Tag Archives: GWOT

Egypt’s President al-Sisi facing serious questions about strategy to bring Isis hotspot Sinai province under control

The Sinai mosque massacre proves what many have suspected for months in Egypt: that Isis – even without a direct claim yet –  is taking over the peninsula, targeting more and more of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s officers and police.  Thus proving that tactical defeat in Iraq and Syria means for Isis merely a change of location.

The ‘fall’ of Sinai — perhaps even stretching down to Sharm e-Sheikh — the supposedly ‘safe’ tourist resort — would only further undermine al-Sisi’s brash claims after his coup that he would end ‘terrorism’ in Egypt.

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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Africa


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Osama Bin Laden’s America

Honestly, if there’s an afterlife, then the soul of Osama bin Laden, whose body was consigned to the waves by the U.S. Navy back in 2011, must be swimming happily with the dolphins and sharks. At the cost of the sort of spare change that Donald Trump recently offered aides and former campaign officials for their legal troubles in the Russia investigation (on which he’s unlikely to deliver) — a mere $400,000 to $500,000 — bin Laden managed to launch the American war on terror. He did so with little but a clever game plan, a few fanatical followers, and a remarkably intuitive sense of how this country works.

He had those 19 mostly Saudi hijackers, a scattering of supporters elsewhere in the world, and the “training camps” in Afghanistan, but his was a ragged and understaffed movement.  And keep in mind that his sworn enemy was the country that then prided itself on being the last superpower, the final winner of the imperial sweepstakes that had gone on for five centuries until, in 1991, the Soviet Union imploded.

The question was: With such limited resources, what kind of self-destructive behavior could he goad a triumphalist Washington into? The key would be what might be called apocalyptic humiliation.

Looking back, 16 years later, it’s extraordinary how September 11, 2001, would set the pattern for everything that followed. Each further goading act, from Afghanistan to Libya, San Bernardino to Orlando, Iraq to Niger, each further humiliation would trigger yet more of the same behavior in Washington. After all, so many people and institutions — above all, the U.S. military and the rest of the national security state — came to have a vested interest in Osama bin Laden’s version of our world.

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Posted by on November 5, 2017 in North America


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By killing Isis fighters instead of bringing them to justice, we become as guilty as our enemies

A profoundly important, unprecedented and dangerous decision has been taken by European leaders in the past few days. It’s not made as explicit as it should be – because our leaders are always careful to erect a bodyguard of verbiage and lies to protect them if something goes wrong – but it’s perfectly clear that they want any foreign fighters in Isis to be killed when they are found. It’s not a question of whether they deserve to live or die – they have cut the throats of innocents, including my journalist colleagues, and they have raped women and enslaved children. We know that, and we are aware that their vicious cult has not yet ended. Isis is still alive.

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Posted by on October 31, 2017 in Middle East


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I’m all for war crimes trials in The Hague – so long as we agree to prosecute every possible war criminal

I like the idea of war crimes trials. Make an example of the monsters, is what I say. “Collar the lot,” as Churchill demanded in a somewhat different context. And if Nuremberg was victors’ justice, I’d prefer the imperfect trials they did hold than the version we would have got if Hitler had won and Roland Freisler, State Secretary of the Reich Ministry of Justice, was still running the Nazi People’s Court.

Right now, it’s becoming quite the thing to demand war crimes indictments all over the place. In the past week, we’ve had TRIAL International demanding that the Swiss judicial authorities act against Rifaat al-Assad for massacres at Palmyra prison in 1980 and at Hama in 1982. Rifaat is the brother of the late Hafez and uncle of Bashar, against whom Amnesty and the UN Commission on Syria would also like to level war crimes charges (according to Carla del Ponte, at least). And now the UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution to collect evidence against Isis for “acts that may amount to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

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Posted by on September 29, 2017 in Middle East


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Anatomy of terror: What makes normal people become extremists?

VERA MIRONOVA rides Humvee shotgun through Mosul’s shattered cityscape. It is late January 2017. Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi has just declared east Mosul liberated from three years of rule by Islamic State, or ISIS. Most jihadist fighters are dead or captured, or have crossed the Tigris to the west, digging in for a final stand. Left behind, biding their time, are snipers and suicide bombers.Much of the population has fled to refugee camps on the outskirts. Those who stayed look lost and dazed. Men pull corpses out of houses destroyed by air strikes. Others cobble together street-corner markets, selling meat and vegetables imported from Erbil, 80 kilometres and another world away.Few women are visible. Mironova stands out, dressed in combat trousers and a Harvard sweatshirt, wisps of blonde hair escaping her blue stocking hat. Despite travelling in an armoured car, she’s clearly not a combatant. She’s a social scientist, and her job is not to fight, but to listen, learn and record.

Source: Anatomy of terror: What makes normal people become extremists? | New Scientist

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Posted by on September 26, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Isis is stepping up its attention-grabbing atrocities to counterbalance its defeat in Iraq and Syria, where the vast majority of terror victims are

Isis is the most likely inspiration for the bomb explosion on the tube train at Parsons Green station. The attempted mass killing is similar to the attacks in Barcelona, Manchester and London earlier this year in that it aimed to murder the maximum number of civilians in the most public way possible.

Isis is stepping up its attention-grabbing atrocities to counterbalance its defeats on the battlefields in Iraq and Syria. It aims to show strength, instil fear and dominate the news agenda at a time when it has lost the savage nine-month-long struggle for Mosul in Iraq and is being defeated in the battle for its last big urban centres in Deir Ezzor and Raqqa in Syria. The caliphate that Isis declared after its capture of Mosul in 2014, once the size of Great Britain, is today reduced to a few embattled enclaves in the deserts of eastern Syria and western Iraq.

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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Europe, Middle East


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We need to talk about the Spanish and Catalan reactions to the Barcelona attack – even if it’s not a nice conversation

Unless you were a Catalan – or a Spaniard – you might have missed the signs of grave political division behind the Barcelona massacre. International reporting almost willfully dodged the tricky bits of the story. We were invited to gape at the horror, fear and sorrow created by Islamist murderers – without contemplating for a moment that some of the reactions to this act of barbarism were quite different from the stories of national and international “unity” that Europe and the world were supposed to share.

There was a guilty clue to all this when the first reports emphasised the “unity” of the Barcelonan and Spanish people, merely mentioning the 1st October referendum on Catalan independence which the Madrid government claims is illegal. Terrorism, ran the message, could heal such divisions. Indeed, the subliminal story was thus quite simple: some things – terror, murder and pain – could not be beaten by notions like regional independence and freedom from central government control.

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Posted by on August 29, 2017 in European Union


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Yo sí tengo miedo

No diré que no tengo miedo, porque lo tengo.No diré que no tengo rabia, porque la tengo.No diré que no me siento impotente, porque así me siento.No diré que no estoy triste, porque desde el jueves estoy muy triste.¿Y saben qué otras cosa no haré? Hablar de religión, de civilización, de “nuestros” valores, de libertad y convivencia. Y lo que no voy a hacer de ningún modo es hablar de los peligros de la islamofobia. Con los cuerpos de las víctimas aún calientes no entraré en esto, no dejaré que la paranoia que ellos mismos han sembrado me haga trazar una línea inexistente, una separación que ya he borrado desde hace tiempo entre ‘nosotros’ y ‘vosotros’. Los terroristas forman un ‘nosotros’ suyo hecho de odio y muerte. Mi ‘nosotros’ es el de la persona y no van a conseguir que, de nuevo, empiece a fijarme en los rostros de quienes me rodean para averiguar si me miran de un modo distinto. Porque hay dos tipos de personas: los que rechazan y los que no, y a los primeros no les hacen falta terroristas para justificar sus posiciones. Ahora sacan toda la bilis porque tienen la oportunidad y se sienten legitimados, pero no se equivoquen, son los mismos de siempre.

Source: Yo sí tengo miedo, por Najat El Hachmi

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Posted by on August 27, 2017 in European Union


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Barcelona Tourists Become Terrorism’s Latest Victims

Every August, the traditional vacation month for Spaniards, those Barcelonans who can afford to flee the city and its hordes for the green hills and pretty beaches of the nearby Costa Brava. The legendary boulevard of Las Ramblas, in Barcelona, snaking from the city’s downtown along the ancient Gothic quarter to the Mediterranean Sea, is a must-do for all foreign visitors, and it is thronged with people at the best of times. Earlier today, Las Ramblas became the latest soft target for terrorists, when a man, evidently swearing allegiance to the Islamic State, drove a rented white van for hundreds of feet, hitting dozens of people who were walking along the tree-lined avenue. Zigzagging back and forth in an apparent effort to maximize the death toll, the driver killed at least thirteen people and injured a hundred.The earliest images to emerge from the scene, a few hours ago, had a ghoulishly reminiscent quality: one of them was an iPhone video clip, without any narrative or commentary—nor needing any—evidently shot in the first shocked aftermath of the attack. It showed several people, most of them in summer shorts and T-shirts, lying dead or unconscious and badly wounded, bleeding, on a sidewalk, as stunned survivors stumbled past.

Source: Barcelona Tourists Become Terrorism’s Latest Victims | The New Yorker

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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in European Union


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Isis may be leaderless and facing defeat in Mosul, but the jihadis will fight on

The blowing up by Isis of the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul marks a decisive defeat for the caliphate declared by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the same mosque three years ago. Isis will continue fighting as a guerrilla force, but it will be the end of a state once the size of Great Britain and fielding a military force more powerful than many members of the United Nations. Presumably Isis decided to destroy the ancient mosque and its famous minaret, a symbol of Mosul, to prevent the Iraqi security forces triumphantly raising the Iraqi flag over a place so closely associated with Isis.The end of the short-lived caliphate will be underscored if the self-declared caliph is himself dead, killed by a Russian airstrike near Raqqa some three weeks ago. Oleg Syromolotov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, repeated today a claim made last week but with greater certainty, saying that fresh information showed that there was “a high degree of probability” that Baghdadi was dead, killed after a meeting he was attending was targeted by Russian aircraft.

Source: Isis may be leaderless and facing defeat in Mosul, but the jihadis will fight on | The Independent

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Posted by on June 30, 2017 in Middle East


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