flow of fighters and supplies to the terror group’s capital cities of Raqqa and Mosul.
But momentum is not the same as winning, and the U.S. has fallen into a number of traps in Iraq and Syria — the most deadly of which has been set by al Qaeda.
Jabhat al-Nusra, al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, is more dangerous than ISIS — and while the two groups share the common goal of establishing a global caliphate, they are using different means to achieve it.

Al-Nusra first emerged in January 2012, 10 months after the start of anti-government protests that were brutally repressed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, leading to a now more than five-year-old multi-sided conflict.

The group is an offshoot of the Islamic State in Iraq, Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in the country, in which Jolani was a leading figure in Nineveh province, a jihadist stronghold in the north.

In April 2013, Al-Nusra refused to join up with IS and pledged allegiance instead to Al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri, who later proclaimed Al-Nusra the only branch of Al-Qaeda in Syria.

Believing that their public status as al-Qaeda’s formal “affiliate” in Syria has made them a target, the Nusra Front is announcing its intention to rebrand as the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or Sham Liberation Front, which itself won’t officially be affiliated with al-Qaeda’s parent organization.

More info on al-Nusra……

Source: Everything You Need To Know About the New Nusra Front | TIME

All this drama is a ruse…..it has been planned for awhile to take the heat off the group……

….. the ruse is transparent, since al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a public audio statement only back in May suggesting Nusra could make a public break with al-Qaeda as a way to unify Islamists to form an “emirate” to rival ISIS. Whatever the reason, there is no suggestion this is going to leave Nusra, or whatever it calls itself, as anything but Syria’s al-Qaeda.

Nothing has changed…the group will still be as barbarous as usual…the only purpose of this “switch” is to try and lessen the attacks by the US and others with the hope it can survive past this conflict.

Jabhat al-Nusra, or JAN, is many things at the same time. It includes nationalists, nationalist-Islamists, Islamists, Syrians, non-Syrians, elements who reject global terrorism, global terrorists, hardliners, relative moderates, and many other ideological strains. The cement holding this organization together is composed of two parts: Opposing Assad, and an organizational structure that is able to provide an ideological frame, a political platform, a plan of action and operational structure, a disciplinary system, and the means to survive and continue the fight.

Attempts to reduce JAN to ISIL part deux are mistaken insofar as they neglect structural and ideological differences between the two groups. This is not to say that JAN is more or less dangerous than ISIL. It is to say that the two groups are completely different along both ideological and organizational lines. Overlooking those differences is natural in public opinion, but it is not suitable for experts or policy makers, as in the field of fighting terrorism, every detail matters.

Source: The Future of Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria | Middle East Briefing

Same game….different name?

Distancing itself from the ambitions of its sponsor is both good politics and may be good for Syrians.

And yet, the announcement has been received internationally with weary scepticism and‎ a level of cynical dismissiveness that fails to understand the opportunity this decision represents.

The principal Western response has been that al-Nusra Front leadership’s decision is merely cosmetic, designed to remove itself from the list of groups subject to bombardment. This, of course may be true but it misses the point.

Source: Tough choices ahead as al-Nusra splits from al-Qaeda – Al Jazeera English

 

You “Cannot Fix Stupid”–Part Two

Back in April of 2016 I wrote about the most stupid piece of unthinking bullshit I have ever read…..The Mormons decided to air drop religious material on Syria looking for converts….(read it for yourself)……

I close my day of posting with a situation from last week…..it illustrates the depths of ignorance…….it falls firmly in the category of “Can’t Fix Stupid!”

Most of us humans are always looking for a sign that God is listening and helping…..religions have sent missionaries all over the world to indoctrinate….ooops…… Sorry that should be teach the word of God to others…..but recently I saw a piece that tells of a massive airdrop of Bibles over a war torn country……and just how pathetic this attempt was…..

Source: You “Cannot Fix Stupid”! – In Saner Thought

People were killed and/or injury by flying Bibles….Bibles that could not be read….how’s that for humanitarian aid?

You may be asking why would I rehash this story, right?

The religious idiots are not finished with Syria yet…….

What people living in ISIS-controlled areas really need is Christianity delivered by drone, an evangelical church in Sweden has decided. The Uppsala-based Word of Life church says it plans to use military drones to drop thousands of Bibles over parts of Syria in the hope of converting Muslims, CNET reports. “Let’s pray the message of God’s love in Christ will conquer that of darkness and hate,” the church said in an Instagram post. The church plans to drop Arabic-language electronic Bibles, which will not need to be plugged in to work.

The church’s missions director says the plan “is not connected to any military or aggressive action in any way,” but has a lot in common with traditional smuggling of Bibles into places like the Soviet Union, the Washington Post reports. On its Facebook page, the church says the Bible drop is happening in parallel with the church’s other work in the region, including providing medical care in refugee camps. It hasn’t responded to a post from somebody worried that ISIS will harshly punish anybody caught with a Bible—and that extremists will now target the church’s headquarters in Sweden.

The only thing I can say positive about this is at least these religious dolts had the good sense to print the material in Arabic….something Morons kinda overlooked in their attempt in April.

Why cannot these religious types do God’s work and stop wasting cash try to convert and try helping the refugees that the whole world has abandoned?

Just wondering!

This is why I have little time for these religious types…..