IAPAC, the Iran Deal, and Democrat Supporters

Editor’s Note – Have you heard of the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC)? Apparently many Democrats in Congress have because they received monetary support from the group. But just who is the IAPAC and why are they so supportive of Obama’s Iranian deal?

Their Mission Statement reads:

To support and promote the election of candidates for federal, state and local office, regardless of party affiliation who are attuned to the domestic needs and issues of the Iranian American community. To support and promote Iranian American candidates for public office. To support and advance legislation as it affects the concerns of the Iranian American community. To encourage Iranian Americans to actively participate in the American electoral processhassan-nemazee-barack-obama

Sounds innocent, but what is their real agenda? It was founded in 2002 as a non-partisan political action committee by a man named Hassan Nemazee, and reading the story announcing the formation would give one the feeling that he was a man of great conviction and just wanted to support his fellow Iranians in the USA. But wait:

In July 2010 he was convicted of multiple counts of bank fraud and wire fraud and was sentenced to 12½ years in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Sidney H. Stein in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. The sentence was lighter than the 15½ to 19½ years that prosecutors had wanted.”

Feeling better about IAPAC and Mr. Nemazee yet? Well you also might want to know that he was a big Hillary Clinton supporter as well and like others Loretta Lynch sought to convict for illegal donations to the Clintons, “Nemazee was national finance chairman for Clinton’s 2008 campaign and served as New York finance chairman for the failed 2004 presidential bid by Sen. John F. Kerry.”

IAPAC is also part of PAAIA, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, a group that openly supports the Iran Nuke Deal. The board members are some of the wealthiest business leaders from places like the Hyde Park Global Investments to the Claremont Group.

Politics makes for interesting bedfellows as the saying goes, but when it comes to the Iran Deal, who Kerry, Obama, the Clintons, and many Democrat Senators and Congressmen, its about national security, not politics and donations. We cannot leave out the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) either…a group formed too counteract AIPAC, the American Israeli Political Action Committee. Whose side are we on?

Traitor Senators Took Money From Iran Lobby, Back Iran Nukes

By Daniel Greenfield – Front Page Magazine

The Democrats are becoming a party of atom bomb spies.

Senator Markey has announced his support for the Iran deal that will let the terrorist regime inspect its own Parchin nuclear weapons research site, conduct uranium enrichment, build advanced centrifuges, buy ballistic missiles, fund terrorism and have a near zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb.There was no surprise there.Markey had topped the list of candidates supported by the Iran Lobby. And the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) had maxed out its contributions to his campaign.Senator MarkeyAfter more fake suspense, Al Franken, another IAPAC backed politician who also benefited from Iran Lobby money, came out for the nuke sellout.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the Iran Lobby’s third Dem senator, didn’t bother playing coy like her colleagues. She came out for the deal a while back even though she only got half the IAPAC cash that Franken and Markey received.

As did Senator Gillibrand, who had benefited from IAPAC money back when she first ran for senator and whose position on the deal should have come as no surprise.

The Iran Lobby had even tried, and failed, to turn Arizona Republican Jeff Flake. Iran Lobby cash had made the White House count on him as the Republican who would flip, but Flake came out against the deal. The Iran Lobby invested a good deal of time and money into Schumer, but that effort also failed.

Still these donations were only the tip of the Iran Lobby iceberg.

Gillibrand had also picked up money from the Iran Lobby’s Hassan Nemazee. Namazee was Hillary’s national campaign finance director who had raised a fortune for both her and Kerry before pleading guilty to a fraud scheme encompassing hundreds of millions of dollars. Nemazee had been an IAPAC trustee and had helped set up the organization.

Bill Clinton had nominated Hassan Nemazee as the US ambassador to Argentina when he had only been a citizen for two years.  A spoilsport Senate didn’t allow Clinton to make a member of the Iran Lobby into a US ambassador, but Nemazee remained a steady presence on the Dem fundraising circuit.

Nemazee had donated to Gillibrand and had also kicked in money to help the Franken Recount Fund scour all the cemeteries for freshly dead votes, as well as to Barbara Boxer, who also came out for the Iran nuke deal. Boxer had also received money more directly from IAPAC.

In the House, the Democratic recipients of IAPAC money came out for the deal. Mike Honda, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Iran Lobby backed the nuke sellout. As did Andre Carson, Gerry Connolly, Donna Edwards and Jackie Speier. The Iran Lobby was certainly getting its money’s worth.

But the Iran Lobby’s biggest wins weren’t Markey or Shaheen. The real victory had come long before when two of their biggest politicians, Joe Biden and John Kerry, had moved into prime positions in the administration. Not only IAPAC, but key Iran Lobby figures had been major donors to both men.

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That list includes Housang Amirahmadi, the founder of the American Iranian Council, who had spoken of a campaign to “conquer Obama’s heart and mind” and had described himself as “the Iranian lobby in the United States.” It includes the Iranian Muslim Association of North America (IMAN) board members who had fundraised for Biden. And it includes the aforementioned Hassan Nemazee.

A member of Iran’s opposition had accused Biden’s campaigns of being “financed by Islamic charities of the Iranian regime based in California and by the Silicon Iran network.” Biden’s affinity for the terrorist regime in Tehran was so extreme that after 9/11 he had suggested, “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran”.

Appeasement inflation has since raised that $200 million to at least $50 billion. But there are still no strings worth mentioning attached to the big check.

Questions about donations from the Iran Lobby had haunted Kerry’s campaign. Back then Kerry had been accused of supporting an agreement favorable to Iran. The parameters of that controversial proposal however were less generous than the one that Obama and Kerry are trying to sell now.

The hypothetical debates over the influence of the Iran Lobby have come to a very real conclusion.

Both of Obama’s secretaries of state were involved in Iran Lobby cash controversies, as was his vice president and his former secretary of defense. Obama was also the beneficiary of sizable donations from the Iran Lobby. Akbar Ghahary, the former co-founder of IAPAC, had donated and raised some $50,000 for Obama.

It’s an unprecedented track record that has received very little notice. While the so-called “Israel Lobby” is constantly scrutinized, the fact that key foreign policy positions under Obama are controlled by political figures with troubling ties to an enemy of this country has gone mostly unreported by the mainstream media.

This culture of silence allowed the Iran Lobby to get away with taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times before the Netanyahu speech asking, “Will Congress side with our President or a Foreign Leader?”

Iran’s stooges had taken a break from lobbying for ballistic missiles to play American patriots.

Obama and his allies, Iranian and domestic, have accused opponents of his dirty Iran deal of making “common cause” with that same terror regime and of treason. The ugly truth is that he and his political accomplices were the traitors all along.

Democrats in favor of a deal that will let a terrorist regime go nuclear have taken money from lobbies for that regime. They have broken their oath by taking bribes from a regime whose leaders chant, “Death to America”. Their pretense of examining the deal is nothing more than a hollow charade.

This deal has come down from Iran Lobby influenced politicians like Kerry and is being waved through by members of Congress who have taken money from the Iran Lobby. That is treason plain and simple.

Despite what we are told about its “moderate” leaders, Iran considers itself to be in a state of war with us. Iran and its agents have repeatedly carried out attacks against American soldiers, abducted and tortured to death American officials and have even engaged in attacks on American naval vessels.

Aiding an enemy state in developing nuclear weapons is the worst form of treason imaginable. Helping put weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists is the gravest of crimes.

The Democrats who have approved this deal are turning their party into a party of atom bomb spies.

Those politicians who have taken money from the Iran Lobby and are signing off on a deal that will let Iran go nuclear have engaged in the worst form of treason and committed the gravest of crimes. They must know that they will be held accountable. That when Iran detonates its first bomb, their names will be on it.

Should Obama Have The Honor Of Having A Presidential Library?

By Suzanne M. Price

Question; Should Mr. Obama even have the honor of having a Presidential Library?

Would it not be a constant reminder to “We The People” of his hate for our Great Nation, and his ambitious actions to fundamentally change our country? Not for the better I might add.

There shouldn’t be any public funding for this endeavor.

Please note in this article below, one of his donors, donated to Obama’s Library, an odd $666,666. I can only guess the significance of that amount means. I wonder what this donor knows that we don’t know? Hummm

With High-Profile Help, Obama Plots Life After Presidency

By Michael D. Shear and Gardiner Harris – The New York Times

Weak USA Emboldens China – S. China Sea World Court Case

Editor’s Note – Recently, Stand Up America US Far East/Asia Advisor, Col. John Paul Spickelmier sent us the following article while in Binh Duong Province, Viet Nam that thoroughly describes the curious claims that China is making in its pursuit to expand in the South China Sea.

This very scholarly and well documented article shows how important this subject is for the people of Viet Nam and the Philippines, the major neighbors with claims over the same sets of islands in the South China Sea.

Of course, anyone who views a map of the region can readily see how preposterous China’s claims are (‘U-Shaped Line’), but it will take international judges to sort through the entire history of the region. SUA has reported many times on the subject since 2009, but in 2011 we started to see the hard charge China was making to secure the island chains in question.

In recent years, it became clear that China saw how weak the Obama administration really was all along and is taking advantage at break neck speed and the countries most affected are fighting back. America stands to lose much if China is to be allowed to continue along with our allies, including Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.

We encourage you to read the fascinating history because China is establishing itself in locations to which no sane person would ever believe they have a rightful claim. Japan is also paying close attention to this most important set of sea lanes that can affect world commerce as well.

We embedded two important maps for you to examine, especially over the resources in the area. China’s aggression cannot be permitted.

The importance of evidence: Fact, fiction and the South China Sea

By Bill Hayton – Thanh Nien News

In just a few weeks, international judges will begin to consider the legality of China’s ‘U-shaped line’ claim in the South China Sea. The venue will be the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and the Court’s first step – during deliberations in July – will be to consider whether it should even consider the case. China’s best hope is that the judges will rule themselves out of order because if they don’t, and the Philippines’ case proceeds, it’s highly likely that China will suffer a major embarrassment.

The Philippines wants the Court to rule that, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China can only claim sovereignty and the rights to resources in the sea within certain distances of land territory. If the court agrees, it will have the effect of shrinking the vast ‘U-shaped line’ to a few circles no more than 24 nautical miles (about 50km) in diameter.

SouthChinaSeaClaims

China is not formally participating in the case but it has submitted its arguments indirectly, particularly through a ‘Position Paper’ it published last December. The Paper argued that the Court shouldn’t hear the Philippines’ case until another court had made a ruling on all the competing territorial claims to the different islands, rocks and reefs. This is the issue that the judges will have to consider first.
China’s strategy in the ‘lawfare’ over the South China Sea is to deploy historical arguments in order to outflank arguments based on UNCLOS. China increasingly seems to regard [UNCLOS] not as a neutral means of resolving disputes but as a partisan weapon wielded by other states in order to deny China its natural rights.

But there is a major problem for China in using these historical arguments. There’s hardly any evidence for them.

This isn’t the impression the casual reader would get from reading most of the journalistic articles or think-tank reports written about the South China Sea disputes in recent years. That’s because almost all of these articles and reports rely for their historical background on a very small number of papers and books. Worryingly, a detailed examination of those works suggests they use unreliable bases from which to write reliable histories.

This is a significant obstacle to resolving the disputes because China’s misreading of the historical evidence is the single largest destabilizing factor in the current round of tension. After decades of mis-education, the Chinese population and leadership seem convinced that China is the rightful owner of every feature in the Sea – and possibly of all the water in between. This view is simply not supported by the evidence from the 20th century.

Who controls the past, controls the future

The problem for the region is that this mis-education is not limited to China. Unreliable evidence is clouding the international discourse on the South China Sea disputes. It is skewing assessments of the dispute at high levels of government – both in Southeast Asia and in the United States. I will use three recent publications illustrate my point: two 2014 ‘Commentary’ papers for the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore written by a Chinese academic Li Dexia and a Singaporean Tan Keng Tat , a 2015 presentation by the former US Deputy-Ambassador to China, Charles Freeman at Brown University and a 2014 paper for the US-based Center for Naval Analyses.

SChinaSeaClaimsResources

What is striking about these recent works – and they are just exemplars of a much wider literature – is their reliance on historical accounts published many years ago: a small number of papers published in the 1970s, notably one by Hungdah Chiu and Choon‐Ho Park; Marwyn Samuels’ 1982 book, Contest for the South China Sea; Greg Austin’s 1998 book China’s Ocean Frontier and two papers by Jianming Shen published in 1997 and 2002 .

These writings have come to form the ‘conventional wisdom’ about the disputes. Google Scholar calculates that Chiu and Park’s paper is cited by 73 others, and Samuels’ book by 143. Works that quote these authors include one by Brian Murphy from 1994 and those by Jianming Shen from 1997 and 2002 – which are, in turn, quoted by 34 and 35 others respectively and by Chi-kin Lo, whose 1989 book is cited by 111 other works. Lo explicitly relies on Samuels for most of his historical explanation, indeed praises him for his “meticulous handling of historical data” (p.16). Admiral (ret) Michael McDevitt, who wrote the forward to the CNA paper, noted that Contest for the South China, “holds up very well some 40 years later”.

These works were the first attempts to explain the history of the disputes to English-speaking audiences. They share some common features:

  • They were written by specialists in international law or political science rather than by maritime historians of the region.
  • They generally lacked references to primary source material
  • They tended to rely on Chinese media sources that contained no references to original evidence or on works that refer to these sources
  • They tended to quote newspaper articles from many years later as proof of fact
  • They generally lacked historical contextualizing information
  • They were written by authors with strong links to China

The early works on the disputes

English-language writing on the South China Sea disputes emerged in the immediate aftermath of the ‘Battle of the Paracels’ in January 1974, when PRC forces evicted Republic of Vietnam (‘South Vietnam’) forces from the western half of the islands.

The first analyses were journalistic, including one by Cheng Huan, then a Chinese-Malaysian law student in London now a senior legal figure in Hong Kong, in the following month’s edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review.11  In it, he opined that, “China’s historical claim [to the Paracels] is so well documented and for so many years back into the very ancient past, that it would be well nigh impossible for any other country to make a meaningful counter claim.” This judgement by a fresh-faced student was approvingly quoted in Chi-Kin Lo’s 1989 book ‘China’s Policy Towards Territorial Disputes’.12

The first academic works appeared the following year. They included a paper by Tao Cheng for the Texas International Law Journal13  and another by Hungdah Chiu and Choon‐Ho Park for Ocean Development & International Law.14 The following year, the Institute for Asian Studies in Hamburg published a monograph by the German academic, Dieter Heinzig, entitled ‘‪Disputed islands in the South China Sea’.15 ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ These were pioneering papers but their content – and therefore their analysis – was far from neutral.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Undated photo of ships of the China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in 2012
Undated photo of ships of the China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in 2012

Cheng’s paper relied primarily upon Chinese sources with additional information from American news media. The main Chinese sources were commercial magazines from the 1930s notably editions of the Shanghai-based Wai Jiao Ping Lun [Wai Chiao Ping Lun] (Foreign Affairs Review) from 1933 and 1934 and Xin Ya Xiya yue kan [Hsin-ya-hsi-ya yueh kan] (New Asia Monthly) from 1935. These were supplemented by material from the Hong Kong-based news magazine Ming Pao Monthly from 1973 and 1974. Other newspapers quoted included Kuo Wen Chou Pao (National News Weekly), published in Shanghai between 1924 and 1937,Renmin Ribao [Jen Ming Jih Pao](People’s Daily) and the New York Times. Cheng didn’t reference any French, Vietnamese or Philippine sources with the exception of a 1933 article from La Geographie that had been translated and reprinted in Wai Jiao Ping Lun.

The paper by Hungdah Chiu and Choon‐Ho Park relied upon similar sources. In crucial sections it quotes evidence based upon articles published in 1933 in Wai Jiao Ping Lun16  and Wai Jiao Yue Bao [Wai-chiao yüeh-pao] (Diplomacy monthly),17 and Fan-chih yüeh-k’an [Geography monthly] from 193418  as well as Kuo-wen Chou Pao [National news weekly] from 1933 and the Chinese government’s own Wai-chiao-pu kung-pao, [Gazette of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs].19  It supplements this information with material gathered from a 1948 Shanghai publication by Cheng Tzu-yüeh, Nan-hai chu-tao ti-li chih-lūeh (General records on the geography of southern islands)20  and Republic of China government statements from 195621 and 197422.

Chiu and Park do use some Vietnamese references, notably eight press releases or fact sheets provided by the Embassy of the Republic of Vietnam in Washington. They also refer to some, “unpublished material in the possession of the authors”. However, the vast majority of their sources are from the Chinese media.

Writing a year later, Dieter Heinzig relied, in particular, on editions of two Hong Kong-based publications Ch’i-shih nien-tai (Seventies Monthly) and Ming Pao Monthly23  published in March and May 1974 respectively.

What is significant is that all these foundational papers used as their basic references Chinese media articles that were published at times when discussion about the South China Sea was highly politicised. 1933 was the year that France formally annexed features in the Spratly Islands – provoking widespread anger in China, 1956 was when a Philippine businessman, Tomas Cloma, claimed most of the Spratlys for his own independent country of ‘Freedomland’ – provoking counterclaims by the RoC, PRC and Republic of Vietnam; and 1974 was the year of the Paracels battle.

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Newspaper articles published during these three periods cannot be assumed to be neutral and dispassionate sources of factual evidence. Rather, they should be expected to be partisan advocates of particular national viewpoints. This is not to say they are automatically incorrect but it would be prudent to verify their claims with primary sources. This is not something that the authors did.

The pattern set by Cheng, Chiu and Park and Heinzig was then repeated in Marwyn Samuels’ book Contest for the South China Sea.24  Samuels himself acknowledges the Chinese bias of his sources in the book’s Introduction, when he states “this is not a study primarily either in Vietnamese or Philippine maritime history, ocean policy or interests in the South China Sea. Rather, even as the various claims and counterclaims are treated at length, the ultimate concern here is with the changing character of Chinese ocean policy.” Compounding the issues, Samuels acknowledges that his Asian research was primarily in Taiwanese archives. However, crucial records relating to the RoC’s actions in the South China Sea in the early 20th Century were only declassified in 2008/9, long after his work was published.25

US: Kerry to leave Beijing in 'no doubt' over South China Sea expansion
US: Kerry to leave Beijing in ‘no doubt’ over South China Sea expansion – hardly stopping anything.

There was another burst of history-writing in the late 1990s. The former US State Department Geographer turned oil-sector consultant Daniel Dzurek wrote a paper for the International Boundaries Research Unit of the University of Durham in 1996 and a book by an Australian analyst Greg Austin was published in 1998. Austin’s historical sections reference Samuels’ book, the paper by Chiu and Park, a document published by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in January 1980 entitled ‘China’s indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha and Nansha islands’26  and an article by Lin Jinzhi in the People’s Daily.27  Dzurek’s are similar.

The next major contributor to the narrative was a Chinese-American law professor, Jianming Shen based at St. John’s University School of Law in New York. In 1997 he published a key article in the Hastings International and Comparative Law Review. Like the Texas International Law Journal, the Review is a student-edited publication. It hardly needs saying that an editorial board comprised of law students may not be the best body to oversee works of Asian maritime history. Shen followed this article with a second in a more prestigious journal, the Chinese Journal of International Law – although in many sections it simply referenced the first article.

It seems more than ironic that material produced by the State Oceanic Administration and the Chinese legal establishment has … become part of the Pentagon’s understanding of the history of the South China Sea.

Shen’s two articles have been particularly influential – the 2014 CNA paper references them at least 170 times, for example. However, an examination of their sources shows them to be just as suspect as their predecessors. The historical sections that provide the evidence for his 1997 paper rely in large part on two sources. One is a book edited by Duanmu Zheng entitled Guoji Fa (International Law) published by Peking University Press in 1989 (referenced at least 18 times).28  The following year Duanmu became the PRC’s second-highest ranking legal official – Vice President of the PRC’s Supreme People’s Court – and was later one of the drafters of the Hong Kong Basic Law.29  In other words, he was a senior Chinese state official.

Shen’s other main historical source is a collection of papers from a Symposium On The South China Sea Islands organised by the Institute for Marine Development Strategy, part of the Chinese State Oceanic Administration, in 1992 (referenced at least 11 times). It seems more than ironic that material produced by the State Oceanic Administration and the Chinese legal establishment has subsequently been processed through the writings of Professor Shen and then the Center for Naval Analyses and now become part of the Pentagon’s understanding of the history of the South China Sea.

Major shipping lanes in the South China Seas
Major shipping lanes in the South China Seas

None of the writers mentioned so far were specialists in the maritime history of the South China Sea. Instead they were political scientists (Cheng and Samuels), lawyers (Chiu and Park and Shen) or international relations specialists (Heinzig and Austin). As a rule their works don’t examine the integrity of the texts that they quote, nor do they discuss the contexts in which they were produced. In particular Cheng and Chiu and Park incorporate anachronistic categories – such as ‘country’ to describe pre-modern relations between political entities around the South China Sea – for periods when political relations were quite different from those that exist today.

It’s also worth noting that Cheng, Chiu and Shen were Chinese-born. Cheng and Shen both graduated with LLBs from Peking University. Chiu graduated from National Taiwan University. While this does not, of course, automatically make them biased, it is reasonable to assume they were more familiar with Chinese documents and the Chinese point of view. Both Samuels and Heinzig were scholars of China.

Flawed evidence

It is hardly surprising that the first English-language writings on the disputes, written as they were by Chinese authors and based upon Chinese sources, come down on the Chinese side of the argument. Cheng’s judgement (p277) was that, “it is probably safe to say that the Chinese position in the South China Sea islands dispute is a “superior claim”. Chiu and Park (p.20) concluded that “China has a stronger claim to the sovereignty of the Paracels and the Spratlies [sic] than does Vietnam”. Shen’s point of view is obvious from the titles of his papers: ‘International Law Rules and Historical Evidence Supporting China’s Title to the South China Sea Islands’ and ‘China’s Sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands’.

These verdicts are still influential today: they were quoted in Li and Tan’s 2014 papers, for example. Yet a closer examination of the evidence upon which they are based suggests they are deeply flawed. Those magazine articles from 1933, 1956 and 1974 should not be regarded as neutral evidence but as partisan readings of a contested history.

There isn’t space here to cover all the claims the writers make about events before the 19th Century. In summary, the accounts by Cheng, Chiu and Park, Samuels and Shen all share the common assumption: that China has always been the dominant naval, trading and fishing power in the South China Sea. Cheng, for example puts it like this, “It has been an important part of the sea route from Europe to the Orient since the 16th century, a haven for fishermen from the Hainan Island, and the gateway for Chinese merchants from south China to Southeast Asia since earlier times” (p.266).

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More empirically-based histories of the Sea suggest the situation was much more complex. Works by the historians Leonard Blussé, Derek Heng, Pierre-Yves Manguin, Roderich Ptak, Angela Schottenhammer, Li Tana, Nicholas Tarling and Geoff Wade have revealed a much more heterogeneous usage of the sea in the pre-modern period. Chinese vessels and merchants played almost no role in seaborne trade till the 10th century and even after that were never dominant but shared the sea with Malays, Indians, Arabs and Europeans. Research by François-Xavier Bonnet30, Ulises Granados31  and Stein Tonnesson32  show how similar patterns persisted into the 20th century.

Accounts from the early 20th century demonstrate that the Chinese state had great trouble even controlling its own coast, and was completely unable to project authority to islands hundreds of miles offshore. For example, two articles in The Times of London from January 1908 describe the inability of the Chinese authorities to control ‘piracy’ in the West River – inland from Canton/Guangzhou.33  A 1909 article by the Australian newspaper, The Examinertells us that foreigners (“two Germans, one Japanese, and several Malays”) had begun mining operations on Hainan Island without the authorities finding out until much later.34

What these contemporary accounts reveal is a South China Sea that until the mid 20th century was essentially ungoverned, except for the occasional interventions of foreign powers against piracy. It was only in 1909, following the scandal surrounding the occupation of Pratas Island by a Japanese guano entrepreneur Nishizawa Yoshiji, that the Chinese authorities became interested in the offshore islands.35

Protests against German surveys

Samuels (p52), however, argues that an implicit Chinese claim to the Spratly Islands might be dated to 1883 when – according to his account – the Qing government officially protested against a German state-sponsored expedition to the Spratly Islands. The assertion is sourced to the May 1974 edition of the Hong Kong-based magazine Ming Pao Monthly without other corroborating evidence. Chiu and Park (in footnote 47) ascribe it to an article published 50 years after the alleged events in question in the September 1933 edition of Wai Jiao Yue Bao (Wai-chiao yüeh-pao) [Diplomacy monthly],36  Heinzig quotes the same edition of Ming Pao that Samuels relies on to state that the 1883 German expedition actually withdrew following the Chinese protest.

This claim seems highly unlikely because the German surveyors mapped theParacel Islands (not the Spratlys) between 1881 and 1883, finished their work and subsequently published a chart. A French edition was published in 1885.37
The 1887 Sino-Tonkin convention
Samuels argues that the 1887 Sino-Tonkin convention negotiated by the French government, nominally on behalf of Tonkin, amounted to an international agreement allocating the islands to China (p52). Article 3 of the Convention does indeed allocate islands east of the Paris meridian 105°43’ to China. But Samuels and the other authors failed to notice that the Convention applied to Tonkin – the northernmost area of what is now Vietnam and therefore can only relate to islands in the Gulf of Tonkin. The Paracels and Spratlys lie much further south in what were then the realms of Annam and Cochinchina, not covered by the Convention.

The mystery of the 1902 voyage

There also appears to be some confusion about the date of the first visit by Chinese officials to the Paracel Islands. Samuels (p.53), on the strength of the 1974 Ming Pao Monthly article, puts it in 1902 with a return visit in 1908. Austin and Dzurek follow Samuels in this. Li and Tan (2014) also assert the 1902 claim, along with one of a separate expedition in 1907. Cheng dates it to 1907, based on several 1933 references38  as do Chiu and Park who make reference to a 1933 edition of Kuo-wen chou-pao.39  However, in contrast to these accounts, written 26 and 72 years after the events they supposedly describe, a survey of contemporaneous newspapers makes it quite clear that the voyage took place in 1909.

There is good reason for the confusion about the 1902 expedition. In June 1937 the chief of Chinese Administrative Region Number 9, Huang Qiang, was sent on a secret mission to the Paracels – partly to check if there was Japanese activity in the islands.
But he had another role too – which a secret annex to his report makes clear. An excerpt of the annex was published in Chinese in 1987 by the Committee of Place Names of Guangdong Province.40  His boat was loaded with 30 stone markers – some dated 1902, others 1912 and others 1921. On North Island, they buried two markers from 1902 and four from 1912; on Lincoln Island, the team buried one marker from 1902, one from 1912 and one from 1921 and on Woody Island, two markers from 1921. Finally, on Rocky Island, they deposited a single marker, dated 1912.

The markers were forgotten until 1974 when, after the battle of the Paracels, they were found and the ‘discovery’ was trumpeted in Hong Kong newspapers – such as Ming Pao Monthly. The non-existent 1902 expedition then entered the history books. Only now has it been debunked by the Manila-based French geographer Francois-Xavier Bonnet.41

The island names

In his 1997 paper Shen claims the RoC Government “reviewed the names of the islands in the South China Sea” in 1932. In fact that government committee simply translated or transliterated the existing British or international names. As a result several of the Chinese names continue to honour the British surveyors that first mapped the features. In the Paracels, Líng yang Jiao – Antelope Reef – is named after a British survey vessel, the Antelope. Jīn yín Dǎo – Money Island – is not named after notes and coins – but after William Taylor Money, the Superintendent of the Bombay Marine – the navy of the East India Company.

1933 diplomatic protest?

One argument that is key to China’s claim to the Spratlys is the oft-repeated assertion that the Republic of China made a formal protest to the Government of France following the latter’s formal annexation of several features in the Spratly Islands on 26 July 1933. It’s certainly true that the annexation provoked consternation in government and nationalist anger among the public. But was a formal protest ever lodged?
Tao Cheng, in his 1975 paper, references an article in Xin Ya Xi Ya Yue Kan [Hsin-ya-hsi-ya yueh kan] (New Asia Monthly), from two years later, 1935.42  Chiu and Park state in a footnote that, “there is proof that China also protested”. They reference an article in Wai-chiao yüeh-pao [Diplomacy monthly] by Cho Min43, and a 1948 book by Cheng Tzu-yüeh Nan-hai chu-tao ti-li chih-lūeh [General records on the geography of southern islands].44

However, they concede that, “The date of the Chinese note was not reported in Cheng’s book, nor is it mentioned in the ‘Memorandum on Four Large Archipelagoes of the Republic of China in South Sea,’ issued by the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February 1974. See Lien-ho-pao [United daily news], overseas edition, February 25, 1974, p. 3.”

This claim appears in Ambassador Freeman’s presentation and in the CNA paper – which quoted Shen. In his 1997 paper Shen quotes two sources: Cheng and Chiu and Park – but as we have just seen – they do not provide any references for their claim. In his 2002 paper, Shen references papers from the State Oceanic Administration’s symposium.45  These papers are not available outside China but there is good evidence that all of these works are simply wrong.

The RoC decided that it had no claim in the Spratly Islands in 1933.

Francois-Xavier Bonnet has found American records showing that immediately after the French announcement the Chinese government had to ask its consul in Manila, Mr Kuan-ling Kwong to ask the American colonial authorities there for a map showing their location. Only then was the government in Nanjing able to understand that these islands were not in the Paracels and then decide not to issue any formal protest.46

According to Bonnet, the reason is evident from minutes of a meeting of the Republic of China’s Military Council on 1 September 1933, “All our professional geographers say that Triton Island [in the Paracels] is the southernmost island of our territory.”47  The RoC decided that it had no claim in the Spratly Islands at that point and therefore had nothing to protest against.

Research by Chris Chung, a Canadian PhD student, has found that by 1946, RoC files were referring to China’s formal protest in 1933 as if it were fact. This then became the Chinese justification to ‘reclaim’ the islands from Japan after the Second World War.48

In summary, what seems to have happened is that over the 13 years after the French annexation a different understanding of what had happened in 1933 took hold in RoC governing circles. My hypothesis is that Chinese officials confused a real 1932 protest to the French about activity in the Paracels with a non-existent 1933 protest about the Spratlys.

1930s surveys

In his 2002 paper, Shen claims the RoC, “organized three rounds of large-scale survey and renaming activities respectively in 1932, 1935 and 1947” (p.107) but there was no surveying work done in the Spratly Islands, just copying from international maps. This seems to be why the RoC mistranslated the name of the James Shoal – initially calling it Zengmu Tan. Zeng-mu is simply the transliteration of James. Tan means sandbank, when in fact the shoal is underwater. By this simple mis-translation a piece of seabed became an island and to this day is regarded as China’s southernmost territory – even though it doesn’t exist! The names were revised by the RoC in 1947 (at which point Zengmu Tan becameZengmu Ansha – reef) and the again by the PRC in 1983.49

The Cairo Declaration

The Cairo Declaration does not indicate that these [South China Sea islands] would be returned to China.

Shen (2002 p139) and Xi and Tan (2014) follow the PRC foreign ministry in arguing that, under the 1943 Cairo Declaration, the wartime allies awarded the South China Sea islands to China. The CAN paper discusses this claim and explicitly rejects it on the grounds that,
“The Cairo Declaration, as reinforced by the Potsdam Proclamation, only provides that China would recover Manchuria, Formosa [Taiwan], and the Pescadores [Penghu Islands] after the war. The next sentence simply provides that Japan would be expelled from “other territories” which it had taken by violence, but it does not indicate that these “other territories” would be returned to China. Although not specifically stated, the only logical conclusion is that these “other territories” included the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which were seized by violence from France, not China.” (p97)

Freeman (2015), however, argues that, because the Japanese authorities incorporated the Paracels and Spratlys into their province of Taiwan, the Cairo Declaration returns them, along with the rest of ‘Taiwan Province’ to China. But the Declaration doesn’t mention the word ‘Taiwan’, it talks about Formosa and the Pescadores. The logical conclusion is that the allies only agreed that these particular islands should be returned to China.

The surrender of the Japanese garrisons in the Paracels and Spratlys

The CNA paper and Ambassador Freeman’s presentation both carry claims that Chinese forces received the surrender of the Japanese garrisons in the Paracels and Spratlys at the end of the Second World War. Freeman has argued that the US Navy actually transported Chinese forces to the islands for this purpose. In personal communication with the author he has not been able to provide any corroborating evidence for the assertion.

Based upon evidence from US and Australian military archives, the claim seems very unlikely to be true. During the war Japan had military bases on Woody and Pattle islands in the Paracels and Itu Aba in the Spratlys. Woody Island was shelled by the submarine USS Pargo on 6 February 194550  and on 8 March American aircraft bombed both it and Pattle Island.51  When another submarine, the USS Cabrilla, visited Woody Island on 2 July, the French tricolour was flying, but this time with a white flag above it.52

Itu Aba was napalmed by US planes on 1 May 1945. Six months later, the US Navy sent a reconnaissance mission to Itu Aba, It landed on 20 November 1945 and found the island unoccupied – the Japanese had fled.

It wasn’t until more than a year later – December 1946 that a Chinese landing party – using second-hand American warships just transferred to the RoC Navy – was able to reach the island. (The French had arrived two months before and reclaimed the island but that’s rarely mentioned in Chinese sources.) The Chinese name for Itu Aba is Taiping Dao, named after the warship that carried the landing party. The Taiping was previously the USS Decker. The irony is that if the US had not supplied those warships China would have no claim in the Spratly Islands today!

The Chinese state’s interest in [islands in the South China Sea] only dates from the 20th century.

Conclusion

A review of the verifiable evidence tells a different history about the islands in the South China Sea than that found in the most of the commonly used reference texts. The Chinese state’s interest in them only dates from the 20th century. There’s no evidence yet put forward for any Chinese state official visiting the Paracel Islands before 6 June 1909. It was only in 1933 that national attention was turned to the Spratly Islands – and at that time the Republic of China decided not to press a claim to them. Attention was revived immediately after the Second World War, based on misunderstandings about what happened in 1933 and for the first time ever, a Chinese official landed in the Spratly Islands on 12 December 1946.

In 1933, 1956, 1974 and again today histories of the islands were written and rewritten. During each crisis advocates of the Chinese position published new versions of history that often recycled earlier mistakes and sometimes added in more of their own. By the time these accounts leapt the language barrier into English in the mid-1970s their shaky foundations appeared solid to those exploring the history for the first time. They were printed in western academic journals and ‘became fact’. But a review of their sources reveals their inherent weakness.

It is no longer good enough for advocates of the Chinese claim to base their arguments on such baseless evidence. It is time that a concerted effort was made to re-examine the primary sources for many of the assertions put forward by these writers and reassess their accuracy. The resolution of the disputes depends on it – both in the courtrooms of The Hague and in the waters of the South China Sea.


This article was originally published by Asia Sentinel at http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/fact-fiction-south-china-sea/. Reposted with permission.

Former BBC correspondent Bill Hayton is the author of ‘The South China Sea: the struggle for power in Asia,’ called “the first book to make clear sense of the South Sea disputes.”


Notes: 
1. Li Dexia and Tan Keng Tat, South China Sea Disputes: China Has Evidence of Historical Claims. RSIS Commentary 165 dated 15 August 2014 Available at http://www.rsis.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/CO14165.pdf. See also Li Dexia, Xisha (Paracel) Islands: Why China’s Sovereignty is ‘Indisputable’. RSIS Commentary 116 dated 20 June 2014. Available at http://www.rsis.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/CO14116.pdf

2. Charles Freeman, Diplomacy on the rocks. Remarks at a Seminar of the Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University 10 April 2015. http://chasfreeman.net/diplomacy-on-the-rocks-china-and-other-claimants-in-the-south-china-sea/

3. Pete Pedrozo, China versus Vietnam: An Analysis of the Competing Claims in the South China Sea, Center for Naval Analyses, August 2014. Available at http://www.cna.org/sites/default/files/research/IOP-2014-U-008433.pdf

4. Hungdah Chiu & Choon‐Ho Park (1975): Legal status of the Paracel and Spratly Islands, Ocean Development & International Law, 3:1, 1-28

5. Marwyn S. Samuels, Contest for the South China Sea, Methuen New York, 1982.

6. Greg Austin, China’s Ocean Frontier: International Law, Military Force, and National Development. ‪Allen & Unwin, 1998‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

7. Jianming Shen, International Law Rules and Historical Evidence Supporting China’s Title to the South China Sea Islands, 21 Hastings International and Comparative Law Review. 1‐75 (1997‐1998)

8. Jianming Shen, China’s Sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands: A Historical Perspective, CHINESE JIL (2002), pp. 94‐157

9. Brian K. Murphy, Dangerous Ground: the Spratly Islandss and International Law, Ocean and Coastal L.J. (1994), pp. 187-212

10. Chi-kin Lo, China’s Policy Towards Territorial Disputess: The Case of the South China Sea Islands. Routledge 1989

11. Cheng Huan, A matter of legality. Far Eastern Economic Review. February 1974

12. Chi-Kin Lo, China’s Policy Towards Territorial Disputes. Routledge, London. 1989

13. Tao Cheng, Dispute over the South China Sea Islands, Texas International Law Journal 265 (1975)

14. Chiu & Park (1975) ibid

15. Dieter Heinzig. ‘‪Disputed islands in the South China Sea: ‪Paracels, Spratlys, Pratas, Macclesfield Bank‬’ Institut für Asienkunde (Hamburg). 1976‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

16. Wai-chiao p’ing-lun [The foreign affairs review], Shanghai, vol. 2, no. 10 (October 1933), pp. 64-65

17. Wai-chiao yüeh-pao [Diplomacy monthly], vol 3, no. 3 (Peiping [Peking], September 15, 1933), p. 78

18. Fan-chih yüeh-k’an [Geography monthly], vol. 7, no. 4 (Nanking, April 1, 1934), p. 2.

19. Wai-chiao-pu kung-pao, [Gazette of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] vol 6, no. 3 (July-September 1933), p. 208

20. Cheng Tzu-yüeh, Nan-hai chu-tao ti-li chih-lūeh [General records on the geography of southern islands] (Shanghai: Shang-wu ying-shu-kuan, 1948).

21. Statement made by the ROC Foreign Ministry on June 10, 1956, summarized in “Vietnamese Claim of Sovereignty Refuted,” Free China Weekly, June 26, 1956, p. 3;Chung-yang jih-pao, June 11, 1956, p. 6; Shao Hsun-cheng, “Chinese Islands in the South China Sea,” People’s China, no. 13 (Peking, 1956)
 Foreign Languages Press

22. Lien-ho-pao [United daily news], overseas edition, February 25, 1974, p. 3; “Memorandum on Four Large Archipelagoes,” ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs (February 1974).

13. Ming Pao (yüeh-k’an) No. 101 May 1974

24. Marwyn S. Samuels, Contest for the South China Sea’, Methuen, New York. 1982

25. Chris P.C. Chung, “Since Time Immemorial”:
 China’s Historical Claim in the South China Sea. MA Thesis, University of Calgary, September 2013. p8

26. PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China’s indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha and Nansha islands, Beijing Review Vol. 23 No.7 1980 pp15-24

27. Lin Jinzhi, Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) 7 April 1980. FBIS-PRC-80-085 30 April 1980 p.E6

28. Duanmu Zheng ed. Guoji Fa (International Law) Peking University Press, Beijing 1989

29. Interestingly Duanmu was not a member of the Communist Party, but of the China Democratic League. Colin Mackerras, The New Cambridge Handbook of Contemporary China. ‪Cambridge University Press, 2001 ‬p85.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

30. Bonnet, Geopolitics of Scarborough Shoal. Discussion Paper #14. IRASEC (Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia), Bangkok. November 2012

31. Ulises Granados, As China Meets the Southern Sea Frontier: Ocean Identity in the Making, 1902-1937. Pacific Affairs Vol. 78, No. 3 (Fall, 2005), pp. 443-461

32. See, in particular, Stein Tonnesson, The South China Sea in the Age of European Decline. Modern Asian Studies. Vol 40, Issue 01. February 2006, pp 1-57 and An International History of the Dispute in the South China Sea, East Asia Institute Working Paper No. 71 (2001)

33. The Times “Chinese foreign relations” Jan 18, 1908; pg. 5; The Times “The recent piracy in Canton waters”. Jan 25, 1908; pg. 5;

34. The Examiner (Launceston, Tasmania) “China and her islands-keeping an eye on foreign nations” Saturday 12 June 1909 p 8

35. See Granados (2005) above

36. This was disclosed by the Kuangtung Provincial government in 1933. See Cho Min, “The Triangular Relationship Among China, France and Japan and the Question of Nine Islands in South Sea,” Wai-chiao yüeh-pao [Diplomacy monthly], Vol 3, no. 3 (Peiping [Peking], September 15, 1933); p. 82, note 4.

37. Hydrographic Office, The Admiralty, The China Sea Directory, Vol. 2, London, 1889, p.103. Quoted in Bonnet 2012. See also David Hancox and Victor Prescott, A Geographical Description of the Spratly Islands and an Account of Hydrographic Surveys Amongst Those Islands, Maritime Briefing Vol1 No6, International Boundaries Research Unit, University of Durham 1995 p36

38. Cheng references: Saix, Iles Paracels, La Geographie (Nov.-Dec. 1933), reprinted in 3 Wai Chiao Ping Lun (Foreign Affairs Review), No. 5 (Hu Huan-Yung Chinese transl. May 1934), at 65-72;, at 67; Hu, Fa-jen Mou-tuo Hsi-Sha Ch’ün-tao [The French Plot to Snatch the Paracel Islands], 3 Wai Chiao Ping Lun (Foreign Affairs Review), No. 4 (April 1934), at 92.

39. “On Li Chun’s Patrol of the Sea” Kuo-wen chou-pao [National news weekly], vol. 10, no. 33 (August 21, 1933), p. 6.

40. Committee of Place Names of the Guangdong Province [Guangdong sheng di ming wei yuan hui], Compilation of references of the names of all the South Sea islands [Nan Hai zhu dao di ming zi liao hui bian], Guangdong Map Publishing Company [Guangdong sheng di tu chu ban she], 1987, p.289

41. Paper presented by Francois-Xavier Bonnet at the Southeast Asia Sea conference, Ateneo Law Center, Makati, Manila. March 27 2015. (Reported here: http://opinion.inquirer.net/84307/a-chinese-strategy-manipulating-the-record)

42. Lu, Hsi-sha Ch’iin-tao Chih-yao [A Brief Note on the Paracel Islands], 9 Hsin Ya Hsi Ya Yueh Kan No. 6 (June 1935), at 50-54.

43. Cho Min, “The Triangular Relationship Among China, France and Japan and the Question of Nine Islands in South Sea,” Wai-chiao yüeh-pao [Diplomacy monthly], vol 3, no. 3 (Peiping [Peking], September 15, 1933), p. 78;

44. Cheng Tzu-yüeh, Nan-hai chu-tao ti-li chih-lūeh [General records on the geography of southern islands] (Shanghai: Shang-wu ying-shu-kuan, 1948), p.80

45. Jianming Shen, International Law Rules and Historical Evidence Supporting China’s Title to the South China Sea Islands, 21 Hastings International and Comparative Law Review. 1‐75 (1997) footnote 160.

46. François-Xavier Bonnet, Geopolitics of Scarborough Shoal, IRASEC Discussion Papers #14, Bangkok November 2012.

47. Wai Jiao bu nan hai zhu dao dang an hui bian [Compilation by the Department of Foreign Affairs of all the records concerning the islands in the South Sea], Vol. 1, Taipeh, 1995, p. 47-49.
Quoted in François-Xavier Bonnet, Geopolitics of Scarborough Shoal. Discussion Paper #14. IRASEC (Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia), Bangkok. November 2012

48. See Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Nansha Qundao [南沙群島, or the “Spratly Archipelago”],” The Historical Archives of the Department of Modern History in the Academia Sinica [Zhongyang Yanjiuyuan Jindaishi Yanjiusuo Dang’an Guancang 中央研究院近代史研究所檔案館藏], file series 019.3/0012, file 031. This ROC official telegram is dated August 24, 1946. AND Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Nansha Qundao [南沙群島, or the “Spratly Archipelago”],” The Historical Archives of the Department of Modern History in the Academia Sinica [Zhongyang Yanjiuyuan Jindaishi Yanjiusuo Dang’an Guancang 中央研究院近代史研究所檔案館藏], file series 019.3/0012, file 145-146. This ROC official telegram is also dated to 1946. The month is unclear.

49. Chen Keqin, Zhong guo nan hai zhu dao (China’s south sea islands) Hainan International Press and Publication Center, Haikou 1996

50. A.B. Feuer, Australian Commandos: Their Secret War Against the Japanese in World War II (Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, 2006), Chapter 6.

51. US Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 117 (VPB–117), Aircraft Action Report No. 92, available at .

52. US Navy, USS Cabrilla Report of 8th War Patrol, available at http://www.fold3.com/ image/#300365402

Retired Command and Flag Staff Remain Quiet on Iran Deal

Editor’s Note – Many recent retirees from our military remain on the sidelines concerning the Iran Deal but the following article does not address the opinions of longer term retirees who have been very vocal in their opposition.

Of the many retired generals, admirals, and other command staff, several stand out in stark opposition to how the Obama administration began the process of talking to Iran, then the lengthy negotiation process, and the resulting agreement now in the hands of Congress.

Some include the founder of SUA, MG Paul Vallely, US Army (Ret.), Kitchen Cabinet member and co-founder of the Citizen’s Commission on Benghazi, Adm. Ace Lyons, USN (Ret.), and close friend and former Congressman, Lt. Col. Allen West, US Army (Ret.).

StupIranRally2

In fact, last July, MG Vallely, Adm. Lyons, and Lt. Col. West gave speeches in opposition at the “Stop Iran Rally” in Times Square. Many other notable people joined them in a bi-partisan manner including more active and former politicians and world leaders.

We applaud recent retiree Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn for his stance in opposition, and like the article below explains, the Obama administration attempted to down play those in opposition by pushing a cadre of others to support his efforts by signing a letter to that extent.

We saw that move as yet another attempt at skewing the picture for the public and displaying the politicization of the military. If certain other retirees wish to remain silent, so be it, but far more oppose the deal than support it, of that we are certain.

We are also pleased that NY Senator, Chuck Schumer for standing in opposition and invite you to join him as another rally is planned to take place at the office his fellow NY Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand on September first. Kill the deal!

Retired brass avoid firm positions on Iranian nuke deal

By Andrew Tilghman, Staff Writer – Military Times

Many of the most prominent retired U.S. military officers are opting against expressing any firm public endorsement of or opposition to the controversial Iran nuclear deal.

“I have not yet taken a position,” retired Army Gen. David Petraeus said in a recent interview.SchumerIranDeal

“I recognize the benefits, significant benefits in rolling back the Iranian nuclear program for a 10- to 15-year period,” said Petraeus, the former commanding general of the U.S. war in Iraq who later also oversaw U.S. military strategy across the Middle East as the head of U.S. Central Command.

“But I also recognize that these have to be weighed against the downsides of an agreement in terms of additional resources going to [Iran’s] proxy elements that are causing problems in the region and beyond,” Petraeus said.

As the debate about the Iranian nuclear deal grows increasingly politicized, partisan advocates are eager to seize on any strong views from respected military officers. Yet very few military officers are weighing in with public views on the deal. If and when they do, they avoid making sweeping conclusions.

“I would debunk the idea that the deal is it — and you either like it or you hate it, or it’s good or it’s bad. That is a bunch of nonsense,” retired Adm. William Fallon, another former CENTCOM commander, told a room of national security professionals at a think tank event in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 4

The deal struck in July between Iran and the U.S. and other Western countries is a 159-page document that would essentially limit Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon in exchange for lifting the financial and oil sanctions that have constrained the Iranian economy.

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis declined a Military Times request to talk about the Iran nuclear deal. (Photo: Staff)
Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis declined a Military Times request to talk about the Iran nuclear deal. (Photo: Staff)

Congress will vote in September to potentially block President Obama’s authority to lift the sanctions, which would effectively kill the long-sought deal.

For now Obama appears to have enough support to weather the stiff opposition and retain the authority to execute the deal. But as many Republicans and some Democrats line up to oppose him, the outcome is uncertain.

The White House touted an Aug. 11 letter from three dozen retired generals and admirals offering firm support for the deal and urging Congress not to kill it.

The letter’s signatories include retired Marine Corps Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, who oversaw the Pentagon’s nuclear force as head of U.S. Strategic Command, and retired Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Hoar, who headed CENTCOM from 1991 to 1994.

Yet many national security watchers noted numerous names missing from that list, including Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, who served as Obama’s national security adviser during his first term. Jones did not return Military Times’ request for an interview about the nuclear deal.

In fact, none of the CENTCOM chiefs or Joint Staff chairmen from the past 20 years signed the letter.

“I noticed that very few of them are the most senior people,” said Prof. Richard Kohn, who teaches military history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kohn said the controversial issue is far too politicized.

“The overwhelming majority of retired senior officers recognize they should avoid partisanship and even the appearance of partisanship because it lowers respect among the American people for the loyalty and nonpartisanship of the military profession,” Kohn said in an interview.

Letters like the one signed by the 36 generals and admirals can “give the impression to many people who are not well-informed about the military profession that they are speaking for a large number of retired military or for the military itself.

It looks like a military intervention in politics.”

Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn
Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn

Very few retired military officers have publicly opposed the nuclear deal. Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn has criticized it.

And a newly created group called Veterans against the Deal is distributing a video highlighting Iran’s link to hundreds of catastrophic attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq.

The new agreement could empower the anti-American regime, they say.

The Obama administration’s handling of its Iran policy was reportedly a source of tension between the White House and former CENTCOM Commander Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis.

For years he expressed hawkish views about Iran, but Mattis, who retired in 2013, declined a Military Times request to talk about the deal.

Fallon described the deal as a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran and said he believes the U.S. should press ahead with the agreement and bring the appropriate skepticism to the implementation process.

“In my mind it comes down to basically a choice: Do we continue the stalemate (between the U.S. and Iran) with the likelihood that sooner or later a mistake of some magnitude is going to be made. I witnessed several errors in judgment during my time out in the region that could have quite easily escalated into something ugly in terms of military action.

“My perusal of history is that sooner or later virtually every impasse, every stonewalled negotiation, every ‘us-against-them’ reaches a point where there is some sort of dialogue initiated to try to move forward and change the future from the past. I think that is what we really have going on here.”

“In my mind it’s pretty much of a no-brainer; we ought to take the next step and see if we can get this thing implemented. And try to move forward — no illusions either side trusts the other. … It’s all going to be about how it’s implemented,” Fallon said.

Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, a former CENTCOM commander, recently suggested a similar wait-and-see approach.

“The agreement cannot be judged as good or bad on its own,” said Zinni in an interview with the Virginia Gazette newspaper. “Like all agreements, the judgment will come based on how it is implemented. The quality of the inspections and verification will be key as will Iran’s degree of cooperation. If Iran cooperates and begins to agree to open talks on other issues, the agreement will have been a success.”

Some retired officers are offering views behind closed doors in an effort to aid policymakers facing a complex issue.

Petraeus has worked closely with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and its Iran Study Group, a team of former top government officials who helped examine and clarify the technical details of the legal agreement.

StopIranRally3

He said the Obama “administration has engaged us and has addressed some of the reservations that we have expressed. And that dialogue is continuing.”

“Clearly there are benefits from the Iranian nuclear deal in terms of eliminating the 20 percent enriched uranium, reducing the low enriched uranium stockpile by some 95 percent, eliminating the plutonium path to a bomb, reducing significantly the number of centrifuges and providing for increased inspections as well as some other clear benefits,” he said.

Petraeus said he was reassured by one aspect of the deal that clarifies nuclear-related sanctions will be lifted on Iran, but those sanctions imposed for terrorist activity, specifically targeting Qassem Suleimani, the notorious commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds force, can remain intact.

Nevertheless, Petraeus said, “There should be no question that some of the $100 billion, $150 billion in assets that Iran will receive — currently frozen assets — when the sanctions are lifted, some of that will go to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force and undoubtedly to Iranian-supported elements such as Lebanese Hezbollah, various Shia militias in Iraq, the Houthi forces in Yemen, and Bashar al-Asad’s regime in Syria, and possibly Hamas.”

“The single biggest issue really is assurance, assurance that Iran will not be allowed to enrich weapons-grade uranium.”

Theology of Rape -ISIS and Minority Populations

Editor’s Note – The plight of the Yazidi and other minorities at the hands of the Islamic State was captured well by the New York Times and also Dr. Mordecai Kedar in his opinion piece published in Arutz Sheva called “How to Ensure the Future of Iraq’s Minority Groups“.

He begins his discourse with some history:

The entire world is appalled at the tragedy that has befallen the Yazidis of northern Iraq. An ethnic group whose culture spans thousands of years and who survived a problematic history, is facing extermination at the hands of Islamic State, which has been murdering the men and selling the women, girls and children in the slave market. (Read the entire article here.)

Dr. Kedar continues;Kedar

Can anything be done to save the Yazidis? This question is just as applicable to all the other persecuted Christian groups in Iraq, such as the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Nestorians and Arameans, whose lot is the same as that of the Yazidis, except that many of them have managed to escape from Iraq.

In addition, there are other non-Islamic groups in Iraq who are suffering Islamic persecution, such as the Saba’is, Mande’is, Zoroastrians, Bahais, all of them considered heretic and pagan idol worshippers whose fate is to be identical to that of the Yazidis and Christians.

It is worth noting that except for the Bahais, all these ethnic groups and religions are more ancient than Islam and have been in Iraq – as the Jews were – for hundreds and thousands of years, way before Iraq was conquered by Islam in the 7th century C.E.

After more explanation on the reasons Iraq cannot be fixed in its current state, he offers a possible solution;

I would like to suggest a possible solution – and in my opinion, the only solution – for the persecuted ethnic groups in Iraq, one that may bring the suffering of all non-Muslim minorities in Iraq to an end. The solution is to establish a political entity in an area of northern Iraq, to which all the minorities can move, there to be protected by an international force.

Please read on for all the details regarding appalling state of affairs for these people here:

ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape

By Rukmini Callimachi – The New York Times

QADIYA, Iraq — In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.

He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.

When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.

EnshrineRapeIS

“I kept telling him it hurts — please stop,” said the girl, whose body is so small an adult could circle her waist with two hands. “He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,” she said in an interview alongside her family in a refugee camp here, to which she escaped after 11 months of captivity.

The trade in Yazidi women and girls has created a persistent infrastructure, with a network of warehouses where the victims are held, viewing rooms where they are inspected and marketed, and a dedicated fleet of buses used to transport them.

A total of 5,270 Yazidis were abducted last year, and at least 3,144 are still being held, according to community leaders.

To handle them, the Islamic State has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by the ISIS-run Islamic courts. And the practice has become an established recruiting tool to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden.

A growing body of internal policy memos and theological discussions has established guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy how-to manual issued by the Islamic State Research and Fatwa Department just last month. Repeatedly, the ISIS leadership has emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually beneficial, even virtuous.

“Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” said F, a 15-year-old girl who was captured on the shoulder of Mount Sinjar one year ago and was sold to an Iraqi fighter in his 20s. Like some others interviewed by The New York Times, she wanted to be identified only by her first initial because of the shame associated with rape.

“He kept telling me this is ibadah,” she said, using a term from Islamic scripture meaning worship.

“He said that raping me is his prayer to God. I said to him, ‘What you’re doing to me is wrong, and it will not bring you closer to God.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s allowed. It’s halal,’ ” said the teenager, who escaped in April with the help of smugglers after being enslaved for nearly nine months.

Calculated Conquest

The Islamic State’s formal introduction of systematic sexual slavery dates to Aug. 3, 2014, when its fighters invaded the villages on the southern flank of Mount Sinjar, a craggy massif of dun-colored rock in northern Iraq.

Its valleys and ravines are home to the Yazidis, a tiny religious minority who represent less than 1.5 percent of Iraq’s estimated population of 34 million.

Sunset over Dohuk, in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Islamic State militants have conquered large areas of Iraq, and the systematic rape of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority has become deeply enmeshed in the group's organization and theology. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
Sunset over Dohuk, in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Islamic State militants have conquered large areas of Iraq, and the systematic rape of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority has become deeply enmeshed in the group’s organization and theology. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

The offensive on the mountain came just two months after the fall of Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq. At first, it appeared that the subsequent advance on the mountain was just another attempt to extend the territory controlled by Islamic State fighters.

Almost immediately, there were signs that their aim this time was different.

Survivors say that men and women were separated within the first hour of their capture. Adolescent boys were told to lift up their shirts, and if they had armpit hair, they were directed to join their older brothers and fathers. In village after village, the men and older boys were driven or marched to nearby fields, where they were forced to lie down in the dirt and sprayed with automatic fire.

The women, girls and children, however, were hauled off in open-bed trucks.

“The offensive on the mountain was as much a sexual conquest as it was for territorial gain,” said Matthew Barber, a University of Chicago expert on the Yazidi minority. He was in Dohuk, near Mount Sinjar, when the onslaught began last summer and helped create a foundation that provides psychological support for the escapees, who number more than 2,000, according to community activists.

Fifteen-year-old F says her family of nine was trying to escape, speeding up mountain switchbacks, when their aging Opel overheated. She, her mother, and her sisters — 14, 7, and 4 years old — were helplessly standing by their stalled car when a convoy of heavily armed Islamic State fighters encircled them.

“Right away, the fighters separated the men from the women,” she said. She, her mother and sisters were first taken in trucks to the nearest town on Mount Sinjar. “There, they separated me from my mom. The young, unmarried girls were forced to get into buses.”

The buses were white, with a painted stripe next to the word “Hajj,” suggesting that the Islamic State had commandeered Iraqi government buses used to transport pilgrims for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. So many Yazidi women and girls were loaded inside F’s bus that they were forced to sit on each other’s laps, she said.

Once the bus headed out, they noticed that the windows were blocked with curtains, an accouterment that appeared to have been added because the fighters planned to transport large numbers of women who were not covered in burqas or head scarves.

F’s account, including the physical description of the bus, the placement of the curtains and the manner in which the women were transported, is echoed by a dozen other female victims interviewed for this article. They described a similar set of circumstances even though they were kidnapped on different days and in locations miles apart.

F says she was driven to the Iraqi city of Mosul some six hours away, where they herded them into the Galaxy Wedding Hall. Other groups of women and girls were taken to a palace from the Saddam Hussein era, the Badoosh prison compound and the Directory of Youth building in Mosul, recent escapees said. And in addition to Mosul, women were herded into elementary schools and municipal buildings in the Iraqi towns of Tal Afar, Solah, Ba’aj and Sinjar City.

They would be held in confinement, some for days, some for months. Then, inevitably, they were loaded into the same fleet of buses again before being sent in smaller groups to Syria or to other locations inside Iraq, where they were bought and sold for sex.

“It was 100 percent preplanned,” said Khider Domle, a Yazidi community activist who maintains a detailed database of the victims. “I spoke by telephone to the first family who arrived at the Directory of Youth in Mosul, and the hall was already prepared for them. They had mattresses, plates and utensils, food and water for hundreds of people.”

Detailed reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reach the same conclusion about the organized nature of the sex trade.

In each location, survivors say Islamic State fighters first conducted a census of their female captives.

Inside the voluminous Galaxy banquet hall, F sat on the marble floor, squeezed between other adolescent girls. In all she estimates there were over 1,300 Yazidi girls sitting, crouching, splayed out and leaning against the walls of the ballroom, a number that is confirmed by several other women held in the same location.

They each described how three Islamic State fighters walked in, holding a register. They told the girls to stand. Each one was instructed to state her first, middle and last name, her age, her hometown, whether she was married, and if she had children.

For two months, F was held inside the Galaxy hall. Then one day, they came and began removing young women. Those who refused were dragged out by their hair, she said.

In the parking lot the same fleet of Hajj buses was waiting to take them to their next destination, said F. Along with 24 other girls and young women, the 15-year-old was driven to an army base in Iraq. It was there in the parking lot that she heard the word “sabayafor the first time.

“They laughed and jeered at us, saying ‘You are our sabaya.’ I didn’t know what that word meant,” she said. Later on, the local Islamic State leader explained it meant slave.

“He told us that Taus Malik” — one of seven angels to whom the Yazidis pray — “is not God. He said that Taus Malik is the devil and that because you worship the devil, you belong to us. We can sell you and use you as we see fit.”

The Islamic State’s sex trade appears to be based solely on enslaving women and girls from the Yazidi minority. As yet, there has been no widespread campaign aimed at enslaving women from other religious minorities, said Samer Muscati, the author of the recent Human Rights Watch report. That assertion was echoed by community leaders, government officials and other human rights workers.

Mr. Barber, of the University of Chicago, said that the focus on Yazidis was likely because they are seen as polytheists, with an oral tradition rather than a written scripture. In the Islamic State’s eyes that puts them on the fringe of despised unbelievers, even more than Christians and Jews, who are considered to have some limited protections under the Quran as “People of the Book.”

Aishan Ali Saleh, 40, at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Dohuk. She had lived in Kojo, one of the southernmost villages on Mount Sinjar, which was overrun by Islamic State fighters. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
Aishan Ali Saleh, 40, at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Dohuk. She had lived in Kojo, one of the southernmost villages on Mount Sinjar, which was overrun by Islamic State fighters. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

In Kojo, one of the southernmost villages on Mount Sinjar and among the farthest away from escape, residents decided to stay, believing they would be treated as the Christians of Mosulhad months earlier. On Aug. 15, 2014, the Islamic State ordered the residents to report to a school in the center of town.

When she got there, 40-year-old Aishan Ali Saleh found a community elder negotiating with the Islamic State, asking if they could be allowed to hand over their money and gold in return for safe passage.

The fighters initially agreed and laid out a blanket, where Ms. Saleh placed her heart-shaped pendant and her gold rings, while the men left crumpled bills.

Instead of letting them go, the fighters began shoving the men outside, bound for death.

Sometime later, a fleet of cars arrived and the women, girls and children were driven away.

The Market

Months later, the Islamic State made clear in their online magazine that their campaign of enslaving Yazidi women and girls had been extensively preplanned.

“Prior to the taking of Sinjar, Shariah students in the Islamic State were tasked to research the Yazidis,” said the English-language article, headlined “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” which appeared in the October issue of Dabiq.

The article made clear that for the Yazidis, there was no chance to pay a tax known as jizya to be set free, “unlike the Jews and Christians.”

“After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations, after one fifth of the slaves were transferred to the Islamic State’s authority to be divided” as spoils, the article said.

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In much the same way as specific Bible passages were used centuries later to support the slave trade in the United States, the Islamic State cites specific verses or stories in the Quran or else in the Sunna, the traditions based on the sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, to justify their human trafficking, experts say.

Scholars of Islamic theology disagree, however, on the proper interpretation of these verses, and on the divisive question of whether Islam actually sanctions slavery.

A woman, who said she was raped by Islamic State militants, in a refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
A woman, who said she was raped by Islamic State militants, in a refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Many argue that slavery figures in Islamic scripture in much the same way that it figures in the Bible — as a reflection of the period in antiquity in which the religion was born.

“In the milieu in which the Quran arose, there was a widespread practice of men having sexual relationships with unfree women,” said Kecia Ali, an associate professor of religion at Boston University and the author of a book on slavery in early Islam. “It wasn’t a particular religious institution. It was just how people did things.”

Cole Bunzel, a scholar of Islamic theology at Princeton University, disagrees, pointing to the numerous references to the phrase “Those your right hand possesses” in the Quran, which for centuries has been interpreted to mean female slaves. He also points to the corpus of Islamic jurisprudence, which continues into the modern era and which he says includes detailed rules for the treatment of slaves.

“There is a great deal of scripture that sanctions slavery,” said Mr. Bunzel, the author of a research paper published by the Brookings Institution on the ideology of the Islamic State. “You can argue that it is no longer relevant and has fallen into abeyance. ISIS would argue that these institutions need to be revived, because that is what the Prophet and his companions did.”

The youngest, prettiest women and girls were bought in the first weeks after their capture. Others — especially older, married women — described how they were transported from location to location, spending months in the equivalent of human holding pens, until a prospective buyer bid on them.

Their captors appeared to have a system in place, replete with its own methodology of inventorying the women, as well as their own lexicon. Women and girls were referred to as “Sabaya,” followed by their name. Some were bought by wholesalers, who photographed and gave them numbers, to advertise them to potential buyers.

Osman Hassan Ali, a Yazidi businessman who has successfully smuggled out numerous Yazidi women, said he posed as a buyer in order to be sent the photographs. He shared a dozen images, each one showing a Yazidi woman sitting in a bare room on a couch, facing the camera with a blank, unsmiling expression. On the edge of the photograph is written in Arabic, “Sabaya No. 1,” “Sabaya No. 2,” and so on.

Buildings where the women were collected and held sometimes included a viewing room.

“When they put us in the building, they said we had arrived at the ‘Sabaya Market,’” said one 19-year-old victim, whose first initial is I. “I understood we were now in a slave market.”

She estimated there were at least 500 other unmarried women and girls in the multistory building, with the youngest among them being 11. When the buyers arrived, the girls were taken one by one into a separate room.

“The emirs sat against the wall and called us by name. We had to sit in a chair facing them. You had to look at them, and before you went in, they took away our scarves and anything we could have used to cover ourselves,” she said.

“When it was my turn, they made me stand four times. They made me turn around.”

The captives were also forced to answer intimate questions, including reporting the exact date of their last menstrual cycle. They realized that the fighters were trying to determine whether they were pregnant, in keeping with a Shariah rule stating that a man cannot have intercourse with his slave if she is pregnant.

Property of ISIS

The use of sex slavery by the Islamic State initially surprised even the group’s most ardent supporters, many of whom sparred with journalists online after the first reports of systematic rape.

The Islamic State’s leadership has repeatedly sought to justify the practice to its internal audience.

A woman from the village of Tojo washing dishes in a  refugee camp in Kurdistan. She was held by the Islamic State from last August until June and says she was sexually abused. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
A woman from the village of Tojo washing dishes in a refugee camp in Kurdistan. She was held by the Islamic State from last August until June and says she was sexually abused. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

After the initial article in Dabiq in October, the issue came up in the publication again this year, in an editorial in May that expressed the writer’s hurt and dismay at the fact that some of the group’s own sympathizers had questioned the institution of slavery.

“What really alarmed me was that some of the Islamic State’s supporters started denying the matter as if the soldiers of the Khilafah had committed a mistake or evil,” the author wrote. “I write this while the letters drip of pride,’’ he said. “We have indeed raided and captured the kafirahwomen and drove them like sheep by the edge of the sword.” Kafirah refers to infidels.

In a pamphlet published online in December, the Research and Fatwa Department of the Islamic State detailed best practices, including explaining that slaves belong to the estate of the fighter who bought them and therefore can be willed to another man and disposed of just like any other property after his death.

Recent escapees describe an intricate bureaucracy surrounding their captivity, with their status as a slave registered in a contract. When their owner would sell them to another buyer, a new contract would be drafted, like transferring a property deed. At the same time, slaves can also be set free, and fighters are promised a heavenly reward for doing so.

Though rare, this has created one avenue of escape for victims.

A 25-year-old victim who escaped last month, identified by her first initial, A, described how one day her Libyan master handed her a laminated piece of paper. He explained that he had finished his training as a suicide bomber and was planning to blow himself up, and was therefore setting her free.

Labeled a “Certificate of Emancipation,” the document was signed by the judge of the western province of the Islamic State. The Yazidi woman presented it at security checkpoints as she left Syria to return to Iraq, where she rejoined her family in July.

The Islamic State recently made it clear that sex with Christian and Jewish women captured in battle is also permissible, according to a new 34-page manual issued this summer by the terror group’s Research and Fatwa Department.

Just about the only prohibition is having sex with a pregnant slave, and the manual describes how an owner must wait for a female captive to have her menstruating cycle, in order to “make sure there is nothing in her womb,” before having intercourse with her. Of the 21 women and girls interviewed for this article, among the only ones who had not been raped were the women who were already pregnant at the moment of their capture, as well as those who were past menopause.

A 25-year-old Yazidi woman showed a “Certificate of Emancipation” given to her by a Libyan who had enslaved her. He explained that he had finished his training as a suicide bomber and was planning to blow himself up, and was therefore setting her free. CreditMauricio Lima for The New York Times
A 25-year-old Yazidi woman showed a “Certificate of Emancipation” given to her by a Libyan who had enslaved her. He explained that he had finished his training as a suicide bomber and was planning to blow himself up, and was therefore setting her free. CreditMauricio Lima for The New York Times

Beyond that, there appears to be no bounds to what is sexually permissible. Child rape is explicitly condoned: “It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty, if she is fit for intercourse,” according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute of a pamphlet published on Twitter last December.

One 34-year-old Yazidi woman, who was bought and repeatedly raped by a Saudi fighter in the Syrian city of Shadadi, described how she fared better than the second slave in the household — a 12-year-old girl who was raped for days on end despite heavy bleeding.

“He destroyed her body. She was badly infected. The fighter kept coming and asking me, ‘Why does she smell so bad?’ And I said, she has an infection on the inside, you need to take care of her,” the woman said.

Unmoved, he ignored the girl’s agony, continuing the ritual of praying before and after raping the child.

“I said to him, ‘She’s just a little girl,’ ” the older woman recalled. “And he answered: ‘No. She’s not a little girl. She’s a slave. And she knows exactly how to have sex.’ ’’

“And having sex with her pleases God,” he said.


Correction: August 13, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated the location of Matthew Barber when the invasion of Mount Sinjar began in August 2014. He was in Dohuk, near Mount Sinjar, not on the mountain itself.

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