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Pan-Islamic merged mega thread

Exclusive: Saudi Arabia building up military near Yemen border - U.S. officials

By Mark Hosenball, Phil Stewart and Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - …

The slide toward war in Yemen has made the country a crucial front in Saudi Arabia's region-wide rivalry with Iran, which Riyadh accuses of sowing sectarian strife through its support for the Houthis.


Kettle, this is Pot, break, Black, I say again, Black, Over.

Saudi officials say they have launched a military operation in Yemen


SANAA, Yemen — Saudi officials on Wednesday announced they had launched a military operation in neighboring Yemen, after Shiite rebels believed backed by Iran swept toward that country’s second-largest city and forced the president to flee.

The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, made the announcement on Wednesday evening.

Some parts of Aden remained held by forces loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who abandoned his refuge in the seaside city. But the troops appeared initially overwhelmed by the rebel blitz, suggesting the insurgents were close to taking control of their latest major battlefield prize, witnesses said.

The fall of Aden to the rebels, known as Houthis, would give the insurgents control of both the capital, Sanaa, and the country’s main sea gateway.

It could mark the end of Hadi’s bid to stay in power, and the beginning of a fiefdom-versus-fiefdom civil war in a country that has been a critical front in the U.S.-led war against al-Qaeda. While the Houthis appeared on the verge of taking Aden, it was not clear they would be able to consolidate their control in the south, where they are unpopular.

Yemen’s branch of al-Qaeda holds patches of the country and views the Houthis as foes in the competition for influence and Yemen’s modest oil wealth.

On a broader level, Yemen represents a potential proxy battlefield for Shiite power Iran and the Sunni Gulf Arab states allied with Washington, which had counted on Hadi as a partner in coordinating drone strikes against al-Qaeda.

Amid the widening chaos, Hadi’s whereabouts remained unclear.

Senior security officials told The Washington Post that Hadi had left his stronghold in Aden, where his government sought a foothold after being driven from the capital, Sanaa, by the Houthis.

Looters swarmed the presidential buildings in Aden, and fighting flared on several fronts on the edge of the city, said Anis Mansour, editor of the port city’s Huna Aden newspaper.

“What is happening in Aden is an invasion,” said Mansour.

Yemen’s foreign minister, Riyadh Yaseen, told Al Jazeera from Egypt that Hadi was in a “secure” place in Aden. Later, however, officials told the Associated Press that Hadi and top aides had escaped on two boats.

But a senior member of the Houthi political committee, Dhaif Allah Alshami, denied that Hadi had slipped away by sea and said rebels were seeking him in the city.

Alshami claimed the insurgents had taken over the compound where Hadi maintained his government after being driven from Sanaa. The deputy editor of the Almasdar news agency, Ali Alfaqeeh, said the site has come under shelling and there were no sign of Hadi’s forces mounting a counteroffensive.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest strongly condemned the Houthi offensive, and accused former president Ali Abdullah Saleh of working with the rebels “to foment a lot of instability in the country.”

“And so, we would call on them to stop that instability and that violence,” he said. Saleh was driven from power by Arab Spring-inspired uprisings in 2012, but has remained an important power broker in Yemen. Earnest said that the Obama administration still recognized Hadi as president.

He added that “there are elements of the Yemeni government that we continue to be in touch with” on counter-terrorism operations aimed at the country’s al-Qaeda affiliate, but he did not provide details. He said he could not confirm Hadi’s location.

Neighboring Saudi Arabia has massed troops and dispatched tanks to its border with Yemen, a sign of its intense unease at the idea of Iranian-backed rebels taking control of a country that had been its close ally.

Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes against Houthi rebels near the countries’ border in 2009, after protesting that its border guards were fired on.

But any ground intervention would require a long and difficult trip through the heart of Houthi-held territory to reach Aden. And it appeared unlikely that Saudi troops could roll back Houthi control of large parts of Yemen.

The Reuters news agency quoted a Saudi official saying the frontier deployment was “only to defend the country” and not a prelude to a push into Yemen.

Hadi’s government has appealed for military intervention from the Gulf’s military alliance, which is anchored by neighboring Saudi Arabia, and has called on the United Nations to authorize foreign armed forces to enter Yemen.

But Gulf states have given no signals of plans for an immediate mobilization to aid Hadi, and the last units of U.S. and British commandos have been pulled from Yemen amid the widening instability.

In Aden, shopkeeper Abduljabar Mohammed said the streets emptied as the rebel attacks intensified.

“I have been hiding in my shop,” he said by telephone. “The people are afraid and worried for their safety. We don’t know what to expect.”

Houthi-controlled state television said a nearly $100,000 bounty was being offered for the president’s capture.

Some members of Hadi’s inner circle, meanwhile, appeared to run out of room. Rebels said they had captured the country’s defense minister and a top aide near Aden.

Security officials told the Post that Hadi fled his compound just hours after the rebels announced they had taken the important al-Anad air base, located less than 20 miles from Aden. The airfield was once a main link in the U.S.-directed drone missions against al-Qaeda.

Later, the rebels reported taking control of Aden’s civilian airport.

The unraveling of Hadi’s power over the past months has dealt a significant blow to U.S.-led efforts to wage drone attacks and other pinpoint strikes against suspected strongholds of the Yemen-based branch of al-Qaeda, which is considered among the terror group’s most active networks.

Meanwhile, the Houthi rebels — seen as foes of al-Qaeda — have claimed increasing territory since taking control of the capital in January.

Last week, suicide bombers killed at least 137 people at two Shiite mosques in Sanaa linked to the Houthi rebels.
More on the above: Saudi Arabia intervenes in the Yemen Civil War:


Saudi Arabia, allies launch air campaign in Yemen against Houthi fighters

By Sami Aboudi and Matt Spetalnick

ADEN/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday it had launched military operations in Yemen, carrying out air strikes in coordination with a 10-country coalition seeking to beat back Houthi militia forces besieging the southern city of Aden where the country's president had taken refuge.

At a news conference in Washington, Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir said Gulf Arab allies and others had joined with the desert kingdom in the military campaign in a bid "to protect and defend the legitimate government" of Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. He declined to give any information on Hadi's whereabouts.

Yemen has already asked the UN to endorse international intervention:
Yemen's President Hadi asks UN to back intervention
BBC News
25 March 2015


Maybe we should have the country added to the new resolution being discussed in Canadian Parliament ... just in case.
Wow, you gotta love religion, eh? Those were some rather informative articles. Thanks for linking to them.
All the restraints of "civilized warfare" seem to have broken down in the region. I would be very cautious of how much more *we* get involved in this conflict:


Kurdish officials claim ISIS used chemical weapons on peshmerga forces

Vivian Salama, The Associated Press
Published Saturday, March 14, 2015 9:04AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 14, 2015 6:14PM EDT

BAGHDAD -- Kurdish authorities in Iraq said Saturday they have evidence that the Islamic State group used chlorine gas as a chemical weapon against peshmerga fighters, the latest alleged atrocity carried out by the extremist organization now under attack in Tikrit.

The allegation by the Kurdistan Region Security Council, stemming from a Jan. 23 suicide truck bomb attack in northern Iraq, did not immediately draw a reaction from the Islamic State group, which holds a third of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in its self-declared caliphate. However, Iraqi officials and Kurds fighting in Syria have made similar allegations about the militants using the low-grade chemical weapons against them.

In a statement, the council said the alleged chemical attack took place on a road between Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, and the Syrian border, as peshmerga forces fought to seize a vital supply line used by the Sunni militants. It said its fighters later found "around 20 gas canisters" that had been loaded onto the truck involved in the attack.

Video provided by the council showed a truck racing down a road, white smoke pouring out of it as it came under heavy fire from peshmerga fighters. It later showed a white, billowing cloud after the truck exploded and the remnants of it scattered across a road.

An official with the Kurdish council told The Associated Press that dozens of peshmerga fighters were treated for "dizziness, nausea, vomiting and general weakness" after the attack. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss the incident.

The Kurds say samples of clothing and soil from the site were analyzed by an unnamed lab in an unnamed coalition partner nation, which found chlorine traces.

"The fact ISIS relies on such tactics demonstrates it has lost the initiative and is resorting to desperate measures," the Kurdish government said in the statement, using an alternate acronym for the Sunni militant group.

There was no independent confirmation of the Kurds' claim. Peter Sawczak, a spokesman for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which has monitored Syria dismantling its chemical weapons stockpile, said his group had not been asked to investigate the attack.

Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, said American officials were aware of the Kurds' claim, though they had no information "regarding its veracity at this time."

"We find such allegations deeply disturbing, and if there are parties engaged in such use, they should be held appropriately accountable," Baskey said.

Chlorine, an industrial chemical, was first introduced as a chemical weapon at Ypres in World War I with disastrous effects as gas masks were not widely available at the time. While chlorine has many industrial and public uses, as a weapon it chokes victims to death.

In the Syrian civil war, a chlorine gas attack on the outskirts of Damascus in 2013 killed hundreds and nearly drove the U.S. to launch airstrikes against the government of embattled President Bashar Assad. The U.S. and Western allies accused Assad's government of being responsible for that attack, while Damascus blamed rebels.

There have been several allegations that the Islamic State group has used chlorine as well. In October, Iraqi officials claimed Islamic State militants may have used chlorine-filled cylinders during clashes in late September in the towns of Balad and Duluiya. Their disclosures came as reports from the Syrian border town of Kobani indicated that the extremist group added chlorine to an arsenal that already includes heavy weapons and tanks looted from captured military bases.

Insurgents have used chlorine gas in Iraq before. In May 2007, suicide bombers driving chlorine tankers struck three cities in Anbar province, killing two police officers and forcing about 350 Iraqi civilians and six U.S. troops to seek treatment for gas exposure. Those bombers belonged to al-Qaida in Iraq, which later became the Islamic State group.

Meanwhile Saturday, Iraqi security forces engaged in fierce clashes with the militants as they continued their offensive to retake Saddam Hussein's hometown, Tikrit.

Iraqi forces, which include the military, police, Shiite militias and Sunni tribesmen, entered the city of Tikrit for the first time Thursday, gaining control of neighbourhoods on its northern and southern ends.

Militia commander Hadi al-Amiri has said security forces will hold their position until the area is cleared of any remaining civilians. He estimated on Friday that Iraqi forces would reach the centre of Tikrit within two to three days.
MCG said:
Yemen has already asked the UN to endorse international intervention:http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32045984

Maybe we should have the country added to the new resolution being discussed in Canadian Parliament ... just in case.
Just as soon as someone there can reliably say, "If we get help from the outside world, we kick out all the terrorists and pirates for good" - like THAT'S going to happen anytime soon.
Interesting idea - let's see how receptive the other countries are ....
Egypt's president has renewed calls for the creation of a joint Arab military force as it and other countries launch airstrikes against Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi made the comment Saturday while addressing a summit of Arab leaders in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Saying that the crises in the Middle East and North Africa region have reached an unprecedented danger, Sisi said he “backs calls for a unified Arab force” to confront regional security threats.

Sisi added that there is an urgent need to filter the religious rhetoric of extremism,  emphasizing the need to support the elected, legitimate Libyan government.

The president also reiterated that Egypt’s participation in the Saudi-led coalition was ‘imperative,’ after meddling there by a foreign power – a thinly veiled reference to Iran, adding that it aims to preserve Yemen’s unity.

The campaign of airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition was in response to a power grab in the impoverished nation by Iranian-backed Shiite rebels known as the Houthis.

Iran and the Houthis deny that Tehran arms the rebel movement.

Sisi also said Arab countries are facing an unprecedented threat to their stability and identity.

Sisi met with Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Yemen's embattled President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi before the summit.

The 26th Arab League summit began on Saturday ....
Also, I've gotta wonder how nervous Israel might get if these folks do end up getting their act together collectively.
The behaviour of the Administration has translated into former allies and partners taking unilateral actions and not informing the United States. Having American officials discover Saudi Arabia and her allies are invading Yemen in "real time" is a bit shocking, especially when you consider the "end game" is almost certainly direct action against Iran itself.

How will US forces be positioned when Saudi armed and equipped troops begin fighting in Lebanon against Hezbollah, or in Syria against Assad, or crossing Iraq to hit the Iranian oil terminals at the head of the Persian Gulf? (the second article is about one of the Gulf States hiring former Blackwater personnel to create a battalion sized Foreign Legion type unit. Given the vast cash reserves, the Saudis could conceivably "hire" virtually every Salafi extremist, empty out the Palestinian refugee camps and arm them all with ex Soviet weapons and ammo and turn them loose against Iranian troops, proxies and interests. The devastated "Levant" and armed groups in the shattered remains of the former ME states would serve as a convenient "firebreak" against resurgent Turkish interests in the region as well).


NBC’s Engel: US allies fear Obama admin leaking information to Iran

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):

ENGEL (1:58): I know several people in the US military who were taken by surprise by this [action in Yemen]. Senior officials who would have been expected to know that there was going to be an operation in Yemen, they didn’t. They were finding out about it almost in real time.

And they believe, and some US members of Congress believe, that the reason Saudi Arabia and other states didn’t tell the US that it was going to launch this war against Shi’ite backed, or Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen, is because Saudi Arabia and other countries simply don’t trust the United States anymore, don’t trust this administration — think the administration is working to befriend Iran to try and make a deal in Switzerland, and therefore didn’t think that the intelligence frankly would be secure.

I think that is a situation that is quite troubling for US foreign policy, where traditional allies — like Saudi Arabia, like Egypt, like the United Arab Emirates — don’t know if the US is reliable at this stage to hold onto this information when it comes to Iran.

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. Engel’s report strongly suggests that it’s not just incompetence that has the Saudis and other US allies rattled, but a suspicion that they’re being purposefully sold out by Obama to get a deal with Iran that will unleash their ambitions to dominate the region.

Yesterday, I wrote about this very point in my column for The Fiscal Times:

It has become abundantly clear that Obama wants a deal for the sake of claiming a foreign policy achievement, no matter what the cost, and no matter what it does to our allies, especially Israel. The situation is reminiscent of another confrontation between Western powers and an extremist dictatorship that professed its own destiny to rule the world, and where the dictator even wrote out his plans for world domination and practically begged everyone to read them.

In both cases, Western leaders told themselves that the extremist rhetoric was only intended for domestic consumption. Also in both cases, they treated with contempt their allies whose very existence was threatened by the new hegemon, who kept breaking international agreements and stalling negotiations until the West appeased them by betraying those same allies — even locking their democratic allies out of the negotiations.

At least Neville Chamberlain learned his lesson after Munich, albeit far too late for the Czechoslovakians, Eastern Europe, and millions of Jews. Obama and Kerry seem determined to repeat those same mistakes. That can be described many ways, but smart power isn’t one of them.

That argument pertained specifically to Obama’s treatment of Israel in his pursuit of a deal with Iran. Israel’s not the only country in the region feeling the knife nearing the back.


Sources Say, Erik Prince was hired by crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together a 800-member battalion
Post Date: March 27, 2015 | Category: Around the World

According to the New York Time, Erik Prince billionaire founder of Blackwater was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by a reputable source.

The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest in their crowded labor camps or were challenged by pro-democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.

The U.A.E.’s rulers, viewing their own military as inadequate, also hope that the troops could blunt the regional aggression of Iran, the country’s biggest foe, the former employees said. The training camp, located on a sprawling Emirati base called Zayed Military City, is hidden behind concrete walls laced with barbed wire. Photographs show rows of identical yellow temporary buildings, used for barracks and mess halls, and a motor pool, which houses Humvees and fuel trucks. The Colombians, along with South African and other foreign troops, are trained by retired American soldiers and veterans of the German and British special operations units and the French Foreign Legion, according to the former employees and American officials.

In outsourcing critical parts of their defense to mercenaries — the soldiers of choice for medieval kings, Italian Renaissance dukes and African dictators — the Emiratis have begun a new era in the boom in wartime contracting that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And by relying on a force largely created by Americans, they have introduced a volatile element in an already combustible region where the United States is widely viewed with suspicion.

The United Arab Emirates — an autocracy with the sheen of a progressive, modern state — are closely allied with the United States, and American officials indicated that the battalion program had some support in Washington.

“The gulf countries, and the U.A.E. in particular, don’t have a lot of military experience. It would make sense if they looked outside their borders for help,” said one Obama administration official who knew of the operation. “They might want to show that they are not to be messed with.”

Still, it is not clear whether the project has the United States’ official blessing. Legal experts and government officials said some of those involved with the battalion might be breaking federal laws that prohibit American citizens from training foreign troops if they did not secure a license from the State Department.

For Mr. Prince, a 41-year-old former member of the Navy Seals, the battalion was an opportunity to turn vision into reality. At Blackwater, which had collected billions of dollars in security contracts from the United States government, he had hoped to build an army for hire that could be deployed to crisis zones in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He even had proposed that the Central Intelligence Agency use his company for special operations missions around the globe, but to no avail. In Abu Dhabi, which he praised in an Emirati newspaper interview last year for its “pro-business” climate, he got another chance.

In other news, I took unilateral action against an incursion of black polar saplings in my own back yard and didn't inform a fair weather friend on the other side of town.  Nobody was outraged.
Kat Stevens said:
In other news, I took unilateral action against an incursion of black polar saplings in my own back yard and didn't inform a fair weather friend on the other side of town.  Nobody was outraged.

How racist of you. You must be a white poplar cultist. You probably violently cut them off at the roots with a machete.
Expanding the war against Iran. Given the US seems to have been leaning towards Iran in the recent past, the emergence of a Sunni coalition of anti-Iranian states could spell even more trouble for US diplomacy in the region:


Arab allies wage war in Yemen with U.S. weapons, without U.S. leadership

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (right) quickly put together a coalition last week to raid Yemen by air and position forces for an incursion by land. The regime has told President Obama that it simply will not tolerate an Iranian ... more >

By Rowan Scarborough - The Washington Times - Sunday, March 29, 2015

The U.S. has shipped billions of dollars worth of its best weapons to the Middle East in recent years, and today Arab nations are tapping that unprecedented arms buildup for the first time to wage war on multiple fronts, sometimes without American leadership.

The Persian Gulf states have joined a U.S.-led coalition to fight the Islamic State terrorist army that controls northern and western Iraq and parts of Syria. The level of Arab participation resembles, but is much more robust than, that of the 1991 Desert Storm conflict, in which Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates joined European and American operations to evict Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

Outside that alliance, some of those same nations are going to war and not waiting for the U.S. to lead.


SEE ALSO: Arab League to forge NATO-like military alliance of Sunni powers


Saudi Arabia last week quickly formed an Arab coalition for Operation Decisive Storm, essentially to defend the Sunni kingdom against Iran at its doorstep on the southern border. Security analysts say Iran’s Quds Force helped rebel Houthi Shiites in Yemen oust a Saudi and U.S. ally, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The Houthis also sent American troops retreating from the U.S. Embassy and from a counterterrorism base.

“Iran has provided support to the Houthis for years, and their ascendancy is increasing Iran’s influence,” James R. Clapper, the top U.S. intelligence official, told Congress last month.

The Saudis and the United Arab Emirates are conducting airstrikes on Houthi targets with the help of U.S. intelligence. On Sunday, news services reported that ground movements by Saudi forces signal an imminent invasion of Yemen — a strategically located country where U.S. warships transit the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

Egypt said it is proposing an Arab army, meaning all-out war between Arab Sunni states and a Shiite Iran proxy, for control of Yemen.

It is not the first time Arab allies have acted without the U.S.

In August, Egyptian and UAE jet fighters launched from an Egyptian airfield to attack Islamist terrorist targets in Libya. The U.S. has declined to directly confront various al Qaeda-linked groups in Libya with military muscle. Afterward, the State Department and Pentagon condemned such attacks.

Michael Rubin, a Middle East analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, said the Gulf Cooperation Council was created in 1981 to stand up to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The council has struggled over unity, until now, and the alliance could mean a downgrade in U.S. influence.

“How ironic it is, then, that it took the collapse of U.S. leadership to inject unity and action into much of the GCC and the broader Arab world,” Mr. Rubin said. “Once the United States is cast aside, however, it will never restore the influence it once had. Successive presidents had Riyadh on speed dial when a crisis came, but no longer will the Saudi kings answer that 3 a.m. phone call. Ditto Cairo. Same with Abu Dhabi.”

A host of U.S. weapons

The U.S. has provided tools for the Gulf’s military independence.

First the George W. Bush administration and now President Obama have approved a record level of arms sales to Gulf Cooperation Council nations, particularly F-15 and F-16 advanced strike aircraft. The strategy: With the U.S. military shrinking and at times preoccupied in other regions, the Gulf states can take on more of their own defenses.

In the war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have turned to those state-of-the-art strike fighters and smart weapons not for deterrence, but for offensive military operations.

Both nations are uneasy about what appears to be Mr. Obama’s tilt toward Iran, which Sunni Muslim Gulf states have long viewed as their No. 1 threat.

“The Arab leaders have awakened to Obama’s policy shift in the Middle East,” said Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer and analyst on international arms sales.

The year 2011 perhaps best illustrated the Gulf arms buildup: Of $56 billion in total overseas sales from the U.S., $33 billion were the result of deals with the Saudi kingdom, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The Saudi shopping list includes thousands of smart bomb systems, air-to-ground missiles, anti-ship missiles and, to unleash them, F-15SA attack fighters.

Lockheed Martin Corp. has been selling the United Arab Emirates an advanced version of the F-16 dubbed the “Desert Falcon.” The jet features extended range, new radars and the capability to drop U.S.-made satellite-guided bombs.

‘Interesting shift’

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz quickly put together a coalition last week to raid Yemen by air and position forces for an incursion by land. The regime has told Western powers that it simply will not tolerate an Iranian puppet state on its border.

The oil-rich nation sees itself being surrounded: Iran is moving into Yemen, dominating southern Iraq; keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power; and pulling strings in Lebanon via its terrorist army Hezbollah.

“Of course it is a very interesting shift that now Arab regimes like the one in Saudi Arabia are no longer asking the U.S. to protect them from regional unrest such as in Yemen,” Mr. Maginnis said. “They recognize that the Obama administration is unwilling to rush to help Arab nations floundering in yet another crisis.”

James Russell, a former Pentagon official who was involved in foreign arms sales, said that after the U.S. ousted Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Bush administration embarked on a Gulf arms buildup, along with more joint training, to help those Arab nations become more self-sufficient.

A decade later, it all has come to fruition, as Iran and the Islamic State have emerged as direct threats in a muddled Middle Eastern and North African security situation.

“The Yemen operation is interesting on many levels,” said Mr. Russell, an instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. “We’ve sold the Saudis tens of billions of dollars of arms over the last quarter-century, and they have never seemed particularly interesting in learning how to actually use the weapons.”

“Their armed forces are being thrust into a role for which they are not prepared, and it’ll be interesting to see how they do,” he said. “Their pilots are probably reasonably competent, but the rubber will meet the road when and if the army enters the fray and they have to actually coordinate operations at the tactical level. The risks of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces and the regime are substantial.”

If the Saudi coalition and their American weapons fail, Iran gains and the U.S. loses, he said.

Mr. Maginnis said: “They are afraid that without a serious effort to push back at Tehran the Shia crescent, once a Persian public dream, could very well become a regional fixture seriously undermining the Sunni states’ stability.”

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/29/arab-allies-wage-war-yemen-us-weapons-without-amer/#ixzz3VsFSFFfk
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Ever wonder how people are becoming radicalized to join ISIS? Here is an article which describes how a McGill student was radicalized (although not to join ISIS). The process is similar, and it may be possible to deradicalize people by interrupting the process or removing feedback mechanisms. (A side note, although the writer claims to have been deradicalized, she also holds most of the same opinions she did during the "radical" period. It is also sadly clear, especially reading the coda at the end, that this person's critical thinking and reasoning skills are very deficient, although this is probably more a result of the "education" she received): Long post Part 1


“Everything is problematic”
My journey into the centre of a dark political world, and how I escaped
Written by Aurora Dagny | Visual by Alice Shen | The McGill Daily

I’ve been a queer activist since I was 17. I grew up in a socially conservative rural town where people would shout homophobic slurs at me from the windows of their pickup trucks. My brushes with anti-gay hatred intimidated me, but they also lit a fire in me. In my last year of high school, I resolved to do whatever I could to make a change before I graduated and left town for good. I felt like I had a duty to help other queer kids who were too scared to come out or who had feelings of self-hatred. I gave an impassioned speech about tolerance at a school assembly, flyered every hallway and classroom, and started a group for LGBTQ students and allies.

Not long after, I was exposed to the ideas of Judith Butler, a bold and penetrating mix of third-wave feminism and queer theory. I saw truth in Butler’s radical perspective on gender, and it felt liberating. My lifelong discomfort with being put in a box — a binary gender category — was vindicated. This is when my passion for feminism began in earnest. I put a bumper sticker on my car that said “Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History.” I bought a subscription to Bitch magazine. When it came time to graduate and move on to McGill, I eagerly enrolled in a class on feminist theory, as well as a class in Sexual Diversity Studies, the subject that would later become my minor.

My world only kept expanding from there. In Montreal, I was exposed to a greater diversity of people and perspectives than ever before. The same sort of transformation that had occurred in my mind about gender happened with race and disability. I learned about classism and capitalism. At Rad Frosh, a workshop by the high-profile activist Jaggi Singh gave me my first real introduction to anarchism. My first year at McGill was a whirlwind of new people and new revelations.

In my second year, I dove in. I became heavily involved with a variety of queer, feminist, generally anti-oppressive, and radical leftist groups and organizations, in every combination thereof (Mob Squad is one example of many). I read books like Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? and The Coming Insurrection. I shouted my lungs out at protests. So many protests. Marching down the street carrying a sign that said “Fuck Capitalism” became my main form of exercise. That was the year of the tuition protests. There was a lot of excitement in the air. I thought maybe, just maybe, there would be a revolution. A girl can dream.

2012 was the year I hit peak radicalism. Things I did that year included occupying a campus building (for the second time), bodychecking a security guard, getting rammed at low speed by a cop on a moped, sitting through an entire SSMU General Assembly, and running from flashbang grenades hurled by police. (I wasn’t nearly as hardcore as most of the people I knew. “I love how pepper spray clears out your sinuses,” one said. Some participated in black blocs. At one point, a few spent the night in jail.)

Since then, my political worldview has steadily grown and evolved and refined itself. I no longer pine for revolution. I don’t hate capitalism or the state as if those were the names of the people who killed my dog. My politics still lean to the left, just not quite so far, and now I view economic and political systems with an engineer’s eye, rather than in the stark colours of moral outrage. I am just as passionate about queer activism and feminism as I ever was, and aspire to be an ally to other anti-oppressive movements just as much as I ever did. I feel like I have a richer and more nuanced understanding of anti-oppressive politics and ethics than ever before. I’ve held onto all the lessons that I’ve learned. I am grateful to the many people who shared their insight with me.

There is something dark and vaguely cultish about this particular brand of politics.

I’ll be graduating soon, and I’ve been thinking about my years in Montreal with both nostalgia and regret. Something has been nagging at me for a long time. There’s something I need to say out loud, to everyone before I leave. It’s something that I’ve wanted to say for a long time, but I’ve struggled to find the right words. I need to tell people what was wrong with the activism I was engaged in, and why I bailed out. I have many fond memories from that time, but all in all, it was the darkest chapter of my life.

I used to endorse a particular brand of politics that is prevalent at McGill and in Montreal more widely. It is a fusion of a certain kind of anti-oppressive politics and a certain kind of radical leftist politics. This particular brand of politics begins with good intentions and noble causes, but metastasizes into a nightmare. In general, the activists involved are the nicest, most conscientious people you could hope to know. But at some point, they took a wrong turn, and their devotion to social justice led them down a dark path. Having been on both sides of the glass, I think I can bring some painful but necessary truth to light.

Important disclaimer: I passionately support anti-oppressive politics in general and have only good things to say about it. My current political worldview falls under the umbrella of leftism, although not radical leftism. I’m basically a social democrat who likes co-ops and believes in universal basic income, the so-called ‘capitalist road to communism.’ I agree with a lot of what the radical left has to say, but I disagree with a lot of what it has to say. I’m deeply against Marxism-Leninism and social anarchism, but I’m sympathetic to market socialism and direct democracy. I don’t have any criticism for radical leftism in general, at least not here, not today. What I feel compelled to criticize is only one very specific political phenomenon, one particular incarnation of radical leftist, anti-oppressive politics.

There is something dark and vaguely cultish about this particular brand of politics. I’ve thought a lot about what exactly that is. I’ve pinned down four core features that make it so disturbing: dogmatism, groupthink, a crusader mentality, and anti-intellectualism. I’ll go into detail about each one of these. The following is as much a confession as it is an admonishment. I will not mention a single sin that I have not been fully and damnably guilty of in my time.

First, dogmatism. One way to define the difference between a regular belief and a sacred belief is that people who hold sacred beliefs think it is morally wrong for anyone to question those beliefs. If someone does question those beliefs, they’re not just being stupid or even depraved, they’re actively doing violence. They might as well be kicking a puppy. When people hold sacred beliefs, there is no disagreement without animosity. In this mindset, people who disagreed with my views weren’t just wrong, they were awful people. I watched what people said closely, scanning for objectionable content. Any infraction reflected badly on your character, and too many might put you on my blacklist. Calling them ‘sacred beliefs’ is a nice way to put it. What I mean to say is that they are dogmas.

Thinking this way quickly divides the world into an ingroup and an outgroup — believers and heathens, the righteous and the wrong-teous. “I hate being around un-rad people,” a friend once texted me, infuriated with their liberal roommates. Members of the ingroup are held to the same stringent standards. Every minor heresy inches you further away from the group. People are reluctant to say that anything is too radical for fear of being been seen as too un-radical. Conversely, showing your devotion to the cause earns you respect. Groupthink becomes the modus operandi. When I was part of groups like this, everyone was on exactly the same page about a suspiciously large range of issues. Internal disagreement was rare. The insular community served as an incubator of extreme, irrational views.

High on their own supply, activists in these organizing circles end up developing a crusader mentality: an extreme self-righteousness based on the conviction that they are doing the secular equivalent of God’s work. It isn’t about ego or elevating oneself. In fact, the activists I knew and I tended to denigrate ourselves more than anything. It wasn’t about us, it was about the desperately needed work we were doing, it was about the people we were trying to help. The danger of the crusader mentality is that it turns the world in a battle between good and evil. Actions that would otherwise seem extreme and crazy become natural and expected. I didn’t think twice about doing a lot of things I would never do today.

There is a lot to admire about the activists I befriended. They have only the best intentions. They are selfless and dedicated to doing what they think is right, even at great personal sacrifice. Sadly, in this case their conscience has betrayed them. My conscience betrayed me. It was only when I finally gave myself permission to be selfish, after months and months of grinding on despite being horribly burnt out, that I eventually achieved the critical distance to rethink my political beliefs.

Anti-intellectualism was the one facet of this worldview I could never fully stomach.

Anti-intellectualism is a pill I swallowed, but it got caught in my throat, and that would eventually save me. It comes in a few forms. Activists in these circles often express disdain for theory because they take theoretical issues to be idle sudoku puzzles far removed from the real issues on the ground. This is what led one friend of mine to say, in anger and disbelief, “People’s lives aren’t some theoretical issue!” That same person also declared allegiance to a large number of theories about people’s lives, which reveals something important. Almost everything we do depends on one theoretical belief or another, which range from simple to complex and from implicit to explicit. A theoretical issue is just a general or fundamental question about something that we find important enough to think about. Theoretical issues include ethical issues, issues of political philosophy, and issues about the ontological status of gender, race, and disability. Ultimately, it’s hard to draw a clear line between theorizing and thinking in general. Disdain for thinking is ludicrous, and no one would ever express it if they knew that’s what they were doing.

Specifically on the radical leftist side of things, one problem created by this anti-theoretical bent is a lot of rhetoric and bluster, a lot of passionate railing against the world or some aspect of it, without a clear, detailed, concrete alternative. (Rhetorical question What happens when someone DOES offer a clear, detailed, concrete alternative?) There was a common excuse for this. As an activist friend wrote in an email, “The present organization of society fatally impairs our ability to imagine meaningful alternatives. As such, constructive proposals will simply end up reproducing present relations.” This claim is couched in theoretical language, but it is a rationale for not theorizing about political alternatives. For a long time I accepted this rationale. Then I realized that mere opposition to the status quo wasn’t enough to distinguish us from nihilists. In the software industry, a hyped-up piece of software that never actually gets released is called “vapourware.” We should be wary of political vapourware. If somebody’s alternative to the status quo is nothing, or at least nothing very specific, then what are they even talking about? They are hawking political vapourware, giving a “sales pitch” for something that doesn’t even exist.
part 2

Anti-intellectualism also comes out in full force on the anti-oppressive side of things. It manifests itself in the view that knowledge not just about what oppression, is like, but also knowledge about all the ethical questions pertaining to oppression is accessible only through personal experience. The answers to these ethical questions are treated as a matter of private revelation. In the academic field of ethics, ethical claims are judged on the strength of their arguments, a form of public revelation. Some activists find this approach intolerable.

Perhaps the most deeply held tenet of a certain version of anti-oppressive politics – which is by no means the only version – is that members of an oppressed group are infallible in what they say about the oppression faced by that group. This tenet stems from the wise rule of thumb that marginalized groups must be allowed to speak for themselves. But it takes that rule of thumb to an unwieldy extreme.

Let me give an example. A gay person is typically much better acquainted with homophobia than a straight person. Moreover, a gay person has a much greater stake in what society does about homophobia, so their view on the matter is more important. However, there is nothing about the experience of being gay in itself that enlightens a gay person about the ethics of sexual orientation.

To take a dead simple case, you don’t have to hear it from a gay person to know that homosexuality is ethically just fine. If you’re a straight person and a gay person tells you that homosexuality is wrong, you can be confident in your judgement that they are full of shit. In this situation, the straight person is right and the gay person is wrong about homosexuality and homophobia. Gay people have no special access to ethical knowledge, in general or about sexual orientation specifically. Gay people do tend to have better ethical knowledge about sexual orientation than straight people, but that is only because of how our life circumstances move us to reflect on it.

If I said the same thing about another context that isn’t so simple — when the correct opinion isn’t so obvious — I would be roundly condemned. But the example’s simplicity isn’t what makes it valid. People who belong to oppressed groups are just people, with thoughts ultimately as fallible as anyone else’s. They aren’t oracles who dispense eternal wisdom. Ironically, this principle of infallibility, designed to combat oppression, has allowed essentialism to creep in. The trait that defines a person’s group membership is treated as a source of innate ethical knowledge. This is to say nothing about the broader problem of how you’re supposed to decide who’s a source of innate knowledge. Certainly not someone who innately “knows” that homosexuality is disgusting and wrong, but why not, if you’re simply relying on private revelation rather than public criteria?

Consider otherkin, people who believe they are literally animals or magical creatures and who use the concepts and language of anti-oppressive politics to talk about themselves. I have no problem drawing my own conclusions about the lived experience of otherkin. Nobody is literally a honeybee or a dragon. We have to assess claims about oppression based on more than just what people say about themselves. If I took the idea of the infallibility of the oppressed seriously, I would have to trust that dragons exist. That is why it’s such an unreliable guide. (I half-expect the response, “Check your human privilege!”)

It is an ominous sign whenever a political movement dispenses with methods and approaches of gaining knowledge that are anchored to public revelation and, moreover, becomes openly hostile to them. Anti-intellectualism and a corresponding reliance on innate knowledge is one of the hallmarks of a cult or a totalitarian ideology.

Anti-intellectualism was the one facet of this worldview I could never fully stomach. I was dogmatic, I fell prey to groupthink, and I had a crusader mentality, but I was never completely anti-intellectual. Ever since I was a child, the pursuit of knowledge has felt like my calling. It’s part of who I am. I could never turn my back on it. At least not completely. And that was the crack through which the light came in. My love for deep reflection and systematic thinking never ceased. Almost by accident, I took time off from being an activist. I spent time just trying to be happy and at peace, far away from Montreal. It had been a long while since I had the time and the freedom to just think. At first, I pulled on a few threads, and then with that eventually the whole thing unravelled. Slowly, my political worldview collapsed in on itself.

The aftermath was wonderful. A world that seemed grey and hopeless filled with colour. I can’t convey to you how bleak my worldview was. An activist friend once said to me, with complete sincerity, “Everything is problematic.” That was the general consensus. Far bleaker was something I said during a phone call to an old friend who lived in another city, far outside my political world. I, like a disproportionate number of radical leftists, was depressed, and spent a lot of time sighing into the receiver. “I’m not worried about you killing yourself,” he said. “I know you want to live forever.” I let out a weak, sad laugh. “When I said that,” I replied, “I was a lot happier than I am now.” Losing my political ideology was extremely liberating. I became a happier person. I also believe that I became a better person.

I’ve just said a lot of negative things. But, of course, my goal here is to do something positive. I’m cursing the darkness in the hope of seeing the light of a new day. Still, I don’t want to just criticize without offering an alternative. So, let me give a few pieces of constructive advice to anyone interested in anti-oppressive and/or leftist activism.

First, embrace humility. You may find it refreshing. Others will find it refreshing too. Be forceful, be impassioned, just don’t get too high on your own supply. Don’t drink your own kool aid. Question yourself as fiercely as you question society.

Second, treat people as individuals. For instance, don’t treat every person who belongs to an oppressed group as an authoritative mouthpiece of that group as a whole. People aren’t plugged into some kind of hive mind. Treating them like they are, besides being essentialist, also leads to contradictions since, obviously, not all people agree on all things. There is no shortcut that allows you to avoid thinking for yourself about oppression simply by deferring to the judgements of others. You have to decide whose judgements you are going to trust, and that comes to the same thing as judging for yourself. This drops a huge responsibility on your lap. Grasp the nettle firmly. Accept the responsibility and hone your thinking. Notice contradictions and logical fallacies. When you hear an opinion about a kind of oppression from a member of the group that experiences it, seek out countervailing opinions from members of the same group and weigh them against each other. Don’t be afraid to have original insights.

Third, learn to be diplomatic. Not everything is a war of good versus evil. Reasonable, informed, conscientious people often disagree about important ethical issues. People are going to have different conceptions of what being anti-oppressive entails, so get used to disagreement. When it comes to moral disagreements, disbelief, anger, and a sense of urgency are to be expected. They are inherent parts of moral disagreement. That’s what makes a diplomatic touch so necessary. Otherwise, everything turns into a shouting match.

Fourth, take a systems approach to the political spectrum. Treat the pursuit of the best kind of society as an engineering problem. Think about specific, concrete proposals. Would they actually work? Deconflate desirability and feasibility. Refine your categories beyond simple dichotomies like capitalism/socialism or statism/anarchism.

I am not going to let my disillusionment with my past activism discourage me from trying to do good in the future. If you find yourself similarly disillusioned, take heart. As long as you learn from your mistakes, no one can blame you for trying to be a good person. Don’t worry. We all get to come back.
As IS eclipses AQ in the role of biggest bogey-man, understanding their differences will help in understanding the differences in how they must be fought.  Evan Dyer's analysis would seemingly lend weight to those arguing for containment and allowing the radicals to flow into the fight. 
How ISIS is different from al-Qaeda
Jihadi group's rigid ideology is a weakness as well as a strength

Evan Dyer, CBC News
29 Mar 2015

According to the Government of Canada (and indeed, most Western politicians), the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria represents a dramatic escalation of the terror threat to Western countries.

So it may seem odd to read the following passage in ISIS's official English-language publication Dabiq, looking back on the years immediately after 9/11:

"Europe was struck by attacks that killed multitudes more of kuffar [disbelievers] than those killed in the recent Paris attacks. The 2004 Madrid operation and the 2005 London operation together killed more than 200 crusaders and injured more than 2000."

Indeed, the Paris attacks in January were by far the most lethal jihadi terror attack on the West in the decade since the 7/7 attacks in London. And yet the Madrid bombings killed more than 10 times as many people. (Moreover, the Charlie Hebdo attack was not even as ISIS operation, but the work of an older nemesis: al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.)

Dabiq goes on to ask:

"So why was the reaction to the recent attacks much greater than that of any previous attack? It is the international atmosphere of terror generated by the presence of the Islamic khilafah [caliphate] … It is the lively words contained in the khilafah's call."

In other words, fewer Westerners are being killed, but ISIS's hype – its "lively words" – maximizes the psychological effect of the smaller operations that take place today, which typically leave one or two dead, such as the soldiers attacked on a London street, or in St.Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and on Parliament Hill. And the civilian attacks in cafés in Copenhagen and Sydney.

In some respects, ISIS is merely treading a path laid down by its parent organization al-Qaeda, from which it split a year ago.

It was al-Qaeda that developed the technique of dressing hostages in orange jumpsuits and beheading them on video. Westerners like Daniel Pearl and Ken Bigley suffered that fate long before anyone had had heard of ISIS.

So why has ISIS failed to inspire more and bigger attacks in the West?

The answer lies partly in the apocalyptic ideology of the movement.

ISIS believes that its future is already determined by prophesy. It is pre-ordained that ISIS will face and defeat the "crusader" forces on a plain near the Syrian farming village of Dabiq (hence the magazine's name.)

Some time after, the "Dajjal" [the anti-Christ] will appear. The forces of the caliphate will be reduced to a mere 5,000 men. There will be a final battle at the gates of Rum, commonly held to be Istanbul. At that point Issa ibn-Maryam, known to Christians as Jesus, will descend from heaven and kill Dajjal with a spear, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and heralding the end of the world.

The group also believes that for all of this to unfold as planned, it is necessary to re-establish the Muslim caliphate abolished by Ataturk in 1923.

That means that unlike al-Qaeda, a shape-shifting clandestine insurgency that operated around the world, ISIS must control and govern real territory.

The main service an aspiring jihadi can render to the Islamic State, therefore, is not to stage attacks far away in the West, but to come to the caliphate and join its army.

Dabiq explains the position of ISIS leadership to its readers:

"The first priority is to perform hijrah [pilgrimage] from wherever you are to the Islamic State ... Rush to the shade of the Islamic State with your parents, siblings, spouses, and children.

"Second, if you cannot perform hijrah for whatever extraordinary reason, then try in your location to organize bay'at [pledges of allegiance]) to the khalifah Ibrahim. Publicize them as much as possible … Try to record these bay'at and then distribute them through all forms of media including the internet."

Curiously, the article does not ask Muslims in the West to stage attacks. In some later pronouncements ISIS has called for attacks, but only in cases where it is impossible to travel.

There is no doubt that the announcement of the Islamic State has caused excitement in jihadi circles (though less noticed, it also caused division.) That excitement led to an unprecendented migration of jihadi-minded individuals.

ISIS has become like a vortex, sucking jihadis away from their home countries and into the maelstrom of Syria. Many are dying there, some within days. Others burn their passports or surrender them to the organization. Return to the West, far from being encouraged, is seen as a personal and religious failure.

With their departure, these jihadis lose the ability to stage attacks in the West. Where previously Western countries may have been unable to arrest them due to lack of evidence, they can now be targeted for death by Western bombs. And if they do attempt to return, they can be imprisoned for having joined ISIS.

To be clear, the spread of ISIS is a tragedy for the people of Syria and Iraq, particularly those who belong to minorities targeted for extermination under the group's ideology. The group continues to commit sickening atrocities against people under its rule.

But here in the West, politicians have failed to explain how the ISIS phenomenon is more dangerous than al-Qaeda, with its calculated efforts to insinuate agents into Western countries and its ambitious mass-casualty attacks.

The hype of ISIS — that stream of "lively words" — depends on an echo chamber in the West, made up of politicians and media who find it convenient to play up ISIS's claim that it is an existential threat to Western civilization. That feeds into its propaganda that it is a uniquely powerful force capable of bringing on the end of the world.
Saudi Jets may have hit a refugee camp in air strikes today.  Meanwhile, Pakistan joins the Saudi coalition in Yemen.

Statfor on this "Pan Arab" force. Given the speed in which it was seemingly assembled, the suggestion in this article that this coalition was assembled some time ago makes sense (and given the Americans were apparently caught flat footed by the coalition, it also speaks to a very good security plan). Now we have to see how this Arab Legion performs:


Evaluating the Pan-Arab "Joint Army"

by Austin Bay
March 31, 2015
A pan-Arab military coalition has begun waging war in Yemen, ostensibly on behalf of deposed Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Is this Arab League-approved "joint army" a credible combat force?

That depends on who emerges as the joint army's central actor and commander.

So far, Saudi Arabia has served as the coalition's most prominent public advocate and actor. The Saudis contend Iran backs the Houthi insurgents who overthrew Hadi. Strong evidence supports their contention.

Yemen's war involves sectarian sympathies. Ayatollah-led Iran, the world's great Shia Muslim power, supports the Shia Houthi movement. Saudi Arabia's Wahabi-sect leaders have concluded that Iran intends to use a Houthi-infested Yemen to harass and destabilize their Sunni kingdom.

In concept, Iran's Yemen proxies would attack the Saudis in somewhat the same way Tehran uses its Lebanon-based Hezbollah proxies to harass and distract Israel. The Arabian Peninsula, rife with tribal factions, gives the Iranians numerous volatile human targets to rile and exploit. Fracturing these often delicate tribal political arrangements would be a major step toward achieving a beloved Iranian goal: toppling the Saud family regime.

Israel, a nation state rather than tribal confederation, presents Iran's ayatollahs with a much harder and more ferocious target. Nation states vary in strength, but the Israeli nation state is a high-technology, highly trained warrior nation state. Iran needs nuclear weapons to destroy the Israeli nation state. Unfortunately, ayatollah Iran's nuclear weapons quest, thanks to feckless western governments, including the current one in Washington, appears to be on the verge of succeeding.

The sectarian analysis of Iranian ambitions stresses Shia regional hegemony as Tehran's goal. It's there, but don't buy it as a sufficient answer. A "golden age" myth of Aryan divine and ethnic right to rule, circa Persian Empire 500 BC, seduces Tehran's ayatollahs. Yes, Aryan. Iran is "Aryanistan." If you didn't know that, well, now you do. Arabs are Semitic peoples. So are Jews. If you didn't know this ethnic dimension is in play, well, it is.

Now to the pan-Arab military force.

Money talks, and the Saudis have the bankroll. The Saudis also have an air force (flying U.S.-made jets) capable of conducting a credible air campaign. On March 26, the coalition's Operation Resolute Storm began with air strikes against various Houthi targets. The question is how long can they keep it up before logistic and maintenance deficiencies emerge? They can hire private contractors to provide these services.

At the moment, naval operations are secondary, though that could change if the Iranian-Houthi coalition takes complete control. Yemen's Southwestern edge borders the strait connecting the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. However, coalition naval operations indicate the centrality of the Arab world's strongest nation state: Egypt. Egypt's Al-Ahram reported that Egyptian warships shelled Houthi fighters advancing on the Yemeni port of Aden. Egyptian officials did not comment, on the record.

Ground operations will determine Yemen's winner, and Egypt's large and comparatively capable army is the pan-Arab coalition's decisive force.

Bankrolls matter, but the quality of generals, captains, sergeants and privates matters as well. At times their quality matters more than cash. Egypt and Jordan both have fair-to-good military reputations. Every regime can field a small elite force, but the Egyptian and Jordanian armies field larger units (brigades) with comparatively higher training standards than other Arab states. Last year, Egyptian forces conducted some cursory training exercises with countries now participating in the coalition, so that coalition's formation may not be as sudden as the headlines suggest. Egyptian advisers are reportedly in Saudi Arabia, on both the Iraq and Yemen borders.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi adds credibility to the coalition. Al-Sisi has the military skills. He also understands the ideological component. He has shaped his own country's fight as one against militant Islam, whether Sunni or Shiite. If al-Sisi has the final decision in the pan-Arab army's operations against Iranian proxies and -- potentially -- Iran itself, there is a very good chance it will prevail. If the Arab force fails? The Israelis won't.
British Muslims declare Jihad against ISIS. *We* often wonder why Muslims do not denounce the activities of radicals and extremists, well perhaps now they are finally doing so. Longer term, there will still need to be something akin to the Reformation, but that is up to Muslims to do. At least some of them are taking the first step down the road:


Young British Muslims declare own jihad against Isis and other terrorists who 'hijack' Islam
The Muslim Youth League UK has announced an ideological holy war against all extremist groups who misrepresent faith
Lizzie Dearden
Tuesday 31 March 2015

A group of young British Muslims have declared their own “jihad” against Isis and all other terrorist groups.

The Muslim Youth League UK announced an ideological holy war against the Islamic State at a conference in Glasgow on Sunday, saying militants had “no link with Islam or the Muslim community”.

It is concerned that recruitment by the group is on the rise in the UK, targeting teenage girls and boys with gory propaganda videos and social media accounts boasting of life under the “caliphate”. British Isis members including Amira Abase, Kadiza Sultana and Shamima Begum are believed to have been radicalised partly online

Shaykh Rehan Ahmed Raza, president of Muslim Youth League UK, said: "Our efforts are aimed at deterring further ISIS recruitment in Britain and defending the Muslim community, who feel their religion has been hijacked."

He announced a seven-point declaration calling the killing of any person un-Islamic, whatever their faith, and condemning extremists’ “deviation” from the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and the Koran.

Read more: • Comment: 'Isis girls have been groomed'
• Ukip candidate says UK should let Isis fanatics go and never return
• British girls as young as 15 have joined Isis in Syria

“The emergence of the terrorists, who would use the name of Islam to justify their atrocious activities, was prophesied by Prophet Muhammad. He declared them as being out of the ambit of Islam,” the declaration continues.

“We challenge Isis, similar groups and their supporters ideologically and intellectually.”

The league also announced that it rejects Islamophobic “labelling” of Muslims as extremists or terrorists by politicians, the media and public.

“We ask Muslims from all walks of life, regardless of the school of thought to which they belong, to stand united against extremists who have hijacked the true teachings of Islam,” its declaration added.

“We call upon scholars and community leaders to raise a united and unwavering voice against extremism.”

While an unknown number of British men, women and teenagers have joined Isis in Iraq or Syria, its atrocities against civilians and the murder of foreign hostages has provoked widespread condemnation.

The Muslim Youth League and other groups are fighting back against its propaganda online and through engagement work in schools and communities.

“The barbarism and lack of respect for the sanctity of human life shown by Isis is a challenge to every civilised value, not least to the tenets of Islam,” a spokesperson for the group said.

The Muslim Youth League represents young Muslims in the UK and aims to promote unity and tolerance.

A spokesperson said its declaration of “jihad” against Isis hoped to inspire similar statements from other British Islamic groups condemning extremism.

At least 60 British women and girls as young as 15 have joined Isis in Syria so far, police say, including three London schoolgirls who disappeared earlier this year. Jihadi John, the militant seen in execution videos including the beheading of journalist James Foley, is believed to be British

The numbers of British men travelling out to join the group’s bloody campaign to establish a hardline Muslim caliphate are believed to be much higher.

Among them is Mohammed Emwazi, the former London university student believed to be the masked militant known as “Jihadi John” seen in Isis’ gory execution videos.

In 2013, 25 arrests were made for Syria-related offences and last year that number rocketed to 165.
It seems the Saudi-led coalition air campaign is not having the desired effect on Iranian-backed Houthi forces:


Yemen Houthi fighters backed by tanks reach central Aden

By Mohammed Mukhashaf

ADEN (Reuters) - Houthi rebels and allies backed by tanks pushed on Wednesday into central Aden, the main foothold of fighters loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, witnesses said, despite more than a week of air strikes by Saudi-led coalition forces.

The alliance of mainly Sunni Gulf Arab states has also attacked the northern Shi'ite Houthis from the sea but their advance towards the southern port city has been relentless.


Even China has been forced to evacuate its nationals from Yemen:

Yahoo News

China evacuating from Yemen, suspending anti-piracy patrols
Associated Press – 1 hour 4 minutes ago

BEIJING (AP) — China is evacuating its citizens from Yemen and suspending anti-piracy patrols in the area amid the growing violence in the Middle Eastern country.

Three Chinese navy ships were diverted to the port of Aden to rescue Chinese nationals caught in the conflict, state media reported on Monday, marking only the second time Chinese military assets have been used in such a mission. About 122 Chinese were evacuated from Yemen to Djibouti, and authorities were working to assist the more than 400 remaining Chinese, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

"The Chinese government is highly concerned over the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions in Yemen, and has taken immediate action to pull out Chinese citizens in an orderly fashion," Hua said during a regularly scheduled news briefing.

In 2011, China took the unprecedented step of dispatching one of its most sophisticated warships and military transport aircraft to help in the evacuation of about 35,000 Chinese citizens amid Libya's civil war.

No Chinese have been reported killed or injured in the fighting in Yemen that now threatens a potentially dangerous clash between U.S.-allied Arab states and Iran.

The Somali group Al Shabaab, which also pledged allegiance to ISIS at one point, strikes again in East Africa:


Al Shabaab storms Kenyan university, 14 killed

By Edith Honan

GARISSA, Kenya (Reuters) - At least 14 people were killed on Thursday when Islamist militant group al Shabaab stormed a Kenyan university campus, taking Christians hostage and engaging security forces in an extended shootout.

With scores of students wounded and hundreds unaccounted for, police and soldiers surrounded Garissa University College. They sealed off the compound and were trying to flush out the gunmen, Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinet said.