Saturday, July 13, 2013

Back to Iraq

The poor State Department spokeswoman.  She was grilled mercilessly by the press corpse today in her daily briefing, about Snowden, Egypt and Syria, the latter mainly to do with the delay in lethal aid president Obama pledged to provide to "change the calculus".  Remember?   Anyway, in the context of the discussion this internecine killing within the rebel forces was mentioned:
“The Islamic State phoned me saying that they killed Abu Bassir and that they will kill all of the Supreme Military Council,” a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, Qassem Saadeddine, told the Reuters news agency, referring to the FSA executive body.
“We are going to wipe the floor with them,” a rebel commander who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Reuters.
They are supposed to be allies.  No wonder Jay Carney can rail on and on about the Senate holding up the president's judicial nominees (with Harry Reid threatening a 'nuclear option' to change the rules) but when given a chance yesterday expressed zero outrage about the snag on lethal aid held up in Congress.   We are giving weapons to who? 

Let's face it, no-bluff Obama backed himself into a corner by drawing a red line in Syria he was later forced to uphold after they called his bluff, so he's tried to get out of it by first sending out obscure staffers to announce the details--well, other than detailing what we're actually providing, which is mysteriously now held up in Congress while the rebels are getting their asses kicked and the Russians are parading around Snowden.  A real "game changer" indeed. 
One of the few real reporters left in America, AP's Matt Lee, asked the State spokeswoman yesterday to comment on a WaPo op-ed assessment of US policy in Syria described as 'feckless'; she unsurprisingly disagreed, however when asked if there were any metrics that might show progress she came up smilingly blank.  They have apparently given up on saying Bashar Assad's 'days are numbered' now as well.  Add that to the knot they've tied themselves into trying to pretend there wasn't a coup in Egypt and it's a wonder any of them can sleep. 

As to the "Islamic State of Iraq", the Free Syrians basically called them a group who used religion to perpetrate murder and crime.  Interesting, since Saddam's old number two Izzat al-Duri (number one on Iraq's most-wanted list) has variously been tied to AQ and insurgent thugs over the years when he wasn't playing dead.  He's very much alive and still causing trouble around the country, trying to bring back the Ba'ath.  And he's never hesitated to make friends with the Islamists if it furthered his goals, even going back to the Saddam days.   Take this report from the Iranian FARS news with the grain of salt it deserves, but it's interesting nonetheless:
Early last month, informed sources told FNA that the innocent people killed in the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo in Northwestern Syria were the victims of the chemical weapons supplied to the terrorists by a Saddam-era General working under head of the now outlawed Ba'ath party Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.
"The chemical weapons used in the attack on Khan al-Assal area had been prepared by former Iraqi Military Industries Brigadier General Adnan al-Dulaimi and supplied to Ba'ath-affiliated terrorists of the Nusra Front in Aleppo through Turkey's cooperation and via the Turkish town of Antakya in Hatay Province," an informed source, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of his life, told FNA on April 6.
The idea that al-Duri has access to a stash of chemical weapons to hand the rebels would be real bombshell--it's basically what Bush said he fought the Iraq war to stop.  The Iranians (and of course the Russians) both have reason to blame the rebels or simply make up crap about them since they are at war against them, but the tie-in of Izzat is a nice touch since the Shiite government of Iraq is probably aligned and al-Duri is one of Maliki's prime enemies.

But just imagine if evidence could be found to tie a former Saddam henchman to actual Saddam-era WMDs, being provided to AQ linked jihadies to kill civilians in Syria.  And how that might affect Obama.    

At any rate, the possibility of the United States actually indirectly arming Islamic State factions, even if it's part of an effort to help take out Assad, is nauseating. But it represents just another day in the Middle East. It's why Obama should have kept quiet on Syria all along.  The public doesn't care and won't care until another attack occurs here. Besides, he's showing himself to be a lousier poker player than advertised.  Unless this is all part of the awesome grand plan. 

While such foreign policy stumbles would likely ruin any other president Obama's salvation lies with his friendlies in the US media, who aside from a few are not breaking any legs reporting about Syria right now.   In a real world they would be demanding a prime-time press conference to explain WMD use and what our lethal aid involvement might mean, but the closest the Times can get is to lament that Obama never does Oval Office speeches anymore (but hey, it's just a sign of the times).  So let's everyone get back to talking about Zimmerman.  

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