Even Jimmy Carter is Dismayed at Failing U.S. Leadership: ‘Obama Waited Too Long on ISIS’ 

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Alana Abramson reports: Former President Jimmy Carter believes the Obama administration “waited too long” to act on ISIS, allowing the group to shore up the funding and resources for its success in taking over parts of Iraq.

“First of all, we waited too long. We let the Islamic state build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria.”

“First of all, we waited too long. We let the Islamic state build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria,” Carter said in an October 7 interview with the Fort-Worth Star Telegram, “Then when [ISIS] moved into Iraq, the Sunni Muslims didn’t object to their being there and about a third of the territory in Iraq was abandoned.”

“Then when [ISIS] moved into Iraq, the Sunni Muslims didn’t object to their being there and about a third of the territory in Iraq was abandoned.”

Carter said ground troops could enable the mission to succeed, but that troops would only help Iraq, not Syria, where ISIS originated.

“I really object to the killing of people, particularly Americans overseas who haven’t been brought to justice and put on trial.”

Carter’s comments come as ISIS forces advance further into Kobani, a Kurdish town in Syria bordering on Turkey. Gen. Martin Dempsey told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on October 7 he is “fearful” a full ISIS takeover of Kobani could be imminent.

“I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president.”

Carter’s dissatisfaction with Obama’s ISIS strategy may be indicative of his feelings toward the president’s Middle East policy as whole, which he implied lacked focus.

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“It changes from time to time,” Carter told the Star Telegram. “I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president.” Read the rest of this entry »


Couple Weds in Kobani, in the First Ceremony Since the Defeat of ISIL


‘My Bravery Shames Them’: Kurdish Women Fight on Front Lines Against Islamic State

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When 19-year-old Dilar and her girlfriends learned last spring that a woman who taught at a local school had died fighting Islamic State, they made a pact: They would join an all-female Syrian Kurdish brigade named in the teacher’s honor.

“When I walk with my gun, the men who haven’t volunteered keep their eyes down around me. My bravery shames them.”

Her unit, the Martyr Warsin Brigade, saw action this summer in a tough battle against the extremist fighters for Ras al-Ayn, a town along the Turkish border. Dilar came away without injury and returned home to a hero’s welcome.

[Also see The Mystery of Ceylan Ozalp]

Now, during her downtime, she and her female comrades stride with a swagger through their villages east of the embattled city of Kobani.

Caskets holding the bodies of four female Kurdish fighters are carried from a hospital in Suruc, Turkey, to a cemetery near the border with Syria. Andrew Quilty for The Wall Street Journal

Caskets holding the bodies of four female Kurdish fighters are carried from a hospital in Suruc, Turkey, to a cemetery near the border with Syria. Andrew Quilty for The Wall Street Journal

“When I walk with my gun, the men who haven’t volunteered keep their eyes down around me,” said Dilar, who didn’t want to give her family name. “My bravery shames them.”

“Really we have no differences. We do what the men do.”

As debate flares in Washington and other capitals about whether the battle against Islamic State can succeed without more boots—even U.S. ones—on the ground, Kurdish women have stepped up to defend their lands in Syria and Iraq. An estimated one-third of the Syrian Kurdish fighters in Kobani are women, fighters and residents say, a figure that mirrors their role in other significant battles across Kurdish territories this year.

The monthlong battle over the city on the Turkish border is straining Islamic State, Kurdish politicians and U.S. officials say, and hampering its overall expansion strategy.

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The overriding motivation that Kurds give for fighting the insurgents is to save their ancestral homeland from destruction. Yet many women combatants also cite a more personal crusade. Across the territory in Syria and Iraq that it now controls, Islamic State has reinstituted slavery, prohibited women from working and threatened to kill those Muslims, including Kurds, who don’t adhere to their ideology.

“Sometimes we are so close to them without knowing it, because they hide in empty buildings.” 

“Islamic State are terrorists, inhuman,” said a 28-year-old female commander of both men and women in Kobani who uses the nom-de-guerre Afsin Kobane.

Ms. Kobane was a kindergarten teacher when she decided last year to join the female unit of the Syrian Kurdish resistance force, known as YPJ. Speaking by telephone from her post in the besieged city on the Turkish border, she said her mixed-gender unit had been fighting for more than a month and was holding a position only a half-mile from Islamic State fighters. Read the rest of this entry »


Islamic State Militants Advance Despite Airstrikes: ‘Most of the eastern and southern parts of the city have fallen under the ISIS control…the situation is getting worse’

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ISIS Gains Territory Despite Weeks of Bombing by U.S., Allies, Raising Questions About Strategy

For WSJ, Margaret Coker in Erbil, Iraq, Jay Solomon in Cairo and Tamer El-Ghobashy in Baghdad report: Islamic State militants have gained territory in Iraq and Syria despite weeks of bombing by the U.S. and its allies, raising questions about the coalition’s strategy of trying to blunt the jihadists’ advance while local forces are being trained to meet the threat on the ground.

“The strategy’s biggest weakness in Iraq, officials there say, is the glacial pace of cobbling together an Iraqi political alliance between Sunnis willing to join with the Shiite-controlled central government to rebuild a national military force to fight Islamic State more effectively.”

In Syria, fighters from Islamic State, also known as ISIS, have taken large sections of the city of Kobani in recent days, said Ismet Sheikh Hasan, the defense minister of the city’s Kurdish administration. “Most of the eastern and southern parts of the city have fallen under the ISIS control,” he said. “The situation is getting worse.”

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[Also see Matthew Continetti‘s Accept No Substitutes: As the Islamic State continues to gain territory, U.S. ground troops are needed more than ever]

This comes despite a week of heavy airstrikes around the city to help local Syrian Kurdish fighters keep Islamic State forces from the city center.

“The call for American ground troops, however unlikely to be met, caused fresh rifts in Anbar which threatened to weaken the already shaky coalition of government forces working with tribal fighters to fend off the Islamic State assault.”

In Iraq, militant forces operating in a swath of territory the size of California have extended their control of the roads and commercial routes in strategically vital Anbar Province, which connects the capital Baghdad to Jordan and Syria.

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Anbar, which has critical infrastructure and whose eastern edge lies only about 25 miles from Baghdad’s center, is also in danger of falling wholly under Islamic State control despite weeks of U.S. strikes aimed at weakening the group, local officials say.

“While the militant group is yet to take the provincial capital of Ramadi, officials in Anbar warn that they are losing their grip on the city to a highly organized and disciplined insurgency that has surrounded military bases and put a choke hold on trade from Jordan, effectively controlling movements of goods and people in the region.”

The province’s chief of police was killed in a bombing Sunday, officials said, heightening unease over the government’s ability to fend off Islamic State forces. Read the rest of this entry »


Turkey, U.S. Warn Syrian City Will Soon Fall

Both Countries Urge the Other to Halt ISIS Advance on Kobani

Turkey and the U.S. warned that a major Syrian border city was in imminent danger of falling to Islamic State, with the two countries putting the onus on the other to halt the extremist group’s advance.

“You can’t end this terrorism just by airstrikes. If you don’t support them on the ground by cooperating with those who take up a ground operation, the airstrikes won’t do it.”

— Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pressed the U.S.-led coalition on Tuesday to move ahead with plans to arm and train Syrian and Iraqi ground forces to battle Islamic State, saying airstrikes alone weren’t enough.

An American military official said the U.S. believes the situation in the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobani is increasingly dire, and that the city is likely to fall shortly if Turkey doesn’t intervene.BN-EW719_1007is_OR_20141007093816

The complications for Turkey stemming from the advance on Kobani were mounting rapidly. Beyond U.S. pressure to step in, protests by the country’s restive Kurds were spreading quickly. At least a dozen people were killed in clashes with security forces in several Kurdish-majority cities, local media reported. The demonstrations reached Istanbul.

Airstrikes Tuesday by the coalition fighting Islamic State hit positions near Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab. But Kurdish officials and Syrian opposition members said the militants were still advancing against Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Mr. Erdogan declared Kobani was “about to fall” while he was visiting a refugee camp in the border province of Gaziantep.

“You can’t end this terrorism just by airstrikes,” he said. “If you don’t support them on the ground by cooperating with those who take up a ground operation, the airstrikes won’t do it.”

The U.S. and its partners have conducted hundreds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State in recent weeks. But they have so far ruled out the deployment of their own ground forces, opting instead to train and support local forces.

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U.S. defense officials reiterated Tuesday that they are not going to directly coordinate operations with any force on the ground in Syria until at least some of the vetted moderate rebels have been through upcoming military training and are ready to enter the fight. Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATE: IBTimes Reports on Alleged Battlefield Suicide of YPG Fighter Ceylan Ozalp

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“We’re not scared of anything. We’ll fight to the last. We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by Isis.”

— Ceylan Ozalp

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UPDATE: after several days of trying to find authentication of the Ceylan Ozalp story, we’ve seen a few modest breakthroughs. First, a German magazine picked up the story. And this morning, an item appeared by Gianluca Mezzofiore, an investigative reporter for IBTimes UK. Though it also can’t verify the authenticity of the report on her suicide, it’s the first article in English that we’ve seen to take on the story, and look into it.

It also contains a link to BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse’s report, which I’d missed (we’ve linked Gatehouse’s BBC video, but not the article) It’s possible that Gatehouse is the only western journalist to meet and talk to Ceylan Ozalp while she was alive. And Mezzofiore may be the first investigative reporter to take what has so far only appeared in Turkish media outlets, circulated by pro-Kurdish politicians, and echoed by countless social media sites and blogs, but few, if any, news organizations, or western media outlets. We’ll add new updates as they come.

For example, this tweet appeared about nine hours ago. I wonder what newspaper is displayed in this photo? If anyone knows let us know.

 Syria: 19-Year-Old Kurdish Woman Fighter Kills Herself Rather Than Falling into Isis Hands

For the International Business Times in the UK, investigative reporter Gianluca Mezzofiore writes:gianluca-mezzofiore

A 19-year-old Kurdish fighter who appeared on a BBC report about Kurdish YPG women warriors in Syria has reportedly killed herself rather than falling into the hands of Isis (now known as Islamic State).

Ceylan Ozalp: ‘One of our women is worth a hundred of their [Isis] men’ 

Ceylan Ozalp found herself surrounded by Islamic State forces near the northern Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani, where a key battle is raging against the Sunni Islamists’ threat. Read the rest of this entry »


In Memory: Ceylan Ozalp, Kurdish YPG Fighter

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 See – The Mystery of Ceylan Ozalp

UPDATE 2: German Magazine BILD Features Ceylan Özalp Story — ‘Peshmerga Fighter: Suicide Out of Fear of ISIS Rape’

UPDATE 3: IBTimes Reports on Alleged Battlefield Suicide of YPG Fighter Ceylan Ozalp

UPDATE 4: AL Arabia Reports on Ceylan Ozalp Story; Verification Remains Elusive

Ceylan Ozalp (19), known from the BBC report about Kurdish YPG Women fighters led today with several comrades in the northern Syrian Kurdish city Kobani resistance against the ISIS terrorists.

In Kurdish areas of northern Syria, fighters have been battling Islamic State – or ISIS – for two years – and unlike Iraq’s kurdish forces, they get no help from the west. Gabriel Gatehouse has been northern Syria to meet some of those taking on the jihadists.

“We’re not scared of anything. We’ll fight to the last. We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by ISIS.”

— Ceylan Ozalp

Surrounded on all sides and set under attack, she lost all her friends. She fought alone against the supernumerary terrorists. When she had no more ammunition and recognized the hopeless situation, she said goodbye over her radio and killed herself with the last bullet so that she don’t to fall into the hands of the rapists. Read the rest of this entry »