ISIS/ISIL/Daesh

The Caliph at the Gates of Vienna

Abu-Bakr-al-Baghdadi-300x183gc2smOff the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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AbuBakr_alBaghdadi-020515

Originally published in Asia Times on October 29, 2015

 


History has a jolly habit of repeating itself as surrealist farce. Is it 1683 all over again, with the Ottoman Empire laying siege to Vienna just to be defeated by the “infidels” at the last minute?

No; it’s 2015 and a Caliph simulacrum – Ibrahim, a.k.a. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — has prompted a gaggle of world powers, lesser powers and assorted minions to converge to Vienna to discuss how to defeat him.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Westphalians, we got a problem. None of this makes any sense if Iran is not at the table discussing a solution for the Syrian tragedy. Moscow knew it from the start. Washington — reluctantly — had to admit the obvious. But the problem was never Iran. The problem is the ideological matrix of goons who metastasize into Caliphs: Saudi Arabia.

Back — inevitably — to surrealism. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir stated, “The view of our partners … was that we should test the intentions of the Iranians and the Russians in arriving at a political solution in Syria, which we all prefer.”

Translation: “Our partners” means “His Masters’ Voice,” Washington; and the beheading-addicted oil hacienda does not “prefer” a political solution; they want regime change and a House of Saud satrapy.

Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, the EU, France and even Qatar — whose mini-emir wanted to launch his own military campaign for regime change before someone told him to shut up — are keeping company to Iran in Vienna, alongside the US, Russia, Turkey and the House of Saud.

Talk about parallel lives. One thing is a polite altercation inside a gilded Vienna palace. The shifting military sands across a Sykes-Picot-in-shambles “Syraq” tell a very different story.

Beware the new Global Jihad

The ideal solution is tempting; Russia dispatches the Spetsnaz and some extra commandos; beheads the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh goons from a C4i point of view; surrounds them; and wipes them out.

Yet it won’t happen, as long as Sultan Erdogan in Turkey, petrodollar GCC minions and the CIA persist to “support” and/or weaponize assorted Salafi-jihadi goons, “moderate” or otherwise.

The fake “Caliphate” will be a very tough nut to crack because they don’t – and won’t – care about their own mounting casualties. The “4+1” alliance – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah – already knows it, and has already experienced trouble in their ranks.

Hezbollah took casualties. So did Iran’s Quds Force – as in reliable mid-level commanders. Iran has around 1,500 fighters on the ground – many of them Afghans – on the “4+1” side. On the opposite side we have the House of Saud funneling a lot of cash and TOW anti-tank missiles to the Army of Conquest, which is nothing but an al-Qaeda-led coalition of the willing displaying relatively overlapping agendas (first regime change, then Caliphate or Muslim Brotherhood reign).

There’s no evidence – yet – that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh has been depleted of the bulk of their shoulder-fired anti-aircraft plus anti-tank guided missiles.

So while Vienna talks, what is ISIS/ISIL/Daesh really up to?

They are about to choose between two different strategies.

  1. They dig in in Raqqa – the former capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, before Baghdad – waiting for a Mother of All Battles. After all they can’t afford to lose it, as Raqqa, geostrategically, is the ultimate crossroads in Syria. Former Ba’athist military and a cluster of Arab nationalists are lobbying for this strategy.
  1. Forget about digging in. The best is to expand the frontline, into the deeper desert, to the max. This means no clusters of targets available to the Russian Air Force, with the added benefit of the “4+1” – as in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA)/Iran/Hezbollah ground units supported by the Russian Air Force — overextending their lines of communication/supply and being faced with extra logistical problems. Hardcore Turks, Chechens, Uyghurs and Uzbeks are lobbying for this strategy.

Arguably the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh command is leaning towards option 2 – because of the Jihad Inc. component. At least 2,000 fake “Caliphate” goons – most of them from Chechnya, Turkey, Central Asia and Xinjiang – were killed in Kobani, which, unlike Raqqa, had no strategic value. The Jihad Inc. gang now wants to expand all the way to Central Asia, Xinjiang, Russia and, if they manage to find an opening, Europe and the US.

Option 2 also carries the added benefit, for fighting purposes, of extra support for “moderate jihadis” (not “rebels”), which means more interaction with Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid, a few Army of Conquest factions, the Islamic Front and a bunch of Turkmen Salafi groups. None of these, by the way, are “moderate rebels”.

All these outfits would perfect mesh into an ISIS/ISIL/Daesh “expanding frontline” strategy, defended, among others, by one Muslim Shishani, Chechen commander of the Jund al-Sham, which is currently fighting around Latakia.

Shishani, significantly, told al-Jazeera Turk, “Fronts [such] as Raqqa and Aleppo will have no significance in a ground war against the Russians. The real war will be on the Tartus-Latakia front line. Jihad must be moved to that area.”

So imagine all of these outfits coalescing on an internal jihad plus global jihad platform, and still flush with cash. It’s no secret that Russian intel is alarmed by the high number of Chechens in the fake “Caliphate” ranks, not to mention Chinese intel regarding the Uyghurs. These may find very hard to return to Xinjiang; but the Chechens will be back in the Caucasus. That’s the famous “Aleppo is 900 km away from Grozny” syndrome.

To add to the royal mess, FSB director Alexander Bortnikov has already warned about a concentration of Taliban – many of whom pledged allegiance to the fake “Caliphate” — at Afghanistan’s northern borders with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. For Putin and the Russian intel apparatus, the situation in Afghanistan is “close to critical”. A jihad spillover across Central Asia is all but certain.

The bottom line, thus, is stark. Move over, al-Qaeda; ISIS/ISIL/Daesh is using the “4+1” offensive to forge its identity as the leader of a Global Jihad. Saudi imams anyway have already declared jihad against Russia. And the decrepit Al-Azhar in Cairo is about to do the same thing.

Check the Iranian game

There’s no evidence the Obama administration is about to admit all “moderate rebels” are, after all, jihadis. The ISIS/ISIL/Daesh command, anyway, is waiting; were that to happen – as in Washington sharing Moscow’s analysis – all outfits will switch to Global Jihad mode, led by the fake “Caliphate.”

Russian airstrike against ISIS in Syria

 

 

 

 

Russian airstrike against ISIS in Syria

It’s already murky enough as it stands. The mix of Syrian/Iranian ground intel plus the Russian air campaign have to make sure not only that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh does not have the hardware nor the manpower to defend Raqqa; they also need to cut off all their communication/supply lines with those jihadis who are fighting the “4+1” in western Syria.

Even under attack by the Russian Air Force, which forced a large number of goons and their families to flee Syria for the Western Iraq desert, ISIS/ISIL/Daesh managed to make progress in southern Aleppo, infiltrating al-Safira, and keeping control of at least 10 checkpoints along the crucial supply line that runs from Hama, through Salamiyeh, Ithriyah and Khanaser, all the way to Aleppo. The SAA simply cannot afford to lose this corridor; now that’s priority number one. Hundreds of thousands of Aleppo civilians, meanwhile, are trying to survive as de facto hostages.

It’s crucial to check out the Iranian game on the ground. The best source so far has been the deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Brig. Gen. Husayn Salami, who talked extensively to the Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 2.

Salami – that’s the IRGC speaking – frames Syria as the “focal point of strategic efforts made by an international coalition” to implement a “destructive political scheme in the Islamic world.” By “international coalition” he means NATO plus the Saudis. Iran’s role is “guaranteeing the political, psychological, economic and military stability of the Syrian system.”

He frames Iran’s role on four levels. “On a strategic level, we support the Syrian government, nation and army politically and psychologically. As advisors, we transfer our war experiences to top commanders in the Syrian army. Actually, we are helping them modernize and rebuild the structure of the Syrian army … When it comes to the operational level, we are helping brigade commanders for example … This is why a number of our commanders are there and are helping in planning and devising operational strategies.” Iran also helps at a tactical and technical (logistic) level.

And here’s something absolutely key – as well as anathema for the House of Saud; “Our national security is intertwined with the security of important parts of the Islamic world, the national security of Syria. This is the main philosophy behind our presence [in Syria].” The nuance that US Think Tankland is incapable of spotting is this doesn’t have anything to do with keeping Assad in power forever, as Iranian diplomats are now saying on the record.

Salami also stressed Russia went into Syria because otherwise it would have to fight jihad at home (that’s exactly what the Chechens at ISIS/ISIL/Daesh want). Putin’s Syria strategy, by the way, has been fully supported by the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, who was a key guest at the Valdai summit last week.

I’m the Caliph; hear me roar

Faced with the Russian/Iranian strategy, what is the Empire of Chaos to do?

Murk the already murky sands, what else? That sorry lot that passes for Obama’s “senior national security advisers” has recommended positioning US Special Forces closer to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Syria.

This special “guidance” is supposed to help the coalition known as Democratic Forces of Syria – which is led by the YPG Kurds – to take Raqqa. But that does not necessarily mean US Special Forces will be fighting alongside the “4+1” towards the same objective. After all, we’re always thrown back deep into Geopolitics Surrealistan – where the US-led Coalition of the Dodgy Opportunists (CDO) totally ignores what the “4+1” are doing. And don’t forget intra-coalition hatred — as in Ankara abhorring the US insistence on working with Syrian Kurds.

As for Iraq, the Obama administration and the Pentagon now barely qualify as the butt end of running jokes. Sunnis in Anbar province are furious that the mightiest satellite surveillance system in history simply failed to register ISIS/ISIL/Daesh’s advances, from Tikrit to Ramadi and environs.

To add a final insult to (repeated) injuries – as in the “4+1” intel center in Baghdad, excluding the US, plus the authorization for Russia to bomb fake “Caliphate” convoys trying to cross from the Syrian desert – Baghdad and the EU have just agreed to set up yet another intel center to exchange data on ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. The bottom line is the Obama administration is absolutely terrified that the EU is inclined to support the Russian campaign – increasingly regarding the CDO for what it is; a joke.

The near future offers even more dangerous surrealist instances; think of the Obama administration helping Shi’ite militias to take Mosul in Iraq back from ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, and at the same time helping Kurds in Syria to take back Raqqa, an Arab city. All hell is bound to break loose between Sunnis across “Syraq” and Americans – and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh will mightily profit from it.

As it stands, there’s not going to be a frontal attack on Aleppo by the SAA and Iran/Hezbollah, covered by the Russian Air Force; instead, the “4+1” strategy will be to disrupt to the max the logistical supply routes to all Salafi-jihadi outfits, which implies trying to cut off the flux of cash and weapons smuggled via Turkey.

But once again; what about the Empire of Chaos?

The Obama administration is essentially fighting — sort of — ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Iraq, where Washington lost a multi-trillion dollar war. Team Obama never bothered to fight the fake “Caliphate” in Syria — because they were contributing to the “Assad must go” agenda.

Sultan Erdogan – with Ankara at the table in Vienna – is still allowed to have a free-for-all border out of which ISIS/ISIL/Daesh profits handsomely. And the paranoid, Shi’ite-hating House of Saud – with Riyadh at the table in Vienna – is still allowed to shower all manner of Salafi-jihadi goons with all manner of weapons. This is what passes for Obama’s policy in Syria, as the Caliph’s roaring laughter can be heard all the way to Vienna.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Putin and Xi rock da house

Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putingc2smOff the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin

Originally published in Asia Times on September 25, 2015

 


Pope Francis may be the rock star. But once again, the real heart of the action is all about Russia and China — those prime “threats” to Exceptionalistan, according to the Pentagon.

Where’s Benjamin’s Angel of History when we need him? His gaze is now certainly focused on the home of the brave. Francis may have brought the House down in DC, but it’s Xi Jinping who really rocked da house in the West Coast, while Putin gets ready to be crowned the new King of New York. Who’d imagine that the New Great Game in Eurasia could be so fun?

Calling Frank Underwood

Even before Putin talked new world order geopolitical business at the UN, China’s Xi Jinping was talking Silicon Valley business with, well, the whole Silicon Valley elite. It’s all in the photo, delightfully deconstructed by the South China Morning Post.

This is where the action is — much more than in what Xi may have discussed with Obama; cyberspace piracy, spying, new Japanese laws on defense, the environment. China needs top IT to turbo-charge not only the internal market but also key nodes of the New Silk Roads.

Even Facebook was allowed to bow to the Red Emperor. Mark Zuckerberg, in suit and red tie, talked to Xi for less than a minute, in Mandarin, at Microsoft’s campus. Side by side was none other than a smiling Lu Wei – who controls China’s Great Firewall, which blocks, among others, Facebook. As a priceless aside, here’s Internet-alert Lu Wei calling all and sundry to “sail into the future with mutual benefit and win-win.”

Xi and Putin

 

 

Xi and Putin

Barely blinking while he bought 300 Boeings for lunch, Xi’s real howler in the West Coast was his House of Cards gambit.

Referring to Beijing’s massive crackdown on graft, he said, “We have punished tigers and flies … It has nothing to do with power struggles. In this case there is no House of Cards.”

Non-biased China hands all interpret the anti-corruption campaign as essentially a clean up of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) so it may continue to rule ad infinitum. It’s the party, stupid. So obviously there’s a “hard rain’s gonna fall” component, because resistance from powerful interest groups is immense.

The irruption of House of Cards was predictable. Much more than a nod to Netflix, this was about China. According to GlobalWebIndex, no less than over 200 million Chinese have been using VPNs to get to Netflix and watch the season 3 of House of Cards on streaming video.

Frank33Millions among these are Beijing residents, comfortably middle class; and that includes a lot of Party heavyweights – such as the head of the anti-corruption committee, Wang Qishan, a huge fan of Frank Underwood. Check out this priceless  Global Times piece showing how House of Cardsheavily draws from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

On top of it, season 2 of House of Cards was already China-intense, featuring cyber-war, the South China Sea and currency manipulation. Sharp Chinese viewers inevitably compared factional fighting in Washington with Beijing’s anti-graft campaign, which, so far, has nailed 80,000 functionaries, at least 90 high-caliber politicians and 30 PLA generals. China Daily didn’t measure its words — stating that House of cards represents a “mirror” of these Chinese functionaries.

Xi knew exactly who his audience was when he invoked US soft power — tremendously popular in China — to send a message. And he also knew that even when the American system is critically eviscerated — as in House of Cards — the fascination quotient of US soft power remains unbeatable. If you can’t beat them, join them. Why not instrumentalize House of Cards as Beijing deploys its own version of The Art of War?

Start spreading the news…

And now, live from New York, it’s Putin The Great.

Last week on Asia Times we saw how if there’s going to be some solution to the Syrian tragedy, it’s all Putin’s fault. (Not) reacting to it, the Obama administration remained mired in its proverbial bewilderment – or perplexity.

Finally, the White House was forced to announce that the coin finally dropped on Obama, and he will talk to Putin on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Right on cue, a senior adviser to Bashar al-Assad started spinning that the US and Russia had reached a “tacit agreement” on ending the mess in Syria.

Quick recap. Putin started it all by refusing “Assad must go” as a prerequisite for peace negotiations. Then he turbo-charged the military build up in Latakia; proverbially, once again, neither the Pentagon nor the White House ever saw it coming.

So this is what Putin accomplished even before Obama saw the light and decided to talk:

1) Forget about a Libya-remixed NATO war on Syria. 2) Forget about a Sultan Erdogan-driven no-fly zone over areas controlled by Damascus. 3) Out with the old world order. This is how the emerging new world order should work, and Russia is also driving it.

Putin’s speech on Monday at the UN General Assembly will be about “the joint struggle against terrorism” (as branded by TASS). One should expect abundant apoplexy, much more than perplexity, all across the Washington/New York axis.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, last Sunday on Russian TV, already clarified the themes at the heart of the speech; the unipolar world order, and the absolute necessity of the “joint struggle against terrorism,” which” must be waged without double standards.”

Lavrov was very sharp when referring to” unilateral coercive measures” — and not only as far as Russia is concerned. In his own words:

“Nowadays, you know, our Western partners, primarily, under the influence, perhaps, of American mentality, are losing in general the culture of a dialogue and the culture of achieving diplomatic solutions. The Iranian nuclear program was a bright – and even very bright – exception. In most other cases – in conflicts that continue to flare up in the Middle East, in North Africa – they try to resort to measures of military intervention, as was the case in Iraq and Libya, in violation of UN Security Council decisions, or to resort to sanctions.”

Expect Putin to talk about all of it in detail. But the showstopper will be, predictably, Putin on Syria. In Lavrov’s words:

“We have declared that we will be helping the Syrian leaders, as we help the Iraqi leaders, or the leaders of other countries who are facing the threat of terrorism. And our military-technical cooperation pursues exactly these objectives. Of course, the supplies of arms [by Russia], they have been going on, they are going on [now] and they will continue. Their [supplies] are inevitably accompanied by our specialists that help put the according equipment up, help to train Syrian [military] personnel to handle these weapons and there are absolutely no mysteries and no secrets [in all of this].”

cardsAnd yes, Putin will call the usual suspects — from Turkey to the GCC petrodollar gang — to help Assad “without indoctrinations or double standards” in the fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And he will demonstrate how the refugee crisis was not created by Assad, but by the fake “Caliphate.” As far as these refugees from the Sykes-Picot-smashed Middle East are concerned, it’s up to the EU to deal with them. In Lavrov’s words:

“Russia has been fulfilling all her obligations under the international conventions. All those who fall under the category of refugees, we take in, and we will take into the Russian Federation, sometimes even going beyond the criteria that is applied. I refer to the refugees from Ukraine, there are about one million [in Russia]. We sympathize with our European neighbors with regard to the problem that they have been facing, and I believe that they will solve it [on their own].”

Last but not least, Putin will make it very clear Russia never again will be fooled into signing dodgy documents such as UNSC Resolution 1973, which legitimized R2P in 2011 via that legendary “no-fly” zone over Libya, with the corollary of NATO bombing the country into a wasteland run by militias. No wonder deranged R2P groupie Samantha Power wants to kick Russia out of the Security Council. Who needs a shoe-banging Khrushchev? Black (Apoplexy) Monday will definitely be a riot.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Peace in Syria? It’s Putin’s fault

russia syriagc2smOff the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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russia syria

Originally published in Asia Times on September 18, 2015

 


All one needs to know about the intellectual caliber of the Obama administration is that it is still pondering whether to persist in “ignoring” Russian President Vladimir Putin, or invest in a real partnership to solve the Syrian geopolitical/humanitarian drama. After all, when in doubt between diplomacy or chaos, the Beltway weapon of choice still veers towards the simplistic group think uniting neocons and neoliberalcons: regime change.

 Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad shake hands in Moscow in 2006

 

 

Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad shake hands in Moscow in 2006

And then there’s the non-stop The Russians Are Coming! hysteria — the Cold War 2.0 remix, now switching from the invasion/military occupation of Ukraine to the invasion/military occupation of Syria. The White House — which, same as the Pentagon, does not do irony — actually appealed to the Kremlin to behave in a “more constructive” way side-by-side with the spectacularly inefficient coalition of the dodgy opportunists which is in thesis fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest clarified that when Obama decides that the Sisyphean task of picking up the phone and dialing K for Kremlin is actually in America’s interests, he will do it. The Shakespearean doubt may last days — even as Putin reaffirmed, via Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, he was always open to dialogue.

The White House at least is mulling an offer from Moscow to actually discuss the Russian buildup in Syria via direct military-to-military talks. The Pentagon will do the talking, seeking the “clarity” that so eludes the Obama administration.

Ankara’s double game

Diplomacy, meanwhile, has been hectic. Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu went to Sochi to talk Syria – and Ukraine – with the Russians. Ankara’s position remains fossilized; any support for Bashar al-Assad equals more civilian casualties.

They also talked Pipelineistan – as in Turkish Stream; unlike apocalyptic US corporate media reports, the pipeline has not been ditched by Ankara; the problem is Ankara cannot even form a coherent government after the June elections.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s superstar commander Qasem Soleimani also went to Moscow this week to promote Damascus-Moscow cooperation. Wait; he didn’t, because Moscow flatly denied the visit. Soleimani was in Russia actually three months ago. The next important meeting to discuss Syria is actually on Monday, between Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Bogdanov.

A quick recap is essential. The Syrian Arab Spring chapter was sponsored/financed/weaponized mostly by Ankara – totally reversing its previous “zero problems with our neighbors” geopolitical doctrine — with backing by Doha, substantial House of Saud involvement and full led-from-behind support by the Obama White House.

After over four and a half years and immeasurable tragedy, the real face of this “Assad must go” regime change operation is the refugee crisis. Over 2 million out of 4 million Syrians fled to Turkey; Ankara recently released them en masse from holding camps on their way to the Balkans and the Teutonic Promised Land.

So Ankara is right at the center of the largest refugee crisis in Europe in 70 years. And so is Ankara-supporting Washington; ISIS/ISIL/Daesh captured all the weapons delivered with CIA help to that pathetic “Free Syrian Army” – as well as tanks and Humvees from the disjointed US-trained Iraqi Army. Any possible solution for relieving the refugee crisis while fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh must include cutting off Ankara’s myriad direct and indirect forms of “support” for the fake “Caliphate.”

The problem is Ankara is part of the supremely inefficient US coalition. The glaring paradox at least has been identified by some adults in Washington. Yet the Obama administration is still besotted by a dominatrix Ankara playing wag the dog. Team Obama still believes “Assad must go” is responsible not only for the creation of the fake “Caliphate” — an absurdity gleefully repeated by David of Arabia Cameron and General Hollande — but he’s also responsible for the abysmal failure of the US coalition to smash it. It’s actually Ankara that rules what passes for a no-fly zone along the Turkish-Syrian border, and what Ankara wants to fight is Syrian Kurds or PKK Kurds, not al-Baghdadi’s goons.

Damn, where’s my ground intel?

Meanwhile the Pentagon machine, were they to focus on the “mission,” could shock and awe the “Caliphate” goons on a weekend binge. Yet considering how much they did not learn in Iraq, it’s unlikely the Pentagon has minimally decent ground intel.

It’s all about an over 400 kilometer-long desert strip alongside the Sykes-Picot-in-disarray Syrian-Iraqi border — between al-Baaj in northern Iraq and Rutba near the Jordanian border. Some call it the Iraqi Tora Bora; yes, it does look a bit like Afghanistan, only with more desert.

ISIS/ISIL/Daesh rules over the provinces of Ninive, Dijla, Ifrit and Al-Jazeera in Iraq, Abu Kamal and Deir ez-Zor in Syria, and most of all in Iraqi Furhat, around al-Baaj; that’s where the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh command and control center is located. If some Pentagon analyst took the trouble to contact Iraqi analyst Hisham al-Hashemi, he would tell him that al-Baghdadi himself is holed up in al-Baaj, along with his two wives. But who’s actually in command for the moment is the emir for Syria and Iraq, Abu Alaa al-Afari.

The US never managed to control these desolate lands – not to mention, previously, Saddam Hussein. Local tribes are extremely hardcore and excel in smuggling. “Caliphate” goons married tribal women and are totally integrated. All Shi’ites are derided as evil heretics, even worse than Christians. Guess who indoctrinated the tribals? Saudi Arabian imams.

Yet the coalition could easily bomb to smithereens five ISIS/ISIL/Daesh special batallions – up to 500 jihadis each, divided by nationality and specialization, and all concentrated locally; GCC and Maghreb nationals assure the protection of the commanders, for instance, while Eastern Europeans and Asians collect the loot, taxes and take care of weapons transportation. The key brigade is the one that “liberated” Mosul; 80% are Iraqis, and they are now fighting in Hassake, in Syria.

There may be up to 125,000 “Caliphate” goons in action, including up to 15,000 foreigners. But the hydra-like heads of the snake are in al-Baaj. Raze it to the ground, and we got Perseus Obama slaying the jihadi medusa.

Instead, we have the pitiful spectacle of four – I repeat, four – US-trained “moderate rebels” left to fight ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Syria, as admitted by US General Lloyd Austin at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this past Wednesday. Everyone remembers those “rebels” out of a hefty group of 54 who were attacked by Jabhat al-Nusra in July. That is, al-Qaeda in Syria – paraded as “moderate” by neocons and US corporate media — reduced the “moderate rebel” Obama administration chimera (15,000! Well trained and well equipped!) to … well, a chimera.

Aaaaand now, heeere’s Putin

The Obama administration – duly followed by the European minions – simply won’t listen. Already in 2014 former UN-Arab League representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, was saying the Russian analysis of the whole Syrian puzzle was right from the beginning.

Now, Nobel peace prize winner and former negotiator Martti Ahtisaari is saying that already in early 2012 a Russian proposal was floated that included Assad stepping out of power after peace negotiations with credible, non-jihadi opposition interlocutors.

What Moscow has done now is to step up the diplomatic game – trying to bridge the gap between Damascus and the credible opposition (not exactly a huge crowd) while cobbling up a real coalition to fight ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; as far as Moscow is concerned, this is a major national security threat, what with jihadis slouching towards “Syraq” from the Volga to the north Caucasus.

And here we find an important distinction; Russia’s national security interests do not necessarily converge with Iran’s national security interests (as in Syria offering a bridge to Hezbollah and also a Mediterranean projection for Iran.)

Still, Moscow’s is the only diplomatic game in town because Washington’s Plan A continues to be regime change, and there’s no coherent “Western” road map which simultaneously guarantees smashing ISIS/ISIL/Daesh while preventing the catastrophic dismemberment of the Syrian state.

Assad’s position, in detail, is here. Putin’s position, in detail, is here. It’s up to any informed, unbiased observer to draw the necessary conclusions. Meanwhile, the enormity of the refugee crisis is open to scrutiny practically next door to EU headquarters; no summit-addicted Eurocrat even bothered to go there and talk to the asylum seekers.

As it ramps up the diplomatic front, Moscow obviously pays attention to facts on the ground – as in the expanded infrastructure at Latakia’s air base where Russian advisers are stationed. US Think Tankland’s concerted hysteria denouncing the build up “greatly complicates” the US-led coalition campaign do not even qualify as a kindergarten prank.

There won’t be a “direct clash” between coalition F-16s and Russian jets – and the Pentagon knows it. What the Pentagon cannot possibly admit is that the Russian build up necessarily prevents funny ideas such as the coalition pulling a Turk – as in bombing Assad’s forces instead of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And by the way, Ankara’s clout in Washington continues to drop – as in the US not being part of a much-hyped no-fly zone to be established over northern Aleppo.

Turkey and GCC coalition members have been indirectly warned; forget about targeting Russian advisers opposing “moderate rebels” using lethal weapons supplied by Turkey, GCC and the US. “Complicating” the coalition “efforts”, in US Think Tankland newspeak, means one cannot bomb Assad’s forces with impunity. Damn, it’s tough to deliver regime change under so many constraints.

Back to pre-Bismarck?

The EU, meanwhile, pays the price for the regime change obsession, convulsed and torn apart by endless divisions provoked by the refugee crisis coupled with the specter of the eternal recurrence of jihad in the streets – and trains – linking major European capitals. But then, as the EU may desperately want a solution to the tragic Syrian puzzle, we have David of Arabia Cameron and General Hollande getting ready to deliver puny air strikes that will hardly cause “Caliphate” goons to shake in their designer desert boots.

No wonder pan-Europe public opinion is increasingly considering it’s actually the Obama administration which is perpetuating the Syrian tragedy — as long as it sticks to the mirages of regime change, a non-existent “Free Syrian Army,” “moderate rebels” (of the al-Qaeda in Syria kind), not to mention demonizing any support offered by Russia and Iran to Damascus.

Putin could not have been more crystal clear — and adults from Washington to Brussels did get the message; “Without an active participation of the Syrian authorities and the military, it would be impossible to expel the terrorists from that country and the region as a whole … Without Russia’s support for Syria, the situation in the country would have been worse than in Libya, and the flow of refugees even bigger.”

So if there’s any chance of a peace deal in Syria, it’s Putin’s fault.

But there’s another possible scenario being actively discussed for the near future. That would be the “surge’ of multiple microstates across the Middle East – as a counterpunch to internecine carnage. So we would have, among others, Allawistan, Kurdistan, Druzistan, Yazidistan, Houthistan – with borders that are already reasonably clear on the ground.

Talk about a 21st century remix of pre-Bismarck Europe princely states. The precedent is what the EU created in the Balkans; the break up of Yugoslavia across religious lines even as the bulk of the population is Slavic.

A Middle Eastern remix would only work if Turkey and Iran would agree to a Kurdistan. It won’t happen. Most Iraqis and Syrians, for their part, have also developed a strong national identity; 70% of Syrians, in a recent poll, oppose the partition of the country (while 82% view ISIS/ISIL/Daesh as a US and/or foreign made concoction.) Yet Syria arguably could still be split in three, depending on where the US-Russia power play will lead. But as we stand, the struggle for a unified, pacified, secular Syria is the only realpolitik game in town.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Historic Iran Nuke Deal a Huge Win for Everyone

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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iran deal

Originally published in Russia Insider on July 16, 2015

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This is it. It is indeed historic. And diplomacy eventually wins. In terms of the New Great Game in Eurasia, and the ongoing tectonic shifts reorganizing Eurasia, this is huge: Iran — supported by Russia and China — has finally, successfully, called the long, winding 12-year-long Atlanticist bluff on its “nuclear weapons.”

And this only happened because the Obama administration needed 1) a lone foreign policy success, and 2) a go at trying to influence at least laterally the onset of the new Eurasia-centered geopolitical order.

So here it is – the 159-page, as detailed as possible, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); the actual P5+1/Iran nuclear deal.

As Iranian diplomats have stressed, the JCPOA will be presented to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which will then adopt a resolution within 7 to 10 days making it an official international document.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has described the deal — significantly — as a very Chinese “win-win” solution. But not perfect; “I believe this is a historic moment. We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody but is what we could accomplish. Today could have been the end of hope, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope.”

Zarif also had to stress — correctly — this was a long-sought solution for an “unnecessary crisis”; the politicization — essentially by the US — of a scientific, technical dossier.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Steinmeier, for his part, was euphoric; “A historic day! We leave 35 years of speechlessness + more than 12 years of a dangerous conflict behind us.”

Looking ahead, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted now there can be “a focus on shared challenges” – referring to the real fight that NATO, and Iran, should pursue together; against the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, whose ideological matrix is intolerant Wahhabism and whose attacks are directed against both Shi’ites and westerners.

Right on cue, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the deal will contribute to fighting terrorism in the Middle East, not to mention “assisting in strengthening global and regional security, global nuclear non-proliferation” and — perhaps wishful thinking? — “the creation in the Middle East of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed the deal “fully corresponds” with Russia’s negotiating points. The fact is no deal would have been possible without extensive Russian involvement — and the Obama administration knows it (but cannot admit it publicly).

The real problem started when Lavrov added that Moscow expects the cancellation of Washington’s missile defense plans, after the Iran deal proves that Tehran is not, and won’t be, a nuclear “threat.”

There’s the rub. The Pentagon simply won’t cancel an essential part of its Full Spectrum Dominance military doctrine simply because of mere “diplomacy.”

Every security analyst not blinded by ideology knows that missile defense was never about Iran, but about Russia. The Pentagon’s new military review still states — not by accident — major Eurasian players Iran, China and Russia as “threats” to U.S. national security.

Now from the brighter side on Iran-Russia relations. Trade is bound to increase, especially in nanotechnology, machinery parts and agriculture. And on the all-pervasive energy front, Iran will indeed compete with Russia in major markets such as Turkey and soon Western Europe, but there’s plenty of leeway for Gazprom and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to coordinate their market share. NIOC executive Mohsen Qamsari advances that Iran will prioritize exporting to Asia, and will try to regain the at least 42% of the European market share that it had before sanctions.

Compared to so many uplifting perspectives, Washington’s reaction was quite pedestrian. US President Barack Obama preferred to stress — correctly — that every pathway to an Iranian nuclear weapon has been cut off. And he vowed to veto any legislation in the US Congress that blocks the deal. When I was in Vienna last week I had surefire confirmation — from a European source — that the Obama administration feels confident it has the votes it needs in Capitol Hill.

And what about all that oil?

Tariq Rauf, former Head of Verification and Security Policy at the IAEA and currently Director of the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), hailed the deal as “the most significant multilateral nuclear agreement in two decades – the last such agreement was the 1996 nuclear test ban treaty.” Rauf even advanced that the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize should go to US Secretary of State Jon Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif.

Rebuilding trust between the US and Iran, though, will be a long and winding road.

Tehran agreed to a 15-year moratorium on enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent; this means it has agreed to reduce its enrichment capacity by two-thirds. Only Natanz will conduct enrichment; and Fordo, additionally, won’t store fissile material.

Iran agreed to store no more than 300 kg of low-enriched uranium — a 96% reduction compared to current levels. The Arak reactor will be reconfigured, and won’t be used to produce plutonium. The spent fuel will be handled by an international team.

The IAEA and Iran signed a roadmap in Tehran also this Tuesday; that was already decided last week in Vienna. By December 15, all past and present outstanding issues — that amount to 12 items — should be clarified, and the IAEA will deliver a final assessment. IAEA access to the Parchin military site — always a very contentious issue — is part of a separate arrangement.

One of the major sticking points these last few days in Vienna was solved — with Tehran allowing UN inspectors to visit virtually any site. But it may object to a particular visit. A Joint Commission — the P5+1 + Iran — will be able to override any objections with a simple majority vote. After that Iran has three days to comply — in case it loses the vote. There won’t be American inspectors — shades of the run-up towards the war on Iraq; only from countries with diplomatic relations with Iran.

So implementation of the deal will take at least the next five months. Sanctions will be lifted only by early 2016.

What’s certain is that Iran will become a magnet for foreign investment. Major western and Asian multinationals are already positioned to start cracking this practically virgin market with over 70 million people, including a very well educated middle class. There will be a boom in sectors such as consumer electronics, the auto industry and hospitality and leisure.

And then there’s, once again, oil. Iran has as much as a whopping 50 million barrels of oil stored at sea — and that’s about ready to hit the global market. The purchaser of choice will be, inevitably, China — as the West remains mired in recession. Iran’s first order of work is to regain lost market share to Persian Gulf producers. Yet the trend is for oil prices to go down – so Iran cannot count on much profit in the short to medium term.

 

Now for a real war on terror?

The conventional arms embargo on Iran essentially stays, for five years. That’s absurd, compared to Israel and the House of Saud arming themselves to their teeth.

Last May the US Congress approved a $1.9 billion arms sale to Israel. That includes 50 BLU-113 bunker-buster bombs — to do what? Bomb Natanz? — and 3,000 Hellfire missiles. As for Saudi Arabia, according to SIPRI, the House of Saud spent a whopping $80 billion on weapons last year; more than nuclear powers France or Britain. The House of Saud is waging an — illegal — war on Yemen.

Qatar is not far behind. It clinched an $11 billion deal to buy Apache helicopters and Javelin and Patriot air defense systems, and is bound to buy loads of F-15 fighters.

Trita Parsi, president of the National American-Iranian Council, went straight to the point; “Saudi Arabia spends 13 times more money on its defense than Iran does. But somehow Iran, and not Saudi Arabia, is seen by the US as the potential aggressor.”

So, whatever happens, expect tough days ahead. Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Zarif told a small group of independent journalists in Vienna, including this correspondent, that the negotiations would be a success because the US and Iran had agreed on “no humiliation of one another.”

He stressed he paid “a high domestic price for not blaming the Americans,” and he praised Kerry as “a reasonable man.” But he was wary of the US establishment, which to a great extent, according to his best information, was dead set against the lifting of sanctions.

Zarif also praised the Russian idea that after a deal, it will be time to form a real counter-terrorism coalition, featuring Americans, Iranians, Russians, Chinese and Europeans — even as Putin and Obama had agreed to work together on “regional issues.” And Iranian diplomacy was giving signs that the Obama administration had finally understood that the alternative to Assad in Syria was ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, not the “Free” Syrian Army.

That degree of collaboration, post-Wall of Mistrust, remains to be seen. Then it will be possible to clearly evaluate whether the Obama administration has made a major strategic decision, and whether “normalizing” its relation with Iran involves much more than meets the eye.

 


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

The Middle East oil/nuclear puzzle

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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Reuters / Ali Jarekji

Reuters / Ali Jarekji

Originally published in RT on March 17, 2015

US Secretary of State John Kerry may be starting to enjoy the brinkmanship, as he says it’s “unclear” whether the US and Iran would reach a political framework nuclear deal before the end of this month.

Loud applause may be heard in corridors ranging from Tel Aviv to Riyadh.

As negotiations resume in Lausanne, the fact is a potential nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 (US, UK, France, BRICS members Russia and China, and Germany) is bound to open the possibility of more Iranian oil exports – thus leading oil prices to fall even further. As of early this week, Brent crude was trading at $54.26 a barrel.

Assuming the US and the EU nations that are part of P5+1 really agree to implement the suspension of UN sanctions by the summer (Russia and China already agree), not only will Iran be exporting more energy – that should take a few months – but also OPEC as a whole will be increasing its oversupply.

The EU badly wants to buy loads of Iranian energy – and invest in Iranian energy infrastructure. Beijing, a key yet discreet member of the P5+1, is also watching these developments very carefully.

Whatever happens, for China this is a win-win situation, as Beijing keeps actively building up its strategic petroleum reserves profiting from low prices. And even as oil prices also remain under pressure from the strong US dollar – which makes oil way more expensive if you are paying with a different currency – that’s certainly no problem for China, with its mammoth US dollar reserves.

The oil price war essentially unleashed by Saudi Arabia has hit Iran with a bang. The country may be down, but not out. There were no good options for Tehran except to try to keep its market share by offering the same discounts – especially to Asia – the Saudis are offering.

Tehran has been under a tsunami of nasty Western sanctions for years, which limit its ability to export oil and increase production. It’s extremely difficult for the Iranian governments to reduce the gap of the expected revenue based on previous high oil prices.

Now the name of the game among major oil producers is to keep market share at all costs. Iran can’t escape it – as it needs to keep in check at all times the fear of oversupply and its desire to increase production. Some oil producing countries are definitely keeping upcoming oil supplies out of the market. The result is Iran will have serious trouble going for more production and more exports while trying to regain its pre-sanctions market share.

Reuters / Azad Lashkari

Reuters / Azad Lashkari

Wanna buy a Middle East condo?

While a sort of undeclared “oil war” is still far from reaching an endgame, the nuclear front promises some eye-popping breakthroughs.

Powerful – if sometimes conflicting – ‘Empire of Chaos’ factions in Washington are actively entertaining the dream of transferring US military assets from the Middle East to Europe to keep ratcheting up the pressure on Russia, under the pretext of the “aggression” on Ukraine.

That might happen only after “control” of the Middle East is somewhat shared between Turkey, Iran, and to a much lesser extent, the House of Saud. For the notoriously wobbly “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” Obama administration’s foreign policy, this development would be a key rationale behind the push for a successful P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran to be reached this summer.

Iran has already cultivated – and blossomed – its own sphere of influence. It’s the Turkey-Saudi case that is way more complicated.

As much as Ankara is well aware of the fierce catfight for regional power between Tehran and Riyadh, it tries to maintain good relations with both.

Crucially it’s in Syria that Ankara and Riyadh are almost on the same “Assad must go” page. Almost – because in fact a pro-Muslim Brotherhood Turkey-Qatar alliance has found itself for four years in direct competition with a Salafi-boosting House of Saud.

Anyway, when Turkey’s President, also known as ‘Sultan’ Erdogan, visited the new Saudi King Salman in early March, they reached an understanding; they will both turbo-charge “support” – weaponized and otherwise – for the Syrian opposition. Problem is there is no credible Syrian opposition; virtually everyone that knows how to fight has migrated to the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

What this means in a nutshell is once again a Sunni against Shi’ite set up; a classic Divide and Rule gambit that is the perennial House of Saud priority.

The ’Empire of Chaos’, in theory, should but be pleased. But it’s not. The Obama administration’s objective – on the record – is “[prioritizing] the Islamic State, not Assad.”

But that may also change in a heartbeat. New Pentagon supremo Ashton Carter has just admitted, “the forces that we train in Syria, we will have some obligation to support them after they’re trained.” But that would also “include the possibility that, even though they’re trained and equipped to combat ISIL, they could come into contact with forces of the Assad regime.”

No wonder Damascus is weary, and will wait for US “actions” before any possible negotiation with Washington. One day Kerry says talks with Damascus are necessary to end the Syrian civil war. The next day he repeats, “Assad must go.”

Osama’s pal plays paranoia

As for a no-fly zone over northern Syria – heavily pushed by Erdogan, and a wet dream of neo-cons in Washington – it won’t fly. One extra reason for Ankara to stay away from this new Saudi anti-Iran push.

To complicate things further, power within the House of Saud remains diffused. Both the CIA and BND – German intelligence – agree, and there have been constant rumblings in Washington that the House of Saud eventually should go.

The House of Saud still has not understood that Syria is not the main “threat” against them. They are freaking out about their border with Iraq – as well as their borders with Yemen and Bahrain. On top of it they picked a fight with Russia via the oil price war. The Saudis say they are pumping only 9.5 million barrels of oil a day out of their 12.5 million barrels a day; Moscow is essentially saying they are pumping their entire capacity.

If the oil price war delights the Russia-demonizing ‘Masters of the Universe’, they are at the same time deeply enraged because it is decimating the US shale oil “revolution”. What’s left for masses of unemployed US workers? Find a job in Saudi Arabia. Still one more reason for the ‘Masters of the Universe’ to dump the House of Saud anytime they feel like it.

Predictably, House of Saud paranoia remains the norm. Former Saudi intelligence capo di tutti i capi (and former great pal of Osama bin Laden), Prince Turki, is on overdrive, charging Iran with being “a disruptive player in various scenes in the Arab world, whether it’s Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Palestine or Bahrain”; accusing Iran of “expanding its occupation of Iraq”; insisting “the enemy” is both Assad and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; and last but not least unequivocally blasting any possible nuclear deal with Iran.

What’s even more worrisome is that King Salman brought Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Riyadh – rushing to meet him at the airport – to confirm a key strategic, secret nuclear agreement before any Iran/P5+1 deal is clinched. The bottom line: the House of Saud does not trust the American nuclear umbrella anymore. They are making their own nuclear power play with the help of nuclear power Pakistan. The connection does exist, but remains extremely mysterious.

No need to outline the upcoming maze of ominous consequences. Demented nuclear Wahhabis, anyone?

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

The Dirtiest Secret of the War on Terror

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Zacarias Moussaoui The man known as the 20th 9/11 hijacker (image by YouTube)

Zacarias Moussaoui The man known as the 20th 9/11 hijacker
(image by YouTube)

Originally published in Sputnik on February 8, 2015

Out of the bowels of a US maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado, al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaui, currently serving a life sentence, providentially has shed light on what amounts to the dirtiest secret of the “war on terror.”

In over 100 pages of testimony, filed in a federal court in New York earlier this week, Moussaui drops several House of Saud-related bombs. Not least that among leading al-Qaeda donors prior to 9/11 we find former Saudi intel chief Prince Turki al-Faisal (also a former great buddy of Osama bin Laden); notorious former ambassador to the US and failed sponsor of hardcore jihadis in Syria, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush; darling of Western markets (and Rupert Murdoch) Prince al-Waleed bin Talal; and a who’s who of Saudi Arabia’s top Wahhabi clerics.

None of this is any novelty for those among us who, since Afghanistan in the 1980s, have been following the extraordinarily murky adventures of Wahhabi-sponsored/derived jihadism.

The information is even more relevant when compared to an upcoming book by Michael Springmann — the former head of the US visa section in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In Visas for al-Qaeda: CIA Handouts that Rocked the World, Springmann essentially details how…

“…during the 1980s, the CIA recruited and trained Muslim operatives to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Later, the CIA would move those operatives from Afghanistan to the Balkans, and then to Iraq, Libya, and Syria, traveling on illegal US visas. These US-backed and trained fighters would morph into an organization that is synonymous with jihadist terrorism: al-Qaeda….“The political purpose of these revelations, from Washington’s point of view, is to put pressure on the House of Saud to keep pumping their oil surplus. The recent rebound in oil is causing some hysteria in Washington, because it may be linked to the Saudis having second thoughts about their oil price war against, most of all, Russia.”

Well, in the beginning there was not even an “organization.” By the mid-1980s, “al-Qaeda” was only a database in a computer linked to the communications department of the secretariat of the Islamic Conference. At the time, when Osama bin Laden was nothing but a proxy US agent operating in Peshawar, al-Qaeda’s intranet was a good communication system for fighters to exchange code messages. “al-Qaeda” was neither a terrorist organization — an Islamist army — nor personal property of Osama bin Laden.

Later on, in the mid-2000s in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — the Jordanian thug precursor of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh — was recruiting militants/fanatics/angry young men by himself, without any direct input by bin Laden. His set-up was al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

So al-Qaeda was and remains a brand, a successful franchising. It is not, and never was, an organization; rather a key operational element of an intel agency. Thus the categorical imperative; al-Qaeda is essentially a derivation of Saudi intel. The best evidence would be the murky role, from the beginning, of wily Prince Turki, the former, long-time director general of the Mukhabarat, the House of Saud intel (but Turki is not talking, and he never will). Turkish intel, for its part, has never bought the myth of an “al-Qaeda” organization.

Al-Qaeda in the House

The Moussaui revelations become really explosive when dots are connected between the political ideology of the House of Saud, al-Qaeda’s political platform, and even the warped ideology of the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. The matrix for all these is 19th century Wahhabism — and its medieval interpretation/appropriation of Islam.

They are all applying different methods — some much gorier than others — towards essentially the same goal: the proselytizing of Wahhabism. The key difference is that al-Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh are Wahhabi renegades, who ultimately would like to replace the House of Saud — a puppet of the West — with an even more intolerant Salafi rule and/or Caliphate.

House of Saud equals al-Qaeda equals the Caliphate. Once this “secret” bombshell is out of its Arabian Pandora’s box, the whole US rationale behind that gift that keeps on giving, the “war on terror” — which for the Pentagon equals Infinite War — collapses.

And that brings us to the new head of the House of Saud, Prince Salman, fast on his way to (literal) dementia. During the 1990s, he was a staunch supporter of Salafi-jihadism, and that of course included bin Laden. And later on, as Governor or Riyadh, he excelled on the hatred of Shi’ites department, which expanded to hatred of Iran as a whole — not to mention hatred of any vaguely remote democratic practices inside Saudi Arabia.

It’s useless to expect Salman to “reform” — as much as it’s useless to expect the Obama administration to let go of Washington’s love affair with “our” favorite bastards in the Persian Gulf. But now there’s a key new element; House of Saud desperation.

It’s no secret in Riyadh and across the Gulf that the new King and his Western-educated advisors are completely freaking out. They see themselves surrounded by Iran — which, to top if off, may finally strike a nuclear deal with the “Great Satan” this summer.

They see the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh controlling a great deal of “Syraq” – with their sights set on Mecca and Medina. They see the pro-Iran al Houthi Shi’ites now controlling Yemen. They see the majority Shi’ites in Bahrain barely repressed by mercenary forces. They see substantial Shi’ite unrest in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, where the oil is.

They are spread out all over the Middle East still possessed by their “Assad must go” psychosis (he’s not going anywhere though). They need to finance the military junta now in power in Egypt to the tune of tens of billions of dollars (Egypt is essentially broke.) To top it off, they foolishly bought Washington’s fight against Russia by embarking in an oil price war which is corroding their own budget.

Substantially, what has happened so far in Riyadh is just a palace coup. Salman got rid of everyone associated with late King Abdullah. Notorious Bandar Bush – still fresh from his spectacular Syria fiasco – was fired from his post of Secretary-General for the National Security Council and special envoy of the King. Perhaps Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri could find him a job.

There is no evidence Salman will crack down on a rash of influential, demented clerics – and pious wealthy donors — who export Wahhabism as global jihad. There is no evidence that if the House of Saud is really serious about fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, Salman will make the effort to cooperate with the Shi’ite majority government in Baghdad. Or at least let Iran take care of the problem (and they can, with their military advisors and support for selected militias like the Badr brigade).

There is no evidence the House of Saud will try to reach a compromise with Tehran; instead, paranoia reigns, because not only ideologically but politically they see themselves marginalized once Iran rises as a regional superpower in case a nuclear deal is clinched this summer.

Most of all, there is no evidence the “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” (Obama’s own words) administration has the capability to seriously review US-Saudi relations. What is certain is that the dirtiest secret of the war on terror will remain off-limits. All the “terror” we face, real or manufactured, springs out from just one source; not “Islam”, but intolerant, demented Wahhabism.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/columnists/20150206/1017869785.html#ixzz3RH7VYAD5

 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

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NYC plans to undertake the swindle of the civilisation by suing the companies that have enabled it t [...]

MbS, the personification of the age-old pre-revolutionary scenario in which an expiring regime attem [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

What is your climate pawprint?"If US dogs had their own country it would be bigger than 200 other countries and likely be on [...]

Orellana's Robots"Climate scientists are now connecting the dots and starting to glimpse how a terra preta thera [...]

Can some nut unseat King Corn?"Acornucopia is sprouting under a tree near you."“I am partial to the peculiar and wholeso [...]

Cheddar and the Leafcutters"What can you do when geophysics outpaces evolution?"My personal ancestry has a major limb [...]

Pushing on to Venus"We need to stop our warming ways or there will be Hell to pay." I sometimes look back at [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

To fight climate change, you need to get the world off of fossil fuels. And to do that, you need to [...]

Americans are good on the "thoughts and prayers" thing. Also not so bad about digging in f [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Lefty Greenies have some laudable ideas. Why is it then that they don't bother to really build [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

I'll take a look at it. Thanks. In my own book series humans, robots and cyborgs are uploaded b [...]

global politics is just a puppet show to distract and obfuscate while century long agendas play out [...]

I mean those elders too. I mean all elders at all levels that make decisions for the rest of the gro [...]

The worst part of being aware of the impending collapse is trying to muster the energy to care about [...]

Hi Steve. I recently found what I believe is a little gem, and I'm quite confident you'd a [...]

The Federal Reserve is thinking about capping yields? I don't know how long TPTB can keep this [...]

As some one who has spent years trying to figure out what the limits to growth are. let me say that [...]

Peak oil definitely happened for gods sake. Just because it isn't mad max right now is no indic [...]

@Volvo - KMO says he made some life choices he regrets. Not sure what they were. And I don't th [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

Salinity intrusion through the estuaries in low-lying tide-dominated deltas is a serious threat that [...]

The creation of realistic gridded precipitation fields improves our understanding of the observed cl [...]

A recent article reviewed data on Great Salt Lake (Utah) and concluded falsely that climate changes, [...]

Stretching along the border of North Dakota and Minnesota, The Red River Valley (RRV) of the North h [...]

The idea of compact cities is attracting enthusiasts, and some have proposed sustainable options for [...]