The Battle in the Shadow of the War against Daesh

Darko Lazar

The recent shooting down of a Syrian Su-22 fighter jet is only the latest in a long list of incidents during which the Americans have opened fire on Syria’s army.

US soldiers

From direct military strikes targeting the al-Shayrat air base, to bombing pro-government armed formations that supposedly enter dubiously-demarcated no-go zones, the US is only reinforcing the narrative that its objectives have nothing to do with fighting Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”].

Instead, these incidents are the consequence of the race for control of eastern Syria.

It is precisely in this context that the Americans have allowed themselves to declare their so-called “de-confliction zone” near the strategically-important Syrian border town of al-Tanf.

The blueprints, drawn up in Washington, envisaged al-Tanf as the launching point for a northward push by US-backed militants towards the Euphrates, and the eventual capture of Syria’s entire southeast.

But the Syrian army, backed by Iranian and Russian forces, have diluted these plans by liberating Daesh-controlled territory, and reaching the Iraqi border – effectively encircling Washington’s ‘zone’.

Faced with the option of sitting with their hands crossed in a stretch of desert rendered strategically useless by the Syrian maneuver, the Americans cooked up quite a creative alternative.

Since the US could find absolutely no justification for directly attacking the corridor established by the Syrian forces, Daesh terrorists were put to use once again and ‘encouraged’ to move south.

Recent reports from the ground have shown that the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] are allowing Daesh fighters to flee the ‘encircled’ city of Raqqa towards Deir ez-Zor in the east.

The idea is to put pressure on the aforementioned corridor, which sits just south of Deir ez-Zor. However, things have not exactly gone to plan thanks to the efforts of the Syrian army and its allies.

This brings us back to the Syrian Su-22, which was shot down this week by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet while taking part in operations to fend off the advancing militants.

“Collective self-defense”

Since the inception of the so-called US-led coalition against Daesh, the military alliance’s efforts to partition Syria have been hard to miss.

While acknowledging that the overthrow of Bashar al Assad is improbable – if not impossible – Washington threw its weight behind the Kurds and other militant formations, aiming to sever Damascus’ link with Europe in the north, and its allies – Iraq, Iran – in the east.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the US continues to claim that “the Coalition’s mission is to defeat ‘ISIS’ in Iraq and Syria.”

A statement released by US Central Command attempted to justify the downing of the SU-22 as “collective self-defense of Coalition-partnered forces”, a reference to the SDF, which the Americans claim was being targeted by the Syrian jet.

“The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat, “the statement adds.

Aside from the fact that this logic fails to explain why no such defenses are being mounted against the Turks, who bomb the SDF at least once a week, the statement also has the potential to backfire on Washington.

While the UN Charter recognizes the right to self-defense, it only applies to the defense of other states, rather than non-state actors like the SDF.

However, the real trap for Washington lies in its continuous assertions that the SDF and other militant formations are an extension of the US. As such, all actions attributed to these groups, including potential war crimes, are automatically credited to Washington.

The June 19 statement also goes on to call

“on all parties to focus their efforts on the defeat of ISIS, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to regional and worldwide peace and security.”

One of the more obvious problems with that claim is the American presence in al-Tanf and the deployment of its High Mobility Artillery Rocket System [HIMARS] to the area, which is not capable of targeting Daesh positions from that distance.

Confrontation with Russia

American motives in the region have long since led to tensions with the Russians, which have the potential to morph into a direct military confrontation.

Following the downing of the Syrian jet, the Kremlin blasted the U.S. for its blatant violation of international law and issued a stern warning.

“In areas where Russian aircraft are carrying out military tasks in the skies above Syria, any flying objects, including international coalition aircraft and drones found operating west of the River Euphrates, will be tracked by Russian land and air-based anti-aircraft ground systems as targets,” Russia’s defense ministry said in a statement.

This is the most serious threat the Russians have aimed at Washington since the start of the Syrian conflict. Even when Turkey had shot down a Russian warplane over Syria in November 2015, Moscow stopped short of threatening to treat Turkish aircraft as fair game.

Of course, it’s unlikely that the Russians would allow themselves to shoot down American warplanes over Syria without a very good reason.

If nothing else, the Russians have proven to be pragmatic players on the world stage, and shooting down American planes hardly qualifies as pragmatism. The question, though, is: when does such an option become a pragmatic one?

Perhaps more concerning is Moscow’s decision to halt the use of an incident-prevention hotline with Washington, established to prevent accidental clashes between the different forces operating across Syrian airspace.

The fact that the Russians are at a point where they would rather risk an accidental confrontation than cooperate with the Americans further testifies to the lack of trust between the supposed partners in the fight against a ‘common enemy’.

The Philippines scenario

The latest example of how the US uses Daesh as an excuse, rather than a reason for its military interventions, is the fighting taking place in the Philippines.

Just over a month before the outbreak of violence, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte said that his “foreign policy has shifted from pro-western”.

“I now have this working alliance with China and I hope to establish a good working relations with Russia. Why? Because the western world, EU and everything, they have these double talks,” he added with trademark bombast.

Anyone who has followed international affairs over the last few decades is aware that statements such as the one above never turn out too well. Duterte must have known it too. Even if he has forgotten about leaders like Slobodan Milosevic, he surely remembers Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi – not to mention Bashar al Assad.

And just like Assad, Duterte is now in Washington’s crosshairs.

The anti-Duterte operation was activated on May 23, when none other than Daesh footsoliders invaded Marawi City on the predominantly Muslim island of Mindanao.

The Philippine president responded by declaring martial law on the island, and launching an uncompromising military operation.

Interestingly, the island also houses a US military base with more than a hundred marines, a significant number of special operations units, as well as P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft.

So, the question is obvious. How on earth had a group of terrorists managed to sneak into Marawi, stocking weapons in mosques and basements, and then building tunnels fit to withstand a fierce siege by a better-armed adversary, without alerting American spy planes and special forces?

Just like in Syria, the appearance of Daesh is quickly followed by the appearance of American soldiers, who are supposedly there to protect the locals from the scourge of terrorism. And just like Assad, Duterte had never asked for help.

“I never approached any American to say… ‘Help us’,” the Philippine leader said shortly after the American embassy in Manila announced that US Special Forces were “assisting” operations in Marawi.

The true geopolitical value of Daesh for Washington’s military elites cannot be understated. From the Middle East to the Far East, this terrorist machine is yet to fail in aiding long-term US objectives.

Whether paving the way for a permanent American military presence in Syria, or creating a source of instability for the Philippine government, the battle being fought in the shadows of the war against Daesh is far from over.

Source: Al-Ahed News

24-06-2017 | 09:47

Islamic State in Asia: Saudi-Funding and Naive Policymakers Endanger Region

June 1, 2017 (Joseph Thomas – NEO) – Recently, terrorist attacks have unfolded across Indonesia, a militant network disrupted along the Thai-Malaysian border and full-scale military operations including aerial bombing deployed as Philippine troops fought to take back Marawi City on the southern island of Mindanao, all linked or affiliated with the Islamic State.

A dangerously deceptive narrative is being crafted by US and European media organisations, the same sort of narrative that was used to conceal the true source of the Islamic State’s fighting capacity across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region beginning as early as 2011.

The New York Times, for example, in an article titled, “In Indonesia and Philippines, Militants Find a Common Bond: ISIS,” claims:

An eruption of violence in the southern Philippines and suicide bombings in Indonesia this week highlight the growing threat posed by militant backers of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia. 

While the timing of the Jakarta bombings and the fighting on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao appears to be coincidental, experts on terrorism have been warning for months that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has provided a new basis for cooperation among extremists in the region.

However, back in reality, the Islamic State is no different than any other military force. Its members require food, water and shelter daily. They require weapons and ammunition. They require uniforms. They need transportation, which in turn requires fuel, maintenance personnel and spare parts. And most important of all, the Islamic State requires a steady stream of recruits made possible only through organised education and indoctrination.

For the scale the Islamic State is doing this on, stretching across MENA and now reaching into Southeast Asia, confounding the response of not just individual nation-states but entire blocs of nations attempting to confront this growing threat, it is abundantly clear the Islamic State is not fulfilling these prerequisites on its own.

Its doing this all through state sponsorship, a reality rarely mentioned by the New York Times,  Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, CNN, the BBC and others. Those acquiring their worldview through these media organisations are setting themselves up and those depending on their analysis for tragic failure.

Education and Indoctrination: Who is Feeding the Fire?  

The ranks of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia are being filled by a regional network of extremist indoctrination conducted in institutions posing as Islamic boarding schools known as madrasas. Those institutions indoctrinating local populations with notions of extremism and inspiring them to take up violence and terrorism share a common denominator; Saudi funding.

Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at the National Defense University, Yousaf Butt, in a Huffington Post article titled, “How Saudi Wahhabism Is the Fountainhead of Islamist Terrorism,” would put Saudi funding of such extremist networks into perspective, stating:

It would be troublesome but perhaps acceptable for the House of Saud to promote the intolerant and extremist Wahhabi creed just domestically. But, unfortunately, for decades the Saudis have also lavishly financed its propagation abroad. Exact numbers are not known, but it is thought that more than $100 billion have been spent on exporting fanatical Wahhabism to various much poorer Muslim nations worldwide over the past three decades. It might well be twice that number. By comparison, the Soviets spent about $7 billion spreading communism worldwide in the 70 years from 1921 and 1991.

The article also lays out the cause and effect between Saudi funding and the predictable terrorism, violence and instability that follows. Yousaf Butt concludes by aptly stating:

The House of Saud works against the best interests of the West and the Muslim world. Muslim communities worldwide certainly need to eradicate fanatical Wahhabism from their midst, but this will be difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish if the West continues its support of the House of Saud. The monarchy must be modernized and modified — or simply uprooted and replaced. The House of Saud needs a thorough house cleaning.

The United States under the administration of President Donald Trump just sealed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, following tens of billions of dollars of weapon deals under the previous administration of President Barack Obama, and in turn following a pattern of decades of military, political and economic support for the Persian Gulf state. Western support for the House of Saud appears to be fully intact and in no danger of changing any time soon.

The direct connection between terrorism ranging from Al Qaeda to the Islamic State and Saudi-funded indoctrination is clear. Yet US and European media organisations attempt to muddle the issue with unwarranted ambiguity.

New York Times articles like, “Saudis and Extremism: ‘Both the Arsonists and the Firefighters’,” go as far as stating:

Over the next four decades, in non-Muslim-majority countries alone, Saudi Arabia would build 1,359 mosques, 210 Islamic centers, 202 colleges and 2,000 schools. Saudi money helped finance 16 American mosques; four in Canada; and others in London, Madrid, Brussels and Geneva, according to a report in an official Saudi weekly, Ain al-Yaqeen. The total spending, including supplying or training imams and teachers, was “many billions” of Saudi riyals (at a rate of about four to a dollar), the report said.

And continues by stating:

That is the disputed question, of course: how the world would be different without decades of Saudi-funded shaping of Islam. Though there is a widespread belief that Saudi influence has contributed to the growth of terrorism, it is rare to find a direct case of cause and effect. For example, in Brussels, the Grand Mosque was built with Saudi money and staffed with Saudi imams. In 2012, according to Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, one Saudi preacher was removed after Belgian complaints that he was a “true Salafi” who did not accept other schools of Islam. And Brussels’ immigrant neighborhoods, notably Molenbeek, have long been the home of storefront mosques teaching hard-line Salafi views. 

After the terrorist attacks in Paris in November and in Brussels in March were tied to an Islamic State cell in Belgium, the Saudi history was the subject of several news media reports. Yet it was difficult to find any direct link between the bombers and the Saudi legacy in the Belgian capital.

Yet commonsense, when applied, takes into consideration the substantial intelligence networks and police states that exist across the European Union’s various members and the fact that in the aftermath of most recent terrorist attacks it is revealed that security services across Europe often had foreknowledge of suspects, their criminal backgrounds and activities as well as their ties to extremism both within their own communities in Europe and abroad upon battlefields in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.

It is well within the means of US and European intelligence and security agencies to establish a direct link between terrorism and Saudi funding. What is lacking is the political will to do so.


A Global Expeditionary Force That Goes Where Western Troops Cannot

It is clear that despite the New York Times attempting to make a connection between Saudi-funded indoctrination at mosques and madrasas and terrorism as ambiguous as possible, Saudi funding is the primary factor driving extremism and filling the ranks of terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Coupled with covert, indirect and direct military support when these extremists reach various battlefields around the world, Saudi-funded extremism represents what is essentially a mercenary expeditionary force, auxiliaries used in pursuit of modern day empire.

As witnessed in Libya and Syria, the purpose behind the United States and Europe supporting Saudi Arabia and turning an intentional blind-eye to its global network of extremist indoctrination and the terrorist organisations these networks feed into, is targeting and overthrowing governments the United States and Europe are incapable of overthrowing directly with military force.

Saudi-funded indoctrination filling the ranks of this virtual global mercenary force, can be used as a tool for regime change. Saudi-funded extremists were instrumental in overthrowing the Libyan government in 2011, and have led the fight to oust the Syrian government.

Saudi-funded indoctrination can also be a useful tool of geopolitical coercion, opening up opportunities for the US to sell a greater military presence in any given country targeted by Saudi-funded extremism.

In fact, the New York Times’ recent article, “In Indonesia and Philippines, Militants Find a Common Bond: ISIS,” hints as just such a motive in the Philippines, claiming:

Since the early 2000s, the United States has stationed military advisers in the southern Philippines to aid in the fight against Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic extremists. 

Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila, said that Mr. Duterte was under mounting pressure to address the crisis in his home island, Mindanao, and that he may need further assistance from Washington.

During a period when the Philippines finds itself pivoting away from the United States and toward Beijing and other regional allies, needing “further assistance from Washington” is a circumstance too convenient to be coincidental.

Considering how the US has used Saudi-funded extremism it has enabled elsewhere, there is need for concern not only in the Philippines, but across all of Asia regarding the Islamic State’s “sudden interest” in the region.

Asian Policymakers Only As Good As Their Sources 

As obvious as the truth behind the Islamic State’s presence and perpetuation in Asia seems to be, many policymakers, politicians and people in the media across Asia appear to be mesmerised by US and European headlines and intentionally misleading analysis.

Eagerly republishing and repeating these headlines and analysis, policy and media circles find themselves mired in a deepening swamp of delusion. Within this swamp of delusion they are exposing Asia to the same threat the MENA region is now facing.

For a variety of reasons, extremism was allowed to take root and spread in nations like Libya and Syria, where political deals and cooperation with the US and Europe led toward greater violence and destabilisation, not toward resolving the issue of extremism, terrorism and national or regional security.

Likewise in Asia, should the root of extremism and terrorism not be addressed, namely Saudi-funding and America’s and Europe’s aiding and abetting of the House of Saud, this threat will continue to be cultivated and leveraged by its creators at the cost of its Asian hosts.

While it may not be politically popular to openly expose, condemn and otherwise confront US-Saudi sponsored terrorism in fear of being ostracised from US-European media and policy circles, Asian policymakers, politicians and media should consider the fate of their MENA counterparts and the state of Libya and Syria now versus pre-2011 when there was still a chance to head off a regional humanitarian catastrophe.

The inability of Asian policymakers to clearly single out and deal with Saudi-funded, US-backed terrorism in the region allows political demagogues to play entire ethnic and religious groups off against one another, further compounding factors that fuel instability and even war. Coupled with socioeconomic factors, foreign interests seeking vectors into Asia to coerce, control or even overthrow regional governments have a wide variety of options to pick from.

Eliminating these options and closing the door to outside interference means that the Asian public must be fully and properly informed, and all forms of foreign funding and support, whether it be “schools” or nongovernmental organisations, should be called into question. It is clear that part of this process should include national and regional calls and mechanisms to end Saudi funding to organisations posing as charities, educational institutions and other fronts propagating divisive extremism.

Considering the fate of the MENA region, Asia may have only one chance to get this right. Those policymakers who prove themselves incapable of objective, truthful analysis and who find themselves simply helping along foreign interference should no longer be deferred to as policymakers, and perhaps take up a more appropriate title; lobbyists.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Islamic State in Asia: Saudi-Funding and Naive Policymakers Endanger Region

June 1, 2017 (Joseph Thomas – NEO) – Recently, terrorist attacks have unfolded across Indonesia, a militant network disrupted along the Thai-Malaysian border and full-scale military operations including aerial bombing deployed as Philippine troops fought to take back Marawi City on the southern island of Mindanao, all linked or affiliated with the Islamic State.

A dangerously deceptive narrative is being crafted by US and European media organisations, the same sort of narrative that was used to conceal the true source of the Islamic State’s fighting capacity across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region beginning as early as 2011.

The New York Times, for example, in an article titled, “In Indonesia and Philippines, Militants Find a Common Bond: ISIS,” claims:

An eruption of violence in the southern Philippines and suicide bombings in Indonesia this week highlight the growing threat posed by militant backers of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia. 

While the timing of the Jakarta bombings and the fighting on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao appears to be coincidental, experts on terrorism have been warning for months that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has provided a new basis for cooperation among extremists in the region.

However, back in reality, the Islamic State is no different than any other military force. Its members require food, water and shelter daily. They require weapons and ammunition. They require uniforms. They need transportation, which in turn requires fuel, maintenance personnel and spare parts. And most important of all, the Islamic State requires a steady stream of recruits made possible only through organised education and indoctrination.

For the scale the Islamic State is doing this on, stretching across MENA and now reaching into Southeast Asia, confounding the response of not just individual nation-states but entire blocs of nations attempting to confront this growing threat, it is abundantly clear the Islamic State is not fulfilling these prerequisites on its own.

Its doing this all through state sponsorship, a reality rarely mentioned by the New York Times,  Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, CNN, the BBC and others. Those acquiring their worldview through these media organisations are setting themselves up and those depending on their analysis for tragic failure.

Education and Indoctrination: Who is Feeding the Fire?  

The ranks of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia are being filled by a regional network of extremist indoctrination conducted in institutions posing as Islamic boarding schools known as madrasas. Those institutions indoctrinating local populations with notions of extremism and inspiring them to take up violence and terrorism share a common denominator; Saudi funding.

Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at the National Defense University, Yousaf Butt, in a Huffington Post article titled, “How Saudi Wahhabism Is the Fountainhead of Islamist Terrorism,” would put Saudi funding of such extremist networks into perspective, stating:

It would be troublesome but perhaps acceptable for the House of Saud to promote the intolerant and extremist Wahhabi creed just domestically. But, unfortunately, for decades the Saudis have also lavishly financed its propagation abroad. Exact numbers are not known, but it is thought that more than $100 billion have been spent on exporting fanatical Wahhabism to various much poorer Muslim nations worldwide over the past three decades. It might well be twice that number. By comparison, the Soviets spent about $7 billion spreading communism worldwide in the 70 years from 1921 and 1991.

The article also lays out the cause and effect between Saudi funding and the predictable terrorism, violence and instability that follows. Yousaf Butt concludes by aptly stating:

The House of Saud works against the best interests of the West and the Muslim world. Muslim communities worldwide certainly need to eradicate fanatical Wahhabism from their midst, but this will be difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish if the West continues its support of the House of Saud. The monarchy must be modernized and modified — or simply uprooted and replaced. The House of Saud needs a thorough house cleaning.

The United States under the administration of President Donald Trump just sealed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, following tens of billions of dollars of weapon deals under the previous administration of President Barack Obama, and in turn following a pattern of decades of military, political and economic support for the Persian Gulf state. Western support for the House of Saud appears to be fully intact and in no danger of changing any time soon.

The direct connection between terrorism ranging from Al Qaeda to the Islamic State and Saudi-funded indoctrination is clear. Yet US and European media organisations attempt to muddle the issue with unwarranted ambiguity.

New York Times articles like, “Saudis and Extremism: ‘Both the Arsonists and the Firefighters’,” go as far as stating:

Over the next four decades, in non-Muslim-majority countries alone, Saudi Arabia would build 1,359 mosques, 210 Islamic centers, 202 colleges and 2,000 schools. Saudi money helped finance 16 American mosques; four in Canada; and others in London, Madrid, Brussels and Geneva, according to a report in an official Saudi weekly, Ain al-Yaqeen. The total spending, including supplying or training imams and teachers, was “many billions” of Saudi riyals (at a rate of about four to a dollar), the report said.

And continues by stating:

That is the disputed question, of course: how the world would be different without decades of Saudi-funded shaping of Islam. Though there is a widespread belief that Saudi influence has contributed to the growth of terrorism, it is rare to find a direct case of cause and effect. For example, in Brussels, the Grand Mosque was built with Saudi money and staffed with Saudi imams. In 2012, according to Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, one Saudi preacher was removed after Belgian complaints that he was a “true Salafi” who did not accept other schools of Islam. And Brussels’ immigrant neighborhoods, notably Molenbeek, have long been the home of storefront mosques teaching hard-line Salafi views. 

After the terrorist attacks in Paris in November and in Brussels in March were tied to an Islamic State cell in Belgium, the Saudi history was the subject of several news media reports. Yet it was difficult to find any direct link between the bombers and the Saudi legacy in the Belgian capital.

Yet commonsense, when applied, takes into consideration the substantial intelligence networks and police states that exist across the European Union’s various members and the fact that in the aftermath of most recent terrorist attacks it is revealed that security services across Europe often had foreknowledge of suspects, their criminal backgrounds and activities as well as their ties to extremism both within their own communities in Europe and abroad upon battlefields in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.

It is well within the means of US and European intelligence and security agencies to establish a direct link between terrorism and Saudi funding. What is lacking is the political will to do so.


A Global Expeditionary Force That Goes Where Western Troops Cannot

It is clear that despite the New York Times attempting to make a connection between Saudi-funded indoctrination at mosques and madrasas and terrorism as ambiguous as possible, Saudi funding is the primary factor driving extremism and filling the ranks of terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Coupled with covert, indirect and direct military support when these extremists reach various battlefields around the world, Saudi-funded extremism represents what is essentially a mercenary expeditionary force, auxiliaries used in pursuit of modern day empire.

As witnessed in Libya and Syria, the purpose behind the United States and Europe supporting Saudi Arabia and turning an intentional blind-eye to its global network of extremist indoctrination and the terrorist organisations these networks feed into, is targeting and overthrowing governments the United States and Europe are incapable of overthrowing directly with military force.

Saudi-funded indoctrination filling the ranks of this virtual global mercenary force, can be used as a tool for regime change. Saudi-funded extremists were instrumental in overthrowing the Libyan government in 2011, and have led the fight to oust the Syrian government.

Saudi-funded indoctrination can also be a useful tool of geopolitical coercion, opening up opportunities for the US to sell a greater military presence in any given country targeted by Saudi-funded extremism.

In fact, the New York Times’ recent article, “In Indonesia and Philippines, Militants Find a Common Bond: ISIS,” hints as just such a motive in the Philippines, claiming:

Since the early 2000s, the United States has stationed military advisers in the southern Philippines to aid in the fight against Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic extremists. 

Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila, said that Mr. Duterte was under mounting pressure to address the crisis in his home island, Mindanao, and that he may need further assistance from Washington.

During a period when the Philippines finds itself pivoting away from the United States and toward Beijing and other regional allies, needing “further assistance from Washington” is a circumstance too convenient to be coincidental.

Considering how the US has used Saudi-funded extremism it has enabled elsewhere, there is need for concern not only in the Philippines, but across all of Asia regarding the Islamic State’s “sudden interest” in the region.

Asian Policymakers Only As Good As Their Sources 

As obvious as the truth behind the Islamic State’s presence and perpetuation in Asia seems to be, many policymakers, politicians and people in the media across Asia appear to be mesmerised by US and European headlines and intentionally misleading analysis.

Eagerly republishing and repeating these headlines and analysis, policy and media circles find themselves mired in a deepening swamp of delusion. Within this swamp of delusion they are exposing Asia to the same threat the MENA region is now facing.

For a variety of reasons, extremism was allowed to take root and spread in nations like Libya and Syria, where political deals and cooperation with the US and Europe led toward greater violence and destabilisation, not toward resolving the issue of extremism, terrorism and national or regional security.

Likewise in Asia, should the root of extremism and terrorism not be addressed, namely Saudi-funding and America’s and Europe’s aiding and abetting of the House of Saud, this threat will continue to be cultivated and leveraged by its creators at the cost of its Asian hosts.

While it may not be politically popular to openly expose, condemn and otherwise confront US-Saudi sponsored terrorism in fear of being ostracised from US-European media and policy circles, Asian policymakers, politicians and media should consider the fate of their MENA counterparts and the state of Libya and Syria now versus pre-2011 when there was still a chance to head off a regional humanitarian catastrophe.

The inability of Asian policymakers to clearly single out and deal with Saudi-funded, US-backed terrorism in the region allows political demagogues to play entire ethnic and religious groups off against one another, further compounding factors that fuel instability and even war. Coupled with socioeconomic factors, foreign interests seeking vectors into Asia to coerce, control or even overthrow regional governments have a wide variety of options to pick from.

Eliminating these options and closing the door to outside interference means that the Asian public must be fully and properly informed, and all forms of foreign funding and support, whether it be “schools” or nongovernmental organisations, should be called into question. It is clear that part of this process should include national and regional calls and mechanisms to end Saudi funding to organisations posing as charities, educational institutions and other fronts propagating divisive extremism.

Considering the fate of the MENA region, Asia may have only one chance to get this right. Those policymakers who prove themselves incapable of objective, truthful analysis and who find themselves simply helping along foreign interference should no longer be deferred to as policymakers, and perhaps take up a more appropriate title; lobbyists.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

VIDEO: Battle of Marawi: ISIS Trans-regional caliphate – OZ Analysis video map (May 30, 2017)

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:28 P.M.) – The Wahhabi terrorist internationale known as the Islamic State has spread its domain of armed occupation to the Philippine city of Marawi. On the 23rdof May, two Jihadist factions – the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf militia – operating on the Philippine island of Mindanao under the banner of ISIS launched a shock attack on Marawi, a predominately Muslim city of 220,000 people. The assault came about with the sudden uprising of a battalion-sized sleeper cell inside the city which sent government forces into total disarray. For the presentation to follow, OZ Analysis would like to thank Al-Masdar News Deputy CEO Chris Tomson for his cooperation – via personal communication – in the understanding of the military situation in Marawi, as an exceptionally informed source.
THIS NARRATION SCRIPT IS THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF OZ ANALYSIS

What began with the activation of some five hundred ISIS-linked sleeper troops in the area of the provincial jail and main police station resulted in the releasing of an unknown number of prisoners who will undoubtedly be recruited by the terrorist conglomerate and the capture and looting of the city’s main armoury. With this achieved, ISIS spread towards the centre of the city, laying siege to the Pakpak Hospital and the City Hall, and into the eastern suburbs, isolating the city harbour.
THIS NARRATION SCRIPT IS THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF OZ ANALYSIS

After a full day of gunfights, government forces (including both local police and the army) outnumbered and unable to consolidate any tenable positions in Marawi were driven in rout from the city. With the seizure of Marawi’s main infrastructures and the establishment of a number of checkpoints throughout the city, ISIS de facto conquered the rump of Marawi.

THIS NARRATION SCRIPT IS THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF OZ ANALYSIS

After consolidating itself over the main part of Marawi, ISIS forayed beyond the city limits, launching threatening attacks in the direction of the Mindanao State University and southwestern suburbs. Government forces were able to parry these attacks. However, ISIS did at some point establish a guerrilla-style presence in the countryside to the southwest of Marawi where it continues to harass the main communication line used by government forces with snipers and hit-and-run attacks. This has, to a degree, compromised the ability of government forces to reinforce and resupply their presence on the outskirts of the city. It also serves to demoralise government troops before they reach the frontlines around Marawi.

 

THIS NARRATION SCRIPT IS THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF OZ ANALYSIS

In recent days, government forces have regrouped and launched a counter-offensive into the western and southern sectors of Marawi. During this time airstrikes have been observed in and around the habour area. Whilst it must be said that overall disposition of government and ISIS forces within the city remains vague due to contradictory reports; what can be more or less confirmed is government forces have since liberated the Pakpak Hospital and the City Hall. No reports have appeared which indicate that the provincial jail or the police station have yet been retaken from ISIS and indeed these locations will likely become final strongpoints as ISIS is expunged from the city. Furthermore, it is possible that ISIS has either abandoned or been forced out of Marawi’s eastern suburbs. However, in the meantime, this analysis will assume that ISIS remains in the area until better information is available.

THIS NARRATION SCRIPT IS THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF OZ ANALYSIS

Overall, the last couple days has shown that government forces have recovered from the initial shock of the ISIS attack on Marawi and, through a series of containment actions and counterattacks, now appear to hold the strategic initiative in the battle for the city.

Related 

ISIS Touches Down in the Philippines

 

May 24, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Mayhem broke out across the southern Philippine city of Marawi where militants besieged it and hoisted flags of the so-called “Islamic State.” Located on the southern island of Mindanao, the city is only slightly removed from Al Qaeda affiliate Abu Sayaff’s primary area of operation on nearby Jolo and Basilan islands.

The UK Independent in an article titled, “Isis-linked militants take priest and churchgoers hostage in Philippines,” would report:

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the south because of the militants’ siege on the city on Tuesday and abandoned a trip to Russia to deal with the crisis. 

Mr Duterte vowed to place southern Mindanao island, where Marawi is situated, and its 22 million residents under military rule for up to a year if necessary.

The article would also report:

Troops are battling to contain dozens of militants from the Maute group, which pledged allegiance to Isis in 2015, after they escaped a botched security raid on a hideout and overran streets, bridges and buildings. 

Two soldiers and a police officer are among those killed and at least 12 people have been wounded in the violence, seeing Maute fighters set fire to a school, a church and a prison. 

The security crisis represents a seemingly inexplicable expansion of the Islamic State in Asia – even as the US and its allies claim the organization is being rolled back across the Middle East and its revenue streams are contracting in the wake of defeat.

US-Saudi Sponsored Terrorism Seeks to Coerce Asia 

Both the Maute group and Abu Sayaff are extensions of Al Qaeda’s global terror network, propped up by state sponsorship from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and fed recruits via a global network of likewise Saudi and Qatari funded “madrasas.” In turn, Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s state sponsorship of global terrorism for decades has been actively enabled by material and political support provided by the United States.

This arrangement provides for Washington both a global mercenary force with which to wage proxy war when conventional and direct military force cannot be used, and a pretext for direct US military intervention when proxy warfare fails to achieve Washington’s objectives.

This formula has been used in Afghanistan in the 1980s to successfully expel the Soviet Union, in 2011 to overthrow the Libyan government, and is currently being used in Syria where both proxy war and direct US military intervention is being applied.

Maute and Abu Sayaff activity fits into this global pattern perfectly.

The Philippines is one of many Southeast Asian states that has incrementally shifted from traditional alliances and dependency on the United States to regional neighbors including China, as well as Eurasian states including Russia.

The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, cancelling his meeting with Russia is a microcosm of the very sort of results Maute and Abu Sayaff are tasked with achieving in the Philippines. Attempts by the US to justify the presence of its troops in the Philippines as part of a wider strategy of encircling China with US military installations across Asia would also greatly benefit from the Islamic State “suddenly spreading” across the island nation.

Likewise, violence in Malaysia and Thailand are directly linked to this wider US-Saudi alliance, with violence erupting at each and every crucial juncture as the US is incrementally pushed out of the region. Indonesia has likewise suffered violence at the hands of the Islamic State, and even Myanmar is being threatened by Saudi-funded terrorism seeking to leverage and expand the ongoing Rohingya humanitarian crisis.

That US-Saudi sponsorship drives this terrorism, not the meager revenue streams of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, goes far in explaining why the terrorist organization is capable of such bold attacks in Southeast Asia even as Russia and Iranian backed Syrian troops extinguish it in the Middle East.

US-Saudi Links to Abu Sayaff and other Terrorists in the Philippines 

A US diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks dated 2005 would state:

Philippine officials noted their continuing concern about Saudi-origin terrorist financing coming into the Philippines under the cover of donations to mosques, orphanages, and madrassahs. Although three Saudi nationals suspected of being couriers had been detained on separate occasions, Saudi Ambassador Wali had intervened in each case to secure their release.

Yousaf Butt of the Washington-based US National Defense University would reveal in a Huffington Post article titled, “How Saudi Wahhabism Is the Fountainhead of Islamist Terrorism,” that:

It would be troublesome but perhaps acceptable for the House of Saud to promote the intolerant and extremist Wahhabi creed just domestically. But, unfortunately, for decades the Saudis have also lavishly financed its propagation abroad. Exact numbers are not known, but it is thought that more than $100 billion have been spent on exporting fanatical Wahhabism to various much poorer Muslim nations worldwide over the past three decades. It might well be twice that number. By comparison, the Soviets spent about $7 billion spreading communism worldwide in the 70 years from 1921 and 1991.

The leaked cable and reports by Western analysts when taken together, reveal that Saudi-funded madrasas in the Philippines are directly fueling terrorism there.

The answer to why is simple.

For the same purposes the US used Saudi-funded terrorism in Afghanistan in the 1980s and in Libya and Syria beginning in 2011 – the US is using Saudi-funded terrorism to coerce the government of the Philippines amid Washington’s faltering “pivot to Asia” which began under US President Barack Obama and now continues under President Trump.

Countering US-Saudi Sponsored Terrorism 

With US President Trump announcing a US-Saudi alliance against terrorism – the US has managed to strategically misdirect public attention away from global terrorism’s very epicenter and protect America’s premier intermediaries in fueling that terrorism around the world.

The Philippines would be unwise to turn to this “alliance” for help in fighting terrorism both the US and Saudi Arabia are directly and intentionally fueling.

Instead – for Southeast Asia – joint counter-terrorism efforts together and with China and Russia would ensure a coordinated and effective means of confronting this threat on multiple levels.

By exposing the US-Saudi role in regional terrorism – each and every act of terrorism and militancy would be linked directly to and subsequently taint the US and Saudi Arabia in the hearts and minds of Southeast Asia’s population.

This paves the way for a process of exposing and dismantling US-Saudi funded fronts – including Saudi-sponsored madrasas and US-funded NGOs – both  of which feed into regional extremism and political subversion. As this unfolds, each respective nation would be required to invest in genuine local institutions to fill sociopolitical and economic space previously occupied by these foreign funded fronts.

Until then, Asia should expect the US and its Saudi partners to continue leveraging terrorism against the region. If unchecked, Asia should likewise expect the same progress-arresting instability that has mired the Middle East and North Africa for decades.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

ISIS in the Philippines–Christians Taken Hostage

It seems ISIS-affiliated terror groups have launched a major attack in the Philippines, on the southern island of Mindanao. President Rodrigo Duterte has invoked martial law on the entire island and sent in government troops, and reports have been coming out of pitched battles, particularly in the city of Marawi.

“But the government troops were surprised when they encountered a 100-strong Maute force armed with high-powered weapons”–so reports the New York Times today. The Philippine Maute terror group, also known as the Islamic State of Lanao, is affiliated with ISIS. Coincidentally, it seems the group has now acquired high-powered weaponry it didn’t possess before.

The attack comes, coincidentally, as Duterte has moved to align the Philippines toward Russia and China, and even–also coincidentally–as Duterte was on a state visit to Russia, no less! A lot of coincidences there for a coincidence theorist, but if you are among those who still retain normal cognitive abilities, it would appear that the US has launched a regime change operation in the Philippines.

Coincidentally, the mainstream media have been attacking Duterte for his anti-drug campaign, and coincidentally also NGOs like Human Rights Watch have been chiming in, and coincidentally as well, the attack comes mere days after Duterte gave this interview with RT:

The US needs to quit trying to boss the rest of the world around, and above all else it needs to get out of the regime-change business. The National Endowment for Democracy should be de-funded and dismantled. But I don’t see any of this happening until some sort of radical change takes place in the United States–and it doesn’t look like we can expect any radical changes coming out of the Trump administration.

Not-so-coincidentally, the terrorists have reportedly taken a priest and several parishioners hostage. Father Chito Suganob and others were in the Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians when members of the Maute fighting group forced their way into the Cathedral, taking with them Father Chito and others as hostages,” a statement on the official website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said.

Undated photo of Catholic Church in the city of Marawi, Mindanao Island, in the Philippines.

According to a report here:

Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña said he received a call last night from one of the militants, who introduced himself as “a member of the ISIS”, and demanded for a “unilateral ceasefire”.

“They want a ceasefire and for the military to give them access out of Marawi. Otherwise, they will kill the hostages,” Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña said.

The prelate said the call was made shortly before 8pm on Tuesday using the phone of his secretary who is among the hostages.

Members of the Maute group forced their way into the church and the bishop’s residence yesterday, and took with them Fr. Chito Suganob, some staff of the cathedral and churchgoers.

Dela Peña said the hostages are being used as “human shield” by the militants.

Odd isn’t it–that the US, which once held at least the trappings of being a Christian nation, now supports terrorists who attack Christians.

While the fate of the Christians is unknown, RT is reporting that government troops have rescued 78 hostages from a hospital in Marawi, as well as 42 others from a school:

Government forces managed to rescue 78 civilians from the Amai Pakpak Medical Center where the terrorists tried to use them as human shields as the army moved in, Western Mindanao Command chief, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., said according to the PhilStar daily.

The troops also secured 42 teachers who had taken refuge and got trapped at Dansalan College after the city was engulfed in violence.

In a report published today, the New York Times calls the battle on the southern island a “test for Duterte.” Not surprisingly, the article includes a quote from Human Rights Watch:

Mr. Duterte’s “casual reference to the late dictator should be especially alarming,” said James Ross of Human Rights Watch, which is based in New York.

And it also gives publicity to opposition politicians:

Already, several lawmakers have voiced concern, with the opposition leader Francis Pangilinan vowing to “vigorously oppose a nationwide martial law declaration.”

“While there may be isolated terrorist acts in these areas, there exists no Visayas-wide nor a Luzon-wide invasion or rebellion to merit a declaration of martial law,” Mr. Pangilinan said, referring to the president’s threat to expand military rule to the central and northern islands to cover the entire country.

It is a familiar playbook, and it seems to be in play now in the Philippines.

“The Coup d’état Has Begun Which Will Divide America” [X22Report]

Source

There is a special investigator to investigate the Russian collusion fantasy. ~/~ Trump responds and says he has nothing to hide. ~/~ On May 3rd, Comey admits that there was no obstruction of justice and nobody asked him to stop the investigation. ~/~ 60% of the positions in government have been filled by Obama. ~/~ The deep state is dividing the US and they are pushing their agenda to remove Trump. ~/~ Venezuela crisis is worsening and the deep state wants to interfere via the UN. ~/~ Trump and South Korea agree that they would talk to Kim Jong Un. ~/~ Trump advisers want 50,000 troops in Afghanistan. ~/~ US coalition forces violate the de-escalation zone and fire upon the Syrian Army. ~/~ There is another piece of malware that is worse than wannacry.

All source links to the report can be found on the x22report.com site

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