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Antifa Members from U.S. went to Syria to Fight Alongside Kurdish Marxist Groups

Communism is an internationalist movement, so this comes as no surprise. It would be illuminating to know what other training Antifa has received, who are its funding sources, and whether it has any connection, in light of the increasingly manifest Leftist-Islamic alliance, with jihad groups. Once they’re in Syria, it wouldn’t be hard to make such connections, and that may have been why they went there, instead of anywhere else in the world where they could have met up with violent Marxists. These Kurdish Marxist groups fought against the Islamic State (ISIS), but wouldn’t have any problem with other jihad groups that share its determination to destroy the free societies in the West.

“DHS Investigates Alleged Antifa Protesters as Terrorists Trained in Syria,” by Daniel Villarreal, Newsweek, August 3, 2020 (thanks to the Geller Report):

An intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states that anti-fascist activists (Antifa) are being investigated as possible terrorists with affiliations to Syria, even though no self-identified members of the loosely-affiliated Antifa protest movement have either been proven to commit any murders or carry out any terrorist attacks.

The July 14 report, entitled “The Syrian Conflict and its Nexus to the U.S.-based Antifascist Movement,” states “ANTIFA is being analyzed under the 2019 DHS Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence,” according to a copy of the document obtained by the progressive political magazine The Nation. It received a copy from someone who previously worked on DHS intelligence.

The report details more than half a dozen people identified with various far-left causes who have personally visited Syria to fight alongside Kurdish factions. The factions include the YPG, the People’s Defense Unit; the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party; and the Peshmerga, military forces that provide security for Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region. None of these organizations are currently listed by the U.S. as terrorist groups.

“There appears to be a clear connection … between ANTIFA ideology and Kurdish democratic federalism teachings and ideology,” the report stated. “(U.S. Customs and Border Protection) concern about and interest in these individuals stems from the types of skills and motivations that may have developed during their time overseas engaged in foreign conflicts.”…

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Is Kurdistan Rising?

In the Wall Street Journal Weekend edition, June 20-21, 2015, Yaroslav Trofimov writes of the possible rise of an independent Kurdistan, “The State of The Kurds”. An independent Kurdistan was promised by the WWI Allies in the Treaty of Sevres that ended the Ottoman Empire in 1920. That commitment was dashed by the rise of Turkish Republic under the secularist Kemal Atatürk confirmed in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne denying an independent Kurdistan in what is now Eastern Turkey. Combined a future Kurdistan encompassing eastern Turkey, Northern Syria, northwest Iran and northern Iraq might comprise a landlocked republic of 30 million with significant energy and agricultural resources. The rise of Kurdistan is reflected in these comments in the Trofimov WSJ review article:

Selahattin Demirtas, Chairman of the HDP party in Turkey:

The Kurds’ existence was not recognized; they were hidden behind a veil. But now, after being invisible for a century, they are taking their place on the international stage. Today, international powers can no longer resolve any issue in the Middle East without taking into account the interests of the Kurds.

Tahir Elçi, a prominent Kurdish lawyer and chairman of the bar in Diyarbakir, Turkey:

In the past, when the Kurds sought self-rule, the Turks, the Persians and the Arabs were all united against it. Today that’s not true anymore—it’s not possible for the Shiite government in Iraq and Shiite Iran to work together against the Kurds with the Sunni Turkey and the Sunni ISIS. In this environment, the Kurds have become a political and a military power in the Middle East.

Elçi, amplifies a concern that Sherkoh Abbas, leader of the Kurdish National Syria Assembly (KURDNAS) has expressed in several NER interviews an articles with him:

The PKK has made important steps to adopt more democratic ways. But you cannot find the same climate of political diversity in [Kurdish] Syria as you find in [northern Iraq], and this is because of PKK’s authoritarian and Marxist background. This is a big problem.

As effective as the KRG government and peshmerga have been in pushing back at ISIS forces threatening the capital of Erbil, the real problem is the divisiveness in the political leadership. That is reflected in the comment of  Erbil province’s governor, Nawaf Hadi cited by Trofimov:

For 80 years, the Arab Sunni people led Iraq—and they destroyed Kurdistan. Now we’ve been for 10 years with the Shiite people [dominant in Baghdad], and they’ve cut the funding and the salaries—how can we count on them as our partner in Iraq?” All the facts on the ground encourage the Kurds to be independent.

That renewed prospect reflects the constellation of  events in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

The fall of the AKP government in the Turkish Election of June 7, 2015

There was  the  stunning  defeat of the 13 year reign of  the Islamist AKP headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by the trio of secular, nationalist and upstart Kurdish parties, the CHP, HNP and HDP that might form a minority ruling coalition 45 days from the June 7, 2014 parliamentary elections. These minority parties garnered a plurality of 299 seats in the Ankara Parliament.  That is if these parties can coalesce. If not Islamist figurehead President Erdogan seek new elections if they can’t put together a new ruling government.  A Washington, D.C. forum on what the results of the Turkish  election convened by the Foundation for Defense  of Democracies (FDD) forum presented nuanced views. Watch this C-Span video of the FDD forum.

FDD Senior Counselor John Hannah moderated the discussion with former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and FDD Senior Advisor  former US Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman and FDD Non-Resident Fellow and former member of Turkish parliament Ayman Erdemir.

John Hannah

June 7 in my opinion was an inspiring performance, a much needed triumph of the spirit of liberal democracy in a Middle East landscape currently inundated with way too much bad news.

For those of us who have watched over the past decade with great dismay the slow drip of Turkey’s democracy being drained away by Erdogan’s creeping Islamism and authoritarianism, we frankly weren’t sure anymore if the Turkish people had this kind of an election in them.

Aykan Erdemir

My take-home message would be that we should not read these elections too much with a progressive, liberal-democratic interpretation. But we should not underemphasize the importance of it either, because ultimately June 7 proved to us that there could be a return from competitive authoritarianism, where an incumbent with huge advantages nevertheless can suffer a relative defeat in the ballot box.

I have always argued that Erdogan’s policies and politics cannot be interpreted within the nation-state borders. Erdogan’s policies right from the start have been transnational; it has always been a Muslim Brotherhood-oriented policy, whether in Syria, Jordan, or Egypt. He is a visionary transnationalist politician.”

Ambassador Edelman

Turkey is a deeply polarized society, and the bad news there is that the AKP is the only party that is competitive across the nation.

Erdogan will not see this vote in any way as inhibiting him in creating an executive presidency. …My suspicion is that Erdogan does not want to see a government formed within the 45-day period set by the constitution and would like to see the country go back to elections. He thinks that if he could apply the ‘keep voting until I get the right answer’ standard, there is a chance he will do better in a second election, get at least a governing majority if not the super-majority.

Dr. Harold Rhode, former Turkish and Islamic Affairs expert in the Office of the Secretary of Defense held a more optimistic view cited in a JNS.org article on the Turkish Elections, “noting that he personally knows pro-American and pro-Israel officials “within the senior leadership of all three of the [non-AKP] parties.”

Syrian YPG Fighters capture Tal Abyad  Reuters

Syrian YPG fighters capture Tal-Abyad from ISIS, June 2015. Source: Reuters.

Syrian Kurdish YPG victory at strategic border town of  Tal-Abyad

The second development was the victory by Syrian Kurdish PYG fighters , Christian Assyrian and secular  FSA militias  wresting the strategic border gateway of Tal-Abyad  from  ISIS with support from  US coalition air strikes. This followed the  January 2015 victory in  the siege at the border  city of Kobani. The Syrian PYG, affiliated with the Turkish PKK, a  terrorist group designated by  Turkey, EU and the US, whose leader Abdullah Ocalan is under house arrest in Turkey,  has been assisted  by fighting units of the Iraqi Peshmerga from the adjacent Kurdish Regional Government  (KRG)in northern Iraq.  The third development was the KRG Peshmerga wresting   control  of Kirkuk and its vast  oil field. Kirkuk, as Trofimov noted  is considered  the “Kurdish Jerusalem” .  Not to be outdone by Kurdish compatriots in Syria and Iraq, in mid-May 2015, Iranian Kurdish  Party of Free Life in Kurdistan ( PJAK)  forces in northwestern Iran’s Zagros mountain  fought  Iranian security forces in Mahabad.  Mahabad  was the capital of the short-lived State of Republic  Kurdistan established with Soviet Russian support in  Iran in 1945- 1946.

KRG Delegation meets with resident Obama VO Biden and National Security Council May 2015

Kurdish President Barzani and KRG delegation meet President Obama and VP Biden May 2015.

KRG Meets with President to Free up Arms Deliveries

The KRG quest for independence has been stymied by the Baghdad government of PM Haidar al-Abadi.  The Baghdad  government has not lived up to its agreement reached in December 2014 to provide regular payments to the KRG amounting  to nearly $5.7 billion in exchange for selling 550,000 barrels of oil. The result has been that KRG government  and the 160,000 Peshmerga force have not been paid in months.  More troubling has been the current agreements between the Obama Administration  and  the al-Abadi government for allocation and deliveries of heavy weapons that have not found their way to the highly effective Peshmerga fighting force. This is especially galling given the thousands of Humvees, mobile artillery, anti-tank, main battle tanks and MRAP vehicles abandoned by fleeing Iraqi national security forces in the conquest of Mosul in June 2014 and Ramadi in late May.

A  meeting occurred in Washington in early May 2015 with  KRG President Barzani and senior officials with President Obama, Vice President Biden and members of the National  Security Staff seeking resolution of this impasse.   Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near Policy wrote about this in a May 15, 2015 Al Jazeera, article, “A big win for Kurds at the White House”:

From May 3-8, 2015, Washington D.C. hosted a high-powered delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). KRG President Massoud Barzani was flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, National Security Chancellor Masrour Barzani and Minister of Peshmerga Affairs Mustapha Sayyid Qadr, among other KRG ministers and officials.  [The delegation was originally scheduled for a five minute meeting with President Obama, instead the session lasted an hour].

In particular, the Kurds complained that Washington has allocated too small a proportion of its $1.6bn Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) assistance to Kurdistan.

Slow and indirect delivery of US weapons systems is a connected concern. Washington has chosen to funnel most weapons shipments via the federal Iraqi Ministry of Defense, the only entity entitled by US law to sign end-user certificates (EUCs) for the weapons.

[…]In reaction to these views, the House Armed Services Committee of the US Congress introduced clauses into the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Pentagon’s budget, in an attempt to protect the Kurds’ fair share of US weapons.

The draft NDAA for Fiscal Year 2016 was amended by congress to include a clause (Section 1223) that named the Peshmerga as one of a number of security forces collectively entitled to “not less than 25 percent” of the annual $715m of US support.

Most controversially the amendment would allow the KRG “as a country” to “directly receive assistance from the United States” if Baghdad failed to meet the aforementioned condition, a clause that sparked security threats from Shia militia leaders against US trainers in Iraq.

Baghdad protested the language, and US Vice President Joe Biden signaled one day before the Kurdish delegation landed that “all US military assistance in the fight against [ISIL] comes at the request of the Government of Iraq and must be coordinated through the Government of Iraq”.

[…]

Instead of trying to force the White House to do Kurdistan’s bidding through pressure politics, Barzani seems to have adopted a longer-term view in his dealings with the US on defense.

Section 1223 did not give the Kurds a great deal – sharing a quarter of US material collectively with Sunni Arab paramilitary recipients – but it would have soured relations with the Obama administration at a critical time.

Israeli Support for an Independent Kurdistan

One  Middle East nation that  supports an independent Kurdistan  is Israel . As exemplified by comments from  Israeli Prime Minister  Netanyahu, Israel supports the creation of an independent Kurdistan in  Iraq.  There is a long connection between the Kurds and the Jewish nation. There is  an estimated 150,000 Kurdish Jewish  population in Israel that has fostered  cultural –linguistic exchanges with Iraqi Kurdistan.  Iraqi and Iranian kurds smuggled Iraqi Jews to freedom via Iran, during the days of the late Shah, to Israel and the West.  Iranian Kurds continued that effort despite  the Islamic republic facilitating the departure of Iranian Jews  via Turkey to reach  Israel.  From the 1950’s to the mid-70’s Israel provided covert military training and  equipment  to Iraqi Kurds  against the Ba’athist regime of the late Saddam Hussein.  That ended with a treaty between the late Shah of Iran and Hussein orchestrated by Henry Kissinger in 1975.  During the 1980’s Hussein took his revenge on Iraqi kurds during the  Iran-Iraq War  in a series of genocidal revenge campaigns including a massive gas attack that killed thousands decimating Kurdish villages.   Israel currently hosts the huge U.S. War Reserve Stock for use in Middle East conflicts. Perhaps, the Obama Administration might relent on the current agreements with the Baghdad government and permit transfers from the US War Reserve Stock   in Israel of much needed weapons, equipment and munitions to the Peshmerga in Iraq and the Syrian Kurdish militias fighting ISIS.  Israel is less than several hundred miles from Erbil.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of supporters cheering Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, in Istanbul, Turkey, in May, 2015. Source: Emrah Gurel/AP.

Does anyone have a strategy for defeating ISIS besides me? [VIDEO]

As you know, the Obama administration completed its summit on countering violent extremism last week, and it didn’t take long for Islamic State to respond — you know, the group that’s not Islamic and doesn’t represent a religious pursuit.

As reported by Reuters, “Islamic State militants [i.e. terrorists/jihadists] have abducted at least 150 people from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria they had raided, Christian Syrian activists said on Tuesday.

A Syrian Christian group representing several NGO’s inside and outside the country said it had verified at least 150 people missing, including women, children, and elderly, who had been kidnapped by the militants [i.e. terrorists/jihadists].

“We have verified at least 150 people who have been adducted from sources on the ground,” Bassam Ishak, President of the Syriac National Council of Syria, whose family itself is from Hasaka, told Reuters from Amman. Earlier the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 90 were abducted when the militants [i.e. terrorists/jihadists] carried out dawn raids on rural villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority west of Hasaka, a city mainly held by the Kurds.”

Now, how long will we continue this charade, trying to make ourselves believe that beheading Egyptian Coptic Christians and abducting Christians is not about religion or it is not about conducting a genocide, a purging.

How do we look at our own children and explain how this type of evil is allowed to exist in today’s world? And it’s not just one group. Another Nigerian girl – this one only seven years old — has been used as a suicide bomber by Boko Haram — affiliated with ISIS.

Yes, we do have reports about some minor successes against ISIS, such as Iraqi Army forces pushing against ISIS forces in the city of al-Baghdadi. And the Kurdish Peshmerga are making a solid stand, even without firm weapons support. However, we’ve also been watching the videos of ISIS parading caged Peshmerga fighters.

Reuters reports, “Many Assyrian Christians have emigrated in the nearly four-year-long conflict in which more than 200,000 have people have been killed. Before the arrival of Kurds and Arab nomadic tribes at the end of the 19th century, Christians formed the majority in Syria’s Jazeera area, which includes Hasaka. Sunday’s offensive by Kurdish YPG militia reached within five km (3 miles) of Tel Hamis, an Islamic State-controlled town southeast of Qamishli, the Observatory said. At least 14 IS fighters died in the offensive, in which Assyrians fought alongside Kurds, it added. Eight civilians were also killed in heavy shelling by the Kurdish side, which seized several Arab villages from Islamic State control.”

It is important to note the Assyrian Christian community is one of the world’s oldest — far predating the revelations of a murderous warlord named Mohammad. And this isn’t the first time the Assyrians have faced genocidal ambitions at the hands of Muslims. The last time was during the last Islamic caliphate, the Ottoman Empire circa 1914. Doggone, history just seems to repeat itself when we fail to acknowledge evil. But then again, I should get off my high horse.

Could it be that somehow, even without the dedicated support from the United States, this cacophony of groups may be finding success against the ISIS onslaught?

“Military experts said militants were trying to open a new front to relieve pressure on Islamic State after several losses since being driven from the Syrian town of Kobani near the border with Turkey. “Islamic State are losing in several areas so they want to wage an attack on a new area,” said retired Jordanian general Fayez Dwiri. Since driving IS from Kobani, Kurdish forces, backed by other Syrian armed groups, have pursued the group’s fighters as far as their provincial stronghold of Raqqa. A resident of Hasaka, jointly held by the Syrian government and the Kurds, said hundreds of families had arrived in recent days from surrounding Christian villages and Arab Bedouins were arriving from areas along the border.”

The question is, can ISIS be defeated without overwhelming combat power from a true coalition? And I’m not just talking about Iraq-Syria, but rather an effort that strikes at ISIS wherever its black flag flies — it dies.

This isn’t about a “whack-a-mole” campaign but rather a coordinated and well orchestrated operational endeavor that precludes any maneuvering of the enemy or shifting from one area to another.

I’m recommending a series of hammer/anvil type operations that denies the repositioning of Islamic terrorists. The time has come when we do not just focus on this group or that, but rather the defeat of this cancerous ideology — find the head of the Medusa and cut it off. This isn’t about grievances or hearts and minds. We have to find the heart of the hydra and cut it out. That means its support, financing, and motivation — while you are severing its multiple heads.

That is strategy, not telling the enemy what you are not going to do and for how long you’re not going to do it. And please, don’t give me the “all we are saying is give peace a chance” and “war is not the answer” lecture. If the grim reaper shows up at your door, you have two options — and my preference is to kill him before he gets out of the car.

We are bereft of a policy to contend with this enemy, despite their firm conviction to continue their barbaric savagery. We should not be reading reports about Christians — or anyone — being abducted, beheaded, raped, sold into slavery or any other archaic practice.

We should be reading about how many of the enemy we have destroyed.