So Czer is ISIS really just a Saudi front created to mess w/Iran?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Utumno, Jun 14, 2014.

  1. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    The U.S. Has Wasted Billions of Dollars on Failed Arab Armies
    Military cooperation with Middle East allies can work—if Washington rethinks its premises.
    JANUARY 31, 2019

    The United States has spent 70 years and tens of billions of dollars training Arab militaries—with almost nothing to show for all the effort.

    Time and again, America’s Arab allies have failed to live up to martial expectations. The U.S.-trained Egyptian Armed Forces performed miserably in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. If anything, they did somewhat better under Soviet tutelage in the 1973 October War. The U.S.-trained Iraqi Army collapsed when attacked by a couple thousand Islamic State zealots in 2014. The U.S.-trained Saudi military fell flat on its face when it intervened in Yemen in 2015, and it has become badly stuck there.

    If the United States is going to stay involved in the Middle East, it has to rethink the way it engages with Arab militaries. Ambitious dreams of engaged, modernized militaries must be replaced with more realistic plans that build on the real strengths of allies, instead of forcing soldiers into a mold that their societies and culture have left them grossly unsuited for. Otherwise Washington will keep pouring money down the drain—and its Arab allies will keep failing.

    This is not just embarrassing. For decades, U.S. military training was a critical element of alliances with allies in the Middle East, designed to demonstrate commitment to their security and give them the ability to help America protect their countries. In recent years, Americans have begun to eye an exit from the Middle East, but few want to walk away and have Iran, Hezbollah, the Islamic State, al Qaeda, or other U.S. enemies take over as the United States departs. In an ideal world, America would leave behind strong Arab allies, able to defend themselves from their common foes. But that seems as far away today as it did when the United States first started training Arab armed forces back in the 1950s.

    On the U.S. side, the effort to train Arab militaries has been sincere, persistent, and doomed. The U.S. Air Force has been trying to train the Egyptian Air Force (EAF) to fly the F-16 for decades. However, well into the 21st century, the EAF’s standard pattern of attack has called for two planes to approach nearly simultaneously from either side of a target, on a collision course. Consequently, even in training exercises, one plane out of every pair has to swerve at the last minute to avoid a midair collision—causing that pilot’s bombs to go far from the target.

    Because the Egyptians don’t record their missions or debrief, let alone actually critique their own performances, and no one at operational levels wants to rock the boat by pointing out that their tactics are suicidal and their training rigged, all of these practices have become institutionalized elements of EAF training, and U.S. pilots have reported constant frustration trying to convince the EAF that its school solutions are not only wrong but potentially fatal. One American pilot who had trained with the EAF told me that it was “probably good” that the Egyptians didn’t use live ordnance in practice because if they did, they would lose a lot of their aircraft and pilots to these ridiculous tactics and distorted training practices.

    The Egyptian pilots and tacticians involved in devising this absurd practice were prisoners of a series of problems that have haunted Arab armies throughout the modern era and that have grown out of contemporary Arab society itself.

    The fraught civil-military relations of the Arab world mean that many Arab rulers are so frightened of being overthrown by ambitious generals that they purposely hobble the armed forces to keep them weak. Whenever that has happened, it has typically led to poor strategic leadership and communications and, on occasion, poor morale and unit cohesion.

    The Arab world never really industrialized, and this relative underdevelopment meant that many Arabs came to the military without much understanding of advanced machinery. As a result, Arab personnel often failed to get the full potential out of their weapons and invariably failed to maintain them properly, with the result that the real numbers of tanks, planes, and artillery pieces they could field were far fewer than what they had purchased.

    But the most critical factor is that Arab cultural-educational practices conditioned too many of their personnel to remain passive at lower levels of any hierarchy and to manipulate information to avoid blame. In modern combat—where the difference between victory and defeat is often aggressive, innovative junior officers able to react to unforeseen circumstances and take advantage of fleeting opportunities—these tendencies proved devastating time and again.

    Generations of U.S. military personnel who went off to the Middle East to try to teach one or another Arab army to fight like the U.S. armed forces can attest to the stubbornness of these problems. I personally experienced their frustration time and again, on training ranges from the Nile Delta to the Mesopotamian river valleys. And because the problems they were trying to supposedly fix stemmed from these societal factors, I heard the same complaints over and over again, from country to country and decade to decade.
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Lebanon's Saad Hariri downplays US Hezbollah warning over health ministry
    Washington has cautioned the party against using the new post to line their pockets
    Feb 2, 2019

    Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri downplayed the importance of US warnings after a minister close to Hezbollah was appointed to the Health Ministry.

    US officials on Friday cautioned the party against using the post, running a department that receives significant assistance from the international community, to line their pockets.

    A statement from Mr Hariri’s office quoted the prime minister as saying that the comments were not “an embarrassment, [as] they come within what they always say about Hezbollah”. He said the US had laws against that type of behaviour but added that he did not believe “anyone will use his ministry for the interests of his political party".

    “A minister is a minister for all of Lebanon and all the Lebanese people, and the health minister said this after taking over the ministry,” Mr Hariri said.

    He said that as long as the work of the ministry was carried out effectively and in a transparent way, there would be no issues.

    The new health minister, Jamil Jabak, has said he is not a Hezbollah member but is believed to be close to the group's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and was his personal physician at one time.

    Lebanese Hezbollah Ministers Jamil Jabbak (far left) stands next to Hezbollah ministers Mahmoud Qmati and Mohammed Fneish. EPA

    Butdeputy State Department spokesman Robert Palladino was clear on the US position.

    "We call on the new government to ensure the resources and services of these ministries do not provide support to Hezbollah," he said.

    In his comments on Friday, Mr Palladino said that now the country had a government, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looked forward to travelling to Lebanon.

    Mr Pompeo did not visit Beirut during a multi-stop tour of the Middle East that included Baghdad, Cairo, Abu Dhabi and Muscat among others. Reports suggest he leapfrogged Lebanon as it did not have a sitting government.

    That changed late on Thursday night as Mr Hariri and Speaker Nabih Berri headed to Baabda palace to end the nine-month deadlock over the government formation.

    Also on Friday, Marshall Billingslea, the US Treasury's assistant secretary on terror financing, added his voice to the choir saying that Hezbollah should not use its newly gained clout in cabinet to channel funds from the ministry to institutions affiliated with the Shiite militant group.

    The warnings highlight a perennial balancing act in Lebanon between the Western view of Hezbollah as a terror group and its local role in politics. This issue can define how different departments interact with international organisations and donors.

    The Health Ministry has one of the largest budgets and could potentially receive significant support under the international assistance programme known as Cedre agreed last April.

    In the most recent battle to form a cabinet, Mr Hariri had a tough challenge to balance competing demands, some of which he saw as infringing on his own stake, and agree on a national unity government.

    Mr Hariri, who is from the country's leading Sunni political party, reportedly had cautioned against Hezbollah holding the Health Ministry amid concerns his new government could face Western sanctions.

    Mr Billingslea spoke to local journalists at the US Embassy in Beirut at the end of a two-day visit during which he met with Lebanon's president, prime minister, central bank governor and other officials.

    He was quoted in The Daily Star newspaper on Friday as saying the US would have a problem with Hezbollah exploiting any government ministry to support its own institutions. "They will exploit whatever ministry they are given," he said.

    Lebanese President Michel Aoun heads the first meeting of the new Saad Hariri's cabinet at the presidential palace in Baabda. Reuters

    He declined to elaborate on what the US Treasury would do in that case.

    The US has labelled Hezbollah a terrorist organisation and the new government comes at a time when Washington is stepping up sanctions against the group and Tehran.

    “We applied sanctions on Iran because they refuse to stop their terrorism and refuse to stop their missile launchers and funnelling of their activities abroad," The Daily Star quoted Mr Billingslea as saying. "And as a result of that, we are actually seeing that Hezbollah here is not getting the pay cheques they once enjoyed from the Iranians."

    Mr Hariri and Hezbollah are political rivals. Hezbollah threw its weight behind Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's forces in the civil war that broke out in the neighbouring country in 2011, sending its militiamen to fight alongside Syrian government troops. Meanwhile Mr Hariri and his political allies have criticised the group's intervention, supporting at times the opposition fighting against Mr Al Assad.

    The new cabinet was agreed on as Lebanon attempts to deal with soaring public debt of $84 billion, or 150 per cent of the gross domestic product, and unemployment believed to be about 36 per cent. Lebanon's infrastructure is also reeling under the weight of a growing number of Syrian refugees: more than 1 million in a country of just over 4 million.
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    As Hezbollah Rises in Lebanon’s Government, Fears About U.S. Response Follow
    Feb. 1, 2019


    BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanon’s newly formed government, which gives the Islamist movement Hezbollah key ministries, has raised concerns that the country could run afoul of sanctions by the United States that prohibit material support for the Iran-backed group.

    On Friday, the United States warned Hezbollah against propping up its agenda with its new position, which includes key posts in Lebanon’s government, including in the Ministry of Health.

    American officials are concerned Hezbollah will use the ministry to provide state-subsidized health care and patronage jobs to its supporters and possibly even its fighters, helping it endure punishing American sanctions that have made it difficult for the group to offer its usual social services to its Shiite Muslim base.

    “We call on the new government to ensure the resources and services of these ministries do not provide support to Hezbollah,” said a State Department spokesman, Robert Palladino.

    As the new cabinet coalesced on Thursday after nearly nine months of political deadlock, the assistant United States Treasury secretary for terrorist financing, Marshall Billingslea, warned Hezbollah that if it tried to “exploit these ministries to funnel money or undertake other activities in support of their terrorist agenda, then we will have significant concerns.”

    Hezbollah had been expected to gain strength in government after the group and its allies expanded their share of seats in Lebanon’s
    parliamentary elections last May, significantly weakening the Western-backed prime minister, Saad Hariri, and his bloc. Now that it has won control of the Health Ministry, which has the fourth-largest budget in the government, its ability to embed itself in Lebanese state institutions has made it both a bigger target and a more elusive prey for the United States, which has designated it a terrorist group.

    Lebanon’s political system awards posts and patronage spoils to politicians of different religious affiliations in order to maintain a balance among the country’s 18 officially recognized religious sects. There is a long history of ministers of all stripes using the Health Ministry to provide free or subsidized health care to supporters. Analysts believe Hezbollah may try to do the same, whether for its Shiite base or, more troublingly for the United States, for Hezbollah fighters wounded in the Syrian civil war next door.

    “This is yet another example of Hezbollah openly holding Lebanon’s security and prosperity hostage,” said Rachel Mikeska, a spokeswoman for the American Embassy in Lebanon. She added that the United States was “prepared to take whatever actions are necessary to protect the interests of the Lebanese people.”

    She declined to say what those actions might be. But analysts said the possibilities ranged from the relatively restrained — such as reducing funding to the Health Ministry and squeezing other international donors, like the World Health Organization, to do the same — to the dire. The United States could theoretically impose sanctions on Lebanese hospitals, preventing the export of American medications to Lebanon, or cut off American military aid to the Lebanese Army.

    It is unclear what Hezbollah might do at the Health Ministry that the Trump administration would consider a violation of the sanctions law President Trump signed in October. Analysts said Hezbollah may have chosen Dr. Jamil Jabak, a 63-year-old internist with close ties to Hezbollah, as health minister to try to avoid direct sanctions on the ministry. Dr. Jabak is not a member of Hezbollah, but is said to have once served as a personal physician to the group’s leader.

    “Would Washington consider free health care to Hezbollah members provided by the Health Ministry as an example of ‘significant financial support?’” wrote Michael Young, a political observer and journalist with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, in an opinion column last year. “It’s difficult to say that it would never do so.”

    The United States’ various interests in Lebanon often end up in conflict, including when it comes to Hezbollah: It wants to counter Iran and its proxies, but also maintain Lebanon’s stability as the war in Syria continues to burn; it also wants to battle terrorism and push back on Russian influence in the Middle East.

    Though Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization for its actions around the world and its close relationship to Iran, the group has also baked itself into legitimate parts of the Lebanese state, making it difficult for the United States to target it without also affecting the rest of the country.

    “The debate in the U.S. about Lebanon is always about which to prioritize and how to balance these competing priorities,” said Firas Maksad, the director of the Arabia Foundation, a Washington-based think tank that leans toward pro-Saudi Arabia and anti-Iran policies.

    A banner of Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon, whose bloc was significantly weakened in parliamentary elections.

    On one side of the debate are anti-Iran hard-liners, who argue that “this is Iran on the Mediterranean, that Hezbollah uses the Lebanese political elite and the Lebanese government as a thin veil for political cover,” Mr. Maksad said.

    Those voices, which include some Republicans in Congress and members of the Trump administration, may push for cutting off aid to the Lebanese Army — a significant source of support to the armed forces — as well as to the Health Ministry.

    Opposing these hawkish views are those, including much of the traditional foreign policy establishment, who prefer a more measured response.

    Given Lebanon’s floundering economy and political instability, Mr. Maksad said, “they don’t want the whole place to come down.” (The prospect of economic collapse greatly increased pressure on the country’s political factions to strike a power-sharing agreement.)

    They also argue that reducing military aid would leave room for Russia, which has expanded its influence across the Middle East, to make inroads in Lebanon.

    In general, sanctions and financial tools have come to be the primary stick used by the United States against Iran and its regional partners. On a trip to Beirut last week, Mr. Billingslea urged Lebanese officials to exclude Hezbollah from involvement in the country’s banking and financial sectors, and called for reforms that would allow the Lebanese authorities to block and freeze accounts associated with the group.

    But as Hezbollah continues to expand its influence in Lebanese institutions, sanctions may prove to be an overly blunt tool, hitting legitimate government services and civilians in addition to the party.

    In the past, when Hezbollah played a smaller role in government, “you could easily separate between Hezbollah and state institutions,” said Hanin Ghaddar, a Lebanese-American analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a frequent critic of Hezbollah.

    Now, with Hezbollah commanding a broad swath of government, she asked, “How do you keep the stability of Lebanese institutions while going after Hezbollah with everything you have?”

    But Kassem Qassir, a Lebanese political analyst close to Hezbollah, said the concerns about Hezbollah’s dominance were overblown.

    “Nobody can have sole control over Lebanon, neither Hezbollah nor anybody else,” he said. “Lebanon is a diverse country.”

    In a televised interview on Saturday, Hassan Nasrallah, the organization’s secretary general, said the group did not intend to meddle with Lebanon’s balance of power.

    But Mr. Maksad noted that Hezbollah had managed to forge pacts with Christian and Sunni politicians as well as Shiite ones, then held up the formation of the new government until the prime minister, a Sunni, agreed to allow Hezbollah’s Sunni allies into the cabinet — an unmistakable mark of its strength.

    Of the new faces in the 30-seat cabinet, it was Dr. Jabak, the physician leading a ministry closely watched by the West, who attracted the most immediate attention.

    “I don’t belong to any political party,” he said in a radio interview on Friday.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    real weird

    why would the pope visit the UAE aka little sparta (LOL) aka stillborn harlequin baby

    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
  10. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Building on Syria war gains, Hezbollah scores political win
    Feb. 3

    Hezbollah's bigger role in Lebanon's new unity government points to a growing appetite to shape state affairs and builds on unprecedented military clout the group is wielding after helping turn the tide in Syria's war.

    Hezbollah's expanding power in Lebanon reflects a deepening of Iranian influence in an arc of territory from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus that its foes Saudi Arabia and Israel have struggled to counter.

    Deemed a terrorist organisation by the United States, Iran-backed Hezbollah has assumed control of three ministries in the government led by the Western-backed Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the largest number of portfolios it has ever held.

    The new government was formed on Thursday, ending nine months of wrangling.

    The most significant portfolio under Hezbollah control is the Health Ministry, the first time Hezbollah has controlled a ministry with a big budget, though the Shi'ite doctor it picked for the job is not a party member.

    More broadly, Hezbollah and its political allies from across Lebanon's sectarian spectrum have emerged with more than half of cabinet's 30 seats, reflecting a May parliamentary election which the group declared a victory.

    Salem Zahran, an analyst with links to Hezbollah leaders, said the government would go down in its history as the "first big shift and the first step along a long road" towards more influence in government.

    "This transformation is because Hezbollah has accumulated an excess of power after it has nearly finished with the military battles in Syria," he said. "I believe that Hezbollah will build up even more involvement in the Lebanese state."

    Hezbollah, founded by Iran's Revolutionary Guards in 1982, is by far the most powerful group in Lebanon. Its clout in the region has grown since it joined the war in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

    Lebanese government posts are parcelled out according to a complicated sectarian system, capping how many any one group can hold. The post of prime minister is reserved for a Sunni Muslim, a job Hariri has now held three times because of his status as Lebanon's leading Sunni.

    But Hariri's Sunni dominance was shaken by the May election in which he lost more than one third of his seats in parliament, many of them to Hezbollah-allied Sunnis. Hezbollah managed to secure a cabinet seat for one of its Sunni allies.

    This is a big gain for Hezbollah and its allies who have long sought to erode the Sunni dominance built by the Hariri family after Lebanon's civil war, with the backing of Riyadh.

    As Hezbollah's clout has grown, Saudi Arabia has turned its focus away from Lebanon to other parts of the region, weakening Hezbollah's opponents who had benefited from its backing.

    Hariri's ally, the staunchly anti-Hezbollah Christian Lebanese Forces (LF) party, was forced to cede significant ground during nine months of political wrangling over government portfolios, though it gained seats in parliament.

    Hezbollah's biggest Christian ally, President Michel Aoun and his Free Patriotic Movement, made fewer concessions.

    The most significant was giving the ground needed for Hezbollah's Sunni ally to join the cabinet - a point of friction between the allies. But Aoun, who backs Hezbollah's possession of weapons, still controls one third of the cabinet.

    Nabil Boumonsef, a Hezbollah critic and An-Nahar newspaper columnist, said Hezbollah's role was "growing very clearly" and noted that Hariri allies failed to secure all their demands.

    "This strategic imbalance confirms that Hezbollah's influence in this government is stronger than in the previous one for sure. This absolutely cannot be denied," he said.

    This poses questions for the United States, whose Lebanon policy twins military aid to the Lebanese army and support for Hariri with growing pressure on Hezbollah through sanctions.

    The U.S. State Department said in a statement it was concerned that Hezbollah would continue to occupy ministerial positions and was allowed to name the health minister.

    "We call on the new government to ensure the resources and services of these ministries do not provide support to Hezbollah... We look to all parties in the new government to uphold Lebanon's policy of disassociation from regional conflicts and its international obligations," it said.

    The United States has imposed new sanctions on Hezbollah as part of its strategy to counter Iran.

    The frontpage headline of the pro-Hezbollah newspaper al-Akhbar said Hezbollah needed "a government amid the storm".

    "Hezbollah benefits today from the government led by Hariri specifically ... because Hariri, with his Western and Gulf(Arab) facade could be a safety net or helper, keeping options open, when it comes to escalating American sanctions", al-Akhbar wrote in its main story on the government.

    A senior Western diplomat said Hezbollah's opponents would keep a close eye on how Hezbollah manages the Health Ministry.

    "The other parties will closely monitor the funds Hezbollah has in the ministry and will cry foul when something is happening, because they know the Americans are looking in the same direction."

    The new health minister, Jamil Jabak, has said his priorities include improving government hospitals and bringing down drug prices.
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    JANUARY 30, 2019

    After five long years, President Donald Trump ostensibly removed the single biggest obstacle to improving U.S. ties with Turkey. During a December 2018 phone call, the U.S. president offered his Turkish counterpart, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a political windfall by deciding to withdraw American forces from Syria, telling him, “You know what? It’s yours. I’m leaving.” Trump then tasked Turkey with finishing off Islamic State in Syria, hoping this would suffice to mend relations with Ankara.

    Those words should have been music to Erdogan’s ears. Bilateral relations between the two allies have taken a nosedive since 2014, when Washington partnered with Syrian Kurds organized under the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to fight Islamic State in Syria. Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organization and has repeatedly implored Washington to drop the group and instead delegate its counter-terrorism mission to Turkey. On the phone that day in December, Trump finally took Erdogan up on his offer.

    However, it didn’t take long before Erdogan renewed his vow to attack Syrian Kurdish forces in U.S.-controlled territory in northeastern Syria. Ankara then lashed out against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and snubbed a meeting with National Security Advisor John Bolton. Trump took the spat to Twitter, threatening to “devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds.”

    So why the continued tensions? While Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria is widely regarded as a victory for Erdogan, the move has so far done little to appease the Turkish invective against the United States. In fact, it has only sharpened the fundamental disagreement over the future of the Kurds that has strained bilateral relations for years. Washington wants to ensure that Ankara does not go after the Syrian Kurds who have been fighting Islamic State, whereas decimating the YPG’s military and political power remains a top priority for Turkey. As long as Ankara and Washington continue to have incompatible interests in Syria, winning Turkey back will take more than a quick exit from the scene.

    Erdogan knows how to sweet-talk Trump into clearing U.S. forces that stand in the way of his own designs for Syria and its Kurds. Recently he penned a syrupy sweet op-ed in the New York Times,promising not only to take over the fight against Islamic State but also to implement a “comprehensive strategy to eliminate the root causes of radicalization.” On both pledges, the Turkish president is almost certain to disappoint U.S. expectations.

    Erdogan’s government has neither the capacity nor the will to deliver his promises. According to the Wall Street Journal, Turkish officials have asked the United States for “substantial military support, including airstrikes, transport and logistics,” that would effectively deepen American military involvement in Syria. Indeed, Erdogan does not even appear to have the full support of his own army for such a mission: On Dec. 31, he demoted two top Turkish generals who reportedly objected to his Syria policy.

    More importantly, while Islamic State has carried numerous horrific attacks in Turkey — including the deadliest-ever on Turkish soil — Turkey’s Islamist government has never treated the group as a top threat. Ankara was slow to roll back its lax border policies that allowed the jihadists to flourish in northern Syria from 2012 to 2014, and it was loath to allow the U.S.-led coalition access to its Incirlik airbase for counter-terrorism operations.

    On the contrary, from the outset, Ankara’s primary concern has been the status of Syrian Kurds who share a border with Turkey’s own majority-Kurdish regions. Since 2016, Turkey has carried out two military operations against the YPG — which draws Ankara’s wrath for its affiliation with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a designated terror group that has led an insurgency against the Turkish state since the 1980s.

    In fact, Trump’s decision to pull out troops came amidst Turkish military plans for a third ground offensive into northeast Syria, also designed to target the YPG. While that plan appears tabled for now, Erdogan is unlikely to stop threatening the group — especially once American soldiers are disembedded from it. On Jan. 4, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted “the importance of ensuring that the Turks don’t slaughter the Kurds,” drawing the ire of Ankara.

    Three days later, Bolton arrived in Turkey, joined by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and Special Envoy to Syria James Jeffrey. They were there to seek a modus vivendi between Ankara and Washington’s Syrian partners that would ensure peaceful coexistence. Jeffrey reportedly even brought a “color-coded map” of the areas where the United States hopes to establish a power-sharing agreement in Syria.

    Given Turkey’s long standing fear of Kurdish self-rule in Syria and elsewhere, the trio has encountered strong pushback from Ankara. Even before Erdogan snubbed the officials, Turkey’s pro-government media covered the visit with sensationalist headlines. The pro-Erdogan daily Star, for one, accused the United States of “protecting the terrorists,” referring to Jeffrey’s map as a “terror shield” for the YPG. The Islamist daily Yeni Safak published a photo of the three officials, running the headline, “Who do you think you are?”

    Indeed, the most telling attacks have come against Jeffrey. The special envoy is a former ambassador to Turkey known for his sympathy for the Turkish position on Syria. Turkish media had therefore spared him the kind of rhetoric used against officials like Brett McGurk, who was until recently Washington’s special envoy to the campaign against Islamic State. McGurk was the face of the U.S.-Kurdish partnership in Syria and, hence, Ankara’s favorite boogeyman. Turkey’s state-run media recently called McGurk the new “Lawrence of Arabia,” in reference to the British spy who stoked the Arab rebellions against the Ottomans during World War I.

    Since McGurk’s recent resignation, Jeffrey has picked up his portfolio. He appears set to also pick up the Turkish fury. The Wall Street Journal quoted a former U.S. official calling Jeffrey’s map “Sykes-Picot on acid,” referring to the secret British-French plans to break up the Ottoman Empire. The quote appears to have delighted the editors of Turkey’s Islamist media, making rounds of headlines — with Jeffrey’s photo at the center.

    Trump’s optimism about mending U.S.-Turkish relations with his Syrian pullout might meet the same end as Jeffrey’s short-lived welcoming and Bolton’s dismissal from Ankara. Rather than pursuing a quick fix and offering radical policy shifts over the phone that put his aides on the Turkish crosshairs, the U.S. president would be better off sticking to an incremental approach that taps into the expertise of his national security team and their Turkish counterparts.

    There is already a Syria roadmap in place with Ankara, a long, slow, and painful effort to negotiate a modus vivendi between Washington’s Turkish and Syrian Kurdish partners in Manbij. The United States could replicate a similar model in Syrian Kurdish-controlled territories to the east of the Euphrates River. In the absence of a broader Syria strategy, however, trying to balance divergent interests of ideologically opposed allies will not suffice.

    Washington’s relationship with the YPG gives it historic leverage over Turkey and the PKK, and uniquely positions it as an arbitrator between its NATO ally and its partner in arms in the fight against Islamic State. The United States could encourage the two sides to return to the negotiating table to revive the Kurdish peace process derailed in 2015 and, in the process, help normalize Turkey’s relationship with the YPG in northern Syria as well. The short-lived and pragmatic partnership between these two adversaries during the Kurdish peace process proved capable of delivering wins against Islamic State. Although resuscitating that relationship will be no easy task, it is certain to offer a more viable and sustainable resolution to the problem at hand than a hasty U.S. exit from the conflict.

    The prudent pace of deconfliction, confidence building, and reconciliation might not resonate well with Trump’s erratic policy biorhythm. But as anyone familiar with the Middle East would caution, pursuit of a quick fix over a phone call or through a tweet tends not to end well for any of the parties involved.
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Trump: US forces staying in Iraq to watch Iran

    ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – United States President Donald Trump says he wants American forces to stay in Iraq in order to keep an eye on Iran.

    The US has some 5,200 troops in Iraq and they will stay there “because I want to be able to watch Iran,” Trump told CBS programme Face the Nation that aired on Sunday.

    “All I want to do is be able to watch,” he said, pointing out that the US has an “unbelievable and expensive military base” in the country that is in the best location for keeping watch on events in the Middle East.

    “We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do,” he asserted.

    Iraq’s deputy parliament speaker quickly responded to Trump’s comments, saying the American president had committed a “blatant and overt violation of sovereignty and national will” by declaring the US would use Iraqi soil to spy on neighbours.

    Iraq’s constitution stipulates that its territory will not be used to commit transgressions against any other nation, deputy parliament speaker Hassan Karim al-Kaabi pointed out, adding that the parliament will work on legislation to kick US troops out.

    In the next parliamentary session, lawmakers will pass a law terminating “the security agreement with America, in addition to ending the presence of American military trainers and advisors and foreigners on Iraqi soil,” Kaabi declared in a statement published by the parliament.

    The legislature wrapped up its last session in late January. It is expected to reconvene in March, after a break.

    Trump’s administration has labelled Iran the greatest state sponsor of terror and the primary destabilizing influence in the Middle East. He pulled out of the nuclear deal last May, undoing years of diplomacy by his predecessor, and has reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

    One concern of Washington is that Iran is looking to build a crescent of influence spanning Iraq and Syria, reaching the Mediterranean.

    In Iraq, Iran is backing mainly Shiite militias of the Hashd al-Shaabi who fought in the war against ISIS and have gained ground politically, entering the parliament where they hope to build pressure to force the Americans to leave the country.

    Trump’s intelligence chief has described the Hashd as the “primary threat” to the US in Iraq.

    The president, however, has a rocky relationship with intelligence experts who have said Iran is abiding with the nuclear deal. He told CBS that he doesn’t have to agree with the assessments of the intelligence community, pointing to mistaken reports of Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction.

    “So when my intelligence people tell me how wonderful Iran is – if you don't mind, I'm going to just go by my own counsel,” he said.

    US troops who stay in Iraq will also keep an eye on Syria, the president added.

    He declined to put a timeline on withdrawing from Syria, vaguely saying “at a certain point, we want to bring our people back home,” first going to bases in Iraq and then to the US.

    Trump is under pressure from his allies and critics to walk back his decision to pull out of Syria because of the threat it leaves Kurdish allies exposed to and because of the need to ensure ISIS is fully defeated before easing up the military pressure.

    He appeared unconcerned about the risks from sleeper cells, pockets of militants, and a resurgence of ISIS.

    “You’re always going to have pockets of something,” he told CBS, arguing that you don’t keep an army in the country on the basis of a few people.

    And if the threat becomes a full-blown resurgence again, the US can always come back, he argued. “We'll come back if we have to. We have very fast airplanes, we have very good cargo planes. We can come back very quickly.”

    He also said the US isn’t really leaving because they will maintain the base in Iraq – “a fantastic edifice.”

    Trump visited the al-Asad air base in Anbar province, which was under threat of a rocket attack on Saturday, when he dropped in for a few hours over Christmas. His visit sparked outrage in Iraq when he failed to meet with any Iraqi officials.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said at the time that the American president’s visit had broken conditions set by Baghdad. He also slammed the notion that the US has a base in Iraq, reminding the world that the military bases in Iraq are Iraqi and foreigners are there as guests only.

    “There is no US base in Iraq,” he said. “There are only Iraqi bases where some US and non-US soldiers are present.”
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Russia flipping on the S-300's in March

    side note this system has been around since the 60's (s-300)

    russia uses the s-500 for itself and already exports the S-400

    Iran has the most advanced export version of the S-300, which is basically the S-400

    the US doesn't even fly above S-300's, why we stopped using U2's and SR71's on Russia

    SR-71 with human can go max mach 6

    s-300 missiles can go above mach 12

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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Pentagon walks back Trump idea of using Iraq base to counter Iran
    February 5, 2019

    Top Donald Trump administration officials indicated today that US bases in Iraq would have little role in monitoring Iran-backed proxies after the president vowed in a TV interview that American troops would stay in the country to “watch” Iranian forces.

    Iraqi political figures roundly criticized Trump in the wake of a Sunday interview on CBS’ "Face the Nation." President Barham Salih, a longstanding American ally, called the potential action “unacceptable” and insisted the United States hadn’t been granted permission by Baghdad to snoop on Iran.

    Testifying before Congress today, just hours before Trump’s State of the Union address, US Central Command chief Joseph Votel said that the Pentagon’s mission focusing on the defeat of the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS) had not changed despite the administration’s focus on curtailing Iran’s use of Shiite proxy groups in the Middle East.

    “The government of Iraq understands the relationship, the view that we have on Iran and understands our concerns with Iran," Votel said.

    Speaking to reporters on Monday, State Department officials likewise insisted that the 5,200 or so US troops in Iraq — according to the last official Pentagon count from 2017 — remained focused on that mission.

    Trump’s comments come as the Pentagon worries that the US military relationship with Iraq is increasingly “complicated” after May 2018 elections that saw Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr make substantial gains, raising safety concerns for American troops and diplomats. In September, the State Department closed the US Consulate in the southern city of Basra after an Iran-backed group launched a rocket attack against the facility.

    “The target was already on US forces in the region,” said Phillip Smyth, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who tracks Iranian proxy groups. Smyth said those militias could potentially threaten American troops with rockets, improvised explosive devices and small-arms fire.

    In 2015, al-Asad air base in Sunni-dominated Anbar province — the base Trump indicated could be used against Iran — faced shelling and indirect fire from IS. Suicide bombers snuck onto the grounds soon after, but were stopped by Iraqi troops.

    Underlying the safety fears, the Pentagon appears increasingly worried that sectarianism is hampering Iraq’s ability to get its government and security forces in order following IS' defeat.

    A Defense Department Inspector General report released on Monday concluded that Iraq’s failure to seat new heads of the Defense and Interior ministries has hampered the rebuilding of Baghdad’s military. Pro-Iran Iraqi lawmakers have proposed nominating Falih al-Fayadh, the leader of the Shiite-dominated Popular Mobilization Units, which Baghdad has struggled to control, for the Interior Ministry post.

    Some experts believe that means the extensive effort needed to help the Iraqi army recover from the IS fight should push the Pentagon to keep US troops focused on a training mission instead of hunting down militants.

    “US forces are out there moving all over the place when they just need to stay on the bases,” said Douglas Ollivant, a former National Security Council director for Iraq.

    Experts who spoke to Al-Monitor said that al-Asad air base would not be enough to counter Iran’s overland and maritime routes into Syria and Lebanon that US officials believe are used to support Shiite proxies. Trump toured the base on Dec. 26 in his first overseas visit to US troops.

    “It is well positioned, but an observatory post is likely insufficient to thwart Tehran’s land bridge,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “But if the goal is to have the administration’s overall Iran policy be operationalized and effective, it is going to take a lot more than just watching.”

    Taleblu said the United States would need to maintain American troops in positions blocking Iranian supply routes and support Israeli strikes on Tehran-backed weapons transfers through Syria to be effective.

    The United States also has a large air base in Iraqi Kurdistan, but experts told Al-Monitor it’s not clear that air operations from that site or monitoring from al-Asad could effectively disrupt Iran-backed supply lines, which are strung up along air, maritime and land-based corridors throughout the region.

    “I don’t think it is particularly useful in monitoring Iranian activists outside of Iraq or Syria,” said David Witty, a retired colonel in the US Army Special Forces. “Other US bases are better situated for that,” he added, citing American installations such as al-Udeid in Qatar, and a US naval base in Bahrain, where the Pentagon and spy agencies deploy intelligence platforms that can track Iran’s movements.

    But even as the administration turns its gaze on Iran, there may be few senior US officials left that have Trump's ear on decisions facing the United States in Iraq and Syria, where the threat of Iran-backed forces continues to loom.

    Votel, the departing CENTCOM chief, said in his testimony that the White House did not provide warning ahead of Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria. The administration’s nominee to serve as US envoy to Iraq has yet to have a Senate hearing, leaving less senior State and National Security Council officials in charge of the file.

    “The relationship is strong enough to survive something like this,” said Ollivant, the former NSC Iraq director. “It’s kind of the equivalent of being rude to your girlfriend. It doesn’t mean she’s going to leave you, but it doesn’t help.”

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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Talk about the most pathetic group of nationalists, the grey wolves

    This is already being spread like fire throughout the shia social media, tracking turkish relatives in the region and documenting all these faces

    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    you would have no idea how many companies are headed or owned by israeli's who try to stay hidden

    hardest part is figuring out who is a true zionist

    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    1. Sold to an ally, lost to an enemy,” Nima Elbagir, Salma Abdelaziz, Mohamed Abo El Gheit, and Laura Smith-Spark. CNN broke a story this week revealing that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates transferred American-made weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias, and other factions waging war in Yemen.
    2. Inside the Secretive US Air Campaign In Somalia,” Amanda Serber. “Since Donald Trump took office, the US military has approximately tripled the number of strikes that it conducts each year in Somalia, according to figures confirmed by the Pentagon, while such actions—and the reasons behind them—have become increasingly opaque.”
    3. Little Sparta: The United States-United Arab Emirates Alliance and the War in Yemen,” William Hartung. When talking about Yemen, the United Arab Emirates’ role in the conflict has been minimized and underreported.

    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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