How we got here | Boston Globe

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians continues against a backdrop of resurgent violence elsewhere in the Middle East. Americans reacted with anger and horror to the recent grisly spectacle of the beheadings of two American journalists by the Islamic State, the Sunni extremist group that seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

There also was confusion. ISIS got its start in opposition to the Syrian government of Bashar Assad, a government that the United States also opposes.

In trying to comprehend an area where rulers and boundaries for a long time came from elsewhere — and where religious, tribal, and family loyalties often trump national identity — confusion and anger are understandable. [Read more]

Islamic State: from the inside | openDemocracy

In the early months of 2014, there was little particular concern in the west about the movement then known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL), and now as the Islamic State (IS). That changed radically with the group’s rapid advance through parts of Iraq, including the capture of the city of Mosul, in the first half of June. Now, even greater concern is raised by the gruesome killings – staged for propaganda purposes – of two journalist hostages, James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

There is some caution over an immediate military response to the murders, amid recognition that this may be what Islamic State wants. Indeed, the murders may be a direct incitement to just such action (see “Second execution video shows that Islamic State has a grim strategic plan”, The Conversation, 3 September 2014). [Read more]

U.S. Strikes in Iraq Against Jihadists, Moving West Toward Syria | Time

The U.S. military took a unilateral giant step toward bombing targets inside Syria over the weekend as it swung its crosshairs west and began bombing Islamic militants in the western Iraq province that borders Bashar al-Assad’s war-ravaged country.

President Obama said Sunday he will detail his plans for destroying the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in a speech to the nation Wednesday. “The next phase is now to start going on some offense,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “And ultimately we’re going to defeat them.” [Read more]

Is NATO Ally Turkey Tacitly Fueling the ISIS War Machine? | Daily Beast

The lifeblood of the death-dealing Islamic State is diesel fuel. And the group widely known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL is filling its war chest with millions of dollars earned by smuggling thousands of tons of of this black gold into neighboring Turkey, according to independent analysts and Turkish opposition leaders.

Remember, Turkey is a member of NATO, and could and should be the key member of the U.S.-led 10-nation coalition that was formed last week at the NATO summit in Wales to fight ISIS. It has almost 650,000 men and women under arms. It borders ISIS-controlled territory in Syria, where the black flags of the so-called “caliphate” are visible from the Turkish side of the fence. It has taken in more than a million Syrian refugees, and it is less than 100 miles from the de-facto ISIS capital, Mosul, where 49 Turkish citizens, including several diplomats, have been held hostage since June. [Read more]

Escaping an Islamic State execution in Iraq | Al Jazeera

“We were running back to the [military] base. The fighters were running behind us and shooting in all directions. The bullets were like rain and bodies were falling one by one,” the 24-year-old Iraqi soldier told Al Jazeera by phone from his hometown of Nassiriya.

“There was no other option but to keep jogging, as the tomato farms which we entered had no trees or buildings to be used as shelter.”

Thieban escaped a massacre at the hands of the Islamic State (IS) group in June in Tikrit, the capital of the Iraqi province of Salahadin about 170km north of Baghdad. Between 560 and 770 mainly Iraqi soldiers were killed, according to Human Rights Watch. HRW found evidence of three mass execution sites in the city. [Read more]

As in Libya, So in Syria: The Folly of US-NATO Interventionism | Global Research

The United States has been inching its way toward intervention in Syria since hostilities began in 2011. From the beginning the US State Department admitted that terrorist armies were waging war against Damascus, but both the US government, its allies in Europe, and prominent media organizations across the West repeatedly claimed that the conflict was not an invasion by multinational terrorist organizations, but rather a “pro-democracy uprising.” Now, years into the conflict, the US is finally at the threshold of direct military intervention, announcing that it would begin flights over Syria to gather “intelligence.” [Read more]

Libya – Spiraling Militia Attacks May Be War Crimes – Protect Civilians – End Looting, Burnings, Arbitrary Arrests | All Africa

Libyan militia forces battling for control of Tripoli and surrounding areas have engaged in attacks on civilians and civilian property that in some cases amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. The militias have seized people and looted, burned, and otherwise destroyed property.

Thousands of residents fled their homes during five weeks of fighting between the Libya Dawn Alliance, led by militias from the coastal city of Misrata, and a coalition of militias from the inland mountain town of Zintan. Human Rights Watch has documented a series of attacks by Libya Dawn forces on civilians and civilian property since they took control of Tripoli, including its civilian airport, on August 24, 2014. [Read more]

For Israel, the beginning of wisdom is to admit its mistakes | The Guardian

Israel has a habit of justifying its actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, however illegal and indecent, in the name of security. But denying any security to the other side only perpetuates the conflict.

Five days after reaching a ceasefire with Hamas to end the latest round of fighting in Gaza, the Israeli cabinet decided to appropriate 988 acres of land on the West Bank, near the place where three Israeli teenagers were recently abducted and murdered, to make way for another illegal Jewish city. This is the biggest land grab in three decades. As the justice minister, Tzipi Livni, pointed out: “It was a decision that weakens Israel and damages its security.” What it proves, if further proof is needed, is that Israel’s leaders are determined to prevent a two-state solution to the conflict. [Read more]

Op-Ed: Why Does Israel Deny that the Boycott is Winning?” | Israel National News

The boycott of Israel is going to register its most important victory. Something that is more worthy than all the academic initiatives and the fake blood stains left in the Brussels metro by pro-Palestinian activists.

SodaStream, the Israeli world leader in sparkling water devices, has planned the closure of its main factory in Judea. Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of the Israeli company, hinted at it in the last few weeks. Now the main Israeli business newspaper, The Marker, confirmed the decision. [Read more]

Saudi Arabia Funding the Islamic State? Unlikely | Huffington Post

It’s trendy to blame the Islamic State on Saudi Arabia – either the shifty House of Saud turning a blind eye to crazed Sunni extremists wiring money up to Mosul, or directly backing the group as part of their nefarious plan for world domination. Neither theory makes much sense.

Although the 9/11 Commission found no wrong-doing on the part of the Saudi government, Riyadh had already begun working with the Americans and the United Nations to implement a new set of money laundering and terror financing laws, which were ratified in 2003 by an intra-governmental ombudsman – the Financial Action Task Force, based in Paris. [Read more]


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