Tag Archives: John Kerry

Educating John Kerry and Barack Obama on Islam’s Denial of Israel’s Right to Exist, in One Minute

John Kerry, and Lame Duck POTUS Barack Obama, who have shamefully rationalized U.S. failure to veto an odious U.N. resolution condemning Israel’s legal right to build settlements in its ancestral homeland should consider two complementary fatwas, one written January 5, 1956, by then grand mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Hasan Ma’moun, and another January 9, 1956, signed by the leading members of the Fatwa Committee of Al Azhar University—Sunni Islam’s Vatican—and the major representatives of all four Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. I elucidated the gist of those simultaneous fatwas in a one minute clip from a December 27, 2016 interview with Tom Trento, embedded below:

These rulings elaborated the following key initial point: that all of historical Palestine—modern Jordan, Israel, and the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza—having been conquered by jihad, was a permanent possession of the global Muslim umma (community), “fay territory”—booty or spoils—to be governed eternally by Islamic law.

Muslims cannot conclude peace with those Jews who have usurped the ter­ritory of Palestine and attacked its people and their property in any manner which allows the Jews to continue as a state in that sacred Muslim territory. [As] Jews have taken a part of Palestine and there established their non-Islamic government and have also evacuated from that part most of its Muslim inhabitants. . . . Jihad . . . to restore the country to its people . . . is the duty of all Muslims, not just those who can undertake it. And since all Islamic countries constitute the abode of every Muslim, the Jihad is impera­tive for both the Muslims inhabiting the territory attacked, and Muslims everywhere else because even though some sections have not been attacked directly, the attack nevertheless took place on a part of the Muslim territory which is a legitimate residence for any Muslim… Everyone knows that from the early days of Islam to the present day the Jews have been plotting against Islam and Muslims and the Islamic homeland. They do not propose to be content with the attack they made on Palestine and Al Aqsa Mosque, but they plan for the possession of all Islamic territories from the Nile to the Euphrates.

Although free of eschatological references, i.e., that Jews, per the prophet of Islam, Muhammad’s diktat in the “traditions” of the creed (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985), must be annihilated to usher in Islam’s “messianic age,” the January 1956 Al Azhar fatwas’ language and arguments—pronounced from Sunni Islam’s most esteemed religious teaching institution—are otherwise indistinguishable from those employed just over three decades later by Hamas (in its 1988 covenant), revealing the same conjoined motiva­tions of jihad, and conspiratorial Islamic Jew-hatred.

Recent polling data indicate that these traditionalist Islamic views—espoused, in our era, across a continuum of 61 years by Al Azhar University, and Hamas—resonate with the Palestinian Muslim population. American pollster Stanley Greenberg performed what was described as an “intensive, face-to-face survey in Arabic of 1,010 Palestinian adults in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” As reported in July, 2011 these data revealed that seventy-three percent of Palestinian Muslims agreed with the dictates of the apocalyptic hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985; included in the 1988 Hamas Covenant, and repeated in 2012 by the “moderate” Palestinian Authority Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who serves under “moderate” PA “President” [For Life?]Mahmoud Abbas) calling for the annihilation of the Jews, to bring on the messianic age. Eighty percent supported the destruction of Israel by jihad, and the need to recruit the entire global Muslim community, or “umma” in this quintessential Islamic cause.

Israel re-settling its ancient homelands in Judea-Samaria, in full accord with the post-World War I League of Nations Mandate for Palestine—all of it—being a recognized homeland for the Jews, is no “obstacle” to a “peace” never obtained despite two existing Sharia states in 80% of that Mandate, i.e., Jordan (78% of it), and Gaza/Hamastan (another 2% of it). The annihilationist jihadism and conjoined Islamic Jew-hatred of so-called Palestinian Muslims, and the global Muslim umma, sanctioned by Islam’s highest religious authorities, including the Al-Azhar “spiritual” leaders of Sunni Islam, remain the true obstacle to just peace.

Genocide in Sudan Continues as U.S. Eases Sanctions on War Criminals

The petition below represents the consensus of groups fighting a lonely fight in the American political process to try and advocate for policies that could discourage the Sudan government from exterminating the Nuba people.  Yet somehow the U.S. State Department restored the stature of the former head of Sudan’s military who over saw the Darfour and Nuba genocides, allowing him to negotiate an easing of sanctions against a regime wanted for war crimes in the International Criminal Court.  One of the concrete companies which recently gained sanctions release is owned by Sudan’s former military head and Prime Minister, Ali Karti, will supply the building of dams along the Nile River that will be used to flood hundreds of Nuba villages.

 

A Petition from Nuba Mountains Civil Society Organizations June 2016

Afghanistan President Says No More Peace Talks With The Taliban

On Monday, April 25, 2016, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani officially announced he would no longer seek future peace talks with the Taliban. This comes as a major blow for the Afghan president whose foreign policy centered on a commitment to the talks. He has now called upon Pakistan to help defeat Taliban insurgents which plague Pakistan’s tribal belt.

In a speech to the Afghan parliament Ghani asked Pakistan to be a “responsible government” and launch attacks against the Taliban and its allies, warning that if Pakistan fails to do so Afghanistan plans to refer the issue to the UN Security Council.

Numerous factors have caused Pakistani Taliban insurgents to cross into Afghanistan. First, the withdraw U.S. and NATO coalition forces in 2014. Second, in July 2014 Pakistan’s military launched “Operation Zarb-e-Zab” which displaced thousands of Pakistani, Arab, and Uzbek Taliban members from Pakistan’s Waziristan tribal area. Third, while Afghan security forces have struggled to hold off Taliban insurgents they lack aircraft support and reconnaissance and intelligence capabilities.

Ghani referred to the Taliban as “terrorists” for the first time in his presidency a statement he had avoided calling them in his first 18-months in office. He does not expect Pakistan to hand over the Taliban for any future negotiations, so Afghanistan security forces will now have to confront the group and any of its supporters.

There will also be no amnesty for Taliban insurgents under Ghani’s reign, which seemed to take a direct shot at former Afghan president Hamid Karzai who was suspected of releasing thousands of insurgents who claimed they revoked violence. One of last week’s truck bombers is suspected of receiving a reprieve from Karzai.

The Taliban took note of Ghani’s remarks and on social media claimed that Ghani and his cabinet were nothing more than “slaves” and “lackeys” under the imperialist watch of the nation run by “Kerry” referring to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Last week a truck bomb detonated in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital and killed 64 while injuring another 347. It was the worst terrorist attack in the capital city since the suicide bombings killed 54 worshippers at a Kabul mosque during the festival of Ashura in December 2011. Afghanistan Intelligence into the truck bombing revealed that the Haqqani network, a Taliban-allied group was responsible for the attack.

Ghani along with Abdullah Abdullah, chief executive of Afghanistan’s Unity Government remained supportive of talks with the Taliban following a truck bomb attack last August injured 400 Afghans. In January 2016, a meeting was held consisting Afghanistan, Pakistan, the U.S., and China on how to handle the Taliban problem after they refused to show up for the talk. Pakistan made a pledge to utilize military action against the group, at the same time indicating they can only influence, not control the group.

Prior peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government have made little progress as the Taliban would not even attend talks until the withdrawal of foreign troops. The Taliban has re-engaged Afghan security forces under the most recent “Taliban Spring Offensive”.

Ghani may feel that Afghanistan has made every effort to broker a deal with the Taliban and to no effect. Given the failure of talks, the Afghans may need to seek new support for a military effort against the Taliban. The Obama administration had previously reversed insistence on withdrawal prior to the end of the President’s term in 2017. U.S. forces have largely been restricted from aggressively engaging the Taliban; something retiring General John Campbell has called for publicly, in order to push back against Taliban offensive despite lower than recommended U.S. Troops levels.

Absent a change in the level of U.S. commitment, Afghanistan may go elsewhere for support, with report of seeking Chinese and Russian aid.

 

Iranian Naval Deployment to Latin America Should Concern U.S.

A senior Iran official announced that the country would be sending warships to what he described as “friendly states” in Latin America. Iran claims this is a means to further develop their naval capabilities, but in reality it’s an intimidation tactic aimed at the US and the Obama administration.

This is consistent Iran’s declaration that they want to expand and upgrade their navy, which includes utilizing high-speed missile boats and having a greater presence in international waters.  The news of Iran’s naval expansion into Latin American waters was first reported by Israel National News on April 2, 2016.

Iran has long standing relations in Latin America, and has used them for the benefit of Hezbollah cells involved in the narco-terrorism trade and for insertion of IRGC  and Iranian intelligence assets.

Iranian Army Commander Major General Atatollah Salehi held a press conference in regards to Iran’s military expansion. He remarked, “We intend to take a longer stride in marine voyages and even go towards friendly states in Latin America. The Navy is capable of deploying in that region.”

Iran announced the expansion of its naval fleet last month just after US Secretary of State John Kerry reprimanded them about repeated ballistic missile testing breaches, and sanctions implemented by the US and United Nations (UN). In 2013 Secretary Kerry publicly declared an end to the long standing Monroe Doctrine, which established a tradition of American opposition to Latin American interventions by foreign powers,

Iran’s Naval Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari claimed that sanctions put on Iran by the US and other countries will fail to deter Iran from protecting its maritime borders. In addition, Admiral Sayyari firmly stated, “That Iran would pay no heed to foreign talks about Iran’s maneuvers aimed at enhancing its defensive powers.”

Iran has repeatedly reassured other nations that its military might poses no threat to other states, insisting that Iran’s defense doctrine is based on deterrence, but Iran has repeatedly used its Naval forces to aggressively provoke retaliation from the US.

This past January, Iran captured a US Naval vessel in Iranian waters, and held the crew prisoner for several days. Iran demanded an apology from the United States for what they deemed to be intrusion by the US Navy, the Obama administration appealed to their wishes.

Iran has a history of hostile activity towards foreign vessels including firing upon the Saudi-based MV Maersk Tigris that made a distress call to other vessels in the Persian Gulf. Another act of hostility came when a United Arab Emirate (UAE) coast guard had to assist a Singapore vessel that was being fired upon by four Iranian gunboats.

Iran has used its navy as a means to challenge the US and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy Forces Brigadier Major General Ali Fadavi admitted in May 2014 that IRGC’s main goal was to sink US aircraft carriers. He warned the US to leave the Persian Gulf, and boasted that Iran could destroy the American fleet in 50 seconds.

Continued Iranian provocation has been met with little response by the Obama administration which appears more concerned with maintaining the nuclear deal regardless of Iranian behavior.

 

 

 

 

 

Obama’s Syria Non-Strategy is Imploding

Secretary of State John Kerry got the headline he was looking for last week when the press reported that the United States and Russia agreed on a cease-fire in Syria that would allow the delivery of food and humanitarian aid.

Kerry actually said a “cessation of hostilities” had been agreed to, not a cease-fire.  Kerry also referred to this development as a “pause” in hostilities that would begin in one week “after consultations with Syrian parties.”

Kerry’s careful wording reflected the reality that the Syrian government and Syrian rebels have yet to accept this agreement.  Kerry also omitted another glaring problem with this so-called cessation of hostilities: it will not apply to Russian air strikes.

The reason for this is that the agreement excludes attacks on ISIS and the al Qaeda-backed al-Nusra Front because they are terrorist groups.  Russia is using this exception to justify continuing its bombing of other Syrian rebel groups by falsely claiming they are terrorists.

President Obama objected to Russia’s position by issuing a statement on Sunday calling on Moscow to cease “its air campaign against moderate opposition forces in Syria.”

The cease-fire agreement was the latest in a series of diplomatic initiatives by the Obama administration to make it appear that it is doing something about the Syria crisis.  The agreement was in response to the stalled peace process begun by Kerry last fall that produced a vague outline for peace talks.  This outline called for a peace process that would lead to “credible, inclusive, non-sectarian governance, followed by a new constitution and elections” to be administered under UN supervision.”  It also was agreed that formal peace talks under UN auspices would begin on January 1st.

The peace talks outline left several major issues unresolved.  There was no agreement on a cease-fire or the political future of Syrian President Assad.  There also were disagreements over which groups would be designated terrorists and disallowed from attending the talks.

Instead of moving toward a peaceful resolution after the November peace outline, Russia and Syria intensified hostilities.  Aided by Russian bombers and Iranian fighters, the Syrian army last month began an assault on the rebel stronghold of Aleppo, causing an exodus of 50,000 refugees.  The residents of several rebel towns are facing starvation because of a new Syrian army strategy called “surround and starve.”

The peace talks were delayed until February 1 because of stepped up attacks by the Russian and Syrian militaries and differences on who should participate in the talks.  There were indirect talks from February 1-3 that ended when the main Syrian opposition party withdrew due to the Syrian army’s siege of Aleppo.  The talks were then suspended until February 25.

In response to the worsening Syrian humanitarian crisis due to starvation in besieged rebel-held cities and towns, Secretary Kerry said last week he wanted an immediate cease-fire to allow the delivery of food and humanitarian aid.  Russia countered by proposing a cease-fire to begin on March 1, a proposal that was criticized by many observers who claimed such a delay probably was intended by Moscow to give Russian and Syrian forces time to take more rebel-held territory before ceasing hostilities.

Desperate to get his cease-fire, Kerry decided to accept an cease-fire compromise plan that (1) delayed a possible cease-fire for another week; (2) has not been agreed to by Syrian parties and (3) excludes Russian airstrikes.

According to the UK Daily Mail, “critics quickly dismissed the deal as ‘not worth the paper it’s printed on.’”  For many reasons, this agreement is very unlikely to succeed.  Syrian rebel forces will not back it for long – if at all – because it locks in the gains made by the Syrian army on the ground over the last few months.  I also doubt the Syrian rebels will go along with a cease-fire plan under which the Russians continue bombing them.

The Assad regime has never fully cooperated with any cease-fire agreement and probably will not abide by this deal if it materializes.  Syrian President Assad appeared to indicate his regime will not honor the cease-fire when he said on February 15 that no one is capable of organizing this agreement and ensuring that terrorists – the word Assad uses to refer to all armed groups that oppose him – adhere to it.

Meanwhile, America’s allies are openly criticizing the Obama administration’s Syria policy.  The outgoing foreign minister of France this week called the U.S. policy “ambiguous.”  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said American inaction is responsible for a “sea of blood” in Syria.

Obama’s Syria policy also has begun to be criticized by liberal foreign policy experts and groups, including Emile Hokayem, a senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who described it in a February 5, 2016 Foreign Policy article as “calculated dithering.”

So how could the Obama administration be a party to this ludicrous “cessation of hostilities” agreement?  I explained the reason in Fox News Opinion op-eds in May and September 2015: Mr. Obama’s Iraq-Syria strategy is a “non-strategy” to do as little about the crisis in these countries for the rest of his presidency so he can hand this mess to a future president.

This non-strategy has consisted of limited airstrikes and a handful of raids by U.S. special forces.  Strict U.S. rules of engagement for airstrikes in Syria have frustrated U.S. pilots who claim they have blocked 75% of them, according to the Washington Free Beacon.  This included avoiding bombing ISIS-controlled oil refineries in Syria because of possible environmental damage.  The U.S. changed this policy when France began bombing these refineries after the Paris terrorist attacks in November.

Russia and Iran have filled the power vacuum in Syria caused by President Obama’s non-policy.  This has allowed the Assad army to make major gains on the ground and Russia and Iran to significantly increase their influence in the region at the expense of the United States.

Making things worse, the Financial Times reported on February 12 that Syrian rebels are so frustrated with the gains by the Syrian army and the lack of support from the United States and the international community that they are mulling joining ISIS and the al-Nusra Front, the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria.  One Syrian rebel told the Financial Times:

“They said: are you doing this for America?  America left us to be killed by Russian warplanes night and day . . . there’s no reason to be a proxy for the foreign powers fighting ISIS.”

This is not the first report of moderate Syrian rebels joining jihadist groups out of frustration with the support they have received from the West.  But the Financial Times report may be significant because it may reflect how few moderate rebels are left, a development that raises serious questions as to whether there will be no one but jihadists left to run a post-Assad government if the Syrian leader ever steps down.

What we’re seeing in Syria is the implosion of President Obama’s Syria non-strategy.  Although this approach has worsened the Syrian crisis and is severely undermining America’s global credibility and security, Secretary Kerry’s new Syria cease-fire agreement is the latest indication that Mr Obama has no intention of changing course.  President Obama is stubbornly determined to be an ex-president who can claim he ended wars and did not get the United States into a new war – even if this means leaving a catastrophe in Syria that will require his successor to send a U.S. ground force.

U.S. Conditions IS Libya Fight on Unity Government

February 2, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry met with officials from 23 nations in Rome to discuss combating IS. Secretary Kerry addressed his growing concerns of the Islamic State’s (IS) presence in Libya especially. The growing fear is that the terrorist organization will take advantage of the lack of stability to control oil fields to further finance its operations.

Libya has been in turmoil since the NATO-backed ousting of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011. The Libyan government is currently split between an internationally recognized government in Tobruk, the General National Congress (GNC), and an unofficial government in Tripoli led by the Islamist Libya Dawn faction. Libya Dawn was able to force the GNC out of the Tripoli in 2014, and the international community has been working ever since to unite the two governments.

Libya Dawn and the GNC signed a UN-brokered agreement to unify the government last December. However, it is unclear what Libya Dawn hopes to get out of the agreement, as it was their decision to attempt to seize power following election losses that led to the current fissure.

While the Libya Dawn government may claim they want to end hostilities and unite the government, it’s likely just a play to regain power.

Libya Dawn is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and the enemy of the El-Sisi government in Egypt. This had led to the decision by Cairo to fully back the GNC and openly opposed any agreement that would return the Islamists to legitimate political power. Egypt has been the driving force behind Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s anti-Islamist “Operation Dignity” campaign which has seen battlefield gains against the Islamist factions.

IS has become a growing concern to North African nations. The Free Fire Blog recently discussed the growing connections between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and IS’s growing trade network with Hamas in Gaza. In Libya, IS has taken control of Sirte, a city that links east and west of Libya, and has launched numerous attacks around the country.

International Business Times reported last year of IS threatening to wage war on Libya Dawn, but those hostilities may subside while both sides are being targeted by Egyptian and UAE airstrikes.

Breitbart News reports on troubling news of possible cooperation  between IS, Al Qaeda (AQ), and the Muslim Brotherhood within Libya. This merger would threaten any chance Libya has at stability, and if the Brotherhood were to take over, it would further threaten the neighboring government of Egypt.

Libya’s hopes for stability are quickly fading, and the Obama Administration may be apart of the blame. The Obama Administration allowed for weapon shipments to be sent to armed rebel groups during the uprising against Qaddafi. Some of these weapons fell in the hands of jihadist groups which allowed them to fight for control of Libya once Qaddafi was killed.

While the U.S. initially armed rebel groups, it has taken a step back from Libya. Instead, the Obama Administration has harshly criticized those who take part in Libya’s issues through violence, especially the UAE and Egypt. It seems ironic for the Administration to criticize others for trying to stop terrorism when they were the ones who facilitated it.

Libya’s stability is crucial against the fight against terrorism. Terrorists have been smuggling fighters through Libya to Europe and Syria. Libya is also an important connector between Islamic State’s home base in Syria and it’s efforts in West Africa. Without a stable government to prevent this, it will continue to threaten the stability of the region.

While Secretary Kerry may be worried about IS in Libya, there must be a greater focus on the wider Islamist threat to the country. The Muslim Brotherhood poses just as large a threat to Libyan stability as IS, and if they are given any political legitimacy it will only serve to expand jihadist activity in the country. Despite the Obama Administration’s insistence to the contrary, a GNC victory over Libyan Dawn would have a better impact on security than enforcing upon Libya a unity government that neither side really wants.

U.S. Boat Seizure: Another Example of Iranian Naval Belligerence

On Tuesday, January 12, 2016, two U.S. Navy Riverine patrol boats carrying 10 sailors were captured and held captive by Iranian forces. The sailors were sailing from Kuwait to Bahrain.

The 10 sailors were held on Farsi Island, just off the Coast of Iran, which is also a home of an Islamic Revolution Guard Corp (IRGC). Early Wednesday morning, January 13, 2016, the sailors were released from Iranian custody.

According to the New York Times, unnamed State Department and Pentagon officials cited a mechanical malfunction as the primary reason for the boats going off course. Soon after, Administration officials claimed, the military had lost contact with the boat.

As more information came out Wednesday, Iranian Fars News Agency reported that the boats navigational systems led the U.S. sailors into Iranian waters. While the Iranians were the only ones to investigate the ships so far, it is likely the U.S. will also conduct its own investigation into the matter.

Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary John Kerry, and the New York Times label this incident as a simple misunderstanding between two nations trying to better relations, but Iranian sources paint a slightly different picture. Fars posted an article early Wednesday morning quoting the IRGC spokesman, Gen. Ramezan Sharif, stating, “If investigations show that there hasn’t been any purposeful action, they will be treated differently, but if the information taken through interrogations reveal that their trespassing has been done for intelligence work and irrelevant jobs, officials will definitely take the necessary actions.” This would suggest the Iranian response was far more aggressive than Vice President Biden and Secretary Kerry claim, as evidence would show.

The release of the U.S. sailors has been touted as an illustration of the warming relations between the U.S. and Iran, yet Iran has a history of targeting vessels open waters. In 2004 and 2007 Iranian IRGC forces captured British vessels and sailors in a similar situation. In both cases the Iranian forces claimed the ships were in Iranian territory, although facts point to the ships being in open waters.

In April of 2015, Iranians seized the Marshall Islands flagged cargo ship Maersk Tigris along the Strait of Hormuz. News reports called the seizure violent, and U.S. ships responded to the distress calls. After several days the ship was released, but it once again showed Iran’s hostilities in open water.

Iranian belligerence did not end at the Strait of Hormuz. Several weeks later the IRGC fired shots at a Singapore-flagged vessel after ordering the ship to enter Iranian waters. These examples illustrate how aggressive the Iranians are. The current Administration may hope that the new nuclear deal will create a more cooperative Iran, but it is unlikely any major changes will occur in the near future.

The Obama Administration has been reluctant to challenge the Iranians on their questionable behavior despite outcries from the Senate. Since the Nuclear Deal was announced in September, Iran has tested two long-range missiles, which directly breaks the nuclear agreement and UN Security Council Resolution 1929. The two missile launches, October 10, 2015 and November 21, 2015, illustrate that Iran is moving forward with its ballistic missile technology. The Obama administration’s standard on these “improved relations” must be reevaluated. Aggressively detaining American sailors and testing long-range ballistic missiles would seem less of a partnership than a show of strength.

Sec. Kerry, Vice President Biden, and even U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter should stop looking for reasons to praise U.S.-Iranian relations, and start seeing that the recent nuclear deal has created a more aggressive and empowered Iran.

The high price the world could pay for Obama’s Syria, Iraq policy

As I’ve discussed on Fox News.com before, President Obama’s Syria/Iraq policy is not a policy.  It is a non-policy to do as little as possible about the chaos in these countries so he can hand this mess to the next president.

The Obama administration has announced two major policy shifts in two years to deal with the Iraq/Syria crisis and the threat from ISIS.  Neither exhibited the decisive leadership that the world expects from the United States.  Both were reactive and piecemeal moves to counter multiple humiliations of America.

This has created a growing global perception of American weakness and indecisiveness that will embolden America’s enemies for the remainder of the Obama presidency and possibly beyond.

The first policy shift, announced in a speech by President Obama on September 10, 2014 in response to a series of ISIS beheadings, was supposed to “degrade and ultimately defeat” ISIS.  The president said this effort would include “a systematic campaign of airstrikes” in Iraq and Syria, training and equipping of moderate Syrian rebels, increased support to the Iraqi army and stepped up humanitarian assistance.

The failure of the September 2014 policy shift was obvious soon after it began.  Pinprick airstrikes in Syria did not stop ISIS from making gains on the ground.  In Iraq, ISIS took the city of Ramadi last May despite being outnumbered 10-1 by the Iraqi army.  The Iraqi army and the Iraqi Kurds clamored for more arms while the Obama administration sat on its hands.

Obama’s 2014 policy shift suffered a spectacular collapse this fall when a failed $500 million program to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels was cancelled and Russia intervened in Syria and began conducting airstrikes against anti-Assad rebels, many backed by the United States.  Iran also stepped up its presence in Syria by sending troops who are fighting to prop up the Assad government.

This rapid collapse of President Obama’s Syria/Iraq policy over the last few weeks has caused serious damage to American credibility.  Russian President Putin mocked and ignored President Obama as he sent Russian forces into Syria.  An intelligence sharing agreement was signed between Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran.  Iraqi lawmakers even called on Russia to conduct airstrikes against ISIS positions in their country.

The Obama administration responded to these setbacks with a new policy shift that looks even worse than the last one.

The president is sending “fewer than 50” special operations troops to help advise an alliance of Syrian Arab rebels.  Given the lack of a clear policy and confusing rules of engagement, such a small deployment will be scoffed at by America’s adversaries and may be at risk of being captured.  On Monday, President Obama made the preposterous claim that this deployment is consistent with his pledge of “no boots on the ground” in Syria and Iraq because these troops will not be on the front lines fighting ISIS.

The New York Times reported on November 2 the Syrian Arab rebel alliance that U.S. special operations troops are supposed to be advising doesn’t yet exist and is dominated by Syrian Kurds who mostly want to carve out their own state and have little interest in fighting to take back Arab territory from ISIS.  Moreover, American military support of the Syrian Kurds worries Turkey because of their close ties with the PKK, a Kurdish terrorist group in Turkey.

The U.S. dropped 50 tons of weapons for the Arab alliance in late September.  Although U.S. officials initially said Syrian Arabs and not Syrian Kurds were the recipients of the airdrop, according to the New York Times, Syrian Kurdish fighters had to retrieve these weapons because the Arab units for which they were intended did not have the logistical capability to move them.

The Obama administration’s latest Iraq/Syria policy shift includes a renewed call for Assad to leave office and a new round of Syrian peace talks.

New U.S. demands that Assad step down make little sense due to increased Russian and Iranian support.

The first round of U.S.-brokered Syrian peace talks were held last week in Vienna.  17 nations participated, including, for the first time, Iran.  The talks produced a vague communique endorsing a future cease-fire, a transitional government, a new constitution and elections in which Syrians would select a new government.  However, it seems unlikely the Assad regime – which was excluded from the talks – or its Russian and Iranian backers will ever support free and fair elections.

Russia and Iran rejected a timeline proposed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the peace talks under which Assad would step down in four to six months and national elections would be held in 18 months.  This puts a cease-fire out of reach since most Syrian rebels will not agree to a peace process that leaves Assad in power.

The Syria talks were overshadowed by the unwise decision by the Obama administration to include Iran because its presence legitimized its interference in Syria and Iraq.  This also made the talks tumultuous due to open feuding between Iranian and Saudi officials.  More talks are scheduled but Iranian officials have said they may not participate due to their differences with the Saudis.

So far, Mr. Obama has not agreed to Pentagon recommendations to back Iraqi forces with Apache helicopters or to allow U.S. military advisers to serve on the front lines with Iraqi forces.  These proposals are still reportedly under consideration.  Meanwhile, Republican congressmen continue to demand the Obama administration directly arm the Iraqi Kurds who are struggling to battle ISIS with inadequate and obsolete weapons.

America’s friends and allies know President Obama is pursuing a Syria/Iraq non-policy to run out the clock.  They know Mr. Obama’s initiatives are not serious policies but minor gestures that allow the president to be seen as doing something now while also enabling him to claim after he leaves office that he did not put U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria nor did he get America into another war.

Alliances in the Middle East are already shifting because of President Obama’s Syria/Iraq non-policy.  Russia is filling a power vacuum in the region and is building a new alliance with Iraq, Iran and Syria.  Russia has improved its relations with Egypt and Israel. Although the Saudis are working with the Obama administration to arm moderate Syrian rebel fighters, Riyadh is frustrated that the U.S. is considering compromise solutions which could leave Assad in power.  Saudi Arabia also reportedly is considering providing surface-to-air missiles to the Syrian rebels, a move the U.S. opposes since these missiles could fall into the hands of ISIS.

America’s enemies are certain to try to exploit the run-out-the-clock foreign policy that President Obama apparently plans to pursue for the remainder of his term in office.  This could mean a surge in global provocations, terrorism and violence from North Korea to the South China Sea to Afghanistan and to the Middle East due to the disappearance of American leadership over the next 15 months.

Remember that the weakness and incompetence of President Clinton’s foreign policy emboldened Al Qaeda to step up terrorist attacks against U.S troops and led Osama bin Laden to believe that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks would drive the United States from the Middle East.  With Barack Obama dithering away America’s global credibility, a catastrophic terrorist attack like 9/11 could happen again.

US, Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia discuss Syria; Palestinians call for day of rage; Russia and Jordan discuss Syria; Philippines turn over Chinese suspects

US, Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia, meet to discuss political solution in Syria
The United States, Turkey, Russia, and Saudi Arabia met on Friday to discuss a political solution to the Syrian civil war. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before opening the meeting to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Russia has conducted three weeks of air strikes against Syrian rebel groups opposed to Assad, including some US allies. Russia continues to ignore the western demand that Assad step down, with Putin hosting the Syrian dictator in Moscow this week.
The US official policy remains that Assad must step down; with Kerry stating that Assad is the central obstacle to peace in Syria. Russia on the other hand maintains that Assad is central to any political process. Russia continues to coordinate its air strikes with the Syrian regime and it’s other allies, including Iran and the terrorist group Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are the primary backers of Syrian insurgents  including Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat Al Nusra, and other jihadist groups.
The meetings took place in a hotel in Vienna and the talks between the four nations have unsurprisingly led to little progress.
Palestinian factions call for a “day of rage”
Palestinian factions are calling for a “day of rage” through mass rallies against Israel. After talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry said he was “cautiously optimistic” about tensions easing. Hours after the call for the day of rage, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier in West Bank before being shot down by other troops. The calls for protest were backed by Hamas and the Fatah movement.
Most of the violence has been carried out by teenagers, with the attacker in the stabbing being only 16.; nine Israelis have been killed by Palestinian assailants since October 1.
The ability of key Islamist figures to successfully initiate “Days of Rage”, leading to an uptick in violence has been repeatedly demonstrated, as for example in response to the Israeli operation “Protective Edge.”
Russia and Jordan agree to military coordination in Syria
Russia and Jordan have agreed to coordinate militarily when dealing with Syria. A “special working mechanism” has been set up in the Jordanian capital of Amman. Russia has been supporting Assad by bombing Syrian rebel groups, some of whom have been trained in Jordan. Jordan maintains close ties with the US, so this shift in policy with Russia raises concerns about a lose of U.S. influence in the region to Russia.
Russia has already gained close cooperation with the governments of Iran, Iraq, and Syria.  Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov also met with senior officials from the US, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia to discuss the situation in Syria. The talks took place in Vienna.
Philippines turns over two suspects in China diplomat killing
The Philippine foreign ministry announced that it will give China custody of the two suspects involved with the killing of Chinese diplomats in the Philippines. All of the participants were Chinese nationals and held diplomatic immunity.
China says that they are still investigating the shooting and trying to figure out a motive, although there is suspicion that the shooting was the result over arguments over finances. The subjects will be prosecuted for murder in China. China and the Philippines maintain anextradition treaty.  
Other stories we’re following:
Egyptian Security Forces Arrest Muslim Brotherhood Leader    
 

While Still a Senator, Kerry Communicated Obama’s Capitulation Policy to the Iranian Regime

In a column on Tuesday and follow-up post on the Corner, I relate that beginning in 2011, President Obama secretly enticed the Iranian regime to the bargaining table by communicating that he was open to abandoning longstanding American opposition to Iran’s claimed “right” to enrich uranium. This news comes to us from a new MEMRI report, which elaborates that Obama relied on then-senator John Kerry to grease the wheels for his entreaty to Iran’s leader.

Why Kerry?

Though he was surely a key Obama ally on Capitol Hill, Kerry was not in the administration. The president already had a compliant secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who was dutifully implementing his appeasement policies. He also had any number of subordinate administration officials capable of passing messages. So why would Obama choose Kerry as his emissary to alert Iran to a dramatic shift in American policy?

Clearly, there are two reasons: Obama needed someone outside the administration, and Kerry’s status and track record made him a natural.

Remember, Obama was running for reelection in 2011–12. Public opposition to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and, therefore, to Iran’s enrichment of uranium was very strong — and, indeed, remains so. Consequently, Obama pretended on the campaign trail that he would vigorously oppose Iran’s uranium-enrichment efforts . . . even as he was covertly signaling to the jihadist regime that he was open to recognizing Iran as a nuclear power.

As my friend Fred Fleitz of the Center for Security Policy has noted, Obama asserted in the lead-up to the 2008 election that “the world must work to stop Iran’s uranium-enrichment program.” So too, in the run-up to the 2012 election, did Obama continue assuring voters that Iran “needs to give up its nuclear program and abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place.” Those U.N. resolutions prohibit Iran’s enrichment activities. Thus did the president proclaim, in seeking reelection, that the only deal he would accept would be one in which the Iranians “end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.”

With Obama out feigning opposition to Iran’s enrichment activities, it would not do to have a conflicting message communicated to Iran by his own administration. What if Iran, to embarrass Obama, were to go public about an administration entreaty that directly addressed enrichment? It would have been hugely problematic for the president’s campaign. Obama thus needed an alternative: someone outside the administration whom Obama could trust but disavow if anything went wrong; someone the Iranian regime would regard as authoritative.

John Kerry was the perfect choice.

Besides being the Democrats’ 2004 presidential nominee, Kerry was then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a reliable Obama ally on foreign-policy issues. Kerry frequently spoke out on U.S. relations with Iran and would be seen by the regime in Tehran as a credible barometer for reading Obama. It was no secret, moreover, that Kerry had designs on replacing Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state in a second Obama term.

Just as significantly, Kerry’s belief that the United States should capitulate to Iran on the “right to enrichment” was well known to the Iranians.

It has been American policy under administrations of both parties that the right to peaceful nuclear power does not imply a right to enrich uranium.

Some background: As I outlined in my column on Tuesday, the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NNP) holds that every nation has an “inalienable right” to use nuclear power peacefully. Yet the treaty does not confer an explicit right to obtain nuclear power through any particular route, let alone a route like uranium enrichment — a process that can easily be diverted to the weaponization of nuclear power, the thing the NNP treaty is designed to prevent. For this reason, it has been American policy under administrations of both parties that the right to peaceful nuclear power does not imply a right to enrich uranium.

But Kerry was known to scoff at this policy.

Fred Fleitz has usefully directed my attention to an enlightening 2009 Financial Times interview during which Senator Kerry opined that it was “ridiculous” to argue against Iran’s right to enrich uranium. The interview occurred in June, during the first round of the infamous Iranian presidential election that the Khamenei regime eventually stole for Ahmadinejad, igniting a popular revolt that the regime violently put down while Obama looked the other way.

The Financial Times reported:

One of the most senior Democrats in Washington has dismissed a key element in the west’s long standing strategy on Iran’s nuclear programme as “ridiculous.” His comments throw open the debate about how far the US and its partners should go in seeking a compromise with Tehran after on [sic] Friday’s presidential election.

John Kerry, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee and the Democrats’ 2004 presidential nominee, told the Financial Times in an interview that Iran had a right to enrich uranium — a process that can produce both nuclear fuel and weapons grade material. . . .

“The Bush administration [argument of] no enrichment was ridiculous . . . because it seemed so unreasonable to people,” said Mr. Kerry, citing Iran’s rights as a signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. “It was bombastic diplomacy. It wasted energy. It sort of hardened the lines, if you will,” he added. “They have a right to peaceful nuclear power and to enrichment in that purpose.”

And now we learn that two years later, when Obama wanted to assure Khamenei that he would be flexible on Iran’s demands (even as the president was telling Americans the opposite in his reelection campaign), Kerry relayed a letter to the Iranian regime in Tehran. The letter was transmitted through the same intermediary, the government of Oman, that Obama would later use to transmit his message to Iran’s supreme leader. According to a key adviser to the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Kerry’s letter stated that the United States recognized “Iran’s rights regarding the enrichment cycle.” MEMRI says that Kerry’s letter triggered two meetings in Oman between American and Iranian diplomats and, finally, Obama’s letter to Khamenei.

The Obama administration would soon officially agree that Iran has a right to enrich uranium. The capitulation details were formally handled by Kerry once he became Obama’s second secretary of state. Obviously, his audition went well.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.