Why Obama Is Planning To Use Religion To Fight ISIS | thinkprogress

Speaking before the United Nations on Wednesday, President Barack Obama called on the world to help him defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS, sometimes called ISIL) in several ways, but also by embracing a very specific tool to help dismantle extremism: peaceful religion.

In his speech, Obama minced few words about his intention to use military force against ISIS — acknowledging U.S. airstrikes in the region and the need to arm local militias to fight them — but insisted that the U.S. “is not and never will be at war with Islam” and reaffirmed his belief that “Islam teaches peace.” He then called on Muslims worldwide to “to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently reject the ideology of al Qaeda and ISIL.” [Read more]

The Barbarians Within Our Gates | Politico

With his decision to use force against the violent extremists of the Islamic State, President Obama is doing more than to knowingly enter a quagmire. He is doing more than play with the fates of two half-broken countries—Iraq and Syria—whose societies were gutted long before the Americans appeared on the horizon. Obama is stepping once again—and with understandably great reluctance—into the chaos of an entire civilization that has broken down.

Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed. The promise of political empowerment, the return of politics, the restoration of human dignity heralded by the season of Arab uprisings in their early heydays—all has given way to civil wars, ethnic, sectarian and regional divisions and the reassertion of absolutism, both in its military and atavistic forms. With the dubious exception of the antiquated monarchies and emirates of the Gulf—which for the moment are holding out against the tide of chaos—and possibly Tunisia, there is no recognizable legitimacy left in the Arab world. [Read more]

White House Has No International Legal Justification for Hitting ISIS in Syria | The Daily Beast

The White House has an answer for critics who want to know how the Obama administration can justify striking ISIS inside Syria under international law: If and when we actually do it, we will come up with a legal justification then.

The Obama administration has explained at length why it believes it has the domestic legal justification for using airstrikes in Syria; they have claimed they don’t need Congressional authorization because the 2001 authorization for the use of military force against the perpetrators of 9/11 and the 2002 authorization to take down Saddam Hussein applies to the ISIS war. The New York Times called the explanations “perplexing” and insufficient. (After all, al Qaeda and ISIS have sporadically fought with one another, and the Saddam regime is long gone.) [Read more]

Rouhani: Syria airstrikes ‘will only create tragedies’ | Al Monitor

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani put forward his prescription for defeating the group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS), saying that local Iraqi and Syrian central government forces must be in the lead and that the United States was creating a new “terrorist group” by training and equipping members of the Free Syrian Army.

Speaking to a large audience of Americans and Iranian Americans in a New York City ballroom on Sept. 24, Rouhani did not reply when asked if he had heard President Barack Obama offer his own ideas for eradicating Islamic extremism in a major speech just hours earlier before the UN General Assembly. [Read more]

EXCLUSIVE: Shaikh Hassan Abboud’s final interview | Middle East Monitor

Just hours before an explosion wiped out the entire leadership of one of the most powerful rebel groups in Syria, the head of Ahrar Al-Sham Brigade spent four hours talking to Yvonne Ridley about his vision for the future. In an amazingly frank interview, this is what he told her.

Shaikh Hassan Abboud was normally upbeat during our conversations, even when visited by the darkest of times in his unrelenting war against Syrian government forces, while trying simultaneously to repel rear-guard attacks by the rogue group ISIS. During several of our discussions he admitted that it was difficult to make military progress because of infighting among the other groups. In addition, the astonishing rise of ISIS had caught almost everyone by surprise. [Read more]

Shiite rebel seizure of Yemen capital a ‘gift’ for Tehran? | Middle East Eye

The takeover by Shiite rebels of Yemen’s capital this week is a potential boost for Iran, analysts said.

It is still unclear what the links are between the Ansarullah, or Huthi, rebels and Shiite-ruled Iran, but Tehran will no doubt be pleased by a move that offers the prospect of expanding its influence on the Arabian Peninsula.

The capital Sanaa lies in the Shiite-majority northern highlands, but the rest of Yemen is overwhelmingly Sunni and Al-Qaeda militants have a strong presence in the south and east. [Read more]

ISIL and western media: Accidental allies? | Al Jazeera

Hardly a day goes by without reading articles on how smart and tech-savvy – yet barbarian – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is. Typing the word “ISIL” alongside “social media”, “internet” or “media strategy” into a search engine reveals the gloomy yet fascinating world of those online jihadists who seem to be savvy enough to master, together with Kalashnikovs and knives, the modern language of the participatory Web 2.0.

Countless articles have thoroughly dissected last June’s #AllEyesonISIS Twitter campaign, launched to prove the groups’ alleged grassroots online support. Media professionals have emphasised these jihadists’ sophisticated knowledge of contemporary social networking sites, which became clear when they managed to build an Android app available for public downloading. The same was evident when they quickly migrated from Twitter to Diaspora, an online networking site, once the San Francisco-based organisation decided to shut down several of their accounts. [Read more]

Hoping Bombs Will Solve Iraq/Syria Mess | Consortium News

As the United States embarks on a new air war in Syria, disturbing anomalies abound. Some of them were reflected in the front-page headlines of a couple of major U.S. newspapers Tuesday morning, which probably also reflected slightly different deadlines of the two papers but were substantively telling nonetheless.

The Washington Post’s headline was “U.S. Launches Strikes in Syria.” In the corresponding place in the New York Times, in an edition evidently put to bed before the new offensive in Syria could be reported, we read, “Weeks of U.S. Strikes Fail to Dislodge ISIS in Iraq.” [Read more]

Apocalypse Now, Iraq Edition | truthdig

I wanted to offer a wry chuckle before we headed into the heavy stuff about Iraq, so I tried to start this article with a suitably ironic formulation. You know, a déjà-vu-all-over-again kinda thing. I even thought about telling you how, in 2011, I contacted a noted author to blurb my book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, and he presciently declined, saying sardonically, “So you’re gonna be the one to write the last book on failure in Iraq?”

I couldn’t do any of that. As someone who cares deeply about this country, I find it beyond belief that Washington has again plunged into the swamp of the Sunni-Shia mess in Iraq. A young soldier now deployed as one of the 1,600 non-boots-on-the-ground there might have been eight years old when the 2003 invasion took place. He probably had to ask his dad about it.  After all, less than three years ago, when dad finally came home with his head “held high,” President Obama assured Americans that “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.” So what happened in the blink of an eye? [Read more]

No, containing ISIL is not “good enough” | War on the Rocks

Is the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) contained? And would that be good enough? Dr. Christopher Bolan of the U.S. Army War College seems to think so. He argued as much recently here at War on the Rocks. While Bolan’s line of reasoning is appealing to many Americans who are tired of costly foreign entanglements, both parts of his argument fall apart when subjected to scrutiny.

ISIL is not contained. Bolan states that approximately 30,000 ISIL fighters, armed with little more than rifles, face a formidable array of weaponry from the Iraqi military, including main battle tanks, air forces, and artillery, and that they’re surrounded by enemies on all sides (a point also made by WOTR’s Daveed Gartenstein-Ross). While on paper this is persuasive, it’s also useful to remember that just two years ago, with a force of slightly more than 3,000 fighters, ISIL took on the formidable array of weaponry from Syria’s President Assad. The result? ISIL not only survived, but thrived, now controlling terrain the size of the United Kingdom, which spans both Iraq and Syria, and encompasses 60% of Syria’s oil production. Analyzing the amount of equipment and numbers of troops to determine a given military outcome is a great classroom tool, but it has little bearing in the real world. The fact is that ISIL, while acting like a nation-state, isn’t one. It’s an ideology that’s rapidly growing despite what Bolan calls “containment” that’s “good enough.” [Read more]

War without end: The U.S. may still be fighting in Syria in 2024, 2034, 2044 . . . | Reuters

This must be what perpetual war looks like.

In a Pentagon briefing yesterday, Army Lieutenant General Bill Mayville called the cruise missiles and bombs flung at targets in Syria “the beginning of a credible and sustainable persistent campaign.” How long will the campaign last? “I would think of it in terms of years,” Mayville responded.

Although the bombs exploded on Syrian soil, they didn’t target Bashar al-Assad’s battered, murderous regime. The bombs were addressed to Syria’s enemy, the Islamic State, a nascent nation that has pledged to topple both Iraq and Syria, as well as Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Cyprus, and parts of southern Turkey, and erect a caliphate on the parcel. [Read more]

Israel’s Bloated War Machine | The Nation

On August 31, the government of Israel decided to cut from its budget 1.9 billion NIS (New Israeli Shekels, equivalent to $517 million). A quarter of that amount came from education ministry funds. The results of this trim are yet to be seen, but it reflects an alarming trend.

The OECD’s 2014 “Education at a Glance” report, published in Paris on September 9, found that Israeli expenditure per student is one of the lowest among industrialized countries. In 2011, for example, it spent $4,058 per student on pre-primary education, compared with the OECD average of $7,428. In the same year, the country spent $5,712 on each secondary school student, compared with the OECD average of $9,280. [Read more]

ISIS and the future of the Tomahawk missile | Marketplace

At the United Nations, President Obama referred to the extremist group ISIS as a “network of death” on Wednesday. As part of the effort to dismantle it, the U.S. deployed a trusted weapon this week, launching more than 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets in Syria.

That could be good news for a weapon on the budgetary chopping block. By best estimates, the U.S. has about 4,000 Tomahawk missiles in its inventory. Or they did, until this week. [Read more]


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