John R. Bolton writes: For years, experts worried that the Middle East would face an uncontrollable nuclear-arms race if Iran ever acquired weapons capability. Given the region’s political, religious and ethnic conflicts, the logic is straightforward.
“Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident.”
As in other nuclear proliferation cases like India, Pakistan and North Korea, America and the West were guilty of inattention when they should have been vigilant. But failing to act in the past is no excuse for making the same mistakes now. All presidents enter office facing the cumulative effects of their predecessors’ decisions. But each is responsible for what happens on his watch. President Obama’s approach on Iran has brought a bad situation to the brink of catastrophe.
“Now the arms race has begun: Neighboring countries are moving forward, driven by fears that Mr. Obama’s diplomacy is fostering a nuclear Iran.”
In theory, comprehensive international sanctions, rigorously enforced and universally adhered to, might have broken the back of Iran’s nuclear program. But the sanctions imposed have not met those criteria. Naturally, Tehran wants to be free of them, but the president’s own director of National Intelligence testified in 2014 that they had not stopped Iran’s progressing its nuclear program. There is now widespread acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged that Iran’s weapons program was halted in 2003, was an embarrassment, little more than wishful thinking.
“There is now widespread acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged that Iran’s weapons program was halted in 2003, was an embarrassment, little more than wishful thinking.”
Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident. Now the arms race has begun: Neighboring countries are moving forward, driven by fears that Mr. Obama’s diplomacy is fostering a nuclear Iran. Saudi Arabia, keystone of the oil-producing monarchies, has long been expected to move first. No way would the Sunni Saudis allow the Shiite Persians to outpace them in the quest for dominance within Islam and Middle Eastern geopolitical hegemony. Read the rest of this entry »
Time Magazine Parody cover by punditfromanotherplanet
From Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey:
Just how badly has Barack Obama and his administration damaged relations with our allies in the Middle East? NBC’s Richard Engel reports that the Sunni nations in the region have begun to fear that the Obama administration leaks intel to Iran as part of its efforts at rapprochement with the mullahs, which is why the US got blindsided by the Saudi-led coalition’s operations in Yemen. The White House’s “incoherence” in policy, Engel reports, has most of them losing confidence in American leadership, according to Engel’s contacts. (via Free Beacon):
Initially, this looked like material for an update on my earlier post regarding the Saudi-GCC coalition and its decision to work around Obama, but it deserves its own thread for a couple of reasons. First, Engel reported this for NBC, and on MSNBC, the “Lean Forward” cable channel that usually acts as a clearinghouse for Barack Obama apologists (and the occasional slam on Middle America). Engel’s not among the apologists; he’s a first-class foreign correspondent whose reports follow no partisan agenda, and whose sources have usually provided him with highly accurate reporting.
More importantly, Engel’s report advances this to an allegation of betrayal, not just incompetence. Clearly, Saudi Arabia has little confidence left in the Obama administration; that much is evident from their actions to cut the US out of the loop on this coalition. Read the rest of this entry »
Obama doesn’t take the Iranian chant seriously. He should.
Mona Charen writes: Maybe I’m too sensitive, but when a foreign autocrat leads his people in chants of “Death to America,” I take it personally.
President Obama and Secretary Kerry apparently don’t. The chant, which became a staple of the Islamic Republic during the 1979 revolution, is not a relic of the past. Just last weekend, at a rally in Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was interrupted by the chant as he was denouncing American “lies” and “arrogance.” He smiled and responded, “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.”
Some in Iran have said that during negotiations over a nuclear deal, Iranians should downplay the “Death to America” chant, common after Friday prayers and at political rallies. But the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) rejects this advice, insisting, according to the semi-official Fars news agency, that the United States “is still the great Satan and the number-one enemy of the [Islamic] revolution, and the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation.”
Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark,) responded bluntly: “When someone chants, ‘Yes, certainly, death to America,’ we should take him at his word, and we shouldn’t put him on the path to a nuclear bomb.”
We are left to wonder at the equanimity high-ranking members of this administration show toward the unyielding hostility of the Iranian regime. Read the rest of this entry »
How can the U.S. hope to keep tabs on Tehran’s nuclear program when we can’t even track its oil tankers?
Ms. Rosett is journalist in residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and heads its Investigative Reporting Project.
Claudia Rosett writes: American negotiators and their cohorts are trying to close a deal that would let Iran keep its nuclear program, subject to intricate conditions of monitoring and enforcement. Yet how is a deal like that supposed to be verified? The Obama administration can’t even keep up with the Iran-linked oil tankers on the U.S. blacklist.
Currently, there are at least 55 of these tankers the Treasury Department says are under U.S. sanctions. These are large ships, major links in the oil chain that sustains the Tehran regime, many of them calling at ports from Turkey to China. They are easier to spot and track than, say, smuggled nuclear parts (which, in a pinch, they could potentially squeeze on board).
“Typical of Iran’s shrouded tanker fleet is the blacklisted ship called the Sinopa, previously named the Superior and before that, the Daisy. Since early 2014, the Sinopa has visited India and China. It has also made multiple trips from Iran to Turkey, via the Suez Canal, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence shipping database, the main source of ship-tracking data for this article.”
But Iran has engaged for years in what Treasury called “deceptive practices” to dodge sanctions. These include trying to mask the identities, and sometimes the smuggling activities, of its blacklisted ships by renaming them, reflagging them to other countries, veiling their ownership behind front companies, presenting false documents, and engaging in illicit ship-to-ship oil transfers.
“Judging by Treasury’s blacklist, the Sinopa—which Treasury still describes under her previous name of Superior—has done all of this under no identified flag. Why not—what is she hiding? The Treasury refuses to comment on specific cases.”
The result, according to information on Treasury’s publicly available blacklist, is that the U.S. government cannot establish under what flag at least 31 of these tankers are doing business. They can be identified by their unique seven-digit hull numbers, or IMO numbers, issued for the life of each ship. But a ship’s flag also is a vital identifier, one under which it signals its position, carries cargo and presents credentials to visit ports, buy insurance and pay fees. On Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals list, which helps ensure global compliance with U.S. sanctions, in the category of “flag” for these 31 tankers Treasury states: “none identified.”
Under terms of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action that frames the Iran nuclear talks, the U.S. does grant temporary waivers for a handful of places to buy Iranian oil in limited quantities: Turkey, India, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. This means that some activities of these tankers may be legitimate. Read the rest of this entry »
Americans say move reflects failure of Iranian-backed forces to retake area from insurgents
The offensive to retake the city has been stalled for more than a week and American officials on Wednesday said they began the strikes after the Iraqi government formally requested help. The U.S. in recent days began providing video feeds and other intelligence to Iraqi forces, drawing the Americans into closer coordination with Iranian-allied Shiite militias spearheading the campaign.
The U.S. intervention is a blow to Iran, which has played a major role in commanding the Shiite militias and has also supplied weapons. Those militias account for about 20,000 of the 30,000-strong force involved in the operation.
U.S. officials said the difficulty in Tikrit exposed the weakness of Iranian support for Iraq’s government, adding that they hope to use those difficulties to drive a wedge between Iraq and Iran.
“Tikrit shows the complete failure by Iran to produce results on the ground,” said a senior U.S. official.
Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been assisting the Iraqi force, including planning help, artillery fire and other combat support. But Pentagon officials said the IRGC effort has produced little in the way of results for Iraqi forces.
The U.S. and allied warplanes struck between six and 10 targets in Tikrit, according to Pentagon officials, including the palace that Islamic State militants have been using as their headquarters. The buildings struck were all preselected targets that U.S. surveillance planes have been tracking for several days, officials said.
American officials held open the option that moving targets could be targeted in future strikes. Defense officials said they were working only with the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces, not Shiite militias or Iranian forces. Read the rest of this entry »
Saudi ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir announced the military operation in a news conference in Washington. He said his government had consulted closely with the U.S. and other allies but that the U.S. military was not involved in the operations.
The White House said in a statement late Wednesday that the U.S. was coordinating military and intelligence support with the Saudis but not taking part directly in the strikes.
Other regional players were involved in the Saudi operation: The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain joined Saudi Arabia in a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency, saying they would answer a request from Hadi “to protect Yemen and his dear people from the aggression of the Houthi militias which were and are still a tool in the hands of foreign powers that don’t stop meddling with the security and stability of brotherly Yemen.” Oman, the sixth member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, didn’t sign onto the statement.
Egypt also announced political and military support. “There is coordination ongoing now with Saudi Arabia and the brotherly gulf countries about preparations to participate with an Egyptian air and naval forces and ground troops if necessary,” it said in a statement carried by the state news agency.
Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan were also joining the operation, the Saudi Press Agency reported Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »
Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir says the operations began at 7 p.m. Eastern time.
He says the Houthis, widely believed to be backed by Iran, “have always chosen the path of violence.” He declined to say whether the Saudi campaign involved U.S. intelligence assistance.
Al-Jubeir made the announcement at a rare news conference by the Sunni kingdom.
He says the Saudis “will do anything necessary” to protect the people of Yemen and “the legitimate government of Yemen.” Read the rest of this entry »
In a statement ABC’s Jon Karl found “astounding,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest continued to call the United States’s activities in Yemen as a “model” for counter-terrorism — even as the Arabic nation’s government collapses and international terrorist groups move in.
“The White House does continue to believe that a successful counter-terrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground to take the fight to extremists in their own country. That is a template that has succeeded in mitigating the threat that we face from extremists in place like Yemen and Somalia.”
As al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula gained power in Yemen’s north over the past few years, the Obama administration responded with a relatively hands-off approach. The U.S. government helped build up, support and train government forces fighting the terrorists while providing air reconnaissance and, occasionally, drone strikes against high-value targets in the country.
It was a plan that the Obama administration frequently held up as a successful example of U.S. counter-terrorism strategy. But as Shi’ite Houthi rebels continue to drive the Yemeni government from power, and fighters from the al-Qaida and the Islamic State conduct terrorist attacks and consolidate their forces, many have called the American strategy to help stabilize the nation fundamentally flawed. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael J. Totten reports: Suicide-bombers killed at least 137 people and wounded more than 350 in Yemen at two Shia mosques in the capital city of Sanaa on Friday. The very next day, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula seized control of the city of al-Houta, and the day after that, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel movement conquered parts of Taiz, the nation’s third-largest city. Rival militias are battling for control of the international airport in the coastal city of Aden, and the US government just announced that American troops are evacuating Al Anad airbase.
ISIS is taking credit for the Sanaa attacks. “Infidel Houthis should know that the soldiers of the Islamic State will not rest,” it said, “until they eradicate them and cut off the arm of the Safavid (Iranian) plan in Yemen.” Al Qaeda has a much larger footprint in Yemen, so the ISIS claim is a little bit dubious, but ISIS is on the rise there and its attitude toward Shia Muslims is more bloodthirsty—more explicitly genocidal as the quote above shows—than Al Qaeda’s.
Regardless of who committed the latest round of atrocities, everything in Yemen is about to become much, much worse. The region-wide storm of sectarian hatred has been gathering strength by the year for more than a decade, and it blew the roof off Yemen earlier this year when the Houthis, who are Shias, seized control of the capital and sent Sunni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi into semi-exile in Aden.
[Order Michael J. Totten‘s book “Tower of the Sun: Stories from the Middle East and North Africa” from Amazon.com]
The Houthis see their takeover of the city and government institutions as a natural progression of the revolution in 2011 that toppled former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but it isn’t, not really. While they enjoy some backing beyond their Shia support base, the sectarian dimension is inescapable. Shias make up almost half the population, and the Sunni majority is keenly aware that minorities in the Middle East are capable of seizing power and lording it over everyone else—especially if they’re sponsored by a regional mini superpower like Iran. Syria has been ruled by the Iranian-backed Alawite minority for decades, and Saddam Hussein used brute force to bring the Sunni minority to power in Iraq.
Still, the Houthis have virtually no chance of ruling the entire country. Their “territory,” so to speak, is restricted to the northwestern region surrounding the capital. Previous governments had a rough go of it too. South Yemen was a communist state—the so-called People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen—until the Soviet Union finally ruptured, and four years after unification with North Yemen, the armed forces of each former half declared war on each other. Read the rest of this entry »
HOAX: ‘Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Has Issued a Fatwa Against the Development of Nuclear Weapons’Posted: March 22, 2015
Why the Phantom Fatwa?
I wrote about President Obama’s March 19 statement on the Persian new yearin “Our Supreme Leader is a Supreme Fool.” In the statement Obama asserted: “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has said that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon.”
It Doesn’t Exist
The fatwa, however, doesn’t exist. It has never been seen. As Andrew McCarthy explains, the fatwa is a patent hoax. Andy writes (emphasis in original): “The invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has done extensive research into compilations of Khamenei’s published fatwas…No such fatwa has ever been published.” Andy links to MEMRI’s two 2013 posts in search of the fatwa in the omitted sentence.
In a post at the Weekly Standard, Tom Joscelyn now simply asks of these gentlemen to whom the protection of our national security has been entrusted: “Produce the fatwa.” This is a perfectly reasonable request.
We heard the incessant yammering of the left about President Bush’s scrupulously accurate “16 words” in the 2003 State of the Union Address. The deal the Obama administration is about to produce with the Islamic Republic is enormously consequential. Obama and Kerry would have us believe that the fatwa they cite carries some significant weight in their case, otherwise why the repeated references to it? Yet it doesn’t exist. Read the rest of this entry »
Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called for “Death to America” on Saturday, a day after President Barack Obama appealed to Iran to seize a “historic opportunity” for a nuclear deal and a better future, and as US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed substantial progress toward an accord.
Khamenei told a crowd in Tehran that Iran would not capitulate to Western demands. When the crowd started shouting, “Death to America,” the ayatollah responded: “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.
“They insist on putting pressure on our dear people’s economy,” he said, referring to economic sanctions aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program. “What is their goal? Their goal is to put the people against the system,” he said. “The politics of America is to create insecurity,” he added, referring both to US pressure on Iran and elsewhere in the region.
Khamenei’s comments contrasted with those of Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who said “achieving a deal is possible” by the March 31 target date for a preliminary accord.
Kerry was more circumspect, as he spoke to reporters after six days of negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne. The talks, made “substantial progress,” he said, but “important gaps remain.
“We have an opportunity to get this right,” Kerry said, as he urged Iran to make “fundamental decisions” that prove to the world it has no interest in atomic weapons.
But Khamenei warned against expectations that even a done deal would mend the more than three-decade freeze between the two nations in place since the Iranian revolution and siege of the American Embassy, proclaiming that Washington and Tehran remained on opposite sides on most issues.
“Negotiations with America are solely on the nuclear issue and nothing else. Everyone has to know that,” Khamenei said.
In a reflection of the delicate state of negotiations, other officials differed on how close the sides were to a deal.
Top Russian negotiator Sergey Ryabkov and Iran’s atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi said in recent days that technical work was nearly done. But French officials insisted the sides were far from any agreement. Read the rest of this entry »
Pentagon Official: ‘Even in the Best-Case Scenario in an Unstable Country We Never Have 100 Percent Accountability’Posted: March 21, 2015
Pentagon Loses Track of $500 Million in Weapons, Equipment Given to Yemen
Craig Whitlock reports: The Pentagon is unable to account for more than $500 million in U.S. military aid given to Yemen, amid fears that the weaponry, aircraft and equipment is at risk of being seized by Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials.
With Yemen in turmoil and its government splintering, the Defense Department has lost its ability to monitor the whereabouts of small arms, ammunition, night-vision goggles, patrol boats, vehicles and other supplies donated by the United States. The situation has grown worse since the United States closed its embassy in Sanaa, the capital, last month and withdrew many of its military advisers.
In recent weeks, members of Congress have held closed-door meetings with U.S. military officials to press for an accounting of the arms and equipment. Pentagon officials have said that they have little information to go on and that there is little they can do at this point to prevent the weapons and gear from falling into the wrong hands.
“We have to assume it’s completely compromised and gone,” said a legislative aide on Capitol Hill who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
U.S. military officials declined to comment for the record. A defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the Pentagon, said there was no hard evidence that U.S. arms or equipment had been looted or confiscated. But the official acknowledged that the Pentagon had lost track of the items.
“Even in the best-case scenario in an unstable country, we never have 100 percent accountability,” the defense official said.
Yemen’s government was toppled in January by Shiite Houthi rebels who receive support from Iran and have strongly criticized U.S. drone strikes in Yemen. The Houthis have taken over many Yemeni military bases in the northern part of the country, including some in Sanaa that were home to U.S.-trained counterterrorism units. Other bases have been overrun by fighters from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
As a result, the Defense Department has halted shipments to Yemen of about $125 million in military hardware that were scheduled for delivery this year, including unarmed ScanEagle drones, other types of aircraft and Jeeps. That equipment will be donated instead to other countries in the Middle East and Africa, the defense official said. Read the rest of this entry »
A.B. Sanderson reports: He may have managed to find a few of his favourite Ferrero-Rocher chocolates, but from his twitter account it seems that former Morrisons security guard turned jihadi is not being spoiled.
Omar Hussein, who left home where he lived with his mother, his having real difficulty living the life of a jihadi fighter – struggling even to take care of his personal admin let alone join front line fighters in trying to bring about a repressive, violent Islamic caliphate, the Daily Mail reports.
“Chocolate can do wonders when ur feeling lonely, lol.”
– Omar Hussein
His social media timeline demonstrates that while others are engaged in a fight to the death in the terrorist occupied lands, Hussain is struggling to even wash his own clothes and admits in one tweet it took him almost an hour to peel potatoes for his dinner.
The hapless Hussein moaned that he was too tired after his monumental task of peeling tatties to even chop them:
The updates show a bored, lonely man who doesn’t go anywhere near the front line, but just scrounges off the others.
He has shown off his attempts at cooking, saying he was ‘what the Oxford dictionary defines as, a Chef! Tuk! (sic) before posting a photo of some brown slop and telling his followers is took him 27 minutes to make two servings.
Most recently he has struggled washing his clothes, saying he gets flustered when it begins to rain and his washing is still out on the line.
But it’s not all domestic drudgery: he has also posted a picture of a local gym he once visited as well as photos of himself sunbathing by a pool in Syria.
And the chocaholic was delighted when he managed to find himself a Ferrero-rocher, saying ‘chocolate can do wonders when ur feeling lonely, lol. And he was delighted when he managed to secure himself a packet of jaffa cakes, saying he hadn’t had one in a year. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Iran’s President Boasted of Deceiving West Over Nuclear program in Pre-Election Remarks — Why Wasn’t He Punished?Posted: March 21, 2015
(But By All Means, Yes, Let’s Continue to Punish Israel)
Just as Obama wants to use the UN as a forum to punish an ally for pre-election comments made by its leader, Obama is eager to negotiate a nonbinding ‘executive’ agreement with a long-time enemy so he can bypass Congress and instead seek to codify the deal through the United Nations. This despite the rhetoric that’s been coming out of Iran for decades. Talk about moral bankruptcy.
Philip Klein reports: In recent days, the news has been dominated by stories of President Obama’s plans to punish Israel over comments that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made in the run-up to his successful campaign for re-election.
In a phone call between the two leaders on Thursday, “The president told the prime minister that we will need to reassess our options following the prime minister’s new positions and comments regarding the two-state solution,” a White House official told Reuters.
“The Tehran Declaration was supposed to outline the resolutions and suspensions. We didn’t allow it. We only halted the gas supply for those 10 centrifuges in Natanz.”
– Hassan Rouhani
Operatively, that means removing traditional U.S. protection of Israel at the United Nations.
The remark that evidently prompted this reassessment had to do with comments that Netanyahu made with regard to establishing a Palestinian state. As John Podhoretz and others have noted, it was pretty clear from Netanyahu’s comments that he wasn’t ruling out a Palestinian state ever — he was just talking about how it would be naive to think that one can be established under the current circumstances.
“Do you know when heavy water was developed? Summer of 2004. Do you know when we developed yellowcake? Winter 2004. Do you know when the number of centrifuges reached 3,000? Winter 2004.”
His actual statement was, “I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands is giving attack grounds to radical Islam against the state of Israel.” The word “today” is quite important.
Netanyahu has made this distinction clear in subsequent interviews, but that still hasn’t altered Obama’s determination to punish an ally.
“We halted the nuclear program? We were the ones to complete it!”
– Hassan Rouhani
This is a striking difference from how the White House has treated Iran. In the lead up to his 2013 election victory, Hassan Rouhani gave an interview in which he pushed back against the suggestion that as Iran’s nuclear negotiator during the 2003 to 2005, the program was suspended under international pressure. Read the rest of this entry »
Here are the five areas that require amendment
1. Muhammad’s semi-divine status, along with the literalist reading of the Quran.
Muhammad should not be seen as infallible, let alone as a source of divine writ. He should be seen as a historical figure who united the Arab tribes in a premodern context that cannot be replicated in the 21st century. And although Islam maintains that the Quran is the literal word of Allah, it is, in historical reality, a book that was shaped by human hands. Large parts of the Quran simply reflect the tribal values of the 7th-century Arabian context from which it emerged. The Quran’s eternal spiritual values must be separated from the cultural accidents of the place and time of its birth.
2. The supremacy of life after death.
The appeal of martyrdom will fade only when Muslims assign a greater value to the rewards of this life than to those promised in the hereafter.
3. Shariah, the vast body of religious legislation.
Muslims should learn to put the dynamic, evolving laws made by human beings above those aspects of Shariah that are violent, intolerant or anachronistic.
4. The right of individual Muslims to enforce Islamic law.
There is no room in the modern world for religious police, vigilantes and politically empowered clerics.
5. The imperative to wage jihad, or holy war.
Islam must become a true religion of peace, which means rejecting the imposition of religion by the sword.
I know that this argument will make many Muslims uncomfortable. Some are bound to be offended by my proposed amendments. Others will contend that I am not qualified to discuss these complex issues of theology and law. I am also afraid—genuinely afraid—that it will make a few Muslims even more eager to silence me….(read more)
Sources: U.S. Pulling Last of its Special Operations Forces Out of Yemen Due to Deteriorating SecurityPosted: March 21, 2015
U.S. evacuating Special Operations forces from Yemen
Sanaa, Yemen (CNN)The U.S. military is in the process of evacuating about 100 Special Operations forces members from the Al Anad airbase in Yemen due to that country’s deteriorating security situation, sources in the region familiar with the situation told CNN.
Those being evacuated are the last American troops stationed in the Arab nation, which is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group also known as AQAP. The United States closed its embassy in Sanaa last month, after Houthi rebels took over the Yemeni capital.
For years, the U.S. military has worked closely with Yemen’s government to go after AQAP, together carrying out numerous attacks like the 2011 drone strike that killed prominent al Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki. And U.S. President Barack Obama has hailed this cooperation as a pillar in his anti-terrorism campaign.
“Yemen has never been a perfect democracy or a island of stability,” Obama said in January, promoting the policy of “partnering and intelligence-sharing with that local government” as the best approach in a bad situation.
“The alternative would be for us to play whack-a-mole every time there is a terrorist actor inside of any given country,” the President said.
But while there have been drone strikes as recently as last month, these cooperative efforts have been hampered by Yemen’s growing difficulty in maintaining unity and peace. These include the rise of the Houthis, their battles with forces loyal to ousted President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and the presence of not only al Qaeda fighters but other militants. Read the rest of this entry »
Bardo Museum Attack: ISIS Claims Responsibility for ‘Killing and Wounding Dozens of Crusaders and Apostates’Posted: March 19, 2015
Randy Kreider and Rym Mumtaz report: ISIS today claimed responsibility for the Wednesday massacre at the Bardo Museum in Tunisia that killed 22 people, many of them Western tourists, and the two attackers.
“The blessed immersing operation led to killing and wounding dozens of Crusaders and apostates, and the failed security forces did not dare to approach but after the two heroes ran out of ammunition.”
– From an audio message disseminated on twitter accounts associated with ISIS
In a 3 minute, 10 second audio message disseminated on twitter accounts associated with ISIS, the terror group said that the two dead gunmen, who it named Abu Zakaria al-Tunisi and Abu Anas al-Tunisi, “launched and were heavily equipped with machine guns and hand grenades to target Bardo Museum.”
“The blessed immersing operation led to killing and wounding dozens of Crusaders and apostates,” the message said, “and the failed security forces did not dare to approach but after the two heroes ran out of ammunition.”
“Four of the arrests were directly related to the attack, and five others were made under strong suspicion of relation to the attack.”
– Aida Klibi, a spokeswoman for the Tunisian presidential office
ISIS also threatened more attacks to come, saying “what you have seen today is the first drop of the rain, Allah permitting. You will not enjoy security nor be pleased with peace while the Islamic State has men like these who do not sleep amidst grievances.”
The unverified claim, which is being analyzed by U.S. officials for authenticity, came after Tunisian authorities said they had arrested nine people in connection with the attack. Read the rest of this entry »
Speaking after the attack, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country was “in a war with terror”.
A gunman who carried out an attack that killed 17 tourists at Tunis’s Bardo museum was known to the authorities, Tunisia’s prime minister has said.
Habib Essi told RTL Radio that security services had flagged up one of the attackers, Yassine Laabidi, but were not aware of “anything specific”, or of any links to known militant groups.
“Tunisia has managed to avoid the larger wars which have hit other Arab states, but this attack…reveals its vulnerability.”
– The BBC’s James Reynolds
Two Tunisians, a police officer among them, also died in Wednesday’s attack.
Both gunmen were also killed. A search is on for suspects linked to them.
Two or three accomplices are still at large, an interior ministry spokesman told AFP news agency. The spokesman said both attackers were “probably” Tunisian. The second gunman has been named as Hatem Khachnaoui.
The tourists killed in the attack include visitors from Japan, Italy, Colombia, Australia, France, Poland and Spain, officials said.
“These monstrous minorities do not frighten us. We will resist them until the deepest end without mercy. Democracy will win and it will survive.”
– Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi
Officials say more than 40 people, including tourists and Tunisians, were injured.
Speaking after the attack, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country was “in a war with terror”.
“These monstrous minorities do not frighten us,” he said in remarks broadcast on national TV. “We will resist them until the deepest end without mercy. “Democracy will win and it will survive.”
At the time of the attack, deputies in the neighbouring parliamentary building were discussing anti-terrorism legislation.
Who were the victims?
According to Prime Minister Essid, 19 people were killed, although some of the countries involved have different totals:
- Two Tunisians, including a police officer involved in the security operation
- Five Japanese were killed, according to Mr Essid – although Japan says it has only confirmed the deaths of three citizens
- Four Italians
- Two Colombians
- Two Spaniards
- One national each from Australia, France and Poland
- One victim who was not immediately identified
Parliament was evacuated, but later reconvened for an extraordinary session in the evening.
Sayida Ounissi, an MP, told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme that the security services had said parliament was the original target of the attack. Read the rest of this entry »