Monthly Archives: November 2014

There Have Been Real Achievements In Afghanistan, But Leaving Puts Them At Risk

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 22, 2014

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Since President Obama’s 2009 announcement of a ‘surge’ in Afghanistan that simultaneously announced the date of withdrawal, the western focus in Afghanistan has shifted to the exits.

The steady drizzle of bad news since then has reinforced this sense that it’s over, we’ve had enough and we’re leaving.

American and British troops quit Helmand in late October, basically ceding it to Taliban control. On Tuesday John Sopko, the head of the American auditor mechanism (SIGAR) said that efforts to promote economic growth in Afghanistan have ‘accomplished nothing.’ Continue reading

Russian Propaganda and Western Self-Respect

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 17, 2014

Abby Martin and George Galloway: Both host conspiracy-laden shows on RT

Abby Martin and George Galloway: Both host conspiracy-laden shows on RT

While having lunch on Saturday I got stuck for fifteen minutes in a room where the television was tuned to Russia’s English-language propaganda station, RT, formerly Russia Today. I once saw James Kirchick write that “after 20 minutes of watching RT … I did what any sensible person would do: turned RT off.” I conclude from this that he is a much braver man than I. Continue reading

A Word of Caution on Reports of Reconciliation Between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 15, 2014

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

There have been reports this week that Jabhat an-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, has agreed to a truce with the Islamic State (I.S.), under which they will focus on common enemies—namely the rebels, the Kurds, and the Americans—but there are reasons to doubt these reports. Continue reading

Obama Won’t Help Rescue Syria’s Revolution: He Has Given Syria To Iran

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 14, 2014

Bashar az-Zoubi

Bashar az-Zoubi

Reuters reports that since al-Qaeda in Syria has gravely weakened the nationalist rebels on the Northern Front, an effort is afoot to shift the focus for bolstering moderate insurrectionists to the south, namely Bashar az-Zoubi, his Liwa al-Yarmouk, and the wider “Southern Front”.
Continue reading

Working On Weapons of Mass Destruction For the Iranian Axis Is A Dangerous Job

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 11, 2014

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On Sunday night, five “nuclear energy engineers who worked in the scientific research centre near … Barzeh,” Damascus, were killed when their bus was ambushed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. One of the engineers is believed to be Iranian technician. Whether they were killed by gun-fire or by a bomb is unclear.

The research centre referred to is the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), and this event has an analogue in Syria: At the end of July 2013, a rebel mortar shell hit a bus carrying staff from the SSRC in Barzeh, killing six and injuring nineteen.

The SSRC is located in Jamraya in Mount Qassioun, five miles above Barzeh. The SSRC is entwined with Syria’s military-intelligence apparatus—which is to say the people running Syria before the war—and is responsible for research and production of “nuclear, biological, chemical, and missile-related technology.” Continue reading

How Dictators Manipulate Jihadists To Defeat The Opposition

aBy Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 9, 2014

Smain Lamari (1941-2007)

Smain Lamari (1941-2007)

This Arab regime claims to be a one-party system but in reality a small Mafia-like cabal of military and intelligence officers have dispensed power for decades. Finally a democratic challenge erupts; people take to the streets demanding first reforms and, when the regime responds with pseudo-reforms and lethal violence, the fall of the government. Eventually the people fight back and an armed struggle breaks out. The regime builds its strategy around provocation, arresting and killing the liberals and democrats, infiltrating the insurgent groups and having the extremists attack the moderates, directing infiltrated groups to commit atrocities that discredit the whole insurgency, and using Iran’s international terrorist networks to lure Salafi-jihadists into the country who can help discredit the opposition’s cause in the eyes of the world. By presenting a binary picture—the regime or a terrorist takeover—the state tries to secure at least tacit support, if not direct intervention, from the West to defeat the insurgency.

No I’m not talking about Syria. This is Algeria. Continue reading

Is There Anyone Who Still Denies Obama’s Iran Strategy Is Détente?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on November 7, 2014

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I’ve set out the evidence at length that President Obama’s apparently haphazard and hesitant policy in the Middle East is in fact driven by one, conscious, overriding intention: rapprochement with Clerical Iran. Yesterday, I pointed out that the Syrian rebellion was being left to fight alone in its struggle with al-Qaeda because the administration never had any intention of seriously supporting a moderate opposition that could be a credible alternative to the Assad regime (Iran) and the Salafi-jihadists; in Obama’s New Middle East, Syria would be an Iranian sphere of influence.

Those points rather sharpened a few hours after yesterday’s post went up. Continue reading