America’s Allies Are Funding ISIS
Josh Rogin, The Daily Beast,
World News, 06.14.14,
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now threatening Baghdad, was funded for years by wealthy donors in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, three U.S. allies that have dual agendas in the war on terror.
The extremist group that is threatening the existence of the Iraqi state was built and grown for years with the help of elite donors from American supposed allies in the Persian Gulf region. There, the threat of Iran, Assad, and the Sunni-Shiite sectarian war trumps the U.S. goal of stability and moderation in the region.
It’s an ironic twist, especially for donors in Kuwait (who, to be fair, back a wide variety of militias). ISIS has aligned itself with remnants of the Baathist regime once led by Saddam Hussein. Back in 1990, the U.S. attacked Iraq in order to liberate Kuwait from Hussein’s clutches. Now Kuwait is helping the rise of his successors.
As ISIS takes over town after town in Iraq, they are acquiring money and supplies including American made vehicles, arms, and ammunition. The group reportedly scored $430 million this week when they looted the main bank in Mosul. They reportedly now have a stream of steady income sources, including from selling oil in the Northern Syrian regions they control, sometimes directly to the Assad regime.
But in the years they were getting started, a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the support came with the tacit nod of approval from those regimes; often, it took advantage of poor money laundering protections in those states, according to officials, experts, and leaders of the Syrian opposition, which is fighting ISIS as well as the regime.
“Everybody knows the money is going through Kuwait and that it’s coming from the Arab Gulf,” said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Kuwait’s banking system and its money changers have long been a huge problem because they are a major conduit for money to extremist groups in Syria and now Iraq.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been publicly accusing Saudi Arabia and Qatar of funding ISIS for months. Several reports have detailed how private Gulf funding to various Syrian rebel groups has splintered the Syrian opposition and paved the way for the rise of groups like ISIS and others.
“The U.S. has made the case as strongly as they can to regional countries, including Kuwait. But ultimately when you take a hands off, leading from behind approach to things, people don’t take you seriously and they take matters into their own hands.”
Gulf donors support ISIS, the Syrian branch of al Qaeda called the al Nusrah Front, and other Islamic groups fighting on the ground in Syria because they feel an obligation to protect Sunnis suffering under the atrocities of the Assad regime. Many of these backers don’t trust or like the American backed moderate opposition, which the West has refused to provide significant arms to.
Under significant U.S. pressure, the Arab Gulf governments have belatedly been cracking down on funding to Sunni extremist groups, but Gulf regimes are also under domestic pressure to fight in what many Sunnis see as an unavoidable Shiite-Sunni regional war that is only getting worse by the day.
“ISIS is part of the Sunni forces that are fighting Shia forces in this regional sectarian conflict. They are in an existential battle with both the (Iranian aligned) Maliki government and the Assad regime,” said Tabler. “The U.S. has made the case as strongly as they can to regional countries, including Kuwait. But ultimately when you take a hands off, leading from behind approach to things, people don’t take you seriously and they take matters into their own hands.”
Donors in Kuwait, the Sunni majority Kingdom on Iraq’s border, have taken advantage of Kuwait’s weak financial rules to channel hundreds of millions of dollars to a host of Syrian rebel brigades, according to a December 2013 report by The Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank that receives some funding from the Qatari government.
“Over the last two and a half years, Kuwait has emerged as a financing and organizational hub for charities and individuals supporting Syria’s myriad rebel groups,” the report said. “Today, there is evidence that Kuwaiti donors have backed rebels who have committed atrocities and who are either directly linked to al-Qa’ida or cooperate with its affiliated brigades on the ground.”
Kuwaiti donors collect funds from donors in other Arab Gulf countries and the money often travels through Turkey or Jordan before reaching its Syrian destination, the report said. The governments of Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have passed laws to curb the flow of illicit funds, but many donors still operate out in the open. The Brookings paper argues the U.S. government needs to do more.
“The U.S. Treasury is aware of this activity and has expressed concern about this flow of private financing. But Western diplomats’ and officials’ general response has been a collective shrug,” the report states.
When confronted with the problem, Gulf leaders often justify allowing their Salafi constituents to fund Syrian extremist groups by pointing back to what they see as a failed U.S. policy in Syria and a loss of credibility after President Obama reneged on his pledge to strike Assad after the regime used chemical weapons.
That’s what Prince Bandar bin Sultan, head of Saudi intelligence since 2012 and former Saudi ambassador in Washington, reportedly told Secretary of State John Kerry when Kerry pressed him on Saudi financing of extremist groups earlier this year. Saudi Arabia has retaken a leadership role in past months guiding help to the Syrian armed rebels, displacing Qatar, which was seen as supporting some of the worst of the worst organizations on the ground.
The rise of ISIS, a group that officially broke with al Qaeda core last year, is devastating for the moderate Syrian opposition, which is now fighting a war on two fronts, severely outmanned and outgunned by both extremist groups and the regime. There is increasing evidence that Assad is working with ISIS to squash the Free Syrian Army.
But the Syrian moderate opposition is also wary of confronting the Arab Gulf states about their support for extremist groups. The rebels are still competing for those governments’ favor and they are dependent on other types of support from Arab Gulf countries. So instead, they blame others—the regimes in Tehran and Damascus, for examples—for ISIS’ rise.
Christians Are Being Slaughtered By Islamic Terrorists … But Sadly, the U.S. Is Supporting the Terrorists
Christians Are Being Persecuted By Islamic Terrorists, Christians are being persecuted by Islamic terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
Posted on August 11, 2014 by WashingtonsBlog,
The “ISIS” Islamic terrorists have literally CRUCIFIED people in Iraq recently, and have marked the houses of Christians … presumably for execution.
They have told Christians in Mosel, “convert to Islam or die“. They have pulled down crosses at churches in Iraq. Thousands of residents of Iraq’s biggest Christian town have been forced to flee their homes as the ISIS killers overran their town and said: “leave, convert or die“.
The ISIS terrorists are not only beheading adult Christians, but they are systematically beheading CHILDREN.
In Syria, rebels fighting against the Syrian government told Christians, “Either you convert to Islam or you will be beheaded.” Syrian rebels slit the throat of Christian man who refused to convert to Islam, taunting his fiance by yelling: “Jesus didn’t come to save him!” And – like the Islamic terrorists in Iraq – they’ve CRUCIFIED Christians.
Hold Turkey and Saudi Arabia Accountable
Michael Rubin | Commentary Magazine 06.16.2014 – 5:30 PM
The Obama administration is looking for some low-cost magic bullet to resolve the mess in Iraq, never mind that its search for a similar remedy in Syria hasn’t materialized. As Max Boot ably demonstrates, reaching out to Iran shouldn’t be the solution: Iran might go in—and, indeed, already has—but it won’t leave. Just look at Lebanon, where Hezbollah continues to wreak havoc 14 years after Israel’s withdrawal.
That said, while Iran has sponsored terrorism that has killed countless Iraqis and scores of Americans in Iraq, and continues to arm and fund hardcore sectarian militias which undercut reconciliation in Iraq, it is as important to recognize that Saudi Arabia and its promotion of radical Islam has historically been as poisonous as the Islamic Republic of Iran (if not more so). Saudi authorities have cracked down slightly after suffering their own blowback a decade ago, but many Saudi charities continue to fund extremism and hate.
Turkey, meanwhile, has become a state sponsor of terrorism in all but official U.S. designation. It has embraced Hamas, helped finance Iran through the sanctions regime, and become an underground railroad through which most foreign jihadis and al-Qaeda wannabes pass on their way into Syria. When pressed, all Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç could say was that Turkey had not supplied the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) with arms; evidence that it provided other logistical support and a safe-haven is overwhelming. Even though ISIS holds 49 Turks hostage in Mosul, the Turkish government refuses to condemn ISIS as a terrorist group. Demanding Turkey stop playing a double game on ISIS is doable, unlike putting boots on the ground in Iraq.
Since the current ISIS/Baathist uprising in Iraq started, Turkey’s behavior has been absolutely reprehensible. There have been photographs circulated in Turkey of an ISIS commander recovering at a Turkish hospital in Hatay. While Turkey claims medical treatment for ISIS terrorists wounded in Syria (or Iraq) is a humanitarian act, the same Turkish government prosecutes doctors who treat protestors wounded in demonstrations against the Turkish government’s authoritarianism in Istanbul.
On Friday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu complained that the media was portraying ISIS unfairly. Turkey may finally have declared the Nusra Front a terrorist group—only after the group stopped obeying Turkish direction—but it has apparently yet to impose the same designation on ISIS, a group too radical even for al-Qaeda. Iraqi press reports suggest that Iraqi forces have arrested four Turkish officers helping train ISIS in Iraq; while the Turks have denied that accusation, it seems there’s some fire causing that smoke. If any Turkish officer took part in training a terrorist group that has reportedly summarily executed more than 2,000 soldiers, then it is hard to conclude that Turkey does not have blood on its hands.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is no angel, but to blame Iraq’s Shi’ites or a democratically elected government that includes Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites and Christians, men and women is unfair. The current strife in Iraq is not because of Shi’ite intolerance but rather because of intolerance of the Shi’ites. Those who say the uprising could have been averted if only Maliki had given more perks, positions, and goodies to Sunni Arabs misunderstand the fact that what Iraqis are fighting against is a noxious and hateful ideology, not simply grievance.
Never again will Iraq be dominated by a small Sunni minority. Nor should it. Shi’ites cannot be expected to sit idly by when Saudi- and Turkish-supported radical groups brag about their plans for genocide against the Shi’ites. It’s important to check Iranian ambitions and to reinforce that Iran does not represent all Shi’ites. If the United States truly wants to encourage peace in Iraq, however, it is time to acknowledge that Shi’ites too have legitimate grievances and face a deadly challenge, one embarrassingly that has a return address in Riyadh and Ankara.
Is Turkey going to reconsider its Sunni sectarian policy in Syria?
Wednesday, 25 September 2013, Turkey Analyst
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 6, no. 17 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkey may not yet be ready to reexamine its Syria policy and to acknowledge that it bears a share of the responsibility for the present state of affairs in Syria. The official Turkish narrative is that things in Syria would have been much different if only the “moderates”, “the ones who are working for democracy” that Turkey has supported had been assisted by the United States. What Turkey needs to do in response to the growing security threat that Syria represents is to make sure that the impression that Turkey is committed to promoting a sectarian, Arab Sunni cause in Syria is dispelled. President Gül’s statement that Turkey is making a “significant effort” to remove the jihadist threat on its border is a hopeful sign.
BACKGROUND: When the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria began in 2011, the Turkish government, which had enjoyed close relations with al-Assad, initially attempted to use its influence to moderate the response of the Baath regime to the uprising. Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu made several calls to Damascus, reportedly urging President al-Assad to find ways to accommodate the protesters. When it became clear that the Syrian regime had no intention to heed the advice of its friends in Ankara, Turkey reversed course; Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who reportedly felt personally insulted by the refusal of al-Assad to follow recommendations, took his hands from his former friend and called for his resignation. From that point on, in September 2011, Turkey became one of the main sponsors of the Sunni rebellion. The Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Sunni rebel movement was allowed to set up headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey supplied critical logistical support to the rebels, and has called for a military intervention in support of their cause.
The Turkish government did not hide its disappointment when the United States and Russia reached a deal to disarm the chemical weapons of Syria. In an interview with the Washington Post on September 24, Turkey’s president Abdullah Gül reiterated the official Turkish position. Gül said that he does not see the U.S.-Russia framework agreement as a solution to the Syria crisis and that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad must go. “The discussion on Syria should not be reduced only to a discussion of chemical weapons,” Gül stated. In an interview on the website of Foreign Affairs on September 24, the Turkish president said that “the chemical weapons issue should not distract us from the bigger concerns we all have about Syria. There has to be a very strong, decisive political strategy in order to stop what is going on there.”
Commenting that the agreement leaves al-Assad in power, Gül said in the interview in the Washington Post “that’s not something we can live with.” “If we leave things on their own, there is a danger that what is happening in Afghanistan will happen on the shores of the Mediterranean, and no one can tolerate that,” he made clear.
The statements of the Turkish president reflect the growing apprehension that the civil war in Syria is going to have – indeed already has – effects that spill over into Turkish territory. The influx of five hundred thousand refugees has already destabilized the border region of Turkey, most notably the Hatay province, where the massive influx of Sunni refugees has put the sizeable Arab Alawite population in the province on edge.
But the risks for Turkey are not confined to the border region. The Syrian civil war, and more precisely Turkey’s adoption of the Sunni cause there, has created anger among the minority Alevis in Turkey.(See 11 September 2013 Turkey Analyst) The Alevis do not share the same creed as the Alawites in Syria, but they have nonetheless become unsettled by the support that the Turkish government has lent to the Sunni rebels; from an Alevi perspective, this is yet another expression of the traditional Sunni hostility toward what is seen as “heretics”. If Turkey persists in supporting the Sunni rebels, the sectarian fault line in the country that divides Sunnis and Alevis will continue to widen dangerously.
The Turkish government also risks alienating its Kurdish population. Turkey has made clear that it will not tolerate the attempt of the Kurds in Syria to establish self-rule; and it has put force behind those words. Jihadist rebels, foremost among them the Jabhat al-Nusra which has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, have continued to battle the Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria, just across the border to Turkey, since the end of 2012. Turkey has denied the charges that it has been supporting these rebels; these assurances notwithstanding, it is clear that the jihadist militants are allowed free passage to and from Turkey and that they would not have been able to carry out their attacks against the Kurds without the Turkish authorities turning a blind eye to them.(See 30 May 2013 Turkey Analyst) Until recently, the Turkish government has also declined to depict Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization, which the United States does.
Obama to the rescue – of Hamas
By CAROLINE B. GLICK, 07/22/2014 21:03, The Jerusalem Post,
Presently, Hamas’s most outspoken state sponsors are Qatar and Turkey.
As Israel’s Calcalist newspaper reported earlier this week, Qatar is Hamas’s biggest and most important financier, a role it plays as well for ISIS, al Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood and various jihadist groups in Libya.
Turkey for its part is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Like Qatar, Turkey has also been a major supporter of ISIS and al Nusra, as well as Hamas. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s slander against Israel has grown so hysterical in recent weeks that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has been trying to downplay Turkey’s animosity, called him out on his open anti-Semitism.
By Tuesday morning, IDF forces in Gaza had destroyed 23 tunnels. The number of additional tunnels is still unknown.
While Israel had killed 183 terrorists, it appeared that most of the terrorists killed were in the low to middle ranks of Hamas’s leadership hierarchy.
Hamas’s senior commanders, as well as its political leadership have hunkered down in hidden tunnel complexes.
In other words, Israel is making good progress.
But it hasn’t completed its missions. It needs several more days of hard fighting.
Recognizing this, Israel’s newfound Muslim allies have not been pushing for a cease-fire.
In contrast, the Obama administration is insisting on concluding a cease-fire immediately.
As Israel has uncovered the scope of Hamas’s infrastructure of murder and terror, the US has acted with the UN, Turkey and Qatar to pressure Israel (and Egypt) to agree to a cease-fire and so end IDF operations against Hamas before the mission is completed.
To advance this goal, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Monday night with an aggressive plan to force on Israel a cease-fire Hamas and its state sponsors will accept.
As former ambassador to the US Michael Oren told the media, it is clear that neither Israel nor Egypt invited Kerry to come over. Their avoidance of Kerry signals clearly that the US’s two most important allies in the Middle East do not trust US President Barack Obama’s intentions.
And their distrust is entirely reasonable.
The State Department has openly applauded Turkey and Qatar for their involvement in attempts to achieve a cease-fire. Last week Israeli officials alleged that the US was responsible for Hamas’s rejection of the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. By attempting to coerce Egypt to accept Qatar and Turkey as its partners in mediation, Obama signaled to Hamas’s leaders that they should hold out for a better deal.
Due to Turkey’s membership in NATO and the glamour of the Qatari royal family, many Westerners find it hard to believe that they are major sponsors of terrorism. But it is true. Turkey and Qatar are playing a double game.
While sending his ambassador to Brussels for NATO meetings, Erdogan has been transforming Turkey from an open, pro-Western society allied with Israel into a closed, anti-Semitic and anti-American society that sponsors Hamas, ISIL, al Nusra and other terrorists groups.
As for Qatar, the tiny natural gas superpower presents itself to Americans as their greatest ally in the Muslim world. The emirate gives hundreds of millions of dollars to US universities to open campuses in Doha and pretends it is a progressive, open society, replete with debating societies.
Qatar hosts three major US military bases on its territory. And it is becoming one of the most important clients for US military contractors. Earlier this year Qatar signed an $11.4 billion dollar arms agreement with the US.
At the same time, according to the Calacalist report, Qatar is the major bankroller of ISIS and al Nusra in Syria and Iraq. It gives $50 million a month to jihadists in Libya. It gives Hamas $100m. in annual aid. And in the past two years Doha has provided Hamas with an additional $620m. dollars, including $250m. it transferred to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s personal bank account, and $350m. in military aid to Hamas, transferred after the Egyptian military forced the Muslim Brotherhood government from power last July.
Add to that the $100m. per year that Qatar pours into Al Jazeera’s satellite network – which has dedicated itself to undermining pro-Western Arab regimes while popularizing the likes of al-Qaida and Hamas, and Qatar is the largest financier of international jihad in the world.
Rather than notice that Qatar and Turkey are playing a double game, and treat them with suspicion, the Obama administration has embraced them.
Chances that Kerry will secure a cease-fire in the near future are small. In all likelihood, the government will be able to buy the time necessary to complete the mission in whole or large part. But the fact that the US has chosen at this juncture in the operation – with Israel enjoying unprecedented support from the most important Sunni states in the region – to side with Hamas and its state sponsors in their demand for an immediate cease-fire speaks volumes about the transformation of US foreign policy under Obama’s leadership.