July 27, 2016

Erdo─čanistan Beats Out Gulenistan

An excerpt from, "Erdogan Takes Control" By Philip Giraldi, The Unz Review, July 26, 2016:
A cowed Turkish parliament has voted three months of emergency powers to Erdogan. He will use that authority to destroy his opposition in parliament and further muzzle both what remains of the independent media as well as the meddlesome foreign journalists reporting from Turkey. The social media are being shut down or censored and both emails and phone calls are being monitored by the formidably effective Turkish Military Intelligence Service (MIT). Demonstrators brave enough to go against Erdogan will be treated as enemies of the state and the once powerful Turkish military will be turned into some version of an Islamic militia with its leaders owing both their positions and loyalty to the president. Hundreds of schools and even universities that Erdogan has linked to Gulen, rightly or wrongly, have been closed and thousands of teachers have been fired. The schools will reopen eventually with a government approved religious curriculum being taught by approved teachers.

Erdogan had ten good years as prime minister but then he became convinced of his own political invulnerability and moved over to the dark side. Anyone who rejoices in his surviving a possible military coup should think twice about where he is taking Turkey since it is clear that the president will not let slip a good opportunity to eliminate all his enemies. And the average hard working decent Turk will eventually be the loser as the economy continues to slide and the trappings of a police state become ever more visible. Erdogan is frog marching his country down a road where there is only darkness at the other end.
Video Title:  Meet Fethullah Gulen, Deep State Plotter. Source: corbettreport. Date Published: July 27, 2016.

The Secret Cyberwar is Here: Director Alex Gibney on 'Zero Days' Documentary, Stuxnet & Cyberweapons

"It's interesting that cyber weapons can only be launched with the permission of the President of the United States. That makes them analogous entirely to nuclear weapons." - Alex Gibney (quote is from the interview below).

An excerpt from, "The US could have destroyed Iran's entire infrastructure without dropping a single bomb" By Paul Szoldra, Tech Insider, July 6, 2016:
The United States had a top-secret operation that gave it the ability to shut down much of Iran's infrastructure ahead of a full-scale war, without a single bomb being dropped.

The incredible insight into a highly-classified cyber operation called Nitro Zeus was first exposed in the film "Zero Days" and later corroborated by The New York Times, which interviewed intelligence and military officials who were involved.
Video Title: The Secret Cyberwar is Here: Director Alex Gibney on 'Zero Days' Documentary, Stuxnet & Cyberweapons. Source: ReasonTV. Date Published: July 8, 2016. Description: 
"The potential for enormous destruction and loss of life is palpable when it comes to cyberweapons," says Alex Gibney, director of the new film Zero Days, which delves into the creation, deployment, and implications of the Stuxnet virus. Stuxnet, a self-replicating cyberweapon launched by the U.S. and Israel into the Natanz nuclear plant in Iran, was an effort to thwart Iran's nuclear progress by taking control of the plant's centrifuges, spinning them until they would explode. "The reason it is hugely significant is it is the first time a computer code has crossed the threshold from the realm of cyber to the realm of the physical. So it is blowing stuff up."

"It was a brilliant and elegant weapon which achieved a goal of slowing down Iran's path to being a nuclear power. However, as a precedent, it was extremely dangerous because it was an attack on critical infrastructure during peacetime. Had that been done to us we would have been within our rights to start a war."

While Zero Days unfolds as a detective story, following the cybersecurity experts at Symantec who discovered the Stuxnet virus, a good portion of the film portrays the continued secrecy of cyberwarfare, something Gibney finds both frustrating and dangerous.

July 26, 2016

The Big Battle That Will Determine ISIS's Fate And Iraq's Future Is Hindered By Politicized Planning In D.C., Infighting In Iraq, And Lack of Humanitarian Aid

An excerpt from, "Iraqis pack up a lifetime as they flee ISIS-held Mosul in the dark of night" By Ben Wedeman and Waffa Munayyer, CNN, July 25, 2016:
"I came because of the tyranny of Daesh," he says, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS. "I came because of the lack of food and water, because of the lack of security. ISIS are gangs of killers and thieves. The most basic necessities of life no longer exist. There is no electricity, no water, no connection with the outside world."

The threat of execution by ISIS, for offenses large and small, looms over everyone, he said. "They kill you if you don't fast. They kill you if you don't pray. They kill women if they show their faces. They have no other way of doing things than killing. The only punishment is killing: no prison, no fines, just killing, killing and killing."

The number of people fleeing Mosul and surrounding towns and villages has been rising steadily in recent weeks, as Iraqi government and Kurdish forces slowly retake territory around the city. At the same time the U.S.-led coalition is ratcheting up pressure, its planes targeting ISIS. The U.S. also announced it is sending more than 500 additional troops to support the battle to liberate Mosul.
An excerpt from, "With liberation of Mosul from Isis in sight, US envoy urges plan for refugees" By Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, July 21, 2016:
The liberation of the Islamic State-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul is now in sight and preparations are ahead of schedule, but parallel plans for refugees and stabilization of the city must keep pace with the military progress, Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the coalition against Isis, said on Thursday.

Speaking at a meeting of 30 defence and foreign ministers in Washington, including the UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, McGurk said: “The liberation of Mosul is now in sight and an achievable goal.”

It is widely expected the assault will start in November, although no public timeline is being given by the coalition.
An excerpt from, "Troops fear Obama rushing Mosul offensive to influence election" By Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times, July 24, 2016: 
Some U.S. officers in Baghdad believe the Obama administration is rushing plans for a Mosul offensive so it takes place before the November presidential election, a retired general says.

“There is tremendous concern that Washington is going to press for a Mosul operation to commence before the November election,” Mr. Barbero told The Washington Times. “The concern is, will the conditions be set on the ground by then, and I don’t think so.”
An excerpt from, "Mosul: suspicion and hostility cloud fight to recapture Iraqi city from Isis" By Martin Chulov, Iraq, May 11, 2016:
On both sides, there is a belief that what happens on the road to Mosul will not only define the course of the war but also shape the future of Iraq. And, despite the high stakes, planning for how to take things from here is increasingly clouded by suspicion and enmity.

Two years after the Isis onslaught, the country remains crippled by ethnic and sectarian strife and political torpor, which have withered state control and pitched the Iraqi army in a power struggle with militias and the Kurds before it even faces off with Isis. The result has been a stalemate in the battle that matters most, with Iraq deeply wary that the largely autonomous Kurdish north will use its involvement to formalise a divorce from Baghdad – and the Kurds just as sceptical that Iraq’s military is up for the fight.
An excerpt from, "Iraq Liberates Fallujah From ISIS. Now the Hard Part Begins" By Jared Malsin, Time, June 27, 2016:
“If we struggled to cope with Fallujah, then God help us with Mosul,” says Karl Schembri, a spokesperson in Baghdad for the Norwegian Refugee Council, a leading aid group. “Right now it’s just unthinkable. Right now with the current resources that all agencies have—it’s not just us, and the U.N. itself—nobody in his right mind can say that we are prepared for Mosul.”

But in Mosul the political puzzle is even more complicated, with the Iraqi national army, U.S. military and pro-Shiite militias all expected to play different roles. Adding yet another layer of complexity, Mosul is flanked on three sides by Kurdish forces who do not answer to the central government in Baghdad. Before the battle for Mosul can begin in earnest, the government must reach an understanding with the Kurdish regional government based in the city of northern Erbil. The two leaderships have yet to decide the exact role Kurdish forces will play in the battle, including how close they will get to the center of the majority Arab city. Because Mosul lies close to Kurdish-controlled land, any negotiations over the future of the city will trigger delicate questions of Kurdish aspirations for greater autonomy or even full independence.

Christopher Hitchens On Turkey Joining The EU And Erdogan's Bullying Tactics

Video Title: Christopher Hitchens - 'Talking Turkey' (Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty). Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Date Published: December 2, 2010. Description:
Christopher Hitchens is one of the most prolific and controversial writers in the English-speaking world. A prominent atheist, he is the author of "God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," which became an international best-seller in 2007. He has also written books on topics ranging from the partition of Cyprus to Thomas Jefferson and the Anglo-American relationship; his most recent is the memoir "Hitch 22."

RFE/RL writer at large James Kirchick recently interviewed Hitchens at his home in Washington about his left-wing revolutionary past, his views on America, Iran's nuclear program, Turkey's Islamist turn, Putin's Russia, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and sampled his views on a variety of international figures.

Hitchens' first book was a history of Cyprus, the Mediterranean island invaded by Turkey in 1974. He has closely followed Turkey's internal politics and here discusses the debate over whether it should join the European Union.

Peekay Truth - Follow the "Gutjahr Trail" For the Next FAKE Terrorist Attack

Video Title: Follow the "Gutjahr Trail" For the Next FAKE Terrorist Attack. Source: Peekay Truth. Date Published: July 24, 2016.