....It Gets Worse
A quick addendum to all the unbridled joy in this recent post. It appears that the new Saudi King may have a few additional ...issues.
King Salman, Saudi Arabia’s newly crowned monarch, has a controversial history of helping to fund radical terror groups and has maintained ties with several anti-Semitic Muslim clerics known for advocating radical positions,
Words are failing me at the moment, so I'll let this young lady provide commentary on the matter.
As I type this, the news is abuzz with a story that has sufficiently severe ramifications that it has finally galvanized the nation into focusing on current events.
However, we here at Brickmuppet Blog have nothing to add to the high-stakes investigation into under-inflated footballs.
Instead, we find our attention drawn to events in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf, where the government of Yemen, until a US ally in the fight against Al-Quaeda has collapsed and the nations capital has been overrun by a group calling itself the Houthis. The State Department had this to say...
"The Houthis are a legitimate political constituency in Yemen and have a right to participate in affairs of the state. We urge them to be a part of a peaceful transition process," Psaki said.
This does not sound terrible on the face of it and reports indicate that the Houthis , being affiliated with a Shia sect, are violently opposed to AQIAP, the same Al-Quaeda affiliate that we've been fighting in Yemen. This encouraging bit of information was somewhat tempered by actually doing a cursory web search to discover who they are and who these Houthis are affiliated with. To our considerable surprise and dismay, the list did not contain any Blowfish at all, but rather organizations such as Hezzbolah, Iran and Syria. The groups ideology consists of Anti-Americanism, Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism and just to clarify things their slogan (which has been loudly chanted of late ) is "Death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory to Islam". This seems at first glance like a rather more sub-optimal development than the White House is letting on. With this group of raving crazies facing Al-Quaeda, the best option would seem to be to stand back and hope they both loose,. Unfortunately the situation is more complicated due to the long suffering nation's geography.
Yemen borders Saudi Arabia, and borders or is close to the Gulf States who control vast amounts of the worlds oil. While that is not as important as it once was, these states, while being human rights hell holes that, amongst other things, practice slavery are opposed to both Al-Quaeda and Iran. The fall of Yemen puts these countries between Iran, Yemen, which has just become an Iranian client state, and the expanding abattoir that is ISIS. Al-Quaeda continues to operate in the region sowing further discord.
Now one will note that ISIS (and Al-Quaeda), being Sunni and Iran's coalition being Shia are unlikely to coordinate their efforts in any meaningful way as they hate each other with a passion, but they both crave control of the vast oil reserves of the Arabian peninsula and in particular the theological legitimacy that Mecca and Medina could bestow upon the group that controls the birthplaces of Islam. If Saudi Arabia...or just Mecca, Medina or both fall to one of these groups, then it will be a huge propaganda victory and recruitment tool and perhaps a deciding factor in the 1200+ year old war between these two islamic sects. Control of the region's oil will force states like China to legitimize them, and sale of the oil will give them the capital to fund much mischief. All three groups are dedicated to Israel's destruction and expansion of the House of Islam into what they call The House of War via unconventional warfare.
In other words, this is bad.
It gets worse...
The King of Saudi Arabia just died. This throws Saudi Arabia into a state of flux just as all this compost is hitting the fan. The late King had actually made baby steps toward reform, allowing women to have ID cards and conduct financial transactions, and was an opponent of Islamic terrorism, however many in the Saudi royal family are staunch supporters of Al-Quaeda. Fortunately, the succession seems to have gone smoothy for now...
But, it gets worse....
There are reports that, due to its perilous situation and the near certainty of arch enemy Iran obtaining nukes, Saudi Arabia (which financed much of Pakistan's nuclear research) has called in their favor and has obtained or have on retainer a number of atomic weapons from Pakistan. These weapons are as much of a prize to the area's extremists as anything, and if the reports of their being in Saudi hands are not apocryphal, then, given the threats arrayed against the Saudis we could see nuclear weapons used in anger.
It gets worse...
The large number of Saudi aristocrats with extremist tendencies is going to require considerable competence and vigilance to keep those weapons out of unwanted hands even if the nation is overrun.
Focus on current events is understandably directed towards Europe and Jihadism at the moment, where MI-5 is reporting that...
Parker said British security authorities had "stopped three UK terrorist plots” in recent months but added that "we still face complex and ambitious plots” by extremists who want to "cause large scale loss of life” by targeting transport networks and iconic landmarks.
If that is worrisome, then this 2006 article in Der Spiegelis high octane nightmare fuel. It's a review of a book by a Jordanian journalist named Fouad Hussein who had considerable contact while in Prison with Al Zarquawi and was able to interview others associated with AlQuaeda. He says AlQaeda has a 7 point plan for world conquest and even has tentative dates for the completion of each phase.
Since the article was written in 2006, surely we can laugh at the comically wrong predictions...right?
The First Phase Known as "the awakening" -- this has already been carried out and was supposed to have lasted from 2000 to 2003, or more precisely from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby "awakening" Muslims. "The first phase was judged by the strategists and masterminds behind al-Qaida as very successful," writes Hussein. "The battle field was opened up and the Americans and their allies became a closer and easier target." The terrorist network is also reported as being satisfied that its message can now be heard "everywhere."
The Second Phase "Opening Eyes" is, according to Hussein's definition, the period we are now in and should last until 2006. Hussein says the terrorists hope to make the western conspiracy aware of the "Islamic community." Hussein believes this is a phase in which al-Qaida wants an organization to develop into a movement. The network is banking on recruiting young men during this period. Iraq should become the center for all global operations, with an "army" set up there and bases established in other Arabic states.
The Third Phase This is described as "Arising and Standing Up" and should last from 2007 to 2010. "There will be a focus on Syria," prophesies Hussein, based on what his sources told him. The fighting cadres are supposedly already prepared and some are in Iraq. Attacks on Turkey and -- even more explosive -- in Israel are predicted. Al-Qaida's masterminds hope that attacks on Israel will help the terrorist group become a recognized organization. The author also believes that countries neighboring Iraq, such as Jordan, are also in danger.
The Fourth Phase Between 2010 and 2013, Hussein writes that al-Qaida will aim to bring about the collapse of the hated Arabic governments. The estimate is that "the creeping loss of the regimes' power will lead to a steady growth in strength within al-Qaida." At the same time attacks will be carried out against oil suppliers and the US economy will be targeted using cyber terrorism.
The Fifth Phase This will be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, can be declared. The plan is that by this time, between 2013 and 2016, Western influence in the Islamic world will be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared. Al-Qaida hopes that by then the Islamic state will be able to bring about a new world order.
The Sixth Phase Hussein believes that from 2016 onwards there will a period of "total confrontation." As soon as the caliphate has been declared the "Islamic army" it will instigate the "fight between the believers and the non-believers" which has so often been predicted by Osama bin Laden.
The Seventh Phase This final stage is described as "definitive victory." Hussein writes that in the terrorists' eyes, because the rest of the world will be so beaten down by the "one-and-a-half billion Muslims," the caliphate will undoubtedly succeed. This phase should be completed by 2020, although the war shouldn't last longer than
OK the rather large transition from step six to seven seems a tad dubious to be sure, but steps 3, 4 and 5...wow. It also lends credence to the notion that a big putsch may be coming on the jihadi front in the near future.
Had I been aware of them before today I would have (likely as not) had a generally dim view of them as they put out a left wing atheist publication that presumably had nothing but contempt for people like myself.
However, they did stridently stand by one of the bedrock principles upon which a free society is based, namely that no one has a right not to be offended. They published satire mocking those things that they did not believe in, as is the right of free people everywhere. They were threatened, and yet refused to cease because they understood that to yield to such threats would be a betrayal of their readers, a compromise of their principles and a submission to the bullies veto...which only emboldens and encourages the bullies.
This was especially gutsy in France, where a large unassimilated minority has become increasingly violent in recent years.
As I type this, the terrorists are still at large, which is an even more terrifying development as it indicates a truly remarkable degree of training and planning as well as the distinct possibility of a considerable support network. France is on its highest alert level for good reason.
The proprietors of this tiny boutique magazine are with us no more, but they carried on a proud French tradition going back to Voltaire. They continue to be an example, not only of individuals willing to stand on principle in a civilized way, but also of what is at stake with regards to freedom itself. In this all civilized peoples should all find common ground.
Given that he was in Australia under refugee status, and given the letters and association with assaults, why wasn't his refugee status revoked once he started giving off jihadi vibes years ago?
This is not a criticism of the Aussies per se, Lord knows we in the USA drop the ball as badly or worse on these things, but it would seem, moving forward, to be a good practice to give this sort of thing a bit better scrutiny, wherever it may come up.
Suddenly Last Month's Craziness Makes All Too Much Sense
On September 19, Information Dissemination reported on a bizarre attack by Al Qaeda affiliate AQIS that seemed to be an attempt to seize a Pakistani Warship. The stated intent was to use PNS Zulfiquarto launch an attack on the US Navy.
PNS Aslat, which was also an Al Qaeda target.
Robert Farley has a run-down of how unlikely ( but not impossible) a scenario this would have been. Note though that the attack was carried out with the assistance of several Pakistani Navy officers, so if they had, in fact gotten control of the vessel, the corsairs could, have conceivably done some mischief in the very, very brief window before the ship would have been sunk. "Mischief" might not even involve leaving harbor (or even the pier) if the general vicinity of a target was already known. The C-102 missiles the ship is armed with have a range of up to 500 kilometers depending on version. The Long War Journal has an account of the incident including info from a press release by AQIS and it is claimed that the operation was much more elaborate and involved a large number of Jihadis in uniform. One aspect of the attack was to have crewmen loyal to Al Qaeda take over the ship's main gun and fire rounds at USNS Supply which was scheduled to be doing refueling drills with Zulfiquar.
While the 3 inch gun would be unlikely to sink the big ship, fires and explosions on a combination Tanker/ Ammunition ship have great potential to get out of hand. The fact that USNS Supply is one of only 4 of the big AOEs left would have made any damage to the ship a severe blow to the Navy's ability to supply ships on far flung stations.
This is quite disturbing of course, but the large number of double agents involved is even more troubling.
Tactical weapons are, by necessity, deployed with the military forces, so the chances of them falling into jihadist hands is much greater. To get some idea of what these can do we'll look again to the well photographed shot of 'Atomic Annie' popping off a 15 kiloton W-9 shell.
Note the size of the weapon, 55 inches long 11 inches wide and 850 pounds. The later W-19 round for the same gun was only 600 pounds and had a slightly higher yield. This is not a particularly powerful nuke, but I'm being conservative in estimating what the Pakistani's are capable of. More disturbing; the size of the weapon is such that it could easily be smuggled into a city, and while the blast damage of such a weapon would be limited compared to a strategic nuke detonated at altitude, the fallout from a ground burst would be horrific.
The prospect of a terrorist nuclear attack, is as great as ever, so it's probably a good idea to look into how to prepare for modest sized ground bursts. RAND has a paper on that, available in PDF format here.
OK. The Speech
It was not actually an egregiously bad speech.
However, I was somewhat perplexed that he wants to use Yemen and Somalia as templates for action against ISIS. Both countries are nightmarish Hobbesian jihadi generators and Somalia is not so much a country as a no-mans land. I suppose that recent successes in killing terrorist leaders there was the point, but neither country has any hope right now of being free of the jihadists in the foreseeable future. I'm a little concerned with the notion of arming "vetted" insurgents in Syria. Our vetting of insurgents has been singularly unimpressive historically, and over the last 5 years in particular.
It is good that he recognizes the threat, but the proposed actions seems to risk making the same error as Rumsfield's "light footprint" model did. However, close air support and giving those who are fighting against ISIS weapons might have a better than even chance of working in this case. I suspect that ISIS is not adept at winning hearts and minds. If their religious appeal is such that they are, then this is a far greater problem than even the most concerned analysts have supposed.
I do note that Bush, who already had what some describe as a troublingly broad Authorization of Military Force giving him legal justification, still felt the need to go before the Congress to get approval for going into Iraq. This president does not and I await with bated breath to hear the intense indignation at this factoid from those who considered Bush's actions to be beyond the pale.
One last criticism.
We currently have over 1300 troops in Iraq. Can we PLEASE issue them some boots? Fighting in Birkenstocks cannot be good for morale.
Finally it should be noted that this is one of the most grave decisions a President can be faced with. While there are legitimate criticisms galore regards the decisions that led us here and the manner in which they were relayed, it is not necessarily a dreadful thing that after previous debacles the president has been very deliberative in coming to this conclusion. War is sometimes necessary, but it is always a wretched enterprise. That the President has sought to avoid this may not have been wise, but it should not elicit contempt.
I am no fan of the policies of this President, but I ask that people of faith keep him in their prayers this evening.
12 Years Ago
Via Cdr Salamander: This is the best overview I have ever seen of what it was like that day as the realization gradually set in that something was very wrong...then the awful certainty.
UPDATE:Subur Banbanshee has further thoughts on the various events that occurred on this date in history. Remember that 2001 and 2012 were exceptions to what has generally been an auspicious date for civilization.
Some of his commentors ask a perfectly logical question. 'Who gassed the civilians?' It is widely assumed that Assad did it and indeed he may have. His motivation for doing it on the anniversary of the 'Red Line Speech' would be to show himself to be powerful enough to stand up to the US and gaining the 'badass cred' so important in that part of the world.
However, Al-Quaeda has a more straightforward motivation. They want Assad bombed and his airforce neutralized. We know from painful experience in Iraq that Al-Quaeda is quite capable of using Sarin gas shells to kill (Iraqi nerve gas shells were used as ICWDs). We know that the rebels have overrun some Syrian arms caches. The attack, while horrific was rather small considering the risk. It was not a tide turning attack but an attack on a small group of noncombatants..mostly women and children. This is unlikely to hurt the rebels materially and can only serve to strengthen their resolve and gain them international support. It also could bring about an attack on the Assad regime by the US....which seems to be happening.
The circumstances of the attack are unclear, but it appears to have been
confined to a small area in a refugee camp. This is the sort of gas
attack the rebels might be able to pull off.
I dunno who did it, but such ambiguity might be used by the President to not end up being Al-Quaeda's air-force in Syria.
Hopefully the Final Nidal Hassan PostAce links to and comments upon a report that describes how Hassan's violent tendencies were well known and ignored. This is well known...the news here is that it's being covered by Mother Jones. I urge you to read both Ace's post which adds a good bit of context and the full Mother Jones article, which indicates that the dereliction of duty was even worse than was previously known.
Heard a news story yesterday quoting one of his defense counselors who has utterly baffled by Hassan's failure to defend himself. The quote was basically, "We don't know why he did it. He could have taken the stand and explained his actions, maybe apologized, and it would have helped his case. I don't understand what he's thinking."
This man must have had earplugs in during the trial.
Posted by: Ben at Thu Aug 29 09:17:09 2013 (Oftf2)
I don't believe that proportional responses are generally advisable or ethical. If one must use violence one should, as a rule, use overwhelming force. Such a policy is more likely to have a deterrent effect and save more lives in the long run (either through quick victory or deterring violence in the first place) than a predictable escalation of response which can be planned for and factored into cost benefit analysis by bad actors.
However, an overwhelming response in the case of Syria might topple the government. This would ordinarily be a good thing, but give that the opposition forces are AlQuaeda and similar groups, such an outcome would result in wast quantities of weapons including nerve gas plus Syria's stock of radioactives to fall into the hands of a bunch of feral crazies who dearly want to kill us and our Israeli allies.
So a painful but not crippling attack may be the least terrible option.
Of course, this supposes that the President, in his zeal to thwart the
execrable Assad regime has not allowed himself to become blinded to the
threat posed by its collapse, and doesn't actually intend to bring it down...which as we have discussed before would probably make things even worse.
The Egyptian people seem to be taking the military takeover rather well. The Military does not seem to be rolling over the civilians with tanks and the Muslim Brotherhood seems to have lost resoundingly.
I expected far worse.
The military has suspended the constitution...which is usually an even bigger warning sign than a coup, but in this case the constitution had been recently imposed by Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The military leadership has not established a Junta (yet) but has put the Chief Justice of their Supreme court in charge of a civilian panel that has been tasked with running the country and organizing new elections.
A senior opposition figure says pro-reform leader Mohamed
ElBaradei, the top Muslim cleric of Al-Azhar Mosque and the Coptic pope
are meeting the army chief to discuss a political road map for Egypt
So the Copts and the Muslims are working together with the secularists and the military to hold democratic elections after deposing a democratically elected government that turned out to be oppressive and fundamentalist Islamic .
There's a concise overview of how this came to be here.
This is not exactly Kemalist as there are religious leaders at the table, but it at least looks like the military is trying to avoid having to run things themselves, and is handing it over to civilian civic leaders which is very promising.
Zero Hedge has some interesting pictures of the protests that are not making it into most of the news here. They show extreme anger at Obama and the US Ambassador to Egypt for backing the Islamofascistic whackadoodle who just got deposed. This via Instapundit who points out that it's telling that the posters are anti-Obama and not anti-US.
This could still go to worms in a terrible and bloody way, but at this point this is about the least bad outcome one could reasonably expect.
This is a pretty amazing turn of events. I can remember one other recent time when a military toppled a tyrannical government and turned it immediately over to the people. Annoyingly, I can't remember where it was.
Posted by: Mauser at Thu Jul 4 04:03:26 2013 (cZPoz)
This is probably the best possible outcome for Egypt. Hope it continues as smoothly.