Apologies for the lack of posts since Friday. I’ve been suffering from a severe case of over-bloggingitis (aka writers’ block together with an overdose of internet) combined with too many chagim.
To say that the Middle East is in turmoil is both an understatement and a cliché. The news seems to get worse every day, and yet nothing seems to be moving on the ground. The main theme of the day for most of the international media is the ISIS crisis (I love the poetry in that).
Jeffrey Goldberg has a heart-rending report in which he quotes a Kurdish intelligence official who says “A terrible slaughter is coming” in the Kurdish town of Kobani, on the border with Turkey:
I just got off the phone with a desperate-sounding Kurdish intelligence official, Rooz Bahjat, who said he fears that Kobani could fall to ISIS within the next 24 hours. If it does, he predicts that ISIS will murder thousands in the city, which is crammed with refugees—Kurdish, Turkmen, Christian, and Arab—from other parts of the Syrian charnel house. As many as 50,000 civilians remain in the town, Bahjat said.
“A terrible slaughter is coming. If they take the city, we should expect to have 5,000 dead within 24 or 36 hours,” he told me. “It will be worse than Sinjar,” the site of a recent ISIS massacre that helped prompt President Obama to fight ISIS. There have been reports of airstrikes on ISIS vehicles, but so far, Bahjat said that these strikes have been modest in scope and notably ineffective.
Kobani is located on the Turkish border, but Bahjat said he is receiving reports that Turkey is pulling its troops back, rather than risk armed confrontation with ISIS. “It’s unbelievable—Turkey is in NATO, so you literally have NATO watching what is happening in this town. Everyone can see it—the TV cameras are there, watching. It’s terrible.”
Kurdish fighters are outnumbered by ISIS, and they have no heavy weaponry. There are reports coming out of Kobani that at least one female Kurdish suicide bomber has struck at ISIS terrorists already. The situation is grim, growing grimmer, and one in which hesitation by the international community may not be easily forgiven.
What can explain this horrific situation where the world sits by and does nothing? Jerry Gordon at The New English Review attempts to explain why Turkey and the US Administration have doomed the Kurds in Kobani:
Perhaps the most insightful analysis of this looming disaster in Kobani came from former Reagan era OMB Director and veteran Wall Street banker, David Stockman , in his Contra Corner blog commentary, The Siege Of Kobani: Obama’s Syrian Fiasco In Motion . Stockman is as disturbed as many Americans about why the valiant Kurds in Kobani are being abandoned to their doomed fate. He clearly is in command of Kurdish history in the modern era and the failure at the Treaty of Versailles following WWI to the present to recognize a non-Arab ethnic state of more than 30 million Kurds drawn from enclaves in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. Stockman is unforgiving about the current duplicity of the Islamist regime of President Erdogan of Turkey, the Saudis and the baleful failure of the Administration to exert leadership in the face of the provocative barbarism of ISIS and even its acolytes here in the US. Stockman presents the real-politick behind the doomed plight of the PYG fighters trapped in Kobani.
Stockman blames the Obama Administration for not going in with boots on the ground or at least carrying out a massive sustained airstrike against ISIS. As for the Turks:
For us, ISIL and the (Kurdish) PKK are the same,” Erdogan said in televised remarks today in Istanbul.
And that’s literally true because from Turkey’s vantage point the Kobani showdown is a case of terrorist-on-terrorist. The Kurdish fighters in Kobani are linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK. The latter has waged a separatist campaign of armed insurrection and terror inside and around Turkey for 30-years and has long been considered Turkey’s top security threat. In fact, Turkey has received untold amounts of US aid, equipment and intelligence over the years to help suppress this uprising. That’s the reason that PKK is officially classified as a “terrorist” group by the U.S. and the government in Ankara.
The US Policy in Iraq that armed ISIS.
Washington’s foolish delusion that it was spending $25 billion to train and equip an “Iraqi army” added fuel to the fire.
“No Turkish politician can explain to the public why the government is aiding the PKK and its affiliated groups after fighting against it for 30 years,” he said by phone.
Likewise, the Saudi’s want to destroy the Assad regime because it is allied with their Shiite enemy across the Persian Gulf in Iran and because they fear their own abused Shiite populations which are concentrated in their oilfield regions. Consequently, they see the fight against ISIS as essentially a pretext for escalating their war against Damascus, and are not even interested in bombing the non-ISIS jihadi like the Nusra Front that they see as allies in the campaign against Assad.
What to make of the US led Coalition Air Exercise?
At the end of the day, Obama’s air campaign amounts to nothing more than a glorified international air force training exercise. Pilots and air crews from the UK, Denmark, Belgium, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan etc. will get to run a few live fire sorties at politically correct targets. So the Brits will bomb in Iraq but not Syria; the Saudi’s will bomb ISIS targets close to Assad-held territories, but not Nusra Front positions; and the Qataris will go along for the ride pretending to help, even as they preserve deniability that they ever dropped an actual bomb for that day down the road when they seek to make a pipeline deal with the Islamic State.
Never in recorded history has a fading imperial power conducted a more feckless, pointless, and strategically irrational war. Indeed, the real lesson is that by inserting itself into tribal and sectarian conflicts in these pockets of anarchy Washington only succeeds in generating more of the same. That is exactly what the siege of Kobani is all about.
The way the free world is milling about aimlessly without a serious coordinated action against ISIS has echoes of the way the Allies abandoned the Jews during the Shoah.
Meanwhile at the centre of the web of Middle East violence in Iran, a massive explosion occurred on Sunday night at the Parchin nuclear facility:
Two people were killed in an explosion at a defense ministry plant east of Tehran for the production of explosives, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported Monday.
The Defense Industries Organisation, quoted by IRNA, said the fire broke out at the plant on Sunday night but it gave no further details.
The BBC, citing a report from the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), reported on Monday that the incident happened in an “explosive materials production unit” at the site south-east of the capital Tehran.
According to ISNA the blast was so powerful it shattered windows up to 12 kilometers away and the glare from the explosion lit up the night sky.
Several arms facilities and military bases are located east of the Iranian capital, including Parchin. UN nuclear inspectors have been seeking to visit the site to answer concerns about Iran’s atomic program.
The base lies at the centre of allegations of past Iranian research into sophisticated explosives that can be used to detonate a nuclear warhead.
Was it sabotage? Or just an accident? Will we ever discover the truth?
You would imagine that with all this mass murder and barbarity, not to mention the severe danger of a rogue nuclear regime, international academics would forget their obsession with demonising Israel. You would be wrong.
The latest anti-Israel tactic from the BDS bigots is an academic boycott by hundreds of anthropologists, including from such Ivy League institutions as Harvard and Yale: