The Vulnerability of Pakistan’s Nukes (Daniel 8:8)

How Panama Papers exposed vulnerability of Pakistan's nukes
An important, though indirect, certainly inadvertent, consequence of the Panama Papers revelations on possible high-level corruption in Pakistan are fresh questions on the safety and security of that country’s strategic assets-nuclear weapons and nuclear capable missiles.

This is while strong and continuing doubts of the (state sponsored?) proliferation enterprise of Pakistan’s national hero a man widely publicised as the father of the country’s nuclear assets Abdul Qadeer Khan remain in memory.

This is what has happened now.

The controversy

Lt. Gen. Obaidullah Khan Khattak the commander of Pakistan army’s strategic forces command was removed from his post in September 2015 as he was found guilty of corruption in an earlier assignment.

Pakistan army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif took the decision after an inquiry found that there was widespread corruption in the Frontier Constabulary (FC) in Balochistan; a number of senior officers faced action, among them Lt. Gen. Khattak who was the Inspector-General (IG) of the force from 2010 to 2013 and from there was given the sensitive army strategic forces command.

The army leaked the information regarding the action against Lt.Gen. Khattak and other senior officers to pressure Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take credible action on the Panama Papers disclosures.

The Papers reveal that his children are the beneficiary owners of offshore companies. While the leaks have had a great and direct bearing on Pakistan’s domestic politics and have pushed Nawaz Sharif into greater political difficulties they also shed negative light on Pakistan’s nuclear safety processes.
As noted Pakistani senior journalist Syed Talat Hassan writes, “There will be global focus on the strategic positions that some of those dismissed have held. How does Pakistan pre-empt speculation of system leakage”.

Why is this so?

There has been international concern about the security and safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, radioactive materials and missile systems. These apprehensions arise from the fear that these may fall into the hands of terrorists. The entrenched presence in the country of a large number of terrorist groups that are wedded to fanatical religious ideologies and their sympathisers lead many to give strong credence to these charges.

Over the decades, especially since the time of General Zia-ul-Haq, the Pakistan army’s officers and soldiers have become more and more imbued with religiosity, thus adding to the fears regarding Pakistan’s nuclear safety processes.

Pakistan has claimed that it has put in place fool-proof systems for the physical security of its nuclear weapons and has a robust programme for the verification of the antecedents of all personnel associated with its strategic assets. Now the removal of the army’s strategic forces command on corruption charges calls the efficacy of these systems into question.

Lt. Gen. Khattak was obviously given a sensitive command only because he would have had a very good career record. The point is what were the checks that were carried out to look at his integrity before his appointment to this sensitive post? That is the matter which Pakistan needs to explain.

Pakistan’s nuclear assets

To put the gravity of this matter in context it would be useful to briefly mention both the Pakistani command and control structure of its nuclear assets as well as the personnel security processes it claims it has put in place.

Pakistan tested its nuclear weapons in May 1998, after the Indian tests. Amidst growing international concerns about its strategic assets it announced a multi-tier control system. At the apex is the National Command authority chaired by the Prime Minister and consisting of some ministers and the defence services chiefs as members.

It claims that the use of weapons can only be sanctioned by this body. A Strategic Plans Division has been put in place to be the secretariat of the NCA. The SPD is entirely controlled by the army and is headed by a three star general.

Thus the actual control of the weapons, their development and strategies for their deployment and safety and security is entirely within the army’s domain. A special force under a two-star general has been raised to secure these assets. It is unlikely that the army will ever give up this control.

The third tier of the system consists of the strategic forces commands. Of the three the army command is the most important for it maintains and stores the missiles that deliver the weapons. A vulnerable head of this command as Lt. Gen. Khattak certainly was because of serious corruption charges which merited his removal, makes the entire command vulnerable.

“Head of Pak’s nuclear command is charged with corruption. The makes the entire command vulnerable”

It is because of this fact that the entire Personnel Reliability Programme that is to ensure that all person, military and civilian associated with all strategic assets are thoroughly vetted by a number of Pakistani intelligence agencies including the ISI is now open to serious doubts. Indeed the Pakistanis maintain that these persons are observed after their retirement too. How efficient are these procedures?

As yet Pakistan has offered no explanation about how Lt. Gen. Khattak slipped through the security net. It need to give one along with a credible assurance that it is tightening its security systems so that the international community is satisfied that Pakistani nukes and missiles will not fall into wrong hands.

This is especially relevant in this case as Balochistan is a hot bed of religious terrorists and the army’s links with some of these groups is well known. This is where Lt. Gen. Khattak was posted in a force which is supposed to guard the frontier and where terrorists roam with ease, the FC turning a blind eye.

Edited by Aditya Menon

Iraqi Men Joining The Antichrist Not The Army (Rev 13:18)


Your Country Needs You: Iraq’s Faltering Military Recruitment Campaign


The Iraqi war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State cannot be won with military means alone, nor can it be won without an armed force able to roll back the salafi-jihadist group as a prelude to reunifying the country. However, the Iraqi state’s institutional deficiencies and severe sectarian polarization have impeded these efforts, weakening the force that would be best suited to play this role: the official Iraqi Armed Forces.

In the summer of 2014, several Iraqi army divisions collapsed as the Islamic State captured Mosul. In response, the government launched a national recruitment campaign that seeks to enroll paid volunteers as career officers. The reason that the Iraqi military relies on volunteer recruits (mutatawi’een) rather than instituting a draft is partly related to the traumatic legacy of conscription policies under the 1979 to 2003 dictatorship of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. It would also be difficult to enforce a draft across Iraqi territory, given the divided state of the country. Nevertheless, the result is that even though tens of thousands of Iraqis are eager to take up arms against the Islamic State, the official military has failed to meet its recruitment needs. Instead, volunteers prefer to join non-state armed groups like those gathered in the Popular Mobilization Forces, known in Arabic as al-Hashd al-Shaabi, or various tribal militias, commonly referred to as Abna al-Ashair, or sons of the tribes.

A training program launched in 2014 by the American-led international coalition against the Islamic State has stalled because of a lack of public interest in joining the national military. Instead of the expected 24,000 volunteers for the program, the Ministry of Defense has only been able to attract 9,000 recruits, with some regional recruitment centers receiving no applications at all.

There are obvious reasons why Iraqis would hesitate to join the military. The collapse of the Iraqi Armed Forces to a small force of Islamic State fighters in Mosul in the summer of 2014 remains in recent memory. The military’s reputation has been further tarnished by rampant corruption. Stories include the phenomenon of nonexistent “ghost soldiers,” whose salaries at one point made up as much as 25 percent of the annual defense budget, as well as countless tales of bribery. For example, junior officers have reportedly been forced to pay $3,000 in bribes to attend the Officer Training Academy. Others complain of delays in receiving salaries.

Nor is the Iraqi military necessarily seen as a patriotic, unifying, and truly national institution. Some of the reasons for this date back to the era of Nouri al-Maliki. Originally elected as Iraq’s prime minister in 2006, Maliki served as both prime minister and defense minister from 2010 to 2011. He then established the Office of the Commander in Chief, which attached military command functions directly to the presidency. In doing so, he stripped the Ministry of Defense of influence and undermined its autonomous functioning, causing some Iraqis to perceive the armed forces as “Maliki’s Army” rather than the Iraqi Army.

Even though Maliki was succeeded by Haider al-Abadi in 2014, these problems remain. Many Iraqis question the autonomy of the Ministry of Defense vis-à-vis the Ministry of Interior, which is controlled by the Badr Organization, an Iran-backed Shia paramilitary group in the Popular Mobilization Forces. There is also a perception among some that Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi, who is a Sunni Iraqi, lacks real influence. Finally, some are also wary of Washington’s insistence on working through the Ministry of Defense instead of directly arming units on the ground. While the U.S. intention was presumably to empower Obeidi and help him centralize control, some Iraqis now perceive the ministry as U.S.-backed, thereby paradoxically weakening its legitimacy.

These reasons have pushed Iraqis, many of whom are undoubtedly willing to fight the Islamic State, away from joining the formal state security apparatus and toward the more attractive paramilitary options. These consist of a large number of local militias, some of them gathered into larger national networks. While some of the groups predate current events, many of their recent recruits have joined in response to a fatwa—that is, an Islamic legal ruling—which was issued in summer 2014 by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country’s most senior Shia cleric. These militias, which mostly consist of Shia Muslims, have gathered under a state-backed umbrella organization known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, but they remain essentially autonomous.

The rise of these militias has served to dilute Iraqi state sovereignty and limit the influence of the Ministry of Defense. Nevertheless, the Popular Mobilization Forces have emerged as Iraq’s largest coalition of military forces in the struggle against the Islamic State. As such, the Ministry of Defense finds itself forced to work with these groups and even to fund them.


To attract new recruits and overcome its tarnished legacy, the ministry has launched a major recruitment campaign. It includes a weekly hour-long television program entitled Guarding Iraq (Himayat al-Iraq). They air on the state broadcaster Al Iraqiya, which also regularly runs Ministry of Defense recruitment commercials. In addition, the campaign includes the publication of a weekly newspaper called the Tent of Iraq (Khaymat al-Iraq).

Despite its ambition to serve as a national institution, the ministry has failed to reach out to some segments of the Iraqi population—and in turn, they evince little interest in joining the military. Iraq’s Kurds are more likely to join their own Peshmerga forces and many Sunnis are often distrustful of Iraqi state institutions. Consequently, most of the recruits available to the military are Shia Arabs from southern Iraq. This has led to a recruitment rivalry between the Ministry of Defense and the Popular Mobilization Forces.

A general in the Iraqi Armed Forces has told this author that from the pool of potential Shia Iraqi recruits, those with connections to the main politico-military groups—notably the Badr Organization, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Hezbollah Battalions, and various pro-Sistani factions—and those from wealthier or better-connected backgrounds, will typically join the Popular Mobilization Forces rather than the national military. This has reduced the pool of potential Ministry of Defense recruits to Shia Iraqis who lack an affiliation with those groups and who come from lower socio-economic classes.
The Ministry of Defense accordingly seeks to target urban Shia Arabs from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Many in this group are followers of the popular cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who runs a powerful Shia Islamist militia but who is also wary of certain dominant groups in the Popular Mobilization Forces. The ministry has sought to exploit his popularity to win recruits from this large demographic. For example, in January 2015 Al Iraqiya broadcasted a Guarding Iraq episode that featured a joint press conference with Sadr and Defense Minister Obeidi.

Another way of attracting recruits from this segment of the population is by highlighting economic incentives. Despite being out-funded by the militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces, the ministry continues to highlight the prospect of economic rewards in its media campaign. The opening montage of Guarding Iraq always includes a clip of Obeidi eating a big meal with soldiers from the Iraqi Armed Forces. Similarly, television and press propaganda during the holy month of Ramadan have featured reports of Obeidi breaking the fast with his soldiers. The message is clear: for those who are struggling to find bread, the Iraqi Armed Forces is an option.

The Ministry of Defense also seeks to highlight its formal status to differentiate itself from its recruitment rival, the Popular Mobilization Forces. Specifically, the ministry tends to focus on airpower, because the paramilitary groups do not have this option at their disposal. The Iraqi Air Force, which last week received a batch F16 fighter jets from the United States, is a widely recognized symbol of national prestige, and it is no coincidence that the opening segments of Guarding Iraq begin with a clip of airplanes and helicopters soaring through the air. Obeidi, whose professional background is as an air force engineer, will also often wear the Iraqi Air Force uniform. The ministry’s promotional videos also feature formal military parades by the military—again used to differentiate the official Iraqi Armed Forces from paramilitary groups like the Popular Mobilization Forces.

Finally, the Ministry of Defense continues to play on Iraqi nationalist sentiment and anti-sectarianism, despite its own overrepresentation of Shia Iraqis. As an example, a promotional video entitled “Iraq in Our Hearts” features soldiers saluting the flags on their uniform. Another promotional video shows an Iraqi man listening to foreign sectarian commentary on Iraq on the radio; eventually, the man stands up and smashes the radio, as the message “listen to Iraq” is displayed on the screen. The introduction of the ministry’s weekly television program also features Obeidi saying “we don’t differentiate between citizens,” and one episode shows Iraqi soldiers rescuing members of the Yezidi religious minority from the Islamic State, with the message “this is our religion.” This push for a united Iraqi nationalism, rather than any sub-national sectarian, ethnic, or regional identity is apparent throughout the recruitment campaign—again setting the Ministry of Defense apart from many of the militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces.


By and large, the Ministry of Defense is not faring well in its competition for recruits, who tend to favor the Popular Mobilization Forces. The latter is generally better funded and more appealing to Shia Iraqis who are terrified and outraged by the Islamic State’s repeated massacres of Shia prisoners of war and civilians. In addition, the weakened ministry remains dependent on these groups to provide security.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Iraq’s other top-ranking Shia clerics, known as the marjaiya, enjoy tremendous influence in their community. They could one day play an important role in demobilizing the Popular Mobilization Forces and shifting fighters over to the national military. But this is unlikely to happen until these clerics feel that enough has been done to fulfill Sistani’s 2014 fatwa—which originally launched the Popular Mobilization Forces—and that the threat from the Islamic State has receded. Sistani specifically issued a so called wajib al-kifah (obligation to fight) fatwa, which means that he can rescind the ruling and thus disband the militias when he deems enough has been done to combat the Islamic State.

But until then, the Ministry of Defense will continue to suffer from competition from the Shia militias, while struggling with its own religious imbalance, its poor reputation and corruption, and other structural flaws that impede effective and cross-sectarian recruitment of soldiers and career officers to the Iraqi Armed Forces.

The Failed Iraqi National Guard (Rev 13:18)

The Foreign Policy Essay: Harnessing Militia Power—Lessons of the Iraqi National Guard

Ariel I. Ahram and Frederic Wehrey
May 24, 2015

Editor’s Note: National governments seem to be failing throughout the Middle East. The United States, unfortunately, does not usually have the luxury of waiting until a strong government returns, and building a strong state is often beyond what the United States is able or willing to do. One option to fight terrorists and otherwise fill the governance void is to work more with local militias. Ariel I. Ahram of Virginia Tech and Frederic Wehrey of Carnegie draw on the U.S. experience in Iraq and offer lessons for what to do—and what to avoid—when going down this road.


Faced with the breakdown of national armies in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, Arab states have increasingly turned toward alliances with armed militias to ensure security. Popular, anti-government protests and insurgencies for the most part precipitated the breakdown of regime military institutions, yet pre-existing internal ethnic, clan, and ideological cleavages helped to hasten the breakdown. The beleaguered state security forces have now entered into a variety of alliances—tacit or active—with militias they deem sympathetic to their interests, often organized on the basis of entrenched ethno-sectarian or tribal identities. Such militia forces supplement and at times even stand in for the weak or absent army and police as providers of local security.

On the one hand, militia forces have in certain circumstances proven effective at counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. On the other hand, they have also committed atrocities against civilians that hamper long-term efforts to build trust and stability. Their greatest risk is that, by eroding the central government’s monopolization on force, they jeopardize the territorial cohesion of the state.

In Iraq, the rise of powerful communal militias has paralleled the growth of the threat from the Islamic State. This has presented the United States with a quandary: how to combat the Islamic State by mobilizing local Sunnis while at the same time safeguarding the broader integrity of the Iraqi state and its security institutions. The national guard concept, which successive Iraqi governments have tried in the past, was seen as one way to do this. A national guard force would retain the militias’ local knowledge and roots, both unique tools necessary for a successful counterinsurgency against the Islamic State. At the same time, the guard would (at least in theory) be subject to increased oversight and control by the central government.

Other fractured Arab states, most notably Libya, have tried to implement a national guard model as a way to harness militia power, but this too has failed. Variations of hybrid, provincially-organized military forces exist in Yemen and Syria. While each case is different, the failure of national guards bears certain similarities. Examining the Iraqi case in particular can highlight the potential utility of national guards but also the parallel political and institutional reforms that are necessary to make the concept work.

False Analogies and False Starts in Iraq

The idea of creating a national guard in Iraq has been a centerpiece of U.S. engagement since the dramatic advance of the Islamic State on Tikrit and Mosul in 2014. President Obama specifically mentioned U.S. support for a national guard as a means to help Iraqi Sunnis “secure their own freedom” from the Islamic State. Much of U.S. thinking about the Iraqi National Guard (ING) was guided by the example of the Sunni Awakening of 2006 and 2007, when the United States actively recruited and “flipped” Sunni tribes that had supported the al-Qaeda-inspired insurgency. In return for guarantees of autonomy and military, financial, and political backing, the Sunni tribes were able to turn the tables on the insurgent fighters and impose a measure of peace and stability. The 2014 initiative essentially sought to reproduce this arrangement. The idea was that given proper incentives, the Sunni tribes would again fight the radical Islamists who threatened their supremacy. Over the long term, such national guard forces could be integrated formally as auxiliary troops in a federal structure, comparable in many ways to the U.S. National Guard.

Yet the Awakening analogy failed on a number of levels. The Shi’i-dominated Iraqi central government had never been enthusiastic about empowering Sunni tribes in the first place. With the dismantling of the Iraqi army in 2003, security had effectively devolved to party, tribal, and sectarian militias. Many Iraqis wondered why the United States would seek to create new militias, especially ones recently tied to al-Qaeda and other terrorists. As Iraq scholar Adeed Dawisha described, the gains in security came “not because of the state, but in spite of it.”

As the U.S. began withdrawing from Iraq in 2009 and 2010, then-Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki quickly moved to dismantle the Awakening-associated militias. Only a handful of former militia fighters received their promised positions in the police, army, or civil services. Some former militia leaders were arrested on seemingly politically-motivated charges of terrorism or subversion. Efforts to enact a Sunni-dominated super-region comparable to the federal status of the Kurdish Regional Government in the north were rebuffed, despite the provisions of Iraq’s constitution that allowed for the creation of such an entity. Politically marginalized, some Sunnis returned to their alliance with the radical mujahideen.

The election of the new prime minister Haydar al-Abadi in 2014 raised the promise of renewed Sunni-Shi’i reconciliation. Abadi expressed support for the national guard initiative and forwarded a bill to parliament in 2014. Thousands of volunteers came forward from the Sunni tribes in the west and U.S. and Iraqi officials met with tribal leaders to help solidify support. The United States began to enlist support from Iraq’s Sunni neighbors to provide training and support for the ING.

Yet resistance within Abadi’s own political coalition stymied these efforts. The National Guard bill foundered in parliamentary committee, with open questions about the extent of control vested in provincial governors and the chain of command subordinating the ING to the ministries of interior, defense, or the prime minister himself. Officers of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) regarded the militias as unfit for duty and as rivals for budget and resources. Iraq’s constitution specifically prohibited the formation of militias outside the framework of the armed forces (with an exception of the peshmerga forces of the Kurdish Regional Government). Moreover, there was concern that once the Sunnis were authorized to organize a militia, other ethno-sectarian communities, such as Christians or Turkomen, might try to follow suit out of fear of falling under the mercy of their more powerful neighbors. The ING, then, could undercut any pretense of the Iraqi state possessing a monopoly over the use of force.

At base, though, many of Iraq’s Shi’i leaders simply believed that they didn’t need Sunni support. With the ING initiative stalled in parliament, the Shi’i factions have actively cultivated Shi’i militias as part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, or Hashd al-Shaabi). The origins of the PMF can be traced to a statement by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq’s senior Shi’i cleric, which explicitly called on the faithful to take up arms to defend Iraq in the face of the Islamic State onslaught in 2014. Muqtada al-Sadr’s Jaysh al-Mahdi, the Badr Organization, and other political factions quickly took the opportunity to reconstitute or expand their private armies.

Backed by Iran’s expeditionary al-Qods Force, PMF militias played a prominent role in the spring 2015 offensive against the Islamic State in Tikrit. By spring 2015, PMF counted around 60,000 men under arms. Still, the performance of these militias has been less than stellar. In the spring 2015 offensive on Tikrit, PMF forces failed repeatedly to dislodge Islamic State resistance, despite enjoying superiority in numbers. U.S. air support proved critical to allowing the offensive to proceed. Some PMF units quit the fight instead of working under American air cover. Others were involved in a campaign of terror against Sunnis, looting, kidnapping, and killing those suspected of collaborating with the Islamic State.

Awakening Again?

The prospects for the mobilization of Iraq’s Sunnis are not dead—yet. A handful of Sunni tribes joined the PMF during the Tikrit offensive. In Anbar, likely the next front in the campaign against the Islamic State, U.S. and Iraqi officials have cultivated ties with local Sunni tribes and organized some 8,000 men into Sunni PMF units. Some tribes have made their service conditional on guarantees of greater autonomy and the removal of Shi’i militia forces. Yet the intake for training programs remains slow and drop-out rates high. On the one hand, tribes continue to resent the central government. On the other hand, they fear retribution should the Islamic State return.

Abadi’s visit to Washington in April 2015 focused on expanding and enhancing security cooperation with the United States. The United States has insisted that the PMF be brought more fully under the control of the Iraqi Security Forces and that PMF units reflect the demographics of the provinces and districts in which they operate. This would mean that in ethnically-mixed areas, such as in Nineveh or Babil, each ethnic group would have its own militia proportional to its size in the locality. The Iraq Train and Equip Program (ITEP) is slowly coming online, funneling American money and weapons to various local militia forces as well as ISF.

Cooperating with the United States has been a delicate balancing act for Abadi. While Kurdish and Sunni leaders see U.S. military support as a means to their own ends, Abadi’s own Shi’i political camp—as well as his allies in Tehran—are far more wary. When the U.S. Congress passed a bill in May 2015 effectively mandating the Defense Department to bypass Baghdad and provide support for Sunni and Kurdish fighters directly, Abadi protested that this constituted a grave violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

Still, reliance on the ragtag PMF alone is not sustainable in the long term. Operating far from home and with limited training, these overwhelmingly Shi’i forces cannot be expected to become an army of occupation in Sunni areas like Tikrit or Fallujah. Ultimately, local partners will be necessary to build and maintain peace and stability. The national guard, then, may well re-emerge as a more sustainable structure for administrative and security devolution.

Lessons Learned From Failure

While analysts and policymakers naturally focus on cases of success, there are important lessons to be learned from Iraq’s failures. For countries like Iraq where central armies have more or less broken down and a bevy of militias has emerged in its stead, as in Libya, Yemen, and Syria, the national guard could represent a path to reconstituting fragile state authority.

But for this to happen, several broad principles need to be heeded:

National guards cannot simply be conceived as short-term, improvised solutions to immediate security crises. Rather, the creation of national guards is part of the impetus of security-sector reform (SSR) and post-conflict demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration (DDR) of armed groups.

National guards must overcome the legacies of past authoritarian experiences where pro-government militias were often seen as mere thugs for the regime, not a disciplined professional fighting force. In particular, the older officer class of regular forces may see them as competitors. To build trust among the population and other military institutions, national guards should be accompanied by revisions to chain of command establishing clear relationships of authority between the guards, the police, the army, and other security agencies, and subordinating all security services to civilian authorities.
National guard initiatives must also be accompanied by moves toward political power-sharing arrangements. The success of national guards ultimately depends not just on their short-term tactical effectiveness but on the degree of local buy-in. Constitutions can provide a structure for bolstering confidence between a central government and subnational militia forces. Since militia membership and cohesion is often based on geographic linkages—to town, municipality or province—national guards may well be a part of federalist power devolution, especially in countries with overlapping ethno-sectarian and regional cleavages.

Western governments can assist in setting up and training national guards, but they must ensure that proper political and institutional reforms are also undertaken. In many cases, Western states provide models for how decentralized, federally-organized military forces can complement national armies and local police. The United States, for instance, has a great deal of experience with its own federalized national guard structure and can draw on this example in its train-and-equip programs. There are other potentially useful models as well, including the British Territorial Army, a part-time, volunteer force that was integrated into the British Army in the early twentieth century; the Danish Home Guard, which incorporated anti-Nazi resistance militias into a national command structure after World War II; or the Italian Carabineri, which is often discussed as a potential model for dealing with Libya’s unique security challenges.

Outside assistance to national guards must avoid exacerbating existing communal and political fault lines. Helping peripheral and minority groups set up their own armed forces can, on one hand, embolden these groups to resist the central government and, on the other hand, spur resentment from the central government and fear of future disloyalty or rebellion. These concerns become even more acute when national guards are seen as proxies for outside powers. With this in mind, the U.S. and outside powers should calibrate their assistance to both regionally-based national guards and central government forces to ensure rough parity between the two. This could entail making funding, equipment and training for the central security services contingent on a proportional commitment to strengthen the guards.

National guards are political institutions, not just military instruments. They can have far-ranging consequences for political stability and cohesion. While no panacea for the challenge of building effective states, they can play an important role in addressing security concerns and moving toward more meaningful power sharing.

Iraqi Horn Takes Ramadi (Dan 8:5)

ISIS takes Ramadi as reinforcements surge into city

By Hamdi Alkhshali and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
Updated 5:02 PM ET, Sun May 17, 2015

(CNN)The key Iraqi city of Ramadi fell to ISIS on Sunday after government security forces pulled out of a military base on the west side of the city, the mayor and a high-ranking security official said.
The ISIS advances came after militants detonated a series of morning car bomb blasts, Mayor Dalaf al-Kubaisy and a high-ranking Iraqi security official said. The explosions forced Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters to retreat to the city’s east, they said.

Clashes have raged in the beleaguered capital of Anbar province for months as Iraqi and allied forces battle ISIS militants for control of the strategically located city, which is just 110 km (70 miles) west of Baghdad.

Ramadi, the largest city in western Iraq, is just a few miles from an Iraqi army headquarters that ISIS blew up in March.

ISIS took over parts of the city in the first half of last year, placing it at the heart of a deadly tug of war ever since.

And officials said Sunday that the fight for the city is far from over.

Even as ISIS took control, pockets of resistance remain inside the city, said Muhannad Haimour, a spokesman for the Anbar governor.

While ISIS declared victory and claimed full control of the city, the Iraqi Federal Police vowed to stamp out ISIS in the region. In a statement, police said Brig. Gen. Raid Shakir Joudat was on the way “commanding a huge force consisting of various weapons to cleanse Anbar province from terrorist gangs.”

State TV: Iraqi forces on the way

Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, is also preparing to send in reinforcements, according to a statement read on Iraq’s state-run Iraqiya TV Sunday.

He’s ordered the al-Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary force to prepare for deployment against ISIS militants in Anbar province. It will be joined by Iraqi security forces and Sunni tribal volunteers. The decision to mobilize the paramiltary force, which is Iranian-backed and predominantly Shiite, follows a request for help from the Anbar provincial governor, provincial council, tribal leaders and religious clerics.

On Thursday, ISIS pushed into Ramadi, using armored bulldozers and at least 10 suicide bombings to burst through gates and blast through walls, according to a security source who has since left the city.

Dozens of militants followed them into the city center and ISIS raised its trademark black flag over the provincial government building.

On Friday, the United States announced that it was “expediting” weapon shipments to Iraq because of the current fighting in Ramadi.

What are the implications of an ISIS takeover?

Whether or not Ramadi will stay in the hands of ISIS remains to be seen, analysts said Sunday.

Some U.S. officials have tried recently to downplay the significance of Ramadi, saying they are not focused on the city.

But retired Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, said the situation in Ramadi is a significant sign that forces fighting ISIS need to take a different tack.

“Ramadi’s a bad news story, period,” he said. “It’s not going well. The military units we’ve trained in the Iraqi army are basically laying down their guns and running.”

But the significance of the city falling may have less to do with the militant group, and more to do with the strength of Iraqi forces, CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd said.

“This is not about ISIS. This is about whether the Iraqi military has the capability, and more importantly, the will to face up with ISIS,” he said. “They’ve had some successes, the military has. This is a setback. It’s going to take years to figure out who will prevail.”

CNN’s Jomana Karadsheh, Jim Sciutto, Fredricka Whitfield, Barbara Starr, Ralph Ellis, Pat St. Claire and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.

Antichrist Takes His Share Of Iraq (Rev 13)

The carving up of Iraq

Antichrist Calling the Shots in Iraq

Antichrist Calling the Shots in Iraq

Iman Saleh
Monday, 23 February 2015

News from Iraq these days has become less a blow-by-blow account of events on the ground and more of an exercise in discursive mud-slinging and collective identity politics.

Any sense of a political entity called “Iraq” has long since disappeared, reduced to in- and out-group designations drawn down the hazy lines of ethnicity, sect, and regional allegiance. Hence, there is no longer an Iraqi government, but a “Shia-led coalition” (or a “sectarian state”); equally, there is no longer an Iraqi army but a collection of “Iranian-backed Shia militias” pitted against an extremist “Sunni insurgency”. The battle lines have been drawn, both literally and discursively, and every new development is squeezed and manipulated to fit into the narrow confines of the pre-existing narrative.
Part of this is lazy reporting – it is simply easier to rehash old stereotypes and regurgitate well-known mantras than to engage in serious analytical reporting – yet it also, sadly, is reflective of a growing trend within Iraq itself and the wider Arab region; a trend towards the sectarianisation of political and social life. The recent political fallout following the murder of Sunni tribal leader Sheikh Qasim al-Janabi and eight of his entourage, allegedly by Shia militias, is a case in point. Sheikh Qasim, his son, and seven bodyguards were abducted on 13 February at checkpoint and taken to Sadr city (a predominantly Shia neighbourhood of Baghdad), where they were shot dead. In retaliation, 73 Sunni MPs announced a boycott of parliament to protest the killings. As a gesture of reconciliation, earlier last week radical Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr announced the indefinite suspension of militia groups associated with him (including the Mehdi Army).

The incident has drawn attention to the growing profile of Shia militias in the country, many of which receive support and funding from Iran, amid rising concerns of the violent tendencies of such groups (in late 2014, Amnesty International published a report documenting atrocities committed by such militias). While not attempting to diminish the often brutal acts perpetrated by armed groups on all sides of the conflict in Iraq, such attempts to rationalise events on the ground on the grounds of posited deep-seated primordial identities – such as sect, tribe, ethnos, etc. – often serve to mask the underlying logic of political violence that has been seeping through Iraqi society for the past 40 years; a logic for which the US-led invasion of 2003 and subsequent parcelling off of political and social resources along identity lines served as the catalyst.

The rise of the Ba’ath Party in the late 20th century in Iraq, and particularly the rule of Saddam Hussein from 1979-2003, saw the institutionalisation of a vast and ethereal network of political power in which resources and privileges were handed out along lines of partisan loyalty. Saddam Hussein succeeded in maintaining his dominance over the Iraqi population by surrounding himself with a close circle of trusted aides and advisors, many of whose loyalty was assumed on the basis of kin or tribal allegiance and secured through the distribution of rewards and assets (not to mention the often brutal punishment of any whose loyalty was called into question). This network of power and privilege lurking behind Iraqi society is what some analysts and scholars have referred to as the “shadow state”, and resulted in a social and political system that favoured a select group of individuals over others – a select group who, more often than not, shared with Saddam the incidental identity categories of being Sunni Arabs, most hailing from the dictator’s hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

In Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, therefore, to be a Sunni Arab was a precursor to being considered loyal to the regime, and therefore often a condition for achieving political or material success in the country. In other words, being Sunni Arab was less of a religious identity than a tool for political and social dominance – a structurally political, not ideological, identity category. By extension, Ba’athist Iraq, although structured in a way to benefit those in possession of this political identity category, was not in itself ideologically sectarian, despite being structurally so. Indeed, there is little evidence to suggest that Saddam Hussein’s persecution of the Kurds or the Shi’a was done purely on sectarian or religious grounds, and instead often stemmed from his ethno-nationalist view of the world in which both the Kurds and the Shia (whom he tended to denigrate as ethnically “Persian”) posed a threat to his plans to integrate Iraq into a wider pan-Arab political project.

Thus, when the US-led coalition forces invaded Iraq in 2003 and proceeded to dismantle the country’s political and civilian structure, they succeeded merely in cutting off the head of the shadow state network while leaving the roots intact. It is this deep-running and shadowy network that has, in the intervening years, spawned Medusa-like to permeate all aspects of Iraqi society and to set the practical and discursive logic through which that society operates.

The long-standing effects of this shadow state have been reflected in the partisan politics of the successive Shia-led governments of Nouri Al-Maliki and now Haider Al-Abadi (which, in a perverse turning of the tables established a structurally sectarian system that favoured the majority Shia Muslims over their Sunni counterparts and succeeded in alienating many of Iraq’s most influential and experienced generals and politicians who had prospered under the Ba’ath). It is this political logic of reward and punishment that set the backdrop to the insurgency that has gripped the country since 2003, and provided a language and repertoire of political violence that pits one group against another in an all-out sectarian war. More than this, such logics of violence and allegiance have also been reflected in the recent exploitation of tribal and local loyalties by ISIS forces – leading some commentators to dub the Islamic state “a distinctively Iraqi organisation”.

What we have now in Iraq, then, is a direct result of these political logics of violence, punishment, necessity, loyalty and reward that have converged around three main discursive positions – the “Sunni” version of events contrasting sharply with that of the “Shia” or even the “Kurdish” version. Iraq has been carved up, both practically and ideologically, into three different political and social camps who are no longer able or willing to recognise their common histories. The only logical outcome of such political fracturing, sadly, seems to be the final carving up of Iraq into its three constituent provinces.

Thus, while it may be true that the increased sectarianisation of public and private discourse in Iraq and abroad is reflective of an increasing trend towards sectarianism within the country itself, it is worth bearing in mind the role such discourse has to play in shaping people’s perceptions on the ground and the way in which public narratives – especially in the media – are often manipulated by groups to serve their own political purposes. This is why we must be wary of reporting on Iraq as the perennial “sectarian conflict”, because the political reality of sectarianism in Iraq – although it does exist – is only a small part of the repertoire of political violence that is sweeping the country, and which cannot be traced to one unitary cause such as that of primordial identity ties. Rather, the reality of sectarianism in Iraq is the result of a complex combination of factors including the legacy of the Ba’athist shadow state, the impact of the 2003 invasion, the vested interest of local and foreign players (the US, Saudi Arabia, and Iran being just three), and the manipulation of discourse by those who have an interest in carving up the country to serve in their own political power games.

Revolutionary Guards Leads The Shia Horn (Daniel 8:3)

Iranian Revolutionary Guards at a military parade in Tehran (22 September 2013)
Over the past few years Iran has emerged as a key player in some of the major trouble spots in the Middle East.

Syria, Iraq and now Yemen all have an Iranian connection, and it is becoming increasingly clear that this new more pro-active foreign policy is being driven by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

By sending weapons to far-flung countries, providing military training and advice, and funnelling money to client politicians, groups and militia, the Guards appear to be pursuing a new doctrine: in order to protect the Islamic Republic at home, Iran must confront threats abroad.

The most recent example of this policy came with the surprise news this month that one of those killed in an Israeli air strike on a Hezbollah convoy in the Syrian Golan Heights, was an Iranian general.

“We will fight to the end to destroy Israel,” vowed the Guards’ commander-in-chief Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari in one of a number of defiant speeches in response to the incident.
“The liberation of Jerusalem is near,” he added.

Khamenei in chargeThe Iranian foreign ministry handed a note to the Americans through their interest section at the Swiss embassy in Tehran saying Israel had crossed Iran’s “red lines” with the killings and that it had to understand there would be consequences.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran (9 December 2014)
Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani have taken a back seat on foreign policy

Bellicose statements, particularly against Israel, from Iranian leaders and officials are nothing new, and for the most part they are ignored as mere rhetoric for domestic consumption – to paint a powerful image of the country at home.

But there is something new in all this too: the Guards are increasingly driving and advancing Iran’s foreign policy.

The Guards – set up after 1979 revolution to defend the country’s Islamic system and to provide a counterweight to the regular armed forces – are now effectively the executive arm of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

He appears to have taken all but full charge of Iran’s foreign policy in much of the world.
By doing so he has cut off the relatively-moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani from international politics, relegating the foreign ministry to a supporting role for his policies, which are implemented by the Guards.

One striking sign of the shift in the way Iran is conducting its foreign policy is the increasingly visible role of Gen Qasem Soleimani.

Gen Qasem Soleimani (17 September 2013)
The shadowy Gen Qasem Soleimani has played an important role in countering Islamic State in Iraq

The charismatic commander of the Guards’ overseas operation arm, the Quds Force, Gen Soleimani has suddenly emerged from the shadows after years quietly working to increase Iran’s influence and power in neighbouring Iraq.

These days, Iranian websites and newspapers are full of photographs of him attending meetings and rallies. It appears that the Guards are keen to exploit his larger-than-life reputation to lend more legitimacy to their expanding role.

Gen Soleimani is widely credited with saving Baghdad from the onslaught of Islamic State forces last summer.

There is evidence that he personally visited the front-lines and advised Iraqi security forces on how to defend the capital as well as mobilising Iraq’s pro-Iranian Shia militia – by organising them as well as funnelling money and weapons to them.

The militia are now a major power in Iraq and control many districts north of the capital, despite the deep concerns of Iraq’s Sunni Arab population.

Gaining influenceIn Syria, Gen Soleimani and the Guards have pumped the Assad regime with money and arms.

They have also helped establish a pro-government militia modelled on Iran’s Basij Resistance Force – a part-time, mostly youth-orientated wing of the Guards.

They have also encouraged the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement, Hezbollah, to engage militarily in Syria in support of the government.

Iranians carry the coffin of Revolutionary Guards Gen Mohammad Ali Allah-Dadi, who was killed in an Israeli air strike in the Syrian Golan Heights on 18 January 2014
Revolutionary Guards Gen Mohammad Ali Allah-Dadi was killed in an Israeli air strike in the Golan Heights

Last week, at the time of the Israeli air strike in the Golan Heights, the Guards commander who was killed in the attack was allegedly overseeing an attempt by Hezbollah to set up a missile battery aimed at Israel.

Through Syria, Iran has been arming Hezbollah with thousands of missiles of different range and types. Iranian leaders see Hezbollah-dominated southern Lebanon virtually as an extension of Iran.
Ayatollah Khamenei is now keen to open a new front against Israel in the West Bank.

He openly says so, and Guards commanders have repeated in the recent weeks that arming militants in the area is on their agenda.

The Sunni Islamist movement Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, is already a client of Iran’s – receiving financial support as well as missile-building know-how.

The latest challenge is Yemen, where the Zaidi Shia Houthi rebels have taken over in the capital, Sanaa.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) waves while standing next to Guards' commander-in-chief Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari in Tehran (26 November 2007) 
Guards commander Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari is implementing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s policies abroad

There is no direct evidence of Iran’s hand in the ascendance of the Houthis, but their worldview – their vehement opposition the US and to Israel – is similar to that of Tehran.

And there has been evidence of Iran smuggling weapons into Yemen before.

There is also evidence that the Guards have been smuggling arms to war-torn countries in West Africa. They also have a presence in Latin America, where for now the focus appears to be on economic and humanitarian projects.

The Guards’ main role in the region is to confront Israel, prop up and save Bashar al-Assad in Syria, maintain high degree of influence in Iraq, and counter the influence of the US and regional Sunni power Saudi Arabia in the region.

Ayatollah Khamenei has never been more influential.

Pakistani Horn Now In Army’s Hands (Daniel 8:8)

Pakistan’s Ongoing Existential Crisis – Analysis
January 24, 2015
By Dr Subhash Kapila*

Pakistan’s existential crises generated by Pakistan Army’s repetitive onslaughts on Pakistan’s democratic fabric are widely recognised. Constitutional abdication once again stands forced by the Pakistan Army on PM Nawaz.

In wake of TTP suicide attack on Peshawar Army Public School, the Pakistan Army instead of shouldering responsibility for its institutional inadequacies deflected Pakistani public reaction and outcry by demanding a Constitutional Amendment for setting-up Special Military Courts for trial of terrorists.

Pakistan Army’s not so subtle manoeuvre in this direction is nothing but a “Back-Door Coup” in which Constitutional organs of the Pakistan nation-state like the Prime Minister, the Government and the Pakistan Supreme Court stand short-circuited and by-passed. Implicitly and effectively, the Pakistan Army Chief and his generals have taken over the administration of Pakistan.

Regular readers would recall that at the height of Imran Khan and Qadri’s protest movement besieging the government of incumbent PM Nawaz Sharif I had pointed out that this prolonged besieging of Pakistan Parliament and government offices in Islamabad was a Pakistan Army facilitation as a prelude to a possible coup or a soft coup. What has occurred in the wake of Peshawar suicide bombings was a subtle operation by the Pakistan Army without sending soldiers on the streets forcing PM Nawaz Sharif to virtually hand over effective reins of government to Pakistan Army Chief.

To give respectability to this insidious manoeuvre Pakistan’s polity was scared by the Pakistan Army General into passing the 21st Constitutional Amendment approving the setting-up of Special Military Courts for trial of all terrorism-related crimes. The Pakistan Army Act was also suitably modified.

Preposterous is the reality that with PM Nawaz Sharif having been returned to power on a solid majority and with the Pakistan Supreme Court in recent times asserting with judicial activism, the Pakistan Army had no faith in these Constitutional organs of the Pakistan State and goaded the political establishment for setting-up Special Military Courts. The Pakistan Army Sharif has done-in the Political Sharif.

The Pakistan Army would have gone in for a regular military coup and declaration of Martial Law except for the fear of international backlash and withholding of billions of dollars of US and Western aid.

The Pakistan Army Generals were smarting under the perceived insult of General Musharraf’s trials in civil courts and PM Nawaz Sharif’s conciliatory gestures towards India and hence all these contrivations. Further, the solid image of the Pakistan Army was being dented in public perceptions beginning with US liquidation of Osama bin Laden deep in the midst of Pakistan’s major military garrison and thereafter continuing terrorism attacks.

The question that arises is as to why the Pakistan Army never made demands for Constitutional Amendment and setting-up of Special Military Courts earlier when right from Karachi to Lahore similar suicide bombings had taken place?

The second question is more major and profound. Is Pakistan condemned to alternate currents of Pakistan Army’s political interventions and control and aborting democracy taking roots in Pakistan which recently showed promise when governance passed from one political regime to another through the ballot box rather than bullets?

Does this plague of Pakistan Army military interventions and short-circuiting of democratic transformation not represent that the Pakistan nation-state is in an existential crisis? Would then not the question be ceaselessly asked regionally and globally that how long Pakistan can survive as a nation state with such debilities?

Pakistan’s existential crisis has been the subject of incessant debates in the strategic community and strategic analyses. Moreso, concerns arise because Pakistan is a rogue nuclear weapons state with the nuclear triggers in the hands of an adventurist Pakistan Army. They can be expected to act impulsively and brashly without caring for the consequences.

Reflective of the above was an interesting scenario of “Pakistan 2018” included in an article in the British newspaper ‘The Telegraph ‘of September2010 which spelt out that in 2018 as Pakistan returned to civilian rule after five years of military dictatorship, the Pakistan Army refused to hand over the codes and keys for the nuclear arsenal. The ousted Pakistan Army also seized missiles silos with the Pakistan Army splintering into those supporting the civilian regime and those unwilling to take orders from the civilian Government. The latter join the Taliban in Afghanistan and resort to cutting off of supply routes to US Forces remaining in Afghanistan

In response a UN Coalition led by US Task Forces with support from Chinese Task Force attack Pakistani missile silos. But the Pakistani Army rebels manage to launch two nuclear warheads towards Mumbai which are intercepted and destroyed by US Forces. The UN Coalition Forces eventually defang Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal

The above is not a far-fetched alarmist scenario and requires serious consideration by United States, Russia and China as major powers as to how Pakistan Army’s nuclear arsenal is de-fanged to prevent doomsday scenarios. How can China guarantee that a 9/11is not repeated on China by Pakistan based radicals supporting their co-religionists in Xinjiang?

Even ardent supporters of Pakistan within the US strategic community now express doubts over the survival of the Pakistan nation-state. Their logic is that if Pakistan stood partitioned by emergence of Bangladesh within 24 years of the first partition what guarantee is there that with the uninterrupted crumbling of Pakistani governing institutions currently underway that Pakistan could survive as a nation-state in the coming 36 years.

It needs to be highlighted that Pakistan’s existential crisis underway is not the handiwork of any Indian diabolical plot but the havoc wreaked by the Pakistan Army on the survival of democracy and democratic institutions in Pakistan. This author has been propagating that ‘Pakistan’s Democracy is a National Security Imperative for India” in his SAAG Papers so entitled.

Concluding it needs to be stressed that Pakistan’s long entrenched strategic patrons like the United States, UK and China would have to re-write their strategic narratives on the Pakistan Army if Pakistan has to be retrieved from its ongoing existential crisis before it irretrievably stumbles into an abyss with dangerous implications for the region.

*Dr Subhash Kapila is a graduate of the Royal British Army Staff College, Camberley and combines a rich experience of Indian Army, Cabinet Secretariat, and diplomatic assignments in Bhutan, Japan, South Korea and USA. Currently, Consultant International Relations & Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. He can be reached at

Pakistan Government Protected By Its Nuclear Status

Pakistani generals will continue using proxies under their nuclear umbrella

December 24, 2014, 4:04 AM IST Seema Sirohi in Letter from Washington | Times View, World

The generals in their labyrinth know they are under watch after the Peshawar tragedy. The slaughter of 132 innocent Pakistani children and 13 others by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the TTP, demands both answers and action.

There is brave talk. There are a few honest appraisals. The politicians are making the right noises. A few voices even started #AskGHQ as a Twitter hashtag to challenge the generals who created the mess. All respect to those Pakistanis who still dare to stand up and those killed because they did.
But the questioning and the soul searching are largely in the English press where the slim slice of liberals resides. The Urdu media is another world altogether. Those who monitor that wild, wild world see a dystopia. The blame is either on the TTP without a mention of other terrorist proxies run by the military-ISI or simply on Indian intelligence agents. Many, including former president Pervez Musharraf, have shamelessly named India’s external intelligence agency, RAW.

The well-oiled disinformation machinery was at work before the bodies of little children were even buried. Hafiz Saeed, the “mainstreamed” terrorist now posing as a religious leader, was out blaming India for the attack and vowing revenge. America, India and Israel were named as places for Allah’s wrath as Pakistan’s parade of jihadists met for a “memorial” service.

The truth is the generals will do what they have always done — continue using proxies under their nuclear umbrella to keep the world perpetually scared of their potential madness. They will satisfy the blood lust with mass-scale executions of convicted terrorists — none of whom would include men who attacked in India or Afghanistan.

Six men have already been hanged for attacks on the Pakistan army and 500 more reportedly are to follow. The prime-minister-in-name, Nawaz Sharif, helpfully lifted the moratorium on executions in the wake of the Peshawar attack.

But only the “bad” Taliban or TTP will be hunted for their sins because they dared to take on the state. The “good” Taliban, who kill Afghans and Indians, will be used as pieces in the lethal chess game of 2015. The same goes for the “good” Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Jamatud-Dawah, Haqqani Network and the rest of the dangerous zoo reared by the succession of generals.

You may think the Peshawar attack would have punctured Gen. Raheel Sharif’s bubble but you would be wrong. If anything, he will proceed as planned — push the Afghan government on the west and the Indian government on the east by maintaining the snake pit of “good” terrorists he controls.

The bigger picture emerging explains the Pakistan army chief’s swagger who apparently took home American blessings from his US visit. Senior Pakistani officials were heard bragging about the visit’s success and how Sharif told his US interlocutors a thing or two. A new addition to the army’s platoon in the US would be Maleeha Lodhi as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York. She is not Nawaz Sharif’s but Raheel Sharif’s choice.

The Paksitan army knows American subsidies will continue to come even if the terrorist mart remains open because the United States cannot “muster the requisite scrotal fortitude to deal appropriately with this twinned menace of nuclear weapons and terrorism,” as Pakistan expert Christine Fair wrote recently.

America’s inducements multiply the swagger. And surely Musharraf is the most insufferable of the lot. He told the BBC’s Impact programme that “we have our own ways of dealing with Afghanistan” and “you should leave the modalities to us” instead of micromanaging. The puffed up arrogance of the man was breathtaking.

Since the US combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, the time for the grab is near. By waiting out the Americans — whose perpetually confused policies on Afghanistan didn’t help — the Pakistan army is all set to try to force “strategic depth.”

So the Afghans must make a deal with men who kill their children, their soldiers and constantly threaten the country’s security. And pay obeisance to the likes of Musharraf. Nawaz Sharif’s foreign policy adviser and lately the dropper of “gems,” Sartaj Aziz, has said Taliban are Pakistan’s “historical friends.”

As for India, an uptick in activity among jihadists in the region is already being noticed. Those at the bottom rung of the chain are displaying some of the swagger of their bosses — always a worrying sign.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

Antichrist Threatens To Remove His Men (Revelation 13:18)

Iraq Shia cleric: Sadr movement will withdraw its armed wing in case of foreign intervention

Antichrist Army
Press TV
Iraq’s Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr says that he will withdraw “Saraya Assalam”, the armed wing of Sadr movement, from some areas under their control including Samara’a, Dhiala and Jurf Sakher. He made the remarks after some Iraqi politicians and tribes called for the need of foreign military presence and US-led ground operation in Iraq. Sadr however noted that that the rest of the armed wing will remain in the battlefield.

The Shia cleric threatened earlier to withdraw the force in case of any military intervention or ground troops. He also criticized the US-led coalition air strikes, emphasizing that volunteer forces, tribes and Iraqi army alone can defeat terrorism.Sadr said that the Withdrawal would be according to a specific strategy and the areas under Saraya Assalam control and all the liberated territory will be delivered to Iraqi security forces. Some in Iraq are calling for foreign military intervention in fight against ISIL Takfiri militants. But majority of people and the government oppose such measure, saying it will open the door for foreign troops’ presence in the country.

The US Should Fear the Antichrist’s Mahdi Army, Not ISIS (Revelation 13:16)

Lots of soldiers could die in Iraq — and not fighting ISIS

 Mahdi Army

Above: the Mahdi Army holds military parade on June 21, 2014, calling for unity among Sunnis and Shiites against Islamic State. They have just announced they will attack any U.S. ground troops in Iraq.

More major developments have set the stage for Washington’s plans in Iraq to spiral into bloody disaster, like the erroneously named “Operation: Iraqi Freedom.”

Since early June, when the self-described Islamic State launched its surprise offensive in Iraq, President Obama has repeated there will be “no boots on the ground” and that “American troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again.”

Washington is asking us not to consider what has now snowballed to 2,000 U.S. Army Special Forces, Marines and pilots as combat troops, because these are the secret soldiers, the ones who operate in the shadowsthe boots on the ground in covert combat operations from Africa to Asia.
Even if we buy their line that their “military advisers” don’t count as ground troops, Obama’s promise was contradicted on Sept. 16 by General Martin Dempsey, the highest military commander in the United States.

Dempsey said to the Senate Armed Services Committee that he would recommend the deployment of non-“advisor” U.S. combat troops if the current plan to “destroy ISIS” does not immediately succeed.

When asked by the Senate Committee if the U.S. military was “prepared to put boots on the ground,” he replied “yes.”

Obama has quite often acquiesced to the urgings of the right-wing militarists. U.S. military involvement has already escalated at an alarming pace since June. And there seems to be a great lack of confidence inside the U.S. political establishment and among U.S. allies that the Obama plan can succeed in destroying IS, especially in the short term.

How ‘boots on the ground’ will start a new war—and not just with Islamic State

Dempsey’s announcement came alongside a very significant warning from the Shiite militias in Iraq that inflicted heavy casualties on the U.S. military throughout the course of the occupation. Muqtada al-Sadr, commander of the Mahdi Army and leader of the Bloc of the Free (a major Shia political coalition), said that if U.S. ground troops were to come back to Iraq, their 500,000-strong force would start attacking them.

They likely would not be the only militias who fought against the U.S. occupation who would again return to combat if they saw U.S. soldiers return.

U.S. troops would not just be embroiled in a ground war with the highly-organized and well-funded Islamic State, flowing in endlessly from Syria, but would again be fighting the same Iraqi militias that played a major role in forcing the U.S. military out of Iraq just three years ago.

Despite the “just” rationales the politicians give for fighting the Islamic State, the very real possibility of regular Army troops heading back to Iraq would be an exact repeat of the Iraq war situation: a foreign occupation unwanted by the people of the country who wage a determined fight to drive it out.

If that happens, there is no telling how long the politicians will leave U.S. soldiers in Iraq to be killed, or how much they will increase the number of troops. If the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 13 years are any indication, they are not a fan of withdrawing, even when it is clear that they can have no military victory on the ground and U.S. soldiers are taking heavy casualties. They, in fact, have always reacted by sending “surges” of more American soldiers.

We’ve suffered enough

The U.S. military presence Iraq starting in 2003 led to an eight-year disaster that devastated the Iraqi people and led to the deaths of close to 5,000 American soldiers. More than 30,000 families in the United States were torn apart by watching their child, spouse, sibling or parent come home in a box, or come home maimed with life-changing wounds.

The Iraq war yielded well over 250,000 Traumatic Brain Injuries and 17,000 amputations for U.S. soldiers. Countless more have had to live with the daily struggle of the psychological wounds, which are claiming veterans lives in numbers comparable to the number of combat deaths.

In Iraq, there are five million children who became orphans during the war. That only scratches the surface of the suffering the U.S. war on Iraq caused innocent people.

U.S. service members, veterans and our families have suffered enough from the reckless decisions of the politicians and generals. We are all still trying to pick up the pieces from the last time we were carelessly tossed into Iraq.

Not our fight

Even the officials anxious to get the U.S. military back into Iraq, like Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, admit that the Islamic State poses no threat whatsoever to U.S. soil.

They only say they are a threat to so-called “American interests.” Most Americans do not own oil companies or banks, so the Americans theyre talking about who have actual interests in the region are infinitesimally small compared to our whole population.

The Iraqi people and the Syrian people are fighting to defeat IS in their own countries. It is their fight, not U.S. soldiers. The politicians want us to believe it’s our fight, because they have something to gainusing military force to reshape the region in the interests of the U.S. capitalist class.

Those Shiite militias who issued the threat to the U.S. military are engaged in heavy fighting with IS in Iraq, but are now under orders to abandon any battle with IS if they observe any “American advisers” participating.

Al-Sadr has been rallying for unity among Shiites and Sunnis to organize against IS. There are many other militia groups in Iraq that are now actively fighting IS—or that have the potential to join the fight against IS—who would undoubtedly take the same course as the Mahdi Army, and turn to fighting the re-occupation by the foreign military that has so recently decimated their country and killed around one million people.

The blood-drenched criminal legacy of the U.S. war in Iraq is so burned into the consciousness of the Iraqi people. Many ordinary unaffiliated Iraqis, too, would likely join the fight against U.S. occupying troops, just as they did before.

The White House and Pentagon, with the help of the U.S. media, is using the horror over the beheadings of American and British civilians to whip-up fear; but it was they who threatened, multiple times, the families of the hostages with criminal persecution of “supporting terrorism” if they raised money to pay the ransom IS was demanding.

What soldiers can do

The politicians in Washington and the officers in the Pentagon have proven completely willing to make us the sacrificial lambs of their debacled war strategies and hidden alterior motives. The past 13 years they have treated our lives, both sending us to war and when we get home, with the most callous disregard.

A conclusion that so many of us who were sent to the Iraq war have come to is that if we could turn back the hands of time, we would have refused the orders to go.

U.S. troops today should take that lesson to heart. It is not worth being the cannon fodder in another arrogance-driven military adventure in the Middle East.

U.S. troops can take their lives into their own hands, instead of leaving them in the hands of dishonest rich men who have done nothing but fail us our entire lives.