Andrew McCarthy – McCain’s Mideast Blunders

He fails to see the situation clearly.

By Andrew C. McCarthy – National Review

I wonder if the jihadists of eastern Libya are still “heroes” to John McCain. That’s what he called them — “my heroes” — after he changed on a dime from chummy Qaddafi tent guest to rabid Qaddafi scourge.

See, the senator and his allies in the Obama-Clinton State Department had a brilliant notion: The reason the “rebels” of eastern Libya hated America so much had nothing to do with their totalitarian, incorrigibly anti-Western ideology. No, no: The problem was that we sided with Qaddafi, giving the dictator — at the insistence of, well, McCain and the State Department — foreign aid, military assistance, and international legitimacy. If we just threw Qaddafi under the bus, the rebels would surely become our grand democratic allies.

This, of course, was a much more sophisticated theory than you’d get from lunatics like Michele Bachmann. Sit down for this, because I know it’s hard to believe anyone could spout such nutter stuff, but Bachmann actually opposed U.S. intervention in Libya. She claimed — stop cackling! — that many of McCain’s heroes might actually be jihadists ideologically hostile to the U.S. and linked to groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the terror enterprise’s North African franchise. She even thought — yeah, I know, crazy — that if Qaddafi were deposed, the heroes would get their hands on his arsenal, ship a lot of it to AQIM havens in places such as Mali and Algeria, and maybe even turn rebel strongholds such as Benghazi into death traps for Americans.

Good thing we listened to McCain, no?

This week, while the guys the senator and the Obama administration aligned us with in Libya (and would like to align us with in Syria) were busy taking Americans and other foreigners hostage in Algeria, in addition to using Qaddafi’s arsenal to fight the French in Mali, McCain was working his magic in Cairo.

An unfortunate hiccup: McCain and his entourage, including fellow Libya hawk Lindsey Graham, showed up on President Mohamed Morsi’s doorstep just as it was revealed that Morsi, while a top Muslim Brotherhood official in 2010, had inveighed against Jews, calling them “blood-suckers” and “the descendants of apes and pigs” and claiming it was incumbent on Egyptians to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred” toward them.

Thank goodness Morsi was able to explain to McCain that his remarks had been “taken out of context.” I mean, you can see how that could happen, right? You’re making a few benign remarks about perpetuating hatred for enemies you describe as subhuman and all of a sudden they’re calling you an anti-Semite. Why, next thing you know, they’ll be saying Morsi could be an Islamic supremacist who is hellbent on imposing a sharia constitution on Egypt when he’s not otherwise rolling out the red carpet for Hamas and demanding the release of the Blind Sheikh!

Not to worry: McCain & Co. have promised to go to bat for Egypt’s swell president. Sure, he has imposed a sharia constitution just as crazies like Michele Bachmann predicted the Muslim Brotherhood would do if it took power. That would be the same sharia that, less than two years ago, McCain condemned as “anti-democratic — at least as far as women are concerned.” Back then, McCain was warning that the Brotherhood had to be kept out of the government if there was to be any hope for democracy in Egypt. After all, he explained, the Brothers “have been involved with other terrorist organizations.”

Now, however, McCain says he will push for American taxpayers to fork up another $480 million for Morsi. Or, to be accurate, borrow another $480 million. You see, the United States is already so deep in the red that a $16.3 trillion debt ceiling is not high enough. In fact, we’re such a basket case that our debt-service and “entitlement” payments alone put us in a quarter-trillion-dollar deficit hole even before we borrow and print another trillion-plus for such ancillary expenses as the Defense Department, the Obama family’s vacations, and the $80-odd million that funds “democratization” programs at McCain’s International Republican Institute. But hey, no problem — what’s another $480 million on top of the $2 billion–plus the Obama administration has already extended to Morsi’s regime . . . to say nothing of the sizable U.S. taxpayer chunk of the $4.8 billion IMF loan the Brotherhood government is also about to get its mitts on?

Naturally, “extremist” conservatives like Michele Bachmann are wet blankets when it comes to this gravy train, too. Get this: She thinks that when you get to the point where you have to borrow in order to pay the interest on the loans you already can’t pay off, somebody needs to cut off your credit line — not inflate it by another two or three trill. Even more daft: She thinks that if you subsidize an organization, like the Brotherhood, that promotes sharia and Hamas, you’re apt to get more sharia and more terrorism.

But look, that’s the kind of passé thinking we’ve come to expect from Bachmann. She’s the one, you may recall, who had the audacity to argue last year that it might not be a good idea for the secretary of state to keep as a key staffer a woman who worked for several years with a notorious al-Qaeda financial backer whose “charity” is formally designated as a terrorist organization — indeed, worked with him at a sharia-promotional journal he founded and in charge of which he put her parents, Muslim Brotherhood operatives (the surviving one of whom runs an Islamist organization, the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child, that is part of an umbrella entity called the Union for Good — a designated terrorist organization run by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the notorious Muslim Brotherhood jurist).

Congresswoman Bachmann was acting on the obviously irrational belief that Muslim Brotherhood influences in our government might lead to pro-Islamist policies detrimental to American security and interests — as if the State Department might tell pro-American Egyptian military rulers that they should stand down so the Brotherhood could take over; as if the Obama administration might order that information about Islamist ideology be purged from the materials used to train our intelligence agents; as if the Brotherhood, even as it counted its American aid dollars, would impose sharia, prosecute its detractors, and green-light the persecution of minority Christians.

Such insane, Islamophobic scaremongering! Insane enough that McCain, between praising his Islamist “heroes” and championing ever more funding for Islamist Egypt, made certain to lambaste Bachmann on the floor of the Senate over her concerns about Brotherhood infiltration of our government – leading other influential Republicans to follow suit. And now, aping that display, People for the American Way — “PAW,” the outfit created by a hard-left Hollywood icon to smear Robert Bork and derail his Supreme Court nomination — is campaigning to have Bachmann booted from the House Intelligence Committee.

There is a war on over the course of American foreign policy and the security of the United States. The Left has aligned with the Brotherhood — some naïvely relying on the fiction that the Brothers are not the enemy vanguard, others seeing the Brothers as comrades in the quest for a utopian, post-American future. In opposition, the GOP can either continue looking to McCain for leadership or rally behind Bachmann the way the Left always circles the wagons around its stalwarts.

Anyone want to bet me on which way the Republicans will go?

 Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, which was published by Encounter Books.

Syria Update – Aleppo battle, Assad speaks to troops, Algerian Jihadis

As Aleppo battle rumbles, hospitals and graveyards fill up

By Erika Solomon – Reuters

(Reuters) – Abdelrahman left school at 17 to join the Syrian rebels in Aleppo. His parents never heard he had reached the city until they got the call to pick up his body.

By evening, his father was in the city, standing on a hillside crammed with white tombstones and fresh graves. Abdelrahman’s comrades used their bare hands to seal his final resting place, their clothes stained with mud and the boy’s blood.

A member of the Free Syrian Army flashes the victory sign on a captured tank after taking control of a checkpoint from government forces in Anadan, north Aleppo, July 31, 2012. REUTERS/Obeida Al Naimi

After 17 months of revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s rules, rebel fighters have finally advanced into Syria’s largest city. But fighting in the historic northern stronghold grinds on in a seemingly endless loop of army shelling and rebel ambushes. Each side claims victory, but neither seems to gain much ground.

Only the number of dead and wounded marches steadily on. “He was shot once in the head and once in the chest. I had no idea he had already left. I only heard because they called to tell me he was martyred,” said Abdelrahman’s father, a tall man with a grey beard and a yellow robe. He shakes his head slowly, still unable to believe what has happened.

“He was half way through tenth grade but he emptied his whole life to devote it to the revolution.” The hands of a dozen fighters and local residents reach out to comfort the father, Abdelqader, who only gave his first name. “He was the first to go in the fight,” shouts one. “The martyr is the beloved of God,” the mourners chant, waving the green, white and black independence flag of the Syrian rebels. “God, we have no-one but you.”

In the distance, the watchtower of a government army post is silhouetted by the setting sun. It is within easy range of the tiny hillside funeral, but not a shot is fired. The soldiers may be wary of rebel forces in the area, but no one knows for sure.

With the battle for Aleppo raging and no clear winner in sight, both sides seem keen to avoid showing their dead. Most are quickly sent home to their families, denying journalists the chance to film their funerals. But the pain-racked wounded at the opposition’s tiny hospital in Aleppo are testament enough to the sufferings of a population at war with itself.

Read the rest at Reuters.

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Assad Urges Syrian Troops to Fight ‘Crucial’ Battle

By DAMIEN CAVE and ALAN COWELL – NY Times

Aleppo in ruins.

 

 

BEIRUT, Lebanon — In rare public remarks apparently designed to marshal government forces seeking to suppress a 17-month revolt, President Bashar al-Assadof Syria urged his forces on Wednesday to show “more readiness and continued preparations” to confront “internal agents” seeking to destabilize his battered country, according to the official SANA news agency.

The call to arms was described by analysts as the first public appeal by Mr. Assad since a bombing in mid-July killed some of his most senior aides and spurred speculation about his whereabouts. His comments, marking the 67th anniversary of the founding of the Syrian Army, were carried by SANA but there was no immediate broadcast on state-run television.

Mr. Assad was speaking a day after Syrian rebels said they had taken control of at least two important police stations in central Aleppo, Syria’s commercial heart, maintaining their hold on several neighborhoods on Tuesday despite air assaults and shelling by government troops.

Nearly two weeks have passed since the fighting began for control of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, and both sides seem to be digging in for an extended battle. On Wednesday, United Nations observers said they had witnessed Syrian fighter jets opening fire in Aleppo, with rockets and heavy machine gun fire. Observers added that the rebels now had tanks and other heavy weapons.

Opposition groups on Wednesday also spoke of fighting before dawn in a Christian area of central Damascus.

Mr. Assad said Syria’s “battle with the enemy takes multiple forms” and “determines the destiny of our people and nation.” According to some news reports, he referred to a “crucial and heroic battle.”

He said Syria’s enemies “exploited internal agents as a bridge to destabilize the homeland, undermine the citizens’ safety and drain our economic and scientific capabilities” to prevent the country from “improving our society to the level of developed countries.”

Mr. Assad did not identify the so-called internal agents further. But his government has long accused outside powers, including several Western and regional countries, of fomenting the violence that has washed over Syria with increasing virulence since the uprising began in March, 2011.

His characterization of the fighting seemed to indicate that, while dismissing his adversaries as “terrorist gangs,” Mr. Assad also acknowledged the high stakes surrounding his political survival. But he insisted that his forces had stood their ground, despite the steady spread of armed opposition through Syria’s major cities in recent weeks.

“You wrote the greatest epic of heroism and pride and proved through facing the war waged against our country and confronting the criminal terrorist gangs that you are entrusted with the values of our people to whom you belong and faithful to their history and civilization,” Mr. Assad said, according to SANA’s English-language edition.

“You represent the aspiration of our people in defending their dignity and honor and restoring stability and security of the homeland due to your determination to implement your sacred duty towards the homeland,” Mr. Assad said. On Wednesday, SANA also published the text of a letter sent by the Syrian Foreign Ministry to the United Nations, renewing accusations that “armed terrorist groups” backed “openly with funds and weapons by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey committed horrifying crimes against innocent civilians in Damascus and Aleppo and are still doing so in Aleppo.”

Read the rest here.

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Algerian Government Investigates Movement of Jihadists Into Syria

By Al Monitor – “The pulse of the Middle East”

By Mohamed Ben Ahmad

On July 3, security forces in Illizi province arrested an individual suspected of working for a cell that transfers Algerian jihadists into Syria via Libya. Security forces are pursuing this suspected cell, which is accused of smuggling Algerian fighters into Syria in coordination with Syrian, Egyptian, Libyan, Turkish and Lebanese agents.

Foreign fighters smuggled into Syria to fight "Apostate" regime - Algeria investigates

According to our sources, security forces managed to arrest an Algerian who tried to enter Libya through its desert border. Security forces have linked this case to the disappearance of at least seven other Algerians under circumstances that are probably related to the Syrian crisis. Investigations show that the missing Algerians have infiltrated Tunisia or Libya. In early July, investigators in Illizi heard the testimony of an Algerian who was arrested while sneaking into Libya from the desert. Large-scale investigations are under way to arrest members of the network that is smuggling Algerian fighters into Syria. The accused, who has been released and is awaiting an appearance in court, is an unemployed 27-year-old man who lived in Ghardaia and Algiers. He was arrested while trying to sneak into Libya. The man told investigators he had lost his passport; however, it is believed that the infiltrator handed over his passport to a group of activists who smuggle Algerian fighters into Syria. Investigators found evidence of several calls to Libyan numbers in the man’s cellphone. This case has all the hallmarks of jihadist organizations’ attempts to infiltrate Salafist fighters into the “Land of Jihad,” after confiscating the fighters’ passports.

Investigations are being conducted in eight provinces: Algiers, Tlemcen, El Ouadi, Illizi, Tebessa, Biskra, Ghardaia and Djelfa. Investigators believe Algerian jihadists snuck into Libya with the support of Moroccan and Tunisian activists, after being recruited through online forums administered by two Islamist movements. The first was the Salafist movement, which issued a fatwa emphasizing the necessity of the fight against the Baath regime in Syria. The second movement was a jihadist Salafist movement with close ties to al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front in Syria. The suspected cell, which includes approximately 10 members, coordinates communication between Algerian jihadists and jihadists in Libya. The cell assists in smuggling jihadists into the Libyan desert, where they then meet with cells that help Algerian, Moroccan or Tunisian activists infiltrate into either Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey. The destination changes every three days to one week, based on the circumstances.

Read the rest here at Al Monitor.